If you’ve been staring perplexed at your turntable wondering “why is my new vinyl skipping so much,” then you’re not alone. Tons of new vinyl users have the same question, so I’m going to take a little bit of time to explain the most common reasons vinyl records skip—and how you can fix the problem!
Why is My New Vinyl Skipping?
Let’s begin with one possible problem that causes your record to skip?
Problem 1: Dirty or Damaged Vinyl
Let’s begin with the most obvious answer—it’s possible that your record (even if it’s brand new) is dirty or damaged in some way. Now, whenever I buy a record, even if it’s brand new, I will sometimes clean my vinyl records with a microfiber rag that’s been dipped or sprayed with a custom cleaning solution. Doing this cleans off any surface debris that may have been on the surface the record.
Even when I choose not to do this, once I put my new vinyl onto my turntable, I always clean the record with record brush. Here, I gently let the bristles of the brush remove any dust or debris (be it from a paper sleeve the album was in or even the factory it was produced in).
Doing this ensures the stylus is able to accurately enter and track the groove of the record, which limits the possibility of hearing a distorted or noisy sound. When you have a considerable amount of dust or debris on the record, you can sometimes hear an occasional skip while the record is playing (along with a lot of snap, crackles, tics, and pops).
Another possibility is that the record is damaged in some way. Sometimes, records can come dinged or scratched—even when they’re brand new. If that’s the case, and you can tell that a scratch is causing your record to skip, be sure to return your brand new vinyl to the retailer and get a replacement.
How to Fix It: Clean your vinyl records. And in the case if a scratch, consider getting a replacement.
Problem 2: Cheap Turntable Materials
A lot of people enjoy portable turntables for their retro aesthetic, price, and utter convenience. But what a lot of people find is that their Crosley record player is skipping (or their Victrola record player is skipping) after just a few days of use.
Well, the problem is that good turntables need to be set up and calibrated based on a variety of different factors. For example, depending on the kind of cartridge you buy for your tonearm, you’re going to need to set the tonearm’s tracking force accurately. Doing so ensures that the tonearm properly accounts for the weight of the cartridge.
But here’s the problem—most of the time, the best Crosley record players aren’t going to allow you to set the tracking force. The tracking force will already be preset for you by the manufacturer. Now, that sounds great on the surface, but if the tracking force is too light or too heavy, it can lead to your records skipping while playing (or worse, getting damaged while playing).
How to Fix It: Be sure to invest in a higher quality record player. Remember, the more money you spend, the more options you’ll end up having when it comes to make all of the necessary adjustments to your turntable. And once you do that, you’ll have likely remedied that pesky vinyl skipping problem.
Problem 3: Incorrect setup or tracking force
Similar to a portable record player, if you purchase an automatic record player (like the Audio Technica AT-LP60X), it’s going to require very little setup and likely no need to adjust the tracking force for your cartridge. However, if you purchase a manual record player (like the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC, for example), then you’re going to need to set up the turntable correctly (such as installing the drive belt, setting the tracking force, etc). And if you do it incorrectly, well, then that could certainly be the culprit of your vinyl record skipping woes.
How to Fix It: Make sure the setup is correct, especially when it comes to the tracking force. If you have a brand new turntable, make sure you set the tracking force according to the instructions. If you just purchased and installed a new cartridge on your older turntable, make sure you set the tracking force according to the instructions listed on the box of your cartridge.
Setting the tracking force improperly can cause the stylus to inaccurately track the groove record. This can negatively impact the sound of you hear coming out of your speakers—and even cause your record to skip occasionally while playing. For more information on setting up your turntable properly (including setting the tracking force), check out my video below:
Problem 4: Vibrations and Footfall Traffic
Turntables are immensely sensitive to vibrations, which is why in a lot of the marketing you see for turntables, they talk about having the plinth being made out of a sturdy material, or the feet being “vibration dampening” feet.
All of that marketing speak is fine, but you can do one very basic thing to prevent your records from skipping: make sure you limit lots of movement and footfall traffic around your turntable.
How to Fix It: First, you want to put your record player on an extremely sturdy surface. No wobbly or misaligned tables here—you want a rock solid surface.
The second thing I recommend is to not put your record player on the same surface as your speakers. Depending on the quality of your record player (or how loudly you play bass-heavy music, the vibrations of which could affect the tracking of your tonearm), I think you’re just asking for trouble.
Lastly, be sure to limit the footfall traffic around your turntable. “Footfall traffic” is really just a fancy way of saying people (or animals) running or jumping around your record player while it’s playing. Remember, turntables are sensitive to vibrations, and vibrations can affect the quality of the sound you hear through your speakers. Vibrations can also increase the likelihood that your record player will skip, as well.
So when your record player is spinning, try to eliminate animals and kids from running around the room. You’ll thank me later.
Wrapping It Up
So that’s about it—hopefully you now feel a bit more comfortable answering the initial question of “why is my new vinyl skipping.” The bad news is that there’s no 100%, concrete answer to your problem. However, the good news is that there are a litany of fixes for your issue, and if you make just one or two small adjustments, it’ll go a long way to preventing your new vinyl records from skipping.
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