New to turntables, started with a Magnavox console

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by archibael, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. archibael

    archibael KnowsEnoughToBeDangerous

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    Howdy.

    I've been playing around with some old Magnavox consoles from the late 1960s because I kind of enjoy the look of them.

    I'm new to vinyl, unless you count the stuff I used to listen to Read Along Storybooks when I was a wee lad. I expect pops and crackles here and there but on the Magnavox system I'm playing with now (with a W821 turntable) I get severe distortion on certain midrange vocal frequencies and sibilants on the left channel, or maybe both channels-- I'm swapping between two different old cartridges, and on the current one the problem only seems to be on the left channel, but it seemed to be on the right too on the other cartridge. Seems to be limited to the inner tracks, mostly.

    I am well aware I'm not dealing with audiophile equipment, but I do expect some minimal level of audio competence.

    I've got a LOT of diagnosis/troubleshooting ahead of me, and I'm probably up for the challenge.. The only thing I've played with so far has been adjusting the tracking force to spec per the service manual. I know it could be the cartridge or essentially anything in the signal path up to and including the speaker. I'm sure I'll ask later for some help with that process.

    I guess what I'm asking now is: am I wasting my time? Do 1968 Magnavoxes just not get any better than this behavior? I can't believe the levels of distortion I'm hearing was acceptable then, so I've got to believe I just need to tweak the system to make it decent. But without anti-skate and other adjustments available... is this just what the inner tracks of records sounded like in 1968 with a ceramic-cartridge family console stereo? Or do you guys think I can make this thing sing better?

    Thanks for your opinions in advance.
     

     

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  2. olddude55

    olddude55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Sounds to me like the styli are shot on both of your cartridges. You should still be able to get diamond styli for both, but there's a cartridge manufactured by Banpa that has pretty good sound and it's cheap. Rilly cheap.
    It should work just fine in your Mag. There are You Tube videos reviewing the cartridge and there's a thread somewhere here at AK, too.
    Oh, yeah...you probably should only be playing records that can be easily and cheaply replaced until you can get replacement styli or a replacement cartridge.
     
  3. 62vauxhall

    62vauxhall AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I read your post twice to make sure - you did not mention "new needle".

    The ceramic cartridges I came to know in the 1960's had sapphire tips and wore out fairly quickly. Crappy sound as you describe, indicated it was time for a new one.
     
  4. olddude55

    olddude55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I hate calling them "needles." I had a a kiddie record player that used an actual steel needle like something from the 1920s, but that was then, this is now, and it's a stylus with a diamond tip. No metal touches the record grooves.
    Sapphire styli wore out fast, but the diamonds lasted a lot longer and you can get pretty good sound from a decent ceramic cart if everything is in good shape. You can attach weights to the back of the arm and get the VTF down to about 3.5 grams, too.
    You get a chance, check out the You Tube vids on the Banpa. I think the model number is BP2ATC. They sound good enough, I've been toying with the idea of rehabbing an old GE Wildcat portable just for 45s.
    Voice of Music probably made the changer in your console.
     
  5. archibael

    archibael KnowsEnoughToBeDangerous

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    Thanks. I didn't mention "new stylus" because that was the first thing I bought. It's not the stylus. ;)
     
  6. rolex452

    rolex452 Member

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    62
    My dad purchased a new Magnavox console in 1967, French Provincial walnut cabinet, AM/FM Stereo, with "Micromatic" record changer (as shown in the photo). You are familiar with the control panel on the left side and the electronics underneath: over 30 lbs. of chassis, transistors, capacitors, resistors, and wiring. The "Micromatic" turntable (this photo shows the more modern tonearm), was equivalent to an inexpensive Garrard turntable at best, with very crude and limited adjustments, and an inexpensive ceramic cartridge with flip-over "needle" for 33/45, and 78 rpm. We disposed of our unit when the large 12 inch speakers dried up, and one channel went dead. I feel that this is not something that's worth a lot of time and/or money to disassemble and rebuild without proper parts and knowledge of the complicated tuner/amplifier.
     

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  7. archibael

    archibael KnowsEnoughToBeDangerous

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    That's very much the baby. The amp sounds decent (though now I'm paranoid about the left channel), and I have the service manual and plans to clean it up and re-cap it...

    Thanks for the comments on the turntable. Like I said, new to the hobby and need all the opinions I can get.
     
  8. 62vauxhall

    62vauxhall AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Some of those ceramic cartridges had a plastic "V" and the stylus shank (boy was I tempted to type needle) sits in or on the apex. I've seen before, an arm of those "V's" being broken. Long shot maybe but worth a look.
     
  9. archibael

    archibael KnowsEnoughToBeDangerous

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    Seems like no breakage on the clamp for the stylus shank.

    External source (CD player through the AUX port) sounds clean, so it's not amp or speaker. It's either something in the RIAA correction circuitry (which is ceramic caps and resistors, not likely culprits there), the cartridge(s), or the wires.

    Or, possibly, the tone arm has something wrong with it that is tilting the cartridge off the perpendicular and the behavior gets worse nearer I get to the spindle? I'm not up on the physics of those interactions yet, alas.
     

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  10. 62vauxhall

    62vauxhall AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    In that case, my logic would dictate trying a different, known to be working cartridge.

    I'm not so intimately familiar with ceramic cartridges to know all about them, but what I've read indicated some do not age well. This might be because, but not necessarily limited to, differences between crystal and ceramic cartridges. To the best of my knowledge, they are similar in form and function but the "active ingredient" is different. Both seem to come under the umbrella designation of "ceramic" but those that are in fact crystal, are more susceptible over time, to environmental moisture or something. Whatever it is, the energy produced by said crystal is supposed to be affected.
     
  11. archibael

    archibael KnowsEnoughToBeDangerous

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    Yeah, I swapped the wires going into the muting circuit, which is basically as close as you can get to the signal after the tone arm, and the distortion followed the wire. So it's either the cartridge or some interaction with the tone arm (or technically the wire itself, but I can swap that at the cartridge to verify).

    I'll buy the Banpa olddude55 mentioned or the equivalent and see what happens.

    Barring that I guess I can take the table into the local vintage stereo guy and see what he can tell me.
     

     

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  12. 62vauxhall

    62vauxhall AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Sounds like a plan - hope it fits.

    If you have one, one of those digital gram scales might be handy after you get it installed.
     
  13. archibael

    archibael KnowsEnoughToBeDangerous

    Messages:
    277
    Yeah, I got suckered into one of those cheap-assed teeter-totter ones, so I'll be buying the digital to replace it.

    V-M Audio has a Pfanstiehl P191 which looks like a direct replacement if I practice my soldering right, and the Banpa looks like it wouldn't fit without some mechanical mods, so I'm going with the Pfanstiehl for now. Wish me luck!
     

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