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Turntable Question: Why Use Synthetic Bearing Oil?

A question I am commonly asked is “why do you bother lubricating the spindle bearing and why use synthetic bearing oil.”

The answer to this is quite simple. Turntables are mechanic systems and as such require maintenance. When these turntables were designed, manufacturers often paid little attention to explaining this need, probably thinking that the deck would be superseded or out of use by the time this became a problem.

With the resurgence in the popularity of vinyl, many of these older decks are still in use and desperately in need of oil. Many that come past me have never had any oil, at all, in twenty or thirty years!

All bearings are designed to run with certain clearances and certain lubricants. Oil and/or grease is used in most common turntable bearings. These lubricants are designed to fill the clearance or void between the spindle and the walls of the bearing well.

Over time these lubricants will change and the carrier or liquid component will gradually evaporate, causing a loss of lubricant volume, which in turn will mean increased clearances in the bearing and ultimately metal surfaces running together and bearing wobble. All of this causes noise and vibration and in a turntable this is a disaster.

So – we need to re-lubricate spindle bearings in belt and direct drive systems, but why do I choose synthetic oil? It lasts longer and has greater lubricity. In real-life what this means in my experience is lower bearing noise, for a longer time. Even premium synthetic oil needs to be changed though and I recommend a check and change every three years or so if you use your deck often.

When we service your turntable, wherever possible, synthetic oil or grease will be used to lubricate the spindle bearing. Contact us for more details or to book your turntable in.

Denon DP-30L about to receive fresh bearing oil
Where it all happens – the spindle, with recess for a ball bearing on the left, the stator and bearing well assembly ready to receive fresh synthetic oil on the right. Note the beautifully wound motor field coils.


Liquid Mike

As a kid, I cherished my Tandy 200-in-1 electronics project lab, Dick Smith electronics kits, my Dad's hi-fi and my own first proper system. Later, I created Liquid Audio to help keep classic hi-fi gear alive and well. Our mission: to deliver TLC for classic Japanese, American and European hi-fi stereo equipment.

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