Edison sounded clearer than this.
May 13, 2011 12:11 AM   Subscribe

While listening to some records this evening, I realized that the tracking force on the tonearm was never properly set, and when I checked it on the balance scale, it was crazy high. It's been like this for years. Is the cartridge damaged?

I'm not particularly pleased with the way the table has sounded for a while. Music sounds great, vocals sound like crap. Very thin and a little buzzy.

It's a Pro-Ject 1.2 with a Grado Red on the stock tonearm. The cartridge was professionally installed, and the alignment still looks good on the paper protractor that came with the turntable. I've since moved 4 or 5 times since the new cart was installed, and I'm sure I've tinkered with the weighting several times since. The instructions originally said to set the counterweight until the arm was balanced, then use the gradated dial to tune in the needed force. Which I thought I did, years ago.

On a lark, after all these years, I pulled out the balance scale that came with the table. When I dropped the needle on the appropriate spot for this cartridge (1.5g), it sunk like a stone. I moved it over to the 2g spot, same thing. And that was as high as the scale went. Moving the counterweight back to reduce the force, it felt like it was going to fall off the arm before getting back to balance on the 1.5 spot. So in essence, I have no idea what the tracking force actually was, but it was a lot.

Would the years of running at this elevated force have damaged the cartridge, causing my issues with the sound? Or is there something else to look into to make the vocals a little fuller?
posted by hwyengr to Grab Bag (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's certainly possible. But I'd be far more concerned about the damage you've done to your records.
posted by Lazlo at 12:37 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If it sounds buzzy, the stylus is at least dirty. But in view of your story, including that you don't seem to have replaced the stylus for years, what you hear is probably wear on the stylus, plus, as Lazlo assumes, likely wear in the loud passages of your records (scroll down a bit). Replace the stylus asap, re-calibrate, clean regularly, always check weight, anti skating force, levelness etc. after moving.
posted by Namlit at 2:52 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

You have a Moving Magnet cartridge, these are generally more robust than moving coil, replace the stylus and your good to go.
posted by gallagho at 6:28 AM on May 13, 2011

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