Turntable performance - from my experience I have found.......

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

  1. mjwraw

    mjwraw Active Member

    I've owned many turntables over the years, spent far too much money on them (certainly from my wife's perspective anyway!), and 'wasted' hours and hours of my life trying to extract the best performance out of them. And of all the things which I've found make a difference the following have had the greatest impact at least from what I have found:

    - weight of platter: without doubt the more mass the platter has had the more consistent and neutral has been the playback.

    - motor torque: especially allied to a decent platter mass, this seems to have a dramatic effect on overall presentation and musical stability.

    - effective grounding: seems to affect many things - surface noise, tonal balance, uncoloured vocals, background hum, static build-up (loud pops, record static when removing from platter after playback). I found that running a wire from the ground point on my amp to the mains ground made a huge difference here over just running the wire from turntable ground to the amp grounding point.

    - turntable isolation and levelling: getting both of these right in my experience is at least as important as fine tuning cartridge alignment in terms of VTF, VTA, azimuth, etc.

    - clean records: dirty records renders most cartridge fine tuning as largely pointless

    Obviously there are many other things, especially with regards to system matching, but I would suggest that until you've got the above points right then you're never going to get the best results from whatever setup it is you're running.


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  2. Grenadeslio

    Grenadeslio Super Member

    Well, the heavy platter is definitely important with a belt drive to help reduce speed irregularities, but not so much with DD, electronics take care of that.

    Motor torque is kind of the opposite of above, important with DD but not so much with belt, just ask any AR XA owner about his/her table's motor torque lol.

    Grounding, well it's real easy to introduce a ground loop by grounding equipment at different locations that are connected together. I've found it's best to make sure all equipment connected together share the same ground point. One way to accomplish this is plug the equipment into a power strip, then plug the strip into the receptacle, one ground point.
  3. Guest126

    Guest126 Well-Known Member

    Very good points OP. Some factors are harder to control than others, particularly machine noise. Often, machine noise is an inherited trait of a turntable, where one has to either try to mute the noise via isolation and/or try to live with the noise.

    Other factors one can definitely manipulate and control, such as isolation of the turntable from vibration and other machine noises/vibration/heat and glare.

    Your best starting factor will be the quality of your turntable (of course). The better the quality of the tt, the easier it will be to control unwanted noise and performance issues IMO.
  4. Blue Shadow

    Blue Shadow Waiting for Vintage Gear from this century Subscriber

    SE PA
    SteveJewels built a turntable, nice unit. His research found two ways to deal with vibration isolation. One was light and suspended and one was heavy and immobile. He chose heavy and built a 100-pound portable turntable. http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/steves-portable-turntable.620013/#post-8198250 This is a nice unit. Today it is more advanced with a high performance speed controller much better than the box with blue lights.

    I don't think that electronics keep DD correct by itself. This is why most higher performance dd have heavy platters. My DD has a heavy platter and was designed for a heavy ceramic platter mat but came with a thick rubber mat. A peripheral and center weight were part of the options for this table. My belt drive table also has a weighty platter nicely balanced, suspended, works well, too.

    A good attention to detail on the wiring is helpful to keep noises and hums at bay. Crown offered phono modules for a couple of their preamps and these were designed to be put right at the turntable. I have a 5-pin DIN to RCAs/Ground Wire connector that is about a foot long, perfect to get the phono cartridge signal into the Crown module right at the turntable. This lets the LOMC signal get amplified by the module to line level before it goes near any power cords. Isolation from power cords is an important step to phono silence.
  5. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

    San Francisco Peninsula
    I have found that a turntables performance is many factors that extend past the table it's self.

    IMHO a table doesn't even start to be performance if you can't select your arm of choice for it.

    IMHO the Arm, Cartridge and Platter play the biggest part in the SQ of the table. <not limited to but the main factors
  6. marcmorin

    marcmorin AK Subscriber Subscriber

    correct........no more energy applied to the platter than to keep the speed topped off. Pierre Lourne had the same mindset.


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  7. Grenadeslio

    Grenadeslio Super Member

    Higher performance DD tables have heavier platters than cheap DD tables, but still lightweight in the realm of heavy platters like used on high end belt drives. This is more a matter of vibration/ringing control than platter speed accuracy with a DD.

    That said, the new DD table from VPI has a rather robust platter weighing in at 22lbs, but it's actually the the rotor for the motor, not your typical DD lol.
  8. DustyOldPile

    DustyOldPile Vinyl Goddess

    My absolute must-have's or must-do's, assuming a decent turntable as a starting point:

    Cartridge choice
    Preamp choice
    Cartridge alignment
    Isolation, isolation, isolation
    An RCM. If you don't have one, your records aren't clean enough. And please don't argue with me on this point, I'm saying these are MY must-have's or must-do's. If you want to rinse yours in the toilet, go right ahead.
    ChicagoTom and Champco like this.
  9. Chubba

    Chubba Well-Known Member

    StCatharines Ont Canada
    My dog sings less if the record is dirty.
  10. NoTransistors

    NoTransistors Dual Turntables Super-Restorer

    And my [late, great] cat, who never peed anywhere he should not, took a leak on the CD player the very first time he listened. Then he went after the transistor amp. Can you blame him?
  11. bobins08

    bobins08 Loving the dream

    St. Louis, MO
    The OP talked about effective grounding, true if effective means correct grounding and not more grounding. Adding extra ground wires can create a ground loop which won’t help anything.
    Grenadeslio likes this.


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  12. beatcomber

    beatcomber AK Member

    Lexington, Massachusetts
    Further evidence of the superior intelligence and highly discerning taste of felines.
  13. MRL_Audio

    MRL_Audio AK Subscriber Subscriber

    St. Chuck, MO
    I flush before and after a cleaning though. ;)
  14. 50nstillhifi

    50nstillhifi Super Member

    Agreed.. all those factors are of importance!

    But most of all, a "quality" designed turntable is probably the best start as its inherent with the amount of integrity the structure can deliver.

    Did you mention a quality cartridge and proper needle as well? :idea:

    This is the defining element in the rest of the TTs ability to use the signal delivered by the vinyl media.:thumbsup:
  15. olddude55

    olddude55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Our late cat Alfie not only peed on the solid state amps, he barfed on (and in) one, too.
    This past February, a friend of mine gave me a turntable built while the Vietnam War was still in progress and it proved to me that I really don't know anything. So yeah, the used records I buy get cleaned before play on my DIY RCM, get put away in new, clean inner sleeves (Oh, my dear can you help me please, can you put clean sleeves on these here LPs), and yeah the rekkids get brushed before play, and all that...
    But when it comes to what makes a great turntable or what makes a turntable sound great...beats me.
    I saw an interview with the engineer who designed the AR-XA. He said his goal was to make the turntable not sound like anything. He said if somebody told him to make the table sound better, he wouldn't have known what to do. Honestly, I'm beginning to think the quality of the stylus (not necessarily the stylus shape but how well the stylus is made) and the phono stage make huge differences.
  16. Hajidub

    Hajidub Chihuahua/Pug = Chug Subscriber

    Colorado Springs, CO

    Except for the grounding you've listed all the advantages and attributes of an early idler drive TT (my fav)!
    ChristopherP and ChicagoTom like this.


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  17. majick47

    majick47 Addicted Member

    Pembroke MA
    Agree with Dusty if the record isn't clean you lost the war before the battle started. Attention to every little detail, could take days to accomplish to get it right.
    ChicagoTom likes this.
  18. ChristopherP

    ChristopherP AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Northwest WA
    just so! even some later idler drive TTs.
    Hajidub likes this.

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