apparant pitch instability


So maybe it's me, maybe it's my records, maybe it's my power, maybe it's my new cartridge. But, having just mounted a new Dynavector 10x5 on my Rega Planar 2 and replaced the belt as well, I am of course now listening more often, and more attentively to my 'table to get the know the cartridge, than I have in quite a while. And I am noticing, on certain records, some apparent pitch instability -- a sort of warble of relatively high pure notes. I hear it particularly on piano and organ. At times it doesn't seem to be there at all, at other times it seems quite subtle, so that I think maybe it is just the natural envelope -- attack, sustain and decay -- of the note, and at other times it sounds obvious and very distracting. It seems worse on inner grooves, which is the opposite of what I would expect if the turntable motor is not running at a perfectly regular rotational rate. The cartridge sounds otherwise great -- detaied but warm, firm full bass, considereably fuller and deeper than on the Super Bias it replaced, with comparatively very quiet tracking (though the Super Bias was pretty old, so the comparison may not be fair.)

The records on which I've noticed the problem most are Arrau's Chopin Preludes on Phillips (the London Ashkenazy was better, but there the relavant preludes are on the outer grooves), a Stavinski Concerto for two pianos solo, and a Mercury Living Presence record of Marcel Dupre playing his own music on the St. Sulpice Organ. Organs are famously always struggling to stay in tune, so that one may be the instrument. I suppose the others may be as well, and that I may just be suffering from overly analytical listening. But I don't think so. None of these records is significantly warped, by the way. And the turntable is tolerably level, according to a bubble level.

I am certain that I have very poor power here -- running on a 1964 fuse box, with any number of other items serviced by the line, including computer. I have no easy way to control for that, as the whole house is similar. I am unfortunately not in a position to do much about this as I am temporarily renting. And anyway, I haven't heard this problem on digital sources or radio (though maybe I'm just not listening hard enough). But if it is the power, perhaps cutting on and off of varying in voltage , then I wonder if I'm not also ruining my amplification and power supplies.

Could I have put the belt on wrong? Could it be the cartridge breaking in (seems unlikely, but so does general relativity:))? A defect I should compain about? Some subtle mounting error?


I don't want to make this sound worse than it is, the system sounds really very good -- the problem is not one that compromises all listening, at least not in a way one can isolate on most material. Assuming the problem, if I'm not imagining it, is not the cartridge, then I recommend the Dynavector highly. Bit of a pain to mount (ok, big pain) but lovely lovely sound.

Anyway, any wisdom or hypotheses would be welcome and appreciated.



Without going into alot of detail, the basic reason is that the Rega Planar 2 is a very "entry level" turntable, and cannot do the speed control thing as well as the better turntables. Not a knock on your TT, just simply recognizing that a manufacturer can only do just so much for that amount of money.
Hi TWL, and again thanks for the advice previously, re: the cartridge. Despite the issue I raise in this thread, it is yummy.

But why, I wonder, have I not noticed the pitch instability before now? I've had the deck for many years. Is there anything to tighten? Has it just gotten tired?

I'm aware the Planar 2 is entry level, of course. But up to now I just haven't had, or noticed that I had, this particular complaint.

I also have a Rega Planar 2 and it is most likely that your table is running 1-2% faster than it should.There are two cures that I have found for this.2 lengths of electrical tape,spliced, not wound around the spindle that the glass platter sits on will make it run at 331/3 RPM.You may wish to carefully file the smaller spindle of the drive belt checking with a strobe as you go but this is non-reversable.It works for me.Turntables are not 100% spot-on.stefanl
Sorry I sould have added there is a downloadable strobe at extreme Put it on your table and use a table lamp to see if the little bars are standing still both for 33 and 45.But 33 is what you want for 60Hz if you are in the States.stefanl

Thanks, and I will check the pitch with the strobe. I am disinclined to file away at anything. I don't quite follow your instructions for the tape solution. Anyway, I am not finding the table to run fast, but irregularly. A too high pitch I can maybe live eith. Warble, however, I can't abide.

You use 2 equal lengths of normal electrical tape around the edge of the plastic spindle that the platter sits on and trim it so it is even and not protruding on either side.It should look smooth and quite even,patience is required.You of course take the belt off first and remove the large spindle to do this.2 spliced wraps is all that is needed to make it fat enough to run at the correct speed.Talcum powder applied evenly to your rubber belt should also help with the pitch instability due to better contact with the spindle.A new belt helps.The Planar 2 has a lot of upgrades that you can do to it.Search this forum or Vinyl Asylum.stefanl
Y'know, i'm thinbking it must be the belot. My wife just listened to it -- she's been away -- and noticed the problem right away. Of course I may have given her the suggestion. but anyway, she claims it sounds warbly, and that it didn't before I mounted the new cartridge and changed the belt. Also, for about 90 sec, I had the new belt on the wrong guide, and the t'table ran a bit fast. Could that have screwed up the tension on the belt? I wouldn't have thought they could be so touchy, but hey, something weird is going on here.

Suggestions hoped for.

Be careful with downloadable strobe disc's as some printers may not be as exact as you think they are. Counting on a strobe that wasn't accurate would be like building a house with a yardstick that wasn't quite a yard long. Sean
Time to put this thread to bed. It was in fact the belt. I fished the old one out of the trash -- luckily it was unsullied -- and put it back on. Stable pitch is back. Surely not perfect, TWL, but not a distraction either, so I can enjoy my new Dynavector. Thanks for the advice, all. Now if I can just get the seller to make good on the new belt.

Not to hijack your thread, but you should see the thread on the Yanks (Wanks?). They had this problem also.
The decay you hear on the piano and the high notes is most likely due to speed problems on Rega tables.You can check Vinyl Asylum and there is quite a lot about this.I use a power conditioner and I got a 25% improvement in the sound on my C.D player,bass came back and it sounded more analogue.I am sure it makes my Rega Motor runs more stably as would stand to reason.Your belt needs to be replaced every 3 years as recommended by Rega. Stretches and will go eventually.You could be lucky? A motor upgrade is usually the path taken($155 Music Direct),but the correct speed is your major problem I think.Use my tweak with new belt maybe only using 1 wrap(maybe 3 etc.),is the way to for now,it works.Surely you want to hear the records as they should be at 331/3 RPM.stefanl