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Why is my record player playing high-pitched? If you have a vinyl record at home, you have probably asked this question a few times now. Of course, the high-pitched sound produced by your vinyl record can ruin your music experience.
Your vinyl record is producing a high-pitched sound due to two reasons:
- The belt is in the wrong position
- The turntable is spinning too fast
Even the belt’s slightest slip will cause a high-pitched sound. So, a fast turntable plays a role in causing this problem. (source)
Your record player is sensitive equipment, so the changes in its parts can cause a huge effect. If your record player is playing high pitch, you need to fix it when you notice the problem.
Table of Contents
Why Does Vinyl Sound Higher Pitch?
Like in any other sound source, the sound produced by your vinyl record results from air vibrating. So, if your record player produces sound at a faster rate than the record is recorded initially, the vibrations will hit the listeners’ ears faster than the original rate as well. Such is why a vinyl record is playing more quickly than the actual speed sounds higher in pitch.
So, if you wonder, “why is my record player playing high-pitched,” the answer is straightforward. Doubling the speed that musical notes play at raises the pitch of every note by an octave. Meaning if your turntable is spinning too fast, it causes the vibration to increase in speed. The notes of the music playing also raise, causing it to sound pitchy. (source)
Another culprit behind your record player playing high-pitched sound is a slipping belt. If the belt moves away from its correct position, the speed of the turntable will be off. As a result, your vinyl record will sound high-pitched.
A turntable’s belt is a rubber band. That said, two problems can cause it to slip from its position:
- The belt is stretched out too much
- It is riding up too far on the spindle
No matter which of the two is the problem with your belt, the best thing to do is replace it. The reason is that the turntable belt will not get in the wrong position if it is not stretched too far.
But there are still other measures that you can take if you want to try and fix a stretched belt.
Moreover, belts last a long time, so you will have to replace them if you notice that they are too loose, stretched, or crack. But these issues will not happen for at least a few years after you bought your record player.
But once your record player’s belt shows some issues, you should not think twice about replacing it. Some manufacturers offer belt upgrades, which ensure that your belt does not have irregularities. (source)
Why Is My Record Player Playing High-Pitched, And How Do I Fix It?
One indication that your record player is spinning too fast is if it makes high-pitched sounds. Sometimes, the increase in speed is not instantly noticeable, so you need to train your ears to observe if your record player is playing high pitch.
If you feel that something is off with your record player, the best thing to find the problem is to test its speed. You have to methods to do that:
Strobe Discs is an application that you can download from the internet. All you need to do is to download and print off the disc with markings. Once the printed copy is ready, carefully place it on your platter.
You will need to purchase a strobe light to test the speed of your record player using this method. Additionally, the lines on your strobe disc will be set depending on your country. For North America, the lines will be set for 60Hz. Meanwhile, Europe has a strobe disc line set for 50Hz.
After preparing the materials, turn on your record player and let it get to speed. Next, direct the strobe light at the spinning probe disc. If your turntable is spinning at the right speed, the strobe lines will look stationary instead of moving even when the disc is spinning. (source)
Once you ensure that the turntable is spinning at a slightly faster speed, you can proceed to solve “why is my record player playing high-pitched.”
Another thing that can help you answer is, “why is my record player playing high-pitched.” These applications are cheaper, more accessible, and easier to use than a strobe disc. However, some may argue that they are not as accurate as the previous method.
If you want to test your turntable speed, you can get your phone and download an application like the one called “RPM Speed & Wow.”
All you need to do is open it and set it on the stationary platter to use this app. However, it is essential to note that the counter on the phone should be at zero before you start.
Now, turn on your record player and let it get on its full speed. Then, observe your phone until it displays the RPM of your equipment. (source)
Fixing The Speed Of Your Turntable
By now, you already know the answer to “why is my record player playing high-pitched.” So, the next thing you need to do is bring it back to the correct speed.
The speed of your record player has something to do with the belt. So, you will need to focus on that when regulation the spin speed. If you are a beginner, you can opt to have professionals sort things out for you. But if you feel like you can do the fixing yourself, here are some things that you can do:
Boil The Belt
Take a look at the belt of your turntable. If there are no cracks and the belt only seems a little stretched, you can bring it back to its original size.
To do it, fold the belt in half, measure the size, and note the measurement. Then, put the belt in a container where you can soak it. Boil some water and add it to the container where the belt is.
Finally, leave the belt to soak for approximately five minutes. Once the soaking time is done, take it out of the water and dry it.
Next, fold it in half and measure the size again. By now, the belt should be a little shorter than before you boiled it.
Furthermore, put the belt back in place, turn on your record player, and observe whether it no longer plays a high-pitched sound.
Check If Your Record Player Has Adjustment Screws
As mentioned, the answer to “why is my record player playing high-pitched” is due to the loose or incorrect position of the belt. Fortunately, some turntables have adjustment screws. If your record player is one of those, you can turn the adjustment screws counter-clockwise to slow down its spin.
After adjusting the screws, play your record player and see if the high-pitch sound is gone.
Make Sure That The Belt Is Not Rubbing Against Anything
If you did the steps above and non seem to work, the last thing you can do is make sure that the belt is not rubbing against anything. Take a look at the motor and platter to see if there are any blockages.
If the record player continues to make a high-pitched sound, take the belt off and add a few drops of oil or lubricant to the rotor shaft. By then, you should be able to have a solution to “why is my record player playing high-pitched.” (source)
A Quick Explanation Of Pitch Control For A Turntable
- Paul G. Nataraj, You Sound Like A Broken Record, University of Sussex, https://core.ac.uk/reader/159011500/ Accessed September 7, 2021.
- Ammar El-beik And Wokingham, Why Does A Recording Increase In Pitch When Sped Up?, Science Focus, https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/why-does-a-recording-increase-in-pitch-when-sped-up/ Accessed September 7, 2021.
- Andrew Murphy, Belt Drive And Direct Drive Turntables: Everything You Need To Know, What Hi-Fi, https://www.whathifi.com/advice/belt-drive-and-direct-drive-turntables-everything-you-need-to-know/ Accessed September 9, 2021.
- How Can I Measure The Speed Of My Turntable?, Fluance Serious Performance, https://support.fluance.com/s/article/How-to-accurately-check-your-turntable-speed/ Accessed September 9, 2021.
- Andrea Martignano, RPM Speed & Wow for Android, Cnet.Com, https://download.cnet.com/RPM-Speed-Wow/3000-2141_4-78136121.html/ Accessed September 9, 2021.
- Martin Do, et. al, Vinyl Player 2.0, Google Scholar, https://www.ece.ucf.edu/seniordesign/fa2017sp2018/g15/documentation/Final_Report.pdf/ Accessed September 9, 2021.
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