Love / Hate relationship with vinyl?

Ok, I do love the sound of vinyl, but with my LOMC (Lyra Kleos), I hate the noise (low level hum, and hiss) levels I'm getting. I own a Hagerman Piccolo head amp that I haven't used in a couple of years, so I thought I'd hook it up, and see what happens. Well, still got the hum (at high levels), and the hiss. However, I do like what it's doing for the sonics! I've tried moving cables, moving the head amp, but I only get incremental improvements. Is this just the nature of the beast (LOMC's), or is there something I'm not doing that could improve these noise levels? Of course, another option is to go with something that has more output, like a HOMC, of a MM? Thoughts?
My suggestion (no big revelation here, I know) is to look at your phono stage (which is) and see if the noise is coming from there. Also check your total system gain to see if perhaps the head-amp plus phono plus pre plus amp has too much overall system gain. If you can't eliminate it, you have four options:
1. Try an SUT. These are typically very cart specific as to the total loading you end up with, so do your research before you buy/audition. However you may find that you are also sensitive to ringing from an SUT.
2. Try a phono stage o /full function pre that has sufficient gain for the Kleos. There are several out there that will do the trick. For example, the ZYX Artisan was dead quite with a LOMC in my system.
3. As you said, try a higher output cart. If that was the route I was going, I would probably avoid an HOMC as the added mass from the additional coil windings would tend to counteract the low moving mass of an LOMC, which is one of their advantages. And don't discount an MI cart like those from Soundsmith.
I use an Ortofon 2M Black into my Shindo Auriges phono stage. Dead silent. If you have the right combination of cartridge and phono stage you should not have any hum or hiss. I used to have a Myabi Ivory with an Audio Note sut into a Cary Tube phono stage and had no hum or hiss. The hum could be a grounding issue. Ground the phono stage to the preamp and the hiss an overall gain issue.
Thanks Swampwalker. I'm trying to avoid a SUT due to the fact that they are so cartridge specific. I like my Kleos, but I guarantee you, at some point I'll want to try something else!
Currently, I'm using an older Acoustech PH-1P phono stage (designed by Ron Sutherland). For MC input it has a choice of either 61.5bd or 52db of gain (straight in from the tt I used 61.5 input). Again, I had noise at high volume. That's why I wanted to try the headamp, which I'm running into the MM input (42db of gain) of the PH-1P, using the 20db gain from the headamp).
As far as another MM (or MI) cartridge, that's definetly an option, and yes, the Soundsmiths are on my radar! Thanks for your input.
I think that you have a ground problem. Try getting device like the juice bar and plugging in all of your devices in to a single phono path (phono preamplifier, turntable, speed controller, and preamplifier ect.) so that all power cords share the same common ground. This may clear up your problem.
Louis ... I use a Lyra Kleos too, which I really like a whole lot. Been there and done it with an Ortofon 2M Black and Soundsmith Zephyr. IMO, the Kleos is much better. My electronics are an ARC phono pre (58 db gain) and linestage(12 db gain), which do a nice job. No hum or hiss.

Something else is causing the trouble. The hum could be a ground loop or maybe even the TT motor. I might have blinked and missed it, but what TT are you using?? Any possibility the TT is the source of the hum??

The hissing is something else. Could be the phono pre and/or preamp combo.
First thing I would try is the MC input w the lower gain option. It may be sufficient, depending on the line stage and amp gain you have and the efficiency of your speakers. KAB has a gain calculator app that lets you input your cart voltage output so you can figure out how much OVERALL system gain you have, which is really the relevant variable.
To answer Alan above:
My tt is grounded to my phono preamp, and my phono preamp is grounded to my preamp. I have tried grounding my head amp to the tt...bad idea, it hummed like crazy. Then I tried grounding my head amp to my phono preamp.....same thing. Lowest noise is leaving the Hagerman Piccolo head amp un-grounded.
To answer ETBABY above:
All of my gear is plugged into a Running Springs Audio - Jacob PC.
To answer Bifwynne above:
Yes, I really like my Kleos too, but this noise is really starting to bug me! My tt is a VPI Classic 3, and yes, I guess it could be the tt motor, but how can I check that?
I'm starting to think that it may be the tubes in my preamp (Audible Illusions L3). They are 2 1/2 years old, so it is very possible (maybe even probable) that it's time to replace them!
To answer Swampwalker above:
Thanks for the info about the KAB calculator.
Also, I have tried the lower setting on my phono preamp, but then I have to turn up the gain on preamp, and thus the noise.
You said how can you check the turntable motor Is the hum and hiss always there? Even when no record is playing? If it is there only when the turntable is playing then at least the hum is coming from the motor. By the way my system is dead quiet with no ground at all from turntable to phono amp tp pre. You could also use some 3 prong to 2 prong power adapters and float all the equipment
To all:
I'm beginning to think that because I'm hearing mostly hiss, that it may be the tubes in my Audible Illusions L3 preamp. I bought the preamp new Christmas, 2012, and the tubes are still the original tubes. Going on 3 years now. Time to order some new ones (only two - 6922 variety).
I don't know how to fix the hum but having hum is completely unaccepatble. The system should be dead quiet when operating optimally.
Louis, my TT is a hot rodded Classic "2.5." IOW, It's a standard Classic, but with a (i) Classic 3 stainless steal wand and tone arm base, and a (ii) Classic 3 motor (300rpm). That's it. I have no hum problems. And, as an fyi, I didn't have a hum with the stock motor (60 rpm) either. Doubtful that the hum is coming from the Classic motor.

And yes, old tubes can act out by becoming noisy and hissy. Freshen up your tubes, especially in you phono pre and linestage.

Some of our other members might have some good suggestions about the hum. In the meantime, freshen up the tubes and report back.


Tubes per se don't hum (in the electrical sense of the word, which refers to 60Hz noise created by a ground problem); they just fade away like old soldiers. However, tubes can be microphonic, wherein they will pick up any environmental vibrations and amplify them through the speakers. But it is not clear what you are hearing that irritates; can you amplify on your definition of "hum"? Is it really 60Hz or is it more like a "buzz" composed of mixed frequencies? "Hiss" might (just might) be treatable by changing VTA. Try lowering the tonearm pivot wrt the LP surface. And so far as I can tell, you have not mentioned what phono stage/linestage you are using, except I gather it is tube type.
It's nature of high gain stages to handle LOMC.
A lot of good comments have been made, and, yes, it certainly seems possible that the condition of the tubes in your line stage preamp may be a factor. Especially given the unusually high 30 db gain that the preamp provides. I'll add the following to what has been said:

First, it appears that your system includes an unusual multitude of different power conditioning products. Some such products do unusual things with the power line grounds, which very conceivably could result in some setups in hum, noise, and/or sound quality issues. I would suggest that for experimental purposes you simplify the setup as much as possible, eliminating all of those things, as well as any components that are not necessary for vinyl playback.

Also, when you do that try temporarily using a cheater plug (a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter, with the ground not connected to the wall plate screw) on the AC plugs of each of the remaining components, one at a time. That will break any ground loops that may be contributing to the problem.

Also, it's not clear from your system description photos where the turntable, phono stage, and preamp are located, relative to the components that are shown. If any of them, or their associated cabling, are located near the power amp or the power conditioners, that may be contributing to hum pickup.

Finally, I see that the default settings of your Acoustech PH-1P when in LOMC mode result in an input capacitance of 10,000 pf, which seems wacky to me and could result in excessive sensitivity to RFI pickup. Jonathan Carr, who designed your cartridge, has said in past threads here that in general load capacitance that is applied to LOMC's should be kept as low as possible. 10,000 pf is extremely high. I'm not sure if that value can be readily changed in the Acoustech to the moving magnet default of about 200 pf, by changing the position of an internal jumper. If it can be readily changed, I would suggest that you do that and reassess the sonics it provides in LOMC mode, without the head amp.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al
I haven't waded through all the replies to your hum problem but do you have the grounding wire from your tonearm to your preamp in use?
I use a Graham Slee Reflex C with my Dynavector 20X2L and it's very quiet. Why don't you try a solid-state preamp that is returnable (Music Direct) and see if that solves the issue? They have very helpful sales staff as well.
Another thing to consider is that SUTs are not as cartridge-specific as you may have thought.

The loading of the transformer with a given cartridge at the input *is* however.

If you get a Jensen SUT (which are some of the best made, price no object) then they will know exactly what the correct loading will be. In this way you will bypass noise and hum possibilities that are very likely affecting you situation by using an active stepup device.

I don't think your line stage tubes are a problem; if they were the hiss would be an issue on all functions. Its not how old the tubes are, its how much time on them that counts.
Bifwynne, I replaced the tubes in my preamp, and no more hiss. Still a low level hum, but very low. I'm still going to work on it, because I want it, as another A'goner said, "dead quite".
Lewm, I am hearing a low level 60hz, hum. The hiss now is gone, as I have replaced the two tubes in my Audible Illusions L3 preamp. My phono stage is a Acoustech PH-1P. The head amp is a Hagerman Piccolo. Oh, I respectfully disagree that someone would lower the VTA to treat a problem with hiss. Sure, it might lessen the hiss, but that also alters tonal balance. Anyway, the hiss was from the old tubes is now corrected.
Replying to Al.....
I do apologize to you, and to all who read my posts, as I haven't updated my system info here on A'gon for years. What is shown is out of date, and my current system is totally different now.
#1). reply to your statement that I'm using "a multitude of different power conditioning products", well I'm not. All my gear is plugged in to one Running Springs Audio Jacob PC. That's about as simple as I can make it.
#2). I haven't played with a cheater plug yet, but I think that's a great idea to see if I can identify, and eliminate the hum.
#3). My cables are close to everything. When I move (or even touch) the cables going to my headamp, the level of hum changes. I really can't move the headamp too much, as the interconnects coming from my tonearm junction box to the headamp are 1 meter, and the interconnects coming from my headamp to my phono preamp are only one meter as well. All I can do for now is find the position where the headamp is the least susceptible to hum. I've been fairly successful, as, at all but insanely high volume levels, the hum can't be heard. It's only when the volume is way up, and the cartridge is not playing a record, do I hear the hum.
#4). I'm running the output of the headamp into the MM section of the the Acoustech phono, using 220pf. I do plan to reassess going directly into the phono stage without using the headamp.
Thanks for all the info!
Elinor...yes, I have the ground wire from the tt, connected to the phono preamp. I tried running it to the headamp, but that made the hum much worse.
Austinbob, my phono preamp is an Acoustech PH-1P is solid state. My preamp is an Audible Illusions L3. It is tubed, but only two. I replaced the tubes today, and that eliminated the hiss! Now I'm just dealing with a low level hum, at high volumes.
Atmosphere....Thanks for you info on the Jensen SUT. I will research it.
Also, I did replace the two tubes in my Audible Illusions L3 preamp today. No more hiss. Your right, it's not how old they are, its how many hours there are on them. However, some tubes do begin to fail at different times. Who knows? I'm glad I replaces them! :-)
I really appreciate everyone's comments / suggestions. As I have said in some posts above, I replaced the tubes in my Audible Illusions L3, and that did solve my hiss issue.
Now, I'm addressing a low level hum, that I feel is directly attributable to the introduction of the Hagerman headamp in to my system. When I move the position of the headamp, the level of hum changes.
I don't hear the hum while listening to a record at normal listening levels. However, every now and then, I listen at high levels, and, when I do, I can hear a slight hum.
Perhaps I'm being a bit too picky, but I think my phono should be dead quite, even when using a LOMC!
When I move (or even touch) the cables going to my headamp, the level of hum changes.

Bingo! or maybe bingo ;-) I'd try different ic's to/from the headamp and also check to see if the RCAs on the headamp are secure and properly grounded.
I had the same problem with hum when I added my sut. I tried 4 interconnects and only one, Autitorium 23, stopped the hum. Like you, I could move the sut around,and by touching the transformer or moving it around the hum would change.

It may or not be your problem, but like Swampwalker, your last description reminded me of how I fixed my hum problem.
Mu metal oft solves many woes, even hum.
Swampwalker & Acman3......
Yes, I could try some other interconnects, but this morning, after more aggravation, I decided to take the Hagerman totally out of the the system. I reconfigured my Acoustech phono preamp for MC input (61.5db of gain, 220 pF capacitance, & I like the sound at 47k Ohms resistance). Boom, dead quiet! The headamp was an experiment, and there were several things that I thought it did improve on (bass tightness & impact, stage was slightly improved, and perhaps a bit more extension at the top). However, nothing earth shattering, and certainly not worth the extra noise. Listening now, going straight in to the phono preamp, sans headamp, it sounds incredibly good, and QUIET! Thanks for all your suggestions! I think I'm going to stick with this.
To All,
First thanks for all of your suggestions and comments. This morning, for comparison, after much aggravation, I decided to go back to where I started before this experiment with the Hagerman headamp. I totally removed the headamp from the system. I reconfigured the Acoustech phono preamp for MC input (61.5db of Gain, 220pF Capacitance, and I prefer the sound at 47k Resistance). Plugged the interconnect directly from the tt junction box directly in to the phono preamp (no headamp). Perfectly quiet, and certainly enough gain. The headamp did slightly improve some things (bass was a tad tighter, the top end had a bit more extension, and the stage was just a bit more open). However, these "slight improvements" were not worth the expense of the noise that was introduced by using the headamp. Again, thanks to everyone for your suggestions and guidance, but for now, I enjoy the system without use of the headamp! What a headache that was!
That's good news. I have been told that cable effects can also be stepped up w an SUT so it's not clear exactly how it contributed to the hum, but who cares! Enjoy. do you apply mu metal? Do you wrap cables with it, or use it as a shield under, or around enclosures? Or, just how do you use it, how much do you need to work with?
Mu metal absorbs the magnetic field generated by transformers so wrapping the transformer is indicated.
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The problem is caused by the old Greek with their ''metalic

analogy'' regading human properties. Peter is strong like iron

and John is ''honest like gold''. But are there constant feelings?

Does anyone hate his whole life someting or love something his

whole life? Is it not possible to hate your wife one day and love

her the other day? Whay should this be different with vinyl?

I for example love the good  recordings and hate the bad one.

But those are of course not the same recordings despite the

fact that both are probably made form the  same vinyl.

All of you at Agon are great that you stepped in to help. All I can add is that the Kleos I bought in March /April is great (my third Lyra; must like the Lyra Sound) I feed the Kleos to my Manley Steelhead (dead quiet) then through my Spectral/ MIT / Avalons. Happy listening everyone!
Are you thinking of upgrading the phono stage as well?
As for the vinyl, I am a tape head who just has to live with vinyl. I don't really consider it a true audiophile medium, great medium for archiving though, and find this table/arm/cartridge/phono hardwear pain in the a..
Still, the better it is the better.
Just a side note here (hear).  Audible Illusion preamps are very hard on the tubes according to more than one source.  A good friend has one and he replaces the tubes frequently.  He also uses the ruggedest tubes he can find as the pre is not very sensitive to tube rolling.  IIRC, the power is on to the tubes at all times.
Lyra Delos into Steelhead here, dead quiet.

Have you considered that it might be the cartridge?

Jonathan are you near?
Always loved vinyl and analog and always will