You could have a bad tube(s) in your phono stage. If you haven't used the rig in a while, the cartridge might have dried out, (the rubber elasticizer that holds the cantilever in) which will impede the movement. Make sure you clean the stylus well.
I would also clean the spindle off and reinstall fresh oil to the bearing.
Good luck and let us know what you finally find out.
I'm not tryimg to sound absurd here but is your stylus broken off?
Mofimadness is right, if you haven't used it in quite a while the cartridge's suspension may have dried out. This happened to a ZYX cartridge that I owned for a few years, and I don't know that you can do anything about that.
However, I would also follow the rest of his advice, check the tubes in your phono stage, clean the stylus and make sure it is still there, re-check all alignment guidelines, and lubricate your turntables bearing and motor. Make sure everything is still properly grounded too. Good luck.
Yes, I agree with all the above comments.
Just remember it's all easier said then done :-)
I know from experience!
Thank you for your responses - I took the weekend off from obsessing over my turntable so didn't see your posts until today.
The stylus is there and it is clean - inspected it under a loupe and used Zerodust to clean it. I improved the sound a bit by adjusting the gain on the pre-amp/phono stage but the sound is still not good. I am not sure how to test the tubes to see if they are bad - don't have a tester of any sort and don't have any spare tubes to see if a different tube would sound better. I do have another phono-stage I can try in order to eliminate the phono-stage as the culprit.
I actually emailed Chris of Teres about the bearing oil, but it has been over a week and there has been no response; apparently Teres Audio customer service isn't what it used to be. I am not sure how to go about checking the bearing oil - mostly, I am not sure I have the strength to move the turntable to where I would need to in order to work on it, let alone having the strength to pull the platter off (I think that is what you have to do with the Teres - it has been a long time since I put this turntable together!) How does the bearing oil affect the sound? The platter revolves smoothly and quickly reaches the correct speed, so it would appear the oil is still OK. Or is it just a good idea to replace it when the turntable has just been sitting for a few years?
sometimes styli can loose the diamond. check if it's there with loupe and light.
Holly, I am assuming that you re-checked all of your setup parameters as well. First try swapping out the phono stage to eliminate that possibility, since you say that you can. I have heard reports about Teres poor customer service, which is a shame, because their tables sure are eye candy. My VPI table recommends that the bearing grease and motor oil be checked and changed annually. I assume that other manufacturers have similar recommendations. However, if the platter seems to be turning normally, this probably isn't you problem. Where are you located? Perhaps a local Audiogon member may be able to assist you with the Teres platter removal. I am in the Philadelphia area.
If switching the phono stage does not improve the sound, I would next have the cartridge checked out. If you bought your ZYX from Mehran at Sorasound
, I'm sure that he can get it inspected for you. If not, you may consider sending it to Peter Ledermann of Soundsmith
for an evaluation. I have a feeling that the problem lies within the cartridge. In most analog setups, the cartridge is the most obvious suspect. Good luck.
Thank you for your response, Jmcgrogan2.
I wish I lived close to Philadelphia, but I live in Colorado in the Denver metro area; I would be more than happy to receive a house call from someone who can help me, but don't know any other Audiogon members in the area, though I am sure there must be some. Any volunteers?!?
I am sorry to hear that Teres Audio now has the reputation of giving poor customer service. Back when I bought my turntable, things seemed to be different. I worked closely with Chris, went to his house to audition the equipment, exchanged frequent emails with him, and he even came to my house to help me set up the turntable once I had it all assembled. I haven't had any contact with him for a few years, though. Disappointing indeed.
(I also find it odd that Chris no longer even has a section on his website for turntables, just for the motor and tonearm he is currently selling. The only mention of current production turntables is the price for shipping them that is detailed on the ordering page. I wonder if he is getting out of the business?)
I did buy my ZYX cartridge/stylus from Mehran. I sure hope the problem is not the ZYX - I have no money to buy even a cheapie replacement. I will contact Mehran, though, if everything else I try fails to make my turntable sing like it used to do.
I am still curious why changing the bearing oil might improve the sound, but as I am grasping at straws now...I might as well do that bit of maintenance as well. I found my manual (such as it is - a print out of a few pages) for the Teres turntable; there is no recommendation in there about changing the bearing oil at regular intervals, but it does explain how to remove the platter. I'm not looking forward to it, but hopefully it won't be too painful of a task!
Holly, I wished I lived closer to Denver. Actually, LA would be better, it's too damn cold here in Philadelphia. LOL!!
Well I hate to say it, but since tubes and cartridges wear out, they will be your most likely causes of your problem. The only hope is that if you are lucky, it's just a alignment issue (VTF, VTA, Azimuth, etc.). Hopefully someone more local to you will be able to jump in here to help you out. I'm sure there are more Teres owners in the Coloroda area. You may try starting a new post titled "Looking for help from Analog gurus located near Denver". Denver's too long of a road trip for me, sorry. ;)
..that's why it is imperative to decide on a component that is well established and has a reputation for wonderful customer service. I came to that conclusion years ago when I got burned with components that became lost in the marketplace.
Oakiris...I live about an hour away (Northern Colorado) and happen to be a turntable (and tube) guru.
It would be my pleasure to drive down and help you get this fixed. I have all the tools (and a few drawers full of tubes) and some turntable bearing oil, so we should be able to get everything up and running for you.
Unfortunately, I probably wouldn't be able to get down there until after the holidays...sorry.
If you would like to take this offline, (well off of Audiogon anyway), please email me at email@example.com and we can discuss it.
Well John, Colorado makes a lovely vacation spot; are you not ready to take a nice vacation? lol Yeah, a long road trip indeed, and it won't necessarily be warmer here, either.
If it is the cartridge, I wonder how a $50 or less cartridge would sound in this rig? Might be an improvement over the sound my much more expensive cartridge is giving me! I will check the cartridge and stylus again, plus do the whole set up again, and change out the phono stage if need be to see if any of that helps. If it is the cartridge, I will be listening to CD's for a long, long time. :-( Luckily, CD's sound great in this system, but, oh, I do want to be able to play records again.
Stringreen - I do know what you mean, but Teres Audio was highly recommended to me by folks right here on Audiogon when I asked for turntable recommendations, plus they were a local company (working out of Chris's home at the time) and I could actually audition the turntable and bug the owner with lots of questions! It seemed ideal at the time, and all was well for several years. Perhaps if I had kept up with my system, I would also still have a line of communication to Chris. I may try another email to them, just to see if I can rattle some cages and get a response.
Alright Mofimadness...you da man!!! There you go Holly, keep us posted on how things turn out.
Oh, Mofimadness! Somehow I didn't even see your post when I responded to John and Stingreen. Yes please! I am off to send you an email!
I agree w Jmcgrogan2 that the most likely candidates are cartridge or tubes. Very unlikely that a less than optimal set-up (unless is was WAY OFF) would yield the symptoms you describe. In terms of checking things, I would go for swapping out the phono stage first. If that does not yield improvement, then I would call Mehran @ Sorasound. He probably has a demo/used cart he could send you for test purposes, or buy a cheapie from a web dealer. If it is the cart, it may have considerable trade-in value. As for Teres Audio, I believe what you are seeing is the winding down of Chris' TT business. I seem to recall that it was a family affair and one of the prime movers (his father maybe) passed away. I could be wrong about that so please don't take it as gospel. Since you are in CO maybe you could give him a call.
Thank you for your response, Swampwalker. Yeah, I would say that the Teres Audio story is close to its ending - the fact that they no longer have a page on their website showcasing their current turntable offerings is rather telling.... Chris's father actually died in 2007 so I am not sure that his demise led to the demise of the business, but who knows. Anyway, I don't expect to get any help from Chris, though, ever the optimist, I did send another email.
Luckily, folks like Mofimadness exist in this world; he is going to come down after the holidays and help me figure out what is wrong with the system and to get it set up properly. I am hoping that I made a boneheaded mistake with the set up that has caused the distortion problem, or that it is a bad tube in my pre-amp. If it is indeed the cartridge/stylus suspension, I will be very sad as there is no way I can purchase a new cartridge, especially one as good (IMHO) as the ZYX. In that case, I will be listening to CD's for a long long time to come....
Cheer up, Holly, there are lots of other good folks like Mofi who can probably help you get up and running. And there are also lots of pretty darn good carts out there for modest $$, if Mehran can't help you out. I would definitely send him an email or give him a call to get his thoughts on this. He is one of the real good guys on the retail side of this hobby.
Holly, while ZYX does make great cartridges, I know, I've owned 3 of them, the Airy 3, UNIverse and 4-D, I would not just abandon analog if your ZYX cartridge has gone to meet it's maker. LOL! There are a few good cartridge options for under $500 brand new. Denon DL-103R, Audio Technica OC-9 mk II, and Ortofon 2M Bronze to name a few. Also, as Michael (Swampwalker) alluded to, Mehran is a good guy. Maybe your ZYX would have some trade in value towards a demo ZYX R50 for relatively little money. Just explain your situation.
Hopefully Mofi can get your rig up and running again with just some minor adjustments though. Good luck, John.
lol - I didn't mean to imply that I was going to give up on analog; I just don't have ANY money to spare right now and probably won't for months, so if the cartridge is bad, I have no choice but to temporarily abandon my vinyl rig until I can afford to buy a decent cartridge - I don't imagine that my system would benefit by going from a ZYX to a cartridge of less than $50, even if it would probably sound better than what I am experiencing with the turntable right now.
If Mofimadness does determine that the problem is with the ZYX, I will definitely contact Mehran to find out what my options are. I still remember how nice it was to work with him when I was making up my mind about which ZYX cartridge would be "the one" for my system.
Mofimadness... you da man! What a generous offer. An an in-system evaluation by someone who knows their way around a vinyl rig is more likely to improve things than all our yacking from afar. :-)
That said, try this first... clean that stylus with a Magic Eraser and brush. I can no longer count the number of "damaged" or "worn out" cartridges I've "saved" for people by this simple measure. Judging by a recent post by Michael Fremer, even he has yet to learn how to properly maintain a cartridge.
From Holly's sonic description, inadequate VTF may also be a culprit.
The TurntableBasics protractor is rather hit or miss. Even used to its best capability, it's a pretty coarse instrument. The fact that Holly's trying to direct-measure overhang with a ruler indicates that her tools and methods need improvement. Consider printing out an arc protractor from vinylengine.com to double check overhang and zenith.
P.S. if Holly sends her ZYX to Mehran, he'd probably send it to me for evaluation before undertaking the expense of sending to Japan, so you might be saving Holly and me some time. Thanks! :-)
P.P.S. If Holly can't find the instructions for changing the Teres bearing oil, I have a copy if you need it.
Thank you for your response, Dougdeacon, and for your advice. My turntable tools are rather...primitive...I suppose, though the TTB protractor was recommended to me, back in the day, so I bet Mofimadness will be able to help me out there! I am sure I will learn a lot from him, finally find out how to really set up a turntable, as well as finding out what "gotta have" tools I need.
I will wait until Mofimadness gets down here to check the turntable out before messing with the stylus anymore, but I do have a Magic Eraser stylus cleaner (ok, a piece of Magic Eraser attached to a plastic toothpick, lol) but haven't used it this time around, just used the Zerodust cleaner.
If you have instructions for changing out the bearing oil, I would love to have a copy, too. I did find the instructions for removing the platter, which is the first step. The last time I looked into it, which was several years ago, Chris was recommending ATF, but he no longer responds to emails, at least, not to mine. What bearing oil do you recommend using, Doug? I would like to get this done before Mofimadness's visit; as I recall, it takes several days for the bearing to reseat so it needs to be done in advance.
Try loosening the screw on the top of the anti-skate mechanism. I have a DP8 and had a similar problem, and the problem was that the anti-skate mechanism was binding, even when I thought I had "defeated" it. Loosening the screw and re-adjusting the tension on the anti-skate did the trick for me.
ATF fluid is fine. Chris recommended that to me also and that's what I've used. I'll dig around for the bearing assembly instructions.
The noise you describe like a transistor radio sounds like Mistracking by the cartridge.
Does this sound distorted through both channels or just one? If it is just one, (or if one is worse) then swap the tubes round in your phono stage. If it is your phono stage, the most likely thing to fail is a tube. However, most phono tubes last awful long time.
Do you have any other cartridge, which you can try? Even a cheap $30 cartridge is fine.
The most common reason for Mistracking is inadequate VTF. Did you set up the tracking force with a proper stylus pressure gauge (e.g. Shure all digital scales)? The stylus pressure force markings on tone arms can be notoriously inaccurate. If you have a problem with this, then one would normally set the tone arm to the maximum recommended tracking force 1st. If needs be, set the bias to 0 to start with; inadequate or incorrect bias rarely causes the gross distortion which you describe, unless it causes inordinate friction in horizontal plane.
Sometimes this sort of problem can be caused by dried rubbers" in the suspension or gunge in the generator assembly. You can find it that with inadequately cleaned records or incorrectly applied stylus cleaning fluids, that dust and fluff can creep up and go up the suspension and coils.
The turntable basics protractor will not be far off In terms of geometry. Unless you are grossly out, then it is unlikely that this would be the cause of your problems.
Good luck and Happy Christmas!
any chance that the loading is set incorrectly on the phonostage?
The sound coming out of my speakers is awful.....lots and lots of distortion, sounds like a transistor radio turned all the way up, if you know what I mean (if you are old enough to have been around transistor radios, lol,) hissy and garbled, really rough....
There is a tube phono-stage/step up in the mix as well, but I really don't think that is the source of the problem - I really think I have done something wrong with the cartridge alignment....
After reading everything that has been said (and you've been fortunate to receive inputs in this thread from a lot of very knowledgeable folks, including Mofi and his kindly offer), I definitely would not rule out the phono stage at this point. In fact, if you have confidence that the tracking force adjustment was done correctly (Doug was correct, of course, in mentioning inadequate VTF as a possibility to suspect), and if upon close inspection the orientation of the cantilever doesn't look bizarre in any way while a record is being played, a phono stage problem would be at or near the top of my list of suspects.
Hopefully you can try the other phono stage you mentioned having. If that phono stage turns out to be unsuitable, though, or if the results are inconclusive for whatever reason, one thing to try would be to simply remove and reinsert the tubes a couple of times. It's conceivable that after a number of years of non-use enough corrosion might have developed on a tube pin or socket contact to cause the problem, which would probably be scraped away by doing that.
Also, if the phono stage contains multiple tubes of the same type, try swapping their locations and seeing what happens. If the symptoms change significantly, it would cast suspicion on one of those tubes.
Finally, let us know the make and model of the phono stage, which might stimulate some further thoughts.
Thank you, everyone, for your responses. :-)
The phono stage is a Wright Sound Company WPP200C with the Wright Sound Company phono transformer/step up, model WPM100. Both the power supply and the pre-amp have tubes; Mofimadness indicated he would be able to check the tubes to make sure they are all OK. I am hoping that it is providing the correct loading for the cartridge - I know it used to work fine in my set up. Perhaps this is another thing that Mofi can check. I will have my other phono stage ready to go if it turns out that the Wright Sound phono stage is at fault.
I am going to wait for Mofimadness to come down here before I "play" with my vinyl system anymore - I don't want to make things worse and I am hoping he will quickly see/hear what is wrong. Unfortunately, I do not have any other stylus/cartridge to try so, as I have said before, I am really, really hoping that the cartridge is not at fault.
Chris responded to my emails - YAY! He was out of town for a couple of weeks which is why he did not respond previously. He said there was no need to replace the turntable bearing oil and that he does indeed still recommend the use of ATF in his turntables, as you confirmed, Doug. He has indeed cut back on his business, now only sells the motor and tonearm that are offered on his website, but he is still deeply involved in the world of good audio.
I did use a gauge to set the tracking force on the tonearm. There are no markings on the tonearm for it, you just move weights at the end of the tone arm to make adjustments. ZYX recommends a tracking force of 2 grams. I have it set at about 2.03 or so. The gauge I have is a no-name gauge made in China. I checked the accuracy of the gauge with a 5 gram weight; it read 5.002 so I think it is reasonably accurate; we'll see what Mofimadness comes up with.
I remain hopeful that it is something simple that I have overlooked or done incorrectly. I will let everyone know what happens!
Well, it has been a while. Mofimadness came down this weekend and did some trouble shooting to see what the cause of the poor sound was. He said from the beginning that the only way a mistake in set up could cause the sound we were hearing was if I had installed the cartridge sideways. lol He thought it was probably a bad tube, but....
Well, the problem was the stylus. At first he thought the tip was gone and then he realized it was upside down (almost like installing the cartridge sideways I suppose!) Somehow I had managed to mishandle the cartridge and the cantilever twisted, or, possibly, the suspension had dried out while the system sat idle for years, allowing the cantilever to twist... Dunno, but it is trashed!
I had looked at the stylus and thought it looked odd but figured I either didn't know what I was looking for or my loupe just wasn't good enough. Sigh. Now I know what to look for!
The good news is that the phono stage is fine and all of the tubes tested near new, and it is likely that, once the cartridge is replaced, I won't have any problems with set up.
My tonearm is a Moerch DP-6 with the blue dot precision 12" arm tube. This is an extra heavy arm tube and requires a low compliance cartridge like the ZYX. The tonearm thus limits the cartridge choices.
At some point I am hoping to be able to get the ZYX repaired, but, due to a major lack of money, and the dearth of low compliance cartridges in the price range I can afford, I will be buying a Denon DL-103 cartridge to replace the ZYX R100H. I have a feeling I will be happy with this!
Thanks again to everyone that has offered me help here - and you were basically right from the get-go, Acresverde - the stylus was broken!
I'm glad you finally got the mystery solved :-)
I am glad that you finally get some resolution to the problem, even though it wasn't good news. I can't say that I am surprised to hear that it was the cartridge, but it's still sad news. Thanks Mofi for your help!
On the bright side, the Denon DL-103 is an excellent cartridge, especially considering the price. It sounds like it should mate well with your arm too. Let us know how you like it once you get it set up.
I, too, am very happy that the source of the problem has been found, though I am very sorry that it was apparently due to me being careless with the cartridge/stylus at some point. Talk about being fumble-fingered..... :-(
I am indeed very thankful for Mofimadness and his willingness to help me - and he said he would come back if I run into problems setting up my new cartridge, too All praise to him! I am hoping I won't have problems with the setup and that I can invite him down for a fun listening session instead. We'll see!
I have read a lot of reviews of and posts about the Denon 103; it has some downsides but overall is considered a well-built and musical cartridge. I really think I will like it and this time around I plan to keep all of the components in my system until I really know what it sounds like and know what I would like to change - if anything - instead of foolishly running after 'the next best thing.' Maybe I can even get everything properly burned in!
Holly...it was my pleasure to come down to Denver and help
out. Sorry we couldn't get you up and running in that
To further update everyone, we swapped out all the cables,
(except the tone arm DIN to RCA cable, but we did remove and
reinstall it to make and break the connection a couple of
times). We also swapped out the phono stage with another
one. I tested all the tubes which were all at or above new
level. We trouble shot it all the way back to the
beginning, like you really need to do.
The weird sound just didn't sound anything like a set up
problem. So after all of the above, I pulled out my loupe
and sure enough the stylus, (diamond tip) was almost 180%
twisted. It was on top of the cantilever instead of the
I first used the loupe to see the cartridge in action and
noticed very small shavings of vinyl coming off the record,
that's what made me take the arm wand off and look very
closely at the cartridge. I told Holly I hoped the LP
wasn't to damaged. We really only played it for a few
seconds each time.
She has a wonderful system with some really nice gear. I
told her we all should fine her for not using it for quite a
few years. She might lose her "Audiophile" club
Overall a very pleasant adventure. I love talking audio and
music with fellow followers.
Please don't take my Audiophile club card away! OK, so I am perhaps more of a wanna-be audiophile, but still.... I will not be neglecting this system again; wasted about 7 years (wow, how time flies!) when I could have been listening to music!
Just ordered my new cartridge - Denon DL-103 - and will be working on leveling my equipment rack (has a broken spike/foot on the front that I shored up with some blocks, but....) For some reason Molfimadness recommended that I should level the rack first instead of putting various things under the turntable's "feet" so that I can level the turntable. lol Long past time to do this....
Don't know how that "L" snuck in - Mofimadness, not Molfimadness! (Sorry, couldn't figure out how to edit after I submitted my post.)
So after all of the above, I pulled out my loupe
and sure enough the stylus, (diamond tip) was almost 180%
twisted. It was on top of the cantilever instead of the
I have to admit, that's a new one for me. While I was suspecting the cartridge, I would never have guessed that the stylus was upside down. How the hell....oh, never mind. LOL!! Good work Mofi!! You are the man!!
Yes Holly, level the rack, don't just put shims under the turntable, or else we will definitely revoke your audiophile member card! LOL!!
I can almost guarantee its your cartridge. Remove it, send it back to the manufacturer, and have it repaired/replaced.
Yeah, I wish I knew "how the hell" I did that, too! I have used a piece of Magic Eraser to clean the stylus, but that was back when I was using the turntable and all was well when I turned it off the last time. I also used Zero Dust for the first time when I was trying to set up the turntable in December. I don't know if I was too ham-fisted and damaged it then. I don't know what happened, but I obviously did something I shouldn't have!
I am actually in the process of replacing the broken footer spike on the rack so hope to have it nice and level by the end of the evening! Mofimadness was very kind to me and didn't look at me like I was a nutcase for having things stacked under the turntable feet to make it level; he just said it really would be better if I fixed and leveled the rack... I can imagine what he was saying to himself, though! :-D
"I can almost guarantee its your cartridge. Remove it, send it back to the manufacturer, and have it repaired/replaced."
lol - yes, it has been determined that the cartridge is trashed, Stringreen. I emailed Mehran of Sorasound to find out what my options are, if any - when I can afford to do something with the ZYX; haven't received a response as yet. I also know that both Soundsmith and Andy Kim (Needle Doctor) are recommended for cartridge repair.