No bass with new turntable?

 Hello, I've just set up a Pro-ject Carbon DC Esprit, dialed in the arm etc., and while the upper spectrum of the sound is great, there is just no bass, let's say below the 80-100hz range. It's been probably 30 years since I've fooled around with turntables so I can't remember if that's just the way it's supposed to be. Luckily I have a Velodyne SMS-1 bass management system to turn up what I'm missing, but without that I'd be completely disappointed. Using a CDP my speakers are very full of bass. I've played with the tone arm adjustments with no difference in bass really, all supplied cables hooked up and checked, the cart is an Ortofon Red, the phono preamp is integrated in the Rogue Audio Sphinx amp.
 Any suggestions/opinions?

Just to cover the bases, I assume that you did plug the TT into the phono stage input on the preamp rather than another auxiliary input, correct?  What ae your speakers?

Hi, yes, I should've mentioned the Sphinx does have a phono preamp, and I've read it's supposed to be quite good, but I'm wondering if something is not right/damaged. I have some rare A16 Audio Euridia "bookshelf" speakers, 89db 100w. I put bookshelf in parenthesis because while they're smallish, they're pretty high end and bass dips down low. As mentioned previously they do sound full and rich with the CD player. 
Something has to be wrong here, my sister's Crosley sounds better than my set up. I'm going to try some new vinyl today and see if that does something.
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You've left out the two most critical bits of information: What tonearm? What cartridge? (Maybe the Project you own comes with its own tonearm; I would not know.)  In any case, low bass response in vinyl is very much a function of the interaction of the tonearm with the cartridge and of cartridge alignment.  The most simple-minded thing to try is to lower the rear of the tonearm a tiny bit, so that the pivot point is very slightly below plane parallel with the surface of the LP, and listen again.  And no, vinyl is not per se bass deficient.
My explanation above was not good.  What I should have written is "lower the rear of the tonearm a tiny bit, so that the top surface of the headshell is very slightly slanted to the rear, rather than plane parallel to the LP surface".  I think that's clearer, but please do not hesitate to ask if it's not.  

 Im in the same boat my friend.I dove back into analog after a 30 year absence,If your comparing digital to it,it never stands up in terms of dynamics,pace,speed and certainly da bottom end and the control of it.Nature of the beast,IMO.....but it sure is fun spinning these days
Vinyl gives a much better dynamics, pace and bass than cds. Something is definitely wrong either with turntable set-up or phono stage. Can you try another phono and re-check the cartridge alignment? Also, this entry level cartridge may be bass deficient, I don't know, but still shouldn't be too bad.
Yea,Ive heard all this a ton of time..its your setup.its your cartridge,its your phone amp,its your cable,tilt the cartridge,tilt the arm,need to clean your albums better,get a cleaning machine,its the anti skate,try a weight,...on and on and on...when does it stop,lol
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Don't buy it....If it was all about "convenience" no one would do lps..IMO having both (and Id bet my analog setup is as good or better than a lot of analog audiophiles on this site) its always an excuse that Im not doing something correct,my setup isn't correct,I cant hear what a table can actually do,whatever the statement is bull..but having said that I don't expect it to be as enjoyable as my digital side and im ok with it.Even though with all the hassels involved and there are a ton its still fun and that what its about to me when doing albums.
I did see where the cartridge came pre-mounted on the table, however if one channel was connected out of phase, this would cause a loss of bass.

Check these published specs I found for Ortofon 2m red to see if good match to Sphinx phono specs (or check with Rogue for feedback and maybe a cart recommendation if not):


  • Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5cm/sec.: 5.5 mV
  • Recommended load resistance: 47 kOhm
  • Recommended load capacitance: 150-300 pF

  • Also what tracking force are you using? Here is recommended range. I’d start with teh recommended 1.8g and be sure to match antiskate to tracking force accordingly as always

  • Tracking force range: 1,6-2,0g (16-20 mN)
    Tracking force, recommended: 1.8 g (18 mN)

    The suggestion to check and make sure the proper connections to the premounted cart are in place is a good one.   If the 4 wires and prongs on cart are color coded, that makes it easy.

    I see that the problem may be more like in cartridge more than anything else.
    No alignment or VTA can drastically diminish bass, but proper VTF is required to be in specified range per cartridge.

    The cartridge either 
    1. not wired properly
    2. replaceable stylus not mounted tight
    3. cartridge/stylus is defected since new

    if the cartridge/needle not new

    4. cartridge is clogged and needs cleaning with stylus removed(if applicable)
    5. stylus is worn and needs re-tip or replacement

    I love vinyl!

    That being said, I would never say it sounds better than digital.  But it does sound different and 9 out of 10 times, I prefer this difference in an LP rather than its CD counterpart.  Vinyl also gives me more of an emotional connection to the music than digital does.  This connection no doubt adds to my preference as well.  And IMO, vinyl does not lack any bass but lewm is correct - the tonearm/cartridge/calibration is critical to properly hear it.  Analog vinyl requires way more involvement from the user to "get it right".  Its not a convenient format but sure is an engaging, fun hobby!

    The OP's Carbon Espirit uses Pro-jects 8.5" carbon fiber arm and the factory mounted cartridge is an Ortofon 2M Red with a frequency response of 20-20Khz +/-3 db.  We know he has "dialed in the arm", but is that just VTF and anti-skate?  What about overhang?  Did someone tamper with it from its factory setting and if so, what protractor is he using to reset it?  If all of this was done correctly, then I agree with czarivey and maybe its a defective cartridge or its stylus at the end of its life and should be replaced.  And last, what kind of albums is the OP listening to?   Most original pressings of classic rock on recycled vinyl from the early 70's wouldn't sound good on a 100K TT and the finest cartridge/phone stage. 

    A little more info from the OP would be helpful.  All I know, is that I have albums where the bass is absolutely amazing - fast, tight and deep!  And to my ears anyway, smokes digital copies.

    Missioncoonery,  If you're ONLY talking about very extreme low bass response, there I would agree that the best digital may have an edge on a "good" vinyl set up.  But in every other aspect, I would disagree with you.  However, if you prefer digital, I have no idea why you are spending any time at all with vinyl.  There must be SOMEthing you like about it.

     I like being able to listen to the lps  Ive had for decades that where never released on disc,pretty simple
    Most original pressings of classic rock on recycled vinyl from the early 70's wouldn't sound good on a 100K TT and the finest cartridge/phone stage.
    I tend to agree. 60's jazz and classical records have great bass especially UK releases.
    It's not just a matter of how it sounds ,ears send signal to the brain who decides whether its good for you or not .I can listen to vinyl on my 30 year old Planar 3 with liquid ADC XLM  Mk  II all day and half the night and my
    BODY stays relaxed the whole time.
    One hour on a  good CD transport with a 2K DAC and its tensed up .
    Brain knows best .
    Off course make sure the recordings you test with have good bass to start with.   Many records do but many do not.   Could be an inferior copy on vinyl of something that sounds good on CD.  What records are you testing with specifically?
    Yeah listening fatigue is high with digital, any digital. 
    The lowest bass you can't really hear only feel, I personally don't enjoy it. It's kind of vibrator you know.
    Mapman and czarivy are correct.  Something is not set up correctly and/or damaged.  For brevity, I'll assume you've correctly set any load switches in your preamp (I'm not familiar with it).  Because these tables are typically supplied with pre-installed & aligned Ortofon 2M Red, I'd guess that your VTF isn't high enough or the stylus is damaged.  If you bought the table new, I'd query the retailer.

    If you bought it used, you'll have to get a protractor, stylus tracking force gauge and a six pack of beer to drink after you're done aligning the cartridge, setting VTF and anti-skate.  If you still have no bass after that, then the cartridge is almost certainly badly worn, filthy and/or damaged.  The 2M Red responds down to 20 Hz; well below what your speakers can reproduce.

    Good luck!

     Wow, a TON of info to start with, thank you. Lewm was asking above the cart and tone arm: Ortofon Red as I mentioned, and the unit comes stock with a supposedly decent carbon fiber tone arm. I'm going to really re check the cart cables and everything else in the set up. It's new and "pre installed". Despite controversial :) comments above, I feel my unit should at least be in the same ball park with regards to dynamic response. I'm aware that $500 doesn't get you very far in the TT world, so I wasn't expecting too much let's say, but there is a HUGE lack of bass and mid bass. Kind of disturbing as I imagine there must be a problem. I am going to pop on some more vinyl this evening, as I've only played a few, and they're older music and presses (Eagles, Michael Jackson, Journey), but I have some brand new Melody Gardot, Gregory Porter, Joe Walsh, and Lightnin Hopkins. Not sure if any of those will be pressed by a good factory and have better bass/mid bass? 
     To answer a couple questions, I have the tracking force set at the recommended 17.5, and played with that just to see if bass would magically appear. The anti skate that came with it is in the middle notch, and not sure what its weight is. The manual says 47ohms for the factory cart, and Rogue Audio says 47ohm loading, 150pF, and compatible with 2mV and above carts. I see an alignment "tool" or paper diagram rather in the manual which I will check in an hour or so too, but have no protractor or other tools. Looks like I might need some. I will check those specs mapman wrote above. 
    So far I do love the look/feel of vinyl again, all the fidgeting and cleaning gadgets, looks pretty on the audio cabinet, but I'd love a little fuller sound for sure. Realistically I'm not looking at replacing my CDP, but wanted vinyl for oldies, jazz, ska, blues, that type of stuff. Can't wait to try some of the suggestions above...

    +1 tls49
    This HUGE lack of bass definitely sounds like the cartridge is connected incorrectly with one channel out of phase, or it's just defective. If all the color codes on the cartridge match the headshell wires, it could be where the headshell wires attach to the tonearm or the where the tonearm wire connects to the RCA connector block.

    Let it play for a few days and add a bit more weight to see if this helps.

    Don't know why the elephant in the room hasn't been addressed by anyone and I don't want to be snarky but what did you expect from that tt, you know what it cost?
    Bummer. IMO this isn't an alignment or adjustment issue, it's a something is definitely broken issue Assuming you've checked all the things that were posted. Since you bought it new I would take the table back to the dealer and have him hook it up in his store. If it wasn't a dealer hook it up to a friends system and this will tell you if its the turntable or the phono stage in the amp that is the problem. I can assure you that your table and cartridge are plenty good enough and will sound great once the problem is discovered. You are at the sane end of the point of diminishing returns in this hobby and I heard your setup at a local dealer and thought the combo was scary good for the money.   I wouldn't play too many records until you know for sure the stylus and cantilever are OK. Better safe than sorry! 
    Why do people have to bring up cost? I have heard systems costing 6 digits that sound like crap, not necessarily the problem with each individual piece but system compatible between all the pieces or the room. I have heard and have owned good sounding tt's that didn't cost 5 digits.
    What I would do is borrow a tt setup from a friend or a dealer that has a similar specs of yours to see if the sound is still lean in the lower end. Also, what kind of cables are you using? Swap the RCA cables from your tt with the ones that you use for your CD player that has sufficient bass. It might not be your tt setup.

    Also, turntable reacts more than cd player to voltage fluctuations, though this affects all frequencies. However, at least in my experience, bass and dynamics are affected more than anything else.
    Forgot to ask OP this. How many hours are there on that cartridge? If it is not yet burned in for, say, 50-100 hours, the bass may be lacking. 
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    Don’t know why the elephant in the room hasn’t been addressed by anyone and I don’t want to be snarky but what did you expect from that tt, you know what it cost?

    And your point is?

    Even a Pro-ject Carbon Espirit fitted with an Ortofon 2M Red is capable of delivering very good bass. Yes, the OP has a problem but its not the price tag!  And we are all trying to help him solve it.  If you have any technical advice to lend him, I am sure it would be appreciated.


    In your initial post you said you just set up the table and there is no bass. Inna has a point - initially there is not much bass. 

    It does sound like you have the channels out of phase, even though you checked. This could occur with a mislabeled connector anywhere from the cart itself to the phono stage. To check for this condition reverse the wires on one channel and see if the bass comes in.  You can do this at the cart pins by switching the tags on the pins - either red/green or white/blue. 


    It's also possible to have an out of phase condition somewhere else down the line.  It's even possible some new component reverses polarity, who knows?
    Price tag might be part of problem that often manufacturers are negligent to the quality of assembly and set-up.
    Simple solution money back or fix the way it should sound as documented and confirmed.

    Wetfeet - What are the chances of trying another cart and seeing if bass response improves? Am thinking to borrow something or buy an inexpensive cart like a Grado Black or a Shure.  Yes, kind of a pain redoing the set up but could eliminate a lot of guessing and angst.  Good luck.  
    What I question is your evaluation of the bass. Could it be that the last cartridge had a plethora of bass, and this one is more even handed?? Also, you might try sitting the new turntable on a different shelf/table/etc. I don’t think that its the turntable setup. I had an Ortofon that was internally wired wrong...perhaps that same person wired yours. I sent mine back and got a brand new one questions perfectly now.
    Yes its hard to know without hearing.  Is there truly no bass whatsoever?  Not quite as much as the CD player?   Is it the lowest bass had with CD missing but rest there? 
     Ok, results! After reading all the suggestions yesterday I decided to come home and completely re set-up everything from start to finish, but with even more attention to detail. Right off the bat upon someone's suggestion, I did notice the tiny red cart cable partially out, so I pressed that all the way back in. I continued to go through everything else, got out the level, ruler, magnifying glass, etc and really tried to get it right. Then I let the unit run the rest of the evening on low volume while I watched TV, just thinking of someone's comment about maybe needing more break-in. 
     Today I pulled out a brand new out-of-the-cellophane LP and started her up. Wow, what a difference, dynamics there, soundstage, the bass/mid bass there, something happened in a good way. The problem is, it's kind of inconclusive as I'm not sure what I did that fixed it. I have a hunch it might have been that cable, but then it might be a combination of things. I put the old Eagles album back on and definitely noticed that the older pressed vinyl was inferior. Very noticeable. Bummer as I have more "oldies" on the way from eBay that will probably sound inferior. The music is really enjoyable now and makes up for a first evening of regret and anticlimax listening. I know the break-in is controversial but I imagine it might improve with more time. Now that I think about it, I did receive a discount for an open box unit, which leads me to believe my TT may have been "tampered" with previously. 
     Someone above inquired which cables I was using, they are just the stock Pro-ject cables, is there a consensus that replacing them helps? Any recommendations? Tweaking is just a nature of the beast in this hobby and I would love to improve them. The rest of my system uses Audioquest, but I'm open to anything. I've read they should be TT specific cables.
     I'm going to let this unit burn in for another 40-50 hours and then make a decision how deep to delve into things. As someone mentioned above, the point of diminishing returns is knocking at the door. I'm really enjoying the Rogue Audio amp as well (had a Bryston bp60 for 17 years). 
     Thanks again for your help. The wife isn't home yet and I'm going straight in the listening room to crank some tunes....
    Glad to note you've obtained more satisfactory results.  The biggest differences in turntable performance often come from tiny changes.  Alignment is probably the most important, closely followed by VTF and VTA.  Pro-Ject makes a nice protractor called Strobe-It that's easier to use than the paper one in their manual.  You note you were tracking at 1.75 grams (presuming that 17.5 in your post yesterday was a typo - I hope it was). You might find 2 grams more pleasant with the 2M Red; it worked better with mine on my vintage PL-15D II, anyway.

    On the old Eagles album, some stuff just wasn't pressed all that well and/or was poorly mastered.  Age has very little to do with it in most cases.  I have an original Verve stereo pressing of the Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz Getz/Gilberto from 1963 that is one of the best recordings I've ever heard.  Try some other stuff, and make sure your LPs and stylus are clean before every play.  Lots of posts in the archives here if you want to get more info on that.

    Cabling is another topic that generates a lot of comment here, so the archives are again useful.  You'll have to decide what works for you for yourself.  The only thing I'll add is a link to what Roger Russell from McIntosh had to say:  

    Good luck & (now) happy listening!
    Hey whatever it was sounds like things are better now, maybe even working as it should.  The loose cart connection would be my first bet, but does not matter at this point.   Next time, to be able to determine conclusively only change one thing at a time between listens.  But hey you covered multiple suspects in short time and made a difference so good for you!.

    Hope it works out.   If not, there is always the digital.

    Myself, I would not use a turntable these days unless I already owned a bunch of records or was interested in old recordings not available otherwise.   Both apply to me.    I bought my current "good" table back in the 80s when digital was just starting because I already had a lot of records I liked and did not want to have to replace.  Nowadays, I might buy a new or rare lp once in  a while but mostly I seek out older less popular records in good shape on the cheap just to be able to expand my library with new interesting listens for not very much.   Buying cheap used vinyl rather than CDs can help pay for teh table over time.     Plus many analog recordings from teh 60's and earlier mastered with tube gear and prior to advent of transistors in particular and even from the seventies prior to digital are unique sonic treats these days.  Even remastered to CD.   Its harder to justify buying newer recordings on vinyl over CD IMHO unless said recording is known to be special for some reason.

    I’m in the same boat my friend.I dove back into analog after a 30 year absence,If your comparing digital to it,it never stands up in terms of dynamics,pace,speed and certainly da bottom end and the control of it.Nature of the beast,IMO....

    missioncoonery, if that’s your current take on vinyl vs. digital, you have some great discoveries and fun listening to look forward to as you adjust your analog playback chain to realize its full potential.

    It’s almost a subconscious thing that happens if you’re willing to experiment with platter mats, platforms, cartridges, headshells (if applicable), etc. I liked my vinyl playback when I got back into it eight years ago after 20 years of all-digital, but my rig (with the same turntable) sounds way better now. Over the years I got a fluid damper for the tonearm, sorbothane platter mat, better headshell, upgraded cartridge, brass cones and Vibrapod isolators for the footers, a thick maple butcherblock cutting board and silicone gel pads as an isolation platform. I also improved the phono stage a couple of times. 

    Cartridge burning-in and cabling are controversial only to those who can't hear things. You've got substandard cable. I would not jump to 2g tracking force if 1.75g is recommended, I would try 1.8g and 1.7g and I would experiment with anti-skate the last. Give it at least 100 hours of play in any case.
     Hi mapman, I had thought about trying out each adjustment/tweak to find the problem, but had it in my mind I wanted to do it all over again anyhow. Probably should've tried it out after the cart cable find though. I was surprised when I realized I hadn't seen that before. I wish this table had VTA adjustments, doesn't seem like the arm sits perfectly parallel to the platter. It's almost like the factory sets it for the presumably thinner metal platter, but the thicker acrylic platter looks higher/taller. Nothing too big though, just a mm or two.
     In the end I'm not sure why I wanted a new TT without a collection of vinyl as you have, could have upgraded my current CDP and bought a ton of CDs instead. I'm still not 100% sure it was the most sensible decision! Curiosity, searching for more enjoyment, and just an excuse to spend more money on the hobby I suppose. It sure makes the decision difficult when buying used music, $4 for a CD, $24 for a crackly, popping unknown quality of an LP!
     Johnnyb53, did you find all those tweaks made a difference? Do you have the original/stock tonearm and RCA cables?
    wetfeet.....I have LP"S that about as quiet as a CD...though have better sound.  I find that older LP's sound better than new ones.  Go figure
    And your point is?
    Even a Pro-ject Carbon Espirit fitted with an Ortofon 2M Red is capable of delivering very good bass. Yes, the OP has a problem but its not the price tag! And we are all trying to help him solve it. If you have any technical advice to lend him, I am sure it would be appreciated.

    My point is clear paraneer, the reference to price was about the quality of this table, which is his problem. The technical advice was not to waste time with it, specially if one is after bass quality. 

    Me too Stringreen. I have lots of LP's that are as quiet as CD's, or nearly so.

    Wetfeet, I think that you made the right decision, whether you have lots of vinyl or no. The thing is to have clean vinyl. This quiets the noise and saves your cartridge. If you think about doubling or tripling the lifespan of a good cartridge, you can afford quite the record cleaner!

    I use ultrasound. DIY audio has a good thread on this.

    Also, may I suggest that you try to find your 10 favourite records as factory sealed copies. Many records have not been permanently damaged by previous play, but many others are irretrievable, and visual inspection is not always sufficient to differentiate them.

    Really, it is all worth it. Enjoy, enjoy.

    Very interesting stringreen and terry9, do you find certain press co or time frames or genres to be better than others? It's certainly reassuring knowing there's good, old, quiet vinyl out there. I really got into this as I'm interested in finding old blues and classic rock, maybe some R&B and disco even. Seems like those were just meant to be listened to on a TT. I'm really liking the new vinyl I've just opened though. The Gregory Porter I opened yesterday felt much thicker and heavier than others too. I like terry9's suggestion, I'm going to fork up the cash and buy 10 brand new great albums.

    As terry9 suggests, I think I need to spend some time cleaning the albums I've aquired. I did purchase the Record Cleaner MKII, and of course a felt pad and needle brush, but I wonder if I should take that a step further.
    Dkarmeli, I suppose price is relevant. The Esprit DC is no VPI Scout by any means, but it's not a Crosley either. It fits in with my system and budget, and I can at least upgrade the cart down the line. I'm not sure what type of bass a much higher priced unit would give. I'm not a bass head or looking for exaggerated bass, I just want to hear what's supposed to be there, naturally. I've went to considerable length and cost to have natural bass in my system.

    Inna, what type of cable do you recommend?

    I followed the saga from beginning to this end.  When you say that you let the system run while you watched TV (or something), were you actually playing LPs during this time, or was the system just "on"?  One point I failed to mention and which was not emphasized by others, either, is that many if not all cartridges DO require at least 5-10 hours of break-in from new, in order to max out the bass response, more so than for other higher frequencies.  IMO, this is because the suspension has to loosen up a bit.  I just went through such an experience with a re-tipped cartridge that had previously been "on the shelf" for many years.  What you experienced and are experiencing may be entirely due to break-in, which means that the bass response may continue to improve over the next several hours of actually playing LPs.

    I also agree with whoever else suggested not to increase VTF dramatically beyond the manufacturer's recommendation (+0.5g is dramatic) just to chase bass response.  There is good reason to stay within the recommended range unless you have serious mistracking.
    Hi Lewn, yes actually playing, needle to the LP. Looking back at your original post the tonearm is actually exactly as you suggested, ever so slightly slanted back. I think you're right about the break-in. Again today I'm just letting the player go on low with a new record just to see if some more play time helps out. It does seem to be getting better with time. I'll sit down for a listen in a couple hours.  
    I do think a combo of readjusting, the cart cable out slightly, and the newer LP the other night helped out quite noticeably. The first few LP's were just crazy lean sounding. 
    Wetfeet, as for taking cleaning a step further, I am rather unstable on the subject. I do a minimum of 15 minutes of ultrasound followed by 3 rinses of purified water plus one of distilled water. The results are obvious: water beads and streams off the records, like a newly waxed fender.

    After 400 hours, I inspected my premium cartridge with a lab microscope, and could find no trace of wear. Nor could my dealer. That means that the ultrasound more than paid for itself in cartridge life, and the better sound is just a bonus.

    I suggest that you go slow and improve things one step at a time. A record cleaning machine is a good investment, but buy it used - there is nothing much to go wrong. By the way, it is good to clean all records, even if they are new and sealed. Otherwise you risk a trace of oil in the grooves, which combines with dust, and forms a grinding compound which reshapes your stylus, and thence your wallet.