Turntables have really come a long way from simple versions to today’s modern and sophisticated models. They have revolutionized the face of the entertainment industry and have proved to be among the crucial gadgets in modern times.
It is a disc jockey’s favorite tool when it comes to making music. But for us to enjoy the sweet music that comes from this wonderful equipment, we need to understand, or rather have a better knowledge of its inner workings and what components are crucial to its proper working.
One crucial part is the needle. Though small in size, this part plays an all important role as it is from it that the music or sound we hear coming out from the speakers starts. We are going to cover a few tips on how to handle and maintain your record player needle in top shape.
What role does it play?
The vinyl record has grooves running all round its surface. It is within these grooves where the music or sound content is stored in the form of numerous vibration waves. Once you have placed the vinyl record on the turntable and the tone arm over it, the whole process of music or sound creation starts.
As the vinyl record spins, the needle runs within the grooves picking up those vibrations, converting them into electrical signals that travel through a set of wires located in the tone arm until it reaches the cartridge where they are converted into sound waves.
Turntable needles, or in more technical terms the stylus, come in different shapes. They are never created equal. The needle needs to be as much in contact with the surface of the record as possible. The principle or rather science behind is simple.
Large surface areas are more preferred over small surfaces because it is convenient. Turntable needles that achieve a high degree of contact with the groove reduce stress. The vinyl record moves very fast and hence a needle with a large surface area is preferred as it minimizes stress.
It also prevents or reduces the wear effect on the groove, ensuring your records last much longer. They are mostly made of different materials, but most users prefer diamond-made needles, as they are strong and durable.
Maintaining and replacing a record player needle
This is a very delicate component in a record player, and hence should be well protected and maintained at all times. Ensure always keeping the needle clean. How? By cleaning it gently with a brush. Make sure that as you clean, you do not use force or any solvent, as this may make the cementing material weaken, leading to the needle becoming detached.
Try to use a magnifying lens when observing the needle. Turntables that have their tone arms easily lifted are the best. The needle should be cone shaped, with a smooth and perfectly round end. It should also not contain any chipped surfaces as this can greatly interfere with vibration pick up and conversion.
In the event you wish to replace the needle from your record player, you can use these easy steps. First, remove the stylus by pulling straight out, in the opposite direction of the tone arm. Then, replace the needle with a similar and compatible needle. If you do not have a replacement needle, then you will have to replace both the tone arm and the cartridge. Finally, slip in the new needle and lock it in place. Play the music and see if plays nicely.
Things to consider before buying a needle for your record player
There are a number of things one needs to consider before purchasing a needle for a record player. This part is very delicate and should always be treated as such. So here are a few tips to help you.
- The shape of the turntable needle will determine the contact level between it and the grooves on the surface of the vinyl record. The greater the contact, the greater the sound. Do not go for conical or spherical shaped needles, but rather go for the elliptical shaped ones as they fit well in the grooves.
- Type of material. The material that the needle is made of matters a lot. Most record player needles on the market nowadays are made of diamond, as it does not have tendency to wear out the surface of the records. Any other material should be avoided.
- Size of turntable needles. This is also an important factor to consider. Small-sized needles are best as they fit perfectly well in the grooves. This will result in good sound quality. With large-sized needles, they will not fit well at all and the sound quality output will be poor. Some vinyl records have a capacity of 78 RPM, and will require a needle size of about 2.5-3 mil. So they vary in size and choosing the perfect size is very imperative. The sizing for the needle is measured in mil and will be listed as 0.3 x 0.8 or something there about.
The needle is a very delicate component in a record player. It performs a very crucial function, that of picking up vibrations and converting them into electric signals. It is made of diamond, which has been the primary material in recent times.
The needle needs to be well maintained and regularly cleaned. In case it is broken or old, it needs to be replaced. Before buying it, one needs to consider several factors such as material, size and shape.
The preferred one is diamond, small and elliptical made. The best turntables on the market are most likely to already come with a high quality, if not very high quality, turntable needles.
However, vintage turntables are likely to have their turntable needles replaced. Ensure spending the right amount of money and buying original and long-lasting needles from authorized dealers. Give your record player an upgrade today, and get to enjoy sweet, smooth music.