Hello gentlemen. Let me begin by saying that I am no connoisseur when it comes to stereo equipment in general or vinyl in particular; I am just a guy with a small mini-system and a very basic turntable seeking some diversion in the hallowed activity of browsing through stacks of old records in basement shops, and then walking home triumphantly with my "treasure" under one arm in eager anticipation of once again hearing the sounds of a bygone era pour forth from their undulating black recesses as vinyl gives way to diamond.
My turntable is an AIWA PX-E860. It is pretty much one of the myriad generic turntables that have appeared on the market in recent years, complete with built in pre-amp and "cheap" plastic construction (though it does have a sleek appearance and nice rubber platter mat). It was purchased about nine years ago. Until recently, it had seen only a handful of uses; probably something in the neighborhood of 4 or 5 hours of play with some "garage sale" finds. It has always been treated and stored with extreme care and never subjected to any abuse whatsoever.
So when I decided to get back into vinyl recently, I went ahead and purchased a replacement diamond stylus cartridge a few weeks ago ($8.30 on an auction site), just to be sure I would have a smooth operating system with which to reinvigorate my interest in playing records. Since then, I have sought out and purchased some factory new records, both older sealed copies, as well as several 180 gram audiophile re-releases. My records sounded wonderful, and I was happy with this simple setup.
Recently, when closely observing the movement of my turntable during play, I noticed something slightly disturbing: it seems as if the turntable platter itself does not revolve with perfect symmetry but seems to bob up and down ever so slightly, so as to impart some very subtle movement to the tonearm during play. It's not dramatic, but it is visible. I don't see that the cantilever is being disturbed or "bottoming" out during play; it looks very steady and firm. The tonearm/cartridge just shows a very subtle bobbing motion as it tracks the record.
Now, being almost completely ignorant of the technical side of vinyl technology, I am concerned as to whether or not this represents a catastrophic problem in terms of potential damage to the new vinyl records in which I have recently invested.
I would appreciate hearing the perspective of more experience members here before attempting to replace this turntable, since my 180 gram reissues (even with the crappy mini-system) still sound dazzlingly brilliant to my ears; clear and crisp with great bass, much better than the remastered CD versions of the same albums in my collection. If I do replace the turntable, it will probably be with something in the same price range ($100) like the Audio-Technica AT-LP60, so I just want to make sure I don't end up with a brand new turntable that doesn't sound as good as the one I already have out of some ill-conceived apprehension. I can vaguely, vaguely remember the turntable operating the same way since new out of the box, though I was much less concerned to scrutinize it back then as most of the records I was playing on it were quite CHEAP and expendable. I suppose my initial impression was "if that's how they shipped it, it must be within acceptable tolerances and not a defect in the strict sense of being "broken".
My main concern is protecting the new "audiophile" vinyl I've recently acquired from harm until I upgrade my stereo equipment to a more elaborate setup in the future.
Thank you all in advance for any helpful insight you might have to offer that sheds light on this issue.