Sussurro MkII and surface noise?


I know there are a bunch of folks here using the SoundSmith Susurro MkII. I just finished setting mine up on my VPI Avenger and really the first thing I noticed is how much more surface noise it picks up off my records. I mean, by a lot. My previous go to cart has been a Benz Wood SL, one of the later ones with the MR stylus. I found that to be relatively quiet. The SS uses a O.C. Line Contact type stylus - not quite the same as a MR, but if anything I'd have thought it would be contacting areas of the groove not as heavily traveled as with the MR stylus, thinking it might be either the same or quieter. Not the case by a long shot. Anyone else experience higher surface noise with the Sussurro MkII?
tonyptony
I am no expert on stylus shapes, but so far as I know, micro-ridge types are quite different from line contact types.  Also, could you be leaping to conclusions based on only a few samples?  Those of us afflicted with audiophilia nervosa tend to do that.  I suggest you play a random large sample of LPs before worrying about surface noise, and I also think that maybe adjusting VTA might help, if the phenomenon is real.  I cannot tell you whether to raise or lower the pivot point, but do both to see what happens to surface noise.  Playing with the resistive load may also have an effect. Another low probability explanation might be that the new cartridge needs break-in.
You might be right, lewm. There's no doubt it is noisier, but I have read that OCLC types are very sensitive to set up. Maybe I need to experiment a bit. I'd be surprised, though, if the cart could quiet down so much from where it is with break-in - but who knows?
What tools did you use to set overhang, azimuth, and VTA/SRA?
SMARTractor and AnalogMagik.
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Tony, Once the azimuth is set, tracking force and anti skate dialed in. start with the tone arm bearing end low, just below were the tone arm is parallel to the record. Raise the rear a degree at a time listening to the noise in between. Give the noise a rating at each level write it down. At some point the noise will drop off then start going up again. Back off to where the noise is quietest. Set the Azimuth with mirror and the anti skate with a test record. These have to be right on. The last thing you do is the VTA. This will be the quietest you can get this cartridge. Differences in frequency response can make one cartridge sound noisier than others. 


Except setting azimuth with a mirror and any setting of anti-skate are inexact. Anyway VTA is where it’s at for this issue. Also I’d talk to Peter Ledermann. He’ll have the best advice.
New cart.

@mijostyn, yes that's a good approach. AnalogMagik's paradigm is that these interrelated adjustments are all optimized through the minimization of distortion as measured during each adjustment, cycling through the adjustments as needed (in a particular order) until the lowest distortion values are reached. I'm only just learning the ins and outs of this program, so maybe it's a good idea to fall back to a known method for this. 
@tonyptony I would concur. My experience with AnalogMagik is that it’s great for really fine tuning a setup that’s already good, but the sheer pita nature of going back and forth make it a tricky approach to getting to an initial setup.

Sounds like you have the tools and experience to get to a good place “by ear” so try this and then go back to AM once that’s done.

Also most cartridges need 20-40 hours to bed in and edginess and the behaviors you describe are typical of a new cart still needing to settle in
Thanks @folkfreak. I agree. 
I had a similar issue.  I set up my arm/cartridge using the AnalogMagik software and got it all dialed in from a numbers standpoint, but I didn't like the sound. I fine tuned the set up by ear and was able to get the performance I was looking for.  Since the only person that I need to please is myself (from a system perspective), I did not feel the need to remeasure and validate my set up using the software. 
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@folkfreak and @testpilot, what kind of distortion numbers were you getting from the VTA adjustment?
Since the only person that I need to please is myself (from a system perspective), I did not feel the need to remeasure and validate my set up using the software.


Yes. While I can appreciate the logic behind what AM is doing, I think the final judge winds up being your ears.

Point taken @viridian. What threw me is that in past cart setups I hadn't been surprised like this. My Zephyr MkII was/is relatively quieter. I'll give it time after I feel I've gotten it tweaked properly in setup.

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@tonyptony  I can’t remember the final number re VTA but I was clearly getting results that trended better (that’s until I ran out of room to lower my tonearm further, purely a function of some challenges I have in setup on my table, another 1mm would be ideal)

The AM setup seemed to optimize especially well for clarity and channel separation. Probably not as “organic” and “analog like” as the prior setup, but that’s a trend I see the more I optimize my vinyl rig, it sounds more and more like digital ie flat tonal response, very clear and open, no compression etc
The AM setup seemed to optimize especially well for clarity and channel separation.


Yes, this is what I've been concluding as well.

If you ever do consult Peter Ledermann regarding your issue with the Sussuro please let us know what he says. He was very helpful to me when I had an issue with a Grace Ruby re-tip. And no one knows the sussuro better than he.
Peter's OCL is without question, and by far, the most difficult stylus profile to dial in with respect to overall setup that I've ever had to deal with. Extremely sensitive to VTA in particular with respect to how noisy it will be in the groove but also VTF and azimuth of course.

There will be a very narrow window with respect to VTA/SRA in terms of how it will perform with respect to not exaggerating groove/surface noise once it has broken in. It will be interesting to see if that setting conforms to what the AM software is telling you.

I'd agree with other posters about putting 50-60 hours on the cartridge before really getting serious on the setup. IMO, once you have azimuth set up properly you will then need to experiment with very small incremental changes in VTA/SRA along with similarly small changes in VTF at the same time (I'd be inclined to going higher into the recommended range of VTF than lower) to try and nail the setting.

You will know it when you hear it and it will be much easier for you if your arm has VTA on the fly adjustment (mine does not).

But virtually any other line contact stylus (including Peter's on his mid level retip) is much easier and more forgiving to set up. Any of the microridge styli are even more forgiving IMO.
Ditto for me with my Grace Ruby re-tip, using the OCL stylus.  When it's good, it's very very good.  Etc.
I sure don't have the experience that some here do but I found my Sussurro the easiest cartridge I've ever owned to set-up. Maybe I just got lucky?
Maybe, @slaw . I set up my Benz SL when I first got a 3D arm in about 5 minutes. I figured the cart alignment gods were smiling on me that day.