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Topic: New guy with turntable setup Qs (Read 2145 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • Andy69
  • [*]
New guy with turntable setup Qs
Good morning

I just dug my old audio gear out of the closet so I could digitize my LP collection.  I have a few questions regarding setup and sound quality.

Harmon Kardon T-35 turntable
Signet AM40s cartridge
Yamaha integrated amp
Realistic Pro 60 headphones

recording gear:
Dell Dimension laptop with Free Audio Recorder
file format .WAV

Processing setup:

Intel iMac with ClickRepair and VinylStudio

The reason for the two computers is the recording station is set up in the basement as it is the only place that doesn't bounce around when someone walks.

I try to use minimal cleanup after recording.  MY collection from years ago is pretty well taken care of and doesn't need much if any but ones that I buy at thrift shops and such can be on the rough side.

The one question I have regarding the setup is, is the Signet a good match for the tonearm on the HK?  It was a fairly highly regarded cartridge in the price range when I bought it (ca. 1990), but I didn't really take the time to determine if it was a good match. 

I did have to enlarge the mounting holes in the headshell in order to get it mounted back far enough ( a problem I have noted others having with this arm with certain cartridges), and I still can't get it aligned perfectly.  It's very very very close though with the Loefgren and not quite as close with the Baerwald.

I've been cleaning the records with a Discwasher IV brush and a solution of 50% distilled water and 50% alcohol (91% solution), then cleaning it up with a Realistic carbon fiber record brush.  On the LPs I purchased new I usually just hit them with the carbon brush as I have kept them pretty clean.

I've noticed a kind of a fuzzy sound with the high end that sort of reminds me of a stylus that's clogged with dust.  The records are pretty clean, even the thrift store ones, so I doubt that's the problem.  Could it be inaccurate tracking force?  I have it set at 1.25g and double checked with a scale.

Anything else that might cause this fuzzy sound?

Thanks for helping out the new guy

Cheers,
Andy
  • Last Edit: 31 January, 2010, 09:41:40 AM by Andy69

  • Apesbrain
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
New guy with turntable setup Qs
Reply #1
Hi Andy, welcome to HA.  I can't say for certain that this is your problem but most cartridges do not have an unlimited lifetime.  There are many flexible parts inside the cartridge body (rubber grommet, metal coils, etc.) that will dry out or otherwise lose their flexibility over time.  I'd say a 20-year old cartridge is likely well past its prime.  A replacement stylus assembly appears to still be available for that model, but for the same money you could probably replace the entire cartridge with something more contemporary and be sure everything is as new!

Of course, I assume your TT is plugged into the "Phono" inputs on the amp and you're taking the output from the "Tape Outs".
  • Last Edit: 31 January, 2010, 09:57:41 AM by Apesbrain

  • Andy69
  • [*]
New guy with turntable setup Qs
Reply #2
Hi Andy, welcome to HA.  I can't say for certain that this is your problem but most cartridges do not have an unlimited lifetime.  There are many flexible parts inside the cartridge body (rubber grommet, metal coils, etc.) that will dry out or otherwise lose their flexibility over time.  I'd say a 20-year old cartridge is likely well past its prime.  A replacement stylus assembly appears to still be available for that model, but for the same money you could probably replace the entire cartridge with something more contemporary and be sure everything is as new!

Of course, I assume your TT is plugged into the "Phono" inputs on the amp and you're taking the output from the "Tape Outs".


Thanks for the response.  That thought had crossed my mind.  I came to the same conclusion regarding the replacement stylus (the one I found was $80).  It doesn't have too many hours on it, though, despite being that old.  I don't mind buying a new one, I just want to make sure it's a forward movement in terms of sound quality rather than sideways or back.  The gaps in my knowledge are becoming apparent!

It does sound good on many LPs though, so the strange distortion is not consistent.  I just recorded an XTC album that sounds fantastic, while about the same time I recorded Hora Staccato by Russ Case and his Orchestra that does sound funny.

  • Andy69
  • [*]
New guy with turntable setup Qs
Reply #3
Doing a bit more reading, it seems like what I'm experiencing is inner groove distortion.  The inner tracks sound noticeable worse, some to the point of being unplayable.

I have the cartridge aligned using Loefgren, but I think I'll try Stephenson, which iirc is supposed to bias the more correct alignment toward the inner tracks to improve tracking in that area.

Perhaps it might be time to pick up an AT 440MLa.

  • Andy69
  • [*]
New guy with turntable setup Qs
Reply #4
I might have answered my own question with respect to the distortion.  Some albums sound fine, others are trashed.  The ones that are trashed are strictly second hand/thrift shop albums, so I would guess they were been damaged by previous owners.