I recently discovered something frustrating with my new record player – it was skipping, or ‘jumping’ if I walked around my room! After spending a lot of time researching why, I was surprised at how damaging this can be for your records, but also how easy it was to fix. Below is a short step-by-step guide you can follow so you don’t have to suffer a skipping record player again.
Why Does My Record Player Skip When I Move?
Record players skip when you move because floor vibrations travel to the needle, making it ‘jump’ off and onto your record. This is often fixed by placing your record player on a stronger surface to absorb the vibrations first.
If this doesn’t fix your problem instantly, don’t worry, just follow the steps below. But first, there are some really important things you need to know first.
What You MUST KNOW About Record Player Skipping First
Can record skipping damage my vinyls?
Yes, prolonged record skipping will always damage your records but can cause irreparable damage even with short-term skipping if left unfixed. Every time the needle jumps up and down, it has the risk of landing too hard and scratching your record. With excessive record skipping, if left unfixed, will destroy your records and make them unplayable. If you notice your records are skipping, it is extremely important that you follow the steps below to find out the cause, and fix it to protect your record collection. Do not play any records until you have fixed your record player.
Is it normal for my record player to skip?
Yes, it’s a very common problem as it doesn’t matter too much what kind of record player you have. A large, heavy record player could cause a vinyl to jump if it’s placed on a wobbly floorboard whereas a cheap player could play fine on top of a sturdy shelf. In all cases, it is imperative to stop playing your records and go through this guide otherwise you risk damaging your vinyl or even your record player (depending on the problem).
What does Record Player Skipping Mean?
Record player skipping is when a vinyl is playing and suddenly jumps further forward than it should do – like pressing a ‘fast forward 2 seconds button’ for example. The key thing to note is that while a record player can cause skipping, the record itself can too if it is old or damaged. This is easily noticed by playing another record. If your record is damaged, there are sadly very few options to fix it and you will have to replace it, which is why it is so important to fix a skipping issue the moment you notice it.
A 7 Step Guide To Stop Your Record Player Skipping
Our research found 3 main reasons why records skip when moving around the room and fortunately, they are easy, quick, and free to test and fix. In summary, your records are likely skipping because dust or other material is stuck to the needle tip, the record itself is damaged, or, the surface that the record player is placed on is too flimsy, meaning vibrations from the floor is moving the record player needle too much.
These issues can be present simultaneously too. For example, having dust stuck to the needle means there is less space between it and your record, so when vibrations cause it to move, the skipping effect is much more likely to occur.
The Placement of Your Record Player
Step 1 – Check Your Vinyl
Before you do anything to your record player, check your vinyl isn’t the reason you can hear a skipping effect and swap out the record you are using for another one (preferably an old one).
Do you still have the same problem as before?
If so, move on to the steps below but the good news is your vinyl isn’t damaged.
If not, it is likely that your record is damaged. Damage such as scratches to your record can cause a skipping effect because your record player can’t ‘find’ the sound information anymore as the scratch has covered too much space. This will sound like skipping.
Step 2 – Check The Needle for Dust
This simply requires you to look at the underneath of the needle and carefully remove any dust, or unwanted objects that may have got trapped.
If you have a pet, for example, you’d be surprised how easily loose fur can end up on the needle and cause friction, static and unwanted movement of the arm, giving you a jumping effect!
I highly recommend doing this when the record player is unplugged from the wall, and with appropriate gloves to avoid damaging it, or yourself. I found using a torch, such as from a phone, helped me see dust that was clogged and hanging on to the tip of the needle.
Step 3 – Check the Base (80% of the time this fix works)
If you are struggling with a record player that skips when you walk around the room, the best step is to move it to a different room (preferably with different floorboards) or place it on top of a stronger surface, such as a thick wooden cabinet or on top of hardcover books. This will help absorb the vibrations before they reach the needle of your record player and is the easiest and quickest way to fix it at home, with no cost involved. We found this is the most likely reason for record player skipping due to movement when your vinyl isn’t damaged.
Next, press play on your record player (without a record on it) so it is spinning with the needle arm down as normal, and have someone walk around the room. Watch to see if the needle moves up and down a lot compared to where it was when it started skipping (this means you won’t damage your records). If you see no movement, or very little, then you can try it with your records on to hear the difference too. Hopefully, this should have solved your problem and you can start testing different surfaces to your needs!
I would strongly recommend investing in a sturdy place to keep your record player to avoid damaging your records, even if you don’t have any skipping issues right now. You never know what might happen if you suddenly have a lot of people in the same room, or the cabinet itself is moved which could damage your player. If you are looking to buy a record player, make sure it is from a reliable manufacturer and not made from cheap, thin or flimsy materials ideally too.
Where Is The Best Place to Put Your Record Player?
This table shows the best places to put your record player to stop it from skipping when moving around the room, based on home research we gathered. We looked at a variety of households and record players and analyzed how likely they were to ‘skip’ when there they were subject to a lot of movement in the same room. In almost all cases, the sturdier the base, the better.
We didn’t observe a great overall difference in the price of the record players surprisingly either. Where we did see a difference, was whether the record player’s base was small and thin compared to having a big sturdy base. Even when placed on the floor, these record players were often resilient enough to prevent skipping. I would consider the available space you have when buying a new record player.
|Place To Put Your Record Player||Reported Cases of Record Player Skipping|
|On the floor (laminate flooring)||75%|
|On the floor (carpet)||60%|
|Plastic, low to the floor cabinet||40%|
|Wooden, low to the floor cabinet||30%|
|Regular height cabinet (plastic, glass or thin legs)||10%|
|Regular height cabinet (wood, metal or thick legs)||5%|
Other Reasons and Fixes For Your Record Player Skipping When You Walk
During our research, we saw that record skipping when moving was caused by the placement of the record player, or dust on the needle, over 80% of the time. In other cases however, the reasons were more technical and require more time and investment to fix them.
These causes are also similar to general record skipping issues, because the simple act of moving is enough to put pressure on a pre-existing or sensitive issue within the record player, speakers, electricals or other parts.
CAUTION: You MUST handle this list with care and attention when going through each step to limit any damage to yourself, others, your record player or records. I recommend troubleshooting these issues in order, as they increase in difficulty and cost so you don’t needlessly waste time or money! Always consult an electrician when working with electrical equipment.
Step 4 – Speakers
Similar to step 5, the problem may be with your speakers themselves, rather than your record player. Test your speakers by plugging them into another source using the same cable. If you have a damaged speaker or cable you should hear disruption to the sound. While playing music, move the cable and the speakers from side to side to simulate movement.
If you have an issue with your speakers causing your records to skip, then you should hear crackling or skipping when doing this. If there are no issues then your speakers are fine!
Step 5 – Sonos issues
If your record player is connected to Sonos, you may have a connection issue causing it to sound like your records are skipping (if not you can skip this step).
First, check what room your Sonos receiver is in. If moving around the room it is in causes skipping then you should put it somewhere sturdier (like in step 3) and test the sound again. Loose floorboards for example could cause disruption to the signal, or your Sonos receiver may have loose connections internally making it easier to lose connection when vibrations move the wires.
Second, connect another device to your Sonos and play music, like Spotify on your phone or laptop. If you have clipping or skipping issues then the problem is with your Sonos device itself.
Step 6 – Needle damage
Occasionally, you might have a damaged needle that needs replacing. It is recommended you replace your record player needle every 1-2 years with weekly use. Unplug everything and visually check for any wiring issues like corrosion or fraying. This alone could mean even the slightest movement can cause the electrical signals to ‘glitch’.
Fortunately, needles are cheap to buy and usually very easy to replace yourself. If you have just bought a second-hand player, or you have used your player regularly for at least the last year, it is probably worth doing this anyway. If your record player is brand new, however, always go to your manufacturer first, as investigating it yourself could void your warranty.
If you cannot see any obvious wiring issues or other damage to the needle, especially if it is a new record player, it is unlikely to be the cause of your records skipping.
Step 7 – Cartridge issues
The cartridge is the ‘outfit’ of your needle (or stylus). It has a magnet that helps convert the movement of the needle on your records, into an electrical signal which can be understood by audio equipment such as speakers, to play music. If you have followed all the steps above and still experience a skipping record sound when you move, you may need to replace the cartridge. To test this, you can take the cartridge off of the needle and open it up to see for any abnormalities.
The chances are that you will hear odd artifacts if this is the cause in addition to skipping though, such as fuzziness, slowing, or poor sound quality. The good news is, they are cheap and easy to replace and can be found everywhere, including Amazon.
Step 8 – Record Player Skipping and Don’t Know Why?
If you have followed all 7 steps above and your record is still skipping, you should contact the company you bought it from, or the manufacturer immediately. It may have serious issues such as internal or electrical issues that will need an expert to fix or replace.
Using your record player when it has experienced skipping when moving around the room will damage your record, and potentially the record player, or even yourself (if faulty electrics are to blame). Fortunately, the vast majority of record skipping issues due to moving around the room can be fixed following steps 1-6 for cheap, or free, from home.
How to prevent a record player from skipping and damaging your records
Before you purchase your record player, remember that quality is important if you don’t want to damage your records or have a disappointing listening experience. Invest in a record player that has a sturdy or heavy base especially. Flimsy, thin materials provide little protection against vibrations and have a host of other problems too.
You should also place your record player in a good location first as we mention in the guide above. If you are unsure where to place your record player to stop it from skipping, try testing it by pressing play with the needle arm in place but with no record on it. Keep eye level with it and have someone walk around the room and your record player. You should be able to see if the needle is moving loads or not at all. If it is moving a lot, it is highly likely you will experience a jumping record.
Are expensive record players better at preventing skipping when you move?
Yes you get what you pay for when it comes to record players, but only to a degree. More expensive record players tend to be made from better quality, sturdier materials so they are better at preventing skipping because they absorb vibrations better. However, we have found that after you pass the £200 mark, depending on the brand, you should have a record player good enough for all your needs, and that won’t cause damage to your records.
Some brands like Victrola are more expensive than their similar-looking counterparts, but that is usually because they can charge more for having their Victrola brand name on it, which is now recognized worldwide. You will often find the exact same products, but without the brand name, for sale elsewhere for cheaper which are manufactured in the same place. As always, we recommend looking into the quality of materials and reviews rather than just the brand name when making your decision.
If your records are skipping when you walk, don’t panic. We found that in 80% of cases, this is fixed by simply placing your record player on a stronger surface, or moving it to a different room with different flooring. When this doesn’t work, there are other fixes you can mostly do at home to fix the problem that we have outlined in this step-by-step guide.
If you have gone through our step-by-step guide and there is still a problem, I recommend contacting your record players manufacturer. If it is in warranty from the place you purchased it from, speak to them first, and above all else always consult a trained electrician before looking at any electrical repairs yourself.