Counter weights on your turntable...another dirty little secret?

This is more of a public awareness post for us Mid Hifi peeps who have recently made the  dive back into vinyl. I did back in 2020 and did my research and decided on a packaged deal- please be gentle on me- from one of the two biggest online sellers out there. They set up too and provided some simple instructions to finish the set up when it arrived.

Fast forward a couple year down the road and I am thinking I should bring the table to my local audio repair guy in Northern Litchfield County, CT for a check up. I was concerned that maybe something was off, and man was I  glad I did.

My turntable is ProJect Classic SB- you know that 1970's vintage looking one,  coupled with the second generation Sumiko Oyster Blue Point II. This guy is extremely  busy with endless warranty and service work- so it sat for time before he could check it out, but he knows  what he is doing. He soon discovered that the most he  could track the cartridge was at 1.47 grams-the Sumiko is supposed to track at 2 grams.

The problem was the counter weight. Next challenge was finding the right one and it was not an easy task, as tech support was tough for ProJet and he ended up fining something posted online back in 2018 on counter weights for ProJect turntables. He also reached out to a peer, who has a very  reputable brick and mortar store here in western Connecticut for assistance.


As many of you may know most online sellers do not even sell counter weights.


He eventually found what I needed- for only $35 too, but I was  shocked that this turntable was paired up with this cartridge-and this was not a cheap one either, it could not even track it properly. Why would that even happen? So for over two years I have not  gotten the  best  performance I could from this set up.


So as they say buyer beware and add this tale to the long list of questions when sourcing a table, verifying settings, if your new table was set up at the  factory correctly, or upgrading your cartridge



Dadawada has it exactly.  Talk to a tech at Fine Sounds and get the right counterweight.  The other option is to add weight to the headshell. A half gram of Bluetack will also damp any resonance. 

The Shure scale and similar beam balance scales are hopeless.  60 year old technology based on pre-industrial science.  The pivot carries far too much friction - if you tap one end and let it swing to a halt it never stops in the same place.  I doubt it's accurate to a quarter gramme.  Don't use it.  I binned mine in the 80s when the first digital strain gauge scales appeared.  The one I use now reads to a 100th of a gramme and repeatedly gives exactly the same reading.  Essential.

1+ @baylinor ,  The guys that set these turntables up at dealerships know less about turntable set up than most of all of you. Setting up a turntable is not rocket science, it just takes a few tools. There are YouTubes all over the place on the subject. If you can use a screw driver you can set up a cartridge. I can understand why most will not install a tonearm, that takes a drill press. But align a cartridge?

The problem with proper cartridge alignment is that it take patience and you have to be very fastidious. You have to really care about what you are doing and nobody but the owner is going to be careful enough to really get it right. The dealers only have the patience for a ballpark job at best. When is the last time a dealer asked you what alignment you would like?   

@dadawada  I will have to double check the box to see what may be in there. I don't recall  extra counter weights.


Yes, learning to do the cartridge set up can be a natural next  step, but for many -myself included, who are living very  busy lives and somethings are not going to be at the  top of the to do list. This was one of them for me.

@fuzztone  so with your logic if you don't own a vineyard then  you can not enjoy a  glass of wine?

@baylinor  that is an interesting comment, but to treat your cartridge with so much variance to get it to your" sweet spot?" That can be  very subjective. You could hypothetically do that every time when you  change a genre of music.


The settings on the phono stage are a similar comparison. I would prefer not to be changing all these settings every time I spin an album. I want it to be set up correctly and then properly maintain that-which regrettably I was not doing. It is clear that I need to at the very least invest in a stylus weight.


Thanks for everyone's comments. I  hope to get it back this week and will report back.