The loudest sounds on my turntable are distorted. How do I prevent this distortion?
December 25, 2003 12:34 AM   Subscribe

I have a Stanton Str8-20 Turntable coupled with a Yamaha CR-640 (1980 vintage) Amplifier. Playing orchestrated music, the loudest sounds of the vinyl will distort. I had to 'tune' the turntable before using it, and this was my first time. I googled but nothing helped. Can anyone give me advice regarding the distortion, which is probably relevant to the fine tuning of the turntable?

By the way, I am using JVC SK-S44 3 way speakers as primary, and 3-way Sony with 8inch bass reflex woofers as secondary, as the amplifier will accommodate both as separate channels. Not pertinent info, but I want to let you know what I have to work with.
posted by Keyser Soze to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
Another note: Playing punk rock or other non high orchestration music will not do the same thing. The orchestra vinyl I have is high quality.
posted by Keyser Soze at 12:41 AM on December 25, 2003

I'd say it may have to do with stylus weight, i.e. the amount of pressure the stylus is putting on the groove. The challenge is figuring that out. It's more of an art than a science seeing that all turntables handle this a bit differently.
posted by gen at 1:16 AM on December 25, 2003

is your turntable isolated from the energy the speakers are putting out? if it's just sitting on the floor or a piece of furniture, you may want to try a shelf or stand designed for the job.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:17 AM on December 25, 2003

Re. isolation, you can also buy custom isolation mats, although these can be expensive. I have had good results by cutting up an old camping sleeping mat (the ones made of insulating foam), and putting one or two layers under the deck.
posted by carter at 8:59 AM on December 25, 2003

Sounds like rumble to me. Rumble is the lower frequencies (the ones you can feel) feeling their way up into your turntable and feeding back, except unlike regualr feedback, you get a rumbling sound instead of a squeal.

They sell little pyramydal feet to rest your turntable on, and they work real well. Any higher end adio "salon" that still carries turntables will have them
posted by Fupped Duck at 10:18 AM on December 25, 2003

I moved the turntable to a more sonically clear location, but the distortion still happens. It is probably the stylus pressure, because I was able to reduce it by lowering the weight bar.
posted by Keyser Soze at 12:11 PM on December 25, 2003

The Technics 1200 FAQ contains a reasonable overview of how turntables work, and what exactly tracking weight, anti-skating, etc., do (although it's mostly aimed at DJs who need to get the best tracking out of their decks, sometimes at the expense of sound quality--I assume what you wanna do isn't drop some fat-ass Profokiev breaks all up in your mix.)

Try backing off the tracking weight as much as possible, then if it starts skipping dial a bit more back on.

If it's the actual music itself distorting, rather than some sort of mechanical noise (rumble, etc.) from the turntable, and if you can adjust this on your amp, try backing off the preamp gain a bit, too. It might simply be that you aren't noticing distortion on the punk rock stuff because it's supposed to sound distorted n' mean. (And punk bands usually use simple power chords or barre chords for harmony--the more complex harmonies of classical or jazz will tend to sound worse with the same amount of distortion. Ask any guitarist.)
posted by arto at 10:54 PM on December 25, 2003

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