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weskinner
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Vinyl Playback Fuzzy / Distorted (First System)

I've just finished setting up my first system.  I had the pre-amp and amplifier already.  The Onkyo P-301 and Onkyo M-501.  For speakers I built a pair of TriTrix MTM transmission lines.  Here's a link:
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=300-702.  I setup the components and speakers once I was done building them and they sounded great playing music from a digital source.  Definitely no fuzz / distortion there.  A few days ago my Pro-Ject Debut Carbon came in the mail.  I was very careful setting it up.  Practiced balancing the tone arm 3 or 4 times to make sure I was confident in the way I was doing it.  Made sure the anti-skating weight was setup properly.  I also am completely confident that the needle never touched anything until I lowered it onto vinyl for the first time with the tonearm lever.  I have not confirmed that the surface the turntable is on is completely level but I am certain it is close.  I also have not "Adjusted the azimuth" which if I read the instructions correctly controls the (borrowing from flight dynamics) "roll" of the needle in relation to the groove of the record.  Even using a magnifying glass the needle appears perpendicular to the record.

I purchased a sealed copy of (is that proper vinyl terminology?) Dark Side of the Moon to test out my new toy with.  I lowered the tonearm using the lever and sat in my chair hoping for the best.  Everything was sounding great until mid-way through "Breathe" I started noticing the vocals were fuzzy and distorted.  Not bad, but definitely noticable.  All the instruments seemed to be coming through fine but it made me wonder if it was just more noticable in the singing.  I adjusted the volume and the problem seemed worse at lower volumes.  This makes me wonder if maybe the problem is some kind of voltage or impadence mismatch in the component chain.  Or maybe the phono input in my pre-amp is just bad?  This is possible as this component along with the amplifier are older and they have been in and out of storage a few times.  I'm almost certain I setup the turntable properly.  How likely is it that a slightly unlevel surface could cause this?

What steps should I take to diagnose this issue?

commsysman
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Sound Problem

It sounds like a classic description of cartridge mistracking. What cartridge are you using, and what is the recommended tracking force range?

This is almost always due to the tracking force being set too light. People tend to set it too light.

Make certain that your cartridge and arm "float" weightlessly above the record when the tracking force dial is set to zero (adjust as needed to zero it out if you need to) , and then set the tracking force to 2 grams or more, as needed to get good sound quality.

Setting the tracking force too light causes distortion and excess record wear.

I very much doubt that the phono stage in your pramp has anything to do with this problem, but investing in a Musical Fidelity V-LPS phono stage will certainly improve your sound quality a lot.

jgossman
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It's the recording

I have the same thing on my copy.  Try to find the Mobile Fidelity copy.  MoFi are over all hit or miss but thier cut of DSOTM is superb.  I don't have the fuzzies on Breath on the one or two other cuts of the track I have but those LP's run noisier and have some warp and flutter that I don't have on my 180 gm pressing of DOSTM from about 2004.

Onkyo, JVC, Pioneer, etc. used pretty damn good componentry in thier gear in the 70's - 90's, I'd honestly doubt anything at all is wrong with the gear.  They made things cheaper with casings and buttons and knobs not designed to survive an atom bomb.  A comm's said, check your tracking, but from first hand experience, I'd almost bet it's the record itself.

Good luck.

weskinner
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The cartridge is the Ortofon

The cartridge is the Ortofon 2M Red.  On Friday I wanted to confirm it wasn't the recording so I threw on Jackson Browne's self-title album and was hearing the same issue.  Distortion on the heavy vocal parts.  I realize only 2 albums isn't enough of a test case to confirm it's not the recordings so I'll try more.  I'll also play with the tracking when I get home today and see if I get better results.  Thanks for the suggestions.

weskinner
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Is it easy to damage the

Is it easy to damage the needle even if I increase tracking force in small increments and listen for improvement?

absolutepitch
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tracking force

The Ortofon website says the tracking force recommended is 1.8 g (18 mN). I would set it there and see how it sounds and whether the distortion goes away. Then I would adjust the force in 1/8 g increments around that, both higher and lower, and listen for when the image focuses. You may need to adjust it more finely when you get close to the right force.

jackfish
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I would get an appropriate alignment protractor and

realign the cartridge. I would also first make sure the platform the turntable is on is level and that the turntable is level upon that. I would also get a tracking force gauge to set the cartridge tracking force.

JIMV
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When I had a similar problem,

When I had a similar problem, I found the cause was a screwed up azimuth setup.

commsysman
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Tracking.

To verify that the problem is mistracking, set the tracking force to 2.5 grams and see if it sounds better; this is NOT an excessive tracking force.

If it sounds better that way, you can try lowering it slightly. Many turntables do not have a good enough arm to allow tracking at 1.8 grams, so if you have to end up with 2.5, there as absolutely nothing wrong with that.

tunedtovinyl
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It has been a while since the thread started

I am just wondering if the original poster ever came to a resolution for this problem.  I have the same cartridge on my turntable and love it.

ra10cracker
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Tracking force is the issue?

I too own a Pro Ject Carbon and after cutting about 50 hours on the Ortofon Red 2m, I started to notice a distinct static like distortion. I had not been doing anything out of the usual and it was even on a spanking new 180 gram vinyl cut of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?". I knew something was rotten in Denmark when put on Steely Dan's "Royal Scam" and it was like someone dropped a deuce on Danald Fagan's silky voice. Oh HELL NO! I had even replaced the platter from steel to acrylic. I had not been using the anti-skate counter weight and wondered could that be it? After some research I added the weight and calibrated the tone arm tracking force to 1.8-2.5 grams and there was a noticable improvement. Still catching some distortion on some of jam climaxes, just now starting to tweek. Still not satisfied. Anymore advice would be pimp, thanks!

.dexter
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New cartridge

The project debut carbon has distortion when paired with the ortofon m2 red.  I am surprised with all the reviews of the debut carbon, not one has noticed the distortion with the cartridge.  I have read other threads regarding this issue and apparently the sumiko pearl cartridge paired  with the debut carbon sounds much better!  I just ordered the sumiko, and am looking forward to solving this irritating issue!

cni7
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Same issue, same products

I am having exactly the same issue with a new pro-ject debut carbon with ortofon m2 red. I have configured the recommended tracking force, as well as the suggested additional force, I have verified that the cartridge is aligned following the manufacturer's protractor.

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