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  1. #1
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    Question Turntable adjustments that address graininess?

    I have a turntable and cartridge not on-par with the rest of my 2-channel system. (link to photos in signature) I will eventually upgrade, but am looking for info that might help me get more enjoyment out of what I have in the mean time.

    It's a Pioneer PL-550 direct drive with a Sumiko Oyster cartridge that I hook up through the phono stage of an old NAD 2030 integrated. It sounds prohibitively flat and grainy. By flat I mean a rather two-dimensional soundstage. But itís actually the graininess that keeps me from listening to my vinyl.

    I will eventually upgrade either the cartridge or the whole rig. But in the mean time, are there particular free or very low cost (<$20) tweaks/adjustments that are understood to address graininess specifically?

    BTW, I have always (for the last 25 years) noticed it to be true that the graininess increases as the needle gets closer to the center. Whatís up with that?

    Link to photo of my TT:
    http://s272.photobucket.com/albums/j...urrent=TT1.jpg

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
    Amp Shanling A3000-> speakers Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grand CD Rotel RCD 991 AE TT: Well Tempered Record Player-> AT OC9MLII -> Jolida JD9. cables from AQ, Siltech, Bogdan, Signal DH Labs, etc...
    Some pictures of it all

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett A
    It's a Pioneer PL-550 direct drive with a Sumiko Oyster cartridge that I hook up through the phono stage of an old NAD 2030 integrated. It sounds prohibitively flat and grainy. By flat I mean a rather two-dimensional soundstage. But itís actually the graininess that keeps me from listening to my vinyl.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

    Better cartridge with at least an elliptical stylus. An elliptical stylus will recover more groove information. Make sure the cartridge is properly aligned. I use the MoFi Geodisc to set overhang and offset angle and it is about $50. Enjoy the Music has a free guage you can print and it is in agreement with the Mo Fi. The Mo Fi is easier to use and is a universal guage that works with many turntables. Also check your anti skating. The dials for it are not always accurate and some use a blank disc and while it is spinning lower the tonearm to the disc and adjust the anti skating until the arm is stationery. Too little or too much will cause the tonearm to skate to the inner or outer part of the record.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
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  3. #3
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Better cartridge with at least an elliptical stylus. An elliptical stylus will recover more groove information.
    I remember you had mentioned this in your response to my introduction post a few weeks ago. Do you think I'm doomed to graininess with the Oyster cart?


    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Make sure the cartridge is properly aligned.
    I'll look for the free gauge you mention. I'm sure the cartridge on there now was just eyeballed. (I can be really sure, because I did it ) But, in my defense, the cartridge had been professionally mounted on the TT I took it off of and it was no better there.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Also check your anti skating. The dials for it are not always accurate and some use a blank disc and while it is spinning lower the tonearm to the disc and adjust the anti skating until the arm is stationery. Too little or too much will cause the tonearm to skate to the inner or outer part of the record.
    I don't have such a test record. Do you think some other smooth disc would work? Like a cut-out piece of an old album cover or similar?
    Amp Shanling A3000-> speakers Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grand CD Rotel RCD 991 AE TT: Well Tempered Record Player-> AT OC9MLII -> Jolida JD9. cables from AQ, Siltech, Bogdan, Signal DH Labs, etc...
    Some pictures of it all

  4. #4
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    That is a big NO-NO!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Brett A
    Like a cut-out piece of an old album cover or similar?
    I used to have a Gangstar disc Side H(blank) I used to use to test my anti-skate, but do not use some cardboard sheet.... Just trust your ears when playing with anti-skate.

    As for a link to some free stuff, try this.

    Free Stuff. No Ipod/promotion related please.

    Free cart-tractor from Vacuum State works pretty nicely.

    JRA

  5. #5
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    Thanks for the linques. I'll get busy aligning this afternoon!
    Amp Shanling A3000-> speakers Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grand CD Rotel RCD 991 AE TT: Well Tempered Record Player-> AT OC9MLII -> Jolida JD9. cables from AQ, Siltech, Bogdan, Signal DH Labs, etc...
    Some pictures of it all

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    When you go to www.vacuumstate.com use their tips on antiskating. They suggest an audible method that works well since you do not have a smooth disc. Since you noticed more grain at the inner most part of the groove that is why I suggested a better stylus and proper cartridge mounting. The inner part of the groove is the hardest to track.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
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  7. #7
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    When you go to www.vacuumstate.com use their tips on antiskating. They suggest an audible method that works well since you do not have a smooth disc. Since you noticed more grain at the inner most part of the groove that is why I suggested a better stylus and proper cartridge mounting. The inner part of the groove is the hardest to track.
    I'm heading into a stay-at-home vacation this week. I'll have as much time to fuss with set-up as I can stand.

    If I do come to seriously consider a new cartridge a this time, you mentioned in the other thread the Audio Technica 440ML for around $100. That's a good price point for me at this time. Is graininess inherent in some cheaper cartridges, or is it a result of wear and/or improper set-up?
    Amp Shanling A3000-> speakers Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grand CD Rotel RCD 991 AE TT: Well Tempered Record Player-> AT OC9MLII -> Jolida JD9. cables from AQ, Siltech, Bogdan, Signal DH Labs, etc...
    Some pictures of it all

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett A
    I'm heading into a stay-at-home vacation this week. I'll have as much time to fuss with set-up as I can stand.

    If I do come to seriously consider a new cartridge a this time, you mentioned in the other thread the Audio Technica 440ML for around $100. That's a good price point for me at this time. Is graininess inherent in some cheaper cartridges, or is it a result of wear and/or improper set-up?

    Here is another link you migh find interesting.http://www.turntablebasics.com/advice.html

    I think it is a combination. When you have overhang and offset angle properly set you will have less distortion with a pivoting tonearm across the surface of the record. Record wear will be more obvious the closer the stylus comes to the end of the record. A stylus with a long contact area can actually play areas of the groove above and below the wear areas of a conical or elliptical stylus. This can allow your records to sound better. The stylus on the 440ML contacts a large area of the groove and is thin enough in profile that it reads the inner grooves well. This type of stylus must be properly aligned for best sound.

    When you are using the two point graph to align your cartridge do not be surprised if the cartridge does not end up parallel to the headshell. It is much more important for the cartridge to be parallel to the two graphs.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
    Digital
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    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
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  9. #9
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    I'm assuming you have cleaned the stylus and of course the LPs, if not do that, it's just part of the required activity for good LP playback. Verify correct play in tone arm bearings, arm support, turntable bearing, nothing loose? Next, carefully check cartridge mounting screws, is the cartridge correctly supported, is it level, are the screws snug?

    As far as I know, sighting your cartridge by eye is not good enough. If it is now, it won't be if you get a better set up. Buy or make one of the alignment guides.

    I think VTA can affect apparent grain. On my old set up I stacked records to discover if I was near the correct setting. I don't recommend playing LPs this way, correct your vertical tracking angle if it's wrong.

    Check your tracking force, if in doubt lean towards too heavy, light tracking can also sound like grain. Also consider cables and of course the phono stage, could it be time to clean some contacts?

    LP playback is very much a mechanical process, quality sound is the reward for diligence and effort.
    Herman;

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  10. #10
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hermanv
    I'm assuming you have cleaned the stylus and of course the LPs, if not do that, it's just part of the required activity for good LP playback.
    I keep my records quite clean. I use a dry Discwasher pad before and after each play.
    Quote Originally Posted by hermanv
    As far as I know, sighting your cartridge by eye is not good enough. If it is now, it won't be if you get a better set up. Buy or make one of the alignment guides.
    I spent a little time w/ the alignment graph today. It IS an inexact practice. Especially since the body of my cartridge does not have many lines that run parallel to the record surface etc. I did find it needed to be moved forward (away from the pivot).
    Quote Originally Posted by hermanv
    I think VTA can affect apparent grain. On my old set up I stacked records to discover if I was near the correct setting. I don't recommend playing LPs this way, correct your vertical tracking angle if it's wrong.
    Check your tracking force, if in doubt lean towards too heavy, light tracking can also sound like grain.
    I'll be checking all this in the nest day or two. Right now I have the VTA set by eye. I've leveled the TT. It's sitting on a pair of cinder blocks, a large soapstone tile and a piece of 1-1/4 inch MDF.
    Quote Originally Posted by hermanv
    Also consider cables and of course the phono stage, could it be time to clean some contacts?
    From what my ears are telling me, I'm pretty sure I've got mechanical issues to deal with (alignment, cart.,etc) before the electronics at this point
    Quote Originally Posted by hermanv
    LP playback is very much a mechanical process, quality sound is the reward for diligence and effort.
    May it be so.

    Amp Shanling A3000-> speakers Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grand CD Rotel RCD 991 AE TT: Well Tempered Record Player-> AT OC9MLII -> Jolida JD9. cables from AQ, Siltech, Bogdan, Signal DH Labs, etc...
    Some pictures of it all

  11. #11
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Yo Brett,

    Sounds like you'll have plenty of time to make adjustments to your cart. Be patients and dont be afraid to fiddle with your TT setup.
    I spent a little time w/ the alignment graph today. It IS an inexact practice. Especially since the body of my cartridge does not have many lines that run parallel to the record surface etc. I did find it needed to be moved forward (away from the pivot).
    Whatever adjustment you made is a great start. Oyster cart shouldnt be too hard to align. Whatever you do, just be sure to align your cantilever (Not cart body) to printed grids. If your TT is belt-drive, then you may be able to make more precise adjustment by taking the belt off.

    Cinder blocks and MDF will make very stable platform. I used to take very similar approach with much success. Just be sure your TT is perfectly level.
    3 height adjustable cones will solve that problem and make great isolation as well.

    JRA

  12. #12
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    Audio Technica 440ML or ML-A?

    Any thoughts on the difference between the Audio Technica 440ML and the ML-A that seems to be in the process of replacing it?
    Amp Shanling A3000-> speakers Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grand CD Rotel RCD 991 AE TT: Well Tempered Record Player-> AT OC9MLII -> Jolida JD9. cables from AQ, Siltech, Bogdan, Signal DH Labs, etc...
    Some pictures of it all

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett A
    Any thoughts on the difference between the Audio Technica 440ML and the ML-A that seems to be in the process of replacing it?



    You want the 440ML A. The cartridge will be a little warmer sounding and the previous in my experience was a little thin sounding.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
    Digital
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  14. #14
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    You want the 440ML A. The cartridge will be a little warmer sounding and the previous in my experience was a little thin sounding.
    Thanks. I was just now clicking around and it seems the 440 is rapidly dropping off the face of the earth. It looks like I'll need to spend $150+ to get a 440ML A.
    Amp Shanling A3000-> speakers Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grand CD Rotel RCD 991 AE TT: Well Tempered Record Player-> AT OC9MLII -> Jolida JD9. cables from AQ, Siltech, Bogdan, Signal DH Labs, etc...
    Some pictures of it all

  15. #15
    Meh. Brett A's Avatar
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    I did it

    I just ordered an AT 440 MLa. Couldn't resist the price. $109.00!!
    https://2339870342.monstercommercesi...rodID=644&HS=1
    In the man time, I'll get to practicing those adjustments on my old Oyster
    Amp Shanling A3000-> speakers Vienna Acoustic Mozart Grand CD Rotel RCD 991 AE TT: Well Tempered Record Player-> AT OC9MLII -> Jolida JD9. cables from AQ, Siltech, Bogdan, Signal DH Labs, etc...
    Some pictures of it all

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