AT-LP120USB Assistance...AT95E Cart Really Noisy/Distorted On Most Material... - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 165 Old 01-22-2015, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
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AT-LP120USB Assistance...AT95E Cart Really Noisy/Distorted On Most Material...

Okay, folks. Before I begin this massive foray into problems I have been having with my two-week-old Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB turntable, let me preface it all by saying this: I understand and realize that most so-called golden-eared "audiophiles" will call this Technics SL1200 knockoff a pure hunk of steaming, worthless plastic garbage and that it in no way, shape or form can hold the jockstrap of the 1200, to say nothing of other so-called upscale tables; so, please, let's not begin with that. I happen to absolutely love the aesthetics of this deck and while my first choice WAS a 1200, now that Panasonic has pulled the plug on them we simply couldn't find one we could afford, even on the gently used market. That said, I want to try and make this deck work as best as possible because I really like using it and feel all the controls have a nice, solid SL1200-like tactile touch to them...even the gentle cue lever, which drops softly when lowered. I realize that Audio-Technica has some other models like the 1240 that have surpassed the 120 in build and performance quality, but this is where we're at now, and I'd like to make this 'table work...

Alright -- the issues. First, let me get some basics and fundamentals out of the proverbial way: The turntable is set on a level glass shelf atop a Bell'O audio tower, so the leveling is not a problem here. Secondarily, I, at this point, do not have any stylus tracking force gauges or cartridge alignment equipment, so please let's just take those two suggestions out of the loop for a moment (because I know that is going to be recommended to be sure everything is 100-percent absolutely perfect) -- I did do, however, the basic recommended setup of the tonearm and anti-skating settings (and assembled the turntable correctly beforehand, of course) per the instruction manual (and per what every turntable "information portal" recommends doing when you look up instructions for setting up a turntable with tracking counterweights, etc.) and this included "zeroing" out the arm so it floats level above the platter, setting the calibration dial to "0" and then rotating the entire counterweight dial to the recommended tracking weight for the supplied Audio-Technica AT95E cartridge, which is 2.0 grams (more on this in a minute). From there, instructions (and popular suggestions online) indicated to set the anti-skate (which is notoriously poor on this turntable model from what I've read) to match the tracking weight, which is "2." So that's where I set the anti-skate, or thereabouts...

From almost the very first day of living with this turntable, I have been experiencing moderate to severe sibilance/distortion in high frequencies, and after I did some online research I came to learn that sometimes tracking force for a stylus can be the culprit, as having too little tracking force is worse than having too much because this will cause mistracking of the vinyl and can yield sibilance and distortion -- from what I read regarding other owners of the AT95E cartridge, I played with the tracking force all the way up to the maximum recommended, which is 2.5 grams. My ears may have been fooling me, but it seemed like this MAY have helped smooth out the highs on some records somewhat -- but after going back and forth between different "high range" tracking force settings, I still seem to be getting nasty sibilance on many of the records in my collection, whether they be LPs, 45s or 12-inch dance singles (which I own from being a mobile DJ years ago).

Now -- I DO totally understand that the underlying factor here is probably the vinyl I'm playing...to be honest, most of it is old and somewhat uncared for (some of it was cared for, but a majority of it that I obtained from other owners and such was not). But what's weird is that even with brand new records -- one of which was a totally sealed and unopened Barbara Streisand LP I came across in a box of old records that moved with us, The Second Barbara Streisand Album -- there STILL seems to be much sibilance, especially towards the end of an LP's side, which I understand is called inner grove distortion and is common. Some records, though, are horrendously distorted and nasty-sounding at the end of a side (Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits comes to mind...the last song on the first side which he sings with Nancy is downright unlistenable) and at this point I just don't know what is going on...

Which brings me to CLEANINGS -- of course, it has already been suggested to me that I need to clean my records, especially because they're old (most of them; one of the last LPs I personally purchased was back in the early '90s, and was Def Leppard's Hysteria) and so I went out and picked up what is known as the "Vinyl Styl" deep cleaning system (http://www.amazon.com/Vinyl-Styl-Rec.../dp/B00C5N0CTY and https://www.facebook.com/VinylStyl) at a local Fry's after I went there to look at some of their new vinyl that was on sale (180 gram reissues and such). Now, I am WELL aware that these brush-and-chemical cleaners are frowned upon by serious, hardcore vinyl enthusiasts and that the best way to do this would be to invest in a record cleaning machine (RCM) -- however, we're just not at the point that we can invest in one of the over-the-top devices and though I've heard about the Spin Clean product, I have read a ton of negative things about it as well. The DiscWasher system, now made by RCA, I was told is a complete waste of money since RCA acquired the rights to this once-legendary product, so I skipped ordering that; the Vinyl Styl stuff seems to get the job done somewhat adequately, but with really scratched up records, it doesn't do much at all, if anything...in fact, many of these LPs sound worse after using it, which is a real head-scratcher...

Another factor: Because the turntable couldn't reach our stereo receiver (an Onkyo TX-8555; we're NOT using the turntable's onboard phono preamp) with its three-foot RCA leads, I was forced to purchase RCA couplers from RadioShack, which then connected to three feet of another RadioShack RCA connection to feed into the receiver's PHONO input. Now, based on what I was told, extending the turntable's RCA connectors (there is no ground wire with this deck; it's internally grounded via the power receptacle) can lead to high frequency issues if too long, but I was also told that an extra three feet wouldn't cause a problem. Is it remotely possible the RCA connectors with the couplers are causing my records to sound like fizzy ass?

Okay, so it now boils down to a list of what COULD be causing my records to sound pretty awful, with the turntable and stylus causing horrific "spitting," sibilant-like noise on mainly high frequencies and during the pronunciation of the letter "S" in songs; let's break it down:

- Is the balancing of the tonearm the way I did it -- that is, making sure it floats above the platter and then zeroing out the dial before dialing in counterweight -- an acceptable way of getting in the range of correct positioning being that I don't have calibration tools? Is it possible my cartridge's azimuth is out of whack? I was under the assumption that the cartridge would be properly set up and adjusted in the supplied headshell by the factory before the user attaches it to the end of the tonearm, but I also read that these come routinely out of the factories not set correctly. The tonearm HEIGHT I have confirmed with Audio-Technica doesn't need to be adjusted out of the box, being that I'm using the supplied felt slipmat...

- Which brings me to another possibility: I have noted horrendous static electricity clinging to the felt slipmat and my records when I lift them, and I'm wondering if this could be causing the "static"-like sound and distortion; perhaps static electricity is making its way in and up the tonearm assembly? Should I look into a rubber mat, perhaps one of the ones made for the Technics SL1200 by KAB?

- Should I continue playing with the tracking force? Audio-Technica recommends 2.0 grams for this cartridge -- but folks online have talked about maxing out the recommended tracking weight on any cartridge for best sound, especially with the AT95E cartridge. Here's the thing: Being that the tracking weight wasn't measured with a calibration tool or meter, should I just assume 2.0 is actually "accurate" when looking at the counterweight gauge at the back of the arm...or should I raise it to around the maximum recommended force (2.5 grams in this case) incase the reading is off and I'm actually running the cart too LIGHT?

- What's the deal with the ANTI-SKATE? Some people -- including the manufacturer in this case, Audio-Technica -- say leave the anti-skate to the same reading as the tracking force, while others recommend a bit less or a bit more; still others say you should play with this by listening to a mono LP and making sure there's "equal distortion" coming from both speakers...to be honest, I don't really have the patience to go through all that, so is there an "ideal" way of adjusting this? Should I just leave it at the tracking force value, or a bit less? From the moment I set up the table, I have not had ANY pulling or skating issues with the arm, wherein it would seem like the arm would want to viciously pull towards the label of the record...the arm stays still when I'm cuing and never wants to "pull" in any direction; would this indicate that I am set up right with anti-skate...or would this setting affect the distortion I'm hearing and need to be PERFECTLY set?

- Could this all be in the CONDITION of my records? As I said, there's only one new LP I've played on here so far -- the sealed Streisand record -- and while that played cleanly with no pops or clicks, of course, it STILL exhibited sibilance and some static when she's singing some verses...it's actually annoying. But could a lot of this be that the vinyl I'm playing is pretty beat up and worn already? Even when using the aforementioned Vinyl Styl cleaning system, most of the scratched up records don't clean up all that well, to be honest...but I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of pouring wood glue all over these old records (to get up all the gunk in the grooves, which some say is a "proven" method but quite frankly scares the **** out of me) or washing them in the kitchen sink, letting them dry like they're dishes before I can play them. Is there a cleaning system with the brush and chemical that anyone can recommend that would possibly be better than the Vinyl Styl I purchased?

- Is this a problem with the TURNTABLE itself? Could tonearm wiring be totally out of whack or broken, or could the unit just plain suck? I understand this is what is considered "entry level" but I really do feel like this deck is heads and shoulders above the Crosley and ION pieces of **** out there; it really was all we could afford for a turntable right now. Is what I am describing probably an issue of my cartridge and its stylus?

- Which brings me to the AT95E -- all over the Internet, people rave about this cartridge for what it costs, and for the number of years Audio-Technica has sold it. Then, there are those who say it plain sucks as a bargain basement cart; is it possible I just didn't give the stylus enough time to break in? Is it the AT95E that is making most, if not all, of my records sound so sibilant and distorted? Before it's suggested that the stylus may be dirty, let me say -- I always see some kind of crud hanging on the stylus after play, and this is even after I CLEAN the records and dry them with the Vinyl Styl kit. I end up blowing the debris off with just my breath, but it doesn't always work; now, I understand that there's a suggestion out there to use the Magic Eraser by Mr. Clean, wherein the user dips the needle down into a piece of the eraser and then lifts, removing dirt on the stylus with it...I tried doing this with a paper towel (gently dipping the stylus down into the towel) and it almost always leaves behind a glob of dirt of some kind...so SOMETHING is attaching to this needle when I use it. I've also been told to look into "stylus brushes" but Fry's didn't have one when I went there and looked for it; what's the deal here? Should a stylus need THIS much cleaning...and does this indicate that something is coming off these old records?

At this point, I'm getting really frustrated with my "vinyl resurgence" and I'm thinking of going back and just listening to my CDs again because it's so much easier...I understand, and can accept, that analog requires more input, maintenance and involvement but it seems ridiculous that nearly everything I play on this brand new turntable doesn't sound good...some records, in fact, we have to take off because they're so shrill and "staticky." Is this a matter of getting a better cartridge? Should I be looking into getting brand new vinyl because it will probably sound better?

I'm sure more scenarios will pop into my head, but this is all I can think of right now; if anyone has any suggestions or input, I would be delighted to hear them...thank you in advance for reading this and attempting to assist!
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5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
2-CHANNEL:
ONKYO TX-8555 - marantz CC-4001 - TASCAM CD-RW900SL - Numark CDMIX 1 - Infinity PRIMUS P363BK - audio-technica AT-LP120USB

Last edited by IntelliVolume; 01-22-2015 at 08:07 PM.
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post #2 of 165 Old 01-22-2015, 09:37 PM
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I'm not going to try to help you in setting up that turntable because I have no idea of what is going on with it. I'm going to guess electronics and physics. USB TT's don't have a good reputation.

I am curious if you posted prior to buying this AT TT to get TT buying advice. There are more than a few used 'sleeper' TT's around that would have cost less and give little or no trouble. I have a sleeper - its a 35+ year old Phillips 312 with a Shure M97XE cart. It works nearly perfect. The cart will cost you about twice what you paid for the AT cart and the TT - if bought gently used would cost you about $100-150 complete with tone arm and maybe a decent cartridge. Mine came with a Bang & Olufsen that had a non-removable stylus that had seen better days so I scrapped that and bought the Shure. It works very well. Setup is easy too.

Sorry for your troubles. I understand how frustrating TT's can be. I've been there done that - having been in this hobby for longer than many of the members here have been alive. I started out in 1965 with a nice little Sansui 500A tube powered receiver and have been at it ever since. I've had Garrard - Dual - Radio Shack and more years ago and put up with TT rumble and skating issues and crappy sound - especially with that damned Garrard. I bought a used Technics in about 75 - can't remember the model - and it became a revelation. The thing just worked! I didn't think TT's were supposed to be that way! I should have never sold it. Turntables don't have to be difficult when you buy the right ones. For entry level I would recommend a used one - and one you can demo in someone's home before you buy. Kind of late in this case however.

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post #3 of 165 Old 01-22-2015, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 View Post
I'm not going to try to help you in setting up that turntable because I have no idea of what is going on with it. I'm going to guess electronics and physics. USB TT's don't have a good reputation.

While I appreciate the input and understand USB turntables don't have the best reputation, my research concluded that there really was nothing wrong with this model -- which is a close clone of the Technics 1200 if in layout and function primarily -- short of its built-in preamp (which I'm not using) and the fact that even bypassed it can cause some troubles; I'm not using the USB function, instead recording vinyl to CD-R via a standalone TASCAM CD recorder, and I was assured there was nothing to be concerned about being that I was intending the deck to be used as a hi fi/stereo component...

Quote:
I am curious if you posted prior to buying this AT TT to get TT buying advice. There are more than a few used 'sleeper' TT's around that would have cost less and give little or no trouble. I have a sleeper - its a 35+ year old Phillips 312 with a Shure M97XE cart. It works nearly perfect. The cart will cost you about twice what you paid for the AT cart and the TT - if bought gently used would cost you about $100-150 complete with tone arm and maybe a decent cartridge. Mine came with a Bang & Olufsen that had a non-removable stylus that had seen better days so I scrapped that and bought the Shure. It works very well. Setup is easy too.

We did not want to buy used, and I wanted something very close to the looks and aesthetics of the SL1200 -- basically a "Super OEM" deck -- with the s-shaped tonearm and strobelight on the platter; it seems the AT-LP120 fit the bill. As I said, I really like the aesthetics and controls of this turntable, but unfortunately it's not stacking up all that well in the sound department.

Quote:
Sorry for your troubles. I understand how frustrating TT's can be. I've been there done that - having been in this hobby for longer than many of the members here have been alive. I started out in 1965 with a nice little Sansui 500A tube powered receiver and have been at it ever since. I've had Garrard - Dual - Radio Shack and more years ago and put up with TT rumble and skating issues and crappy sound - especially with that damned Garrard. I bought a used Technics in about 75 - can't remember the model - and it became a revelation. The thing just worked! I didn't think TT's were supposed to be that way! I should have never sold it. Turntables don't have to be difficult when you buy the right ones. For entry level I would recommend a used one - and one you can demo in someone's home before you buy. Kind of late in this case however.

Thanks; indeed, it seems like as I am rediscovering my vinyl collection amassed over many years -- and even through a DJ business -- I am beginning to rethink going back to listening to the CD versions of these albums; sure, many of the classic rock-era albums (Hotel California, Rumours, The Wall et al) sound mighty sterile and cold on CD, but to not deal with the crackles, noise and maintenance may be just as alluring. I just wish someone could help me figure out if this is my setup, the environment (static electricity), the cartridge, the tonearm weight, the tracking angle, the anti-skate setting, the phono stage in my receiver, the fact that the turntable's built-in preamp is doing something, the RCA couplers that are connected or.........


Still, I can't help but think that "just because" this is a USB turntable doesn't mean I would be getting horrific sibilance on records; in my mind, this would point to the quality of the cartridge and stylus...no?

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ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
2-CHANNEL:
ONKYO TX-8555 - marantz CC-4001 - TASCAM CD-RW900SL - Numark CDMIX 1 - Infinity PRIMUS P363BK - audio-technica AT-LP120USB
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post #4 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 06:23 AM
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Here's some random thoughts/comments on your problem(s)

1. A paper towel IS NOT a magic eraser
2. Temporarily relocate the table in order to eliminate the extra cabling
3. Switch to an aux input on your receiver and try the tables built-in pre
4. CLEAN YOUR RECORDS
5. This is a bad time of the year for static
6. Try a known good record. Not one you DJ'd with
7. Do other sources sound ok?
8. You have unrealistic expectations
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post #5 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 07:49 AM
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This is what I would do

Strangely enough, I setup a LP120 last month for a friend--flashback city! Decent turntable, does all the stuff it needs to and you must remember what it does. It is a spinning platter driven by a motor that has a needle bouncing around in a groove. It's not rocket science since rockets where not invented when it was.

I'd say you found the issues with the system by yourself, the new record sounded much better than the old records. The upper mids and highs can be shrill, very much so if you generally don't listen to records. Static, dust, vibration and that sort of thing are not good for records.

Don't blame the equipment, blame the medium! Just remember you can spend $100,000 on machines that spin around in a circle and it won't exceed the fidelity of a $75 Blu Ray. Found the week I had to play around with the LP120 entertaining, it had been decades so a challenge to get everything setup correctly. It all came back to me as I remembered why I embraced CDs quickly and never looked back. Still, a concept invented in the 1800's that works to that level is pretty cool.

A CD player is like an electric start fuel injected Harley--very easy and superior. However, if you can successfully get the manual choke set right, ease the piston past top dead center and put enough pressure and speed on the kick start lever--the 50's era Harleys will kick over and run. That satisfaction of getting old iron going is along the lines of firing up vinyl. Just remember that the old Harley will never beat the new ones, but that is the point.
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post #6 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
Here's some random thoughts/comments on your problem(s)

Thanks...

Quote:
1. A paper towel IS NOT a magic eraser

Well what would be the big difference in terms of lifting the debris off the stylus -- would the eraser simply pull more off, or will the paper towel DAMAGE the stylus? As I stated, when I used the towel, it definitely pulled some crud off -- I saw it on the paper towel. I did NOT handle the stylus roughly doing this, merely dipping the needle on to the paper towel gently and then lifting it, and then repeating...


Is the paper towel damaging to the diamond stylus?


Quote:
2. Temporarily relocate the table in order to eliminate the extra cabling

I originally had the turntable stretching its RCA connectors limits when I first hooked it up in a makeshift fashion, so the connectors went directly into my receiver's phono inputs; regardless, the turntable CANNOT be moved from this position, so if the couplers are the problem, the whole point is moot...


Quote:
3. Switch to an aux input on your receiver and try the tables built-in pre

I can try this, but from what I've read the preamp in this thing is horrid for the most part; I was advised that my Onkyo amp's phono stage is most likely light years better than the one Audio-Technica puts in the AT-LP120, if that holds any water...


Quote:
4. CLEAN YOUR RECORDS

I dedicated a whole portion of my original post to this factor -- even after cleaning many of the records with the brush and liquid (a product called "Vinyl Styl") there still remains crackles, pops and sibilance on some records; and, we really cannot afford a record cleaning machine nor do I want to wash records in my sink and let them dry like a stack of dishes before I can play them. If I can't remedy the noisy records with some kind of over-the-counter product like the Disc Doctor's Miracle Cleaner, I don't want to invest in much more vinyl-centric undertakings...


Quote:
5. This is a bad time of the year for static

Okay; but would this affect the static on a RECORD'S surface I'm hearing?


Quote:
6. Try a known good record. Not one you DJ'd with

As I stated, I even tried a totally SEALED and UNOPENED LP that we came across in a box, The Second Barbara Streisand Album (Columbia), which could be considered virgin vinyl, and even HER voice breaks up throughout both sides of the LP, but especially towards the end of a side (inner groove issues). Does this LP sound dead quiet between tracks and sound LIKE a new record? Sure. But why are her vocals so sibilant and strident/hissy?


My intention is to buy some new vinyl when I can (Miles Davis jazz LPs, some 180 gram reissues of classic albums like Hotel California) but for the time being I'm stuck with making my old vinyl work...


Quote:
7. Do other sources sound ok?

Yes; Marantz CD changer when spinning discs sounds fine in terms of sibilance/distortion and so does the tuner...


Quote:
8. You have unrealistic expectations

Perhaps...


But with all this "talk" about the new "vinyl resurgence revolution," I really went into this thinking "I'm gonna get a good, solid new turntable to play my old vinyl on and see if it's true that vinyl does indeed sound warmer, richer and more dynamic than CD which can sometimes sound cold and sterile..." To be honest, I'm not "hearing" it yet...

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
2-CHANNEL:
ONKYO TX-8555 - marantz CC-4001 - TASCAM CD-RW900SL - Numark CDMIX 1 - Infinity PRIMUS P363BK - audio-technica AT-LP120USB
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post #7 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18Hurts View Post
This is what I would do

Strangely enough, I setup a LP120 last month for a friend--flashback city! Decent turntable, does all the stuff it needs to and you must remember what it does. It is a spinning platter driven by a motor that has a needle bouncing around in a groove. It's not rocket science since rockets where not invented when it was.

Thanks for your input, Hurts; that is indeed ironic that you recently set one of these up...wish you were local so you could stop by and take a look at my rig to tell me what the hell is going on!

Quote:
I'd say you found the issues with the system by yourself, the new record sounded much better than the old records. The upper mids and highs can be shrill, very much so if you generally don't listen to records. Static, dust, vibration and that sort of thing are not good for records.

Don't blame the equipment, blame the medium! Just remember you can spend $100,000 on machines that spin around in a circle and it won't exceed the fidelity of a $75 Blu Ray. Found the week I had to play around with the LP120 entertaining, it had been decades so a challenge to get everything setup correctly. It all came back to me as I remembered why I embraced CDs quickly and never looked back. Still, a concept invented in the 1800's that works to that level is pretty cool.

A CD player is like an electric start fuel injected Harley--very easy and superior. However, if you can successfully get the manual choke set right, ease the piston past top dead center and put enough pressure and speed on the kick start lever--the 50's era Harleys will kick over and run. That satisfaction of getting old iron going is along the lines of firing up vinyl. Just remember that the old Harley will never beat the new ones, but that is the point.

All good and fine, but you prefaced this by saying "This is what I would do..." and didn't really provide any input; are you saying just to "live with" the sound I'm experiencing from the turntable?


I totally get what you're saying about the fact that no analog rig is going to sound as clear as a Blu-ray setup or good SACD setup or such, but I keep hearing about how vinyl is "soooooo much better" than CD and anything else you can play back and I DO have a pretty formidable collection that I'd LIKE to somewhat enjoy again, but I'm beginning to wonder if this collection of mine -- which survived three movings already, one across country in polarizing temperature fluxuations -- is simply unsalvageable for the most part with regard to playback...perhaps these records have just "seen their day" even though they're mainly from the 80s and 90s?


If that's the case, how can we explain the fact that the BRAND NEW LP I came across and opened -- a sealed version of The Second Barbara Streisand Album -- ALSO sounded kind of sibilant in her vocals?

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
2-CHANNEL:
ONKYO TX-8555 - marantz CC-4001 - TASCAM CD-RW900SL - Numark CDMIX 1 - Infinity PRIMUS P363BK - audio-technica AT-LP120USB
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post #8 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 01:31 PM
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You didn't really answer my question regarding the cables. Did you have the same problem without the extensions? Moot point, or not, it's something to try in the troubleshooting chain.
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post #9 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
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You didn't really answer my question regarding the cables. Did you have the same problem without the extensions? Moot point, or not, it's something to try in the troubleshooting chain.

To be honest, I don't recall if we were experiencing the sibilance issues prior to getting the RCA couplers; this was set up in this fashion for a very brief time. But regardless, there is NO other positioning for the table anywhere else in this particular system's setup -- perhaps if we move and put the system into a different room with other furniture this may change -- so if I can't use the deck with the couplers/extension RCAs, I can't use the device...


What's weird is that I have heard that these RCA connectors can affect turntable sound in the high-frequency domain, cutting the highs pretty aggressively if the connections are too long -- we're experiencing the OPPOSITE effect, which is highs that are too sibilant/strident/edgy...

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post #10 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 01:41 PM
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Regardless, the only way to know is to try without the extra cables. At least you'll know if that's the root of your problem.
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post #11 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
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You really don't suspect the root of this is in the cartridge and stylus...perhaps the way my stylus is always seemingly getting gunked up? Perhaps the tracking weight needs to be upped?

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post #12 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 01:52 PM
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Gunked up stylus = dirty records.
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post #13 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Indeed; I just don't know why this is happening after I clean the records with the "Vinyl Styl" liquid and brush per their instructions, which can be seen HERE:

https://www.facebook.com/VinylStyl

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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post


But with all this "talk" about the new "vinyl resurgence revolution," I really went into this thinking "I'm gonna get a good, solid new turntable to play my old vinyl on and see if it's true that vinyl does indeed sound warmer, richer and more dynamic than CD which can sometimes sound cold and sterile..." To be honest, I'm not "hearing" it yet...

See number 8 on crn3371's list.

I'd definitely try the connection without your cable extension, even if only a temporary positioning just to see if this is the culprit as nothing else stands out particularly.

Did your tt/headshell come with an alignment tool?
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post #15 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 02:46 PM
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How many hours would you say are on your cartridge?
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post #16 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post
See number 8 on crn3371's list.

But then why do so many golden ear types talk about the "absolute superiority" of this format?

Quote:
Did your tt/headshell come with an alignment tool?

No; but from what I understand the one available for the Technics 1200's can be used because the headshell design is so similar...


I don't think the azimuth is off based on just eyeballing it; screwing the headshell into the arm was a pretty straightforward process, and Audio-Technica swore to me via email that this cartridge should be totally aligned properly...

5.1:
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polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
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post #17 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crn3371 View Post
How many hours would you say are on your cartridge?

The turntable is only a couple of weeks old; in that time, we have been playing old records from my collection but to take a gander at the number of hours would be tough...MAYBE 20 or 30 or so?

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Ok. Just making sure cartridge is broken in.
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post #19 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Is it broken in at this point, though?


It MAY be less than 20 or 30 hours...

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polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
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post #20 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 04:45 PM
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Do you know anyone with a decent system?

Another way to put it, have you ever heard a turntable based stereo system that you liked? If you have not, you may never hear any turntable based stereo that meets your needs. Sometime you'll never like something you are supposed to like, no matter what it costs.

The way to find the problem is to isolate the variables. If you have a friend that has a turntable, play your record on his and listen for your issue. You can bring your speakers and turntable with you to further isolate the problem. if that issue is there no matter what the combo--then you need to EQ it as best as possible.

I did help a lady convert several 78's and 33's to her music collection on her computer. It was music long out of circulation so we did the best we could for archiving it. Don't fear using the software on the computer to get the best sound out of a record, I was impressed what we ended up with compared to the mess we started with.

My main exposure to records was as a kid, my brother would get a new record then transfer it to chrome tape to prevent wear on the record. Every time you play a record, the fidelity gets worse so we avoided doing that. If you like the sound of records, just rip them to your computer (the USB helps on the TT) clean up the sound to your liking and go that way. Seal up the record and just use the recording on your computer.

Ripping records to computers, applying EQ and software to the results then playing them might do the trick. However, this will also get you ban from the church of analog....
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post #21 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18Hurts View Post
Do you know anyone with a decent system?

Another way to put it, have you ever heard a turntable based stereo system that you liked? If you have not, you may never hear any turntable based stereo that meets your needs. Sometime you'll never like something you are supposed to like, no matter what it costs.

The way to find the problem is to isolate the variables. If you have a friend that has a turntable, play your record on his and listen for your issue. You can bring your speakers and turntable with you to further isolate the problem. if that issue is there no matter what the combo--then you need to EQ it as best as possible.

I did help a lady convert several 78's and 33's to her music collection on her computer. It was music long out of circulation so we did the best we could for archiving it. Don't fear using the software on the computer to get the best sound out of a record, I was impressed what we ended up with compared to the mess we started with.

My main exposure to records was as a kid, my brother would get a new record then transfer it to chrome tape to prevent wear on the record. Every time you play a record, the fidelity gets worse so we avoided doing that. If you like the sound of records, just rip them to your computer (the USB helps on the TT) clean up the sound to your liking and go that way. Seal up the record and just use the recording on your computer.

Ripping records to computers, applying EQ and software to the results then playing them might do the trick. However, this will also get you ban from the church of analog....

Thank you for the continued support; unfortunately I don't know anyone locally with a good turntable setup...


As for the USB thing -- I prefer burning my music (from other CDs and vinyl) to my standalone audio CD recorder. I didn't really have any use for the USB feature of the Audio-Technica 'table, and I probably would have purchased the NON-USB version -- the "AT-PL120" -- but they had discontinued them.

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
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post #22 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 06:26 PM
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But then why do so many golden ear types talk about the "absolute superiority" of this format?




No; but from what I understand the one available for the Technics 1200's can be used because the headshell design is so similar...


I don't think the azimuth is off based on just eyeballing it; screwing the headshell into the arm was a pretty straightforward process, and Audio-Technica swore to me via email that this cartridge should be totally aligned properly...
A lot of these golden ears also hear differences in cables, amps, preamps, you name it and usually the solution is to spend more. I call it bs. Maybe there's a thread like for speakers and subs where one of these fantastic tt setups is available for others to listen to? Personally I wouldn't expect a lot but if the opportunity came up I'd sure like to hear this perfection they often go on about.

Isn't a p-mount an automatic alignment now that I think about it? That's what a p-mount is partially about, a universal placement of the stylus? Gotta go read...
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post #23 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
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A lot of these golden ears also hear differences in cables, amps, preamps, you name it and usually the solution is to spend more. I call it bs. Maybe there's a thread like for speakers and subs where one of these fantastic tt setups is available for others to listen to? Personally I wouldn't expect a lot but if the opportunity came up I'd sure like to hear this perfection they often go on about.

Isn't a p-mount an automatic alignment now that I think about it? That's what a p-mount is partially about, a universal placement of the stylus? Gotta go read...

Actually, if you're referring to the cartridge/headshell/stylus assembly of MY turntable, it doesn't accept P-mount carts -- it takes half-inch-size variants like the 1200's do...

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post
Actually, if you're referring to the cartridge/headshell/stylus assembly of MY turntable, it doesn't accept P-mount carts -- it takes half-inch-size variants like the 1200's do...
The pmount is me thinking of another thread, sorry
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post #25 of 165 Old 01-23-2015, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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The pmount is me thinking of another thread, sorry

No worries.

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polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
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post #26 of 165 Old 02-10-2015, 10:12 PM - Thread Starter
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UPDATE:

Okay -- I attempted to rebalance my AT-LP120's tonearm today and it seems, if I'm anywhere near the correct tracking weight for the cartridge now, that I may have been WAY off on counterweight measurements; let me explain...


I noted that the way I had the turntable set up previously, I was able to make out the "thread markings" where the counterweight screws onto the back of the arm, even with what I thought was a dialed-in tracking force of 2 grams...I always thought this odd because it seemed like the weight just didn't "sit" right on the back of the arm and that I shouldn't have been able to visually see any of those thread markings. At any rate, I decided to go back and start from scratch with the arm balancing, and here's how I did it; as I walk through these steps, I'd appreciate it if someone could address the questions I have...


1. Being that this was NOT the first time I was installing the counterweight and all related parts, what I did was lock the arm into place, reset the anti-skate to "0" and dropped the cue lever to the DOWN position. Here's my first question: SHOULD THE CUE LEVER BE IN THE DOWN POSITION WHEN ATTEMPTING TO REBALANCE THE ARM AS I DID TODAY?


2. Okay...next, I released the arm and let it float towards the platter, holding the headshell as best and as steady as I could, as I twisted the counterweight this way and that, trying to get the arm to float and hover, per the instructions. This took quite a few times and twists of the weight, and at one point I actually accidentally let the stylus hit the slipmat (gently though and it didn't seem to "scrape") but once I deemed it the best it was going to float, I returned the arm to the rest and locked it. Here's my second question: WAS IT OKAY THAT I DROPPED THE STYLUS ON THE MAT AS I ATTEMPTED TO FLOAT IT? THIS SHOULDN'T HAVE RIPPED THE DIAMOND TIP OFF OR ANYTHING EXTREME LIKE THAT, SHOULD IT?


3. Next, per the instructions, I turned the inner dial of the counterweight to "0" so that it "matched up" with that line on the back top of the tonearm and then dialed in the necessary 2.0 grams of weight for the AT95E by turning the WHOLE counterweight piece. I then matched the anti-skate to the tracking force, which was "2." But here's my THIRD question and concern: IT SEEMS NOW THAT I REBALANCED THE ARM, THE "THREAD" MARKS ON THE BACK OF THE ARM WHERE THE COUNTERWEIGHT SCREWS INTO HAVE TAKEN A DIFFERENT "ORIENTATION "-- IN OTHER WORDS, BEFORE I REBALANCED THE ARM TODAY, I WAS ACTUALLY ABLE TO SEE SOME OF THE "THREADS" OF THE ARM IN THE WAY THE COUNTERWEIGHT WAS SITTING...NOW, I DON'T SEE THOSE THREADS SO IT SEEMS LIKE THE WEIGHT IS "FURTHER" UP ON THE BACK OF THE ARM...CAN THIS POSSIBLY MEAN THAT THE PRIOR SETTING WAS WAY OFF AND I WAS RUNNING THAT ARM WAY TOO LIGHT? DID I HAVE TO REMOVE THE COUNTERWEIGHT AS IF THE TURNTABLE WAS BRAND NEW AND RE-INSTALL IT IN ORDER TO GET CORRECT READINGS...OR WAS THE WAY I DID IT, LEAVING IT ON AND REBALANCING FROM THAT POINT, OKAY?


Afterplaying some 12" singles once I rebalanced the arm, there seems to be -- though I'm not 100-percent positive yet -- SOME improvement with the sibilance/distortion issues I was talking about...maybe even MORE than "some," which pleased me. Is it possible my last setup was incorrect and I was tracking at a much lighter force, or just didn't balance the arm right?


If someone could just address these updated questions for me, I would really appreciate it. Thank you!

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
2-CHANNEL:
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post #27 of 165 Old 02-10-2015, 10:20 PM
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How big a difference using your hands lifting the arm is there now? Did it get way heavier? If it was too light earlier it probably wouldn't have tracked well at all.

Yes, you don't want cuing engaged when making adjustments. A light touch on the mat won't kill the stylus. Think of all the continuous torture in those dirty vinyl grooves it's gonna get. Not that you want to do this again....

You need one of these perhaps http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...G&Q=&A=details but I'm pretty sure I paid less than $10 for mine a long time ago
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post #28 of 165 Old 02-10-2015, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello Lovin', and Thanks For Getting Back to Me!


Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post
How big a difference using your hands lifting the arm is there now? Did it get way heavier? If it was too light earlier it probably wouldn't have tracked well at all.

You know something...I don't even know if I feel much of a difference HOLDING the arm when I'm cuing the records, but there probably is a BIT more heft/weight to it...my guess is that I was seriously undertracking this cart because as I said, the counterweight looked WAY too "far back" along the "screw threads" prior to me rebalancing it today...this in turn probably gave me all the sibilance I was hearing...

Quote:
Yes, you don't want cuing engaged when making adjustments. A light touch on the mat won't kill the stylus. Think of all the continuous torture in those dirty vinyl grooves it's gonna get. Not that you want to do this again....

Okay -- so cue lever DOWN was correct, yes? This could have been why my arm didn't balance properly the first time I set the turntable up; Audio-Technica doesn't say anything about the cue lever needing to be up or down when calibrating the arm in the setup directions (I don't think). Thank you for the assurance on the stylus; though I have to admit I've been pretty rough with this stock cart so far, scratching it accidentally when using the Magic Eraser to clean the stylus and more...

Quote:
You need one of these perhaps http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...G&Q=&A=details but I'm pretty sure I paid less than $10 for mine a long time ago

Thank you; I will look into that...


Actually, I have been told the Shure gauge isn't as accurate as those digital ones you drop the needle on...know anything about that?


Here's my biggest question about what I did today, and hopefully you can help me: When I decided to rebalance the arm, I didn't unscrew the counterweight off the arm and start from REAL scratch, as if I just opened the turntable -- I just left the weight where it was previously, then began the process of zeroing out the anti skate, floating the arm, dialing in the proper tracking weight, etc. Was this okay to do...or did I NEED to remove the headshell and the counterweight as if I was starting all over again like the turntable was first unpacked? Does this question make sense?

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
2-CHANNEL:
ONKYO TX-8555 - marantz CC-4001 - TASCAM CD-RW900SL - Numark CDMIX 1 - Infinity PRIMUS P363BK - audio-technica AT-LP120USB
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post #29 of 165 Old 02-10-2015, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Actually, I have been told the Shure gauge isn't as accurate as those digital ones you drop the needle on...know anything about that?


Here's my biggest question about what I did today, and hopefully you can help me: When I decided to rebalance the arm, I didn't unscrew the counterweight off the arm and start from REAL scratch, as if I just opened the turntable -- I just left the weight where it was previously, then began the process of zeroing out the anti skate, floating the arm, dialing in the proper tracking weight, etc. Was this okay to do...or did I NEED to remove the headshell and the counterweight as if I was starting all over again like the turntable was first unpacked? Does this question make sense?
Don't know, don't have a digital one but I've experimented a bit with mine compared with another type of scale and it's fairly accurate--at least the one I have (and I've had that thing for ages...easily 30 years).

No, you don't need to take the headshell off. It sounds like you've got the zeroing process down okay (without looking at your tt's specifics).
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post #30 of 165 Old 02-10-2015, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Don't know, don't have a digital one but I've experimented a bit with mine compared with another type of scale and it's fairly accurate--at least the one I have (and I've had that thing for ages...easily 30 years).

No, you don't need to take the headshell off. It sounds like you've got the zeroing process down okay (without looking at your tt's specifics).

But what about the fact that I left the COUNTERWEIGHT on, where it was, and just REBALANCED like that?

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
2-CHANNEL:
ONKYO TX-8555 - marantz CC-4001 - TASCAM CD-RW900SL - Numark CDMIX 1 - Infinity PRIMUS P363BK - audio-technica AT-LP120USB
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