Talk Me off the Ledge - A cry for help

I got an MMF 2.1 about 3 weeks ago along with some used reggae records in good condition. I cleaned the records and they sounded very good. I bought the Pink Floyd reissue of DSOTM and the vocals sound horrible. Everything else on the record sounds awesome but the vocals are ssssooo sssibilant its hurting my ears. Ive adjusted the tracking weight with a Shure gauge, fixed the azimuth with the included paper graph and played with the VTA to try to make the arm parallel to the record, all with NO SUCCESS. The vocals still sound like crap. My 2.1 came with the Music Hall Tracker/Goldring Elan cartridge and Ive played it close to 40hrs. Could it need more breaking in? Any suggestions on improving the sound? Should I abandon the cartridge and get another one? Thanks for all your help guys!
Just putting the arm parallel with the record doesn't get it. You have to play around with it until you get it right. When you use different thicknesses of records, you sometimes need to adjust the VTA to suit the thickness of the record, because the thickness changes the VTA.

Once you get the "hang" of VTA adjustment, it will be rather easy to dial it in for those certain thick records that move it off enough to hear.

If all your other records sound ok to you except DSOTM, then your cartridge is satisfactory for you. You need to figure out what is different about this record. My guess is that it is a thick record and changing VTA.

Adjusting VTA is a fact of life with vinyl, and you'll be doing alot of it, so it's best to get used to doing it. Try making very slight adjustments, first moving it down slightly at the rear, and if that doesn't seem to improve things, try moving it up slightly in the rear. When I say slightly, I mean slightly. Then you will hear what differences these changes make, and you'll get an idea of what to do when you want to change the sound characteristics that you want. This is a try-and-listen type method. There is no other method than this. All analog users do this by try-and-listen.
Well, Ive started to notice it on some used Doors, and Grateful Dead records but wasnt sure it was because of the condition of the record (good BTW, not great) or the recording. My reggae records (used, but in very good condition) sound very good but they dont have much vocals or they are old recordings. I guess I need to experiment with other new vinyl.

The manual states the TT is set up in the factory for optimum performance. The way it was setup the tracking weight was a bit off, the cartridge headshell wasnt prallel to the little gauge that came with it, and the arm wasnt parallel. Ive corrected the first 2 but the last adjustment is driving me nuts. I wonder if the arm base being up so high was the way it was meant to be? The cartridge was set up at about a 10 degree angle to the arm base.Any other suggestions to help fix the sound?
Obviously something moved in shipment. There should never be a 10 degree slope on the arm. About 1-2 degrees up or down, from parallel is about it. If it was supposed to be way up there, it would sound boomy as hell down where you are playing it now.

If you want another reference point, use the SRA(stylus rake angle). Put the stylus in the groove of a non-moving record. Look at the stylus from the side, and if your eyes are real good, you can see the little diamond sticking down into the groove under the tip of the cantilever. This tiny diamond stylus shaft should be sticking straight up from the record. If it is tilted noticeably either forward or backward, then you should adjust your VTA so that the SRA is vertical. Then use that as your starting position for listening testing.
Apart from all the tweaks: ever considered the thought that the vocals on the Pink Floyd record do sound sibilant? If the reggea-records sound good, your set-up shouldn't be to bad. I only own a original copy of DSOTM (not the remastered version), and that souds ok, although a bit processed.

Take one of your thinnest LP's and place it on the bare platter. If you use a mat, place it on top of this LP and then try playing one of the problem LP's. This is a quick/dirty way to change VTA.

Lowering the rear/tail end of the cartridge decreases HF info while increasing bass response and reversing this does the opposite (the trick is find the right balance).

It the arm height adjustable on the 2.1? If not, VTA can be adjusted by either shimming the cartridge or the LP (as mentioned above).

I set the VTA on my TT for thick album stock and use a DIY wool felt mat to adjust for thinner stock (doing so is as easy as placing an LP on the platter). If felt is not a good choice for the MMF, then there are other materials to choose from, like cork, vinyl sheeting, et cetera.

If your cartridge is the same as the one supplied on the MMF-5, then it's on the bright side to start with though it will mellow some with use.

I auditioned the MMF-5 three times (same shop) and when the deck was new it was very bright sounding (like a cheap CD player). The second and third tries were better, after the unit had some playing time on it. I also auditioned a well broken in MMF-5 @ another shop (the crew was playing it quite a bit:-) and it sounded better yet.

Could also be that the LP's which are problematic are not up to snuff in the first place.

It's also imortant to level the platter of the TT. A cheap way to select a round bubble level ($2-$3) @ most hardware stores is to borrow one or two good levels and a plate of sheet glass from stock. Level the glass by shimming it with credit/business cards and use this to test the cheap bubble levels for accuracy. The employee's @ my local store, just laughed and allowed me to do this (out of the sampling that I did more than half were off).
Thanks for all the suggestions guys.

TWL- thanks SRA is ok checked it out with magnifying glass

Satch- I just listened to a couple of Police LPs and they sound pretty good. Could be the Pink Floyd.

Dekay- My table is level, as I checked it with a bubble level and shimmed it up with some cardboard slices. The VTA is adjustable, as I finally managed to unscrew the crappy screws in the tonearm base.

A couple of other questions guys:

1)Is it worth it to buy another copy of DSOTM just to make sure the one I have isnt defective?

2)Every time I screw in the tonearm base screws after adjusting VTA the arm seems to slightly pitch forward from the screws pushing the base in. Should it do this?

Many thanks for all your quick responses. The Police helped pull me away from the ledge temporarily but Im still on the roof.
You just need to "snug" the screw. It doesn't have to be real tight. Just so it stays in place, is all it needs.

It might just be the album. I don't know, I don't have that particular record.
I have it, no sibilance at all. If the rest of your LP's sound "right" and you've tried the suggestions given, it could be that particular copy. The new re-release is actually quite good, second only in my mind to the Japanese Pro version or a pristine UK first pressing.
Tom is right about the need to adjust something. I bought three copies of that reissue and have never heard anything but first rate quality music. The LP was done very well.

That isn't to say that you did not get a flawed copy of the LP. It's possible that there was something left on the LP surface or for some reason, it was poorly pressed.
They say, "Jump!" (david bowie)

Brad Day
Atlanta, GA
I heard that table, and the cartridge supplied with it was horrible; it was bright and sibilant. But then, you gotta' figure that they aren't going to give you a great cartridge at the price that table sells-for....
Put it away as a spare and get a better quality cartridge.
4yanx, I want to do a DSOTM vinyl shootout. I have a US Capitol release, a UK EMI/Harvest pressing, an MFSL version and the new 30th reissue. I would like to find an early pressing of the UK EMI/Harvest. I'm told that the label on the first pressing was all blue inside the triangle. My UK version has blue along the inside border of the triangle. Also, I have found a copy of the Japanese pro use version, but it is a bit expensive for me right now.

Do you have any sources for the early UK pressing?


nighteyesO, you can check E-bay, I just picked up a 1st press(blue triangle) for $20 after the exchange rate!