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 Post subject: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: January 16th, 2017, 12:08 am 
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Joined: July 15th, 2016, 10:02 am
Posts: 69
I have a sibilance problem and it's killing me. "S" and "t" sounds are heavily distorted when I listen to vinyl on my system. I have tried several things to isolate/fix the problem:

    1. I can hear the problem in headphones so it's not my speakers.
    2. I tried 2 different preamps; problem was the same on both.
    3. I can hear the distortion on multiple records, although it seems to be worse on modern ones (manufactured in the last decade).
    4. I tried two different cartridges: Stanton 680EE and Shure M91ED, both with pretty new styluses. Problem is slightly better on the M91ED but I think this is because the 680EE has a clearer, more defined hi-end.
    5. I tried two different turntables: Akai AP-206 and Technics SL-1301. Distortion is the same on both.
    6. I made sure the turntables were level and tracking force was correct. VTA is not adjustable on these decks but I tried adding a extra record underneath to raise the arm, and taking off the mat to lower the arm - neither had an effect.

The only thing I have discovered that reduces the sibilance distortion is increasing the tracking force. This doesn't eliminate the problem, but it reduces it. There are many people online who say that a little sibilance is unavoidable with vinyl. I made a recording in hopes that the experts on this forum could tell me if what I'm experiencing is normal or not. Here it is:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/cumu4tmcpos0gmx/sibilance%20comparison.wav?dl=0

The recording is several seconds of a song with a lot of sibilance, followed by the same section of the same song taken from an MP3 download, which has little to no sibilance.

Is there anything I can do about this? If I got a better cartridge, would that reduce this problem? It's gotten to the point where I hear it all the time now and it drives me nuts. Please help!


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 Post subject: Re: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: January 16th, 2017, 9:05 am 
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Joined: December 14th, 2013, 2:19 pm
Posts: 729
Hey Justinis,

Have you set overhang and azimuth? Both are very important to aligning the cartridge. Cheap protractors to assist you with this are commonly available.

http://www.needledoctor.com/New/Cartridge-Alignment

http://www.elexatelier.com/essentials.htm

http://turntablebasics.com/align.html


I have the one from Turntable Basics. It works well.

Overhang adjusts the effective length of the arm, pivot to stylus.

Azimuth is the adjustment to put the cantilever, and therefore, presumably the stylus tip tangent to the groove.

Since you have a pivoted arm, the settings are adjusted at two points, best compromise between the two.

After that is correct, then play with VTF and VTA. Please remember that VTA is dependent on VTF. The greater the tracking force, the more the cantilever is deflected towards parallel with the groove (at the limit.)

You mentioned "recommended" tracking force......any numbers here? Feel free to play a bit, you may find that the cartridge likes more force than is recommended.

Good luck, keep us posted. Hope this helps.

Stuart


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 Post subject: Re: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: January 16th, 2017, 11:28 am 
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Joined: July 15th, 2016, 10:02 am
Posts: 69
Thanks for your reply, Stuart. I have tried to set overhang and azimuth. I used my calipers to make sure the stylus was 52mm from the end of the headshell as specified by Technics for my SL-1301.

I used a Stevenson protractor from here: https://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge-alignment-protractors.shtml to try to set azimuth . It was hard to use this protractor precisely, however. The turntablebasics one you sent looks a lot better. Or maybe I should buy a test record and try something like this: http://www.analogplanet.com/content/crazy-little-thing-called-azimuth-part-2? Maybe I should also get a new headshell; the one I have is the type with only 1 screw on top that doesn't allow for easily changing azimuth.

Unfortunately I cannot adjust VTA on my table, other than placing something under the record or removing the mat.

The recommended tracking force for the 680EE is 2 (+1/2 -1/4) grams with the stylus brush, 1 (+1/2 -1/4) gram without it. I have tried with and without the brush; doesn't make much difference. The M91ED is 3/4 to 1 1/2 grams, I tried it at 1. I'm using a Shure SFG-2 to set VTF.

The distortion is definitely reduced by increasing VTF, all the way up to the limit. I assume at some point I will start wearing my records with too much VTF. How far above the recommended setting can I go?


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 Post subject: Re: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: January 16th, 2017, 4:53 pm 
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Joined: July 24th, 2015, 4:17 pm
Posts: 930
Location: Parkville, Maryland
Stuart is dead on. Accurate alignment is a must. The 45/45 stereo standard has been around since Blumlein got his first patent and alignment is critical for good playback.

However, I also found that all those things can still keep you in trouble with mis-tracking -- especially the sibilance. I found that headshell mass is important and overlooked.

I had issues with my Allnic cartridge with sibilance and other mis-tracking especially in the inner grooves. Tracking at the outside of the recommended tracking weight helped but didn't get the job done.

The cartridge compliance being stiff compared to a lot of devices out there needed more mass to operate against. The moment of inertia being a quantity expressing a body's tendency to resist angular acceleration was the issue. The cartridge was pushing itself out of the groove or at least changing the tracking force during the heavy modulation so I would get mis-tracking. I went from a cartridge/headshell combined weight of 15 grams to 35 grams after incremental trials and the issue went away like magic. It will track anything I put under it.

SME got around the issue with vertical damping using a well filled with thick silicone oil and a paddle swimming in it. My Denon DP-59L gets around the issue with electronic vertical damping.

Food for thought.

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Walt


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 Post subject: Re: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: January 16th, 2017, 5:16 pm 
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Joined: July 15th, 2016, 10:02 am
Posts: 69
That's very interesting! Maybe I could just attach a 20g weight to the top of my headshell, readjust my VTF, and see if I hear a difference...


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 Post subject: Re: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: January 16th, 2017, 6:15 pm 
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Joined: January 15th, 2015, 7:19 am
Posts: 898
Location: Baltimore MD
I have been working with Jose Ramirez (Dr. Vinyl) in preparation of doing a cartridge set up clinic at a future DC HiFi Group meeting. We will be using the Smart Tracker set up jig for offset and overhang, Fozgometer for Azimuth, Digital microscope camera and computer measurement software for SRA/VTA.
I also want to get the oscilloscope method for azimuth adjustment down.
The Smart tracker is a great (although expensive, over $400) device. Fozgometer is also $300 and is fool proof. The Fozgometer requires a particular LP, which is another $45.
None of this is for the timid. Its a very involved process, very tedious, definitely do not drink coffee before the attempt, but I have heard the improvements that can be gained with the process, not subtle at all.


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 Post subject: Re: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: January 16th, 2017, 6:22 pm 
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Joined: July 15th, 2016, 10:02 am
Posts: 69
A cartridge set up clinic sounds awesome! Is there an email list I can subscribe to so I don't miss that?


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 Post subject: Re: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: January 17th, 2017, 4:35 pm 
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Joined: January 15th, 2015, 7:19 am
Posts: 898
Location: Baltimore MD
The cartridge set up clinic will be at one of the DC HiFi Group's future meetings
Follow the DC HiFi Grp Facebook page at:
[url]https://www.facebook.com/dchifigroup/[/url]

We meet almost every month, have various informational programs. There is a membership fee
we are getting discounts at Gramophone and Strathmore so far. John Gatski is working on more
There is always a few raffle giveaways CD's, LP's, Chesky downloads, sometimes hardware


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 Post subject: Re: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: February 8th, 2017, 5:48 pm 
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Joined: July 15th, 2016, 10:02 am
Posts: 69
Followup:

I did a bunch of reading about azimuth online and discovered that my Technics SL-1300 is designed to have the cartridge aligned square in the headshell. The curve in the tonearm takes care of the azimuth. The overhand is supposed to be set so the stylus is 52mm from the back of the headshell.

I set both my cartridges up this way and played some records. I think there might have been a small improvement but it was so slight I'm not 100% sure it was real.

I remembered that increasing VTF had improved the problem. I tried the maximum VTF specified by both my cartridges: 1.5g. With this setting, the Stanton 680EE didn't sound much different. However, with the M91ED the sibilance was significantly reduced. It was downright listenable.

The trouble is that besides the sibilance, I prefer the sound of the 680EE. It's much clearer. So my next step may be buying a third cartridge and see if I can find the best of both worlds.

One thing I noticed is that the stylus on the M91ED is much more flexible, so the headshell sits much closer to the record with this cartridge than the 680EE. I don't know if this has anything to do with its reduced sibilance capabilities.


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 Post subject: Re: Death by sibilance
PostPosted: February 9th, 2017, 9:08 am 
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Joined: January 15th, 2015, 7:19 am
Posts: 898
Location: Baltimore MD
Justin's
A couple of things
The s curve of the tone arm has to do with cartridge offset not azumith. Azumith is the verticallity of the stylus and is adjusted with a twisting of the headshell or arm tube
The VTA/SRA will change with tracking force changes and thickness of the vinyl which varies from record to record and if you change record mat. Ambient temperature and maybe humidity does affect the elastomer suspension of the stylus too.
Yes one can go crazy with all the variables. The key is to find the happy median that will sound good.
I just heard one of the best analog setups yesterday in Philadelphia. Doug White, The Voice That Is, a dealer that just set up a new reference system that just blew me away. Yes it was close to 1/2 million dollar system, but we played many albums, one after another, no special audiophile reissues, but pressings from the 60's and 70's that just sounded so fresh and new it was hard to believe


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