How many hours is on the cart? They need anywhere from 50-100 hours to break in, and the sound changes a lot while break in is occurring.
As far as the hum goes, I know the A5 has a built in phono stage, but does it give you any type of adjustments at all? If you do have them, there's a good chance they're inside and you'll have to take the cover off the amp to access them. If you have them, lower the gain and that should reduce or eliminate the noise. If not, you may have to try a different cart.
getting and listening to the records is the best kool-aid for analogue experience.
The adjustments and cartridge break-in are critical for vinyl playback.Your choice in a entry level is a good one, but at this price point if you are expecting to get total analogue bliss, you are going to be sorely disappointed. I went this route too, when I got back into vinyl some years back. It took a lot of up-grading to get what I expected of it. Started at about $800. Over the years that amount grew to over $5000 just for a turntable, arm, cartridge,and phono cables. Good luck.
Congratulations on your wise choice!
I just love my set-up, one that has evolved somewhat, but one of my most important purchases after buying an entry-level 'table was a Spin Clean record washer, and a big pack of nice quality record sleeves. Then, don't be afraid of buying lots of cheap garage sale albums. Walking home from work a couple months ago I bought 15 albums for 12 dollars. After washing them, most of them were pretty bad....but I ended up with three gems, including a great sounding Laurie Anderson album. Still a deal for $12.
By the way, I enjoyed my first turntable quite a bit but I still didn't quite 'get' the allure of vinyl. Then I bit the bullet and bought an Ortofon 2M Black (after returning a faulty Rega Exact). WOW, goodbye ones and zeroes!
One other thing. Look for classical boxed sets. I've found that they are often in mint condition. I think many were given as christmas presents in decades passed and never played. I bought a seven disc set of Mozart piano music played by Klara Haskill on Phillips for a dollar and they were NEVER PLAYED! After googling it, I found that this set is very highly regarded for its musicality and production. One sold on ebay for $250.
thx for your input. much appreciated!
I suppose what I'm looking for is some guidance based on what i have. I have decent equipment. better than the average bear for sure, but by no means exceptional amongst this audience.
will this table, arm, and cartridge get into the ballpark with the rest of my rig as-is with break-in? should i consider an acrylic plate, speed controller, different cartridge to better match my rig, etc.? or no matter what i do, it will be the weak link.
is that an answerable question?
for you to better calibrate to me, i'm quite pleased with the listening experience with my Arcam, FWIW.
On the hum, ZD has good advice, but do the isolation drill. Disconnect the leads from the cartridge then the table to find which one is the culprit. It is possible the cartridge itself has a fault. You also should double-check your ground connection between the table and your outlet ground. Normally the ground lug on the preamp is sufficient, but ground faults can pop up in surprising places.
To find the magic, both Czarivey and Mr_M are correct. Get a good protractor (Pro-Ject makes one), a strong magnifying glass and verify your alignment is correct. It's a very fussy adjustment but makes a world of difference. Spend the time necessary to get it right.
Next, get record cleaning supplies. All records must be cleaned before every play, including new ones. Note that new records need a different kind of cleaning (mold release removal). Then find some material you like. A new record is usually best but not absolutely necessary. There are lots of great choices out there. Spin it and float away.
Congratulations, good luck & happy listening!
The 2M Red is a very good cart and the TT you purchased is one of the better entry levels. The Red is not a superstar, but good. I started out one level below the Red (sticking my my big toe back in the vinyl arena)and upgraded to it. One of the beauties of vinyl is the ability to make a significant incremental upgrade by upgrading the cart. Ortofon makes other "colors" for a few more $.
All the advice you need to get you started is here.
The phonostage setup is important. I'm sure you've set it to MM cart, but you can make capacitance adjustments starting with 47pf, then trying 100pf or 300pf. Your unit will have some similar settings.
A lot of members have been posting about starting with a Pro-ject Debut Carbon as a first TT. To answer one of your questions, many have upgraded to the Ortofon 2M Blue or higher which is a substantial increase in SQ.
Some very good advice here.I must respectfully disagree with Effischer if he means that you need to wet clean a record before every play. A good cleaning before the first play then a good brush to keep the dust off before every play after should be good .
I also have this TT, my initial foray into vinyl. There is great advice upthread of this comment, so I'll just reiterate that setup is absolutely essential and worth the time and effort to micro-adjust into the "zone".
I use the acrylic platter and highly recommend it. Especially if you are into complex and bass heavy music.
My associated gear is humble, but the experience you are looking for can be had with this TT. I had a friend over who is an EE and very much into the pro audio scene. We played Black Market by Weather Report and he refused to believe that there was no DSP or other trickery going on until he looked at the signal path himself. Just TT, phono stage, tube amp and speakers.
To clarify for Ray, I use a V8 ultrasonic on used records, LAST mold-release agent with a microfiber brush on new records and LAST cleaning solution with an old-school Discwasher brush for cleaning everything that hits my tables before the styli get near them. I brush the styli (always back-to-front of course) and use an agent on them before every play, too. That cleaning system has worked very successfully for me for over 30 years. Records I purchased new back then are still silent after even 100+ plays in some cases. My styli also remain clean and show even wear when examined annually under magnification.
Kevin, there are several threads on the merits or lack thereof of just about every kind of record cleaning regime imaginable here. You'll have to come to your own conclusions about methodology, but cleaning of some kind before every play is generally considered a must-do. Dust is especially evil.