New2Analog - Table Setup Help?

After 25+ years of CDs and such, I bought my first turntable last week. A Denon DP300F, with a built-in phono preamp. I have put it into my system, and have dome some A - B comparison, and critical listening.

Here is my problem:
I am lacking in the upper octave of all music.
No Air (Which I lust for from Vinyl).
Heavy bass and midrange
Midrange will nearly distort it is so heavy

The table is set per the factory directions, but I am not sure where to start to fix these issues.

Any suggestions?

Jeff in Detroit
Take it as 2 cents description gives me the feeeling something wrong in the preamp. Gone components inside circuit can do this...start isolating the issue.....just try an outboard phono stage!Good luck
Built in phono preamp in a turntable are pedestrian at best. I agree with Ad010685. Need to go with an out board phono preamp to get the signature your really looking for.
The Lehman phono preamp is a good one as well as many others out there, only limited by your resources. Also the phono cartridge that came with the turntable are very basic and mean't to get you started. May want to try a better phono cartridge. For that table a Denon DL 110 would be a good place to start.
Agree, don't use the built in pre. Start up the price latter. Something used at $150 would be ideal.
Before you go out and buy something, are you fairly sure of the setup? For instance, were you able to verify the vertical tracking force with a scale of some kind? The sound you hear could be caused by having way to much tracking force. For that matter, are you sure that the cartridge is good? Did you buy this turntable new, or used?

Don't spend money to fix a problem until you're sure you've correctly identified the problem.

does the arm feature a vertical tracking angle adjustment?
If VTA is incorrct (the back of the arm set too low) then the lows may be accentuated sacrificing HF performance. Start with the arm set parallel to the record, then try raising the back of the arm a few degrees at a time & listen again. Also try lowering as well. You want a VTA of about 22 degrees; you can tune this by ear. Some more expensive arms allow adjustment even while playing. The economy models not so, or may not even be adjustable atb all, in which case you might need to shim the cartrige. Lots of forum posts in the analog section in this regard, just run a search on VTA.
As Tfk advises, check the basics first.
I bought the table used, and the previous owner had barely used it, but I was under the impression that he had tuned/set-up the table. I have done nothing to change this setup, as I thought I would get suggestions here. As mentioned earlier, I am looking for setup improvements so I can get the system to a point where I like it, and then will spend money to improve it.

I will work on the VTA. Thanks for the tips guys!

I also will play with the preamp switch under the table to ensure it is in the right place.

Also being new to the analog thing, i learned quick that even with a deck set up "right" out of the box, still needs to be fine tuned. make sure the cartridge is aligned properly, the tracking force is correct, and current deck doesn't allow me to adjust it, so i can't help ya there. so the only way i know to get around that is to use different mats of varied thickness and find what sounds right to you.
I presume your CD or fm is playing as you like it??
Michael Fremer of Stereophile has a DVD on turntable set up. It might be a good investment in terms of understanding how all these issues interact. Setting up a table is an iterative process. For example, many are finding that very precise cartridge alignment allows for lower than typical VTF, which allows for v. low or no anti-skating.

Its very common for TTs to be set up incorrectly, so verify that its been done right and also purchase a 10x loupe so you can see the stylus and make sure its clean. Search the forum for "magic eraser" to find how to make a very good stylus cleaning tool for very low $. If its still not clean as a whistle, try using a v thin strip of fine grit sandpaper and gently swiping the stylus surfaces, followed by more magic eraser and then dry brushing.
CD - Does not sound as open and airy as I would like, which is why I am putting my toe into the Vinyl world. However, at the moment, CD sounds better than the Vinyl for all the reasons listed in my original post.

Cleaning a Stylus with SANDPAPER. Now that sounds nuts. I hear dust in the grooves of records can mess up a stylus, so why would you take 400 or 600 grit (very very fine) sandpaper to a stylus (which happens to be nearly brand new)?

I think I will have to get the DVD, and some coaching from my analog friend.

Thanks Guys! I am still hopefull that I will like it when I am done tweaking.
I may get flammed for this but the emperor has no clothes.
It does sound like some setup issues. Setup is critical for proper performance, do what you can there to get the best out of that table. That being said I doubt that table with that phono and cartridge can yield the results your seeking. It won't even be able to match an entry level CD player. What I fear then might happen is you will get disappointed and give up on analog. Unfortunately the price of admission for wonderful analog (airy, etc) sound is a bit steeper than the cost of that table. With this table you can become familiar with setup and do more research before deciding how best procede.
Some wonderful 'Gonner posted this link a while back on TT set-up and I think it has a lot of smart info. I've been tossing the link around a bit and will here also.

TT Set-up

Hope this helps!
We will see, as I am taking this inexpensive entry table to a very seasoned analog guy, and putting it in his system, for proper setup, and comparison to CD and his table. If you are correct, and I need to spend $1000+ to get a good initial setup, when buying from the gon, then I may choose to not step too far into the Analog pool.

From what I have heard, this table should give me some of the benefits of Analog/Vinyl, but as stated a couple times, I am sure there is something wrong. We are getting clearly distorted music. Once that is corrected, I will make some decisions.

Here are some basic tips.

1. Get the tracking force approximately correct

2. Check alignment of the cartridge in the headshell. To do this, adjust the cartridge in the headshell until the sides of the cart are parallel with the lines on the protractor, whilst the tip is on the spot (download a protractor here)

3. Now recheck the tracking force. Preferably use a stylus tracking force gauge eg Shure, Goldring or a digital scale

4. Adjust the bias (anti-skate) to the same as the VTF. If you can get a copy of the latest HIFi News test record, then you can do this by ear.

5. On your TT, I don't think you can adjust azimuth or VTA (except with washers)

6. Try a different cartridge. For your setup, a good high output MC or a MM would do. Don't spend too much as your TT looks like a basic Jap belt drive TT.

To be honest, this Denon is only really a starter TT. I'd personally be tempted to sell it and get something half decent. Even a cheap Rega P3 with a decent cart would see this one off easily. If you've never set up a TT before, then I would get a solid plinth TT (ie not suspended chassis, such as Thorens TD160 TD150, Linn LP12 etc).

I hope this helps.

Mayby my expectations were wrong, but I bought this table, simply to see if I would enjoy the sounds of vinyl over my traditional cd system. For less than $200, I had a simple turntable solution to try things out. I was not going to spend $500-1500 on a solution until I knew that I would enjoy listening to vinyl through my system. I have many concerns, (Hissing and snapping dirty scratched records, short time to turn a record over, added complexity to my system - just to name a few). I have heard great analog playback, and I like it, I am trying to get my entry level experience to a place I like, then will look for the $500-1000 table/cartridge/arm, and the $300-500 phono-pre.
Wrong expectations? I think not. Hopefull yes. Hope is good!Without it where would we be?

The problem is to get the most out of the grooves in the quietest way possible requires a certain reality.

Sorry if my spelling is off but I am on my wifes Vista Computer. Worse than a CD.

And unfortunately that will cost. I wonder if anyone has done a price per value on this.

There are no shortcuts.

I recently played an 1961 album bought probably 4th hand; Chopin Concerto No. 1 played by Arthur Rubenstein. There is no way in hell the playback equipment could do it justice in 61. Yet the artistry and care was taken to do it the best it could be done even knowing that it was probably somewhat wasted (before marketing....). I was blown away by the recording (and no noise). As an aside from an ill informed soul in this post, I have records I have played a hundred times and I would argue there has been NO sonic loss. On the contrary the grooves maybe better than ever...

So, while I can't answer if analog is worth it for you or anyone else I can say it is a commitment, an investment that if done well yields more daily yearly than my 401k (all recent crashes aside).

The game. You are in or your not. Not for everyone. Appreciate the art form or not. That is your choice.
But it can yield great results.

I took my table to a friend who know turntables well, and we made a couple of changes. We changed out the stock cartridge and installed the LP-Gear upgraded cartridge. We used the Shure pressure measurement, and set the force to 2gm. We found one of the wires connecting to the old cartridge disconnected! These are the only changes, and when we put it into his system, both of us were quite pleased. We did some A-B comparison to CD, and agreed on the following:
Vinyl was a bit laid back to the CD
CD was certianly clear, but sterle
Vinyl made instruments sound true.
Drums had a deeper timber sound - you could tell size between them more than a "thund or bang" of CD
Horns of all types were more realistic

I liked it, packed it up, and brought it home to install in my system. The next day, I listened to a couple of my records (I only had 6), and was quite happy in my system too.

Yesterday, I went out and bought a number of records. I found the ColdPlay and Robert Plant/Alison Krause Grammy winning records at two different stores new, and bought em. I also picked up a 1968 sealed recording of Stravinsky's Fireworks performed by the Chicago Symphony, and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite performed by the Paris Orchestra in the early 70s (Sealed). Both of these prints were filled with snap crackle and POP. It was quite annoying, especially since I bought sealed copies. I ran a Disk Washer kit over them, but it had no affect.

I then played a used copy of the soundtrack from FM, and it was ok, but my expectation was there would be a fair amount of static sound to it.

Not shure what may have happened. I know one of the sealed copies was FILLED with static electricity - how do I get rid of that??

Still trying to figure out if this is all worth it.... I like it - but not if I have to have tons of noise on 20% of the music I listen to..


You have to be careful about 'sealed' records. Some are what you might better call 'resealed'! If you really get into vinyl, than a wet cleaning machine like a VPI or a Moth is essential, especially if you buy used vinyl.

I buy a lot of second hand LPs,which when cleaned, sound pretty good. The cartridge/tonearm combination is pretty important in determining the surface noise level. to much you can do about that in a budget TT apart from changing the cartridge as you have done.

Some cheaper MM cartridges you might want to check out include
Nagaoka MP11 (cheap GBP45)
Audio Technica 440 ML (more expensive GBP160)
Denon high output MCs DL110 (GBP70) or DL160 (GBP90)

Best wishes,

There are a number of threads discussing the static subject. A sure-fire static killer is a Zerostat 3 gun. I will not play an lp without it.
Okay, I spent the weekend listening to my new, but small, record collection. None of the records seemed to be staticly charged this weekend, and listening was much better. I still found a fair amount of snaps and pops, but nothing like I experienced after I opened a record, pulled it out, and put it on the table for the first time.

I did begin to use the Disc Dr I purchased nearly all the time, and ensured that the records were completely dry before dropping the needle.

What amazed me the most, is the contrast in my records from a noise standpoint. I purchased the following records since I bought the table:

- used, but in good condition, disc dr only
- used, but cleaned in a 3-step system on a VPI 17f record cleaning machine by previous owner (VERY Through in his Collection!)
- New, but very old 1968 & 1973 vintage
- New, and very recent

The used in good condition I bought from a used record store, and the had a fair amount of noise, but for the $$ not bad. Due to the noise, I would not "repeat" listen as often as others.

The used, incredibly cared and cleaned were by far the quietist records of my collection. I am amazed at the silence of a Art Pepper 1990 LP (Incredible JAZZ). The Alan Parson is quite nice too, and Garbage is AWESOME on my table, with ZERO noise. I think try and buy more from this collector!

The new sealed, but old records were by far the biggest dissapointment. LOTS of noise, that did settle down now that there is no more static, but still, they are filled with far more noise than I would like. They are all classical records, and the noise just stands out...pop- - snap - -

The new - new (Pink Floyd DSOM 30th) sounds incredible, the Robert Plant-Alison Krause is great, but with some noise, and Cold Play is a bit dissapointing (a good amount of snap - pop etc..).

So, why would I have these issues with new vinyl specifically? If I can not trust new vinyl, how can I trust the used market, unless I only have one source - my guy that sold me the Alan Parsons, Garbage, and Art Pepper!

I guess the common point is the need for good cleaning? Do I really need to spend $1200-1500 on a record cleaner, and another $50 on all the solvents to get them in that pop free shape?

Regarding some critical listening - I did love the sounds I heard this weekend, but I did bounce between CD and Vinyl where I could (Cold Play, Dire Straits, Alan Parsons, Fleetwood Mac Rumors), and found a consistant signature of my table. There is more weight to the midrange and lower end of the upper octaves, where with CD, the upper octaves are more forward. I do hear the purity of the instruments in vinyl, but I am missing some of the upper air. That I recognize as the difference between a $300 turntable/PhonoPre combination, and a better table/phonoPre (and cartridge of course).

All that said - I am STILL on the fence about Analog! I must get rid of the noise, or I am back to tweaking digital, instead of analog.


Jeff in Detroit

The cheapest decent vacuum record cleaning machines (RCMs) are the Okki Nokki and the Moth RCMs. There's a whole load of threads about which cleaning solution to use. Me, I use 80% (by volume) distilled water, 20% alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol) with a few drops of photo wetting agent (from a photography store).

Ok, others use enzyme based products or the Martina Schoener L'Art du Son cleaner. To be honest, whatever you use is going to be fine on a vacuum RCM. You've got to be able to clean the record (ie loosen up the debris in the grooves) and then suck it away.

Close to state of the art cleaning can be had for under $200 with a KAB EV-1 (if you already have a vacuum in the house), a couple of carbon fibre brushes, some RRL Super Deep and high purity water that you can source for next to nothing at a medical supply/laboratory outlet in Detroit.

The upgraded cartridge/stylus from LP Gear is (as you've found out) a real step forward. I would suggest (as others have above) that going to a dedicated phono stage should offer (even with this table) a huge improvement. If you can, try and take something like a Cambridge 640P/Project Phonobox II home to try out. The Tonar phonostage is supposed to be identical to the Project and can usually be aquired for quite a bit less money.

I think you'll find surface noise to be less obtrusive with a better phono stage as well.