Turntable Questions

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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I have a few questions about my turntable and hope anyone can help. I've had it about 8 yrs now and bought it used from a local record dealer. It was in perfect condition when I bought it and the dealer put on a new needle cartridge when I bought it. It is a Technics SL-Q350 Direct Drive Auto Turntable, it has the light in the left corner that when you hit the start button the platter turns and the corner light shines on the record. That's a cool feature.

The table is still in great shape and working fine...(knock on wood). I was wondering at what point should I change the needle cartidge, how long are they suppose to last? Like I said this one has been on for about 8 yrs and doesn't get excessive play. I also have a record doctor vacuum cleaner so all my records are clean, my turntable does not play any dirty records.

The type of cartridge I have is a Audio Technica AT3482P, it is a P type, there is 1 screw that goes into the side of the cartridge. I priced a replacement on Amazon and it is not very expensive at all, like $20.00. Since I don't have any manuals for this used turntable I don't have much to go on except the model of the player and the current needle that is on there now.

If it's playing fine should I consider replacing and if so is there a better P cartridge out there that I should consider besides what I already have? The tone arm looks in perfect condition, I'd really rather not mess with that since I don't know what I would be doing. The cartridge I could change as it seems to be just that 1 screw.

Thanks in advance.
 

Harry

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I too have a Technics turntable with a P-Mount cartridge and have experimented with a number of different ones. I started out with some low-end Shure cartridge that I'd used since the turntable was new, replacing only the stylus when necessary. Radio Shack at the time was where I'd go to find a new stylus, which was a Shure N94LT.

Around the mid- to late-'90s, I was once again looking to play more records and wanted better sound. I took my cartridge to a neighborhood Radio Shack, and he looked at it and said, "I can get you one to replace that that'll blow you away, but it'll cost around $70." I decided to try it. It was another Shure - something called a Presence 2, but an upgraded one with an elliptical stylus, something I hadn't ever had up to that point. I was truly impressed with it. It brought out things in my records that I never knew were there.

Sometime later, I again wanted to upgrade. Now I was looking for any kind of subtle improvement, since the records sounded really good. The Radio Shacks were no longer selling anything I was interested in - just a low-end model. I found a site that compared and sold various cartridges and ended up ordering an Audio Technica AT316EP. The price was around $80-$100 and I used it for awhile, but the sound never impressed me. I thought maybe I was jaded from listening to too many bright CDs, but this thing sounded dull to me.

Later I went into a high-end audio store to see what they had. They sold me an Ortofon OMP10 for around $80 that once again blew me away. My simple little Technics turntable never sounded better. That's what I'm using today, and will probably continue to use it as long as they keep making them.

I understand that Ortofon used to make three cartridges in the line, the OMP10, the OMP20, and the OMP30, each one supposedly an upgrade from the lower one. If I'm correct, they still manufacture the OMP10, but now to upgrade, you have to buy just a stylus to upgrade to the -20 or the -30. I'm really happy with the 10, but one wonders what awaits with the much more expensive stylus in the 20 or the 30.

Recently, as an experiment, I took out the OMP10 and put in the AT 316EP and got the same result - a rather dull sound. So I put back the OMP10.

Don't know if that's any help at all, but it's all I know about the wonderful world of P-Mount cartridges.

Harry
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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Thread Starter
Do you know a reputable online dealer that would have the Ortofon OMP10, that sounds like an upgrade from my current audio technica. I don't mind spending $80.00 if I know I will hear some improvements.

Thanks for the info.
 

Harry

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Try Needle Doctor or Garage-a-records. Google those or omp10.

Harry
 

Rudy

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LP Gear is also a good one--their prices sometimes beat Needle Doctor. If you watch your item on Amazon daily, there are times they heavily discount some of these.

http://www.lpgear.com/category/T4P.html

If you weren't limited to P-mount cartridges, there are so many other good ones out there. In P-mount, you are limited in what you can do, but there are still some decent ones. I have always been fond of the sound of Grado cartridges--they have a warm, musical sound to them. The drawback is that they can pick up hum from some (but not all) turntables. My older Grado cartridges never had this problem though.

If not a P-mount (and just posting this for future reference): my top recommendation for a good budget cartridge that tracks everything is the Audio Technica AT-440MLa. On sale you can find it near $100 or so. If you hear distortion on the inner grooves (those closer to the label), this will help get rid of it, provided the record itself is not damaged. Audio Technica carts are all on the bright side, though--even an AT I have from the mid 70s is like that. (In my case, I can change the loading in my preamp to counteract the brightness. And it does mellow out after it breaks in. I have several record collector friends who have the 440 or the 150.)

If my Shure V15 Type V-MR ever bites the dust or wears out, I am stuck--they no longer make a replacement stylus. I would have to get one made by another company--some have tried a replacement made by Jico (in Japan) that claim it performs as well as the original. If not, I may go for the Audio Technica AT-150MLX or their OC-9, which is a moving coil. What I'd really like to get is the Dynavector 17D3. Don't Google it if you're prepared for sticker shock... :D (Needle Doctor stocks Dynavector...)
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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Thank you, I will check that out. It sounds like the AT3482P that I currently have is a pretty entry level cartridge.

From what I am reading the Grado does not track well on a Technics table at least that is what people are saying.
 

Rudy

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Thank you, I will check that out. It sounds like the AT3482P that I currently have is a pretty entry level cartridge.

From what I am reading the Grado does not track well on a Technics table at least that is what people are saying.

It may depend on which model of Grado you're looking at, too. My second Grado was not the best tracker, but it was also the second from the bottom of the line. If you get away from P-mount, they make some wood-bodied cartridges that sound fantastic...but they are a bit out of my budget also! :D

The Ortofon OM-P5 seems to be the only P-mount in that series these days, but they do mention you can upgrade the stylus to the one used on the OM-10, 20, 30 or 40.
 

Rudy

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One more post and I'll give it a rest... :D

The Ortofon 320 is the top cartridge in the 300 series for P-mount, and I noticed it has a fine line stylus (which will track better than an elliptical). Thing is, it costs $99 at LP Gear. I don't know of any others that have a fine line (aka "micro ridge", "micro line", "van den hul", "shibata", etc.) in a P-mount. Nice thing is that they include an adapter--if you upgrade your turntable away from the P-mount system, you can mount it in a standard 1/2" headshell with the included adapter.

http://www.lpgear.com/product/ORSER320.html
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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Cool, lots of great info. I'm learning alot. Sounds like I will be upgrading soon. :)
For fun I was looking at the high end ones, ha some of these are going for 10-15 thousand, wow, you need a loan for that. lol
 

Rudy

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Yeah, that Dynavector I want is only between $1100-$1200. So in that light, it is a relative bargain! :D It is part of what used to be an entire series of cartridges based on gemstones. One was a ruby. The 17D3 actually has a cantilever (the stem that holds the stylus) made out of diamond; they are usually made out of some sort of metal tube. I just think the whole thing looks cool...

17d3_400w.jpg


The XV-1t is their flagship cartridge; looks like something from outer space. :D

xv1t_450w.gif


I did own their entry-level DV10X3, but sold it a couple of months ago with my Music Hall turntable. DV10X5 is the current version of that...and a lot more than I ever paid for mine!
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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I think I see Luke and Cheewy in there somewhere. :D

So now I am torn between the Ortofon OMP10 and the Ortofon 320. Seems they will both fit p-mount, for only 10.00 more I could opt for the 320 and get the fine line stylus.

So I've been reading alot on other audio forums about these and both have great reviews.
I was wondering, will a fine line stylus exhibit more pronouced tick and pops? I heard one person say that.
Also I read that the 320 needs to have the tone arm set at 1.5, where as the OMP10 is at 1.25.

I just looked at my tone arm in the back (never really looked there before) but I see it has 3 settings, 1.0, 1.25 and 1.5. It is currently set at 1.25.
So I could use either of these cartridges then, right?
I'm leaning more toward the 320 now.
But now I'm not sure which to go with.
 

Harry

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Well, I can tell you that all of this discussion has gotten me to spring for an Ortofon 320. I'm intrigued enough to try a now trusted brand with a stylus that is allegedly an upgrade from what I've got. I've just ordered one from LP Gear, thanks to Rudy's recommendation.

Harry
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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Yeah, I'm on the verge of ordering. I'm leaning more towards the Ortofon OMP10 since it has a stylus type Elliptical, I think this will be a step up from the Audio Technica AT3482P I have, not sure if the Audio Technica is Elliptical or not.
 

Rudy

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If it is just a matter of $10, I would go with the 320.

I have never personally heard more noise with my Micro Ridge stylus, which is similar to a fine line. It will track much better. I noticed a huge difference when I got my Shure all those years ago--it reduced distortion on inner grooves and especially 45s. Just keep in mind that if a record already has groove wear, this cartridge will not help.

It will reduce wear on your records, just due to how much better it tracks.

Since it is a P-mount, the tracking weight is automatically set by the weight of the cartridge, so you do not have to worry about setting it optimally. The system was designed to be plug-and-play, so you likely have no adjustments on the tonearm anyway.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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Well I ordered the 320 cartridge so I am really excited to see how this sounds. It seems from all I've read this will be a big step up from the one I currently have been using all these years. I just hope I don't mess it up installing it. The idea of re recordering all my Lps' & 45's into my PC after getting this new cartridge sounds like it might be a must. So what LP should I needle drop on this, hmm, maybe my original master recording of Nat King Cole sings George Shearing or my limited ed 45 rpm A Charlie Brown Xmas/Vince Guaraldi mastered by Kevin Gray & Steve Hoffman. Can't wait.

I also ordered a carbon fiber record cleaner brush. I have a Nitty Gritty vacuum cleaner I use with the solution but after storing my LP's & 45's in their proper sleeves I have always noticed when I take them out to play that I see either little specs of paper dust or particles and usually I just blow them off before playing. I'm hoping that this carbon fiber brush will help before giving them a spin since essentially the records are already cleaned by the vacuum.
 

Rudy

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Well I ordered the 320 cartridge so I am really excited to see how this sounds. It seems from all I've read this will be a big step up from the one I currently have been using all these years. I just hope I don't mess it up installing it.

It's hard to do anything wrong to a P-mount! That is why they came up with the system--plug it in, tighten the screw and you're on your way.

If you knew what I went through setting up my turntable again a month or two ago... :laugh:

So what LP should I needle drop on this, hmm, maybe my original master recording of Nat King Cole sings George Shearing or my limited ed 45 rpm A Charlie Brown Xmas/Vince Guaraldi mastered by Kevin Gray & Steve Hoffman. Can't wait.

I'm still kicking myself for not picking up Charlie Brown Xmas. There's no way I could find one now without paying a small fortune. I've only heard a needle drop of it.

If you like that kind of thing, Steve and Kevin also did the Fleetwood Mac Rumours on 45RPM and 33RPM. (Just make sure you get a domestic release on that one...the overseas version has a different mastering! :wtf: ) I totally burned out on this album for many years, but this version of it is so incredibly good...I doubt we'll ever hear it this good again. "The Chain" is so detailed and up close, it's almost goosebump inducing. The bass isn't pounding on this recording either, but it does give your woofers a good workout.

They also did the J. Geils Full House, a live recording made at the Cinderella Ballroom here in the Detroit area back in 1972...it's on 33-1/3 RPM, but it still sounds quite good.

Mobile Fidelity is doing some great vinyl these days also. They just came out with a silver series that is a bit lighter weight vinyl (140g vs. 180g?), but they are picking some off-the-wall albums with great success. Someone sent me a copy of the KC & The Sunshine Band self-titled LP, and I've never heard it this good. MoFi is also reportedly doing some of the Stevie Wonder LPs as well, and I'm really looking forward to those.


I also ordered a carbon fiber record cleaner brush. I have a Nitty Gritty vacuum cleaner I use with the solution but after storing my LP's & 45's in their proper sleeves I have always noticed when I take them out to play that I see either little specs of paper dust or particles and usually I just blow them off before playing. I'm hoping that this carbon fiber brush will help before giving them a spin since essentially the records are already cleaned by the vacuum.

The carbon brush will be fine! I do something similar. I usually give my LPs a good scrubbing with my record vacuum also (it's called a Record Doctor, but is actually just a relabeled Nitty Gritty sold by Audio Advisor), but use an old Discwasher brush to get the loose dust off of on subsequent cleanings. I actually bought a 100 pack of audiophile sleeves so I'd be putting them into something clean.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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Thread Starter
My 320 cartridge is in Jacksonville so I should have it Mon or Tues. I can't wait to get this, it will be the first new needle since I purchased my turntable. I also went out and purchased the correct Y connector cables to capture the mono sound off my Carpenters mono 45's. I had a little trouble finding the 2nd Y connector to take the mono signal and feed it back into 2 (left and right) but I found the connector online that will fit my set up and it should be here this week.

The anticipation is building. :cool:
 

Harry

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My Ortofon 320 tried to arrive on Thursday, but they postman wouldn't leave it since it required a signature, and we happened to be out at that particular moment.

So, armed with my little tan card, I headed to the post office on Friday Morning to pick it up and do some other errands.

I finally got around to installing it late on Friday afternoon and had a chance to sample just one recording. I picked one that was particularly "spitty" in the "S" sounds just for comparison, and I used Lani Hall's "Adios Tristeza" from her LANI album.

What I heard was very encouraging - the "S" sounds, though still not perfect, were much tamer sounding. I think this cart will, overall, be a little smoother sounding.

Since then we've been on a weekend trip to Sarasota, so I'm not dealing with turntables at all. I'll have more chances to "play" on Wednesday.

Harry
 

Rudy

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I finally got around to installing it late on Friday afternoon and had a chance to sample just one recording. I picked one that was particularly "spitty" in the "S" sounds just for comparison, and I used Lani Hall's "Adios Tristeza" from her LANI album.

What I heard was very encouraging - the "S" sounds, though still not perfect, were much tamer sounding.

Part of that could be a bit of existing groove damage. If you had a new, unplayed copy, you would definitely hear how clean that cartridge should sound.

You should hear improvement on the inner grooves, and especially on 45s (anything closer to the spindle). Again, you might be hearing existing groove damage on older recordings, but if you have something you know is in good condition, it should breeze right through. (That is my biggest pet peeve of buying used vinyl: a record can look stone mint, but could have been played on lousy equipment in the 60s and shredded with whatever it was played on.)

I went from a Grado GF3E+ to the Shure V15 Type V-MR and was amazed at how much better my new 45s sounded. The pinched and distorted sound was gone.
 

Harry

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You can get some idea of how bad the "Adios Tristeza" track can be by listening to someone's YouTube version. Mine has never been this bad, and now is much, much better.


Harry
 

Rudy

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Wow that's trashed! :laugh: A lot of my 12" singles are cut fairly hot as well.

Mine has never been this bad, and now is much, much better.

That "fine line" stylus helps quite a bit.

The technical reason is that when the grooves encounter a lot of high frequency information, the "curves" in the grooves are too tight for a spherical (round) or elliptical (oval) to track--they "crash" into the grooves. The fine line is like an extremely narrow oval, or even has additional notches cut in the sides, to make it fit into those tight grooves.

This isn't a full comparison, but notice how the fatter oval does not trace the grooves as well as the much more narrow oval on the right. And, notice how the fatter oval can't "fit" into the groove properly:

Fig4.gif


(Source: http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/HFN/LP3/aroundthebend.html )

Also, the fine line (aka line contact) stylus has a wider contact area within the groove, as seen from a side view:

Figure8.jpg


Source: http://www.speakerbits.com/speaker-repairs/about-cartridges-stylus-types/article-24.aspx

The shaded areas are the "contact patch" of the stylus. A. is the cutting stylus; B. is a spherical, C. is elliptical and D. is a line contact. Because the force is distributed over a wider section, it should wear the vinyl less. Older records played on a spherical stylus back in the 60s (which was pretty much standard back then) often are worn because of this--the wide stylus couldn't track the groove properly, and the smaller contact area concentrated damage to a smaller part of the groove.

Thought I would try to give an easy explanation as to why the fine line stylus is a better sounding (and safer) alternative. Your rekkids will thank you. :D
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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First up, thanks for all the info you posted about the fine line stylus, will need to read through this when I have more time.

Well, my 320 came today and I have installed it. The box came with a little package of 2 screws and 2 bolts however I could not use them because they would not fit in my p mount. I took my old cartridge out and then installed the 320, no problems at all, but the screws that came with it were too big, I then took the 320 back off to see if I could get the screw that came with it into the gray p mount but it's way too big, so I just re-used the screw that came with my old cartridge, it works, screws in tightly and it feels secure.

Well first up I opened a sealed LP I got off ebay of Bach-Bradenburg Concerti No's 1, 2 and 3 (I love classical music) and I was very impressed, the sound was better than I had expected, of course this LP was sealed and after cleaning it on the nitty gritty machine it provided an amazing experience.

Then I played side 1 of my Charlie Brown/Vince Guaraldi Acoustech Mastering LP 45rpm and let me tell you I was really blown away, this sounds way better than my old cartridge, I mean I am hearing sounds in the background that are simply amazing, the smoothness and clarity is noticible right away.

Then I pop on my Original Master LP of Nat King Cole sings George Shearing, wow...I am really impressed with this 320 cartridge

Then for a quick test of the S's, I pop on my test pressing 45 of Goofus of the Carpenters, it's a mono 45 and on my old cartridge the S's could get a little harsh but with the 320 I can definately tell a difference, it more smooth and not so harsh, still there in some spots but hardly as noticable to me with the 320.

I believe I made a great investment on this cartridge and am so far really impressed. I've only had about 1.5 hrs tonight to get into some stuff so much more awaits me when I have more time.

Thanks again Rudy for advising this one, it's amazing compared to my previous cartridge. :)
 

Rudy

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Well, my 320 came today and I have installed it. The box came with a little package of 2 screws and 2 bolts however I could not use them because they would not fit in my p mount.

Those are for the 1/2" adapter so you can mount it in a regular headshell (non-P-mount). So no, you don't need those. Keep those if you ever decide to upgrade the turntable.

Then I played side 1 of my Charlie Brown/Vince Guaraldi Acoustech Mastering LP 45rpm and let me tell you I was really blown away, this sounds way better than my old cartridge, I mean I am hearing sounds in the background that are simply amazing, the smoothness and clarity is noticible right away.
Then I pop on my Original Master LP of Nat King Cole sings George Shearing, wow...I am really impressed with this 320 cartridge


I wish I owned the former, but I've heard a high-res needle drop of it done on a pricey turntable, and yes, the detail on that set is jaw-dropping.

Can't recall if I mentioned it, but if you want to hear detail, get the US 45RPM cut of Fleetwood Mac Rumours as Kevin and Steve cut that one also, and it's also amazing. If you want to hear a really natural voice, they did the Van Morrison Moondance LP...very nice job on that one also. I could probably recommend quite a few more, but your budget has to recover first. :D

Then for a quick test of the S's, I pop on my test pressing 45 of Goofus of the Carpenters, it's a mono 45 and on my old cartridge the S's could get a little harsh but with the 320 I can definately tell a difference, it more smooth and not so harsh, still there in some spots but hardly as noticable to me with the 320.

The remaining harshness may partly be groove wear, so that's normal. If you had an unplayed version of the same single, you'd be surprised at how clean it sounds.

As for the recommendation: no problem! P-mount systems usually don't get best of cartridges made for them, as you've probably notice ten times as many standard half-inch mount cartridges while you were shopping around. A fine-line, line contact, Micro Ridge or similar is a rarity in a P-mount, and it'll make the most of the turntable system you have. :thumbsup: And since wear is reduced and it is easier on the records, it's a win all around.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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Thread Starter
I have a couple questions:

The black piece close to the front of the cartridge that has the letters Ortofon 320 in white, the black piece moves up and down, the picture I attached is from their website but shows you that the black piece is pushed all the way back, however I noticed that it moves and you can move it slightly to the front and it will stay like that if you choose. If you move it a little to the front it will stay and not hit the LP or anything. I was just wondering if the black piece suppose to stay like it is in the picture or is there a reason why it moves?

2. (this is general question not related to the new cartridge) but on the very back on my tonearm is a small screw type thing with ridges that you can turn it left and right, what is that for?

Also if I were to adjust the tone arm (which I haven't) the notches in black at the back where it says 1.0 1.25, 1.5. It is set at 1.25, how do you move those if I wanted just slide them? I tried to move them just to see if the notch would move but it doesn't move, maybe cause the turntable is old but I didn't want to break anything so I didn't force it. It seems to be fine at 1.25 anyway but I just wondered what the screw was at the end of the barrel and how to move the notches.

I've played a couple of my best sounding Carpenters LP's such as my Audiophile Singles 69-73 and my Horizon LP and although they already sounded great on my old cartridge, OMG they sound simply amazing with this new cartridge I am really really impressed with this 320. It's putting a huge smile on my face.
Thanks

Ortofon320md.jpg
 

Harry

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I have no idea why that plastic piece rotates forward. It took me a minute or so to figure out that it should be rotated back to look like the picture.

I believe the marks on the back of the tone arm are the tracking force. The wheel alongside the tonearm pivot point is the anti-skate adjustment.

Harry
 
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