Turntable grounding/cart alignment
May 1, 2013 at 12:38 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

pevsfreedom

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Hi guys,
 
Had 2 questions
 
1) When aligning the cartridge do I align the cartridge itself or the stylus? The stylus is sort of off center so I just aligned that. The entire cartridge is off but the stylus looks straight.
 
2) Grounding. I have a Yaqin tube amp and definitely get a buzz sound (even when it's NOT on). Is it something else (if it's not on?) Also : What's the proper ground 'path'? I have the Technics grounded to the pre-amp which is grounded to the wall (via the power cable). My amp is also grounded to the wall. Am I doing anything wrong here? Is a ground loop isolator necessary? Thanks.
 
May 1, 2013 at 3:23 AM Post #2 of 12

p a t r i c k

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Quote:
Hi guys,
 
Had 2 questions
 
1) When aligning the cartridge do I align the cartridge itself or the stylus? The stylus is sort of off center so I just aligned that. The entire cartridge is off but the stylus looks straight.
 
2) Grounding. I have a Yaqin tube amp and definitely get a buzz sound (even when it's NOT on). Is it something else (if it's not on?) Also : What's the proper ground 'path'? I have the Technics grounded to the pre-amp which is grounded to the wall (via the power cable). My amp is also grounded to the wall. Am I doing anything wrong here? Is a ground loop isolator necessary? Thanks.

 
Hi
 
With regard to question 1) I wonder what make of cartridge and stylus this is? Stylus shouldn't really be off centre. I would align the cartridge body and not the stylus. The armature needs to be aligned with the groove. However if the cartridge and stylus are new I would send them back. I would also check the stylus for damage, maybe it has become skewered in the armature in some way.
 
With regard to question 2) Presumably you get the buzz when the pre-amp is on but not when it is off. I've never used a Technics turntable. I don't know if there is a separate earth for the arm with these that connects to a post on the pre-amp. These buzzes often come because of the way things are connected to earth within the turntable. Usually the metal parts of the turntable are all connected, sometimes there are small wires to connect them. You might want to investigate. If you use a short length of wire you can try connecting different parts of the turntable to see if the buzz goes away. It would also be good to have a look at the mains plug for the turntable and see if there is an earth wire for that. I suspect probably not, which is fine, but if there is one maybe it is loose. I think that all is well with the earthing for the pre-amp and the power-amp, these should have earth connections for the wall plug. I would check out the turntable first.
 
 
 
May 1, 2013 at 3:35 AM Post #3 of 12

Baxide

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Quote:
1) When aligning the cartridge do I align the cartridge itself or the stylus? The stylus is sort of off center so I just aligned that. The entire cartridge is off but the stylus looks straight.
 
2) Grounding. I have a Yaqin tube amp and definitely get a buzz sound (even when it's NOT on). Is it something else (if it's not on?) Also : What's the proper ground 'path'? I have the Technics grounded to the pre-amp which is grounded to the wall (via the power cable). My amp is also grounded to the wall. Am I doing anything wrong here? Is a ground loop isolator necessary? Thanks.

1. NEVER touch the stylus! Leave that to the stylus cleaning brush or the grooves in a record.
 
2. Fix the ground wire from the turntable to the pre-amp. But plug the pre-amp and power amp into the same mains outlet. Otherwise you could get an earth loop between the two amps.
 
I have to add that in the cases of transistor preamplifiers you can remove the earth cable on the mains plug, which will make the earth cable in the power amp the only common earthing point. This will avoid earth loops.
But if it is a valve/tube based preamplifier then you should always make sure that the mains cable is earthed. I never touch valve based amps that don't have an earth to the mains.
 
May 5, 2013 at 10:10 PM Post #4 of 12

pevsfreedom

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Quote:
 
Hi
 
With regard to question 1) I wonder what make of cartridge and stylus this is? Stylus shouldn't really be off centre. I would align the cartridge body and not the stylus. The armature needs to be aligned with the groove. However if the cartridge and stylus are new I would send them back. I would also check the stylus for damage, maybe it has become skewered in the armature in some way.
 
With regard to question 2) Presumably you get the buzz when the pre-amp is on but not when it is off. I've never used a Technics turntable. I don't know if there is a separate earth for the arm with these that connects to a post on the pre-amp. These buzzes often come because of the way things are connected to earth within the turntable. Usually the metal parts of the turntable are all connected, sometimes there are small wires to connect them. You might want to investigate. If you use a short length of wire you can try connecting different parts of the turntable to see if the buzz goes away. It would also be good to have a look at the mains plug for the turntable and see if there is an earth wire for that. I suspect probably not, which is fine, but if there is one maybe it is loose. I think that all is well with the earthing for the pre-amp and the power-amp, these should have earth connections for the wall plug. I would check out the turntable first.
 
 

 
I bought three AT 120 E's and every single one the cantilever was off center so I just gave up and accepted it (and then centered that). Every damn cart I've ever bought the cantilever was off center. 
 
I've also read of self grounded the Technics, maybe I'll check into that. The turntable itself is new to me. Thanks for the info.
 
May 5, 2013 at 10:16 PM Post #5 of 12

pevsfreedom

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Quote:
1. NEVER touch the stylus! Leave that to the stylus cleaning brush or the grooves in a record.
 
2. Fix the ground wire from the turntable to the pre-amp. But plug the pre-amp and power amp into the same mains outlet. Otherwise you could get an earth loop between the two amps.
 
I have to add that in the cases of transistor preamplifiers you can remove the earth cable on the mains plug, which will make the earth cable in the power amp the only common earthing point. This will avoid earth loops.
But if it is a valve/tube based preamplifier then you should always make sure that the mains cable is earthed. I never touch valve based amps that don't have an earth to the mains.

 
I know not to touch the stylus. I'm just talking about aligning it (by moving the cartridge). Sorry if that was confusing. The cart itself is 'off center' over the protractor but the stylus is centered. 
 
By same mains outlet do you just mean plug both into the same power strip? It has a ground to the main cable (it's a Yaqin tube amp). 
 
My biggest problem is that I think the house is ungrounded, but hey, it's a rental.
 
May 5, 2013 at 10:40 PM Post #6 of 12

p a t r i c k

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Quote:
 
I bought three AT 120 E's and every single one the cantilever was off center so I just gave up and accepted it (and then centered that). Every damn cart I've ever bought the cantilever was off center. 
 
I've also read of self grounded the Technics, maybe I'll check into that. The turntable itself is new to me. Thanks for the info.

 
With regard to the cartridge I would align the body of the cartridge and not the stylus if the stylus is off centre. However I would not use the cartridge if the stylus is off centre, I'd send it back personally.
 
I have used many many cartridges over the years, although I have not bought a new one in the last ten years.
 
I think the best moving magnet cartridges for medium mass pickup arms are the Goldring cartridges.
 
http://www.goldring.co.uk/moving-magnet-cartridge.htm
 
I used the 1042 for years. It is really great. However you could get a 1006 and upgrade to a 1042 at a later stage as they use the same body.
 
Stylus will be aligned with these I think.
 
May 5, 2013 at 10:55 PM Post #7 of 12

pevsfreedom

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I figure maybe the 120's are supposed to be slightly offcenter because every one I've had has been like that but I've seen other needles that weren't like this. The way I have it now the cart looks really off center but the cantilever/stylus is dead center so who knows. I might check into the cart you recommended but they're a little over my budget, thanks for the recommendation.
 
May 6, 2013 at 4:59 PM Post #8 of 12

p a t r i c k

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Quote:
I figure maybe the 120's are supposed to be slightly offcenter because every one I've had has been like that but I've seen other needles that weren't like this. The way I have it now the cart looks really off center but the cantilever/stylus is dead center so who knows. I might check into the cart you recommended but they're a little over my budget, thanks for the recommendation.

 
I don't think the 120s are supposed to be slightly off-centre :)
 
One thing I wonder is whether you have tried removing the stylus from the cartridge? With moving magnet cartridges the stylus can be pulled out and put back in again. It is usually the same procedure but I would read the instructions first.
 
If the off-centre stylus is not immediately and obviously remedied, by say taking the stylus out and putting it back in, then I'd send that cartridge back from whence it came and don't buy another 120.
 
It could be that you have just landed upon a bad batch of these particular cartridges, and maybe that is why all the ones you've looked at are like this.
 
 
May 6, 2013 at 5:07 PM Post #9 of 12

pevsfreedom

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Quote:
 
I don't think the 120s are supposed to be slightly off-centre :)
 
One thing I wonder is whether you have tried removing the stylus from the cartridge? With moving magnet cartridges the stylus can be pulled out and put back in again. It is usually the same procedure but I would read the instructions first.
 
If the off-centre stylus is not immediately and obviously remedied, by say taking the stylus out and putting it back in, then I'd send that cartridge back from whence it came and don't buy another 120.
 
It could be that you have just landed upon a bad batch of these particular cartridges, and maybe that is why all the ones you've looked at are like this.
 

 
Yeah I've taken off the stylus assembly to set it up and all that. The cantilever is just offset (and has been) on every cartridge I've ever bought (1x Shure M97xe and 3 AT-120e's) which kind of annoys me. So do you guys think that aligning the CARTRIDGE would be more beneficial than the actual needle? 
 
What are some other needles I could look at in the $80-120 range? I'm not particularly loyal to AT or anything especially since they keep sending me crap cartridges.
 
May 7, 2013 at 5:06 AM Post #10 of 12

p a t r i c k

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Quote:
 
Yeah I've taken off the stylus assembly to set it up and all that. The cantilever is just offset (and has been) on every cartridge I've ever bought (1x Shure M97xe and 3 AT-120e's) which kind of annoys me. So do you guys think that aligning the CARTRIDGE would be more beneficial than the actual needle? 
 
What are some other needles I could look at in the $80-120 range? I'm not particularly loyal to AT or anything especially since they keep sending me crap cartridges.

 
First, are you sure that anti-skating is set correctly on the pickup arm? If anti-skating is not correct then the stylus will shift to the side, however this only happens while playing of course.
 
The stylus can be very very slightly off-centre and if it is then align cartridge body.
 
I've never used this one but I have found Ortofon to be really good.
 
Ortofon 2M Red Phono Cartridge
 
http://www.needledoctor.com/Ortofon-2M-Red-Phono-Cartridge?sc=2&category=378
 
I'm assuming medium mass pickup arm.
 
Any more significant problems then you might like to consider a CD player :) - I prefer them.
 
May 7, 2013 at 5:22 AM Post #11 of 12

penmarker

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Styli/Styluses and cantilevers should never be off centre from the cartridge, the reason why we align cartridges is to align the stylus needle perfectly into the grooves for maximum quality in audio wave reproduction . I suggest you return them for new carts. If the Shure M97xe also has the same problem then you should return that one too.
 
If grounding had been settled but buzzing is persistent, it could be from your house wiring. My house, if I plug in my speakers with no audio input at all and turn the volume up, I can hear the buzzing. Can't really help it, though some people would really suggest power conditioners.
 
For $80-120 I suppose you can try upping the budget and get yourself some Audio Technica AT440MLa. Good cheap carts might sound ok to you presently, but heavens know what they'll do to your vinyl records. Later after you've upgraded your cart, you might end up with a pile of damaged records.
 
May 8, 2013 at 4:11 AM Post #12 of 12

p a t r i c k

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I had an additional thought about anti-skating.
 
Remember that if you have anti-skating applied and place the stylus on a stationary record the stylus will be shifted off-centre. So, when aligning the cartridge you must have anti-skating turned off so that there is no lateral force on the arm.
 
 

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