In this article, I want to tell you how to ground your turntable. But before the detailed instructions, I’ll focus on a few important concepts and questions you might have if you don’t know what grounding is, what it’s for, and some other relevant points.
The concept of grounding and related issues
Why do I need to ground my turntable?
You should be aware that your turntable is made of metal and electronics, so it conducts current very well. An open circuit causes sparks, and you may get an electric shock at high power levels. Record players are not that powerful, but in their case, an open circuit results in a ground loop. Consequently, the system is overloaded, and you are bound to hear an unpleasant hum during the operation. To determine whether the lack of grounding is the source of the hum, you can, for example, simply change inputs or turn down the volume. The hum shouldn’t decrease either when you turn down the volume.
In short, grounding the turntable ensures that unnecessary current is diverted from the current loop. That way, the system is not overloaded, and you get good sound quality. But do all record players need to be grounded? You will find the answer to this question in the next paragraph.
Do all turntables need grounding?
I would say yes. Even if there is no obvious reason to do so, minor problems can occur over time. It is usually indicated by the presence of a ground cable as part of the delivery. If one is available, do it immediately and without hesitation. The exceptions are players with a built-in preamplifier. These are usually budget models, as connoisseurs who own expensive turntables prefer external preamps. Technically, they do not require grounding. Determining whether your turntable has a built-in phono stage is simple: the switch between PHONO and LINE tells you it is present (in case you don’t know).
Do I need a ground cable, or can I use another one?
The purpose of a grounding wire is very simple. Unlike other cables, it does not conduct but rather draws in excess electrical current. The cable connects to the turntable chassis and amplifier. It brings them to ground reference (ground potential), thus creating a current return to the source and, consequently, eliminating the unwanted hum. Such a cable usually comes with the turntable.
If you don’t suddenly have a ground cable, you can take any insulated wire (stranded 18-20 would be ideal). Then clamp it with the amplifier ground terminal, or use duct tape. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to ground your turntable.
How do I ground the turntable?
So, after a long, detailed introduction, let’s figure out exactly how you can ground your turntable yourself. Let’s take a look at both options, with and without a grounding cable:
- Unplug your record player and amplifier from the power grid. I fear not so much that you will be electrocuted as you will hear a disgusting sound.
- Get a grounding cable. Usually, manufacturers attach it to the bottom of the turntable, and it features a spade-like metal connector. If you don’t have such a cable, get the insulated wire.
- Next, you need to find the ground terminal on the amplifier/receiver. It is usually labeled “ground” and looks like a pin on the back panel. The terminal should definitely be loosened. If there is no such pin, you can use the metal body of the unit.
- A very important action will be to measure the distance. You must be sure that your cable/wire will reach the pin.
- Slide the spade connector of the cable onto the ground terminal and tighten. Try to avoid over-tightening. If you don’t have a pin, simply glue the end of the cable/grounding wire to the 6-8 mm pre-cut end and secure it with duct tape to the metal case of the amplifier/receiver. Connect the other end to the screw on the turntable chassis.
- Your work is done! Connect the system to the mains, and enjoy the clear sound.
I believe it is necessary to ground the turntable! I hope this article has helped you understand why you need to do this and, more importantly, how to ground your turntable yourself. As a result, you will get the reward of superb clear sound, and you will be assured of the safety of your entire music system. Good luck!