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Left channel louder in vinyl recordings

Discussion in 'Hi Fi Systems & Separates' started by itsneverfinal, May 23, 2007.

  1. itsneverfinal

    itsneverfinal Member

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    Hi,

    Recently I bought an Arcam SOLO with System Audio 1530 speakers and a Clearaudio Bluemotion (with the standard Satisfy tonearm and Aurum Wood cartridge) and a Project Phono Box II.

    I thoroughly enjoy the sound from this setup, and CD's sound great. Vinyl does sound great too, but it appears to be balanced to the left, not dramataically, but definitely noticeably if your someone who likes torturing themselves like me.
    Admittedly, my speaker setup is far from ideal, with the backwall distances being quite a bit different at either speaker. But even taking this into consideration, there is definitely a noticeable difference to when I play CD's, which sound balanced correctly.

    I've been looking around the net to try and find any info about this, and I did read that it is very frequent for the right channel to weaken somewhat, as this is the outer groove on the record, which 'pushes' the needle along. This gave me some glimmer of hope, as up till then, all the vinyl I had been listening to was well worn and had been played a lot on my old Ariston's :blush:, which had Stanton500 carts, and im pretty sure I had tracking set very heavy back then.
    However, I bought a fair bit of vinyl, and even on brand new 180gm stuff, the left channel was ALWAYS louder.

    I've also just bought one of those Xitel INport USB soundcards with phono ins, and when recording from my vinyl to wave, I can visibly see that the left channel is constantly louder. My PC is very far away from the turntable (its upstairs while turntable is downstairs), so to make sure that the left/right problems werent caused by signal loss over an extremely long phono cable, I purchased THREE 5 metre USB extension cables, with the built in signal amplifiers. My reasoning being that once the signal became digital, then it would either get there or not. Im not sure if that reasoning made sense in any way, but however the result is the same: the left channel is always noticeably stronger.
    Anyway, basically I would like to find out what setting on the turntable changes the left/right balance (yes I am a n00b to this).

    Is it the angle of the cartridge alignment?
    - I redid this last night with the triangular device Clearaudio provided, and my cartridge is completely parallel to the lines on the gauge when the needle is on the dot.

    Is it the roll axis? (i.e. if your looking head on at the cartidge, banking it left or right)

    Or is it just that my needle is wonky and theres not much I can do about it?

    Sorry for my extremely long first post, but I thought it best to give as much information as possible, in the hope of trying to resolve this extremely annoying problem. It is made even more annoying by how nice the sound is from the table when I manage to not think of the imbalance, drums just sound beautiful - especially on 70's recordings like Thin Lizzy.

    Any help is very, very much appreciated

    PS The Phono Box pre-amp I have is my second one as the shop I bought the table from lost my first one when I gave it into them once, with both boxes the left/right imbalance is identical, so its definitely not the pre-amp.
  2. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    I think from looking at your thread that you've pretty much excluded everything other than cartridge alignment.

    You have however checked all of that with a protractor,but it may be worth skewing the alignment by a few degrees either way and seeing if this cures the problem,as irrespective of the alignment of the cartridge body,there is always the possibility that either the cantilever or needle are slightly misaligned.

    Another (unlikely) possibility is mismatching within the coils of the cartridge itself,but this should have been picked up when it was being manufactured,and if you have a print-out of the cartridge's frequency response and balance,this should eliminate that.
  3. itsneverfinal

    itsneverfinal Member

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    thanks for your hasty reply,

    I tried fiddling with the alignment again and did another test today in which I chose a song which I had on both CD and vinyl. The James Dean Bradfield album 'The Great Western' was what I used.

    The vinyl has only been played once, and it feels pretty heavy, about 160gm I'd say, so it was a good source to use for the test. I ripped the CD to PCM/WAV using Exact Audio Copy.

    I chose the first song 'That's No Way To Tell A Lie' and recorded it with the cartridge alignment at the protractor/gauge recommended angle, then I turned the cartidge as far clockwise (when looking from above) as possible, and recorded the track again. I then also turned it as far anti-clockwise as possible, and recorded this. The extremely annoying result was that all 3 angles of the cartridge led to pretty much the exact same results, with the left channel as usual being noticeably louder than the right. To top this all off, my WAV rip of the song actually had the RIGHT channel louder than the left, not much - but still on average louder :( .

    Now I'm really perplexed :s

    Is it possible that maybe the connection from the cartridge to the phono sockets (which are built into the bottom of the tonearm mounting) is in some way unbalanced? Although having said that it is still a mystery to me why no matter which way I turn the cartridge, it seems to have sod all effect on the output :s.

    Would it be a good idea also to see what output I get when I record from a Mono record - I think I have one (A Date With Elvis 1960) ?

    Again any help is very much appreciated, I'm pulling my hair out here...
  4. alexs2

    alexs2 Senior Moderator

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    Possibly.....I do think though having excluded almost everythin else,that the cartridge may be a likely culprit....how old is it?...if under warranty you may be able to exchange it or at least have it checked.

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