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what exactly do you mean by distortion? People use that word differently. Do you mean harshness, mistracking, breakup of the sound? It can't be diagnosed without more specifics, IMO. But - the usual suspects are too light a tracking force, dirty stylus or excessive static buildup, which can render a record unplayable.
if it's been "great so far", and the distortion appeared only "lately", as you say, and after the troubleshooting you described, I guess it must be something related to the cartridge, namely dirt or wear.
did you buy the cartridge new or used ? how many hours (more or less) did it play ?
I had a similar experience years ago and I solved by just changing the stylus (it was an MM cart).
but maybe it only needs cleaning.
No, the stylus was new as well. I just ordered some cleaning solution, I haven't cleaned it yet, and although it doesn't look dirty, there's a good chance there's stuff there that I don't see.
As for HOW the distortion sounds...like I said, mostly highs. It kindof sounds like a blown sweeter trying to play sound. A little bit of fuzzy cackling, especially during loud highs. No other input distorts, but using the turntable on the other inputs does bring with the same distortion.
Hi, bizzy, some of the most common problems have been mentioned already but here are a couple more to consider if they don't work...
One of the common but overlooked problems that can cause the type of distortion you describe is a loose fitting in the stylus, cartridge, or tonearm.
Sometimes the stylus assembly can become slightly loose from the cartridge body. To check, you can try CAREFULLY pushing the styus assembly firmly back onto the cartridge. Your Denon owner's manual has a diagram and instructions on how to remove and replace the stylus so you can use it as a guide.
The other things to check are the cartridge mounting screws and the headshell lock nut: make sure they're both tight. Be careful not to apply too much torque, but they should both be finger tight. Again, your owner's manual has a diagram and descriptions.
Good luck in your troubleshooting and let us know what you find out.
You've had the turntable 12 months and never cleaned the stylus....😱
My money is on a dirty stylus as the culprit. Don't you have a stylus brush? It's the No.1 accessory you need for any cartridge. Brush from the back to the front.
Be careful with any fluid. Get some cheap Magic Eraser and do a search in the Archives on how to use it. Onzow ZeroDust is worthwhile as well as long as it's not a London Decca cartridge.
Glad to hear it bizzy.
It is vital to clean your stylus at least after every listening session.
I know many who clean theirs after every album.....I certainly need to do this with my London Decca Reference which picks up crud from the grooves like some Atlantic bottom feeder.
Unfortunately just brushing the stylus does not render it pristine and if you inspect it under a 20x or 30x lupe....you will see the encrustations fairly clearly. That's why many resort to Magic Eraser and ZeroDust to perfect the process.