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Cannot stop mistracking, Stanton T92USB w/ Ortofon 2M Red, HFN002
cgunner
post May 14 2011, 16:08
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I've had a Stanton T92USB for the past year or so and have recently bought an amp (Cambridge Audio AM10) and some headphones (Audio Technica ATH-A700) for proper listening. I quickly found out I needed a better carrtidge than the pre-loaded one (Stanton 500.V3), so bought myself an Ortofon 2M Red.

Now, in setting this up I've learnt a whole lot more than I ever thought I would need with regards to cartridge set up! I've aligned it as best I can using protractors, and using a copy of Hi-Fi News Test LP (HFN002) have been trying to get the rest of the settings fine tuned.

However, once I get to the second bias track on HFN002 (+14Hz), I get a very loud buzzing on the right channel, which I am assured is mistracking. The first band (+12Hz) sounds OK - but the third (+16Hz) makes the needle jump straight off! The anti-skate setting on the Stanton seems to do no good whatsoever - the buzzing continues unabated. The words alongside HFN002 imply that I should at the very least be able to make it through the three bands. The recommended tracking weight is 1.8g, and this works fine on band 1. I tried increasing all the way up to 4g to see if it would cope with band 3, but still it jumps out. I'm thinking that this is something badly set up which no amount of tracking force/anti skate will rectify.

So my question is this: would mistracking be caused by poor cartridge alignment?

I've set up the cartridge as best I can using multiple protractors and for the life of me it looks perfect. I'm also assuming that if the cartridge was that badly aligned then I would clearly notice this with a record (I can't, although I can hear slight sibillance on very loud parts)?
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botface
post May 14 2011, 19:18
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What you're describing certainly sounds like mistracking. It could be that the bias adjustment on the arm is ineffective IE broken or it could be - as your question implies - that the cartridge is misaligned in the headshell. Are you sure the cartridge was absolutely square in the headshell? If it's difficult to tell because of the headshell design you may be able to judge by eye that the sides of the cartridge are parallel with the plane of the arm after the "S" bend.
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cgunner
post May 14 2011, 19:35
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The catridge is most definitely not straight in the headshell, but it is aligned to the lines on the protractor. It's out by about 3 degrees (relatinve to headshell), so I'm putting it down to manufactirer error in a component somewhere. I've checked with the cartridge straight (against headshell) and it sounds worse, so I believe a small amount of 'twist' is required in this case.

Having tried again after posting, I've managed to get it to 'pass' the second band on HFN002 with only minimal 'buzz' ie mistracking. The third band now tracks, but is horribly buzzy, so I believe I'm getting there! However, the bias needs to be set to the maximum - 7, with a tracking weight of 1.8g (recommended), so I still think something is iffy.

A thought occurs: I'm not really needing to align the cartridge perfectly against the grooves, am I? It's actually the stylus that needs aligning, so assuming that's not pefectly set in the cartridge, there should be some deviation. I wasn't prepared to be able to see by eye, though...
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pdq
post May 14 2011, 20:09
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All of this reminds me why I threw away my turntable and records nearly 30 years ago. smile.gif
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kraut
post May 14 2011, 22:06
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http://www.vinylengine.com/twisting-your-c...headshell.shtml
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Glenn Gundlach
post May 15 2011, 01:50
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QUOTE (pdq @ May 14 2011, 11:09) *
All of this reminds me why I threw away my turntable and records nearly 30 years ago. smile.gif


Amen brother. I DID keep the dozen or so 'direct-to-disc' records but in fact I bought the CDs of the Harry James discs that were captured simultaneously on an Ampex ATR-100 (IIRC) which was a pretty good machine in its day. The CDs are good for the '70s.

G
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 15 2011, 02:26
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QUOTE (cgunner @ May 14 2011, 11:08) *
I've had a Stanton T92USB for the past year or so and have recently bought an amp (Cambridge Audio AM10) and some headphones (Audio Technica ATH-A700) for proper listening. I quickly found out I needed a better carrtidge than the pre-loaded one (Stanton 500.V3), so bought myself an Ortofon 2M Red.

Now, in setting this up I've learnt a whole lot more than I ever thought I would need with regards to cartridge set up! I've aligned it as best I can using protractors, and using a copy of Hi-Fi News Test LP (HFN002) have been trying to get the rest of the settings fine tuned.

However, once I get to the second bias track on HFN002 (+14Hz), I get a very loud buzzing on the right channel, which I am assured is mistracking. The first band (+12Hz) sounds OK - but the third (+16Hz) makes the needle jump straight off! The anti-skate setting on the Stanton seems to do no good whatsoever - the buzzing continues unabated. The words alongside HFN002 imply that I should at the very least be able to make it through the three bands. The recommended tracking weight is 1.8g, and this works fine on band 1. I tried increasing all the way up to 4g to see if it would cope with band 3, but still it jumps out. I'm thinking that this is something badly set up which no amount of tracking force/anti skate will rectify.

So my question is this: would mistracking be caused by poor cartridge alignment?

I've set up the cartridge as best I can using multiple protractors and for the life of me it looks perfect. I'm also assuming that if the cartridge was that badly aligned then I would clearly notice this with a record (I can't, although I can hear slight sibillance on very loud parts)?


Cartridge mistracking under severe conditions can be due to a lack of capability of the cartridge if it is otherwise set up OK. What stylus force are you using - what happens if you increase it?
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cliveb
post May 16 2011, 09:32
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QUOTE (cgunner @ May 14 2011, 16:08) *
However, once I get to the second bias track on HFN002 (+14Hz), I get a very loud buzzing on the right channel, which I am assured is mistracking. The first band (+12Hz) sounds OK - but the third (+16Hz) makes the needle jump straight off! The anti-skate setting on the Stanton seems to do no good whatsoever - the buzzing continues unabated.

Mistracking on the right channel does indeed imply that there is insufficient antiskate, so it's possible the Stanton's antiskating is faulty.

Also, as Arnold says, some cartridges just aren't capable of tracking these kind of "torture cuts". I'm not familiar with the Ortofon 2M, but from its price I'd hazard a guess that it ought to be able to do a fairly decent job of the +14dB cut. Trying to pass the +16dB cut could well be an exercise in futility - only super-compliant cartridges like the Shure V15 and the like can be expected to track these (although having the stylus physically jump out of the groove is a bit extreme!)

QUOTE (cgunner @ May 14 2011, 16:08) *
The recommended tracking weight is 1.8g, and this works fine on band 1. I tried increasing all the way up to 4g to see if it would cope with band 3, but still it jumps out.

You should not exceed the maximum tracking force (which for the 2M is stated as 2g) - excessive tracking force will "bottom out" the stylus suspension and increase distortion.

One other possibility that could give rise to mistracking is faulty pickup arm bearings - either too loose or too tight. But figuring out the state of the arm bearings isn't really a practical proposition for the home user.

QUOTE (cgunner @ May 14 2011, 16:08) *
I've set up the cartridge as best I can using multiple protractors and for the life of me it looks perfect.

Looking at a picture of a 2M, it appears that the sides of the cartridge may not be parallel, which will make proper alignment against a protractor more difficult. If that's the case, you might want to try adjusting the angle of the cartridge in the headshell slightly to see what effect that has.

QUOTE (cgunner @ May 14 2011, 16:08) *
I'm also assuming that if the cartridge was that badly aligned then I would clearly notice this with a record (I can't, although I can hear slight sibillance on very loud parts)?

And here is an important point to consider. Test records feature tracking cuts that you rarely, if ever, encounter on normal music LPs. You can spend a lifetime trying to track a test record when it's not actually necessary. My Linn Karma cartridge has slight mistracking on the +14dB cut of my test record (HFS75), and serious buzzing on the +18dB cut. But I've never, ever, heard it obviously mistrack a normal LP. Don't lose too much sleep over this if it sounds fine playing music.
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Axon
post May 20 2011, 21:47
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HFNRR's torture tracks are not to be trusted. IIRC, (and sorry for the lack of links,) John Elison at Vinyl Asylum has accumulated circumstantial evidence strongly suggesting that the +18db track was cut distorted to begin with -- even when a cartridge *can* track it properly, it exhibits far higher distortion than torture tracks of comparable modulation level on JVC test records, which were cut to an incomparably higher standard.

You are absolutely correct to align the stylus with the protractor, as opposed to the cartridge. However, you must also defeat any antiskate on the tonearm while you align with the protractor. Otherwise the alignment will be biased in proportion to the angle the antiskate force deflects the stylus.

The protractor that comes with the HFNRR test record is OK, but you can do much, much better than that. Conrad Hoffman's arc protractor generator (Windows only) is an absolute gem and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Arc alignment is far easier on the eyes, and IME, tends to generate much more stable alignments, much more quickly (ie not nearly as much time is spent futzing around).

If the Ortofon 2m Red is a fairly high static compliance cartridge (and I'm pretty sure it is), here's a tip for a *really* easy (and fairly accurate AFAIK!) antiskate calibration tip. After you've aligned the cart and set VTF, cue the arm onto the middle of a spinning record -- you should see the cartridge deflect slightly towards the outside of the record as soon as it makes contact; this is due to skating force. Ideally, the antiskate force should be set to exactly counteract this -- so adjust it until no deflection occurs. But this relies on the static compliance being high enough to make this deflection visible; it won't work for lower compliance carts.

Skating forces actually vary widely over the course of playing a record, and also between vinyl formulations, and is *also* modulation-dependent, so you are never, ever going to get a "perfect" antiskate setting for all situations. All you can ever hope for is a setting which minimizes distortion and wear on average. (This also happens to be an extremely good reason not to calibrate antiskate using torture tracks.)

This post has been edited by Axon: May 20 2011, 21:48
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