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Old 14th August 2006, 10:50 AM   #1
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Default tweaks for an old cartridge

A few days ago I posted a query about mid range distortion with my old turntable and cartridge, it is all going to be replaced but anyhow in the meantiime I had put a new needle in the cart, an A and R cambridge P77

I decided to try a few tweaks and while these are probably not audiophile approved the results have been very good.

First I wondered about the interface between the cart and the stylus holder, it seemed a little loose, so I placed a thin film of bluetack along along the mating faces and pushed the stylus home very firmly.

Next I added some little very thin self adhesive dots to the sides of the cart and the front of the stylus holder to damp any resonances.

Then and this was a risk I put a drop of armourall on the rubber mount that holds the stylus in place in the mount, then I pushed the stylus a little further into the holder.

The difference with the above mods was quite stunning, and basically for nothing! The sound is vastly smoother and the bass is really tight, with highs like crystal.

Next I put some felt pads under the platter to stop ringing and made a mat from three layers of thin nonslip rubber mat. Finally the tone arm was wrapped in a thin layer of non slip rubber mat (it is very thin) to stop resonances there.

End result, well I think I'm actually using a whole new turntable, the sound is way more than OK and the mods cost about $4.00.

I know many of these mods will probably cause raised eyebrows, but for now they are making nice music from an otherwise poor setup.

Oh and lastly and this is definitely a last ditch mod, I have found that rough old records respond well to armourall when you want to transfer them to digital, much cleaner sounding.
The downside is the slyus picks up a lot of rubbish and needs lots of cleaning with isoprophel alcohol and of course its not in the long term interest of the record, but..... if the record is cactus and you just need to transfer it to digital it seems to do the trick. Go easy on the armourall though just a small amount and rub the disk with one of those microfibre cloths.

There you go I hope it helps someone.
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Old 14th August 2006, 10:07 PM   #2
bulgin is offline bulgin  South Africa
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Default Tweaks for an old cartridge

Hi zero

Peter Belt reincarnated? Incredible tweaks you have here! Have you tried glueing some tinfoil squares, triangles and discs around your listening room?

bulgin
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Old 15th August 2006, 01:06 AM   #3
SY is offline SY  United States
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bulgin, I would say that my own biases are in the distinctively anti-voodoo direction, but several things mentioned here seem very reasonable, not at all like the Belt shinola. Removable stylus assemblies often do jiggle around, and tinny cases form excellent resonators- this IS an electromechanical device.
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Old 15th August 2006, 05:39 AM   #4
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I have no idea of who Peter Belt is or what he did or said and as for tinfoil, the only thing I would use that for is sheilding circuits in the lack of anything else.

Anyway I am certainly not predisposed to hyperbole or self disullusionment, I make a living teaching digital imaging and related skills and along the way I devise may techniques for working with sound and images through what is a very careful process of comparison and testing....I am by nature a very anal retentive person and also not easily parted with cash for no good reason.

So these are a few tips that have definitely worked in my opinion, they cost next to nothing so I feel they are probably worth a try for those struggling with less than audiophile gear. If it doesn't work then all can be returned to normal anyway.
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Old 15th August 2006, 07:30 AM   #5
bulgin is offline bulgin  South Africa
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Default Tweaks for an old cartridge

Hi zero one @ sy

No offence intended here! I was just amazed at the ends vinyl players will go to in order to have a better sonic result. In this domain, tweaks are almost unlimited. Since as you rightly say, transducers are electromechanical devices to which a rock attached to a pipe is attached, vibrated millions of times by a spinning trench on a plastic disc.

By the very nature of the construction of a moving magnet cart and their usual feature of a user replaceable stylus, this type of cartridge is not of sound mechanical integrity. I own only one example where the designer/s have made a conscious effort at constructing something less infuenced by vibration and that would be a Grace F9E.

It would therefore make a lot of sense to what zero one did here by his improved stylus holder fix to his cart's body.

Although I don't make moving magnet carts, it took almost 6 years of trials before I arrived at various solutions to minimise vibrational influences on moving coil carts. Some examples are a massive screwed-down and bonded mounting plate, anti-vibrational 'tuning' screws and nuts afore, behind and across and a final choice of a low vibrational material, milled in one piece to carry carts internal components.

I must add that I am also amazed that even some famous cartridgemakers overlooked steps they could have taken during the design stages of their products, to minimise unwanted vibration.

bulgin
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Old 15th August 2006, 09:51 AM   #6
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Thanks Bulgin

No offence taken, I was just a little perplexed. I can certainly see the sense in making a cartridge that is truly solid, what got me thinking with this cart was that when I tapped in the cart I could hear/feel a vibration, and a slightly hollow sound so it struck me that this might also be present when the cart was playing a disc. Looking further into the matter I found I could induce all sorts of vibrations by tapping in different spots on the TT and tone arm.

I know from working with speakers that a lack of solidity really colours the sound so it seems reasonble the same applies to TTs, I guess some folk like the colourations but I'd rather see what can be achieved without them. I'm pretty new to the DIY TT thing, but I think its very similar to speakers, good sound is the amalgam of lots of small changes summed together.

I think of it a bit this way, for many years I have raced pushbikes at club level though now I just ride each day with a friend, the thing that struck me is that a stiff/solid bike is so very much more efficient, it handles and responds vastly better and yet is more comfortable, each small input is telegraphed to a make an equal output through the wheels and steering, on a cheap soft bike it all seems to get lost in the frame and wheels. Somehow I feel that there is a strong parallel here with TTs and Speakers, but of course some people like the mush just as some like soft mountain bikes, I'm not one them though.

Got to say though considering the limitations of a mechanical sound reproduction system and all the bits involved its a wonder that LPs sound any good at all.

Great to hear of your efforts, I find it inspiring.
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Old 15th August 2006, 05:34 PM   #7
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A couple more "frugal-phile" mods to try.

1) fill the cavity of the underside of the platter with "plumbers putty". Be careful not to screw up the balance by evenly distributing it. This has consistantly been the most effective mod on any mid-fi turntable I've tried it on.

2) wrap a few bands of masking tape, unevenly spaced around the tonearm...an effective resonance killer. It should help with your sloppy arm bearings.
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Old 15th August 2006, 05:55 PM   #8
bulgin is offline bulgin  South Africa
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Default Tweaks for an old cartridge

Hi

Carts/transducers can behave like microphones under certain conditions. Here are some resonance killers I've used over the years: I poured a liquid 2-part resin/epoxy into the cavity under my 301's platter, My tt stands on an mdf-type rack in my listening room and after removing the drawers below, I nailed some 1x2" battens underneath, arranged randomly. The arm and its nut are both isolated from the plinth with butyl rubber washers. I usually use a felt mat on one of the 301's and replaced this once with little pieces of bubblewrap.

Armleads can also transfer vibration to the system and I arrange mine to be above the rack and from there to the wall behind.

Nothing new, nothing radical but some of these have improved things a lot.

bulgin
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Old 16th August 2006, 12:18 PM   #9
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Whoa somebody stop me, more mods and wow things are really coming together now.

I put a ring of bluetack around the inside of the outer perimeter of the platter and the inner platter ring and adjusted the thickness of the platter mat, it is now a bit a little thicker (3 layers of nonslip rubber matting) and fine tuned the tracking weight. Amazing bass and lower mids, my CD player really sounds aneamic by comparison.

This is defnitely not the same TT and Cart I started with a few days ago.

There are still a few other bits to damp etc but it can only get better.

And here is a little tip, but be careful, I have been wet cleaning my old albums to get them reasonably good sounding and decided to try a little laundry detergent instead of dishwashing liquid mix. I mixed a fairly strong solution with some metho and scrubbed away using my trusty soft toothbrush. Funny thing the laundry /metho mix did a far better job, when I play the records after this treatment the stylus picks up absolutely nothing, but with the dishwashing mix it seems to gunk up the stylus a bit on the first playing. So I'd say the laundry mix is getting the disc cleaner, and it certainly sounds clean.
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Old 7th September 2006, 09:18 PM   #10
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Many more mods to the TT but I will make a seperate post with pics, but just a couple concerning the cart, both of which have worked really well.

First I decided that if a little blue tac between the headshell and body works well, what would happen if I filled the cavity of the sylus holder, keeping it away from the cantilever tube of course. The answer smoother sound, nicer highs and slightly better seperation, nice one.

Next I tried placing two slithers of adhesive cork between the cart and the headshell, and one the top of the headshell, bolted as per normal. THis one threw me, the resolution in the high end/mids went way up (The bass was still the same), in fact the res was too much, all the clicks etc now took on a greater level of detail. Clearly something is right, so...

I reassembled the whole plot without using nuts/bolts at all, instead I used double sided tape to attach the cart to the head. The result, great res but far less surface noise. This is temporary I need to make a more secure arrangement, though I really doubt it will come apart. The only problem is that it has to be fully aligned prior to sticking. This mod seems to really work well for stereo imaging, funny thing is that it runs totally counter to the accepted wisdom of cat mounting.
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