How does turntable tracking force affect the sound, and how to adjust it?

If you own a turntable for listening to music, you must be aware of the tracking force as you have to set up the turntable tracking force to the right amount to listen to music. Now, those adjustments mostly vary depending on your audio system.

However, if you are getting into buying a turntable, this may help you. You will get to know. Here we tell you the functionality and purpose of tracking force and how you can adjust it. So, could you stick with us till the end? 


What are the turntable tracking force and their functions?

First, let’s get through what exactly is tracking force. Tracking force is the method your cartridges sit on your record. Ensuring that the cartridges sit with the right kind of weight is the basic purpose of tracking force. It helps you prevent damage to your records. 

The effect of turntable tracking weight on sounds

Too much weight on the cartridge can lead to a more distorted sound. Also, it sometimes damages the records. On the other hand, too little weight will cause the music to skip some parts. It also puts scratches on the vinyl of the record. This is why adjusting to the perfect tracking force is so important. 

The goal of the correct tracking force is to get you the perfect sound of music. Also, it helps in preserving the records and cartridges. You would always want to keep your record collection in the best condition possible. Otherwise, there is no point in having a turntable in the first place. 

So, if you are planning to buy a turntable, you must learn to adjust the tracking force whatsoever. Let’s take a look at how you can adjust the tracking force.

Related: Turntable Cartridges

How to adjust the tracking force on your turntable 

Adjusting the weight isn’t that difficult. Anyone can do it with proper instructions. Also, you have to feel that the turntable tracking weight you are going with is perfect. 

Well, let’s go through the steps of adjusting the tracking force of a turntable

Resetting the tonearm 

You have to begin with resetting the tonearm. Your goal here is to get the tonearm in mid-air. To do that, you have to adjust the counterweight so the tonearm stays balanced in mid-air. You can imagine it like a seesaw. 

Finding out the correct weight 

Now, based on your particular cartridge, you have to set the weight of the counterweight. Usually, the manufacturers provide the correct tracking force in the cartridge manual. Or you can look for it on the internet. 

Setting the correct tracking force.

Next, up you have set the counterweight you found for your cartridge on the manual. To do that, you can turn the dial to the exact amount recommended by the manufacturer. 

You can use a tracking force gauge to determine the exact tonearm weight for accuracy. That’s how you can adjust the counterweight. 

Moving the cartridge downwards

Then, you will see the cartridge moving downwards on the record. And it will sit with the correct weight on the record when you are playing music. Now, here you have to notice how the records are responding to the weights. 

If you see any distortion or get more bass, then the weight is heavy. If you see music skipping every once in a while, then the weight is too low. From there on, you can adjust it further. 

Special anti-skate setting 

If your turntable doesn’t come with a record player anti-skate feature, then you can skip this. But it does, then you will need to make some adjustments here as well. The adjustment is pretty simple; you have to put the same weight as your counterweight on the anti-skate settings. Keeping this matched with the counterweight helps in getting the best possible sounding music from your turntable. 

Related: Turntable Isolation Platforms

So, that’s it for setting up the correct tracking force. You can make some adjustments to this based on the type of music you want from here on. Here are the following adjustments you can try out- 

  1. Adjustments for bass

If you like to have more bass in your music, you can slightly increase the weight. This will provide you with heavier music, distorted, and has good bass. However, please don’t overdo it because it can damage your cartridge and your records as well. 

  1. Adjustment for high-tones 

On the other hand, if you want to enhance those higher notes from your music, you can make the weights lighter. This takes away pressure from the records, resulting in cleaner and crispier sounds. Now, you have to be careful with this one because you can easily damage the vinyl and cause music skipping with too little weight.

Related: Turntable Mats and Slipmats

As you can see, it’s all about figuring out the perfect weight yourself based on your needs. The perfect balance of turntable weights is something that will give you the best quality of music. 

In most cases, you will see the cartridge weight to be 1 to 3 grams. This is more of standard weight for cartridges and records in general. Also, sometimes you will see cartridges come with a higher weight recommendation and a lower weight recommendation. 

When that happens, always start with the middleweight of both these numbers. That’s the ideal weight for your cartridges. 

Last words 

To sum up, turntable tracking force can be an essential part of playing music on a turntable. Not only for the quality of music, but it’s also essential for preserving your records. 

Records easily get damaged when you use the wrong weights. And many people ruin their record collection this way and later on give up on the turntable. 

Now that you know how you can avoid that from happening, you will surely enjoy the experience of listening to music on a turntable. 

Because the sounds you get from such records come with much greater quality and leaves you with a fulfilling experience. So, all that work is worth it. 

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