Nothing beats the experience of setting up your turntable, adjusting the tonearm, tweaking the electronics to get the perfect sound and, of course, owning records of your favorite artists’ albums. Once in place, harmony sweeps the listener away as the diamond runs through the groove and the warm crackle of the record fills the room.
However, if music streaming dominates the music market today, it is not only because of portability. Mechanical problems with turntables or the difficulty of finding a record with the right version of the song can sometimes make you want to keep it simple at the expense of the sound. Especially when your turntable starts playing a Van Halen solo at an inhuman speed, even for him! Playback speeds, or the ability of a motor to rotate at a precise speed at each revolution, is often what differentiates an entry-level turntable from more expensive models. It is also a problem that is easy to hear and is often the first sign of motor or belt fatigue, or a poor adjustment.
It is clear that speed problems affect many turntable owners. Fortunately, there are apps that can help you control the speed of your record player. One of the most accurate is undoubtedly the RPM – Turntable Speed Accuracy app available on the App Store for iPhones. But many other applications exist on Android phones too, such as RPM Speed and Wow. They allow users to know the number of rotations per minute of their deck, making it easier to adjust if the rotations are too slow or too fast.
These applications rely on your phone’s gyroscope to calculate the accuracy of the revolution rate. Very practical, they can tell you if the motor needs to be adjusted or repaired. Perhaps one day, manufacturers will integrate apps that will allow you to control and adjust speed settings directly from your smartphone into their turntables.
The assurance of a precise rotation
There are countless elements that contribute to ensuring the best possible audio quality for vinyl records. Whether it’s making sure records are free of dust and scratches, adjusting tonearm settings or even treating yourself to a better platter, listening at home should remain as simple a pleasure as playing a song on Spotify, Qobuz or Apple Music.
However, if you are an analog aficionado, you can always get a stroboscope to place on your platter. Finally, if you want to have a stroboscope integrated into the turntable, Technics incorporates it in its direct drive turntables, as does Audio-Technica on its AT-LP120XBTUSB and AT-LP140XP Black models.
Of course, turntables are perfectly adjusted at the factory, but over time the belt may become slack, or a malfunction may happen due to a knock for example. Very useful to control the current performance of your turntable, these applications are “of audiophile interest”!