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More forgiving cartridge for worn records

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Arthur Dent's picture
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I've dug out a pile of old vinyl (80s/90s) recently, and purchased an Ortofon OM5E cartridge. However, it seems to be very unforgiving of the state of my much loved but well worn records, tending to click, jump, get stuck or just skate right across the record the record when it's had enough. The body of the cartridge also seems to sit very close to the record, so close that if the record is even the tiniest bit un-flat, the cartridge will bottom out.

I've followed the turntable setup instructions to the letter - in fact, I did it twice to make sure.

I'm thinking that maybe the purchase of a more forgiving cartridge might be in order. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

The_Lhc's picture
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RE: More fogiving cartridge for worn records

Arthur Dent wrote:
I've dug out a pile of old vinyl (80s/90s) recently, and purchased an Ortofon OM5E cartridge. However, it seems to be very unforgiving of the state of my much loved but well worn records, tending to click, jump, get stuck or just skate right across the record the record when it's had enough. The body of the cartridge also seems to sit very close to the record, so close that if the record is even the tiniest bit un-flat, the cartridge will bottom out.

That doesn't sound right at all, was it a new cartridge? I might be taking that back for checking...

Al ears's picture
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RE: More fogiving cartridge for worn records

Hi Dent Arthur Dent welcome to the forum.

Hold fast on rushing out to buy new cartridge...more information needed.

What turntable / arm are you using and where did you buy the Ortofon? Was it from a dealer?

If you have the correct tracking weight set, and it is better to use a cheap balance-type device to actually check this, then if it is sitting that close to the vinyl's surface it sounds like there is a problem with the suspension of the cartridge, and it should be returned for checking. If you bought from a dealer I would suggest you do this.

If it is sitting this close because you have too much downforce applied then you do indeed have a problem as if it is mistracking with too much downforce then it is going to be even worse when correct downforce is applied.

Try a record cleaning device on your vinyl first (they may well be 'past it') would be an idea. Then double check you have correct downforce applied by buying / borrowing aforementioned downforce gauge. It still doing it get a dealer to check the cartridge itself.

If all else fails the best cartridge for use on older and possibly warped vinyl is a Shure M97xE with its flip-down 'suspension brush' thingy! Smile

But doo double check your current set up before rushing off to buy one.

Yours,

Ford Prefect excellent!

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Arthur Dent's picture
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RE: More forgiving cartridge for worn records

Hello, thanks for the quick response.

The cartridge is new. It's mounted on the standard arm on a Technics SL-1210 (sorry audiophiles!). The Technics has a moderately complex setup so I follows the manual carefully to make sure I didn't get it horribly wrong!

I have been cleaning my records as I go, but even the ones that are clean and/or relatively unplayed aren't sounding great. Unfortunately I purchased the cartridge online so no returning to the dealer; I've just seen the prices of downforce gauges so I'm not likely to be buying one anytime soon!

The Shure cartridge is interesting, and just about within budget. That will have to be my Plan B...

The_Lhc's picture
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RE: More forgiving cartridge for worn records

Arthur Dent wrote:
Unfortunately I purchased the cartridge online so no returning to the dealer;

Err, why not?

Al ears's picture
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RE: More forgiving cartridge for worn records

As The_Lhc says why do you feel you cannot return it? As it's duff (by the sound of it) you have every right to return it whence it came.

By the way balances are not necessarily dear. Try typing 'Ortofon Stylus Balance' into Google or Ebay. It's basic, it works and it's yours for a tenner!! Smile

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Arthur Dent's picture
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RE: More forgiving cartridge for worn records

Ok, maybe you are all right, I could try returning the cartridge although I do not know if they will accept the argument that it was faulty when I'm not certain what is wrong with it. My gut feeling that is probably my turntable setup skills (or lack thereof) that are to blame.

Thanks for the tip-off about the balance, I will try that.

I've put a close-up photo here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotographique/8366210276/in/photostream . For me, it seems that the cartridge sits very close to the record, but I guess that's because the design is horizontal rather than sloping.

 

Al ears's picture
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RE: More forgiving cartridge for worn records

Difficult to tell from photo but you may be applying too much tracking weight. It should be between 1.5 and 1.75g.

Get yourself one of those little balances and you will know for sure then. Much better than trying to dial weight in or whatever you do with that deck.

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DistortedVision's picture
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RE: More forgiving cartridge for worn records

Mostly likely the problem is the tracking force. You need a gauge to set up any cartridge properly. I'd set it towards the higher end of the cartridge's range. Have you correctly aligned the cartridge? Also check the VTA by using the tonearm height adjustment.

Arthur Dent's picture
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RE: More forgiving cartridge for worn records

Thanks everyone. I found the Ortofon guage for a mere £8.50 all in! So I've ordered it and hopefully a bit of setting up will cure my woes.

Arthur Dent's picture
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RE: More forgiving cartridge for worn records

My Ortofon gauge arrived today. It shows that my current setup exerts virtually no force at all! However, by adding weight (moving the tonearm weight forward) too far, the body of the cartridge starts to drag on the record - most frustrating.

I also stumbled across some other people suffering with the same problem, so it's not just me:

http://audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=487410

One suggestion they make is to move the cartridge further back in the headshell so I did that and then reset all the settings and started again, following the procedure in the Technics manual, but then using the Ortofon gauge to set the tracking weight. This time I think I have found a reasonable compromise. By adding more weight, but not too much, I can just about achieve a tracking weight mid-scale between 15 and 20nM, without the cartridge touching the record (although it is still close).

Something of a compromise, but it seems to work. The true test will be tonight when a planned reunion is taking place, and much vinyl is expected to be played. Fingers crossed!

Al ears's picture
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RE: More forgiving cartridge for worn records

I wish you all the best but if what the other forum mentions is a regular occurrance with this Ortofon cartridge then I would send it back as unfit for purpose.

By moving the cartridge back in the headshell you are just moving it out of correct alignment. Not good.

If you have it in the correctly aligned position and it will not allow the correct tracking force to be applied then it is goosed I feel.

Send it back and tell them you cannot get it tracking as it is supposed to .... then buy the Shure!

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