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What are Turntable Belts?

Miranda Fine
Miranda Fine

Turntable belts are essential for operating belt-driven turntables. A belt-driven turntable uses a belt to connect a motor to and turn the platter, or record playing surface, of the turntable. Turntable belts are made of rubber and vary in width and length by manufacturer. Not all turntables require turntable belts to operate, however. Some turntables are motor driven or “direct drive” and use a small motor to directly turn the platter.

Belt-driven turntables are often more inexpensive to buy than direct drive turntables because they allow for use of a cheaper motor. Both belt-driven and direct drive turntables have their aficionados, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each type. Turntable belts are thought to operate more quietly than the motors of direct drive tables, and provide a superior listening experience for many listeners. Therefore, many audiophiles regard belt-driven turntables to be best for casual listening. Direct drive turntables are often used by DJs, since the direction of the record’s spin can be changed quickly. Direct drive turntables are often sturdier than their belt-driven counterparts.

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A shortcoming of turntable belts is that eventually they will fail and need to be replaced. Turntable belts may also become brittle or worn after years of use, and lead to inferior sound quality from your record player. Replacing, or sometimes adjusting, an old belt can improve sound quality. It may be difficult to find replacement turntable belts at local stores, but they are widely available over the internet and easy to replace in most models. To find a replacement, measure the length and width of your turntable belt and note the make and model number of your turntable.

To replace turntable belts, follow these simple instructions. First take the rubber or felt mat off the platter. This is where you normally would put a record you are about to play. You will see a few access windows on the platter, which you can use to lift the platter off the turntable. There may be an inside clip you will need to disengage. While the platter is off, use a lint-free cloth to dust the inside of the turntable. Visually locate the motor and pulley where the belt attaches. Then place the new belt around the inner rim of the underside of the platter, it will fit loosely. Replace the platter and reach through the access window near the pulley to attach the belt to the motor.

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