What do I need to play a vinyl record?
You must have a turntable (i.e. record player) to play vinyl records. The turntable uses a needle to pick up the music from the record’s grooves and it turns the record at the appropriate speed so your music plays correctly. Some turntables have an amplifier and speakers built in, others use Bluetooth or wireless connections to play music through Bluetooth or wireless speakers (some run on batteries so they are portable). Most turntables must be plugged into an outlet and wired to an amplifier and speakers.
If you are using a stereo receiver or a stand-alone amplifier with your speakers, you may need a pre-amplifier. If your receiver has a “Phono” input, you DO NOT need a pre-amplifier (phono channels have a built-in pre-amp). If your receiver does not have a “Phono” input, you will need a pre-amp connected between your turntable and your receiver.
A stand-alone amplifier can only receive a signal from one source, and then can amplify that signal to multiple sets of speakers. Some cases has a single physical input and another physical output, but may also receive and/or broadcast wireless signals. You must have a receiver or an amplifier if you are using passive speakers.
A receiver is an amplifier that can receive multiple inputs (Aux, Phono, CD, TV, etc.) and that may be able to send sound to more than one set of speakers. Sometimes a receiver can control your home theater system and/or has an AM/FM stereo build in. You must have a receiver or an amplifier if you are using passive speakers.
These speakers have a power source (i.e. battery or plug into an outlet) and have an amplifier built-in. Many powered speakers are designed to be paired with turntables and have a built-in pre-amp. You do not need an amplifier or receiver if you are using powered speakers because the amplifier is built-in. However, it may be helpful in some cases to use a receiver to tie multiple audio sources together (e.g. wireless powered speakers receiving a signal from a home theater receiver that can broadcast wirelessly).
When shopping for powered speakers, look for speakers that plug into 120V outlets (US) or have batteries.
Passive speakers do not have batteries nor do they plug into an outlet; they rely entirely on an amplifier or receiver. There are no wireless passive speakers. Most of the highest quality speakers are passive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do vinyl records come in different speeds? My record plays faster or slower than it should, what's wrong?
Vinyl is pressed in one of 3 speeds: 33 1/3 Rotations Per Minute (RPM), 45 RPM, and 78 RPMs. The majority of 12-inch long play (LPs) are 33 1/3 RPMs, and most 7-inch extended play (EPs) or singles are 45 RPMs. However, 10-inch discs are common at both speeds and there are exceptions (e.g. 12-inch 45 RPM discs). Check the product page, record cover, or record label to confirm what speed a specific album should be played at. Most turntables will play both 33 1/3 and 45 RPM records, some play at all three speeds. 78 RPM records are extremely rare.
If your record is playing faster or slower than it should, your turntable is likely set to the incorrect speed. The LP jacket or a sticker on the package usually indicates if a 12” or 10” LP is cut at 45 rpm. Smaller 7” records are cut at 45 rpm and usually have one song per side. If you play a 45 rpm 7” or 12” record at 33 1/3 on your turntable, it will sound too slow. If you play a 33 1/3 12” or 10” at 45 rpm on your turntable, it will sound too fast. If your turntable does not have a speed adjustment, your 45 rpm and 78 rpm albums will not play properly on that equipment. Some direct-drive turntables also have pitch control so you may need to adjust the pitch variation on your record player. This is usually a slider on the surface of your turntable but may be a small knob near the back or underneath your turntable.
My record continuously skips throughout all tracks and makes it almost impossible to listen to. Is it broken?
This can sometimes occur if your tonearm is not weighted properly. You may need to make a slight adjustment to your turntable’s anti-skating mechanism, which is usually a weighted knob or spring mechanism at the back end of the tonearm. If this is occurring and your turntable does not have an anti-skating mechanism, you can always try taping a penny to the top of your stylus – it actually works!
Also, try and make sure your turntable is on a level, non-resonating surface prior to play. Do not place the turntable on a receiver or speaker. It is also not recommended to place your speakers on the same shelf as your turntable. Even though new records are essentially scratch free, they can sometimes come with residual dust from the plant, particles from the paper sleeve, etc., that cannot always be seen with the naked eye. You can use a dry carbon fiber or anti-static brush prior to play to help eliminate any dust or particles. This can improve performance and greatly reduce skipping.
Will a different size or weight of record impact playability, or cause the sound quality to be different?
Vinyl records with heavier weight are often more desirable simply because they are more sturdy and are less likely to warp. The size of the grooves is the same. Records come in three standard sizes: 12", 10", and 7". There are some other odd-sized and die-cut records, but all should play on most turntables.
Heavier weight vinyl simply feels more substantial to hold, is less flimsy, and thus is psychologically more appealing to the music fan. The quality and care put into mastering, pressing, and plating has more to do with the sound quality of a record than the weight. Pressing plants will normally put more effort into quality control of heavier weight records as they realize anyone ordering 180g or higher is likely looking for an audiophile product.
Are colored vinyl records any different from black vinyl records?
The two play the same and there is no quality difference. However, some colored albums have exclusive content not available on standard black releases. Be sure to confirm on the product page that you are getting the release you are looking for.
My white/colored vinyl has smudges on it that won’t come out even when I wipe it. This looks like a manufacturing defect. What’s wrong?
As with any manufacturing process, there are always going to be some oddities. Variations in the color of your colored vinyl is normal, and will not impact the playability of your record.
My record has scratches on it. What do I do?
Some minor scratching on the surface of a record can occur from placing or removing the record in its paper sleeve and does not impact playability. If there are more significant scratches that are impacting playability on a brand new record, please reach out to customer service.
Light, non-feel-able scratches happen over time, but normally do not affect playability of a record. When handling a record, do your best not to touch the playing surface with your hands, do not lay the record down on anything other than the turntable, and return it directly to its inner sleeve and jacket when finished. Storing records outside their jackets or stacked is another way to increase scratches on the surface of vinyl.
My vinyl is warped. What do I do?
The fragile nature of the medium, temperature fluctuations, the way and location you store your vinyl, and even the manufacturing process itself can all cause warping in vinyl. Minor warping will oftentimes not impact playability; however, more significant warping may impact playability. If you’ve purchased a brand new record and there is significant warping, please reach out to customer service. Vinyl should always be stored vertically, never horizontally. To repair warped vinyl, there are a few methods that may work. One is to place the record between two heavy books for several days. Another method is to place the record between two pieces of glass and place it in an oven set to warm for a couple minutes. Allow the vinyl to cool down before removing it from between the pieces of glass. Please note: these are just suggestions, and there is no guaranteed method to fix warped vinyl records.
For some turntables, there is an option to purchase a record clamp or weight that can improve playability of a warped record by holding it down tight against the platter during playback. It does not fix the actual warp in the record, but can help fidelity issues during play. Extreme warping of a record can happen if your record is hit with direct sunlight for an extended period of time.
What is a picture disc?
A picture disc is a collector’s item that is not intended to be played, but rather it is intended to be displayed. While the music is pressed into the disc, the image that has been overlaid onto the album can distort the audio. Additionally, playing a picture disc can damage the picture and making less attractive to display. You should confirm that you are buying the appropriate title for playing or displaying; the product page will clearly call out if it is a picture disc.
Is there a difference in quality from record to record?
There are multiple factors that determine quality of a record, including the record thickness, the quality of materials, the way it stored and cared for, and manufacturer. The quality of all records of the same album should be the same (made by the same manufacturer). Check the star ratings for the specific album if your concerned about the quality of the vinyl pressing.
If you have purchased a new record from Amazon that does not play correctly or that appears damaged, please contact customer service as soon as possible so we can remedy the problem.
The album skips on one side, but not on the other. What can I do?
If your vinyl record skips in one specific location, there may be dust or debris stuck in the groove of the record. First try cleaning your album. If the problem persists, or is occurring on a brand new album, this may be indicative of a manufacturing defect, at which point you may want to reach out to customer service.
I have a record with a much bigger hole in the middle then the pin on the platter?
45s (or 7-inch 45 RPM discs) often are made with a 1 ½ inch hole instead of a 9/32 inch hole. You will need a turntable with a 1 ½ plug, or a converter that fits around your 9/32 pin to play albums with a 1 ½ hole.
How do I store vinyl records?
Vinyl records should always be stored vertically, stacked next to each other. Vinyl records stored on a diagonal can bend and will not play properly. Vinyl records should not be stored horizontally and should not be stacked on top of each other. The music is pressed into the vinyl so weight and pressure can warp and distort albums.
Vinyl records are also heat sensitive. Ideally, they should be stored in temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees F, and in 45-50% humidity. They should never be exposed to direct sunlight.
Do I need to be careful where I touch a vinyl record?
Skin oils can deteriorate vinyl over time. It is recommended that you only handle vinyl records with recently cleaned hands and that you limit touching to the very outer edges or to the label in the middle. An occasional touch on the surface will not harm the quality of play, but the album should be cleaned to maintain the album as long as possible.
Do I need the sleeve and the cover?
Yes, both help protect the album from scratches and from accumulating dust. If your sleeve becomes damaged, you should replace it to help you records last as long as possible. Additionally, if you are concerned about keeping the cover in pristine condition, consider buying album cover sleeves.
How do I clean a vinyl record, how often should I clean it?
Vinyl records must be cleaned so they can be played and enjoyed for many years. It is recommended that you use a carbon-fiber brush or a dry microfiber cloth to clean the surface of the album before playing the album to remove any dust or debris (which both improves the quality of the music and ensures dust or debris does not scratch the surface while playing). You may use a microfiber cloth or pad with a vinyl cleaning solution to do a deeper clean. If a record requires deep cleaning, you may use a
What is a Vinyl Frame?
A vinyl frame is specially made picture frame used to display albums, either picture discs or collector’s albums (or just an album you love and don’t intend to listen to). They are not for storage of albums you intend to listen to.