Serious distortion from Rega RP1

Hi all,

My Rega RP1 has all of a sudden developed some major distortion. It comes and goes quite suddenly. Presumably, this could be anything from the cartridge to the phono stage, but I thought I'd ask to see if you all think one component is more likely than another to be the culprit. I'm using the included ortofon cartridge, the built-in phono cables, and a Red Wine Audio Ginevra phono stage. Unfortunately I don't have other equipment to swap in in order to isolate the problem area, so I'd appreciate any thoughts. Thank you!
I would check your settings on the phono pre , or even swap it out to see if that's the problem, your going to have to do some trouble shooting.....I would look closely at the phono pre settings and check the cartridge connections (maybe one is not connected very well, use a tweezers to check tightness of connections. The table im sure is fine and the cable is fine also ill bet.
It could be almost anything. Rather than wading through a million blind guesses, could you provide more specifics?
What does it sound like?
Both channels or just one?
When does it occur or not occur?
Agree with Matt Miller.

Make sure the wiring is securely connected to the cartridge.
Hi all,

Sorry for the delay and thanks for your responses. The catridge connections all appear very solid. Unfortunately I've only got the one phono stage, so I have no way of swapping it out.

Dougdeacon, here's a bit more info: The distortion is definitely in both channels. It's very noticeable, but it does come and go. It seems to appear during the same passages over and over when I play a record multiple times. Normally I would blame this on a damaged record, but this is happening even on new records that are played for the first time.

Thanks for all your help.
One more note: I know it's often the case that distortion is more common in loud passages due to grooved-out records or toward the end of an album due to cartridge misalignment. This distortion isn't related to volume or location of the stylus on the record.
Have you checked your VTF?
For the safety of your vinyl I'd also check VTF first. But if your noise is not correlated with music volume or inner grooves, that may not be the cause.

Sadly, even new records can have flawed vinyl due to errors during the pressing process. Such flaws sound alot like mistracking (FFZZZZT!) but are non-correlated with the music. They can happen anywhere on the record, though in truth they tend to affect the inner side of groovewalls more, which tends to produce L channel noise only.

It's beginning to sound like a loose or dirty connection somewhere. Try removing and cleaning each connection in your phono chain (cartridge clips, tonearm cable, phono stage, tubes, etc.)

If that doesn't help, a bad solder joint might be the culprit.

Lots of trouble shooting in your future... :-(
Hi all,

Well, I've established that the cartridge is perfectly aligned according to a Rega Baerwald protractor I found online. I have no way to test the phono stage at this point (no other turntable to use as a baseline), but my hunch is that someone took a duster to the stylus or caught it on a sweater - could this be the cause of serious distortion? I've also ordered a stylus gauge to get a sense of where VTF is, because I've been reading that Rega's "plug and play" version of a counterweight system is not as accurate as advertised. As you say above, if nothing else I want to protect the records.

I ordered a new cartridge (Soundsmith Otello) so I can try to isolate the problem. It's also a good excuse to upgrade, and the new cart will come with me when I graduate from the Rega RP1 ;)
Good option...I would contact your dealer or who ever the merchant involved is...possible to return RP1 as well?...Its a very entry level model and sounds like you have the upgrade bug...however upgrading without so living the issue is risky...I too believe its connections...grounding..just my .02...good luck
I wish I could return the Rega, but alas I'm well passed the warranty period. Part of the reason for a new cartridge is simply to have another "baseline" with which to isolate whatever technical problem is going on here, which is difficult to do when I only have one phono stage, one set of cables, one cartridge, etc. So if this new cartridge solves the problem that's great, but if not I've further narrowed the list of what could be going wrong (with the added benefit of owning a very good cartridge). Thanks to all of you for your continued help, and I'll keep you posted.
If you checked alignment et al on the turntable, its got to be electronic. A few years ago I had a similar issue crop up and traced it to a bad filter capacitor in the prepreamp.
Post removed 
Hey, I’ve got the exact same problem with a used RP1 that I bought.
Distortion seems to come and go, most noticeable in the highs. It’s prominent in very busy passages in the songs. Happens on all my records, most of them are brand new as well.

I’m ordering in a gauge scale and a new stylus/cartridge and re-doing the whole thing for added measure. But seriously, what was the issue with yours? I’m very keen to know if you fixed it!
I had an Rp1, when it was introduced. My reentry after a near 30 hiatus.

Excessive tracking force ?Have you tried backing off the counterweight a bit to hear if it goes away? 

I've re-aligned the stylus/cartridge as it was a little off, I backed off the counterweight a bit, then the tonearm just kept wanting to move away from the center, so I added more weight, now it's slightly less weight than recommended.
I still have the tonearm wanting to move away from the center, but it's less pronounce and it's only when it's high up.

Anyhow, I think it's a little better now, but it still distorts a little especially when there's a lot happening in the song. And the overall fidelity is a little lacking, but I think that's just the nature of the OM5E; stock cartridge, so yeah...

I'm gonna order the Ortofon 2M Red soon & a digital gauge and set it all up to the T then see how I go I guess. Hopefully I get better results, but this is definitely an improvement @tablejockey; so thank you! :D
Maybe the gathering of dust on the stylus.
Have you inspected that the arm has free movement?  not binding from time to time?
@stringreen I'm sorry, could you elaborate?
@raymonda I clean it with the stylus brush every time I am about to play a different record etc.
What I meant to suggest is that you take the arm in your hand and slowly move it across an imagined record to feel if there is an area where it doesn’t feel "smooth" ....or a bit stuck, etc.,,,an arm bearing flat spot, etc.
Silly me, there was a slight bump on the rubber that's on the arm rest. It was uneven enough to let the tonearm slide one way. All good now! :D
Now that I look at the cartridge & stylus more closely, I think the stylus is bent out of shape, and on the side it doesn't say OM 5E like the ones in the Ortofon website's pictures do. Mine only says OM.