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Binaural 12th June 2009 05:46 AM

Help with some weird distortion
Well, I've come a long way on my vinyl playback setup. I built a Ladegaard air bearing tonearm and have it successfully working. I upgraded to a Denon DL-103 cartridge with Lundahl MC step up transformers. I feel I have everything set up properly, VTA, VTF, azimuth, the whole bit, but certain discs have "smearing" type distortion on the s's and other sibilance. It seems to get worse the farther into the record that it plays. It also seems that the high frequency extension isn't quite there either.

I have a couple of vinyl's that have some MAJOR distortion upon playback that weren't there with my previous cartridge (a cheap Shure MM) and is really bothering me. I have included a clip of what i'm talking about.

There's a .wav file for people who have high bandwidth downloads and a high bit rate .mp3 for all others.

I cannot tell as to where this distortion is originating. What is weird is for most of the album (i have included a track where it is most pronounced) I can convert the playback to M/S and bring down the sides, this removes 90% of the distortion most of the time. I don't know what this means but it obviously only works on mono records.

I'm curious as to what anyone thinks about this. The links are posted below. Thanks in advance for taking the time to help me with this. <-mp3 version <-wav version

Binaural 12th June 2009 05:48 AM

I've also checked to see if the output from the transformers is clipping the input of the phono pre, it isn't there's still a good amount of headroom left....

jonners 12th June 2009 08:36 AM

I don't know much about your arm, but are you sure that the low-compliance DL-103 is suited to it?

Frank Berry 12th June 2009 08:45 AM

Have you checked to make sure that the tonearm height is correct?
Does the performance improve with a little heavier tracking weight?
Increased distortion towards the inside tracks can mean that the tonearm position isn't correct.

jonners 12th June 2009 11:33 AM

Maybe the discs that have bad distortion have got groove damage that the cheap cart was somehow not resolving? Do those discs sound OK on a different system with a good cartridge, I wonder?

Or maybe your DL-103 is actually faulty? Can you try it on a different arm/TT, or alternatively can you try another DL-103 on your arm?

Binaural 12th June 2009 06:52 PM

Seems the consensus is that the tonearm doesn't have enough effective mass for this cartridge. Since it's a diy job, hopefully this shoudn't be hard to fix. Are there easy ways for increasing the effective mass? Also if I was to make another tonearm, would using denser woods increase this mass?

Frank, when you say the tonearm's position isn't correct, what do you mean? How would I adjust this?

Thanks for everyones help so far. I'm going to try some things today and report back.

Binaural 12th June 2009 07:24 PM

Also, is there any kind of "anti skate" for tangential tracking tonearms? I guess it wouldn't be necessary, or am I missing something?

jonners 12th June 2009 09:40 PM

You're right - no need for anti-skate on a tangential arm.

I doubt if using denser wood will increase the mass enough.
Maybe you can find someone who is using this kind of arm with a DL-103? Try posting on VE perhaps?

Binaural 12th June 2009 10:17 PM

Forgive my ignorance, but what is VE?

jonners 12th June 2009 10:25 PM

VE=Vinyl Engine forum. :)

I don't know if it's any help, but some people appear to be using the 103 with this arm:

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