How to fix sibilance

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Hello everyone,

I have some records that have some harsh sibilance (crackly "s" sounds) and can't tell if it's my record or my record player. I have a Grado Black stylus and have calibrated my cartridge using a protractor and a digital weight (exactly 1.5 g tracking force).

I am considering getting an Ortofon 2M Black. Will this solve the sibilance problem?

Thank you,
Cuyler
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Great cartridge, but will play back every imperfection in the vinyl if it has one. Try cleaning your vinyl with an good cleaning machine and solution. Manual or automatic. They can be pricey, but worth the investment. Use an antistatic cloth or brush to dry it. The black is an awesome cartridge, but the bronze is a more rounded one. A step below. You can get both. Buy one cartridge, and then just the stylus of the other. They are interchangeable with the cartridge. I use the bronze on older vinyl, and black for new or quad vinyl. Hope that helps. Rudy prefers a different brand. Rega maybe? It’s on another thread. It’s better suited to his ears, and or style of music. I think Harry uses something different for his turntable, and happy with that. It’s like buying the right tv. So many choices. Anyway I’m happy with mine. Good luck.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
@GDB2LV, do you know if I am able to buy a black stylus and use that with the blue or red cartridge? Or are only black and bronze interchangeable?
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Black and bronze. Red and blue. They have different engines that are only compatible with each other. The bronze/black has a higher speed engine that the red/blue can’t handle properly. So starter with mid price, and high end with higher end. The blue is a very nice cartridge for the money if you don’t want to spend 6-9 hundred for the black and or bronze. The Fluance comes with a blue or red installed depending on the model you buy. They are all Moving Magnet or MM Style cartridges.
 
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Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Black and bronze. Red and blue. They have different engines that are only compatible with each other. The bronze/black has a higher speed engine that the red/blue can’t handle properly. So starter with mid price, and high end with higher end. The blue is a very nice cartridge for the money if you don’t want to spend 6-9 hundred for the black and or bronze. The Fluance comes with a blue or red installed depending on the model you buy. They are all Moving Magnet or MM Style cartridges.
Thank you! Shucks, it's good to know at least that I can't just buy the black and put it in the blue cartridge. I will likely shell out the money for the black, especially because I'm becoming increasingly paranoid about permanently ruining my records with a bad stylus.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I bought the PNP version of the bronze, then added the black stylus later. The PNP just screws on, head and cartridge combined. Already calibrated. Just use the pressure scale to set the weight about 1.5G, and adjust the anti skate button to match. Ready to play.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I owned the 2M Black for about three months, and hated it. It tracked as bad as some of the dirt cheap cartridges I used to own decades ago (like the free Shure cartridges that shipped with turntables). I think part of it was because the build quality was terrible--under a microscope, you could see the cantilever was rotated such that the stylus would not track perpendicular to the groove, and the square diamond was cemented into the cantilever crooked. The aluminum cantilevers were not all that lightweight either. I fought it for months, even emailed someone in the press who dealt a lot with turntables (even he was puzzled by it--he'd reviewed it and didn't have those issues) and finally gave up. I heard another 2M Black at AXPONA on a Technics Grand Class SL-1200GAE and it tracked even worse. The Bronze I guess is the sweet spot in the lineup--I know a few who own it and like it, but I'm not a fan of the sound of that line anyways.

From what I understand, though, the bronze and black styli will fit the red/blue body, but the less expensive body will not make the most of the better stylus. Kind of mismatched, in other words, which is why it's not recommended. It's kind of like putting racing slicks on a factory stock Toyota Corolla. 😁

I could recommend anything from Nagaoka--you get the Japanese precision, and it's a moving iron cartridge like the Grado so it will have a nice full-bodied sound, but doesn't suffer some of Grado's other quirks (like the "Grado dance" of the stylus in the grooves, when navigating warps). The top model MP-500 has a Superfine Line Contact stylus and is probably on par with the 2M Black price-wise--it's a really good tracker as well, with a much finer cantilever than the 2M series. I see LP Gear has one, but I paid way less for mine through a deal on US Audio Mart. This is one you might have to shop around for.

I like the sound of the MP-500 quite a bit--actually a bit more than the moving coil cartridges I was using previously. A friend of mine bought their MP-110 (the lowest model, I think?) and for the cost, really enjoyed it--he wanted it for temporary use after sending out one of his other cartridges to be retipped.

Audio Technica's latest cartridges are also very good trackers, and are not as bright as some of their previous models (like the 440MLA, which I found a bit edgy but still a good tracker). The VM760SLC has their Special Line Contact stylus tip, which is along the same idea as the Micro Ridge, Microline, etc. Another good option if you want great tracking. You'll find a better deal on this one.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I am incredibly happy to report that, after replacing all other styli and cartridges with the VM760SLC cartridge with the VMN60SLC stylus (from Audio-Technica), my turntable is FINALLY able to stand up to those crisp S sounds on "Goodbye to Love" on my Singles: 1969-1973 quad disc.

I am so glad to know that it wasn't permanently ruined by years of playing with cartridges less than $100...
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I am so glad to know that it wasn't permanently ruined by years of playing with cartridges less than $100...
I have a few records that were damaged by a couple of early cartridges I had, but I also played those records quite a bit. I can't even replace them now, since most used copies are in worse condition than mine, and finding sealed copies can take years.

That VM760 setup is sweet! Glad you're enjoying it! AT is really on the ball in terms of tracking ability on their top cartridges.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I have a few records that were damaged by a couple of early cartridges I had, but I also played those records quite a bit. I can't even replace them now, since most used copies are in worse condition than mine, and finding sealed copies can take years.

That VM760 setup is sweet! Glad you're enjoying it! AT is really on the ball in terms of tracking ability on their top cartridges.
I'm hoping you can help me with something! I set it up but noticed a little bit of what sounds like electrical interference, like a low buzzing/humming noise that goes away or gets louder if I touch the tonearm. This didn't happen with my old cartridge at all. Do you think my cartridge from AT is defective? Is there a way to dampen this?

Maybe @Harry may know as well? You two are like the record experts hehe
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
That's most likely a grounding issue. Is your ground wire solidly connected to your component? (There should be a grounding screw.) Phantom humming or buzzing has always been an issue with turntables--some are more sensitive to it than others. I'm fighting a similar issue myself, as a matter of fact.

What the cartridge is doing is picking up EMI (electro-magnetic interference). Since a cartridge works on the principle of magnetism (the end of the cantilever inside your VM760 has a tiny magnet affixed to it, and the movement of that magnet within a set of coils is what generates the signal), any outside interference from something else emitting an electro-magnetic field (like a transformer, which all components have, or an electric motor) can get picked up by it. When you touch the tonearm to move it, you are completing another path to ground, which is why the noise level can change in either direction (more or less hum or buzz).

If the cartridge was electrically defective, you'd have a weak signal, or no signal, in one or both channels. Some cartridges, though, can be a little more sensitive to it than others.

So I would check that your ground wire is firmly attached, make sure both of your RCA plugs are firmly plugged into your component on the receiving end, and then perhaps try moving or rearranging your components slightly. I realize it's a pain to try to move things around, but sometimes that's necessary to help eliminate noise gremlins. Do you use any light dimmers in the house? Those are notorious for "polluting" the power lines in your house.

If we try a few things and can't get it tamed, I have an acquaintance who works for Audio Technica in the US, and he might have a few ideas. I haven't read a lot about the recent AT VM-series cartridges yet, but if hum and noise were an issue, I'm sure we'd have heard more about it now.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
That's most likely a grounding issue. Is your ground wire solidly connected to your component? (There should be a grounding screw.) Phantom humming or buzzing has always been an issue with turntables--some are more sensitive to it than others. I'm fighting a similar issue myself, as a matter of fact.

What the cartridge is doing is picking up EMI (electro-magnetic interference). Since a cartridge works on the principle of magnetism (the end of the cantilever inside your VM760 has a tiny magnet affixed to it, and the movement of that magnet within a set of coils is what generates the signal), any outside interference from something else emitting an electro-magnetic field (like a transformer, which all components have, or an electric motor) can get picked up by it. When you touch the tonearm to move it, you are completing another path to ground, which is why the noise level can change in either direction (more or less hum or buzz).

If the cartridge was electrically defective, you'd have a weak signal, or no signal, in one or both channels. Some cartridges, though, can be a little more sensitive to it than others.

So I would check that your ground wire is firmly attached, make sure both of your RCA plugs are firmly plugged into your component on the receiving end, and then perhaps try moving or rearranging your components slightly. I realize it's a pain to try to move things around, but sometimes that's necessary to help eliminate noise gremlins. Do you use any light dimmers in the house? Those are notorious for "polluting" the power lines in your house.

If we try a few things and can't get it tamed, I have an acquaintance who works for Audio Technica in the US, and he might have a few ideas. I haven't read a lot about the recent AT VM-series cartridges yet, but if hum and noise were an issue, I'm sure we'd have heard more about it now.
Oh my! (If only there were a way I could safely touch the tonearm while playing to ground the circuit!)

The tonearm wires are pretty solidly plugged into the cartridge. I definitely noticed a difference from when it was ungrounded vs. when it was grounded. (Without the grounding cables, it just made a loud buzzing/blasting noise in the left and right channels.) I believe my RCA plugs are firmly plugged into the component. My parents recently installed dimmers in the kitchen, but my turntable is in my bedroom where there are no dimmers, and it's plugged into a surge protector. Should I try plugging it into the wall directly instead?
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Check that all the wires on the cartridge itself are tight on both ends. Also make sure the head is slipped all the way into the tone arm, and fastened tight. I’ve had the same problem off an on for years. It’s usually the head not being screwed in firmly for me. I change them out once in awhile for old records, to new records. It’s just a guess. That buzz is annoying. Hope you can fix it.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Check that all the wires on the cartridge itself are tight on both ends. Also make sure the head is slipped all the way on the tone arm and fastened tight. I’ve had the same problem off an on for years. It’s usually the head not being screwed in firmly for me. I change them out once in awhile for old records, to new records. It’s just a guess. That buzz is annoying. Hope you can fix it.
Thank you! I will definitely try. The wires that come out of my tonearm have this plastic cover that sometimes slips and slides. I wonder if the plastic is preventing the ground from making contact with the cartridge... will do some closer inspection tonight.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I would try anything at this point, although I don't think the problem is the power to the turntable. You can try it, and you could also try making sure the dimmer switches are off (just to see if the problem goes away), but I don't think that is what our problem is here.

Part of the problem is that cartridges operate at very low voltages, and the phono input on your component has to amplify that signal more so than if you have a CD or DVD player connected, for instance.

One thing to keep in mind, also, is that electromagnetic interference changes with distance. So if you're close to a transformer or motor, moving the turntable, or even moving the signal wires (with the RCA plugs) a small distance could result in a change in the level of the hum. Same with any power cords going to your turntable or other components--moving them around could result in a change.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I forgot to tell you all, I figured out the source of the electrical interference! My setup previously included a laptop that required to be plugged in to the AC adapter. This was causing some electrical interference. More electrical interference was being caused by my touching the metal parts of the laptop (it's an old MacBook Pro, so you can imagine the whole metal body would not be great at insulating electrical noise). So, the solution when I digitize my records now? Don't plug in my laptop, and don't touch the laptop!
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
That's good news! 👍 It's always a process of elimination to figure out the culprit.
 
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