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  • turntable / needle problem

    I just got a second hand turntable, it's an ION USB, about 5 years old, and setup pretty much like a 1200. It was said that it was in great condition. So I set it up yesterday and put on a record to test it.

    The counterweight was about half way, so I figured that was good enough just to test it. I put the needle on the record, and it immediately skates all the way across to the label. So I adjusted it to zero and put it back to somewhere around 2 grams. This time it didn't skate across the lp, but the sound was really distorted and not playing smoothly. I wondered if maybe it was the needle. I tried to look at it, but I couldn't really see anything (too small).

    Next day (today), I set the counterweight again and the antiskate. It was still playing really distorted and skipping, acting jumpy even with the weight all the way up (and all the way light too). I took the needle off to get a good look, I had to put it under a magnifying glass to really see anything.

    Now that I've messed with the weight, antiskate, and I took the whole headshell off and tightened it back up just to be sure, it still plays distorted and skips. Which kind of lowers it down to the needle being old, but Im not sure about that. A few months ago, I replaced an old needle on another turntable because I thought it was worn out, but it turned out that it was the computer causing distortion and my old needle would still work. So I don't want to go get another needle for this 'new' turntable if that's not really what the problem is.

    I've read people say they replace their needles once every year or two, and I've also read people say they last for 10 or more years. When I compared my old needle to this one on the ION turntable, the old (7 years old) needle was about twice as long as the ION one. I tried to take a pic of it, but my camera couldn't so I ended up scanning it and will attach the pic (it's actually easier to see on the scan than it is by eye).

    By looking at it, can anyone tell me if they think it's the turntable or the needle causing the problem? Im running out of ideas of what more I can adjust just to get it to play without the distortion/skipping. It kind of looks like the needle isn't staying locked in the groove.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. Thanks.

    See, you don't get those haircuts on your mp3s.

  • #2
    Originally posted by spirito santo View Post
    When I compared my old needle to this one on the ION turntable, the old (7 years old) needle was about twice as long as the ION one. I tried to take a pic of it, but my camera couldn't so I ended up scanning it and will attach the pic (it's actually easier to see on the scan than it is by eye).
    Just to be clear, you realise that it's the needle, the stylus tip, that wears, and not the cantilever (i.e. not the whole of that stalk sticking out from the cartridge)? Sorry to ask a naive question but it's a little tricky to see whether the tip is worn from that picture! See below, it's the state of the diamond stylus that you need to check.

    You freeking scientologists are all the same, quible, dribble and then demand ice creams. Ohhhhhhhhhhh.

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    • #3
      A stylus' life is usually measured in hours of play I think. As this turntable is 2nd hand you don't know how much it has been used so it could quite easily be a worn stylus.

      Have you had a really good look at it under a powerful magnifying glass? I had a similar problem with my turntable (Dual with Ortofon cart) a while ago and on close inspection there was a mess of ..er.. mess built up on the stylus. A careful brush got it all off and it was ok again.

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      • #4
        Judging by what I can I see from the picture the stylus looks very worn out, almost flat. Google how to set up the weight and anti-skate for your turntable (- if it's like a technics 1200 it's super easy and should take about thirty seconds) and buy a new needle.
        http://www.mixcloud.com/garethhayes/
        http://www.mixcloud.com/BangShangALang/
        https://www.facebook.com/groups/197897397221/

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        • #5
          I work on the principle that if you think you might need a new stylus then you need a new stylus.

          As a side question what's a decent brush to use to clean needles?

          And as another side question what is a decent magnfying glass to use? There's some very cheap ones on amazon but quite often the reviews say they do not give a magnification anything near like what they claim.
          Enthusiastic vagueness passes for scholarship in the twilight world of the disc-jockey.

          John Peel

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          • #6
            Originally posted by emperor tomato ketchup View Post
            I work on the principle that if you think you might need a new stylus then you need a new stylus.
            This makes sense. spirito santo, what's the cost of a new stylus versus the price of a Stark Reality? Or five years worth of records?
            You freeking scientologists are all the same, quible, dribble and then demand ice creams. Ohhhhhhhhhhh.

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            • #7
              I am writing a gripping pulp thriller about buying a new stylus:

              THE DIAMOND-TIPPED PARANOIA OF A VINYL FETISHIST
              Spirit Duplicator—collectable, charming, affordable... and also socially networked on FB / Twitter / Instagram.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by emperor tomato ketchup View Post
                As a side question what's a decent brush to use to clean needles?
                A lot of people use these blobby things now. You just drop the stylus on, lift it, and the gunk is left behind. Seems safer than brushing.
                "You don't want to kill the cash donkey"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Shere Khan View Post
                  A lot of people use these blobby things now. You just drop the stylus on, lift it, and the gunk is left behind. Seems safer than brushing.
                  Someone should make that the same diameter as a 7" dink and they'd be raking it in

                  *phones Dragons Den*
                  MUSHRUMPS Daily party-prog MP3 blog

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Shere Khan View Post
                    A lot of people use these blobby things now. You just drop the stylus on, lift it, and the gunk is left behind. Seems safer than brushing.
                    Does not work in my 1 day of use..

                    While I have only had this for 1 day, so far it has done nothing for my stylus. Yesterday I could see what looked like a fine hair on the stylus, so I used the product as instructed and the hair remained after use. So I did it again, hair still remained. So in the end it was back to the stylus brush to remove it. I will keep using it, as there may be benefits that I can not see, after all my records generally leave nothing on the stylus after play, I do keep them very clean. Perhaps I see no difference just because my records are clean anyway.

                    Luvverly jubbly!
                    I love a knees up to Mrs Mills but my vinyl needle was pwopa jammy so I bunged it into this funky goo - bish bosh! Clean as a whistle and flute!!
                    Vardy.....¡¡¡PELIGRO!!!

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                    • #11
                      If that is an actual photo of the stylus it looks like the diamond tip has either been a) worn away or b) has been knocked off.
                      it also looks like a fairly inexpensive (IE cheap) stylus.

                      No way to check it out unless you know someone who can lend you theirs to swap out and compare.
                      Sounds like you've done everything you can with the actual deck.
                      I dunno how much that stylus/cart cost or whether it came with the turntable but I would try and step up a notch or two and get a decent
                      cart/stylus setup, something like the Audio Technica AT120E for about 70 quid.
                      Never ceases to amaze when I see people who collect records of the insanely raer variety who then go plonk and play said rarity on a deck with a 20 quid needle,
                      thereby eventually causing gradual irreparable damage in the process. Like the sound of fingernails down a blackboard I tells ya...
                      Fleas the size of rats suck on a rat the size of a cat....



                      Not As Great As His Very Best, But Pretty Much As Great As Most Anyone Else's.

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                      • #12
                        The tip looks worn to me. That`s a Sanyo ST 9D stylus by the look of it, replace it as they are hardly expensive. here`s one.

                        On a turntable like this is is probably not worth upgrading the cartridge as there are too many limitations in the design. The cart fitted is a basic but robust magnetic type, so shoudn`t damage any vinyl if handled well.

                        As suggested above, you will need to balance the tonearm and set antiskate (if fitted)>

                        1. Roll back counterweight until the arm just `floats` on the horizontal
                        2. Adjust the numbered ring/dial on the weight, being careful not to shift the weight itself, so that zero is showing .
                        3. Rotate the weight and ring towards the cartridge end of the arm and leave it set at about 3g (this cartridge can track Ok up to about 4 g or so, but let`s play it safe fornow)
                        4. set antiskate control to 3 also

                        ...and there you go, hopefully. Should be no skipping. Obviously the deck has to be on a level surface and away from speakers/vibrations.
                        HTH
                        "THIS IS A FINE TAPE AND BRINGS BACK MEMORIES OF YESTERYEAR WHEN THE MUSIC WORLD WAS GOOD AND NOT FOULED UP BY THE LONG HAIR SCURVES WHO JUST BEAT WILDLY ON ANYTHING AND COME UP WITH A LOT OF STUPID NOISE THat only damnfools and liars say they like it"

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by babycart View Post
                          Does not work in my 1 day of use..

                          While I have only had this for 1 day, so far it has done nothing for my stylus. Yesterday I could see what looked like a fine hair on the stylus, so I used the product as instructed and the hair remained after use. So I did it again, hair still remained. So in the end it was back to the stylus brush to remove it. I will keep using it, as there may be benefits that I can not see, after all my records generally leave nothing on the stylus after play, I do keep them very clean. Perhaps I see no difference just because my records are clean anyway.
                          Mine works pretty well.
                          It's called zerodust.
                          But a brush is sometimes quicker.
                          Dave Lee Roth, I Too Am Running With This Devil Of Which You Speak (sic)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Milesago View Post
                            Mine works pretty well.
                            It's called zerodust.
                            But a brush is sometimes quicker.
                            Haven't actually got one of those myself, but I like the look of them. I can hardly see my stylus- the room is so gloomy- so I like the idea of dropping it and assuming the gunk has been picked off without having to look. Also It's not always easy to get near the deck without falling over records. At the moment I just use a little watercolour brush but I do worry an over-zealous rub might damage something.
                            "You don't want to kill the cash donkey"

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                            • #15
                              I think my attempt to not be confusing didn't work, sorry . I've had record players all my life so I didn't mean to come off like, what are these "turntables" you speak of? I've had a generic 1200 style tt for about 15 years now so I know how to set the counterweight and all that.

                              The reason for my confusion is I haven't ever trashed a needle or wore one down badly so I wasn't 100% sure it was the cause. I've always used them sparingly, I just record my records and listen to them on the computer. None of my needles have had 1000+ hours put on them, and no scratching, backspinning, etc.

                              Just a few months ago I got a new needle for a different turntable because I thought it was messed up (I thought it had been damaged when I moved the tt, but it turned out to be Win 7 defaulting to below 'AM radio' recording quality causing the distortion). So I wanted to be sure this time it's actually the needle causing the problem.

                              The people I got this Ion tt from are an older couple who said it was in great/pristine condition, worked fine and hadn't been used for quite a while. I assumed they weren't practicing for the DMC finals with it so I didn't understand how the needle could be this gone. But it really is just a nub. I can't really see the stylus with just my eyes, I had to get the magnifying glass. The pic I attached is the actual needle, I had to use my scanner because my camera couldn't pick it up (the scanner pic makes the stylus look bigger than the magnifying glass did actually). When I compared this stylus to a 7 year old Audio Technica stylus, the old stylus is still twice as long.

                              So the combination of being told it was in great working condition and recently making the mistake of getting another needle when it wasn't needed is what made me want to get opinions first. I can't remember ever having a needle so thrashed that it constantly skipped, but that is what's happening. And after adjusting everything else 2-3 times, the needle is all that I can think of to explain it.

                              Originally posted by eclectiktronik View Post
                              The tip looks worn to me. That`s a Sanyo ST 9D stylus by the look of it, replace it as they are hardly expensive.
                              Yeah, that's the exact one. I ordered one so Im hoping it will play ok now.

                              Anyway, thanks everyone, I appreciate it.
                              See, you don't get those haircuts on your mp3s.

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