I am at the end of my rope, please help


I have a problem that I can not solve and makes no sense to me at all.
My right channel is stronger than my left by a large margin. I can plug my tonearm cable directly into a Fozgometer (measures left and right output) and I get a substantially stronger signal on the right side. I confirmed this with my Voltmeter to make sure there was not a problem with the Fozgometer. So, as far as I can tell, this narrows the problem down to the Cart, Tonearm, Tonearm wire or the table.

Here is what I have tried:
1. Changed Azimuth in both directions. Small change but still much stronger on the right side.
2. Changed antiskating. Very little change.
3. replaced the cartridge. No Change.
4. replaced the tonearm and cartridge. No Change.
5. replaced the tonearm, cartridge and tonearm wire. No change.
6. I have used a second test record. No Change
My turntable is perfectly level.
I simply do not see how this is possible! I have an $83,000 system that I can not listen to. Any ideas would be much appreciated.

My system:
DaVinci Turntable > Lyra Titan i > Schroeder Reference tonearm > Manley Steelhead > Stealth Indra cables > VTL 450 amps > Stealth Mlt speaker cables > Vienna acoustic Mahler speakers
audioraider
1. Make sure that tonearm cartridge clips are in place. Some cartridges/tonearms might have its colors messed up. Contact both manufacturers and ensure polarity of each color for each channel in both components or fetch it from the manuals
Is this a new development or has the problem been present since the beginning?
I agree with Marakanetz, check the cartridge leads are correctly connected to the tonearm. My cartridge leads were once wired incorrectly and it presented the same symptoms as you described.
I hope you get it figured out. I agree with above.
A. As someone already asked, did this problem just begin?
B. And do you run the Steelhead directly into your amps?

I think you have checked the signal chain thoroughly enough. And I don't think the problem lies with sloppy hookup or wires. Frankly, with that big a difference, I would have been more inclined to first check the components themselves meaning:

1.) The cartridge (which is OK)
2.) The phono preamp. Not necessarily faulty (though possible) but maybe an adjustment or connection got inadvertently changed/switched?
.
Did you perform the checks with the Fozgometer and the voltmeter AFTER performing all the replacements and adjustments that you described, as well as before doing them?

If not, consider the possibility that there may be two problems present, causing similar symptoms. So the replacements or adjustments might have fixed one cause of the imbalance, but not a separate problem further downstream that may be causing a similar symptom.

That would seem to be pretty unlikely, but given all the things you have tried, whatever the explanation turns out to be will probably be something unlikely.

Swapping channels at the Steelhead inputs would be the obvious way of either ruling out or ruling in that possibility.

Good luck!
-- Al
I knew when I saw "I am at the end of my rope" that the post was going to be a turntable problem!
Try switching right and left cartridge clips to see if the opposite channel is weaker. If not, the problem may be in the phono stage or preamp. Switching R&L cables on those starting at the highest point in the chain will further isolate the symptoms. Also check all cabling for solid connections,. I empathize with you. Sorry to hear your having trouble.
You posted on VA as well, and I took a shot at it there. But now I see something that eluded me previously. You say both here and on VA that you took your measurements directly off the tonearm wiring. I now see also that you changed BOTH your tonearm AND cartridge, and the problem persisted. If you did these two things simultaneously, that's whacky. Now I see why John Ellison focused in on your ICs. IF you have been using the same pair of ICs throughout, try another set whilst keeping the second tonearm/cartridge combo in place, or simply swap connections at both ends of both ICs, one end at a time. (IOW, at the tonearm end, swap leads between L and R channels. Listen. If the weak channel does not swap sides, then swap leads between L and R channels at the preamp end. Listen.) This will turn out to be something simple and benign, I am sure. Well all of are giving just about the same advice. So we cannot be wrong, can we?
Try reversing the polarity of one side of the cartridge i.e the right-hand side,at the cartridge.Then reverse the polarity at the right-hand speaker to return to correct polarity for playback and then take your measurements again.This is an old tweak from the glory days of vinyl to help minimise fluctuating polarities that occur inside amplifiers.It is something I do that has improved the fidelity of my vinyl playback.It just might address your problem.
Thank you all for the advice. This all happens before the phono stage so we can eliminate that as a problem. I think, based on how confusing this is, I may be having two problems at the same time. One looks like it may be a cartridge problem. When I use my meter to check the tonearm wires, the positive goes to positive and negative goes to negative BUT when I hook up the cart each wire goes to both positive and negative of the RCA plug. In other words, red lead goes to both positive and negative on the RCA plug and the green lead goes to both positive and negative on the RCA. The same thing happens on the other side. When I remove the cart and touch my meter to the the red and green pins I get a complete circuit. When I touch the white and blue pins on the cart I get a complete circuit. I don't think that should be happening. when I do the same to my backup MM cart I do not get a complete circuit. I am thinking that the cart has a short. Seems a little strange that it would be on both sides but my question is, Before I spend thousands on a new cart, is there any difference between a MM cart and a MC cart that would cause a complete circuit on an MC and not on an MM? Am I supposed to get a complete circuit?
I never enjoy being the bearer of bad news, but I would absolutely not put an ohmmeter across a phono cartridge, or across a cable that is connected to a phono cartridge, especially a low output moving coil. The meter measures resistance by measuring how much current flows through whatever it is connected to, in response to a voltage it applies through its own internal resistance. That current will be very small in relation to the current-carrying capabilities of most devices or circuits that might be measured, but I see no grounds for confidence that it won't be large enough to cause damage to a lomc.
Is there any difference between a MM cart and a MC cart that would cause a complete circuit on an MC and not on an MM?
Since there are far fewer turns in the coils of a lomc compared to a mm, the resistance will be much less in a lomc. As a very rough ballpark guess, perhaps a few ohms in the case of the lomc, and many hundreds of ohms or more in the case of a mm. Depending on the resolution of your meter, and the resistance scale you are using, the resistance of the lomc may be low enough to appear to be a short even though it is not.

Regards,
-- Al
Would demagnetising the cartridge help? There is a way to do this manually using the RCA's of the tonearm across each other (30 secs.),first one way then the other,the centre pin of one crossing the pin and shield of the other.Also it is not uncommon for there to be a difference in channel output even in new cartridges.From my position I would demagnetise and then listen to the playback with and without the tweak I suggested earlier.You should hear a clear difference and decide what to do from there.
Normally the Lyra have excellent specs and are robust. Who knows, maybe it fell onto the record or similar and...
Wire
Well, can be possible also, but a wire seldom breaks, I would check the soldering in the RCA plugs.
Don't you have a friend who can loan you a cart? Then you would know it in a few seconds...
Almarg is right,never put an ohm meter across the cartridge coils. I never did this before but after Almarg mention it I took one of my meters and turned to ohms on the low scale and checked the voltage across the leads with my second voltmeter and it read 2.6 volts dc. Not good for a moving coil cartridge.
Get the phono pre-amp checked out. If it were me I would buy a very cheap phono stage on the web. Some sites sell them for much less than a $100.00, it may be cheaper then sending back to the manufacturer if it's not under warranty. kabusa.com sells them.
It cant be the phono preamp. The tonearm cable plugs into the Fozgometer. The phono preamp and everything down line is not involved in this. My current theory is, I have two bad cartridges. Disregarding the ridiculously small odds that is possible. When I switch the red/green tonearm leads with the white/blue leads the stronger signal switches to the left side. I guess that could only mean I have two bad cartridges with exactly the same problem of a stronger signal on the right side. Makes no sense to me...
the problem has always been there but I always thought it was a room problem. It was not until I got the Fozgometer that I found out the problem was somewhere between the needle and the RCA plugs on the phono cable.
maybe it is a ploblem with your RCA plugs. just a guess.
If you're switching the cartridge leads and the Fozgometer shows the levels switch as well then there's no doubt that both of your cartridges have a faulty channel. It has to be that as there's nothing else connected.

I'd go with Vegasears suggestion. Or borrow a cartridge from somewhere...?

Good luck!
Audioraider, the measurements you described indicate a problem with the tone arm cable. The center of the right channel RCA should have continuity to the red lead, ground of that RCA has continuity to the green lead. They should not have continuity to each other. The same goes for the other channel.

The way you described it sounds as if there is a short. Amazingly (and somewhat counter-intuitively), many LOMC cartridges can drive a short fairly well since they are high current and low voltage.

So if you stand by your description/those measurements, get your cables fixed. If I am right about this, the system will sound a lot better when you are done.
By the way I've had loads of cartridges over the years, and still have several, and the same thing has hapeened to me on 3 occasions. I think you're just very unlucky to have it happen to the only two you have!

It may be fixable - Expert Stylus in the UK are very good at openiing up cartrides and fixing these kinds of faults. They can even re-coiul, if it needs it, however it's often a poor connection within the cartridge - to the pins, that causes it.

They fixed the faults they found with mine perfectly.
I slightly mis-read your post Audioraider, I thought you had tried connecting the Fozgometer directly to the cartridge pins, rather than just at the tonearm lead ends.

Try taking the cartridge off the arm and connect the Fozgometer directly to the cartridge pins (via some wire, if you can do that?). If the channels switch as you switch leads then it definitely is the cartridge, as I explained earlier.
I had the same exact issue with a Dynavector XV1's last year. The right channel was louder. Switching the phono cable at the phono stage input, the left channel became louder. Looking at the styli with a 10X loupe i noticed that the styli was ever so slightly tilted. It appeared that the cantilever had rotated c-clockwise on its axis. I tried to fix that by adjusting/compensating with azimuth but to no avail. I ended up sending the cartridge to Soundsmith. Peter found that the cartridge was seriously flawed. The coils were rotated. He could not re-aligned the coils but was able to fix the problem, removing the styli and mounting one of his Optimized Contour Nude Line contact Styli. Sounds perfect now.

Note: i had bought the cartridge used so i could not use any type of warranty service with Dynavector. The cost for the repairs were approx. $400.00

Send it to Soundsmith and Peter Ledermann will tell you what's wrong with it.

Audiorader, You are getting some questionable advice along with some good advice. Just do what Atmasphere has suggested, and you will likely be thrilled with the result. IOW, since it IS quite unlikely you have identical defects in two entirely different cartridges, you must first eliminate the much more likely possibility that you have a problem with your ICs, just as several others even before Atmasphere have suggested. This is Sherlock Holmes deductive logic.
Gentlemen,

Please note that Audioraider indicated in his initial post that he has already replaced the tonearm wiring, as well as the tonearm itself (perhaps twice, if I am interpreting correctly). My interpretation of what he has said is that those replacements encompassed all of the wiring, from headshell to phono stage input.

Also, he appears to have stated in a subsequent post that he swapped channel connections at the cartridge pins, and the problem followed the swap.

Ergo, it seems to me that there are only two possibilities. Either both cartridges are bad, or some kind of error in the mounting, alignment, settings, or adjustments of the cartridges or the tonearms caused both cartridges to behave in a similarly incorrect manner.

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." -- Sherlock Holmes, as authored by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Best regards,
-- Al
I don't know if this could be what happened.A lot of people just turn of the power switch when plugging or unplugging interconnects.A lot of the time,there is a voltage/current difference between the two components.If your plugging a RCA plug into something,the center pin may make contact first.This will feed that voltage/current difference to whatever that IC is plugged into. This could damage a cartridge coil,the gain stage at the input(especially solid state),from that voltage/current that may be there.It's always best to unplug everything first,before swapping cables,or components.I don't know if this is what happened,but if this was done,it could have damaged the coils.With winter,static electricity from us touching the RCA plug,catching a small spark,will also do it (damage) .Touch the metal case first,to discharge any static buildup we may have in our body.I hope its something simple,but just want people to give this a thought.
Also,set your meter to a low volt setting.With your Fozgometer turned on,touch one test lead to the left channel center connection of the RCA input on Fozgometer, and the other lead to the RCA outer shield ring,make sure it reads 0 volts between the two on that RCA.Repeat the same for the right channel.This is to make sure it(Fozgometer)doesn't have a problem(short feeding voltage to cartridge),that could have damaged your cartridges.
I have thought from the beginning that it was a tonearm cable problem. The Schroeder tonearms use very very tiny copper wire with a clear coating. The wire runs directly from the clips to the RCA plugs. The wire sticks out of the tonearm in two locations and would be very easy to damage. If some of the plastic coating was scratched off you would never see it, even with a magnifying glass.

Here is the problem; when I disconnect the cart, the meter reads perfect continuity from red clip to pos, green clip to neg on the RCA and white clip to pos and blue clip to neg on the RCA BUT when I hook up the cart, the red then has continuity to both pos and neg on the RCA. The green also has continuity to both pos and neg on the RCA. The same goes for the white and blue on the other RCA. This leads me to believe that the cart has the short. With the cart disconnected, I also checked to see if there was any continuity from each clip lead to the base of the tonearm, thinking that a wire may be shorting to ground, and found no problem.
Audioraider 12-08-10: Here is the problem; when I disconnect the cart, the meter reads perfect continuity from red clip to pos, green clip to neg on the RCA and white clip to pos and blue clip to neg on the RCA BUT when I hook up the cart, the red then has continuity to both pos and neg on the RCA. The green also has continuity to both pos and neg on the RCA. The same goes for the white and blue on the other RCA. This leads me to believe that the cart has the short. With the cart disconnected, I also checked to see if there was any continuity from each clip lead to the base of the tonearm, thinking that a wire may be shorting to ground, and found no problem.
As I said in an earlier post:
Almarg 12-07-10: Since there are far fewer turns in the coils of a lomc compared to a mm, the resistance will be much less in a lomc. As a very rough ballpark guess, perhaps a few ohms in the case of the lomc, and many hundreds of ohms or more in the case of a mm. Depending on the resolution of your meter, and the resistance scale you are using, the resistance of the lomc may be low enough to appear to be a short even though it is not.
Are you certain that the "continuity" you are seeing when the cartridge is connected is in fact a zero ohm short, or might you in fact be reading the very low resistance of a few ohms that I would expect the LOMC cartridge's coils to normally have?

Regards,
-- Al
Almarg talked about doing damage to the cartridge with an ohmmeter.The only thing that I can think of without measuring is(write color code and position down first), switch the left and right leads at the cartridge like someone mentioned above.The left and right plus(+),and the left and right(-)negative.That is a good way of telling if one channel in your cartridge is shorted.If the sound coming out of your left channel becomes the loud one,then I would guess the cartridge is the problem,minus tracking problems.I've never heard a tracking problem make a large volume difference.Again,using the meter may be causing *damage*,and especially an analog meter,with a dial gauge.Like Almarg said,the meter your using may appear to be showing a short.There should be continuity if I'm reading your post right.Again,the meter may be *harmful*.That's why I'd go with the left and right channels swap at the cartridge.And if the left gets loud after swap,it may be the cartridge,but I can't say for sure.
I don't want you to cause damage to the cartridge if it may
be something else being overlooked.This is a mystery.
Oops,Almarg,I didn't see your post.It popped in while I was typing.
Thanks, Hifihvn. If I understood one of Audioraider's earlier posts correctly, he already tried swapping channels at the cartridge, and the problem DID move to the other channel.

One further note to Audioraider: If you measured continuity using a yes/no "continuity" function the meter may provide, that for example simply indicates the presence or absence of "continuity" via a buzzer or some other comparable mechanism (as opposed to measuring the specific resistance quantitatively), then the detection of "continuity" with the LOMC connected would definitely have been expectable, and not indicative of anything abnormal. That kind of meter function will indicate "continuity" even when a considerable number of ohms are present.

Regards,
-- Al
Almarg,I understand that.Would a Fluke be safe for a LOMC.I never had to measure one.I use a model 179 or 85 for good stuff.
Pardon,87v is the correct one.To late for me.
If this is correct,it is low ohms for the Lyra Titen.If I have the correct one.[http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/t.mpl?f=vinyl&m=940292]
Hifihvn, all of the specs that I've ever seen for digital multimeters do not provide enough information to determine the safety of their resistance or continuity functions with respect to a LOMC. The things that have to be known are the voltage the meter puts out into an open circuit when in those modes, and the output impedance of the meter when in those modes. That information together with the coil resistance specification of the cartridge would allow calculation of how much current would flow through the coil.

Without intimate knowledge of the design of the cartridge, it would then still not be possible to precisely say how much current would be safe, or for how much time a given amount of current could be safely applied.

The meters on analog multimeters typically move to full scale (which would indicate 0 ohms for the ohmmeter function) when the current flow is somewhere between 50 ua (microamps) and 1 ma (milliamp). The Lyra Titan i cartridge is spec'd to provide 0.5 mv (millivolts) into a load that can be as low as 10 ohms. 0.5 mv/10 ohms = 50 ua. So an analog ohmmeter for which 50 ua results in full scale meter deflection would certainly be safe. But one which required 1 ma for full scale deflection would be putting 20 times as much current through the cartridge as it would normally be called upon to provide under worst case loading.

Regards,
-- Al
Almarg,Thanks for the info.It would help if they did give more info about Digital Meters.I can't find any info either.I think the info that came with my meter,is the same as they provide on the net.They seemed to help phase out Vacuum Tube Voltmeters.I hope I don't ever run into this type of situation.
Forgive someone who has NO ee knowledge from chiming in, but you may want to consider contacting member jcarr who, IIRC, designs and manufactures Lyra carts.
From the last set of measurements, it sounds like the arm wiring is fine.

OK- so with 2 different cartridges the same thing happens. And if you swap the cables from the tone arm left for right at the input of the phono section, the problem moves. All that is left really is the cartridges. So its either something common to their setup in the arm, or both have a similar problem. Now, the latter is really rare, but it could happen if both cartridges got subjected to something that could damage them.

I would put the DVM on DC voltage, and connected it to the inputs of the phono section, just to make sure you are not dealing with a malfunction that is putting DC on the inputs (like a shorted tube). If that's OK- the idea that you got 2 bad cartridges at the same time gains credence.
The problem here is that Audiorader is not always responsive to the questions, which perhaps is understandable given the large number of inquiries. But as a result, we are going off in all directions basing our ideas on incorrect assumptions in some cases. Al, I asked the same question you asked re whether he is using a continuity checker or a real ohmmeter. He has not responded. However, it would seem that he is indeed using a continuity checker, which, as you, and I earlier, surmised may not distinguish the 5-ohm resistance across the Lyra Titan coils from "continuity".

If he really has changed out all the interconnect wiring without any benefit, I stand corrected. It was not clear to me that he has tried that. As far as I could tell back when I made my last post (and I do mean my LAST post), he had changed out cartridges and tonearms. The typical Grandezza I have seen in photos provides female RCA jacks into which one then inserts ones ICs of choice. It was not clear to me that he had swapped channels at both ends of his ICs. Or indeed simply inserted a fresh pair of ICs.
I appreciate all the suggestions but I am not responding to some posts because people are not reading my posts. like suggesting this can have anything to do with the phono stage since it is not even hooked up. These readings are coming from the Phono RCA plugs. If you had read my last post I went into great detail about my SCHROEDER arm and how it is wired. I am using a digital meter for continuity and I find it an interesting theory that the higher voltage of the meter may be reading the small resistance in the cart as continuity. If that is true than I am completely back at square one. I have tried everything and nothing has worked so I am going to do this; I have ordered a new Lyra Titan i and will install it tomorrow. If I get the same reading than I will have the tonearm rewired. That is all there is in the chain so if those two things don't work I am going to throw the entire system in the ocean and take up another hobby.
When I touch the white and blue pins on the cart I get a complete circuit. I don't think that should be happening. when I do the same to my backup MM cart I do not get a complete circuit. I am thinking that the cart has a short. Seems a little strange that it would be on both sides but my question is, Before I spend thousands on a new cart, is there any difference between a MM cart and a MC cart that would cause a complete circuit on an MC and not on an MM? Am I supposed to get a complete circuit?
Audioraider (Threads | Answers | This Thread)
Audioraider,Your reference to continuity is most likely causing confusion in this thread.There are good suggestions by knowledgeable people.Techs,Designers,Engineers,and hobbyist,are used to seeing 0 ohms for continuity.This may help give some clarification,if you are using the continuity setting in a digital meter.My meters that have it(feature),all give similar characteristics on continuity setting.This should tell you why you get continuity with the MC cartridge,but not for the MM cartridge.The link at the end is for one of my meters that has a continuity setting.It works best for tracing a broken connection,or direct short.It will beep below 25 ohms,and if the item being tested is above 250 ohms,is does not beep.It thinks nothing is being tested if it is above 250 ohms.Its just for quick convenience.That may explain the MM vs.MC question adding confusion.Your Lyra is around 5.5 ohms.Your MM is probably over 400 ohms.Here is the manual link for it.Hope this helps.Pdf reads page 6,actual page 2.Its for a Fluke 179 meter.[http://assets.fluke.com/manuals/175_____umeng0100.pdf]
Hifihvn makes a good point. The way you assure that the reading you are looking at is real is to start out by shorting the leads of the DVM together and looking at the reading you get. If the leads are in good shape you will see about 0.1 ohm.

Now if the leads in the tone arm, say from the red lead to the center of the right channel RCA are more than about 1 ohm I would say that you have a problem. Now you might see a reading like 1.1 ohms; don't forget to subtract whatever the reading of the DVM is when you short its leads together. You are going to see some resistance because the wires are very thin. Some phono cartridges have source impedances as low as 5 or 6 ohms, so you can see that a series resistance like that could have an effect.

If you have beeper in the DVM that register continuity, it might beep if you have anything less than 400 ohms, so it cannot be trusted.
Good points by Hifihvn and Atmasphere, of course.

Audioraider, in line with my earlier posts I would advise that you resist any temptation to perform any resistance or continuity measurements that would include your new $5800 cartridge in the measurement path. As I explained earlier, doing that may or may not be harmful, depending on the design of the meter, the design of the cartridge, and how long the test voltage from the meter is applied for, but an overabundance of caution would certainly not be inappropriate.

Regards,
-- Al
Audioraider, what hobby would it be?
Do other people hear what you do while listening to your stereo? Do you have anything near or around your turntable and cartridge that might cause the damage each time you replace things? It appears that there is some kind of unusual process going on there.
Did you try both of your "suspect" cartridges on another table/system/speakers? Or how about a cheap/different brand cartridge on yours?
In addition-I'm just going to throw this one out to you because it happened to a friend of mine, so please don't get upset.. the woofer of one of his speakers had it's wires reversed from the factory. That volume on that side always sounded lower whenever any portion of the recording was in mono. Yeah, that's right..a simple out of phase canceling effect.
We also played with/relied on our meters and test records to no avail. It's what you hear after all, isn't it?
I am going to throw the entire system in the ocean and take up another hobby

do it slowly, start with the Arm first...
Send it to me, I'll throw it away for you cheap. But seriously, why did you buy another multi-thousand dollar cartridge instead of spending a couple of hundred or even less for an inexpensive trial cart? Your story is just so odd. $83,000 spent with no auditioning, no local shop etc.? For 5% you could fly almost any expert out to you and put them up in a fancy hotel.
Yes, very odd story. Perhaps too odd to be true. Maybe the man is having a big laugh while we are trying to figure it out or at least make some sense out of it. If I am right - I salute him for such an unusual approach.