tracking distortion on a p5 + rega cartridge?

Recently purchased a P5 and Super Elys cart... with most of my records (new, vacuum-cleaned) I get frequent distortion/pops/crackling in the right channel. Left channel is fine. I need to fix this ASAP.

Is this tracking distortion? I thoughts that with rega's 3-hole mounting I didn't need to worry about alignment when using rega cartridges.

Please tell me the best way to go about solving this problem. Thanks ;)
You will probably have to sight the cantilever of the cartridge using an alignment protractor.Not all cartridges are perfectly manufactured and cantilever alignment can quite often be out of true,this is one problem with Rega's system.I prefer to eyeball the cantilever and align that way rather than using the the body as it is more accurate.
here is a 10 sec sample of the problem:
Is this a digital or analog recording?Your bass sounds possibly too "fat" and your cymbals possibly "dull".This could be due to firstly an incorrect tracking weight and then the VTA would have to be adjusted accordingly.I don't think Rega's have VTA adjustment,but go to the Walker Audio site and you will see a link to fine-tuning your table,on the left.I don't think you would totally get rid of the noise but there is plenty of info about correct alignment,overhang,azimuth etc. for the Rega arm over at the Vinyl Asylum archives.
"Your bass sounds possibly too fat and your cymbals possibly dull."

Actually, that is how the music should sound for that particular passage (a fat synth line and dull kickdrum). I'm not concerned with the highs/lows, it's the distortion in the right channel I'm worried about...
The point about the way a record "sounds" indicates something about the cartridge and issues it could be having.This is very subjective and you must use your ears very critically listening for the small things.With a good table like a Rega P5 you should look for every clue.You should worry about alignment and not accept the Rega method as the last word.Many prefer a Baerwald aligment over Rega's as it gets better results with distortion.The sound and surface noise you hear will change with the cartridge model and alignment system you use.Records themselves must be cleaned even before their first play.The manufacturing process leaves debris in the grooves and surface of a record,which acts as missiles on the groove walls destroying a record, if the record has not been thoroughly deep groove cleaned first.If you are doing this(cleaning) and there is distortion,claim a refund or new copy.Many complain today about damaged new pressings from various companies.You could also have a damaged stylus which chews up records,do not play anything if ALL your records are distorting and get a professional to check your set-up.
These records are vacuum-cleaned before any playing, as is the stylus.

I guess I should try the Baerwald aligment instead of using the stock rega template. I just have a hard time imagining that this distortion is normal when the cart is aligned according to the manufacturers specs.

Oh, I should also mention that the distortion is far more active when playing the outer edges (beginning) of a record.
A good test for cartridge mistracking is to play the last track of a record and to assess how well a table is performing,but if you are noticing a change in distortion levels that is consistent,double-check your alignment.This can be laborious but there is no other way.I would be wary of the cartridge for the moment and not risk any further damage to your L.P's.Something is wrong.Make your sure cleaning methods are not the culprit-i.e double check everything.Too harsh cleaning can cause irreparable damage.Manufacturer's spec's it must be pointed out also are only a guide,things like required tracking force can change with the weather,if not a record.If you can try another cartridge(not necessarily a Rega)to see what happens.
Well, I ordered some new gear from needledoctor to help me fix my prob.

-Rega Exact Cartridge
-Geo Disc (uses Baerwald alignment)
-Onzow Zerodust stylus cleaner & some Caig ProGold contact cleaner

If this doesn't solve it, I give up.
Good luck with the new gear,it should work out.The Exact is a very good cartridge.I would also consider a really good record cleaning fluid like Disc Doctor,Gruv Glide or Last Record Preservative.For phagocytes i.e microscopic mould on records which is impossible to remove there is Vinyl-Zyme.I think Music Direct has a similar product as well.The unseen can lurk as well.
As far as record cleaning... I give em a go with Orbitrac 2 (to get alot of the initial grime/dust/debris off), followed by a thorough clean with the Nitty Gritty 1.5fi. Then a quick spray with compressed air before playing.

I can't imagine vinyl getting any cleaner than that...
Well, just tried the Baerwald alignment with my existing setup... exact same prob. Distortion in the right channel. Adjusting the antiskate doesnt help either.

Guess I'll wait for my new cartridge to arrive.

BTW, is it safe to use Caig ProGold contact cleaner on both the headshell and tonearm leads (or whatever you call the wires that connect the arm to the cartridge)? Just want to make sure...
The problem is now if you have actually damaged any records and so don't use any new ones for testing,as the damage does not have a magical cure.If you have something you can use for testing by all means try to get your adjustments right.I would go to the Van Den Hul cartridges site and look for their phono faq which you can download.It is one of the best comprehensive intros around.Mr.Van Den Hul recommends contact oil to improve the cartridge/tonearm connection.I would be wary of getting contact cleaner on the cartridge as there are delicate parts that might be affected by aggressive chemicals.

well, installed a brand new Exact cart, aligned with geodisc (baerwald and cleaned the tonearm leads with caig progold.

Right channel distortion remains.

Sorry to hear about this.Obviously to my mind you have alignment issues happening.Have you checked your azimuth and overhang to see if they are correct? You can check with a level if the Rega arm's face where it meets the cartridge is perfectly flat.
Could be the phono, line stage, tonearm cable, etc. have you tried matching other electronics?

Did you try swapping the RCAs over at the phono preamp inputs to see if the problem is the turntable or the amp ?

You could also swap the channels at the cartridge to see if there is a tonearm wiring problem.

Alignment / VTA problems have always manifested as distortion in both channels for me, never in only one channel.
Swapped over to another phono; the prob remains.

Going to bring my p5 over to Brooks Berdan in Monrovia and have him diagnose/configure/repair/etc.
Please post back and let us know what happens in case we ever run into a similar problem.
Short of a defective cartridge or tonearm wires I can't think what the problem could be.
"Short of a defective cartridge or tonearm wires I can't think what the problem could be."

Definitely will. Going to see Brooks Berdan (tt technician) on Sat.

Has to be the tonearm or leads thats causing this (I'm hoping it's the latter)... 2 different, brand new rega carts yield the same prob.
Did you try unscrewing the RCA connectors to make sure it's not something obvious like a broken connection in the RCA connector itself. I've had that happen to me. I'm lucky enough to have soldering equipment lying around so it was a 2 minute fix.

Seems that my P5 came from the factory with a damaged tonearm... was not level. The TT itself was fine, as was the cart; somewhere between the arm/table mount and the pivot point it was tweaked enough to make the cart tilt down on the right side.

Currently dealing with warranty stuff to get it replaced. What a PITA.
Yes I thought it was some kind of alignment problem,it's good to hear you got it identified.Rega are usally very good about replacement so you should be up and running in no time.
Rega replaced the arm with no questions... everything sounds lovely now :)
Good to hear!