Dynavector 20XL

I just got a Dynavector 20XL installed on my VPI JMW9 std tone arm and am hearing more than just brightness, but a static-type noise from the highs.
Any suggestions? Is it the cartridge that needs to be broken in, or is one of my preamp tubes in my BAT int amp going? I didn't hear this with a MM cartridge.
I've never heard of a cartridge making noise because it is not broken in. My DV 20xl never made any noises.

Did you set the gain to high on the BAT phono board? I don't think lower gain would cause the noise you describe, though.

Also, the DV needs a lower resistive loading than the default 47k Ohm, but, again, not having the ideal loading shouldn't cause the noise you describe.
I have a 20XL and used to hear this type of noise in the louder passages of records. I adjusted the anti-skating and it seems to have gone away. Give it a try.
Thanks for the responses. I will try the antiskate adjustment.

The noise is persistent even when I change phono preamps, so I know it's not the phono stage.
Hi, K, it might be an azimuth problem. I've had some distortion (not really "static" though) show up with a DV-20XL when the azimuth was off. Resetting azimuth solved the problem.

You shouldn't be hearing anything harsh with that new 20XL. It sounds pretty darn good right out of the box. (I found that there was a subtle improvement with break-in.) If the harshness continues even after carefully checking alignment/antiskate there's either a problem with the cartridge or somewhere in the chain between the cartridge and the phono stage. You could try swapping the previous cartridge back onto the tonearm to see if the problem persists.

Hi Tketcham, and K...
I second the azimuth adjustment check-up, B U T as long as that refers to 'lateral' azimuth and more easily identified by "zenith" i.e. the turning left or right of the cart, and not turning left or right of the head shell (which of course is also important, to have the cart at 90deg to the record surface)
Zenith, in my experience causes much more of the described noise problem and with some records so much so, that it can sound as if the record is faulty (scratchy noise mostly from one channel).

With the correct zenith found, the same record can sound practically clean after the correction. It can happen most easily if the cantilever of the cart is not quite centred inside the cart housing and thereby leading to a misjudgement in zenith alignment.
Hi, Axel, it's funny that you mention zenith as a more concise description of the vertical/perpendicular alignment of the cartridge to the record surface. I've been wondering why azimuth has become the more common term when zenith is perhaps the better term.


Static-like bursts typically indicate one of three things:

This sounds exactly as you described, and it’s ALWAYS in synch with dynamic peaks in the music. Mistracking occurs most often on loud, pure, higher frequency passages like hard blown horns, operatic soprano, really big, well-recorded piano hits, etc.

Mistracking permanently damages vinyl, making the record noisy forever. If that’s what’s happening, stop playing valuable LP’s until you’ve solved the problem.

Damage from prior mistracking sounds exactly like mistracking itself, except that mistracking damage can occur without the mistracking being audible at the time. Play LP’s with a damaged stylus or on a very low quality rig and the vinyl will be damaged, though you may not hear it until you play the LP in a more resolving setup. My LP’s from high school were all damaged in this way. My system wasn’t good enough to reproduce mistracking sounds, but it was plenty good enough to do the damage!

This vinyl flaw can occur if the vinyl plug was not at proper temperature when placed in the mold. The too-cool vinyl fails to flow into all the groove modulations and solidifies in a shape not intended.

Pressing voids aren’t particularly synched with the music. If you hear static-like bursts at random moments, pressing voids are the #1 suspect. This is true whether the vinyl is new or old. I have it on records pressed in the 1950’s and records pressed a few months ago.

You can check for pressing voids and damaged vinyl by playing a noisy passage while spinning your platter by hand, verrrrrry slowwwwly. At 5-10 rpm no stylus will mistrack, so you’ll hear exactly what’s in the groove (at unnaturally low frequencies of course). The music will come out of the speakers as a low growl, with no sharp transients at all. If you hear transients or any noises notably sharper than the background growl, the vinyl is either damaged or very dirty.

If you try that test and hear no damage, the likely cause of your noises is mistracking. The suspension in a new cartridge is usually stiff, so it can’t track as well as it will eventually. You can speed suspension relaxation by setting VTF to the maximum recommended for the cartridge. (The worst thing you can do is make VTF too light – that virtually guarantees mistracking and ruined records.)

If the mistracking is stubborn or the new cartridge just sounds screechy and unbearable, try the burn-in tracks on the Cardas LP. An hour there will work a cartridge a hard as several hours of real music.
I just wanted to thank everyone for their input and sharing of their vast knowledge on this matter.

I will keep you posted as to what I find after I implement the recommended adjustments and tests.

Thanks again.
Nobody mentioned that the cause might actually be static. When I started up with vinyl after many years away from it, I had some huge issues with static during certain dry periods. You might try some Gruv-glide to see if static is causing your problem.
Static might be the issue, though discharges are usually intermittent. A constant "static-type noise" is rarely caused by that.

I wouldn't recommend Gruv-Glide without noting that it leaves a residue in the grooves, a residue which many find sonically undesirable. It's not clear from your post that static was actually your problem. Uncleaned biologicals in the grooves is a more likely explanation, especially if these records weren't cleaned with an enzyme-based solution. The Gruv Glide may have just covered up the problem. It's one of several record care products that behave that way, none of which will ever be used on my vinyl.

A safer way to test the static discharge theory would be to zap the suspect LP before/during play with a Zerostat.
I spent several hours realigning my cartridge so that is was exactly the way VPI specified for the Dyno.

It has made a huge difference, with the end result being that it is now on the bright side with very minimal "static" harshness.

I did notice that it was more pronounced in 120g older vinyl than on the new 180g records.
tonight I noticed that there is "distortion" coming from my 20xl during loud passages when it gets close to the end of the record. It seems find at the beginning of the record, could it be tracking error?

Good job tackling a realignment. If you want another improvement, get a MintLP protractor. Search this forum for dozens of happy testimonials.

The remaining harshness is more pronounced on lighter (thinner) LP's because your VTA/SRA is more positive (nose down). This tends to emphasize higher frequencies or make them come a tad earlier than the related lower frequencies.
I had the pleasure to speak with Mike at VPI regarding my issue. He gave me some great advice and offered to help me further if I could not resolve the issue myself.

I have to say that Mike went above and beyond the customer service call. Anyone debating over a VPI product verses any other should seriously consider VPI! And they are still proudly made in the USA! Way to go VPI, you have me as a customer for life!