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Volume problem

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Volume problem

Postby wordslinger » 07 May 2010 16:02

Hey everyone, I just found your forum while doing a google search to try and solve my volume problem.

First, I have an older Sylvania radio/amp with phono jacks built in. I had a crappy old turntable that sounded like garbage (hissing in treble and 's' sounds), but it got lots of volume when plugged into the amp. I went out today and bought another turntable (it says Quanta999 on it). The sound quality is much better than the old one, but the volume is quite low. I have to crank the volume slider just to get it to a decent listening level, and even then there is no bass. I have set the tonearm to about 2 grams of weight.

I'm just a tad confused at why the old garbage turntable was so loud and the new one is so quiet. Any ideas?
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Postby analogaudio » 07 May 2010 22:42

Might be because there are different pickup cartridges on the two machines. There is a high output technology called piezo crystal that may be in the original arm. Then the other one may have a superior moving magnet (MM) cartridge which gives superb sound quality but needs more amplification. That's one possibility anyway.

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Postby Alec124c41 » 08 May 2010 02:30

In other words, you need to get a phono pre-amp, that not only boosts the level, but also rebalances the sonic spectrum. These can be had from $15 to :shock: :shock: :shock: , but you can get something quite decent for under $50.

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Postby wordslinger » 08 May 2010 14:13

Thanks for the replies. Although I've been reading some things online and I thought the cartridge types were MM (moving magnet) and MC (moving cartridge). I've been led to believe that MC cartridges provide better quality but produce lower voltages than MM carts.

How do I know what type of cartridge I have if it isn't labeled?

Also, I have a microphone preamp. I've read about some 'RIAA equalization' inherent in an actual phono preamp. Would it just sound awful using a microphone mixer/preamp because it lacks that equalization?

Thanks again!
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Postby wordslinger » 08 May 2010 15:42

Upon further inspection, the cartridge is labeled as an ADC QLM 30 MKIII. Research tells me that it is indeed an MM cartridge.
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Postby josephazannieri » 08 May 2010 16:32

Yo wordslinger:

Welcome aboard! You will find help here, and you will also generally be treated with respect. All of us remember that we were once new at this hobby. As for your stated problem, I concur with Alec. He and I are often at the same result, though he says it in fewer words.

Your former turntable had a high-output ceramic cartridge in it. This is common with inexpensive phonos because they were designed to go into inexpensive systems. A ceramic cartridge typically has an output of between 3 tenths of a volt and a volt. This means that fewer stages of amplification are required to get enough signal to drive a loudspeaker.

A moving magnet cartridge is a more expensive and generally better cartridge. It will have wider frequency range and better, flatter response. But it has lower output, usually in the neighborhood of 5 thousandths of a volt. Also, it delivers flat response, rather than the bass-boosted response of a ceramic cartridge, so the frequency response needs to be adjusted to compensate for the frequency adjusted signal that is put on a vinyl record, to keep the record grooves from getting too big.

In order to plug into your Sylvania amp, you will need to acquire a phono preamp. This will increase the output of the magnetic cartridge so that it will be loud enough to drive the amp properly, and it will also adjust the frequency response to take care of the no-bass problem. I suggest, as a start, that you take a look at the MCM Electronics part number 40-630. http://www.mcmelectronics.com. $19.95 plus shipping, I think. You can also find similar units on Ebay for less. Just search "phono preamp." You are right. Microphone preamp will not work. No bass.

Your cartridge is an ADC QLM 30. I am familiar with this line. I have an ADC QLM 36 in my old Lenco on my computer. You are correct, it is a moving magnet cartridge. Just about any inexpensive phono preamp will get the job done adequately for you. At this stage I would not spend more than about $30.00 for the whole job.

Moving coil cartridges are a different ball of wax. They vary considerably from unit to unit, and some people really love them, but they are generally more expensive, and more difficult to hook up, because of wide variations in output levels and required impedance loads. At this stage, just get the preamp and a second male to male RCA extension cord, which will be a Radio Shack or maybe a Wal mart item, to go from preamp to the amp phono input. If your new turntable has a free single ground wire, you will have to connect that to the metal chassis of your Sylvania amp.

And that's another too-long post. Hope you survived. Good luck from the old guy who chatters on too much!

Joe Z.
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Postby wordslinger » 09 May 2010 12:02

Thanks for the lengthy reply Joseph. I have to wonder, though... aren't most amps with phono jacks already designed to plug a low voltage turntable into them? I would think that MM cart's are probably the most common type of cartridge around, and I would've thought an amp would've been designed to those specs. Or does it simply depend on the 'quality' of the stereo receiver that it's being plugged into? I am getting an entirely different amp today, which I believe is much superior to the Sylvania box I have now. I'll see how the old Quanta sounds on that machine. I've been putting off getting the preamp as I'm trying to spend as little as possible... though I guess I'm doing well at $30 for the turntable.
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Postby JoeE SP9 » 09 May 2010 21:15

RCA phono jacks are the industry standard for connecting any gear. You need inputs specifically labeled "PHONO" to use a TT. without specifically labeled inputs you need a phono preamp to equalize and amplify the signal from the TT.

MM carts on a TT have an output voltage in the millivolt range. This needs to be equalized and amplified to the 1 to 2 volts needed for standard RCA input jacks.

1000 millivolts = 1 Volt
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Postby josephazannieri » 10 May 2010 02:24

Yo Wordslinger:

Looks like JoeE SP9 and I are going to do a little arm wrestling over terminology here. I think we agree, generally, though. RCA plugs are standard connectors for most HIFI gear, and for all phonographs. This is because the RCA plug and jack combination provides shielding all the way aroind the center, signal carrying conductors without interruption.

You may have a "phono" input on your Sylvania, but it is a "ceramic phono" input. A "ceramic phono" input will be designed to take a relatively high voltage, in the .3 to .5 volt range, (300 to 500 millivolts, or 300 to 500 thousandths of a volt), and it will have a very high input impedance, or about 1 megohm (That's one million ohms). A typical line input will take the same voltage, but will have a lower imedance, or about 200K (200 thousand) ohms. A line input is not designed for a cartridge, but for an electrical signal from a CD player, a tuner or a tape deck. It will not work with a ceramic cartridge. It will reduce the bass.

Anyway, this is because the Sylvania was designed for this record player or a similar one. It will have a different input circuit.

Your new amplifier may very well work with the magnetic cartridge that you have just purchased. Inputs for a magnetic phono suitable for your cartridge will mostly be labelled "phono." Sometimes they will be labelled "magnetic phono" or "RIAA phono." Sometimes they will be labelled "moving magnet" or "moving coil."

If the new amp is from a HIFI manufacturer, say Dyna, Pioneer, Yamaha, Fisher, Leak, Quad, etc. chances are that an input labelled "phono" input is designed for a moving magnet cartridge and has the proper equalization and impedance for your ADC cart. If it is from a home phono manufacturer such as Sylvania, RCA, Magnavox, Zenith, etc, you might find that an input labelled "phono" will be set up for a ceramic phono. For that situation, you will need the preamp described.

Anyway, you can always just stick the new record player into the input labelled "phono" on the nerw amp and see if it works. You won't hurt anything. The worst that will happen is that it will be low in volume and have no bass like what you have now. If that's the case, just buy the magnetic phono preamp and you will be cured.

You should also check the needle on the ADC cartridge, and if you don't know where it came from or how old it is, you might want to replace it. Chances are that http://www.needledoctor.com will have a stylus(needle) listed for it. You can Google the replacement number and maybe get a better price from a different vendor. Worth a try.

And here's another too long post from the old smart-a**. I think it was JoeE that said that all guys named Joe have this characteristic.

Good luck from the old guy named Joe.

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Postby wordslinger » 10 May 2010 12:38

Thanks for the response. And trust me... I greatly enjoy lengthy and in depth replies.

Well, I brought home my new amp last night. It's a 1973 Akai AA-5500 that my dad picked up at a yard sale for 6 bucks. Some research leads me to believe that it was around $700 new in 1973. I connected the turntable to the Akai, and threw on Breakfast in America.... and it was glorious. When I was young, the only thing I ever really heard being played from a record was old country music, which scarcely needs a high fidelity system. I had always heard people who claimed vinyl to be better (or at least on par) with cd's, and I had trouble, with my limited experience, believing that you could get high fidelity off the same machines that I used to hear hissing and popping Webb Pierce and Johnny Cash. But this setup proves to me that vinyl is at LEAST as good as a cd (as long as you keep control of all your variables, such as the shape of the records, the needle, proper setup etc), or may very well have something over a compact disc. I haven't had the chance to crank the volume yet, but I expect my vinyl collection will grow, and that my cd/digital music collection will come to a stand still. Also, for a while now I've held this belief that old audio equipment is superior to most new equipment... that old physical dials and knobs produce superior sound to today's digital click buttons and computer simulated equalizers, etc. This Akai has proven me right.

I do have a few questions about my amp, if you'd care to take a stab at them.

First, this amp has a section called 'pre amp out' and 'main in'. Between these is a very short RCA style cord, and it seems to be plugging the amp back into itself. What is this all about?

Second, what are the 'high' and 'low' filters for? I have two switches which allow me to turn them to high, low, or off. It seems almost like an equalizer boost to me. Should they be kept on or off?

Thanks again!
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Postby josephazannieri » 10 May 2010 14:34

Yo wordslinger:

Welcome to the world of well reproduced vinyl. I have about 2000 records of all sorts from modern "audiophile" records to rough old disc master 78's, and I would not give up one of them. That Akai AA 5500 is an excellent piece, but not super powerful, aboiut 30 watts a channel. You can find the manual for it on the companion website to this one, HiFi Engine. Just click on HFE at top of page and register. I belong to both sites, and they are both very useful.

Your amp has a "preamp out" and an "amp in" There are a number of uses for this setup. If you pull the RCA connector, you will separate the preamp and control unit section of your integrated amplifier from the power amplifier section of your integrated amplifier. You then have options, which might include using the preamp section of the Akai to drive a different or an additional power amplifier, or using a different preamp to drive the amp in the Akai. Also, if you want, you can put a signal processor such as a parametric equalizer right between the preamp and the power amp. Just switch it out when you don't need it. I have an old 5-band Heathkit tone control in a similar loop in my Hafler DH 101, and I use it to do a little tweaking with 78's. It switches right out of circuit, and that's where it is kept most of the time.

The "high filter" and "low filter" are used to reduce high frequency response and low frequency response to get rid of annoying extraneous noise at the high end and low end of frequency spectrum. The "high filter" typically is used to reduce record scratch and really annoying surface noise. Yours cuts off in the 10 kHz area and is pretty gradual above that frequency. Not a huge effect. You can experiment with it and see what it does. You should leave it disengaged most of the time. The "low filter" cuts off about 50 Hz, and reduces everything below that frequency by a fair amount. It will reduce turntable rumble, and warp effects from bad records, and stray low frequency noise. If your speakers move in and out a lot when playing records, it will help, but as high as it cuts off, (40 Hz is bottom E on a Fender bass) it shouldn't be left on all the time, just when you have a problem.

Hope this helps, and that you survive it. Good luck from the old switch flicker,

Joe Z.
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Postby wordslinger » 10 May 2010 17:46

Awesome, thanks for all the info. You're right, this amp isn't super powerful, but I think it has more than enough power for me. I'm listening to some second hand Kristofferson right now. I just can't get enough.
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