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ctlmd
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Cartridge distortion with complex passages

I have a VPI TNT IV turntable, a Wheaton Triplanar tonearm, and a Transfiguration Temper Supreme cartridge, going into a Spectral DMC-20 and DMA-180. I have set up my cartridge with multiple times of tweaking it, and on most music, it sounds crystal clear, but the last problem I have is that it seems to distort with complex sounds such as multiple instruments or even more than already distorted electric guitar. I've tried to change VTA and azimuth, among other things. Is there anything that you would recommend changing to eliminate this problem?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cartridge distortion with complex passages

If you haven't already, I would suggest a thorough cleaning of the stylus. You don't give much infomation that might narrow down solutions to the problem. You might be in need of a better isolation system for the table or you could simply be in need of some housecleaning of contacts throughout the system. I assume the cartridge is not overloading the phono pre amp, but are you certain this isn't the case? I'm a little wary of multiple and continuous alterations and adjustments to a turntable/arm/cartridge combination. These are adjustments that typically don't have lots of variables where the sound is correct - azimuth should have one position where it is correct - and constantly re-setting the system to different parameters usually means that eventually nothing is properly set up. Maybe you just need a new stylus or maybe you should call a specialist to come in a set up the table to your satisfaction.

KBK
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Re: Cartridge distortion with complex passages


Quote:
I have a VPI TNT IV turntable, a Wheaton Triplanar tonearm, and a Transfiguration Temper Supreme cartridge, going into a Spectral DMC-20 and DMA-180. I have set up my cartridge with multiple times of tweaking it, and on most music, it sounds crystal clear, but the last problem I have is that it seems to distort with complex sounds such as multiple instruments or even more than already distorted electric guitar. I've tried to change VTA and azimuth, among other things. Is there anything that you would recommend changing to eliminate this problem?

If you don't all ready own a 'tracking test record', get one. This will settle the issue quickly. Very important, as a chattering stylus will destroy the records - as you play them....

ctlmd
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Re: Cartridge distortion with complex passages


Quote:
If you haven't already, I would suggest a thorough cleaning of the stylus. You don't give much infomation that might narrow down solutions to the problem. You might be in need of a better isolation system for the table or you could simply be in need of some housecleaning of contacts throughout the system. I assume the cartridge is not overloading the phono pre amp, but are you certain this isn't the case? I'm a little wary of multiple and continuous alterations and adjustments to a turntable/arm/cartridge combination. These are adjustments that typically don't have lots of variables where the sound is correct - azimuth should have one position where it is correct - and constantly re-setting the system to different parameters usually means that eventually nothing is properly set up. Maybe you just need a new stylus or maybe you should call a specialist to come in a set up the table to your satisfaction.

Thank you for your reply. The stylus could certainly use a cleaning, and I must admit I have been out of LP#9 Stylus Cleaner by Record Research Lab since I had the stylus re-tipped a few months ago. I'll order that, or another cleaner if you can recommend one, and clean the stylus. I don't think the isolation is a problem as I recently upgraded the TNT to the fixed pressure isolation 'balls' from the former inflatable bladders (which sometimes failed). The table seems to float well and the platform is the standard heavy steel VPI stand filled with sand. I recently cleaned and tightened the contacts on the system. The cartridge shouldn't be overloading the Spectral phono section, as the output of the cartridge is low at 0.2 mV, and the jumper on the board is set correctly. I initially set the cartridge up visually with the mirror/grid provided by Wheaton. Then I altered it by ear. I changed the settings on the tonearm/cartridge a couple of times because the azimuth and anti-skate seemed to be interacting, i.e. either could change the soundstage such that the voice was coming slightly left or right of center. I then used the Analogue Productions 'The Ultimate Analogue test LP' with an oscilloscope to refine the adjustments. I then tried adjusting it by ear again because the sound stage was not centered, but I ultimately went back to the test LP for final results. Of note, I am somewhat concerned, but have read that it is sometimes the case, that the cantilever doesn't sit perfectly perpendicular to the cartridge body. Therefore, the screw on the tonearm appears to be adjusted too far to one side when the azimuth is actually adjusted correctly. I hope I don't need a new stylus as this one was very expensive. I do think the cartridge is set up at least close to optimal, given the learning curve I've gone through to get here. However, I would still like to have a specialist come in to check/set everything up for me, but I can't seem to find one (especially one familiar with the Wheaton Triplanar arm) in my area.

tom collins
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Re: Cartridge distortion with complex passages

that is an impressive post and sounds like a very impressive piece of kit. for all of the expense and effort you have invested, i sincerely hope you find your solution. let me ask you, did you have this problem before the "retip"? just a thought.
in any event, do let us know how it works out.
good luck.

tom

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cartridge distortion with complex passages

If you are reasonably confident your set up is correct, my next recommendation would be to contact the distributor for the Transfiguration cartridge and ask their opinion. If you have difficulty contacting the distributor, I would go through the party who took care of the retip on your cartridge. I don't have a clue whether your cartidge is a decent match for the generation of arm you own. The Triplanar should accept most cartridges without problems but there are exceptions and it can be a bit fiddly to set up, particularly so in its earliest models. As has been asked, did you have this problem before you had the cartridge retipped? Has there been a moment - a point where something in the system changed - when this problem suddenly made itself known?

ctlmd
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Re: Cartridge distortion with complex passages

Before the cartridge was re-tipped, I never had it set up optimally, so I couldn't say if the problem was there.

But, I think I found it! No, I wasn't sure I had the cartridge set up right, because something you said, 'azimuth should have one position where it is correct' kept bothering me because I couldn't find that single point using my test record and oscilloscope. There seemed to be multiple points, or a wide range, where the signal in the opposite channels (using tracks 2 & 3) were minimized. I changed the gains on the oscilloscope this time so that I could see both channels, and I hadn't realized that although I had the opposite channels minimized as instructed, one of the channels on the other (signal) side was smaller and more variable than the other. So, I moved the azimuth until the signal sides were maximal while the opposite sides were minimal (crosstalk).

I've started listening to some records, and so far, little or no distortion even on complex music. I'll have to do some more listening before I'm fully convinced, but the problem seems to be fixed. Thanks for everyone's help.

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