Setup matters

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There are very few pieces of hifi kit that won’t benefit from a great deal of care and attention. But one benefits far more than anything else I can think of. The turntable.

Vinyl’s playback is almost entirely dependent on proper setup. Getting the arm and cartridge combination playing nice together is certainly an art and for many, something close to black magic—and that implies you’ve even chosen a good arm and cartridge in the first place. And we haven’t even talked about the table and platter itself.

The quality of vinyl playback is, in most cases, deeply rooted in the owner’s setup skill levels. A well set up “ok” turntable sounds better than a poorly executed megabuck system.

The same cannot be said for digital audio where the skills needed are focused instead on synergistic pairings of cables, equipment, and electronics. Vinyl aficionados have those issues as well, but they are piled upon the skills needed to align the mechanical wonder in the first place.

My hat is off to anyone skilled in the art of turntable, arm, and cartridge setup. We’ve got good people here and I’ve dabbled a bit myself. But experts?

They’re a rare breed indeed.