Turntable sibilance

Okay turntable Yodas, what is the primary cause of sibilance in vinyl replay? Obviously some records are badly cut & it's in the grooves, but I seem to have an inordinate amount of it.

I have a Shelter 501 mk 11 cartridge on a Rega RB 250 arm on a Nottingham Analogue Studios Horizon table. Running vtf at 1.8, but changing it in either direction makes negligible difference. Excuse my ignorance, but how do you change the vta on these arms, & might that be the issue? Setup was done by reputable hi fi store, spirit level says table is flat. The green sliding horizontal tracking adjuster doesn't seem to much either.

Any suggestions would be received gratefully.
"but how do you change the vta on these arms"

There's no adjustment for it. You have to add spacers if you want to change it. It may be a good idea to list your system.
The Michell VTA adjuster available from musicdirect.com works pretty well if your arm doesn't have and adjuster.


It should make a difference you can hear. Also have you checked the cartridge alignment with an alignment gauge?

I think the green slider you mentioned is the anti-skate adjustment which should be set to the cartridge tracking weight/force or slightly lower.
Beyond VTA, there are two things that would manifest as sibilance (not having heard the actual rig of course):

Mistracking from either VTF or anti-skate set incorrectly. Since you've tried VTF, then it could be anti-skate (although I doubt it). Try playing individually through each speaker--if you notice a tonal difference (or distortion) through one channel vs. the other, that suggests anti-skate could be an issue.

Phono stage loading--if the loading is not matched to the cartridge, the tonal balance will be affected. Either muddy and closed in, or bright, harsh and sibilant. I think this cart should be loaded between 100 and 150 ohms.

Good luck--I'm sure you'll ultimate get the right answers here in the forum!
Kj...vtf maybe...antiskate...no way.
With all due respect, the first two responders must not be familiar with the Nottingham Horizon table. While they are correct that the Rega arm itself does not have adjustable VTA, the arm mount of the Horizon provides that adjustment. There are two small hex head bolts on the side of the round silver colored collet that the arm slides into. When you loosen those you can then raise or lower the tonearm into the desired position and then snug them up to set the VTA. Do not overtighten them, just make them firm enough to hold their position. To reduce high frequency response and sibilance would usually require the arm height to be lowered. Then also recheck alignment and tracking force to ensure they're still set correctly.
Thanks for all your responses. Bill_k, yes I see you're correct about the VTA on the Nottingham. I'll give that a go.

As a separate issue, I purchased an Expressimo Audio Half Moon Heavyweight counterweight. While it made no difference to the pre existing sibilance issue, in every other respect it was a massive improvement. Quite startling actually. Other than upgrading speakers, I've never heard anything make the degree of improvement that this deceptively simple thing has. For once the claims on the website are fully borne out. More focussed midrange, increased soundstage depth, sweeter highs etc.

For the person who asked me to list my system, ok, other than the aforementioned, I have a Lehmann Black Cube phono pre with external psu, Rotel 971 cd player, Korg MR 1000 DSD recorder/player, Brook (Australian) passive preamp, Musical Fidelity X-10 v3 tube buffer, Crown Studio Reference 1 power amp, & Earthworks Sigma 6.2 speakers.
What specific LPs are you testing? Sibilance is often in the recording itself...Hotel CA track great example
IMHO you have a fairly low compliance cartridge and a medium mass arm.
You will need to add mass at the head shell to eliminate the sibilance.

As a quick, and dirty, experiment blue tak or tape a nickel on the headshell,
being sure to rebalance the arm. If it works you can invest in one of the
nice commercial headshell weights. A nickel weighs five grams.

I am assuming that you have already tried adjusting tracking force and anti-
skate and that the cartridge has under 800 hours on it.
"Crown Studio Reference 1"

I don't know for sure, but your amp may have something to do with your problem. Using pro gear is a mixed bag. You're passive line stage is a really smart move in that it allows you to get around using an inexpensive active preamp, and all the problems they bring. In your case, the benefits of going with a passive are lost. The reason is that your amp has gain controls, and any other number of active features in the signal path. Essentially, its a preamp. If you know someone who will lend you an amp to try in your system, take it and see what happens. You can also experiment with the controls on the amp. For instance, if you have both gain controls set to max, lower them and see if that helps.

Another thing I forgot to mention in my first post is break in. Phono cartridges break in a lot. Far more than any other component. If you don't have at least 100 hours on it, wait until you do before making any decisions.
Re the Reference 1, that's definitely not the problem. I've only had it for two weeks, the problem was the same with the Dynavector SSP/101 I was using before that.

Cartridge break in isn't it, the cartridge was actually bought used from someone on Audiogon. I had the stylus checked recently at a good hi fi store & they concluded it looked pretty good. I suspect VTA. As one of the other posters mentioned, because I have a Nottingham turntable the VTA is adjustable, so I'll try that.
Hey Viridian, I'm in Australia, no nickels. But I'll try the blutack, or find a five gram coin or washer.
"Kj...vtf maybe...antiskate...no way."

I agree if indeed it's truly a sibilance issue--and really meant to suggest that what sounds like sibilance might also be some distortion from mistracking. The challenge we all have is diagnosis based on descriptions vs. first-hand review. Probably I should have been clearer on that point--and indeed I doubt that's it. My suggestion about single channel listening should also help rule that out--sometimes finding cure is a process of elimination.
It could also be phono stage overload or peaking, which is very common and produces exactly this sort of distortion. I've heard it in many phono stages. Atmasphere has posted repeatedly on this, offering better technical explanations than I could.

Only way to test that is to insert a different (i.e., "better") phono stage and see if the sibilance changes.
Having had the same problem with that cartridge a while ago (mounted on a VPI arm), I have to agree with adding weight to the headshell. That did it for me. I ended up with a Cartridge Man Isolator. Ugly as hell, but did the trick.
What tonearm cable are you using? You may sibilance as a result of earth grounding/lack/inadequacy thereof.
Have a listen to a Townshend Trough turntable and they cut out sibilance almost entirely which makes you think that you have lost out on treble - in other words it could be an arm issue - try out the isolator as Markpao says
+1 Viridian, I have had a cart./tonearm mismatch and could not solve for sibilance - Blackbird cartridge on a hadcock tonearm. Low compliance cartridge and low to medium mass tonearm in my case.

The same cartridge on a vector 4 has no sibilance at all.
You may be onto something there. The arm was rewired with Cardas wire, but unlike every other source in my system, which are dead quiet, there is low level 50 cycles hum (our 50 cycles in Australia is your 60 cycles) with the table. Grounding the earth wire has zero effect. Now I find out that Rega have a system where everything is grounded via the right channel wire.
Seems counterintuitive that an earthing inadequacy would produce sibilance but you're probably right. I might be able to solve two issues with one fix, although not sure how yet.
Sorry the response re tonearm wiring should have been in response to Parrotbee, not Pops.
I have a 501 II on a Rega as well. I have 9 additional grams at the headshell. It works.
I recall reading somewhere that Rega arms have problems handling the energy imparted on a moving coil (whatever that means) - on the other hand some reckon it is the only genuinely good bearing out there. There are several good rewire kits out there, and several people that will do the rewiring for you. Do you get on with a good dealer - they may well be kind enough to lend you a phono stage
You didn't say whether the sibilance was present more on the inner grooves(an indication of too little anti-skate)of the record.
Can I suggest you get some shims and sort out azimuth