Tonearm microphonics


When I have the volume at my normal level & tap the arm (not whilst playing vinyl) it is slightly amplified... Is it possible to significantly reduce/eliminate this?

Current set up - Roksan Xerxes 20plus, Origin Live Encounter tonearm (thin cork ring at the base) with Lyra Skala.

Apologies if this is a stupid question!
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There is nothing wrong. As long as you don't have any problem when you are playing a record,why would you worry about it?
I was just wondering if it's worth having the arm dampened...
I doubt that would change anything. If I tap on my SME arm I can hear a light sound. If you tap on the plinth and you don't hear anything then you should be fine!
Tonearms are designed to have a resonant frequency around 12 Hz or so that they can't  be excited by speaker generated acoustic waves. Tonearms are, however, subject to very low frequency seismic type vibration coming up from the floor which contains vibration in region 0-20 Hz and higher.

Not at all a stupid question. Doesn't appear to be anything to worry about.
Thanks for the replies guys.

The Tri-Planar Mk VII is dampened with silicone fluid...so there must be benefits...??
I'd think this would be undesirable.  While the turntable is playing music, sound waves are constantly "tapping" the tone arm.  Sure, it's at a microscopic level, but when you are talking about high end sound and the precision involved in playing grooves as accurately as possible every little thing matters. You'd want both the tonearm and table to be able to damp this as much as possible.
This is a gross simplification and distortion. Everything needs to be tuned as much as possible, not dampened. Try to dampen a guitar or piano. But tuning is so much more difficult than dampening. Sound must be alive.
@infection you are unfortunately misunderstanding two uses of the term dampening in the context of tonearm design. The silicone fluid is used to damp the movement of the entire tonearm for example in response to warps. Adding wrap to the arm will damp resonances in the arm itself but not damp the bearing type motion. My advice is to be very careful - the designers of your arm may well have tuned it to sound best as is and adding wrap to the arm may overly deaden the sound
@inna - interesting, thanks.

@folkfreak - thanks for elucidating...so perhaps Origin Live would suggest upgrading to a different model in their range...!


Inna — I disagree with your comparison completely. "Try to dampen and guitar or piano" — this is irrelevant. Those are instruments designed to resonate and amplify sound from the slightest stimulus — a tonearm has the exact opposite purpose, to produce no sound of its own, merely to transmit the signal from the stylus to the other end of the cable at the preamp input, adding Zero resonance or vibration of its own.

The lower the compliance of the cartridge stylus’ suspension, the more the energy from that cartridge is transmitted into the arm. The stiffer and more damped the arm tube, the more it resists resonating from the energy being pumped into it. Also, the stiffer the tube, the higher in Hz is it’s own resonant frequency, and the more damped it is, the lower the Q of that resonance---a broader, more shallow resonant profile. The energy fed into the arm tube migrates to the back end, where it is transmitted into the arm’s bearing(s). The better the bearing(s), the less they rattle or create chatter---noise, which decreases transparency and resolution.

The arm’s designer has to balance all the competing demands, making compromises to achieve over-all best performance and sound. Applying after-market damping to an arm may upset that balance, actually decreasing the sound quality the arm can provide.

The best way to damp a tonearm/cartridge is at the headshell, as is done in the unique Townshend Audio Rock turntable.

Thanks for your input bimasta & bdp24.

It appears then that the only solution is to upgrade & not have the arm modified even by Origin Live...
You could just do nothing and enjoy the high quality sound reproduction you already have.
I have been enjoying it but there's always room for improvement...!

By touching the arm you are causing the so called ''ground loop''.

There must be something wrong with either your phono-cable

or the tonearm ground. I own + 40 carts with no hum problem

at all except by my most expensive cart; the Allaerts MC 2 gold.

The problem must be in the cart but by Expert Stylus in UK they

were not able to discovere anything wrong with the cart. No

wonder nobody knows how and why hum problem arise and

conseqently how to get rid of it. ''Trying'' is the only advise one

can get.

Dear @infection : What you are listening is totally normal because that tonearm has mounted a very sensitive microphone in that Skala cartridge ( or any cartridge, it does not matters. ) that when we tap a tonearm we can have that kind of tiny " sound ". Nothing wrong with that.

Now, the level of that tiny sound  is different from tonearm to other one depending on the tonearm overall design and how well is dampening it self and of course the cartridge model.

Any one of us can test it and in more or less way we can have that experience. Maybe in some systems the system volume needs to be higher than in others and depends too where we tap/hit the tonearm.

Now, if you are satisfied with what you are listening in your LPs just forgeret about and enjoy what you have.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R. 
What you are listening is totally normal because that tonearm has mounted a very sensitive microphone in that Skala cartridge ( or any cartridge, it does not matters. ) that when we tap a tonearm we can have that kind of tiny " sound ". Nothing wrong with that.

This is so funny Raul keeps coming up with these funny theories that aren’t even remotely related to reality yet he portrays himself as an expert in Music Reproduction Systems and especially phono playback. A phono cartridge is not a microphone! A microphone converts sound to an electrical signal by employing the use of a diaphragm. A cartridge is actually a tiny electrical generator that uses a stylus/cantilever to create the signal using a magnet and coil and the stylus/cantilever is excited NOT by sound but by the motion of the stylus/cantilever in the record groove! These are two different things! You do not want your phono cartiridge to be "microphonic" because that signal can interact and distort the intended signal! That is why they call it "microphonic" because it is acting like a "microphone" which is not what you want the cartridge to do. A microphone is designed to reproduce sound and a quality phono cartridge is designed to NOT reproduce sound but only the signal that is in the groove which is not "sound" it is little wiggles in a groove. Raul your theories are amusing but they are almost always wrong wrong wrong.
I agree with clearthink on this. A phono cartridge is not a microphone and microphonic behavior in a turntable system is something you want to minimize. The best turntable/pickup arm/phono cartridge combinations can virtually eliminate microphonics and the distortion that results.
Dear @cleeds : I know is not a microphone and I know exactly how a cartridge works but in that behavior acts as it.

When we tap a tonearm/cartridge combination vibrations are developed and transmited to the cartridge that takes it as a " signal ".

Now, this has not to be controversial and please do it a favor:

take five different tonearm/combinations and ( in any audio system. ) tap/hit the tonearm and " listen ".
As I posted in different systems we need different volume levels on set up and way important is where we need to tap/hit the tonearm and the tap intensity levels. Do it as nearest you can to the headshell and then return here and share your first hand experiences about.

Of course that we can improve on it wrapping the tonearm arm wand or with what you want to do it but the issue is that that tap sound exist, is inherent down there. There is not perfect audio systems or tonearm/cartridge one combinations. Different kind of designs comes with different kind of trade-offs ! ! !

As I said, make the tests in your system and come back: easy, rigth? ! ! or do you already did it? yes?: ok: let us know exactly your proccess on those tests. Can be enligthed your experiences about.

Btw, any one can test it.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.


Raul says " that tonearm has mounted a very sensitive microphone in that Skala cartridge ( or any cartridge, it does not matters. ) that when we tap a tonearm we can have that kind of tiny " sound ". Nothing wrong with that" then he says "I know is not a microphone and I know exactly how a cartridge works" but he doesn't know "exactly how a cartridge works" at all in fact as cleeds pointed out " microphonic behavior in a turntable system is something you want to minimize" but Raul says " Nothing wrong with that" when you have microphonics which as has been noted can cause distortion. So once again Raul shows he does not understand even the most basic operation of a good Music Reproduction System and when confronted with actual facts instead of his self-created theories Raul doesn't know what to say he does not even know how to say "I was mistaken" which is what makes his proclamations so especially misleading it would not be so bad if Raul said, "My theory is" but what he says is "it's a fact" and in the case of Raul his theory and the facts are often occupying separate universes but when Raul starts to get out in to the real world he will probably figure out that many of his theories about all sorts of things are just that and don't line up with how things really are. Time to start growing up and living in the real world, Raul!
I submit that tapping tests are inconclusive or misleading. We know that cartridges (and tonearms) are designed to have resonant frequencies around 10-12 Hz. That’s so acoustic waves won’t excite their natural frequencies (since they the acoustic waves don’t go that low). So it’s the very low structureborne frequencies we should worry about, not acoustic waves or tapping. Isolation, not damping, is the answer. If you don’t like the way tapping sounds don’t tap it. Tapping is not necessarily an indication of anything since most likely nothing natural will have the same impact or amplitude.

Ok but I'm curious: if an arm which is tapped is quite dead, is this an indicator of a superior arm thus allowing to hear more of a cartridges characteristic...? 
Cartridge and Microphone do the same thing!
http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/site/b0d226992d31e25d/
If you use a Stethoscope you will hear tapping on any arm you use!
http://bestreviews.com/best-stethoscopes
If you use a Stethoscope you will hear tapping on any arm you use!


Yes & if I set fire to my system it won't work. 
Fascinating thread...

Infection wants an arm that won't "tap". It's his sole criterion — he could list twenty different strength and weaknesses of his tonearm, but he doesn't — it "taps", that's it, so needs a new one. His new one will tap too but we'll save that for the sequel.

Meanwhile, Clearthink disagrees angrily with everything Raul says, as quickly as he can type it and post it.

Keep it coming guys, it's entertaining...
It also appears 16 of Clearthink's last 18 post, on 4 different threads , have been spent to dog Raul. 

That has to be a record of some sort!



....when I read the title of this thread, my first impression was that the tonearm was acting like a microphone, picking up mutterings during cue up....

The only thing to be concerned about would be if it taps back...in code...;)
Infection wants an arm that won't "tap". It's his sole criterion — he could list twenty different strength and weaknesses of his tonearm, but he doesn't — it "taps", that's it, so needs a new one. His new one will tap too but we'll save that for the sequel.


I'm not losing sleep over this & won't be buying another arm any time soon...more curiosity than concern.
Talking of curiosity, are you a 'masta' at being bi...?

Dear @infection : " if an arm which is tapped is quite dead, is this an indicator of a superior arm thus allowing to hear more of a cartridges characteristic...? "

A tonearm designer takes in count the cartridge needs and he defines the main targets he wants to fulfill in its design where good damping/isolation could be only one of his targets ( or not. ).
A tonearm is a whole characteristics item and each one characteristic enrich the tonearm overall quality performance.

Now, which are your targets?. If one of those targets is to have a dead silence event when tapping a tonearm then is your choice but you have to take in count several parameters as: cartridge characteristics/design, kind of plattform/base where the tonearm is mounted, tonearm internal wire quality, where in the arm wand you are tapping, intensity of that " tapping ", resolution system levels, etc, etc.

Taking in count all those and many other parameters and everything the same YES my choice will be the one with lower tapping sound.
In real playback conditions the tonearm/cartridge combination will not lives with tapping events but a good damped/isolated tonearm always is welcomed and helps to fulfill in better way those cartridge needs that means to mantain distortion levels at minimum through the tonearm design along each link in the system chain.

Btw, @geoffkait maybe that tapping sound could means almost nothing for some of us but I think is something to think about. In the other side, that ideal tonearm/cartridge resonance frequency works during playback when the compliance cartridge is working and interacting with the tonearm effective mass but when in rest status things are different.

Anyway, in that regards the cartridge function as a very sensitive microphone, it is a transducer.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Tapping the tone arm while it as rest will say almost nothing about how it will sound when doing its job. It really is right next door to the address marked 'Red Herring' on Red Herring street.
Dear @atmasphere : I think you have a misunderstood about because that's not the issue and not what the op asks.

Btw, nothing can tell us how any tonearm " will sound doing its job " till we listen it mounted and playing in our audio systems.

regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Dear @infection : I unknow your complete audio system items and seems to me that at some time in this thread you was asking for a tonearm change even that at the end you stated: "  on't be buying another arm any time soon. "

But if you ( in the future. ) look to improve your analog experiences maybe you should " think " to own a better phono cartridge than your Skala.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Dear @yogiboy : Curious that you linked stethoscopes because is an " audio " item that any audiophile must owns, good audio tool.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Dear @asvjerry : """  when I read the title of this thread, my first impression was that the tonearm was acting like a microphone... """

and you was and are rigth.

Btw, @cleeds : do you tested it? not yet?

Regrads and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
@rauliruegas
That’s the reason I mentioned it. It is a great tool to use. The OP thought I was fooling with him!
rauliruegasBtw, @cleeds : do you tested it? not yet?
I tested my pickup arm for microphonics before I purchased it. Limiting microphonics is a critical function of a good pickup arm.
@rauliruegas
I think you have a misunderstood about because that’s not the issue and not what the op asks.
In this case you are wrong; I merely cut to the quick of it. It does not matter what the arm sounds like when it is at rest. It matters quite a lot what is sounds like when playing. The OP was careful to mention that his arm was at rest. Hence my response.
Would not an arm unusually microphonic while at rest also be so while at play?
Wasn't there a reviewer many years ago who wrote cartridge reviews based on the sound he heard when tapping on the tonearm resting on a platter?
The Townshend Rock line of tables use a trough which I believe address this and other issues of resonance when playing records - I think professor Dinsdale did a white paper on this issue - a google search ought to help you to locate this.
If an arm is not stiff enough and/or it does not have enough self damping (does not effectivelyt dissipate the energy of its vibration as heat), the vibrations imparted by the cartridge will feed back excessively to the cartridge and this will affect the sound.  That is why, designers try hard to maximize stiffness and internal damping within the constraints of having to keep the arm from being too massive.

But, theory aside, not everyone likes the sound of those arms that maximize both stiffness and damping.  I have not heard it, but, a friend heard the SAT tonearm (exraordinarily stiff and damped) and thought it sounded a bit too clinical and lifeless.  Some tonearm manufacturers offer an assortment of different materials used in the tonearm shaft to tune the particular resonance of the arm to a particular cartridge or personal preference of the owner (e.g., Shroeder).

If you have ever played with liquid damping of tonearms (changing the level of fluid in a damping trough on an SME or the level in the bearing cup of an arm like the Basis Vector), it is quite easy to hear how changing the amount of damping affects the sound.  It is hardly the case that maximizing damping results in the best sound.

I know a lot of people would like improvement in audio to be a simple case of increase this or decrease that, but, it is actually far more complex than that.  So much of it involves "tuning" and matching things in a complementary fashion and making the right compromises.  
Dear @atmasphere : Totally wrong. The sound not comes from the tonearm: it can't be that way. Sound comes from the cartridge, that's the difference. Infection is hearing the sound from the speakers.

"  When I have the volume at my normal level.... "


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Clearthink,  You wrote, "A microphone converts sound to an electrical signal by employing the use of a diaphragm. A cartridge is actually a tiny electrical generator that uses a stylus/cantilever to create the signal using a magnet and coil and the stylus/cantilever is excited NOT by sound but by the motion of the stylus/cantilever in the record groove!" 

Cartridges may not be (identical to) "microphones", but they ARE "microphonic".  In your zeal to insult Raul, you have gone off the track.  If you doubt me (or Raul), try shouting at your cartridge when your phono system is activated and phono gain is present.  As microphones, cartridges are less efficient than actual microphones, but they are very similar in concept. Both depend upon physical excitation to convert mechanical energy into an electrical signal. They are more alike than different.  Also, cut back on the caffeine; that may help.
@rauliruegas 

Totally wrong. The sound not comes from the tonearm: it can't be that way. Sound comes from the cartridge, that's the difference. Infection is hearing the sound from the speakers.
Of course!! I'm sure this is a language issue as you and I are in complete agreement on this point. I think you must have misunderstood.
@atmasphere : Yes, can be that way, a misunderstood.
R.
Dear @cleeds : Do you mean that you tested before bougth it in your today cartridge room/system?

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Dear @lewm : We can't argue against facts.

"  zeal to insult Raul  "  ? ?

Well, any ignorant, self masoquist and frustrated can't insult because just does not exist. Ignorance and frustration is a critical brain illness but who cares. Certainly not me ! ! 

Btw, here in town and between friends and as a joke when one gentleamn made a " mistake " on a discussion people say:

" hey, stop to make public your stupidity high levels. "

 where " public " here means: shows to every one !

As I said: who cares.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Its all a tradeoff.....years ago I went nuts and applied Marigo dots all over the amp and preamp....absolutely ruined the sound.  Re: damping in a tonearm.  I had the metal VPI arm which is easily damped by applying oil in its well.  3 drops of fluid ruined the sound space....1 drop of fluid was ok.....I went with no oil at all.

When the Townshend Audio Rock table was introduced in the 80's (I believe it was), which connects the headshell of the tonearm mounted on it to a trough containing silicone damping fluid, some of the British reviewers liked it's "master tape" sound, while others (particularly those in the Linn Sondek camp) found it's sound to be "overdamped", too "controlled".

Can an arm be "too" damped, too non-resonant? Are those two things the same? I don't want my arm to add any resonance to the sound the mechanical-to-electrical transducer (cartridge) produces, any more than I want the enclosure of a loudspeaker to add any resonance to the electrical-to-mechanical transductance the speaker performs. Is that a fair and accurate equivalency?