Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fixing My Record Player

The downside of starting a record collection is maintaining a record player.  In four months, I'm actually on my second record player.  I originally purchased a Crosley Cruiser my first day as a record owner.  The Cruiser lasted about a month, before I started to become paranoid.  Well, paranoid might be the wrong word, since my records started to skip or sound scratched.  With my tastes in records, this was quite the problem. 

So, I literally spent an entire evening researching what to buy and ended up purchasing an Audio Technica AT-LP-120-USB, after coming to the conclusion that A) I would probably struggle to find a good used record player that I trusted and B) would also need to get a receiver and cabinet, rather than just buying a record player, some speakers and setting up shop on my dining room table.  So, after some difficulties with UPS that I won't recount, but it is suffice to say, they are a carrier whom I hope to never do business with again, I was able to set up a real record player that Saturday. 

Of course, unlike the Crosley, the Audio Technica required some knowledge of setting up a tone arm and anti-skate, neither of which was really in my wheelhouse.  After some struggle, I was able to do so, getting the tone arm to balance correctly, neither grooving my records nor merrily skipping along and not playing.  This managed to work for the most part for two months. 

So, last night, I'm listening to my brand new live Anti-Nowhere League which I picked up, when I hear that sound.  The sound is the scratchy whine of the needle shooting all the way across my record and settling into the paper covering the center of the record.  A slight correction to the anti-skate knob made it better.  Then, two songs passed and it went straight to the paper again. 

Turning off the record player, I waited a day, since I had other issues to handle today and yesterday, I was just not getting it right.  Realizing this is not going to work, I sit down and start the process of fixing the record player.  First, I make sure the tone arm is balanced, which miraculously it is, since that always takes fifteen minutes, moving it forward, moving it back, bouncing it off the mat, watching it fly away across the record.

This meant it was record test and anti-skate time.  Fortunately, I bought a poor copy of Let There Be Rock by AC/DC for a dollar yesterday and began to play it.  The needle moved inward way too fast.  So, I made a small adjustment and it seems to be working, but not after spending 15 minutes not playing records, so I could play records.  There is a slight cruelness to the whole concept, as I all I want it to do is stay setup.

Knowing the way life works, tomorrow, the needle will be moving outward instead of inward, leading to odd sounds and more tinkering. 

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