Close to giving up (Buzz/Hum problem)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by dastinger, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. dastinger

    dastinger Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portugal
    Hello everyone. I read the forums for some time now and it has been of great help to me in a lot of different situations. I wouldn't be asking for help if I hadn't tried everything I could think of, but this is messing with my mind for some time now and I can't stop thinking about it, mainly because I either find a solution or I resign to listen to music with a background buzz. I also know there are tons of threads like this. Believe me, I read a lot of them and many of the things I tried were suggested on those exact threads. I also know that this could probably be fixed with a ground wire, but is taking the tonearm apart of a one month old turntable really the only option? Would it 100% fix it?

    (HUGE READ AHEAD)

    I'll try to keep it as short as possible, but I don't want to miss any detail. I tried a mountain of things and still couldn't fix it, so I'm hoping some of the more experienced users here could chime in and discuss ideas/share how they solved issues like this one.

    My system is not the best, mainly because I'm using a home theatre receiver, but this shouldn't happen nevertheless:

    • TT: Rega Planar 1 w/ Rega Carbon (1 month old)
    • Receiver: Marantz SR-73 (early 90s)
    • Speakers: B&W DM305 (mid 90s?)

    First of all, I want to point out that I'm not sure if the issue was present since I acquired the Planar 1 or if it developed in the mean time. I honestly can't pinpoint when I noticed it, but it was maybe a week and a half ago.

    The issue is fairly simple. I have a high pitched buzz that I can hear when the volume is at 25%+ which is not loud at all. I'm writing this post listening to music using this exact setup, directly below my son's bedroom, dial is precisely on the 25% position and you can't hear a sound upstairs. House does not have the best isolation either.

    Anyway, the buzz is there and gets louder when I turn the volume up. It also gets louder when I position my hand next to the cartridge or the back tip of the tonearm. For the ones who don't know, Rega does not use an external grounding wire like most manufacturers. Now, here's what I tried doing:

    • Move the TT away from the amp. To the front, sides and back. As far as the wiring lets me;
    • Disconnect any other piece of equipment from the receiver leaving only the speakers and the TT;
    • Change speaker wire (the one I was using was crap, now I upgraded);
    • Unplugged TT from power outlet;
    • Changed power strip/plugged directly to the wall (receiver);
    • Tried it with headphones;
    • Tried it with different receivers;
    • Moved rooms AND floors;
    • Tried setting up the amp and turntable on different bases;
    • Unplugged everything connected to a power outlet on the same room;
    • Turned off the lights.

    Nothing solved it. NOTHING. It didn't even make it better. And yes, the TT doesn't need to be powered (or the power cord connected) for the issue to arise. Also, the buzz is constant and does not happen on any other input.

    Now, here's what helped a little bit:

    • If I plug a RCA -> Jack cable to my aluminum phone, the buzz is reduced a bit;
    • If I plug the turntable power cord directly to the receiver (it has a power outlet on the back), the buzz is further reduced.

    BUT, it is still there and it's annoying, mainly if I want to listen to music using headphones.

    Now, this is where things get worse (I guess). A friend brought his Pioneer PL-100 and Pioneer vintage amp to my place and we set it up on the exact same location:

    • Rega connected to his amp -> Buzz
    • Pioneer PL-100 connected to his amp -> No buzz

    So, issue might be on the turntable or my place, right? OK, let's take the turntable and my amp to his place. Different house, different area of the city (~3 km away). We got there, connected everything up and, you guessed it, same exact buzz.

    So, case solved, it's the turntable! Well, not quite. The hi-fi shop I bought it in is a few meters away from his place so we decided to go there. Once we got there, we connected my receiver, my turntable and my headphones. Guess what, not a sound. There was a bit of hum, but only when the volume was raised above 75%. And it was not the same type of sound. At my place (and my friend's), it's a high pitched hiss/buzz mixed with a low one. At the store, there was only the low one, which is not half as annoying. And only noticeable at 75%+ volume, which I'll probably never use.

    Btw, the electrical installation at my place is 15 years old. His is a year and a half. Both are grounded as far as we know, we're in Europe in case that helps (not the UK).

    This has got a lot bigger than I thought and I think every piece of information needed is there. What would you do? I can't enjoy listening to music and I don't want to throw the €270 spent on the Planar 1 down the gutter. I can't even use the warranty because they'd probably test it at Rega and say there's no issue, just like it happened at the store (I watched the test being done, I listened myself).

    So, any ideas? I'm at a loss and I can't get my head off of this, I could use some help.
     
  2. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Location:
    NY
    My first thought is if you have any kind of light switch dimmers on the same circuit as your system.
     
  3. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    Tracing system noise can be tiresome and frustrating. The gist of your report is that you duplicated the problem using your equipment at your friend's place, but it did not occur when your equipment was hooked up at the hi-fi store. So, what's the difference in connection or environment?
    I'm not as familiar with EU electrical systems, but here in the States, using different outlets for different pieces of gear in the same system can cause problems if those outlets are on separate branches.
    Is there anything special about the wall power at the hi-fi store?
    Often, systems can pick up noise from other appliances, including lighting. (I think this may be less an issue since the problem also occurred when you set up at your friend's house but still worth checking).
    Other sources? no noise?
    phono cartridge/arm/cable- tends to pick up noise as a transducer. I don't know Regas (other than by name) but how common is this among Rega decks? Is there a grounding wire solution, given the materials of the arm?
    Just a few thoughts.
     
    dastinger likes this.
  4. bluesaddict

    bluesaddict High Tech Welder

    Location:
    Loveland, Colorado
    Maybe a easy fix..... Power strip with noise filter for audio equipment. I have one that helped a bunch.
     
    dastinger likes this.
  5. Twodawgzz

    Twodawgzz But why do you ask such questions...

    Does the buzz/hum go away if you completely disconnnect the TT from the system?
     
    dastinger and beowulf like this.
  6. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Location:
    NY
    Good point
     
  7. beowulf

    beowulf Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chula Vista, CA
    Exactly.

    To the OP, I know you said that you still have the buzz/hum with the turntable turned off, but is the buzz still there if the turntable is completely unplugged from the outlet?

    If the turntable is completely unplugged and removed from the outlet and you still get the buzz then you're having an issue with the receiver or speakers or your home's power circuit. Have you tried using a cheater plug into the receivers power cord?
     
    dastinger likes this.
  8. James Glennon

    James Glennon Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    Are they plugged into the same electrical socket. Regarding hum, it is important that they are. If they are not, use a 4 way mains adaptor and plug it into the socket.

    JG
     
    dastinger likes this.
  9. The Acid Mouse

    The Acid Mouse Well-Known Member

    Location:
    England
    I've been through this with a Project turntable. Tried everything and ended up swapping to a different brand of turntable (no hum anymore). Shame as it was a nice turntable
     
    Leonthepro likes this.
  10. Socalguy

    Socalguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    CA
    Get a power conditioner. Furman M-8 is $79 at your local Guitar Genter.
     
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  11. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    I have had an RP1 for about a year now, its had a similar grounding issue with a hum/buzz.

    Ive tried almost all of the same things you have, but nothing worked for me either.
    The only things I cant think of next is trying different power strips and such.

    Commenting so that if you find a solution I will be sure to try it as well.
     
    dastinger likes this.
  12. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    I have the same table and seemingly exact same problem with no solution working so far. And at least for me the hum completely goes away if you unplug the phono cables and listen through RCA instead.
     
    dastinger likes this.
  13. Dr. J.

    Dr. J. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    I have the exact same problem with a brand new Planar 3 but the buzz dissipates to acceptable levels when I attached a ground wire from the brace to the ground lug on my preamp. I did everything you did and then some, including hooking the table up to a batter-powered chip amplifier and and battery-powered phono stage with the Planar 3 hooked up to a dedicated AC line with every light and appliance unplugged in a twenty-five foot radius. So I am pretty sure it's the table. I just need to reinstall a different cart to make doubly sure but I don't want to do that anytime soon since it took me a long time to dial in the right settings. If it turns out it is the table, then Rega needs to do something about it.
     
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  14. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA
    Did you ask the guy at the Hifi place if he had anything conditioning his power. I wouldn't think that was out of the norm for that type of business.
     
  15. dastinger

    dastinger Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portugal
    First of all, thanks a lot to everyone who replied, you have all been of great help so far. I'll try replying to everyone in particular so together, we may find a solution.

    I do have one room with a dimmer in a different room on the upper floor, but I ruled that out. Since posting this thread, I tried a couple more things and one of those was turning off power on the circuit breaker on every room but the one the audio gear is in. The buzz didn't disappear. Also, there are no dimmers at my friend's house and the issue was reproduced.

    These posts are related so my answer works for both. Me and my friend definitely thought about the store having some kind of filtering on their electrical installation. Or, at least, they have one of the best electrical installations you can have in order to avoid this type of issues. They are specialised in hi-fi for 30 years and it's probably the best audio equipment dealer in the country, so I bet they have something to filter out any type of noise. I didn't ask, but I may.

    Regas have an internal grounding wire. It's a piece of metal that touches the tonearm and that's it. It could be a defective tonearm and there are lots of reports about this issue on Rega turntables/arms, so I'd say the lack of an external ground wire is probably the culprit here. I just would like to find a solution without the need to add one myself losing the warranty in the process.

    As I stated before, there is no noise while using other inputs. I have a CD player and a RCA -> 3.5mm jack connected to my laptop/phone and none of those sources have any kind of noise.

    I saw someone talk about these somewhere else, but I'm not sure of what I should be looking for. Could you please point me in the right direction? How much would I likely be spending here?

    Yes, if the RCAs are disconnected from the receiver, the buzz goes away. And there is no buzz on other inputs.

    Yes, I can completely remove the turntable power cord out of the equation and still have the same buzz. The issue cannot be related to the amp since another two amps had the same buzz with the turntable connected. Also, my receiver didn't buzz while being tested in the store.

    Cheater plug? I never heard of it, what is it?

    Yes, I tried different plugs and power strips. Both plugged in the same and different strips/outlets. No difference. Also, please note that the Rega doesn't even need to be plugged in for the buzz to appear.

    What does this do exactly? Filters any kind of noise coming from the house electrical installation? I might look into this, thank you!

    What do you mean by unplugging phono cables and listen through RCA?

    I'm thinking about installing a different cart as well. I might try out my friend's AT cartridge just to see if it helps. I didn't want to mess with my Carbon precisely because it was aligned professionally and it sounds great. I'm just afraid that I won't be able to do such a good job.

    Also, could you please show a picture of what you did exactly with the ground wire?

    Another thing I tried was connecting a speaker wire from the ground lug on my receiver to the metal strip european plugs have that are used merely for grounding purposes. My line of thinking is, I'd be removing any kind of electricity that was being conducted to the receiver's chassis by the turntable RCA (Rega uses the left RCA as a substitute for the ground wire) directly to my house's ground. Like this:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now, I'm 99% sure this is safe since those polls are only used for grounding and there is no power whatsoever running through them. And, it kinda worked. The buzz was reduced by more than 50%. So, right now, the buzz is still there and is still noticeable at normal levels while using headphones but was reduced to some extent.

    I'll wait for developments on the answers given so far and keep testing. I obviously don't want to keep the speaker wire thingy as a permanent solution and if I can get rid of the buzz completely, the better.
     
    stereoptic likes this.
  16. dastinger

    dastinger Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portugal
    Sorry for double posting, but I can't seem to be able to edit my previous post. Just for clarification, the buzz is still there both on the speakers and headphones. But this last trick helped reducing it which made it less noticeable while using speakers but still annoying while using headphones.
     
  17. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    By listening through RCA I mean the other outputs on my amp. I can Switch between phono and RCA which is used for other things like CD, Tape, Computer. Only the Phono input gives off a hum when the table is connected. So I know its only a problem with the table grounding itself.
     
    dastinger likes this.
  18. dastinger

    dastinger Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portugal
    Ohhhh, gotcha. You still use RCA cables to connect a turntable, hence why I didn't understand what you meant. And yes, I'm listening to music using my laptop connected to an input on the same receiver right now and there is no buzz whatsoever. Dead silent.
     
  19. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    Did you ask Rega for a solution?
     
  20. bluesaddict

    bluesaddict High Tech Welder

    Location:
    Loveland, Colorado
    I called it a noise filter but most call them Power Conditioner. They can help get rid of a hum coming from your outlet in the room. Here is a link to some post here that might help.
    Power conditioner? Any suggestions?
    Basic Power Line Conditioner Recommendation
    Power Conditioners

    Power conditioner - Wikipedia

    After reading more of what you have done I think your hum might be from the Rega. Did you buy it from the shop where you brought it to and got no hum? Would they be willing to make a house visit?
     
  21. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    Have you attached a grounding wire from the TT to the receiver chassis (there is often a grounding screw)?
     
  22. David A.

    David A. Forum Resident

    Location:
    san jose, CA
    I got rid of hum in my system when using my Mark Levinson by doing a no-no: I disconnected the ground for the amp's power cord. Dropped hum to inaudible.

    Now that I have new amp and preamp, the only hum I have is when I am using the TT input (MC) and turn the vol up very very loud).
     
  23. dastinger

    dastinger Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portugal
    Rega makes you go through the dealer you bought your turntable from, so there's not much I can do on that regard. When I took it to the store, there was no buzz so they said they couldn't accept activating the warranty for something they could not reproduce.

    Oh, alright, thank you! This could potentially solve my issue but a Furman PL-8C, one of the most recommended ones, would cost me €300+. I can't justify spending more than what I spent on the turntable to make it work like it should in the first place.

    Yes, I bought it from the shop I took it to and a house visit is a possibility. I'm just finishing up on some remodeling of the room the audio gear will be in in the future before I call them in.

    I saw that suggested on many places, but I can't seem to find a good spot to attach the grounding wire on the turntable.

    Here's a picture of the underside. Where would you attach it?

    [​IMG]

    This made me think about something I didn't think of before. My amp (and turntable for that matter) uses a two prong connector. So the plug doesn't touch the grounding poles on the outlet. The fact that Rega doesn't use a separate grounding wire, makes it so that all the electricity from the cartridge that would, otherwise, dissipate through the receiver's chassis, is going inside the amp, through the left RCA cable. Maybe, if the amp power cord was one of those bigger ones that touch the grounding poles on the outlet, the buzz would disappear.

    Does this make any sense to anyone?
     
  24. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    Since you noted that the buzz occurs even when the TT is not operating, first lock the tonearm. Turn off the receiver. Attach a wire to the receiver chassis ground screw then put a piece of tape to the other end of the wire. Attach it to the tone arm or any metal part near the tonearm outputs. Keep moving the wire with the tape to different spots and see if the buzz goes away.
     
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  25. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    @dastinger -I must say your written English is superb. I am assuming you are not an expat, but a native of Portugal? We enjoyed ourselves immensely in Lisbon and the countryside some years ago.
    I trust you'll get this sorted. There are quite a few people here with Rega tables and know-how.
    Best,
     
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