Do you ever feel like maybe your turntable is playing a little too fast or slow? In today’s turntable guide, I’ll tell you exactly how to gauge its speed and get it spinning correctly.
How do I know if my turntable speed is correct? You can determine if your turntable speed is correct through many means, including apps, strobe discs, speed controls, back timing, and printable speed discs. Once you’re sure your turntable is too slow or fast, then it’s just a matter of adjusting it.
In today’s guide, I’ll walk you through your options for determining if the speed of your turntable is too fast or too slow. No matter which speed your turntable is at, I’ll also present solutions for restoring it to normal speed, so check it out!
The 5 Easiest Ways to Find Out If A Turntable’s Speed Is Correct
If you have a hunch that your turntable speed is all out of whack, you can use some easy, fast, and inexpensive methods for confirming it. Here are my top five.
Turntable Speed App
The app store has an app for just about anything and everything nowadays, so it shouldn’t surprise you in the least that there are several apps for checking the speed of your turntable.
The crux of the app is that it measures two things in a turntable, flutter and wow. Both are a measure of distortion and pitch and should not exceed .25 percent.
One of the most trusted and highly-rated turntable speed apps is called RPM – Turntable Speed Accuracy by Philip Broder.
The app is designed for gauging both flutter and wow. It has more than 8,600 entries (and more being added all the time) to help you make sense of your turntable’s level of flutter, wow, and speed variations.
The RPM – Turntable Speed Accuracy app is supported by Rega Research Ltd., which produces turntables, so that’s a pretty big name to vouch for the app!
At current, the RPM – Turntable Speed Accuracy app is only available on the Apple App Store for iPhone devices.
If you don’t have an Apple device, the RPM Speed & Wow app by Andrea Martignano on the Google Play Store is just as good.
The app is designed for determining how much flutter and wow your turntable has in values as well as the minimal and maximum variations and the average speed.
All you have to do to use the app is turn on your turntable, put your phone near it, and then run the app.
After 10 seconds, the RPM Speed & Wow app will review the speed of your turntable and then begin generating other pertinent data.
Your next option to know if your turntable speed is correct is to use a stroboscope or a strobe.
Many turntables already include strobes anyway that produce light between 100 and 120 times per second depending on if yours is a 50-hertz or 60-hertz strobe.
Your vinyl record might have lines or dots, or the turntable platter will. Either way, those lines and dots are illuminated by the stroboscope every time your record spins.
You will have to get used to how your stroboscope works so you can count the number of illuminations per rotation.
This will require you to have a baseline speed that you can then use to compare whether your current turntable speed is too slow or too fast.
If looking at a strobe light for possibly hours doesn’t sound like the best way to spend your time (or use your precious eyesight), you can always try another method that vinyl enthusiasts like to use to gauge their turntable speed.
It’s known as back timing.
You choose a record out of your collection that you know plays at a certain speed. Then you’d sit down, listen, and track the number of beats per minute.
Once you have the BPM data, you can then compare that to your turntable speed to know if it’s too fast, too slow, or just right.
The fourth way to know if your turntable speed is correct involves a printed disc and a lamp or a strobe.
Once you print out the paper speed disc, make a hole in the center so you can insert the disc into the turntable platter’s spindle.
Place a lamp overhead. The lamp should fully illuminate the paper disc. Then begin running your turntable.
As the platter spins, you should watch the paper speed disc’s bars to gauge whether your turntable is too slow or too fast.
If the speed is too slow, then the bars on the paper disc might look like they’re moving in reverse. A turntable speed that’s too fast will cause the bars to move clockwise and look blurry.
When your turntable is at optimal speed, the bars won’t look like they’re moving at all even as the paper speed disc spins.
If you have a higher-end turntable, you might not have to do anything manual at all to determine its speed.
The turntable very well could have built-in speed-tracking controls and settings that do it for you.
For those who own these kinds of turntables, you never have to deal with a too-slow or too-fast turntable for long since you can always determine when something is amiss and immediately fix it.
My Turntable Speed Seems Slow – How to Speed It Up
Through one of the methods above, you’ve determined that your turntable is a little too slow. How do you restore it back to normal speed?
Here are some options to try.
Tighten or Replace the Belt
If yours is a belt-driven turntable, then you should know from reading my introductory post on the subject that time and turntable usage can cause the belt to loosen.
At that point, the turntable belt is likelier to slip off, which can be quite problematic.
A loose belt can also reduce your turntable speed.
Before you decide that the belt must be replaced, you can try boiling it. Yes, I’m serious.
You need only a cup and a half of water on your stovetop. Allow it to boil, and as soon as it does, turn the stove off.
Give the turntable belt at least five minutes but no more than eight minutes in the boiling water.
After the time elapses, carefully drain the water and check the belt. The heat should have shrunk the belt.
If that doesn’t work, you can always take some talc powder and apply it to the belt to prevent it from slipping.
Of course, barring all that, you’re free to replace the turntable belt.
Clean the Turntable
A dirty turntable can indeed influence its playback speed. Using PTFE-based lubricant, rubbing alcohol, a microfiber cloth, and a carbon fiber brush, take an hour or two to clean every component of your turntable inside and out.
That alone might do the trick and help your turntable play at a more regular speed.
Adjust the Turntable
I hope you held onto your turntable manual, as you’re going to need it to calibrate your turntable speed now.
Fortunately, most information is online today, so you can always rely on the power of the Internet to find a copy of your turntable manual if you don’t have the physical one.
Most of the time, adjusting the turntable to speed it up entails tinkering with the adjustment screws beneath the platter.
If you turn the screws counterclockwise, you make the platter slower, and clockwise adjustments increase the platter speed.
By switching between those two settings, listening to a record, making more adjustments, listening, and continuing until you get it right, your turntable will eventually be at the desired speed.
How to Slow Down a Fast Turntable
What if your turntable is playing a little too fast? No matter which artist you listen to, it sounds like a rendition by Alvin and the Chipmunks.
For a too-fast turntable, the above two measures apply.
It’s always a good idea to clean your turntable just to ensure that gunk, dust, and debris can’t possibly be what’s causing your problem.
You should also switch the positioning of the adjustment screws, turning them mostly counterclockwise but not too counterclockwise.
If you do, then your turntable will end up too slow!