Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

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jawalm
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Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by jawalm » 11 Nov 2019 16:46

Hello o wise ones - I know you're wiser than me for sure. Please excuse the long post.

Here is an outline of my predicament and questions for you to elucidate me, please, on how to possibly rectify the situation:

I have an Audio-Technica 120USB with their standard cartridge installed. They recommend for this cartridge no Tone Arm height adjustment and to leave it at 0. I have done so. The tracking force recommended is 2. I have balanced the tonearm as per instructions on this site and elsewhere, and have it at this force. I have used an electronic gauge to check it. Anti-Skate has been set to 2 to match. The cartridge alignment has been done and checked. It's spot-on. I am using an acrylic clamp (almost no additional weight.) The turntable has been leveled.

My problem is with the mat combined with the tracking force and perhaps even the anti-skating setting and the effects on lower frequencies.

The mat I am using is a deer hide mat which is quite thin compared to the felt mat that came with the turntable. I have not stacked the mats and am only using the deer hide. I have changed none of the above-mentioned parameters and have noticed that the mids and highs are much improved, especially the mids and with respect to vocals. Also the highs are not brittle and sould great. I am having problems with the lower end. They are not muddy if I keep the basses on the equalizer (6 altogether on a vintage Marantz amp.) low. I can't increase bass response as it then turns muddy and all out of whack. I can, however, increase it on certain albums. It's bizarre. I'm adjusting the equalizer often. The higher-end frequencies hardly need any adjusting, if any at all, between records.

My questions are the following:

1. What dynamics does this change by having a thin mat?

2. Is it true one should not stack mats? Or could I stack this on top of the felt mat and adjust the Tone Arm height a bit, if at all? I have tried it and didn't like the results but I didn't adjust any parameters.

3. My mat is overlapping the space allowed on the platter but only by a fraction. Should I cut it back? It is not causing a physical problem other than I must go easy when cueing the first track or it slides in too fast. If so, any suggestions for the scissors to use? Also, could this overlapping affect the sound?

3. I am reticent to lighten up on the tracking force to adjust for the bass frequencies as I have heard this can cause more damage than running it 'heavy'. Is this presumption true? Or can I adjust it a bit?

4. Should I fiddle with the anti-skating?

5. Should I only be using the clamp for warped records?

6. Anything else I should be thinking about in my adjustments?

Advance thanks for your time and efforts.

Best regards,
James

mtqpier
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by mtqpier » 11 Nov 2019 19:43

What is your cartridge.
If it’s an Audio-Technica ATP-2 the tracking must be between 3.0 - 5.0 gr.
Why don’t you ajuste the tonearm height to be parallel with the record???

nat
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by nat » 11 Nov 2019 23:31

If you've swapped a thin mat for a thick mat, you need to adjust the arm height. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to abide religiously by AT's suggestion about arm height, but not their mat height.
Try putting the original mat back, and see if it sounds better.


jawalm
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by jawalm » 12 Nov 2019 22:25

nat wrote:
11 Nov 2019 23:31
If you've swapped a thin mat for a thick mat, you need to adjust the arm height. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to abide religiously by AT's suggestion about arm height, but not their mat height.
Try putting the original mat back, and see if it sounds better.
I am sorry Nat to have to unfortunately agree with you. But obviously I thank you for the suggestion that should have hit me in the face, first off. Yes, it's much better with the original mat. All was balanced for this. I will go to another suggestion by a kind member however and try adjusting the tonearm height. I'm not holding out a lot of hope however, the mat is so thin.

I am learning that part of vinyl is being a slight bit OCD and this sometimes must be curbed. I just wanted to justify my 30 dollars down the drain.

Many thanks.
James

nat
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by nat » 13 Nov 2019 00:11

Try the new mat on top of the original - can't hurt to see what it does.
You can always add a spacer to the headshell so that, when you use the new mat, the arm rides at the same angle as it did with the original.
If 30 bucks is the only cost to learning how murky the world of audio improvements/entrepreneur bank enhancement is, you have gotten away at a much lower price than most of the rest of us.

chgc
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by chgc » 13 Nov 2019 01:18

Seems to me that you got a great deal on a pretty nice turntable, jawalm. Just use shims/mats to get the tonearm to approximately the right height, use the height adjuster to fine tune the VTA, and you should be good to go.

Alec124c41
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by Alec124c41 » 13 Nov 2019 04:59

Nothing wrong with your set-up. You are getting bass feedback. Without the motor running, set the stylus on the run-out groove, and turn up the volume, then tap the shelf.
With your fingertips, see if you can feel any vibration in the shelf or the plinth.
Isolate your speakers from your turntable.
Use a large wooden cutting board, or something similar, on the shelf, with no-slip, foam, or cork shelf-liner between them, under your turntable.

Let us know how this works.

Cheers,
Alec

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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by tlscapital » 13 Nov 2019 12:13

Before anything do as 'Alec124C41' since without a proper setting installation of your phono gear in the room everything might be biased by loop or air-borne feedback, vibrations cartridge pick up or improper groove read by the stylus and induce playback pollution making every other adjustments more or less vein. Sturdy deck and speakers at a distance !

Then VTA or vertical tracking adjustment is crucial; with the stylus on a still record have the tube/wand of the tonearm parallel to the record. Then listen and from there adjust the VTA of your tonearm (or add and take off layers of mats) tail-up and down and decide which you like the best. But horizontal is the ball park region for any cartridge.

With a good and clean stylus and right set anti-skate force you won't damage the record groove by adding some VTF vertical tracking force going to the manufacturer's recommended maximum VTF. Faster wear a little bit, that's all. But that is inherent to playing record. Don't listen to your records and spare them and your needles if you will ;) NOT !

Multi layers of mats is no issue. I have 4 of them pilled on top of each one another :D ! One on top of soft leather for swift hand pick and drop record's swap while the platter is spinning, one split cork for dampening and felt for cushion and one last of 12" vinyl for static build trap. I adjusted my VTA accordingly... High almighty. Do what ya want !

jawalm
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by jawalm » 15 Nov 2019 15:28

Alec124c41 wrote:
13 Nov 2019 04:59
Nothing wrong with your set-up. You are getting bass feedback. Without the motor running, set the stylus on the run-out groove, and turn up the volume, then tap the shelf.
With your fingertips, see if you can feel any vibration in the shelf or the plinth.
Isolate your speakers from your turntable.
Use a large wooden cutting board, or something similar, on the shelf, with no-slip, foam, or cork shelf-liner between them, under your turntable.

Let us know how this works.

Cheers,
Alec
Hello Alec,
I isolated the speakers from the furniture on which the turntable resides. This also, in fact, isolated the speakers from the floor on which the furniture directly stands. Voilà - the bass is much cleaner. Many thanks for this important piece of advice. The turntable is installed as you suggest, even on its own little table that resides on the bigger piece of furniture however I have used felt cushion feet (the type that you use for furniture standing on a wooden floor) to isolate the turntable table from the piece of furniture. These felt pieces are rather dense though. From the suggestions you are making I believe I should replace them. I have both no-slip and foam. I would imagine this could only improve and not hinder so I will replace the felt cushions with a layer of foam.

I did the test you suggested and could feel no discernable vibrations.

Cheers,
James

jawalm
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by jawalm » 15 Nov 2019 15:38

nat wrote:
13 Nov 2019 00:11
Try the new mat on top of the original - can't hurt to see what it does.
You can always add a spacer to the headshell so that, when you use the new mat, the arm rides at the same angle as it did with the original.
If 30 bucks is the only cost to learning how murky the world of audio improvements/entrepreneur bank enhancement is, you have gotten away at a much lower price than most of the rest of us.
Hi nat,

I tried the two mats to no avail. However, I am going to increase the tracking force to see if this makes a difference, adjusting the anti-skate to match. I think we might be talking slippage here between the two mats. The non-hide side of the mat has a very fine felt feeling to it and might not be grabbing onto the original felt mat properly. I will turn the deer hide mat upside down to see if this helps. I believe I read somewhere that if you have slippage between multiple mats this can make the lower frequencies muddy. Have you heard of this?

Cheers,
James

jawalm
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by jawalm » 15 Nov 2019 15:43

tlscapital wrote:
13 Nov 2019 12:13
Before anything do as 'Alec124C41' since without a proper setting installation of your phono gear in the room everything might be biased by loop or air-borne feedback, vibrations cartridge pick up or improper groove read by the stylus and induce playback pollution making every other adjustments more or less vein. Sturdy deck and speakers at a distance !

Then VTA or vertical tracking adjustment is crucial; with the stylus on a still record have the tube/wand of the tonearm parallel to the record. Then listen and from there adjust the VTA of your tonearm (or add and take off layers of mats) tail-up and down and decide which you like the best. But horizontal is the ball park region for any cartridge.

With a good and clean stylus and right set anti-skate force you won't damage the record groove by adding some VTF vertical tracking force going to the manufacturer's recommended maximum VTF. Faster wear a little bit, that's all. But that is inherent to playing record. Don't listen to your records and spare them and your needles if you will ;) NOT !

Multi layers of mats is no issue. I have 4 of them pilled on top of each one another :D ! One on top of soft leather for swift hand pick and drop record's swap while the platter is spinning, one split cork for dampening and felt for cushion and one last of 12" vinyl for static build trap. I adjusted my VTA accordingly... High almighty. Do what ya want !
Hi tlscapital,

I am going to try both of your suggestions together, and seperately. The tracking force for the cartridge is 1.5 to 2.5 so I will start increasing at 2.1 and see. Thanks for your input on multiple mats as well.

Cheers,
James

jawalm
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by jawalm » 15 Nov 2019 16:30

mtqpier wrote:
11 Nov 2019 19:43
What is your cartridge.
If it’s an Audio-Technica ATP-2 the tracking must be between 3.0 - 5.0 gr.
Why don’t you ajuste the tonearm height to be parallel with the record???
Hi,

The cartridge is an AT95E so the tracking force is from 1.5 to 2.5. I am using 2 now but am going to track heavier to listen to the results.

I was talking about using the deer hide mat alone so I believe I would need to use a spacer for the headshell and not touch the tonearm height as it is already at 0 and can't go negative. The deer hide mat is only 1/3 the height of the felt mat that came with the turntable.

Thanks for your input.

Cheers,
James

jawalm
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by jawalm » 15 Nov 2019 16:34

I might have got it all wrong and you are correct. Where does the Tone Arm adjustment take effect? At the base of the tonearm or the headshell end?

Await your reply.

Advance thanks,
James

jawalm
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Re: Turntable mat & Tracking force adjustments - help please

Post by jawalm » 15 Nov 2019 16:37

Hi,

Thanks for the references. They are full of interesting items.

Cheers,
James

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