Help With Turntable Sibillance, Distortion, Brightness

heavypettying

Standard Member
Hi all,

I was hoping for some advice on the following issue please!

My system is: Linn Axis turntable with Audio Technica VT520EB, Rega Brio-R, Dali Menuets.

I am experiencing sibillance, vocal distortion and excessive brightness from the turntable. I have tested it with older pressings, and brand new records and the problem persists. I should also say there is no sibillance when I'm streaming music, so I can be fairly confident it's not the speakers. I have taken the turntable to a Linn specialist, who fitted the new cartridge and setup the turntable properly. It was play tested through one of their systems and sounded fine.

So my question is, where do I go from here? I'm quite confused, here are some of the things I am thinking about.

Could the AT cartridge be over bright? Would it be worth replacing the cartidge with something warmer or darker sounding? Would it make much difference?

Is it possible that the cartridge is too powerful and overloading the phono stage in the Brio?

Would it be worth considering a separate tube preamp to try to warm things up a bit?

Could it simple be that my turntable is a bad match for the amp / speaker combo?

Rather than mess around with all the above, would it be better to replace the Linn with a Rega turntable which presumable would be well matched to the Rega amp?

Sorry about all the qustions, I'm tearing my hair out here!

Thanks

Paul
 
Hi all,

I was hoping for some advice on the following issue please!

My system is: Linn Axis turntable with Audio Technica VT520EB, Rega Brio-R, Dali Menuets.

I am experiencing sibillance, vocal distortion and excessive brightness from the turntable. I have tested it with older pressings, and brand new records and the problem persists. I should also say there is no sibillance when I'm streaming music, so I can be fairly confident it's not the speakers. I have taken the turntable to a Linn specialist, who fitted the new cartridge and setup the turntable properly. It was play tested through one of their systems and sounded fine.

So my question is, where do I go from here? I'm quite confused, here are some of the things I am thinking about.

Could the AT cartridge be over bright? Would it be worth replacing the cartidge with something warmer or darker sounding? Would it make much difference?

Is it possible that the cartridge is too powerful and overloading the phono stage in the Brio?

Would it be worth considering a separate tube preamp to try to warm things up a bit?

Could it simple be that my turntable is a bad match for the amp / speaker combo?

Rather than mess around with all the above, would it be better to replace the Linn with a Rega turntable which presumable would be well matched to the Rega amp?

Sorry about all the qustions, I'm tearing my hair out here!

Thanks

Paul
Audio Technica Vt520EB? Can't find any details on it! MM, MC, Ceramic?
The rest of the system is a known quantity. So got to suspect the cartridge.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Suspect it is the VM520EB? Is this correct, if so, can’t see any reviews that say it is treble heavy.
 
Last edited:

IntelliVolume

Well-known Member
I experience the EXACT same thing with my AT-95e on an AT-LP120...and have from almost day one. No manner of increasing VTF, adjusting the alignment or playing with anti-skate stops this cart and stylus from exuding harsh sibilance, especially towards the ends of sides (i.e. inner groove distortion/groove pinch noise).

I've been told that increasing VTF can almost always eliminate this, but I'm already at 2.3 grams of downforce for this cart (the recommended VTF is 2.0 grams but many people run it at a slightly higher VTF for better tracking) and even when I brought it to its maximum recommended, 2.5, it didn't seem to fix it.
 

simonblue

Distinguished Member
Just read this about your amp ?

"If we had one issue with the old Brio-R, it’s that its lean character meant it had an excitable treble that needed careful matching with the rest of your kit"

Now if your AT or speakers, in any way have an excitable treble ?

You could say try a different cartridge,a smoother one,or maybe a phono stage,how is the phono stage on the rega ?.

But first thing i tried is a different cartridge

:)
 

heavypettying

Standard Member
Just read this about your amp ?

"If we had one issue with the old Brio-R, it’s that its lean character meant it had an excitable treble that needed careful matching with the rest of your kit"

Now if your AT or speakers, in any way have an excitable treble ?

You could say try a different cartridge,a smoother one,or maybe a phono stage,how is the phono stage on the rega ?.

But first thing i tried is a different cartridge

:)
Ah, interesting. So potentially a bad pairing with the Rega and the cartridge. Do you think a darker sounding cartridge would make much of a difference?

I would have to say I’m not enjoying the built in phono stage on the Rega, just because of all the sibilance.
 

heavypettying

Standard Member
I experience the EXACT same thing with my AT-95e on an AT-LP120...and have from almost day one. No manner of increasing VTF, adjusting the alignment or playing with anti-skate stops this cart and stylus from exuding harsh sibilance, especially towards the ends of sides (i.e. inner groove distortion/groove pinch noise).

I've been told that increasing VTF can almost always eliminate this, but I'm already at 2.3 grams of downforce for this cart (the recommended VTF is 2.0 grams but many people run it at a slightly higher VTF for better tracking) and even when I brought it to its maximum recommended, 2.5, it didn't seem to fix it.
Yes, I have also experimented with VTF and it didn’t seem to make any difference whatsoever. It drives you bonkers, doesn’t it?!
 

DT79

Well-known Member
I would whack VTF as high as you’re comfortable doing and decrease VTA (lower the base of the arm or add spacers between headshell and cartridge), and see if together that makes any difference.

Then do you have an alignment protractor? If not you can download free ones, look at the Vinyl Engine website. I think it’s worth checking the alignment that the dealer did for you. They’re only human and may not have been super diligent if it wasn’t making them any money. Just go for a standard Baerwald or IEC alignment.

That’s the end of the free things to try i think. After that the Denon DL-110 is a nice smooth, mellow sounding cartridge that isn’t too expensive (high output moving coil so can go straight into an MM phono stage). Also a good off board phono preamp can only help matters. I wouldn’t go for a valve one with the idea that it ought to warm things up - two wrongs don’t make a right. If it isn’t audibly transparent then you’re adding something that shouldn’t be there or taking away something that should.

I had exactly this issue on a Techie SL1210Mk2 with Ortofon 2M red - sibilance and horrible IGD. The Denon completely solved it. Later had a Ortofon 2M Bronze which was even better. I put it down to the 2M Red in my case - it’s just got a bit of a crude nail on the end of it.
 

heavypettying

Standard Member
I would whack VTF as high as you’re comfortable doing and decrease VTA (lower the base of the arm or add spacers between headshell and cartridge), and see if together that makes any difference.

Then do you have an alignment protractor? If not you can download free ones, look at the Vinyl Engine website. I think it’s worth checking the alignment that the dealer did for you. They’re only human and may not have been super diligent if it wasn’t making them any money. Just go for a standard Baerwald or IEC alignment.

That’s the end of the free things to try i think. After that the Denon DL-110 is a nice smooth, mellow sounding cartridge that isn’t too expensive (high output moving coil so can go straight into an MM phono stage). Also a good off board phono preamp can only help matters. I wouldn’t go for a valve one with the idea that it ought to warm things up - two wrongs don’t make a right. If it isn’t audibly transparent then you’re adding something that shouldn’t be there or taking away something that should.

I had exactly this issue on a Techie SL1210Mk2 with Ortofon 2M red - sibilance and horrible IGD. The Denon completely solved it. Later had a Ortofon 2M Bronze which was even better. I put it down to the 2M Red in my case - it’s just got a bit of a crude nail on the end of it.

Thanks. Yes, I will double check the alignment / VTA, or I might even get a professional to have a look at it to be sure.

I have read that the Denon DL-110 can help with such issues, but also that it reveals a lot of surface noise. Have you found this to be the case?
 

DT79

Well-known Member
Thanks. Yes, I will double check the alignment / VTA, or I might even get a professional to have a look at it to be sure.

I have read that the Denon DL-110 can help with such issues, but also that it reveals a lot of surface noise. Have you found this to be the case?

Interesting. It’s a while since I had it, but I don’t remember it being particularly bad for revealing surface noise. I remember my current cartridge revealing a lot of surface noise when it was brand new, but that definitely reduced as it ran in. In any case that’s got to be the lesser of two evils and a basic record washer is reletively cheap and a good thing to have.

Turntable set up and alignment can seem intimidating, I know it did for me at first, but it’s very straight forward once you learn how to do it, it’s just a bit fiddly sometimes. If you rely on someone else, then in addition to what that costs you (that you could be spending on records or gear) you’ll always have that niggling worry whether it’s been done properly, and you’ll be dependant on them to come an re-do it when you change anything. Adding or changing a record clamp will change the weight on the platter and change VTA. Changing to different platter mat will change the VTA. Change the VTA and you need to change the VTF and vice versa. If you have to use headshell spacers to change the VTA then you’ll need to redo the cartridge alignment. On some arms if you change the VTF the arm base can move so you’ll need to redo the alignment.
 

heavypettying

Standard Member
Interesting. It’s a while since I had it, but I don’t remember it being particularly bad for revealing surface noise. I remember my current cartridge revealing a lot of surface noise when it was brand new, but that definitely reduced as it ran in. In any case that’s got to be the lesser of two evils and a basic record washer is reletively cheap and a good thing to have.

Turntable set up and alignment can seem intimidating, I know it did for me at first, but it’s very straight forward once you learn how to do it, it’s just a bit fiddly sometimes. If you rely on someone else, then in addition to what that costs you (that you could be spending on records or gear) you’ll always have that niggling worry whether it’s been done properly, and you’ll be dependant on them to come an re-do it when you change anything. Adding or changing a record clamp will change the weight on the platter and change VTA. Changing to different platter mat will change the VTA. Change the VTA and you need to change the VTF and vice versa. If you have to use headshell spacers to change the VTA then you’ll need to redo the cartridge alignment. On some arms if you change the VTF the arm base can move so you’ll need to redo the alignment.
Thanks DT79, you make a good point and it makes perfect sense. Think I will take the time to learn it, then I can have a better understanding of it for the future.
 

IntelliVolume

Well-known Member
Yes, I have also experimented with VTF and it didn’t seem to make any difference whatsoever. It drives you bonkers, doesn’t it?!
Absolutely, pettying; it's one of the things I HATE about vinyl.

I'm going to have to save up enough to replace this cartridge or its stylus at some point; hope everything gets sorted out for you.
 

heavypettying

Standard Member
I would whack VTF as high as you’re comfortable doing and decrease VTA (lower the base of the arm or add spacers between headshell and cartridge), and see if together that makes any difference.

Then do you have an alignment protractor? If not you can download free ones, look at the Vinyl Engine website. I think it’s worth checking the alignment that the dealer did for you. They’re only human and may not have been super diligent if it wasn’t making them any money. Just go for a standard Baerwald or IEC alignment.

That’s the end of the free things to try i think. After that the Denon DL-110 is a nice smooth, mellow sounding cartridge that isn’t too expensive (high output moving coil so can go straight into an MM phono stage). Also a good off board phono preamp can only help matters. I wouldn’t go for a valve one with the idea that it ought to warm things up - two wrongs don’t make a right. If it isn’t audibly transparent then you’re adding something that shouldn’t be there or taking away something that should.

I had exactly this issue on a Techie SL1210Mk2 with Ortofon 2M red - sibilance and horrible IGD. The Denon completely solved it. Later had a Ortofon 2M Bronze which was even better. I put it down to the 2M Red in my case - it’s just got a bit of a crude nail on the end of it.
Just a quick question DT79. Is the VTA adjustment done by eye, or is there a device to check that too?
 

DT79

Well-known Member
Just a quick question DT79. Is the VTA adjustment done by eye, or is there a device to check that too?

What you want is a tiny bubble spirit level, similar to this but smaller - Small Tiny Spirit Bubble Level/Mini Bulls Eye Bullseye Vial Round circular: Amazon.co.uk: Business, Industry & Science

I’ve got one that’s about 7mm in diameter, but I can’t remember where I got it from and couldn’t see any quite that small on Amazon. Basically you want it as small and therefore light as possible.

You put one of those on the top of the headshell, right above where the stylus is, you lower the arm onto a stationary record and it allows you to see if it’s level. You can also check the azimuth like that. Oh I didn’t mention that before - the azimuth is the tilt of the headshell/cartridge to the left or right if you look at it head-on. Most arms are pre-set so hopefully you’ll never need to mess with that. Obviously it should be dead flat.
 

heavypettying

Standard Member
What you want is a tiny bubble spirit level, similar to this but smaller - Small Tiny Spirit Bubble Level/Mini Bulls Eye Bullseye Vial Round circular: Amazon.co.uk: Business, Industry & Science

I’ve got one that’s about 7mm in diameter, but I can’t remember where I got it from and couldn’t see any quite that small on Amazon. Basically you want it as small and therefore light as possible.

You put one of those on the top of the headshell, right above where the stylus is, you lower the arm onto a stationary record and it allows you to see if it’s level. You can also check the azimuth like that. Oh I didn’t mention that before - the azimuth is the tilt of the headshell/cartridge to the left or right if you look at it head-on. Most arms are pre-set so hopefully you’ll never need to mess with that. Obviously it should be dead flat.
Many thanks for the info. I’m going to dive into it and hopefully get it sorted.
 

DT79

Well-known Member

DT79

Well-known Member
Anti-skate, forgot to mention anti-skate. When the record spins it exerts a force which pulls the stylus towards the centre, so the anti-skate exerts an opposing force to keep the stylus applying an even force to either side of the groove.

When everything else is set, lower the stylus onto a spinning record, roughly in the centre of its radius and looking from the front look to see if the cantilever deflects one way or the other when it makes contact - ideally it should stay dead straight to the centre of the body of the cartridge body. Adjust the anti-skate force up (if the cantilever angles inwards) or down (if the cantilever angles outwards) accordingly, until it stays dead straight.

There can’t be anything else surely...
 

heavypettying

Standard Member
What you want is a tiny bubble spirit level, similar to this but smaller - Small Tiny Spirit Bubble Level/Mini Bulls Eye Bullseye Vial Round circular: Amazon.co.uk: Business, Industry & Science

I’ve got one that’s about 7mm in diameter, but I can’t remember where I got it from and couldn’t see any quite that small on Amazon. Basically you want it as small and therefore light as possible.

You put one of those on the top of the headshell, right above where the stylus is, you lower the arm onto a stationary record and it allows you to see if it’s level. You can also check the azimuth like that. Oh I didn’t mention that before - the azimuth is the tilt of the headshell/cartridge to the left or right if you look at it head-on. Most arms are pre-set so hopefully you’ll never need to mess with that. Obviously it should be dead flat.
One more question DT79! I'm tinkering with the VTA, and it seems to be getting better as I lower the tonearm. My question is, is it possible to set the tone armo tooo low? Could it damage the stylus / records? Thanks for all your help with this!
 

DT79

Well-known Member
One more question DT79! I'm tinkering with the VTA, and it seems to be getting better as I lower the tonearm. My question is, is it possible to set the tone armo tooo low? Could it damage the stylus / records? Thanks for all your help with this!
OK good, that sounds like progress. I shouldn’t think it’s possible to set it too low, unless you take it to such an extreme that something other than the stylus is touching the surface of the record!

The idea would normally be that the stylus should sit square in groove in every dimension, but there can be variations in how the stylus is fixed to the cantilever which mean that even though the arm & top/bottom of the cartridge are completely parallel to the surface of the record, the stylus may not actually be sat square. I don’t know for sure but I assume such variances are more common place among cheaper cartridges. So it could be that lowering your VTA you are actually getting the stylus to the position it should be in. Remember to recheck VTF after each adjustment in VTA, and in your case I’d set it at the highest value in the stated range.
 

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