what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

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oldolds442
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what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by oldolds442 » 12 Apr 2018 15:50

Just some background. I bought my first stereo/ turntable in 1978, right out of high school. A Sansui AU-417, Sansui TU-217, a Technics SL-d1, with an AT something or other cartridge with a nude shibata stylus, and some Cerwin Vega 3 ways with 12 inch woofers. Pretty sure that I just bolted on the cartridge, and ran it. Then the CD craze started in the mid 80's, and didn't really listen to many records until about 5 years ago. Fast forward 40 years, and I have a Sansui AU-417, TU-417, Technics SL-q2, with an AT440mlb, and the exact same speakers. I also have several other stereo/ turntable/ RTR setups throughout the house.

I can honestly say that I am not sure I have ever heard inner groove distortion. never even heard mention of it, until the last couple of years. Maybe I am just tone deaf, just like I am color blind.

What is it that I am supposed to be hearing?

tlscapital
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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by tlscapital » 12 Apr 2018 17:11

Most of the time it sounds like a high-frequency distortions (hiss/squeak) and/or a smeared (mushy) sound. On lower end phono gear it can be less noticeable as the sound that is dished out is less focused and imperfections in the playback is kind of more or less muffled/hidden.

With cleaner and clear sound on better end to higher end phono gear, all the playback imperfections will tend to be much more noticeable. Before I got to have better playback as I have now, on my lower end phono gear, I use to favor bass/boomy to get less of those "inner groove distortions".

Now with the gain in clarity I get out of my old 45's, that are not always of the best mastering manufacture, I get better dynamic and clarity. But I also pick up at times a tad more of those distortions. Yet I'd rather live with those instead of a "muffle" sound to hide such issues.

So the quality of the records is also a major factor. Not only the phono gear can be at stake, and it's RIGHT destination of use with the records accordingly. 78 rpm's, 45 and 33 are different as are MONO and STEREO. And one record will work better on a proper destined phono set-up altogether.

If you never had such issues to enjoy your records and music, just be happy, don't worry and enjoy. Hope this helped some !

oldolds442
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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by oldolds442 » 12 Apr 2018 17:34

When I was young, I really didn't have anything to compare my system to. Now in my "old" age, my hearing is a lot less "precise", shall we say...I have always just listened and enjoyed without too much of a critical ear..

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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by BMRR » 12 Apr 2018 18:34

One of the most noticeable traits of inner groove distortion is that words with the letter "S" become distorted. Often the "S" sound will become more of a "Sh" sound. Santa would sound like "shanta" for example. That would be in a severe case of IGD, mind you. Some records and some songs are much more prone to this than others, and it depends hugely on both the condition of the record and the condition of the stylus, as well as the shape of the diamond tip (spherical vs. elliptical vs. line contact et al.).

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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by pivot » 12 Apr 2018 19:04

IGD can vary with cartridge. Louder, high frequency, sounds get distorted. As has been said sibilance can sound 'spitty' and unrealistically emphasized. Orchestral climaxes can 'shatter' in miss-tracking. Dynamics can sound compressed and less impactful. Massed chorus and strings sound washed out and less detailed.

Varies with cartridge/stylus, and increases with stylus wear/age. Varies with recording as well. LPs that have compressed dynamics and rolled off highs are significantly less prone to IDG.

If the LP is not properly cleaned it could be the result of a buildup of deposits on the stylus. Older records might wear that causes IDG. Sometimes changing to a line-contact stylus can result in the cartridge reading an undamaged/less damaged part of the groove wall and improve things.

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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by pivot » 12 Apr 2018 19:12

...and your shibata AT and the 440MLb may be good cartridges to minimize IGD. A couple years back I switched from a Grado Prestige to an AT 440MLa and end of groove distortion was dramatically reduced.

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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by analogaudio » 12 Apr 2018 21:17

To the OP:

gritty sound quality affecting middle and treble sounds, especially loud ones.

One of the sources of IGD is the use, against all reason, of conical styli instead of elliptical or line type styli. Originally, in the early days of LPs and hifi the conical stylus was normal. IGD was a persistent problem and the elliptical stylus was introduced as a cure. If you have never used a conical stylus then you probably haven't been exposed to IGD. The reasons to use one apply only to special projects outside the mainstream of normal hifi LP listening, and also because they are fitted as standard on the entry level (cheap-and-cheerful) record players that sell for $100 and less. With these players there is so much distortion from the speakers and amplifier that a bit of IGD is insignificant!

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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by jdjohn » 12 Apr 2018 22:08

Don't try testing for it with Springsteen's song, "Backstreets". It is the last track on side one of Born to Run, and near the end of the song, he sings the line "hiding on the backstreets" about 20 times in a row. Those s's in "streets" are killers, and it's actually the recording, not IGD, so it may fool you into thinking there is a problem with your setup :shock:

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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by JDJX » 12 Apr 2018 22:32

The short answer is, IGD just makes heavily modulated inner grooves sound harsh and not as detailed as it should.

This can be caused by an alignment that is not the best or a given cartridge that can not trace heavily modulated grooves the best....or a combination of the two.

I remember back in the '70s when most relied on a manufacture's alignment jig that IGD would be somewhat expected and was part of the beast...the norm.
This might be in part due to some manufacture's habit of wanting to set their TTs up so they would sound their best at the beginning of an LP in an audio showroom where they were auditioned and sold back then.... at the expense of some IGD.

However now, with better alignment methods/protractors available on the net, IGD should be a thing of the past with any reasonably good tracking cartridge... on a good TT. :)

oldolds442
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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by oldolds442 » 13 Apr 2018 12:00

thanks to you all for the great replies to my question. Cleared that up a bunch!!

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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by Rickypaul » 22 Feb 2019 18:05

If you don’t hear it, consider yourself blessed. I won’t tell you because then you’ll start looking for it. If you find it you’ll obsess on fixing it. Like me 🤯🤯

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Re: what exactly does inner groove distortion sound like?

Post by Rickypaul » 22 Feb 2019 18:10

The Cars debut album has “All Mixed Up” on side 2. At the end, all hell breaks it with loud instrumentation and intense vocal harmonies. The IGD in brutal. I’ve finely adjusted my setup and improved it greatly but have not been able to eliminate it entirely.

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