Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

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anthos314
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Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by anthos314 » 06 Sep 2018 16:23

Hi everybody,

I am a newbie on the forum but I used to read it quite a lot for wonderful advice and great info.
My problem is that my left channel is weaker than my right channel (sounds worse with mono records actually), approximately 1 to 3 dB weaker.
I have recently aquired a Michell Gyrodec, the tonearm is an SME IV with a 2m Black. Actually I have had this problem ever since I purchased my former turntable, a Pro-ject 2xperience with 9cc Evo tonearm.
The Black is the only part of the setup I have kept.
I had this problem as soon as I had the Pro-ject, which was fitted with a 2m Bronze at the time.Then I changed for the Black I have now... same problem. I even tried a 2m Red. Same problem. Body AND stylus were changed.
I have checked literally everything: alignment, azimuth, level of the platter, cables, preamp, amp...

I am now starting to think that either Ortofon makes crap cartridges (four having the same problem!), either there is some dark magic at work here.
One day I listened to a Rega P6 fitted with an Anya cartridge in a store, and clearly heard perfect balance compared to my former rig.

Now I have changed the tonearm; the turntable; the stand... as I said the Black is the only thing I have not changed but it is not the first Black I have that has this problem!

Any help on the matter would be greatly appreciated as it has been doing my head in for four years now, and I feel gutted that with my brand new shiny Michell this problem is still here.

Thanks for reading me!

GyroSE
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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by GyroSE » 07 Sep 2018 15:24

anthos314 wrote:Hi everybody,

I am a newbie on the forum but I used to read it quite a lot for wonderful advice and great info.
My problem is that my left channel is weaker than my right channel (sounds worse with mono records actually), approximately 1 to 3 dB weaker.
I have recently aquired a Michell Gyrodec, the tonearm is an SME IV with a 2m Black. Actually I have had this problem ever since I purchased my former turntable, a Pro-ject 2xperience with 9cc Evo tonearm.
The Black is the only part of the setup I have kept.
I had this problem as soon as I had the Pro-ject, which was fitted with a 2m Bronze at the time.Then I changed for the Black I have now... same problem. I even tried a 2m Red. Same problem. Body AND stylus were changed.
I have checked literally everything: alignment, azimuth, level of the platter, cables, preamp, amp...

I am now starting to think that either Ortofon makes crap cartridges (four having the same problem!), either there is some dark magic at work here.
One day I listened to a Rega P6 fitted with an Anya cartridge in a store, and clearly heard perfect balance compared to my former rig.

Now I have changed the tonearm; the turntable; the stand... as I said the Black is the only thing I have not changed but it is not the first Black I have that has this problem!

Any help on the matter would be greatly appreciated as it has been doing my head in for four years now, and I feel gutted that with my brand new shiny Michell this problem is still here.

Thanks for reading me!
Welcome to the forum! :D

Which phono stage are you using? Maybe the problem is in the phono stage- have you tried a different phono stage to find out about this?

anthos314
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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by anthos314 » 07 Sep 2018 15:30

Hello!

I tried inverting the channels behind the cartridge and the problem switched sides. I tried with another preamp, same problem. This seems to prove that the problem lies with the cartridge. Playing with antiskate does not seem to change anything. Azimuth is dead level...

GyroSE
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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by GyroSE » 07 Sep 2018 15:55

anthos314 wrote:Hello!

I tried inverting the channels behind the cartridge and the problem switched sides. I tried with another preamp, same problem. This seems to prove that the problem lies with the cartridge. Playing with antiskate does not seem to change anything. Azimuth is dead level...
Ok. So when you went from 2M Bronze to 2M Black you only changed the tip? If you did the problem is probably in the cartridge housing. Maybe you can lend another cartridge from a friend and make a test?

EDIT; I just noticed that you changed both the stylus and the housing. Have you checked your phono cables as well?

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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by josephazannieri » 07 Sep 2018 16:42

Yo anthos314:

Sounds to me like you may have a high resistance in one off your phono cables. Get yourself a digital multimeter and measure resistance between the red arm lead and the center pin of the right RCA plug. Then measure between the green arm lead and the outer ring of the right RCA plug. Then measure between the white arm lead and the center pin of the left RCA plug and the blue lead and the outer ring of the left RCA plug. All measurements should be 1 ohm or less. If any are significantly higher, then you have a bad wire or a bad connector that should be replaced.

If measurements are low and equal, then measure between the red lead and the green lead, and between the white lead and the blue lead. Disconnect the red lead from the cartridge before you make this measurement. Measurement should be infinite resistance with red wire disconnected. Measure between the white and blue leads with white wire disconnected from cartridge. Measurement should be infinite resistance. If there is any reading at all, then you should inspect wires and plugs to see if there is a short. Either a short or a high resistance connection will give the symptom of a low channel, assuming that the cartridge is OK.

To check cartridge, measure between the center pin of right RCA plug and the outer ring of right RCA plug. Depending on cart, you should come in somewhere between 500 and 900 ohms. Then measure between the center pin of left RCA plug and outer ring of left RCA plug. Whatever the right side measured, the left should be equal within a few ohms. If there is a great difference in measurements, then the cartridge is suspect.

And good luck from the old resistance measurer,

Joe Z.

anthos314
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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by anthos314 » 07 Sep 2018 18:33

Thanks so much for your replies!
With the bronze it was the same problem.
I'll check everything in the next few days!

Concerning the phono cables, they have been changed since I changed tonearm in the process.

I used to own a Debut III back in the days... and everything was so simple, straightforward and centered.

GyroSE
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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by GyroSE » 07 Sep 2018 19:42

anthos314 wrote:Thanks so much for your replies!
With the bronze it was the same problem.
I'll check everything in the next few days!

Concerning the phono cables, they have been changed since I changed tonearm in the process.

I used to own a Debut III back in the days... and everything was so simple, straightforward and centered.
Having a Gyro combined with a SME IV should be even more simple- a SME tonearm is like a dream to handle when compared to many other tonearms IMHO.

Do as Joe Z suggests- after those measurements you'll know. Good luck!

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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by anthos314 » 07 Sep 2018 23:41

Hello again!

Joe Z., following your advice, I used a multimeter to check the cartridge first:
left side --> 1092 Ohms
right side --> 1090 Ohms.

Seems like the cartridge is ok.

I then checked the leads. There is one resistance reading which confuses me:
- between the red arm lead and the center pin of the right RCA plug: 0.9 Ohms
- between the green arm lead and the outer ring of the right RCA plug: 4.3 Ohms ????????
- between the white arm lead and the center pin of the left RCA plug: 0.9 Ohms
- between the blue lead and the outer ring of the left RCA plug: 0.8 Ohms.

I bought the tonearm second-hand and the seller said the internal wiring had been "upgraded with pure silver cable". Does it mean that I have to rewire the whole thing? And that the wiring of my old Pro-ject was also to blame?

I don't really understand why the resistance on a cable belonging to the right channel being higher than normal would result in the channel sounding louder? But maybe you could tell me!

Now I guess the only thing left for me is to visit a friend with another turntable and to try my 2m black on his... just to confirm it is not the cartridge's fault.

Oh and I find it surprising that when I switch the leads at the back of the cartridge the problem changes channel, if the leads are to blame and not the cartridge.

anthos314
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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by anthos314 » 08 Sep 2018 15:22

Ok I have tried my cartridge with the same blue and white leads on the left and right channel, does not change anything. I recorded both channels in Adobe Audition one after the other, and when putting them together the problem is still there. There is actually no change from when the four leads are in place. Back to square one.

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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by josephazannieri » 09 Sep 2018 01:57

Yo anthos314:

This begins to sound like you might have a short across the left side or between the left side and the chassis of the turntable.

Pull the red wire off the red cartridge pin. Pull the white wire off the white cartridge pin. Now measure between the center pin of the right channel RCA plug and the outer ring of the right RCA plug. You should have infinite resistance. Measure between the center pin of the left RCA plug and the outer ring of the left RCA plug. Should be infinite resistance.

Measure between the red cartridge wire and the metal chassis of the turntable. Should be infinite resistance. Measure between the white cartridge wire and the metal chassis of turntable. Should be infinite resistance. Measure between the outer ring of right RCA plug and the metal chassis of turntable. Should be infinite resistance. Measure between the outer ring of left RCA plug and metal chassis of turntable. Should also be infinite resistance. If you get a short between right RCA outer ring and ground, or left outer ring and ground, this may be normal if your turntable does not have a separate ground wire. But if you get any reading below infinite resistance red wire and ground or the white wire and ground, this may be the cause of the low level in the left channel. Than 4.3 ohm resistance measurement may be a bad contact between your test probe and the wire, or it may be a cold solder joint. Given the fact that your cartridge impedance is 47,000 ohms, 4.3 ohms should not make a significant difference in level.

I still think the problem is in the wires, but my opinion and 97 cents will get you a cup of senior coffee at McDonalds.

Good luck from that wire measuring old coffee drinker,

Joe Z.

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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by cafe latte » 09 Sep 2018 06:42

josephazannieri wrote:Yo anthos314:

This begins to sound like you might have a short across the left side or between the left side and the chassis of the turntable.

Pull the red wire off the red cartridge pin. Pull the white wire off the white cartridge pin. Now measure between the center pin of the right channel RCA plug and the outer ring of the right RCA plug. You should have infinite resistance. Measure between the center pin of the left RCA plug and the outer ring of the left RCA plug. Should be infinite resistance.

Measure between the red cartridge wire and the metal chassis of the turntable. Should be infinite resistance. Measure between the white cartridge wire and the metal chassis of turntable. Should be infinite resistance. Measure between the outer ring of right RCA plug and the metal chassis of turntable. Should be infinite resistance. Measure between the outer ring of left RCA plug and metal chassis of turntable. Should also be infinite resistance. If you get a short between right RCA outer ring and ground, or left outer ring and ground, this may be normal if your turntable does not have a separate ground wire. But if you get any reading below infinite resistance red wire and ground or the white wire and ground, this may be the cause of the low level in the left channel. Than 4.3 ohm resistance measurement may be a bad contact between your test probe and the wire, or it may be a cold solder joint. Given the fact that your cartridge impedance is 47,000 ohms, 4.3 ohms should not make a significant difference in level.

I still think the problem is in the wires, but my opinion and 97 cents will get you a cup of senior coffee at McDonalds.

Good luck from that wire measuring old coffee drinker,

Joe Z.
+1

anthos314
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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by anthos314 » 11 Sep 2018 16:01

Hi Joe,

Thank you very much for your advice.

I have done the measurements. Every time I found infinite resistance. I had this problem with the Pro-ject Xperience Acryl I owned before, but never on entry-level turntables.

One day I even tried plugging the turntable directly into the computer, and the problem was still there. So it definitely comes from the turntable. What I could do is maybe try a cartridge by another brand, but that would mean the three 2m cartridges I have tried over the last four years (one bronze, one black and one red) all had this problem of weaker left channel.

On my entry-level turntable years ago I had an OM 5E, the image was dead center. As I said the Black is the only bit from the Acryl that I kept.

Maybe I could get a more powerful multimeter to check again...

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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by josephazannieri » 11 Sep 2018 17:28

Yo anthos314:

If the measurements don't show a short in your left side lead, then the problem is likely the cartridge. Here is what I will suggest. Go to this spot on the Famous Auction Website: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=to ... noapp=true. Purchase the $19.95 set of BIC tonearm wires and plug them into the cartridge. You can then go to the other end of the wire and measure at that end between red and green, and between white and blue while a record is playing, and see if you get the same difference as before. You may have difficulty getting a measurement because the cartridge output is in the 5 millivolt range, which is way low, unless your meter will measure millivolts. You can also solder the wires to an RCA plugs and plug them into your amp and see what you get out of it. This will tell you for sure that the problem is the cartridge.

You may also have a bad stylus with a misaligned or misplaced magnet that is affecting the cartridge output on left one channel. I didn't think you had a bad coil in cartridge because your coil measurements were very similar. Ortofon, however, on their website gives the specified internal resistance of the Black cartridge as 1200 ohms, making your measurement at about 1090 ohms a little low. It is possible that you have a bad cartridge, because the measurement is off spec, about 10% low.

Might be worth your while to contact Ortofon product support and see what they have to say about this anamoly.

And good luck from that cheap wire buying experimenter,

Joe Z.

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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by Cyreg » 12 Sep 2018 09:18

anthos314 wrote:
Oh and I find it surprising that when I switch the leads at the back of the cartridge the problem changes channel, if the leads are to blame and not the cartridge.
????..if you change the R and L leads set on the cartridge;
- if the cart is to blame the troubled channel should stay on the same side
- if the wiring is to blame the troubled channel would change to the other side

but....maybe I didn't understand you right? goodluck!

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Re: Channel imbalance - Am I cursed?

Post by Gelid » 29 Oct 2018 16:36

anthos314 wrote:
11 Sep 2018 16:01
try a cartridge by another brand, but that would mean the three 2m cartridges I have tried over the last four years (one bronze, one black and one red) all had this problem of weaker left channel.
Not likely four would be off the same way.

As a side note... I think the 2M Black may be too-high compliant for your moderate-mass SME tonearm.
I'm no expert on such things, but I've read that there could be issues when a high-compliant cart is paired with a moderate-mass tonearm.

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