Source of piano distortion

the thin end of the wedge
Tyan42
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Source of piano distortion

Post by Tyan42 » 22 Nov 2019 18:52

I'm trying to pinpoint the source of distorted sound that comes from my system especially with piano chords. Not sure if this is a turntable issue, cart, amp, phonostage, speaker issue, etc.... All other instruments and voices sound totally fine. All my equipment is pretty high end, Harbeth speakers, luxman int amp, sme turntable, koetsu black goldline cart. Any insight into this problem would be appreciated.

Ty

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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by Pauw » 22 Nov 2019 19:27

Piano is the challenge for any Hi-Fi system...be it long sustained notes , attack or tone.This is the test of any system and as such it can be that it will test any system to its limits. Any minor error in alignment, VTA , tracking force and the list goes on....will be a potential issue....

Tyan42
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by Tyan42 » 22 Nov 2019 19:37

Thanks for the reply. I will try the alignment, etc, again. How about the clear distortion of heavy piano chords ? It not only doesn't sound natural, but it sounds quite distorted. The same recordings on digital playback don't get that. Even though it has that digital glare, it seems undistorted and accurate.

terry-a
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by terry-a » 22 Nov 2019 19:57

Tyan42 wrote:
22 Nov 2019 19:37
Thanks for the reply. I will try the alignment, etc, again. How about the clear distortion of heavy piano chords ? It not only doesn't sound natural, but it sounds quite distorted. The same recordings on digital playback don't get that. Even though it has that digital glare, it seems undistorted and accurate.
Poor speed stability will sometimes be revealed by piano.

GTH
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by GTH » 22 Nov 2019 20:15

The first adjustment I would try is an increase in VTF.

Pauw
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by Pauw » 22 Nov 2019 20:17

Tyan42 wrote:
22 Nov 2019 19:37
Thanks for the reply. I will try the alignment, etc, again. How about the clear distortion of heavy piano chords ? It not only doesn't sound natural, but it sounds quite distorted. The same recordings on digital playback don't get that. Even though it has that digital glare, it seems undistorted and accurate.
The distortion of the piano chords suggest to me mistracking of heavily modulated sections of the record.

It would be helpful to know if the records are new or second hand, or worn. If the records are not new then it is possibloe this is previous damage or wear,

Tyan42
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by Tyan42 » 22 Nov 2019 20:32

New Records, audiophile reissues. There's definitely something up with the system. I do suspect the cart alignment, vtf, vta. The frequency spectrum of a complex piano chord would be hard to reproduce with fidelity.

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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by bernard1 » 22 Nov 2019 20:50

Tyan42, if you could post some samples of piano with distortion and voices without, it could help for diagnostic.

patient_ot
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by patient_ot » 22 Nov 2019 21:49

What specific records are we talking about? Are you sure the distortion isn't baked into the recording? For example, Rudy Van Gelder recorded a ton of jazz albums, including many with piano. Some of the records he engineered have distortion on the piano due to the way they were miked and recorded. It's even there on the digital and CD versions of many albums if you listen very closely.

If you're sure it's not baked into the recording then it could be the cartridge mistracking or the signal overloading at the phono preamp or the input of the integrated amp. You'll have to do some experimentation, troubleshooting, and process of elimination to sort it out.

Tyan42
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by Tyan42 » 22 Nov 2019 22:23

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SupaWales
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by SupaWales » 22 Nov 2019 23:36

What is your VTF set to?

Try setting to the maximum specified by the cartridge manufacturer.

As someone mentioned earlier, many recordings have built in distortion.
Do you have other records that exhibit the same problem?
Are they on the same label, maybe even the same artist?

Tyan42
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by Tyan42 » 23 Nov 2019 02:11

Maxed out the VTF to 2.0 Grams. This is a better clip of the distortion.

https://youtu.be/S3kfGulK_Bg

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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by Erin1 » 23 Nov 2019 06:27

Tyan42 wrote:
23 Nov 2019 02:11
Maxed out the VTF to 2.0 Grams. This is a better clip of the distortion.

https://youtu.be/S3kfGulK_Bg

Its hard to hear properly with open air recordings. To me it sounds like old fashioned recording techniques - like someone else said - it's baked into the recording.

But, if the cd doesn't sound like this, then I think it's the cartridge overloading the preamp.

What's the input sensitivity of your preamp and the output voltage of the cartridge?

If the preamp on MC setting is 0.5mV and the cartridge output is 0.9mV ( for example) then you'd be overdriving it. (Unlikely though. I checked and found the output of the Koetsu is 0.35mV)

Are you using a step up transformer?

Did you install the cartridge or did the dealer?

Did you buy the cartridge new or rebuilt?

Tyan42
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by Tyan42 » 23 Nov 2019 07:07

I'm using a Luxman intergrated amp's phono stage set to MC. Cart was brought new and I mounted it myself. I used the slightly unique SME 309 arm protractor to set my overhang. It's weird because it just seems like the piano is the only sound that gets to be fuzzy and distorted. Everything else sounds fine to me. These are some specs from the website:

Input sensitivity/input impedance:
PHONO (MM): 2.5mV/47kΩ
PHONO (MC): 0.3mV/100Ω
LINE: 180mV/47kΩ
BAL.LINE: 180mV/55kΩ
MAIN-IN: 1.1V/47kΩ

S/N ratio (IHF-A):
PHONO (MM): 91dB or more
PHONO (MC): 75dB or more
LINE: 105dB or more

Erin1
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Re: Source of piano distortion

Post by Erin1 » 23 Nov 2019 07:10

Tyan42 wrote:
23 Nov 2019 07:07
I'm using a Luxman intergrated amp's phono stage set to MC. Cart was brought new and I mounted it myself. I used the slightly unique SME 309 arm protractor to set my overhang. It's weird because it just seems like the piano is the only sound that gets to be fuzzy and distorted. Everything else sounds fine to me. These are some specs from the website:

Input sensitivity/input impedance:
PHONO (MM): 2.5mV/47kΩ
PHONO (MC): 0.3mV/100Ω
LINE: 180mV/47kΩ
BAL.LINE: 180mV/55kΩ
MAIN-IN: 1.1V/47kΩ

S/N ratio (IHF-A):
PHONO (MM): 91dB or more
PHONO (MC): 75dB or more
LINE: 105dB or more
That's your problem.
MC input is 0.3mV
Koetsu output is 0.35mV

You're overdriving (clipping) the loud parts of the music - and it's showing up on loud piano.

You need a new preamp.

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