Question Grounding Tone Arms

julianps

Novice Member
Back in the day I had a RD80/Linn Basik and Cyrus amplifier. There was a ground wire from the deck that was bolts to the chassis of the amplifier. The amp itself was powered by 230V AC and hence earthed. So the tone arm was grounded to earth. No hum.

I'm looking to create a new rig for my kids to enjoy vinyl sounds but modern kit all appears to be a) plastic; and b) powered by low DC voltages. I sort of fail to see the point of grounding a tone arm to a plastic phono-stage with a 12V DC supply and no earth supply ... or am I missing something?

As an aside, Flexson's VinylPlay (a heavily modded RP1?) guide says "The arm earth (or ground) is automatically connected through the arm cable screening. No other earth should be necessary." ... yet some Amazon reviewers moan about "hum". So, how can an non-earthed device ever be grounded?
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
There are 2 grounds, one is the Signal Ground and the other is the Earth Ground, or as you call it the Tonearm Ground, or as it is also called the Chassis Ground.

The Signal Ground is a shield (screening) for the signal. If you simply attach the tonearm to the shield, then one line covers both. Inside the Amp, the chassis and the signal ground are all the same point. The speaker ground are actually the same point at the input signal ground.

So, it is possible to not have the earth ground wire because that ground path simply goes through the Signal Shield. Though how well that works is unclear. I think some do it well and some not.

As to the tonearm, if the turntable is plastic, it doesn't matter as long as the tonearm is metal or some other conductive material. I think Carbon arms are functionally shielded, as carbon is conductive.

Now, back to your kids. How much do you plan to spend, and what quality do you expect?

The Flexson turntables appear to be very much a clone of a Rega. The tonearms look very similar. For the low price, they are probably fine.

There are other turntables at a low price. But there is a minimum standard, unless you want something more akin to a toy.

This is about as low as you can go. This is not a good turntable, but it is functional, and it won't kill your records.

Audio Technica ATLP60USB USB Turntable - Superfi

This is about the minimum standard I would accept -

Reloop RP1000M DJ Turntable - Superfi

I assume this is the Flexson that you are considering -

Flexson VinylPlay Digital Turntable - Superfi

For £229, that's probably OK.

So, it gets down to the standard of quality you want, and what you are willing to pay to get it.

This is also a pretty decent turntable for a modest price -

Project Essential III Turntable - Superfi

These two are also probably worth considering -

Audio Technica ATLP120USBC USB Turntable - Superfi

Teac TN300 USB Turntable - Superfi

Again, just a matter of how far you want to take it.

If you want to buy a toy for your kids, then this -

Ion Compact LP USB Turntable - Superfi

Though I don't recommend it.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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julianps

Novice Member
Thanks for coming back to me with that one; yes I was guessing it was a Rega as Rega seem also to have abandoned separate grounding wires. I contacted Pro-Ject's UK agent/importer (Henley Design) and asked them the similar question.

Their answer is here and well worth a read but I also found a thread at WhatHiFi Forum that introduced me to the concept of ground loop. Once I put these two together, and your reply here, I think I understand better how to achieve the desired effect with bargain-basement kit.

Of course some premium kit is still built the old-fashioned way with issues easier to resolve.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Also, most of the turntables above come with a very basic cartridge. That's fine to get started with, but if you intend to get serious, they will all need a cartridge upgrade. But that can wait until later.

STeve/bluewizard
 

julianps

Novice Member
I was just looking at the links you included above; Superfi's not the cheapest (the Flexson markets at £199 now) and for sure comes with an uber-basic rebadged AT cartridge, making a step up to a 95E almost a given. Similarly there's loads of OM5E Pro-ject TTs out there that once upgraded to a better OM cartridge might as well have been upsold at the outset.

I did however find there a TEAC TN400 which is both USB and one of the few AptX/Bluetooth turntables out there. The Q Acoustic BT3 speakers are AptX-native as well making for an almost totally wireless experience for a lot less that one would get from, say, SONOS's mesh-WiFi. I hadn't found many retailers marketing the TN400 so thanks to you for the heads-up on that one.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
I was just looking at the links you included above; Superfi's not the cheapest (the Flexson markets at £199 now) ...
The links I provide are for reference only, typically for no more than the Photo and the Specs. I trust that people will shop around.

I did however find there a TEAC TN400 which is both USB and one of the few AptX/Bluetooth turntables out there. The Q Acoustic BT3 speakers are AptX-native as well making for an almost totally wireless experience for a lot less that one would get from, say, SONOS's mesh-WiFi. I hadn't found many retailers marketing the TN400 so thanks to you for the heads-up on that one.
That's a nice turntable, but remember that APT-X is not as good as a direct wire connection. It might be convenient, and that might be all you want. But it is not as good as CD and it is not as good as a direct connect. Good ... just not as good. And it is limited to about 30ft, though that's not likely to be a problem.

For me the real advantage of the TEAC TN400 is the longer "S" shaped Tonearm.

FYI: New TEAC TN400 Turntable with "S" Shaped Tonearm

TN-400S | TEAC

Nice turntable.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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