Skip to main content

Notice

Please note that most of the software linked on this forum is likely to be safe to use. If you are unsure, feel free to ask in the relevant topics, or send a private message to an administrator or moderator. To help curb the problems of false positives, or in the event that you do find actual malware, you can contribute through the article linked here.
Topic: A Question About Turntables and cartridges (Read 7093 times) previous topic - next topic
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

A Question About Turntables and cartridges

I like to think that I know a lot about using a turntable to get music into my computer, but I've come up against something that's stumped me.

I am using an older Technics SL-BD35 belt-drive turntable to get music into my computer, hooked up to an ART DJ Pre II phono preamp. The cartridge that came with the turntable is an old Digital Research DR350, which I guess was made by Audio Technica. All of these seem to be working fairly well. I say "fairly" because I have no way of knowing I have anything set up right.

The preamp did not come with any kind of instructions on how to set it up, and I can't find any specs on the DR350 anywhere. To make matters worse, the turntable doesn't have the post the arm is supposed to rest on, so that when it comes to rest, it hits the turntable body. And finally, to add insult to injury, the tracking force scale is gone from the back of the arm, so I've more or less been "adjusting to taste" as it were.

But believe it or not, those aren't the problems. The problem is that although my recordings seem to be all right for the most part, I do have one niggling issue:

1. The sound is generally good, but the treble is occasionally "spitty" and I occasionally have mild to moderate harsh sibilance. I have read that there are two possible causes: mistracking and having set the wrong input capacitance. The preamp has two settings for capacitance: 100uF and 200uF. How do I determine which is the correct one? And for tracking purposes, is it worse for the tracking force to be too light or too heavy? And finally, are there any audible cues that would let me know which problem I have?

Finally, does anyone know of a good quality preamp in the price range of the DJ Pre II (around $75 or so)? It's performed well, but I'd rather use something that actually comes with instructions on how to set it up. I could probably get a fairly decent price for it on eBay.

A Question About Turntables and cartridges

Reply #1
The preamp has two settings for capacitance: 100uF and 200uF.

You don't mean microfarads, but rather picofarads (pF).


A Question About Turntables and cartridges

Reply #3
You probably have mistracking.  My first guess is that your tracking force is too light.  (Or, it could be an anti-skating misadjustment, and some records might be low-quality or damaged.)  The stylus should flex a bit when you drop it on the record, but it shouldn't be flexed so much that it's almost buried in the cartridge.  You can buy a stylus force gauge.  (You might be able to find one for lower cost than that one...  I found some higher-cost digital gauges too.)

Back in the "vinyl days", I used to keep my tracking force as light as possible to minimize wear.  Now, I'm not so concerned, because I'm usually just  playing the record only one more time to make a digital transfer.  I'll set the force around the high-limit to get a good recording.  (I don't listen to vinyl.)

I don't think you need a user manual for the preamp.  If there's a recommended capacitance for your cartridge, that information would be in the documentation that came with the cartridge.  A capacitance "mismatch" might cause a subtle boost or cut in treble.  More (parallel) capacitance will tend to roll-off the highs.  In general, less capacitance is probably better.  Use your ears, and if you don't hear any difference, use the lowest setting (or don't worry about it).

Quote
To make matters worse, the turntable doesn't have the post the arm is supposed to rest on, so that when it comes to rest, it hits the turntable body.
  Maybe a little piece of wood or something?

Quote
Finally, does anyone know of a good quality preamp in the price range of the DJ Pre II (around $75 or so)? It's performed well, but I'd rather use something that actually comes with instructions on how to set it up. I could probably get a fairly decent price for it on eBay.
  If you're going to spend money, the preamp is the last thing I'd replace!  I'd look for a new (used) turntable, and maybe a new cartridge.


P.S.
Perhaps off-topic, but here is a web page with tons of helpful information about digitizing & cleaning-up vinyl.

A Question About Turntables and cartridges

Reply #4
I agree with DVDoug, mistracking is the most likely cause. If it is mistracking you will notice the symptoms most on loud passages, especially sudden transients. If the anti-skating is not adjusted properly you will  probably notice the problem at its worst at the beginning (outer circumference of the disc) or at the end (inner circumference of the disc) of each side. For capacitance, I'd let your ears decided which is best - as DVDoug says, it's not likely to be the main cause of your problem

A Question About Turntables and cartridges

Reply #5
I agree with DVDoug, mistracking is the most likely cause. If it is mistracking you will notice the symptoms most on loud passages, especially sudden transients. If the anti-skating is not adjusted properly you will  probably notice the problem at its worst at the beginning (outer circumference of the disc) or at the end (inner circumference of the disc) of each side. For capacitance, I'd let your ears decided which is best - as DVDoug says, it's not likely to be the main cause of your problem

Thanks for all the advice. I tried adjusting the tracking force so that it'd be heavier than before, and it seems to have done the trick. As a matter of fact, I not only have smoother highs, but the bass end is a lot better too. Unfortunately, because the scale no longer exists, I don't know if I overdid it or not. Fortunately, the majority of the vinyl I'm transferring is of good quality, and I'm only going to transfer it once and put it away for good.

Another thing that might help is that I recently won another Technics turntable off of eBay (a direct-drive one, like the one I first started out with) and as soon as I get it, plus a new belt I ordered for the one I have now, I'll sell it on eBay to see what I can get for it. The preamp, needless to say, has earned a reprieve.

I will hold off on getting a tracking force scale until after I get the new turntable. The older Technics models actually etched the tracking force into the tonearm and the weighted cylinder.

I have also decided not to worry too much about the capacitance. I haven't noticed much of a difference in sound quality either way, and unfortunately Audio Technica doesn't have specs on any of their old Digital Research cartridges.

A Question About Turntables and cartridges

Reply #6
I agree with DVDoug, mistracking is the most likely cause. If it is mistracking you will notice the symptoms most on loud passages, especially sudden transients. If the anti-skating is not adjusted properly you will  probably notice the problem at its worst at the beginning (outer circumference of the disc) or at the end (inner circumference of the disc) of each side. For capacitance, I'd let your ears decided which is best - as DVDoug says, it's not likely to be the main cause of your problem

Thanks for all the advice. I tried adjusting the tracking force so that it'd be heavier than before, and it seems to have done the trick. As a matter of fact, I not only have smoother highs, but the bass end is a lot better too. Unfortunately, because the scale no longer exists, I don't know if I overdid it or not. Fortunately, the majority of the vinyl I'm transferring is of good quality, and I'm only going to transfer it once and put it away for good.

Another thing that might help is that I recently won another Technics turntable off of eBay (a direct-drive one, like the one I first started out with) and as soon as I get it, plus a new belt I ordered for the one I have now, I'll sell it on eBay to see what I can get for it. The preamp, needless to say, has earned a reprieve.

I will hold off on getting a tracking force scale until after I get the new turntable. The older Technics models actually etched the tracking force into the tonearm and the weighted cylinder.

I have also decided not to worry too much about the capacitance. I haven't noticed much of a difference in sound quality either way, and unfortunately Audio Technica doesn't have specs on any of their old Digital Research cartridges.


The weight by 'off balancing' the counterweight is serviceable but not the preferred method. The problem with calibrated imbalance is that the center of gravity of the arm is no longer centered at the pivot which means it's more sensitive to motion of the house. People walking by and causing a bounce can get into the signal. The preferred method is to balance and then add spring force relative to the turntable base plate. IIRC the Thorens tables used springs and I know for sure that the German Dual tables used springs. If you can keep the platter and disc on the table it will run upside down.

In general, run the tracking force at the top of the manufacturers recommended range to minimize tracking errors. It's much better than running at the low end.


A Question About Turntables and cartridges

Reply #7
I agree with DVDoug, mistracking is the most likely cause. If it is mistracking you will notice the symptoms most on loud passages, especially sudden transients. If the anti-skating is not adjusted properly you will  probably notice the problem at its worst at the beginning (outer circumference of the disc) or at the end (inner circumference of the disc) of each side. For capacitance, I'd let your ears decided which is best - as DVDoug says, it's not likely to be the main cause of your problem

Thanks for all the advice. I tried adjusting the tracking force so that it'd be heavier than before, and it seems to have done the trick. As a matter of fact, I not only have smoother highs, but the bass end is a lot better too. Unfortunately, because the scale no longer exists, I don't know if I overdid it or not. Fortunately, the majority of the vinyl I'm transferring is of good quality, and I'm only going to transfer it once and put it away for good.

Another thing that might help is that I recently won another Technics turntable off of eBay (a direct-drive one, like the one I first started out with) and as soon as I get it, plus a new belt I ordered for the one I have now, I'll sell it on eBay to see what I can get for it. The preamp, needless to say, has earned a reprieve.

I will hold off on getting a tracking force scale until after I get the new turntable. The older Technics models actually etched the tracking force into the tonearm and the weighted cylinder.

I have also decided not to worry too much about the capacitance. I haven't noticed much of a difference in sound quality either way, and unfortunately Audio Technica doesn't have specs on any of their old Digital Research cartridges.


The weight by 'off balancing' the counterweight is serviceable but not the preferred method. The problem with calibrated imbalance is that the center of gravity of the arm is no longer centered at the pivot which means it's more sensitive to motion of the house. People walking by and causing a bounce can get into the signal. The preferred method is to balance and then add spring force relative to the turntable base plate. IIRC the Thorens tables used springs and I know for sure that the German Dual tables used springs. If you can keep the platter and disc on the table it will run upside down.

In general, run the tracking force at the top of the manufacturers recommended range to minimize tracking errors. It's much better than running at the low end.




Well, I partially resolved the issue. The direct-drive Technics unit came in last week, and apart from a makeshift ground wire that was little more than a wire stripped at both ends, it was perfect. I'll probably be selling the belt-drive unit with the cartridge that came on the direct-drive one, since the DR350 gave out. I ended up picking up a Grado Prestige Black, but I didn't use it much because I couldn't set the force correctly. I won't be asking a whole lot for it, even though I just replaced the belt on it.

 
SimplePortal 1.0.0 RC1 © 2008-2021