Vibration is the enemy of that vinyl sound we all love.
Even the slightest vibration will deteriorate the sound your turntable produces.
That is why the best turntables are all designed to minimize vibration.
But that is not always enough.
In order to get the best possible sound from your record player, you want to do what you can to isolate it from all vibrations.
Minimize any external vibrations acting on your turntable, then let the unit itself handle whatever vibration is left.
Keep reading to learn exactly how to isolate a turntable from vibration. We’ll cover the obvious, and also a few far less obvious tricks to dampen vibrations.
- 1 How To Isolate A Turntable From Vibration
- 1.1 Materials Needed
- 1.2 Step 1: Prepare The Table Or Stand
- 1.3 Step 2: Isolate Your Speakers
- 1.4 Step 3: Set Up Your Turntable On The Table Or Desk
- 1.5 Step 4: Slip Mat
- 1.6 Step 5: Dust Cover
- 1.7 Step 6: Set Bass
- 2 How To Reduce Turntable Vibration: Final Thoughts
How To Isolate A Turntable From Vibration
Follow the steps below to isolate your record player from vibrations as much as possible. We’ll begin with a list of things you’ll need to accomplish this.
In order to effectively isolate your turntable from vibrations, you’re going to need the following items. Naturally, it begins with the turntable. Good ones do an excellent job of dampening vibrations. Cheap ones do nothing to reduce them and often create vibrations themselves!
The lighter your turntable is, meaning the more plastic parts it has, the more it is going to pick up nearby vibrations. For this reason, most higher-end record players are mostly metal with only some plastic parts.
The most important part of the turntable as far as vibration goes is the platter. A heavy metal or acrylic platter is a good idea because it is dense and massive and will help to reject vibration coming from the base.
Metal is heavy and dense and tends to not vibrate as much as light flimsy plastic. Mass helps stop vibration, so the more massive your turntable, the better it will fight vibration. A hefty weight makes for a better sound, which is a key factor in what makes a good record player.
However, there are more factors involved in vibration, meaning there are more items you will need, in order to isolate your record player from excess vibration.
Heavy, Sturdy Table Or Piece Of Furniture
If you can use a sturdy solid wood table, end table, or desk, that is a good start. The more massive your surface, the more vibration it can reject.
I have a solid wood table that sits on my carpet floor. It weighs about 40 pounds and has nothing else on it but my turntable. I do not have many issues with vibration.
Small wood end tables and longer buffet-style tables are easy to find. Used, solid wood pieces are not too expensive if you don’t mind putting in a little work to make them pretty.
My table came to me a bit beat up, since I did buy it used. I had to color in a few divots and clean it up some, but it’s a great table and does a good job holding my record player.
Isolation Platform Or Makeshift One
Some record players come with rubber feet. These help isolate the turntable from vibrations that may be coming from the table. Still, others come with pointed metal feet which minimize the surface area that is touching the table.
Both of these options can be helpful to minimize the vibration level. However, not all turntables come with rubber or pointed feet. In all cases, getting an isolation platform is a great idea, in order to help your record player reject more vibrations from the environment.
Isolation platforms can make a significant difference in how much vibration makes it from the environment to your phono cartridge. I highly recommend spending some money and getting an isolation platform for your turntable, even if your model already comes with rubber or pointed feet.
If your turntable is in the same room as your speakers, it is also a good idea to get isolation pads for your speakers.
Isolation Platform For Speakers (If Nearby)
I have some foam isolation wedges under my studio monitors in my listening room. These are just simple neoprene foam pads that sit under my speakers and prevent them from shaking the table too much.
This has the added benefit of reducing the physical vibration making its way to the floor, which is what the turntable table sits on.
Isolation Pads For The Table
This may sound like overkill, and it is a little bit. However, the more isolated you can make the surface that your turntable is on, the fewer vibrations will end up mucking up your sound.
If you have some foam pads you can place under the feet of the furniture your record player is on, it will make a difference!
Cork Or Similar Platter Mat
The slip mat you use on your turntable can make an audible difference in how much-unwanted vibration ends up in your mix. There are a handful of different slip mat materials you can use on your record player.
I have found that I prefer cork slip mats. I have tried rubber, felt, and foam, and they all helped a bit, but cork seems the best for me in my setup.
Your setup may be different, and a slip mat made from a different material than cork may work better. It all depends on your situation.
No matter what your situation is, I am certain that a slip mat of some kind is going to help you minimize vibration.
Step 1: Prepare The Table Or Stand
The location of the turntable in the room plays a big part in how much vibration it will pick up. It is not a good idea to place your turntable right next to your speakers, especially if they are big powerful speakers that move a lot of air.
Set up the turntable table as far from the speakers as you can get away with.
Next, try to make sure there are no electronic devices too close to the record player. TVs, stereo receivers, computer monitors, WIFI routers, etc. all emit electronic noise that can be picked up by the sensitive phono cartridge. Ideally, your turntable will be fairly lonely looking by itself on one side of the room.
Now that you have chosen the location for your table or desk, try to get some form of isolation pad under your table’s feet if you can. You can use dense rubber or foam or anything you want that will help absorb some vibrations.
Many people get creative and just cut squares from cardboard or welcome mats or rubber mats. Anything is better than nothing. If your floor is carpet with padding underneath, that is a bonus.
Step 2: Isolate Your Speakers
Place your speakers on some isolation pads as mentioned earlier in the ‘materials needed’ section. You can buy neoprene speaker pads for fairly cheap, or just use normal foam you can buy by the foot at your home improvement store.
Isolating your speakers will not only make them sound better, but it will keep them from shaking the floor as much, and thus your turntable.
Keep in mind that bass is what causes the most vibration in the room. If you like an excessive amount of bass, you may have to isolate your speakers more.
Step 3: Set Up Your Turntable On The Table Or Desk
Now that you have a solid spot for your record player, it is time to set it up. Lay down your isolation pad, or if you don’t have one, set your turntable down and get it set up. You can learn how to set up your turntable here.
It is important to have something under your record player. If you don’t have an isolation pad, you can use a simple towel folded over to lay underneath it, as long as it is level.
However, the amount of money you will spend on an isolation pad is worth it for the better isolation you get with it. If you can, spend the money and get one. You will not regret it.
Step 4: Slip Mat
Now that you have your turntable isolated, it is time to isolate the records you play. A slip mat is a critical part of any setup, not just for protecting your sound from unwanted vibrations, but also for protecting the playing surface of your records.
A soft slip mat is a necessity for anyone who spends money on vinyl records. You should not be setting your records directly on the factory surface your turntable came with.
Set your slip mat on the platter with the spindle going through the hole in the middle. Some slip mats may need to have the middle hole bored out a little bit with a drill bit or rough file or something similar. I have seen nail files do the trick in a pinch.
Now that your slip mat is in place you can test your setup by playing some records.
Step 5: Dust Cover
Many turntables come with a plastic dust cover that you can open and close to keep dust off your records. These are quite handy and they do a great job of keeping your records from getting too much dust or debris on them while they are playing.
The problem with dust covers is that they are essentially big vibration amplifiers. If you have your dust cover closed and have a record playing, the slightest bump on the dust cover can cause a very loud boom in the system.
I have experienced this multiple times and I do not like it. I prefer to have my dust cover off for better sound and less vibration.
This is not always an option for me, unfortunately, because I do have some cats. One of them is a small teenager who is interested in the record player and has jumped on the dust cover a few times during play.
I am glad the dust cover was there because she could have ruined a record and even hurt herself if it was not there.
Step 6: Set Bass
You have done all you can to isolate your record player at this point. Now you should test out your system and set your bass level to a setting you like the sound of, but does not cause too much vibration in your audio setup.
I have my bass set at about 5 which is halfway up on my old Pioneer receiver. You will have to experiment to find the perfect setting for your room.
How To Reduce Turntable Vibration: Final Thoughts
Isolating a turntable from vibration is not difficult. You simply need to pad a lot of things. Pad the turntable, that table it sits on, and any other equipment that causes vibration, along with the stands they are on.
To do the best possible job, you will need to spend some money. But given all the money we already spend on this hobby, spending a little more on an isolation platform and some foam is not unreasonable. And of course, the record player itself. Quality record players, the kind that are well-isolated, cost money.