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Sometimes a record player will have a sound that is really hard to describe and the best word for it is “fuzzy”. It is when there is just something that is a little bit off with your sound and it drives you nuts.
Are record players supposed to sound fuzzy? Although record players are not supposed to sound fuzzy they will sometimes sound that way. Normally they will sound that way because:
- Stylus is worn down
- Your setup is not right
- Check your sound levels
- Record is in bad condition
- Record is dusty or dirty
If you have a record player that sounds fuzzy or a little off then keep reading to learn more about this issue.
If you are a vinyl collector, you will try and keep your vinyl record player in the best shape possible. Still, on occasion, you will get that “fuzzy” sound which can be super annoying.
What makes it worse is that when you notice the sound it is all you can hear It does not matter if you are rocking out with Bruce Dickinson, partying to some Manu Dibango or kicking back with some Boyz II Men! That fuzziness is all you can focus on.
While you may think that your record player is on the fritz or that your record has some huge scratches on it that is normally not the case. However, experience shows that there is usually a fix for when your vinyl is not sounding as good as you would like it to. That is what we will talk about today.
In this article I will be sharing with you a few of the things that I would personally do if my record player was sounding fuzzy. I will also share with you a few links to some of my favorite sites that have helped me out over the years.
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#1 Check your stylus
Look at your stylus and if it is down to a point you need a new one. I found this after doing some reading on the subject. A new stylus can make a huge difference in the sound quality if your player or stylus is quite old. The sound quality really is like night and day with how much better it sounds. You may want to buy a new stylus or you very well may want to fully upgrade your cartridge, it is up to you. If you buy an old record player, I would always advise checking the stylus before you use it and the stylus is always the first thing I will change when the sound quality is suffering.
#2. Check your setup
This is the term I have heard over and over again and another thing I want to suggest is to look at your records. One thing that it could be is the way you have it all hooked up. Look, I know that questioning another vinyl lovers’ setup may sound like blasphemy to some of you guys and I certainly mean no disrespect. However, as you can see from this post on Reddit many other people feel that this could be the issue.
If you have your turntable going into a receiver that has other things like a CD player, TV and so on and they are not fuzzy then start checking the inputs for your turntable and make sure that they are in properly. You also might want to try new cables to see if that is what is causing the problem.
Cables can wear out over time so sometimes they will need to be replaced and that is what is causing the sound to be “off”.
#3. Check your levels
By levels, I mean your sound levels. I am an 80s rocker at heart so I love to listen to stuff like Bon Jovi, Guns n Roses, Metallica and so on. I love to listen to it loud too (well as long as the wife is not home) however I know that the louder I have my music the chances of losing clarity rises. If your music is cranked up loud and it sounds fuzzy it could just be your player or speakers aren’t designed for good sound at that volume.
All of our setups will be different so there is no way that I can tell you exactly what levels you want your treble, bass and overall volume at however, I would suggest that you do play around with them a little bit in order to get the sound just the way you want.
This is something I am pretty obsessive about and I do enjoy playing around to get the sounds just where i like them. Heck, you could be crazy like me and actually have different albums where you will change the settings to fit that album….. Actually that is a rabbit hole you do not want to go down!
#4. Take care of your records and player
Sometimes you could be having that fuzzy or off sound because your record is not clean or perhaps your stylus is not clean.
Being a vinyl collector, especially if you are someone like me who loves to go out and hunt down old vinyl, requires that you do some regular maintenance on your collection. The state of some of the records I have bought over the years is gross! Some folks have not used their records in decades and when they decide to sell them they are also giving you decades of dust and grime build up too! (If you are guilty of this, and discovered you have some very dirty vinyls, check out the basic super cheap 4 recommended cleaning tools that can resolve this for you easily! They can be found on Amazon here.)
This gives you all you need to clean your records and do it properly. You can also get some that come with extra stuff that will allow you to clean the stylus.
If you have listened to a really dusty and dirty record, chances are some of that has gotten onto the stylus so make sure you give that a good cleaning as well. I am not saying that you should go through all your records and clean them at once, but if you pull one out that you have not listened to in a while, be sure to give it a look over before you put it on your record player.
If you would also like to see suggestions on the best way to clean your vinyl records you can watch this video below for some great tips.
#5. Are your records dirty and dusty?
If the stylus is still in pretty good shape, you need to check your records themselves. Especially if it is the same record or the same few records that you feel do not sound right. If they are a bit on the dirty side, you can purchase a record cleaning brush which will help get any dirt that is in the grooves of your record out so that they can sound as good as they possibly can.
Another good idea is to keep them put away so they don’t get dirty and dusty in the first place. Many people have specific bags or sleeves that they put their records in to ensure that they stay as clean as possible in between plays. You don’t have to go that far but it is a good idea to protect your records as much as possible to ensure that they are ready to go when you want to listen to them.
Normally when a record is sounding a little fuzzy or “off” it can be directly attributed to one of the five things above. Most often the reason is because of the record being dirty or grimey.
That is also the first thing I do is clean or dust the records and then try it. The second most likely option is that the stylus needs replaced. If all of your records are sounding that way then this is the most likely culprit. Replacing the stylus is a relatively easy process and isn’t too expensive either.
You can watch the video below on how to replace the needle (stylus) to see how easy it is.
The last thing I would check is your setup. Most people always use the same setup so the likelihood of it being an issue in this situation is far less likely than the other ones mentioned above. It is sometimes the culprit but it is normally the last thing I would try.
Just work your way through each one step by step and use your common sense. If it is always one record that sounds bad and all of your other records are fine then it is most certainly a record issue and not an issue with your stylus or setup at all!