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I've got a growing collection of jazz vinyl, around 70+ albums. Heres the problem- I'm getting more and more frustrated with the fact that far too high a percentage (in my opinon) of the jazz vinyl I buy, new or old, has some kind of sonic flaw, usually distortion on the horns. I'd say about 1/3 to 1/2 of the jazz LPs have distortion that drives me nuts. I don't have this problem with anywhere near as many pop/ rock LPs-maybe 10% or less of those, and I've got close to 200 pop/rock/etc. LPs.
My turntable and cartridge is nothing great- a Music Hall MMF 2.2 and an Ortofon 2m red. I have it set up with a Geodisc and the Analogue Productions test LP I use shows no significant flaws in the setup. I have fooled around with VTA, VTF, Azimuth, and antiskate.
During a test on some unimportant LPs, one thing I did notice is that I lost most of this distrortion when I skewed the VTA (or is it azimuth?) of the arm to the point where the needle was visually angled in toward the center of the turntable. However, I changed this knowing that it cant be good for the records.
What am I doing wrong? LP is supposed to be better than CD right? Not in my current setup...
I have several thousand jazz lps, from all time periods, used and new,mostly used, but newer reissues like the wonderful Music Matters, Analoque Productions and good ole OJC, among others. You should not have an issue with the kind of distortion you describe if your tonearm and cartridge are compatible. I had a similar issue with a Sumiko MMT tonearm a few years back, it drove me crazy!!!I never figured it out but got rid of the table an AR es and tonearm.I kept the ZYX cartridge which works great on my Nottingham Interspace with REGA RB600 arm.
I have heard the MMF 2.2 at a local dealer and it sounded sweet and smooth. It came with a Rega Elys cartridge I think. First, bring your annoying lps to a friends and check them out on another rig . My hypothesis is a bad tonearm /cartridge combo. Cheers,Chet
"Distortion on the horns"...sounds like groove wear, except that wouldn't/shouldn't be happening on new vinyl. It could also be distortion due to mistracking b/c of set-up problems. I've got 600+ jazz albums, the vast majority used, and the vast majority are pleasing to listen to, and I'm a fairly picky listener.
I've also heard an MH 2.2, my son had one years ago, and I have a 2M Red. I thought the 'table was a pleasant entry level table that did a decent enough job of capturing the analogue/vinyl majic, and my only complaint about the 2M Red is a tendency to sound a bit grainy & edgy, but no real complaints about distortion. I'd try revisiting set-up with the help of vinyl enthusiast friend if handy.
1. I gave up on sight-line type protractors b/c I didn't feel certain I was dead-on accurate lining it up sight-line with tonearm pivot pillar. I prefer the arc type protractor where you can get stylus overhang dead-on by using the arc, then adjust cart alignment using null pt grids. You can print one free using Conrad Hoffman's Cartridge Alignment Template Generator . Just plug in your spindle to pivot distance (212mm on your 2.2) and select IEC for inner/outer groove metrics. The default alignment on the CH template is Lofgren A (Baerwald), same as your geodisc.
2. You said you fooled with VTF, but what setting are you using? My 2m Red liked the middle, 1.8g, of mfr recommeded range 1.6-2.0g. I'd double check your tonearm set up. Remove antiskate weight/fishing line, then back off counter weight until tonearm floats freely parallel to platter, reset scale to zero, and adjust VTF to 18. (Online manual says no decimal place is on your scale, so 18 = 1.8g). Replace antiskate weight.
3. VTA should be OK enough when stylus is lowered on to record and the tonearm is parallel to record surface.
4. Azimuth should be OK if while playing a record and facing the front of the cart the stylus makes a straight line with its reflection on the record surface, not listing left or right.
5. Make sure TT is level.
I hope this helps.
"If less is more, just think how much more more would be!" - Frasier Crane.
Russco Studio Pro B/Syntec S220/Empire 2000E/3-Technics SL1210mkII/ADC XLMII-Yam C-70 pre-Yam M-4 amp-KLH 6 spkrs-Outlaw sub
..."one thing I did notice is that I lost most of this distrortion when I skewed the VTA (or is it azimuth?) of the arm to the point where the needle was visually angled in toward the center of the turntable"...
It sounds to me like this was azimuth you were fiddling with, not VTA. Azimuth is the term used to describe the angle of the cantilever/stylus with respect to the LP surface, when the cartridge is viewed "on end", or from the front looking back down the length of the tonearm. It would be good for you to learn the meaning of these different terms. Azimuth affects mainly crosstalk, the amount of the R channel signal that appears in the L channel and vice-versa. So I strongly doubt that your extreme adjustment of azimuth was a good way to cure your problem, and you did the right thing when you abandoned that approach.
I disagree that the distortion you describe should be common to such a large fraction of your jazz LPs. I think, as someone else remarked, you are merely experiencing the wider dynamics of the better jazz LPs vs rock LPs, which is eliciting the distortion. So there should be a way to improve your results dramatically without discarding any LPs (this is assuming that your LPs have not been trashed already by previous owners, if you bought a lot of used ones). You don't specify, but I gather that your tonearm came with your turntable. Perhaps you should first find out whether it is considered to be a good match for your cartridge, in terms of its effective mass in relation to the compliance of the Ortofon. If so, then I would advise you to use the following start points: (1) set azimuth to 90 degrees; (2) set the VTA (height of the arm pillar in relation to the LP surface) such that the headshell is parallel to the LP surface. These are reasonable starting points. Then set VTF in accordance with the recommendations of Ortofon. If you still have distortion then raise VTF toward the upper limit specified by Ortofon. Sometimes even a tiny fraction of a gram difference can eliminate the kind of distortion you describe, which I suspect is due to mistracking. If adjusting VTF upwards a tad does not help at all, then try adjusting VTA. Raising the arm pillar will tend to increase high frequencies at the expense of lows, and vice-versa.
unlike jazz, which was mostly recorded with wider dynamic range. How did you skew VTA on the tonearm of a 2.2, "to the point where the needle was visually angled in toward the center of the turntable". That sounds like you have really screwed up the cartridge alignment. If the stylus is really sideways, it may help this sibilance because sideways, the stylus is probably more like a ball point pen than a proper sylus, and it is not getting down in the groove.
Hey, that sounds like a 103r stylus.
1) Bad set-up
2) Bad software
3) Duff turntable/arm/cartridge
One thing's for sure: you should not experience what you describe. As suggested by another poster, try to bring a friend who knows about turntables.
I would vote for 1) or 3) considering what you describe, I don't know how you could get 70 vinyls, even run-of-the-mill ones, to distort. Maybe your cartridge is dead?
By the way neither would VTA or Azimuth influence where the cantilever points. That would be overhang. But this should be set-up with the Geodisk and not fiddled with.
Most responders seem to be assuming that the problem is your set up, yet you say that when you played test records, everything came out fine. There are some great jazz records out there, such as Blue Notes and Verve, and Pablo. However, there are also alot of really crappy jazz records out there. A great many recording engineers have no clue what they are doing. There are a great many albums out there where the mikes are far too close to the instruments, especially the brass instruments, as you mentioned. Don't automatically assume there is something wrong with your setup - if I had a dollar for every audiophile that assumed there was something wrong with his setup when all he had was a really badly done recording....
Yes, and boy do you notice it more on acoustic recordings.
...are more sensitive than most.
There are plenty of Blue Notes with distortion on the recording. Wayne Shorter's Juju, Jackie McLean's Destination Out and other mid 60s records, etc. All of those have a little sizzly distortion on the sax at points. There are plenty of Blue Notes that don't, too. I don't know what the difference is. Maybe some artists actually liked the distortion, thought it sounded hot or something?
Either way, yeah. I'm not totally convinced the OP's problem isn't actually on the tape. One way I check, if I have a question like this about an album I'm unfamiliar with, is to find a way to listen to it online. Yes, that means downloading torrents, and if the question of legality bothers you, it might not be for you. But when it comes to this usage at least, my conscience is clear. Or you can go on ebay or amazon and find cheap copies of the CDs of a few of these albums.
It also helps to keep a used record that you KNOW someone else damaged with a worn out stylus or poor setup, so you can throw it on in a situation like this and remind yourself of the difference in sound between distortion that's just recorded that way and groove damage. In my experience, it's extremely easy to find a copy of Led Zeppelin 4 with this kind of damage. By the time you get to the end of Stairway on a lot of copies, you'll just want to rip the record off the platter and do terrible things to it.
Anyway, good luck to the OP. These things can be extremely frustrating to figure out.
Most of the responses here seem pretty valid to me and offer a rational way of figuring out what the root cause is. Just saying there are crappy records out their is a pretty pat and weak answer with a typical, yet unecessary, stab at "audiophiles". I can think of a lot more labels that put out well recorded albums than just the three mentioned. With so many factors to consider, the sensible thing to do is due diligence. What's the other choice? Trash a bunch of LP's that may have nothing wrong with them? There's a solution. (roll eyes)
Hi WOStantonCS100 - certainly there was no intent to be passive-aggresive in my post, frankly I fail to see how you read it that way. I do not agree that it is a contentious statement. It is certainly not name-calling - aren't we all audiophiles on this site???
The intent of the statement was in fact to be humorous, and obviously you didn't find it so. Perhaps the attempt at humor was lame. There's a reason I'm a musician and not a writer, as I like to say. Also, my post did not say that any of the posts with technical suggestions were wrong (there were some great suggestions for checking, as you pointed out), I was merely pointing out that since the OP has already run test records and everything checked out fine, this would seem to argue for a bad recording, then. There are indeed many folks out there who are all too ready to find fault with their equipment where none exists, as many equipment makers would attest. I am not attacking these folks, I am trying to help.
Your post, on the other hand... A little aggressive.
"...if I had a dollar for every audiophile that assumed... ..." = contentious
C. No flames, personal attacks or contentious off-topic comments: The idea is to make this a pleasant environment to discuss audio, not a schoolyard, or name-calling and rock-throwing festival.
Dance around that one all you want; but, the statement was unnecessary and contentious. And, yes, it was met head on. Speak to people like you would speak to them IN PERSON and most forum head-butting goes away, quickly.
Your post... ...a little worthless. :-)
Maybe I misinterpreted your post. If so, my apologies.
Perhaps it was all a misunderstanding... shake hands... bow to your neighbor... moving on. :)
I don't think there was any aggression in his answer. Plus, he may be right.
For my first foray into vinyl years ago, I had patiently collected 70ish records. I had no experience whatsoever. I played them and at worst they sounded like crap, at best no better than a bad CD. I returned the turntable thinking it wasn't good enough.
There IS a lot of mediocre software out there, in fact, most of what's out there is mediocre and it's a possibility the OP should consider.
Then I learnt to discriminate between labels, pressing, etc, etc... and all is fine now. But I can safely say that picking 100 random LPs on the market today and playing them even on a good TT might not convince everyone of the superiority of analogue.
YOUR posts are not passive-aggressive. :-) And, I agree with you on the possibilities. The only way to know for sure is to take the time to find out, do the tests.
I wouldn't give up on your cartridge before you get the stylus checked out under a microscope. Your cart/stylus can't detect genres; so, unless all your jazz records are toast, they aren't the issue. Good advice has all ready been given, especially about getting a second opinion (a friend with a table/cart combo equally as good or better than the one you have, to compare/contrast). Good luck!!
so it may be your setup, or perhaps the recordings themselves, I listen to a good deal of Blue Notes and Verves, and find them to be among the best sounding records with a good lack of distortion...
...for some reason or other. Bad cartridge or incompatibility could be the cause.
Guys who use a different turntable/cartridge do not have this problem. I would start by replacing the Ortofon with something completely different, and see if the problem goes away.
I had an Ortofon 2M red. I gave it away because I could not tame the sibilance. Maybe you got a duff cartridge.
come to your use and double-check your cartridge set up. He or she might have a different set of vinyl set-up tools - such as the cart alignment disc included with the Hi-Fi News Test LP. I found this alignment tool easy to use.
A bonus would be if same friend could bring over a second turntable and compare the sound of the same LP on both decks - with nothing else changed. (Bonus would be a full-blown vinyl session would likely result!)
I have been blown away more than once when a friend corrected a mistake in alignment.
The other possibility is that you have been buying LPs with pressing defects or the same type of groove wear.
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