Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!

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TheChairGuy

Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« on: 16 Jul 2006, 03:50 am »
The turntable is a by product of another era...one in which mechanical engineering took precedence over the now more dominant electrical engineering in most audio products.  As a mechanical device the old TT lends itself to more tweeks than most components....this is the place to dish them folks!  It's the side of engineering even I can understand  :)

Your tweek suggestion can be brand or model specific (please identify in doing so) or generic (somewhat preferred, but not absolute), outlandish or simple....try not to integrate much pimping of a particular audio product into it if you can minimimize it. It can be audio-specific or something you can get at Ace Hardware (better)...it's your experiences that count.  It can be pricey or nearly free...as long as there is benefit to it.

This is what an audio specialist site is all about...sharing your experiences (in this case, tweeks) for perpetuity for all of us to see and share. 

If a response even whiffs of anger or escalates into name calling...the post will be removed and be sent to Interglactic Waste Bin.  This sticky is for the benefit of all that want to better their vinyl experience - it won't be a depository for anything but helpful experiences.  No one will want to wade thru it if there is other nonsense in it....and I expect, over time, that this sticky will be mightly long.

This sticky is somewhat analagous to an earlier one of Vinyl Accessories....but that one seemed like it veered into too much audio-specific tweeks....we are looking for tweeks that work that are commonly available to all.  More tweek, less accessory, as emphasis.  I'll post a few soon to get things rolling in the right direction.

Thanks,

John / TCG

TheChairGuy

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #1 on: 16 Jul 2006, 04:03 am »
Tufoil - amazingly slippery goop in your main bearing well and, if you can find it, your tonearm bearing.

Plast-i-Clay - something to always have around for your TT (and speakers).  Fill up the hollow innards of your cheap 80's + era Japanese table and be blown away be improvements. Works well on metal platters (reduces ringing), too.

Van Alstine Longhorn mod - the little mustache that works.  Soldered or gooped on the end of your cartridge, it works.  I use a blob of Plast-i-Clay as my center record weight as you no longer can use standard weights because they will interfere with the Longhorn. The record weight is minimally helpful - the Longhorn mod is quite helpful - as in life, there are choices.


djbnh

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #2 on: 11 Aug 2006, 10:46 am »
1) Use Walker SST on the cartridge pins. Apply carefully according to the SST directions. Provides a very nice increase in detail, etc. Also apply on TT RCA connectors, etc.

2) For Rega and various other TTs, use the Pete Riggle VTAF. Takes a bit of time and patience to install. Makes dialing in the VTAF on-the-fly a snap, wonderful enhancement to the sound of your kit. There's various reviews of this on the web.

3) For Rega/Origin tonearms, install the J.A. Michell Tecnoweight. Ditto various reviews on-line.

Listens2tubes

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #3 on: 28 Aug 2006, 02:00 am »
Changing all RCA connectors to Eichmann Bullets. Example: replaced standard molded RCA's on Radio Shack "coax style"(hot center lead with shield/ground) cables with Brass Bullets. More detailed and smoother as a phono interconnect. Ultimate for that application turned out to be Cardas tonearm wire terminated with the Copper Bullets. Blew away the RS Brass bullets by miles. That said I tried the Cardas cable with my CD player and it definintly was more detailed in it's first hours of use than my well settled Canare wires. Meanwhile get that Cardas wire up inside that tonearm! Finish it off with the Bullets and get set for some great listening. :thumb:

ohenry

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #4 on: 8 Sep 2006, 01:18 pm »
I stumbled upon this nicely done series of tweaks that were performed on an inexpensive Sony turntable.  The guy uses lead bitumin sheets on the plinthe, isolates the transformer, reduces motor vibration by adding foam tape, and adds mass through a MDF base.  I especially like the lead bitumin sheet trick, it may be a step up from the clay?

http://www.humblehomemadehifi.com/Turntable.html

TheChairGuy

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #5 on: 8 Sep 2006, 09:22 pm »
I stumbled upon this nicely done series of tweaks that were performed on an inexpensive Sony turntable.  The guy uses lead bitumin sheets on the plinthe, isolates the transformer, reduces motor vibration by adding foam tape, and adds mass through a MDF base.  I especially like the lead bitumin sheet trick, it may be a step up from the clay?

http://www.humblehomemadehifi.com/Turntable.html

I did constrained layer damping (a more efficient type of bitumen) on my JVC cheapie bought from ebay.  It had little beneficial effect.  Nothing like the benefit 9 lbs of Plast-i-Clay made inside, outside and inner platter areas made.




ricmon

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #6 on: 13 Sep 2006, 06:05 pm »
The Ring Mat made a huge differnce on my TT.  Much quiter more bass and better imaging and just more music.  Also built isolation plaform using a wooden frame, some tennis balls and 1 inch thick granted paver from home depot.  This also made a huge impact on isolation from vibration.  My TT is dead quite.

Listens2tubes

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #7 on: 4 Oct 2006, 02:15 am »
K Works IsoFeet and ERSAMat. Holy new ballgame! Talk to Igor:gorkuz@yahoo.com get ready to be amazed.

TheChairGuy

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #8 on: 12 Oct 2006, 04:12 am »
Silicone Damping Trough - Great tweek for the cost of a paper clip and a sheet of aluminum foil (Reynold Heavy Duty best  :wink:).  Just make a semi-circle arc from the foil, attach a snip of paper clip attached (by Plast-i-Clay) to the underside of your tonearm....and get additional isolation and pretty much eliminate any unkind cartridge/arm interaction that might happen without one.  Cost is dang well near nothing...it just takes some playing around to make it, fill it with silicone (30-50,000 cst best) and get the paper clip to swing freely in the arc of it's motion.

A great tweek I can't be more impressed with.

See here - http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=22938.50 - for a few lousy pictures of it and some further explanation

Wayner

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #9 on: 12 Oct 2006, 02:05 pm »
Chair Guy,

Some minds think alike. I played with a similar design that I called the Rudder. It was a small piece of metal, rudder shaped and fastened to the tone arm near the pivot on the bottom side. I then had a small shallow Tupperware container filled with Slick 50.

I was brainstorming with the anti-skating issue with my Empire 598 at the time. I came to the conclusion the having a tone arm that swings back and forth easily, may actually be a curse. It must pivot up and down with ease but not side to side.

That is why the Dow Corning 1000 centistroke liquid silicone works so well in the AR tone arm well. It damps the vibrations but also retards the sideways motion a slight amount, overcoming the tendency for the arm to fly off towards the center of the record.

Any thoughts on this?

W

BobM

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #10 on: 12 Oct 2006, 02:34 pm »
For non-suspended turntables: Maple butcher block underneath.
 - for increased isolation I also recommend putting a layer or two of bubble wrap (large bubbles) between the maple butcher block and the rack shelf

For all turntables: one of the most important set-up parameters I have found is to make sure that the turntable is level in all directions. Not just the plinth, but the platter itself.

I concur that applying Mapleshade Silclear (or any other silver paste) to the cartridge pins helps with clarity and air.

The cable connecting the tonearm to the phono section should also ALWAYS be shielded and dressed to keep it away from most anything else. The tiny, tiny signal coming out of the cartridge is very susceptible to all kinds of electrical interferance.

Keep the stylus clean also - use your favorite stylus cleanser and brush applicator. I clean mine after every 4-5 sides. The fluid tends to last forever, even with this frequent use.

Turn off your digital front end when playing vinyl. Digital hash tends to carry through the lines. Even better, build a digital isolation transformer (thank you Jon Risch) to separate the digital components (DAC and transport) from the rest of your system.

Enjoy,
Bob


TheChairGuy

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #11 on: 12 Oct 2006, 03:45 pm »
Wayner,

I don't know all the mechanical reasons why fluid damping works, but it does in tonearms.  I think the concept of it is 30+ years old, so we're not new to 'discovering' it at all.

1000 cst is probably not viscous enough....you should find additional benefit in using at least a 30,000 cst viscosity for your AR tonearm.  You can get a nice selection of silicone, cheap, from Tower Hobbies.

I used 50,000 cst in mine; I think SME recommends 30,000 cst and KABUSA uses 60,000 in their damping trough for the Technics 1200.

Chair Guy,

Some minds think alike. I played with a similar design that I called the Rudder. It was a small piece of metal, rudder shaped and fastened to the tone arm near the pivot on the bottom side. I then had a small shallow Tupperware container filled with Slick 50.

I was brainstorming with the anti-skating issue with my Empire 598 at the time. I came to the conclusion the having a tone arm that swings back and forth easily, may actually be a curse. It must pivot up and down with ease but not side to side.

That is why the Dow Corning 1000 centistroke liquid silicone works so well in the AR tone arm well. It damps the vibrations but also retards the sideways motion a slight amount, overcoming the tendency for the arm to fly off towards the center of the record.

Any thoughts on this?

W

DARTH AUDIO

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #12 on: 12 Oct 2006, 04:13 pm »
I feel the best tweak for Vinyl playback is a clean record!! All the tweaks in the world won't work if your record isn't cleaned properly :nono: So with that said my early Xmas present will be the Loricraft PRC-3 record cleaner. I have been using the VPI 16.5 for 13 years. It is an expensive tweak $1995.00 but I have over 3000 records. So at .66 cents a record that's a cheap tweak :icon_lol:

gooberdude

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #13 on: 19 Oct 2006, 09:37 pm »
I mainly listen to vinyl and could ramble on & on about tweaks, but i'll list a few here just to get started, while I wait for the 5 o'clock bell...

The cheap ones first: 

1)  I'm blown away by this, but 3 - $2 maple blocks from mapleshade (not advertisied, just call them) have completely transformed a friends $100 1980's Dual turntable.  Not sure of the model, its fully automatic and all plastic.  TONS more bass, 3-D imaging & simply a jaw dropping improvement for $6.

For that matter, they've also transformed my computer speakers (M-Audio D-4) and a '72 Marantz 1122dc intgrated, and basically anything else you put them under.  Soundstage lept forward, and there's little if any hiss, pops or crackle - which used to be the big diff between his rig and mine.       $6!!!!!!!!!   

2) Mr. Clean Magic Eraser:  Possibly the best diamond cleaning material ever invented...lifetime supply for $4.   Cut a 3mm thick corner of the stuff and shish-ka-bob it on a tootpick, then gently scrub the cantiliver and tip for 15 minutes or so - be careful.  After this is done, you should clean the tip after every few LP's...but you gotta get the diamond sparkling clean the first time, to erase the previous neglect.  I've used the Xtreme Phono gel on EVERY SIDE of play for 2 years - after my first ME experience, the gel is a joke.  You gotta use a stylus brush after using the ME battle axe - little crusties could get into the grooves if not.

3)  If you have a so-so table with captive rca cables, snip off the stock RCA's and replace with eichmann Bullet Plugs.  While you are at it, strip away the stock cable insulation & immediately replace with thin shrinkwrap, maybe spray a little ProGold on the exposed copper before sealing them up again.  Since the Bullet plugs are sold in boxes of 4, use the other 2 on an ipod cable...  The bullett plugs REALLY shine with small signals.   For $40 you can improve the performance of 2 important pieces of gear.  A local shop did this mod for me for $20 total + the cost of the plugs.

Expensive

4) Marigo VTS tonearm kit - You've read it before, damping the tonearm improves sound.  This $50 set of tiny dots sure did wonders to my Pro-Ject Expression.  However, I'm not certain I would have heard much of a difference with the stock rubber feet on the tt.  To me, controlling & removing vibes goes hand in hand with damping...the ole' 1 - 2 combination.  If you intend to remove vibes in a responsible way, think long and hard about damping the armtube too (and the cartridge!)

5)  Mapleshade's 2" pointed brass footers under the tt, draining the nasty vibes into a 2" thick maple platform from www.timbernation.com.  The platform sits on a set of Mapleshade's Isoblocks.   I'm a HUGE fan of this set-up, it completely transformed what I thought was possible with vinyl...but after hearing how $6 worth of maple changes the sound of a crappy tt, I'm not so sure if spending $250 on this set-up is worth it.  OK, it is, but still......     

Mapleshade's prices on brass just went up big-time - the maple blocks mentioned as tweak #1 are a godsend.   If at all possible, avoid common butcher blocks...get tonewood from people who understand tonewood.  however, an ordinary butcher block will tell you what's up with maple.  First time I heard it, by accident, i laid my ipod on a block in my kitchen...i was astounded in the change in tone & claraity - an instant convert.

6)  Room Treatments - I think this may be the best kept secret in audio.  You're stereo won't sound good until your room does.  I spent nearly $5K before finding this out, and all it took was a $225 Room Tunes kit from Michel Green Audio.    I now have a few small panels from ATS Acoustics also...they seem to be the real deal and 50% less $ than the rest.   You can rid yourself of 'upgrade-itis' if your room is 'tuned'...

7)  herbie's mat - its amazing!   $50 and vinyl sounds insane.     I ONLY used the stock felt mat before this...

8)  DUSTBUG - If you live in a cold dry climate (I'm in chicago) this little $40 toy (on ebay right now) is the shit.  There is essentially NO static on my vinyl.  I use an rcm religiously, my wax is clean, but i've ALWAYS had static until this most recent purchase.  I have hairy arms, and when i pull the vinyl off the platter there's no static after playing both sides....quite amazing. Typically the was crackles in static fury, and easily raises arm hair!   I'm actually looking forward to winter this year.  Get the Dustbug with the ground wire, its awesome and in no way affects sonics.  the ebay seller i went through is  'vinyl toys'


If i were to start anew, the Dustbug, my nitty gritty rcm, the Magic Eraser, the pointed brass footer's into maple + isoblocks AND removing stock rca cable insulation + Bullett Plugs would still be necessary for accurate and bitchin' analog playback.   To this day I have not heard any cd player or even another tt that sounds anything like mine, and i've been to most of the high end salons in chicago. 

vinyl is soooooo cooool!

TheChairGuy

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #14 on: 1 Nov 2006, 05:39 am »
Love the tweeks, gooberdude :thumb:

Here's a few more for you...

Dupli-color UC103 Undercoat and Sound Eliminator.  Damps underside of ringing platters and turntable plinth bottoms terrificly.  Use the 90% thats left on your trunk or hatchback area. Cost about $8.00 in auto parts stores.  UC103 is fast drying - about 10 minutes.

Caig R5 PowerBoost.  All of the Caig products are superb...they are about $13 at Radio Shack. Sprayed in headshells wires and all rca's and jacks will increase your fidelity a-plenty.  The spray version are a cinch to use. Much safer and less time intensive to use than silver bearing paste's out there now. 

EAR Isodamp Constrained Layer Damping.  Can be bought at Micheal Percy Audio for cheap.  Cut them up yourself and make your own Marigo-type damping magic dots.  That's all Mr. Marigo is doing...and packaging $10 worth of EAR for $50 to use on your tonearms. It works and works well in damping tonearms.  Gotta' get me some for my new tonearms now, come to think of it..... :wink: 

TheChairGuy

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #15 on: 5 Nov 2006, 11:49 pm »
I just had to add this set of tweeks, tho not my own - it needed to be saved for all eternity.

A 'Zero One' of Australia wrote recently on VinylEngine.com about the list of tweeks he's done on his old  Pioneer belt drive table.  This man, whoever he is, is the King of all Vinyl Tweekers in my book....

Check it out:

Taking the pioneer here is a rough list of what I did in terms of damping, note however I have made other mods as well.

1. Tone arm wrapped in thin self adhesive cloth tape

2. Cart mounted using faom tape and no screws (contraversial I know but it sounds wonderful and no side effects....really.

3. Top of headshell covered in thin stick on cork

4. Cart body covered in cork (very thin) and then painted over with araldite

5. Stylus araldited to cart body (its a cheap cart)

6. Voids in stylus holder filled with blu tack

7. Platter sprayed with sound deadening spray
Cool Underside of platter covered in cork sheet

8. Perimeter of platter (underneath) has lead car wheel balancing weights attached to both damp and increase inertia

9. Cavity under platter filled as much as possible with both blutac, and non slip rubber matting

10. Top of plinth covered in non slip rubber matting and then mdf with cork, which is not machanically attached to plinth

11. Arm Board spereated from plinth by gasket of cork

12. underside of plinth has all cavities in metal moulding filled with blutac

13. Underside covered in non slip rubber matting and then a sheet of MDF attached to that twhich covers the entire underside except for the holes where the feet are

14. A matal plat that sits between the lpatter and the plint is also covered in non slip matting on the underside

15. all auto mechnaicals disconected and locked down solid

16. Heavy application of blutac around the bearing housing and the junction between the plater and spindle

17. Cool The wired to the motor lifted from the chassis and umbedded in blutac (it is a synchronous motor and a big one so it transmits a bit of vibration

18.  The sheild and cavity around the motor lined with non slip matting

19. The whol thing is mounted on squash balls then shot glasses half filled with water then cedar feet then a large sandstaone block then felt

20. The plinth is surrounded by thick but lightweight cedar.

21. Junction between counterweight stub and arm, wrapped in cork

22. Counterweight stub wrapped in thin layer of teflon tape so counterweight is tighter to stub

23. Cork placed between counterweight and rotating scale to stop small vibrations of scale

24. Hollow core of counterweight stub filled with blutac

25. Weight placed over vertical bearing on arm so as to reduce chatter, the wight was machined out of a video head (extremely effective and improved tracking as well)

26. One layer of teflon tape around cartrige shaft to make contact with arm tighter

27. clip for tone arm removed, it was loose and could vibrate, I use a rubber band to secure the arm to the support if needed.
Cool Hole cut in motor cover underneath the TT and a small plastic bottle cap glued to motor, a small plastic bottle half filled with oil attaches to this and it act to cancel some of the motor vibration.

28. Wiring for output now exits underneath the TT and will eventually run through holes in the support slab and into the back of the amp underneath, this reduces vibration transmitted via cabling.

29. Lots of different mats to suit different records and also a couple of weight made up

30. cover on top of motor caulked with blutac

31. Minor changes to rubber motor supports to counteract the uneven pull of the belt on the motor which causes the bearing closest to the spindle to compress too much normally while leaving the outer one unloaded.

32. Cork covering arm board (which is cast alloy)

33.  Talcing your drive belt ( a biggie)

This will keep everybody busy for a while...some amazing tweeks within the 32 listed  :thumb:

« Last Edit: 13 Nov 2006, 04:30 pm by TheChairGuy »

shep

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #16 on: 30 Nov 2006, 08:09 pm »
that last was simply terrifying! NOW i remember why I was so greatfull when cdp appeared.
Yeah I know...you can get just as crazy with a CD player...

Wayner

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #17 on: 16 Dec 2006, 05:51 pm »
OK, now it's time for a new tweak. It's been pretty quite here in vinyl land, Chair Guy and Zero One must have reached Nirvana!

Anyway, I was in the sporting goods shop today and turned around the corner and there they were, hockey pucks for .99 cents! Well, I bought one, took it home and found my 9/32 drill bit. Yep, record clamp it now is. Good luck finding a 9/32 diameter drill bit. I'm hoping that it is a technique for knocking down some resonance on the vinyl.

So far, It sounds good but is too early to tell. I plan on an afternoon of tunes.  aa

W

Zero One

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 50
Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #18 on: 17 Dec 2006, 08:14 am »
Hi Wayner

Your right things have been quite, but no nirvana yet, here is another tweaky but I doubt many will be game to try.

I have a few cheap carts, about $10.00 US each, they actually sound pretty good, but I wondered and I tweaked, damping the body, mounting the cart on double sided foam tape etc.....all worked really well.....but I wanted more!

I had an idea.....what if I filed down the excess metal on the cantilever and rounded off all the sharp edged on the stylus mount, and what if I could make the mount clamps inside the cart grip tighter.

So out with the magnifier and some very small files, I removed the overhanging excess metal outboard from the stylus and then radiused it off nicely, then I files the cantilever to a square section with slightly rounded edges, bent the clamping clips in a bit so the stylus mount was a tighter fit and of course filed the mount edges and sanded them smooth.

Finally the cart has the bolt holes cut off and the whole plot was covered in a combination of double sided foam tape and cork, then a variation of the longhorn added, mine is made of a wooden skewer with metal beads attached to each end.

Now does this thing rock, well I have no maybes with this one, it is amazing, sounds like a completely different and expensive cart, I have a basic modded and unmodded carts in other headshells for comparisopn so the differnce is really obvious.  The main differences are the total loss of high end distortion and a sound stage that really is holographic.  Im excited!

But.....don't try this at home with your good cart kiddies.....unless your really game and a little mad of course.

If you do want some tweaky tweaky fun though you can always buy some cheap carts like I did.

Heres a link to a site on ebay, good business to deal with too. Pretty sure this is where I got them from, it was a while ago and I can't find the listing on ebay.

http://stores.ebay.com.au/Ed-Saunders-Needles-Cartridges-More

I can't see the $10.00 carts on Ed's current listings but if you contact him he may have some more, they have an orange stylus holder and look very very similar to the basic Goldring cart found on a number of basic TTs like projects and goldrings.


Wayner

Re: Vinyl tweekers - this is your fave sticky post!!
« Reply #19 on: 17 Dec 2006, 10:12 pm »
The hockey puck is a success! I believe it has reduced surface noise and has brought me to the next level of clarity. Imaging is also improved.

Try it! For .99 cents it's well worth the experiment. I definitely like it.  aa