Help: Turntable with powered speakers problem. Gear = great. Sound = terrible
May 30, 2013 at 5:36 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

christophereatw

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Hey y'all. First time poster. 
 
Wondered if any of you could help resolve an issue that's driving me absolutely insane. 
 
I have an Audio Technica LP120 turntable, using the build-in pre-amp to plug into a set of Audio Engine A5+ powered speakers through the built in RCA cables.
 
When it sounds great, it sounds great, but the sound quality is so inconsistent and seems to become distorted at any given time. The problem seems to be accentuated by movement also.
 
I had attributed this to a faulty turntable as everything else I hooked up to the speakers sounded awesome. However, I swapped out the turntable and I'm having the same issue.
 
Is there anything that would prevent this set-up working optimally? I've performed every search I can think of, but have found nothing to help. Audio Engine tells me there's no reason why the set up shouldn't work.
 
Should I get a different pre-amp, despite my turntable having one built in? 
 
Any answers or suggestions you may be able to offer would be hugely appreciated.
 
Thanks
Chris
 
May 30, 2013 at 6:29 PM Post #2 of 8

NA Blur

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Please describe in more detail what does it sound like when the problem occurs? 
 
To me it sounds like there is not enough downward pressure on the needle causingit to move up and away from the groove.
 
You may find this link helpful especially the section on tracking pressure:
 
http://gizmodo.com/5216965/how-to-calibrate-your-turntable-for-the-best-possible-sound
 
Once you get the pressure correct you may want to verify the needle angle and how it angles down into the groove.
 
How old is the stylus?
 
May 30, 2013 at 6:38 PM Post #3 of 8

christophereatw

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Thanks, NA Blur.
 
The sound appears to be very distorted, volume appears to vary. At times it just sounds unlistenable. Like a badly tuned radio. 

I have adjusted the weight on the tone arm, so it rests more easily on the LP and that seems to have improved matters.
 
However, I've been there before with sudden sound improvements, only for the quality to fall away quite quickly, so I'm reluctant to believe this has solved the problem, at present.
 
Appreciate your help
 
May 30, 2013 at 7:21 PM Post #4 of 8

NA Blur

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I think you mainly need more downward force from the tonearm to the groove.  Gently increase this pressure until the problem goes away.
 
The signs of a bad pre-amp would be more like a hum, squeal, or not enough gain.
 
It may be possible that you are saturating ( clipping ) the input of the amp that the pre-amp plugs into.  What do you have the pre-amp plugged into to drive your speakers?
 
Please describe your audio train a little more in detail.
 
Example:
 
Turntable --> NAD Pre-amp via RCA cables --> Ultra Desktop Amp via RCA --> AKG K550 headphones
 
Be sure to include the various volume / output settings you use so we can diagnose a possible clipping issue.
 
May 30, 2013 at 8:00 PM Post #5 of 8

goodvibes

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Few things to look at. Movement in the room was a tell. You may be getting feedback that can cause all kinds of issues including clipping the A5 amps. If the problem never occurs at low volume when you're not moving in the room. It's probably a feedback issue. Cure is to move the table to a separate surface from the speakers. A low light table is generally best if this is the issue. Track the cartridge in it's weight range. It's 3-5 grams so use 4. Likely best. Generally, lower is worse than higher and double check your zero balance first. Clean your stylus. Even of it looks good. If you don't have dedicated stuff, the clean striking portion of a matchbook run across it front to back will assure you of there not being anything stuck or bonded to it. BE CAREFULL! Arm shouldn't be locked and gently from back to front at 30 degree angles. Don't do it if you're wary and don't let the cartridge magnets pull on a book staple etc.
 
May 30, 2013 at 8:00 PM Post #6 of 8

christophereatw

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Thanks again for the response.
 
I'm using the Audio Technica LP120 turntable with the built-in pre-amp > RCA cable > Audio Engine A5+.
 
If I'm correct, not using a separate amplifier means that it can't be clipping? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
 
As I mentioned in the earlier post, your advice certainly improved the sound instantly. I'm hoping that it lasts.
 
Thanks!
 
May 30, 2013 at 8:03 PM Post #7 of 8

christophereatw

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Quote:
Few things to look at. Movement in the room was a tell. You may be getting feedback that can cause all kinds of issues including clipping the A5 amps. If the problem never occurs at low volume when you're not moving in the room. It's probably a feedback issue. Cure is to move the table to a separate surface from the speakers. A low light table is generally best if this is the issue. Track the cartridge in it's weight range. It's 3-5 grams so use 4. Likely best. Generally, lower is worse than higher and double check your zero balance first. Clean your stylus. Even of it looks good. If you don't have dedicated stuff, the clean striking portion of a matchbook run across it front to back will assure you of there not being anything stuck or bonded to it. BE CAREFULL! Arm shouldn't be locked and gently from back to front at 30 degree angles. Don't do it if you're wary and don't let the cartridge magnets pull on a book staple etc.

 
Thanks so much for all of this, I'll run all of those checks. 
 
Jun 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM Post #8 of 8

ValeTudoGuy

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How stable is your TT? Can you put it on a very heavy isolation platform. How are the speakers from other sources, like cd or other digital audio. You need to isolate either the TT, Cable or Speakers. Swap and change if possible until you find the culprit and then is a matter of finding why it's the culprit.
 

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