Hum/buzz from VM740ML cartridge

Good Morning.

I am new to Audiogon and got back into vinyl again (it's been a while since the mid-1990s).  I purchased myself a mid-range turntable ($399 before taxes)—the Audio-Technica LP-120XBT-USB.  I have it connected to a Schiit Mani phono preamp (once the phono switch is selected, it bypasses the built-in preamp), and my phono preamp is connected to the U-PHORIA UMC204HD analog-to-digital converter. 

My turntable has a static balanced S-shaped tonearm with an effective length of 230.5mm (9-inches), with an overhang of 16mm.  It came with the VM95E cartridge attached to an AT-HS6 headshell, weighing 9-grams with lead wires included.  I wanted a better cartridge so purchased the VM740ML cartridge and had it attached to an AT-HS10 headshell (10-grams in weight).

I’ve been digitizing my vinyl using Audacity with the recording settings at 192000Hz, 32-bit float, and so far the quality has been excellent.  For a while, everything was fine.  Then a problem started with a buzzing/humming sound coming out of the cartridge.  I came to this conclusion after taking steps to isolate the cause of the problem.

At first, I thought it might be a problem with the particular headshell wiring to which the VM740ML cartridge was attached. The reason why I thought this was because when I swapped the headshell that the VM740ML was attached for the headshell that the VM95E was attached, there was dead silence on the VM95E: no noise, buzz, or hiss at all. 

But then when I swapped back in the VM740ML cartridge and headshell, the noise appeared again. 

So my first thought was it was likely a faulty problem with the wiring inside the AT-HS10 headshell. However, after attaching the VM740ML cartridge to a new headshell, the problem still persisted—which led me to conclude that it is the cartridge itself.

I recorded a sample of the buzz/noise, but I don’t think there’s a way to upload that here.

Based on your professional expertise and know-how as audiophiles, what steps or procedures do you recommend I take to resolve this matter?

Any and all thoughts, suggestions, insights, and potential solutions would be greatly appreciated.



Shaun B.



Sorry, foreign to me.

As an aside, why digitize vinyl?  2 wrongs don't make a right. I used to do it before lossless streaming. Now if it's not available that is a good excuse to cue it up.


If you have put the VM740L on the VM95E headshell ( in other words kept everything else the same ) and you get buzz with the VM740 but not the VM95, then there is likely something wrong with the VM740L cartridge. Possibly internal wiring has come loose. does the buzz come out of 1 channel only or both ?

It has a 1 year warranty.



Hi dover,

Thank you for your reply.  Yes, I installed the VM740ML on the VM95E headshell (kept everything the same), and I still get the buzz from the VM740ML (on both channels).  

Just spoke with an Audio Solutions Specialist from Audio-Technica.  He suggested I make certain that the white nylon washers are in place, because the washers isolate the cartridge fasteners from the headshell (without them I can get a ground loop between the cartridge and the headshell because the other end of the fastener is probably touching the side of the metal cartridge body). 

I installed the white nylon washers with the installation screws, but not in the same way shown in the diagram he sent me, which is weird because in the VM740ML manual, the screws are installed 180° in the opposite direction (i.e., facing upward into the headshell as opposed to downwards).  But I'll proceed to do as he suggested to see what happens.  If the problem persists, it's most likely the cartridge.  In which case, I'll send it back as it's only been a few months.

Thanks again, dover, for your helpful input.  Much appreciated.


Try pulling (gently) the replaceable stylus assembly out and reinserting it. 


Hi noromance,


Thank you.  Yes, doing what you said along with what the Audio Solutions Specialist from Audio-Technica suggested removed the noise.  The tradeoff, however, is that the output volume is now lower.  But I'm willing to accept that for the removal of hum/buzz.



smb, excellent work. You are stumbling around the right answer. What you have is a defective cartridge. Take it back to where you bought it and ask for a replacement. It is under warranty.  

congrats on finding the loose stylus. I doubt the washers had anything to do with it.

It is probably a good time to re-check all the alignments and adjustments, 

volume: 4.0 mv, how does it compare to your vm95e which is also 4.0 mv?

the 740's wider channel separation and tighter channel balance should be obvious, I would play something with complex and distinct imaging and compare them, see if the 740 is doing a great job, i.e. no internal problem.


Hi mijostyn, thank you.  Yes, I agree with you that the cartridge is defective and will be sending it back to Audio-Technica for a replacement cartridge.  The volume is definitely much lower.  

Just to be sure, I recorded a few of the same songs from my records (using the same settings) and compared them to those I've recorded before, and sure enough, the volume is much lower by at least 1 to 2 decibels.  So, even though taking out and reinstalling the cartridge, nylon washers, and screws (as well as removing and reinserting the stylus assembly) solved the noise/buzz problem, it introduced another.  

I already contacted Audio-Technica this morning and will be sending the cartridge back for a replacement.


Hi elliottbnewcombjr, thanks - it did solve the noise problem but then the volume coming out of the cartridge became much lower.  I'm going to check for a few more things to see.  For instance, it came with four installation screws: two long ones and two short ones.  I used the longer ones. I'm going to try swapping out those for the shorter screws just to see if the longer ones are interfering with the stylus assembly.  But if the volume issue still persists after doing that, I'll be returning it for a replacement.

With respect to the VM740ML as compared to the VM95E—oh, it is like night and day and makes the VM95E sound crappy by comparison (even though it is not a bad cartridge at all).  The VM740ML is an excellent cartridge and, as you stated, has a wider channel separation and tight channel balance.  I hear details in some records that I haven't even noticed before (like background instruments right before a song starts).  I really do love this cartridge.  I will keep you updated on what happens when I swap out the longer screws for the shorter ones.  


Hi everyone,

Problem solved.

Audio-Technica got back to me and told me to check the stylus assembly (as you suggested, elliottbnewcombjr...and you were absolutely correct!) and to make sure that the screws were not interfering with its reattachment of the cartridge.  I sent pictures of my cartridge to them was told to use the smaller screws, because there was a small space/gap toward the back of the stylus assembly, preventing it from fully snapping into place onto the cartridge. 

I replaced the longer screws with the shorter ones, reattached the stylus assembly (this time hearing it snap into place), and the problem is now fully solved (no noise/buzz and no lower sound).  

Thank you to everyone here for your help.  I'm also grateful to the people at Audio-Technica, who are excellent in terms of customer support.

Also want to give credit to noromance for also suggesting to remove and reinsert stylus assembly.