Need Suggestions And Help With Upgrading Turntable

satchoroyalesatchoroyale Posts: 78
edited October 2019 in Musicians and Gearheads
I have tons of vinyl. Bought it since the 70's and still buy it now. Love Record Store Day. Have every single Pearl Jam XMas 45. Been listening for the last few years on an Audio Technica AT-LP-120-USB turntable. I wanted to try to upgrade a bit and someone suggested I start with going with a big upgrade to the stylus. The stock one is called an ATN95E and I was able to find out that there are 3 higher levels of upgrade in the ATN series and went for the best one, an ATN95SA for $175 from a company called LP Gear in Nevada. So I switched over to the new stylus and the needle just skates right across the record. Switched back and forth between the new and old just to make sure I wasn't messing up in the switcheroo, but the old one always tracks fine and the new one skates. I don't think it's a tracking force issue since they both recommend the same 2.0 g number. Getting very little satisfaction trying to communicate via email with LP Gear who sold it to me. Looks like I may be back to square one with my tail between my legs.
Can anyone offer any suggestions on what I should try to do? Do you need to upgrade the entire cartridge and not just the stylus? I would really appreciate any suggestions. My head is spinning faster than a record on the turntable.
Post edited by satchoroyale on

Comments

  • dudemandudeman Posts: 2,166
    Could be a couple things. The first thing I would check would be the stylus tip. Look at it under magnification to make sure that the diamond is actually there.

    If that looks good, check that the angle of the cantilever is actually placing the diamond in the groove. I have seen styli with damaged suspensions that just lay the cantilever across the record surface.

    Either of those situations would cause the behavior you have described. 

    Photos of the mounted cartridge and stylus might help to get to the bottom of this. 
    If hope can grow from dirt like me, it can be done. - EV
  • satchoroyalesatchoroyale Posts: 78
    edited October 2019
    Dudeman, I really appreciate you taking the time to offer a few suggestions.
    As I look at the new stylus mounted in the cartridge from the bottom, it looks to me like it is bent towards one side
    in comparison to the old one that looks perfectly straight. I am going to get a few pictures of the cartridge and stylus from various angles and post them if you would be so kind as to check them out and see what you think. I am starting to think I have a defective unaligned stylus that ends up missing the groove. If that's the case, is that something that you don't try to screw around with and should just seek a return and replacement on? Damn. Why can't anything be easy?

    dudeman said:
    Could be a couple things. The first thing I would check would be the stylus tip. Look at it under magnification to make sure that the diamond is actually there.

    If that looks good, check that the angle of the cantilever is actually placing the diamond in the groove. I have seen styli with damaged suspensions that just lay the cantilever across the record surface.

    Either of those situations would cause the behavior you have described. 

    Photos of the mounted cartridge and stylus might help to get to the bottom of this. 

    Post edited by satchoroyale on
  • Not expecting anyone to be able to perform miracles and diagnose anything from a few photos, but I'm at a loss and the company that I purchased the new stylus from to date is not responding to my emails. I'm pretty much at this point just wanting a return and refund, but in the absence of that just want opinions from folks much more knowledgeable than myself on turntable upgrading. The green stylus is the stock ATN65E that comes with the AT-LP-120-USB turntable. The grey stylus is the ATN95SA mucho upgraded one that I purchased for $173 and is just skating across the vinyl. The new grey one almost seems to me to not be perfectly straightly aligned, but I'm not sure how misaligned it would need to be to skate. Two other purely visual observations are that the grey one is much longer and protrudes at a much greater angle towards the vinyl and also seems to have a much larger tip. Sorry if that sounds stupid, but this is my first experience with delving into this stuff. 
  • dudemandudeman Posts: 2,166
    Difficult to tell from the picture but the cantilever (needle) definitely looks a little off. If the vertical angle is off too far, it might not be positioning the diamond in the groove. 

    If you can, put the new stylus on your cartridge, install the headshell on the tonearm and cue up a record. Take a few pictures of the stylus while it's on a record, both from the front and the side. 

    I might be able to tell from that if the angle is the problem. 
    If hope can grow from dirt like me, it can be done. - EV
  • Thanks again for taking the time to look at the pictures. Over the weekend I will try to get a few more with the stylus on the record.
    One other thing I notice from that standpoint. When I put the new stylus on the record without the turntable spinning and then just
    slowly begin to manually rotate the turntable just even by an inch, I see it immediately skating. It would certainly seem like it is never getting positioned into the groove. This occurs regardless of whether I try it from the outermost groove or the innermost groove. It immediately always skates as soon as I even begin to manually rotate the turntable. Really looks like I got a bum stylus from LP Gear. It really sucks living in bumf**k Pennsylvania where there are no high fi places around anymore to help out with this sort of stuff. I watched a few you tube clips and doing that stylus replacement didn't seem like it should be rocket science and I've been very careful doing it and it doesn't seem like my methodology should be the issue. I guess I may just have to lick my wounds on this one, save up a few bucks again and find another dealer somewhere who actually has a phone number and/or would actually work with a customer who just spent $173 on an item from their store.
  • Another person recommended that I would see an upgrade by going with a company called Audio Origin in England. Looks like they make to order Gold and/or Titanium plated Headshells using "high quality transparent FURUKAWA 5N Pure Soft Annealed Silver Litz Cartridge wires – regarded as the best available – for exceptional low and high frequency delivery, superb sound reproduction". The headshell/cartridge/needle combo they have for the AT-LP-120-USB is about $80. I have an email in to them asking what specific type of stylus they are using on this setup. Maybe I get them to make one with the upgraded stylus and just have a simple headshell installation. Does any of that description sound like anything meaningful. That's taken right off of their listing on amazon.
  • dudemandudeman Posts: 2,166
    It depends on what you are specifically looking to gain by upgrading your cartridge/stylus. What are you unhappy with regarding your current one?

    Generally speaking, the biggest and most appreciable upgrade you can make is by changing speakers. They will have the biggest impact. 

    Changing your stylus/cartridge can definitely improve your experience but the change is likely to be more subtle and may be a compromise. As an example, you might gain more high frequency detail but it may come at the expense of added surface noise on less than pristine records.
    If hope can grow from dirt like me, it can be done. - EV
  • Interesting. Great food for thought.
    My motivation was due to having the turntable for quite a few years now and after doing some reading figured that perhaps
    a stylus replacement might be due even though I can't say I had noticed any deterioration and then thinking that  if I was going to do a replacement figured I would try to upgrade instead of just doing a straight up replacement.
    I'm now leaning towards the purchase of the additional new headshell/cartridge/needle combo. At minimum, I would then have
    two easy to change setups so that I could use the new one for more pristine vinyl and the older stock existing one for yard sale/salvation army type discoveries. 
    Great point on speakers. I very well may have lost sight of the forest for the trees while heading down this rabbit hole.
    I'll chalk all of this up to a learning experience. Thanks so much for sharing your time and suggestions.
    VIVA LA VINYL !!!
  • dudemandudeman Posts: 2,166
    You know, I do the same thing with the rabbit holes. It's easy to get caught up in the details and I find the quest for knowledge fun. 

    I also have multiple head shells ready to go with different cartridges and styli for exactly the reasons you describe. Some are higher end Shibatatas and some are budget oriented conicals. They all sound fairly similar to each other for the primarily middle of the road quality, rock and roll pressings I listen to. 

    Good luck with your quest!
    If hope can grow from dirt like me, it can be done. - EV
  • hrd2imgnhrd2imgn Southwest Burbs of ChicagoPosts: 4,167
    Did you rebalance the tone arm to the recommended settings the stylus recommends?  A new stylus may weigh more or less and if not the right alignment and calibration will skate.
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