we all know about this but hardly ever mention it. We all have LPs with special tracking challenges. Some are hiding in plain sight ready to pounce on unsuspecting cartridges.
This came to attention during informal measurements exploring the newly acquired Denon DL-110. I accidentally left my DeciBel meter on while playing music on LPs. This drove home a point we already know but leave unattended.
The dB meter measured some peaks which were just as high on full symphony orchestras, as on small ensembles accompanying female vocals. One is easily lulled into trusting female vocal recordings to be easy to track. False! These CAN be among the most difficult grooves to excercise cartridges! Never mind cannon shots, train locomotives and laboratory test signals!
I have five special female vocal tracks in very fine recordings at Blue Heaven Studios (Salina, Kansas). These tracks are in the "Thorens 125 Anniversary Album", consisting of three 180-gram LPs with a special selection of music in top quality recordings.
They include Rickie Lee Jones, Nancy Bryan, Susan Tedeschi, and Myra Taylor, with instrumental accompaniment (guitar, mandolin, harmonica, percussion, horn, and keyboards).
The five female vocals accompanied with small instrumental ensembles are deceptively easy to play with no mind to tracking difficulty. But the DeciBel meters were swinging wildly into "danger" territory. More often than the symphony orchestra LPs I was using these days.
Microphones which are placed close to the sound sources in small ensembles pick up the full intensity of sound. That intensity is diminished when distancing the microphones for symphonic music.
One of the mentioned tracks had a harmonica, rich in midrange sound, maxing out my DeciBel meters!
But the cartridge under test passed all bands without a hitch and without sibilant distortion.
This demonstrates that some mistracking events MAY be the result of unsuspectedly tough grooves which are hidden in plain sight. One can identify those LPs for use with only high-tracking cartridges. And, alternatively, they can be identified for exploring the tracking ability of cartridges (with the only caution to use them sparingly to avoid damage from mistracking).
PS- some cartridges CAN have stronger midrange balance and thrust out these voices aggressively "In-a you face!" The DL-110 still showed them up-front but comparatively two inches back (
gotta use some imagery for proper understanding), and this is a demonstration of what I call a more "relaxed midrange".