Do I need a new needle?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by TheStyne, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. TheStyne

    TheStyne Active Member Thread Starter

    Toronto, Canada
    Hi there,

    I'm really new to turntables and records, so please bear with me.

    I recently got a turntable for my birthday. It's the Victrola 3-speed turntable with Bluetooth. I don't know if it's any good or not, but it's what I've got. The night I got it, I wanted to try it out, so I played some old records we had around the house. These were in extremely bad shape, as they were my recorded blanks from the early 40's that had not been handled with care.

    Today I bought Black Celebration by Depeche Mode, brand new. When playing it, I've noticed quite a bit of distortion, which surprised me. People rave about the sound quality of vinyl, and this doesn't sound nearly as good as digital.

    So my question is, is this normal? Does vinyl always sound like this? The player came with a replacement needle, is it possible I ruined this one on the old, horrible condition records? Should I try the included replacement needle? I already checked for dirt, and it's clean.

    Thanks, Alex.
    Echoes Myron likes this.
  2. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Welcome to the forum, fellow TO member.

    You have a 50$ turntable so yes, it will sound pretty terrible. Not sure why you expect to be blown away with what's a novelty gadget, no offense. Don't waste any time or money on it and buy something better or there's no point bothering with it. Your Depeche Mode LP likely cost you about half of what the turntable is worth!

    Even a used one bought from Kijiji would be 10x better. If you want to stick to the cheap stuff, here's a used one for 100$ (180$ new) that will sound much better and won't destroy your records. Don't expect miracles at this price but this will still be a giant leap for the better.

    Sony PS-LX300 USB Turntable. Full Automatic. 33 1/3 and 45 rpm. Built in Phono Preamp. Belt Driven. Convert Vinyl Record | Stereo Systems & Home Theatre | Mississauga / Peel Region | Kijiji
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  3. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    No Alex.
    Possibly its picked some dirt from
    The records you have been playing

    Not familiar with your turntable.
    May be a budget design
    However irrespective of that,
    All turntables benefit from
    A clean stylus , and the correct downforce.
    Any bias settings set properly.
    A test record is useful here.
    But as you are new to vinyl it may confuse you.
    I suggest you check downforce, ( tracking weight)
    There are gauges available, thr shure
    Being very good.
    The vtf( downforce) is usually
    Given ie 2g.
    Bias if available is set to correspond
    To vtf.
    There is s lot more to this and these are
    Very basic tips.
    It helps if platter is level
  4. George Blair

    George Blair Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    What you need is a new turntable.
  5. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Tryon, NC, USA
    Not going to disagree with what others have stated, but those home recording professional discs shouldn't be played with a modern stereo needle. Are they wax covered or naked aluminum? If they have the coating then a 78 needle should be used. If they are bare metal, then a wooden needle was supposed to be used, which, of course, meant an acoustic record player only.
    Big Blue likes this.
  6. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Forum Resident

    I think you probably need some counseling before it's too late, I remember having a 'record player', which had a needle. I was very confused when my friends brother had a cartridge that cost more than my stereo, skip forward 7 years and my cartridge cost £1000:crazy:.

    If that's not put you off you'll have much musical enjoyment and no holidays.

    Seriously to get in to 'real' Hi-Fi you're looking at around £270 for a deck with a cartridge.

    Most of the vinyl I'd played on my basic record player hadn't been damaged and still played well, having said that I'd probably not play any vinyl I owned on your deck.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  7. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Your biggest issue is your Victoria player, which is known to be a very problematic with respect to very poor sound quality and increasing wear and tear to your records. You get what you paid for. I’d strongly recommend replacing it with a better turntable, so I’d look into getting a used Japanese direct drive turntable on Kijiji and buy a phono preamp or a receiver with phono inputs, and speakers/headphones.

    Don’t get an Audio Technics LP60 or a Sony PS-LX300 as they’re also pretty bad players.
    McLover, Old Rusty and patient_ot like this.
  8. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Frenchtown NJ USA
    That was very nice of someone to gift you a turntable. Unfortunately it will never sound good - please don't spend any money (for example, on a new cartridge/needle) trying to improve the sound. There is a whole industry making lots of money off the vinyl revival by selling junk turntables to unsuspecting newcomers. If you search through this forum you can find lots of information on starting out with vinyl playback. Good luck. :)
    tin ears, Big Blue and nosliw like this.
  9. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    Good advice.
    Technics direct drives work well
    I use TD150. Very reliable

    Easily upgraded if the urge arises.
    Rega also well proven.
    They all sound a little different.Ortofon 2m blue i hear good things about.
    Decent tracker, and reliable.
    Phono stages plentiful.
    All the decks mentioned a good starting point.
    May be all you ever need.
    Good luck
    nosliw likes this.
  10. bob_32_116

    bob_32_116 Forum Resident

    Perth Australia
    "I've seen the needle and the damage done"
    CorporalClegg likes this.
  11. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    Congratulations on your new turntable!

    Here is a list of helpful resources for inexpensive record players like yours, including some cheap upgrades:

    2019 Entry-Level Turntable Buyer's Guide

    Despite some exaggerated rumors you might see here and elsewhere, it will not "destroy" your records. But it is highly recommend to upgrade the stylus (needle) with the Pfanstiehl 793-D7M. It is a genuine diamond stylus that will sound better, last longer, and be less likely to skip than the sapphire or ruby stylus these players come with.

    Also try cleaning that Depeche Mode record. Even brand new records can be dirty, with debris left in the grooves from the manufacturing process that can cause noise and skipping. A carbon fiber record cleaning brush is a very useful tool.

    And see the rest of that web site for a Buyer's Guide for new entry-level turntables when you are ready to step up to something better than your Victrola.
    Echoes Myron likes this.
  12. Echoes Myron

    Echoes Myron Forum Resident

    Sorry but you really need a difeerent turntable. It doesn't have to break the bank. Check out Audiogon for used deals.
    bluemooze and nosliw like this.
  13. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    You may have played whats called a Shellac record, which does not work with normal cartridges and thus ruined your current one which is why it sounds bad all the time. You wont get great sound from that system either way though.
    uzn007 likes this.
  14. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    Playing a wide groove 78 RPM record with a microgroove stylus won't sound that great, but won't "ruin" your cartridge or stylus. At worst the stylus might have dug up some dirt from the bottom of the groove that got stuck to it -- but a good cleaning should sort that.
  15. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    I have the strong sense that I recollect someone who did break their cart by playing these, having the same experience of listening to a few 78s and then realizing that their normal LPs sounded much worse than before. But if someone can show a test of playing 78s with a diamond stylus and not receiving any kind of damage then please do.
  16. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    Sure. Here is an acoustically recorded 78 from 1918 that I played on my Panasonic BSR record changer with its 0.7 mil diamond stylus (a 3 mil 78 RPM stylus is not available for it), with no harm done to the record, stylus, or cartridge:

    Leonthepro and CBackley like this.
  17. JohnCarter17

    JohnCarter17 Forum Resident

    Houston, TX
    This basically. You need to follow the advice here and get a better turntable.

    To get the most satisfaction out of your current TT, you need a drop cloth and a baseball bat.
    tin ears and Strat-Mangler like this.
  18. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    Would multiple plays create problems?
  19. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    It really depends on what kind of gunk might be lurking in the grooves of 100+ year old records. There might even be steel shavings from someone having used a Victrola needle for one too many plays.
  20. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    The problem is this was a gift. We don’t know who gave the gift, but I wouldn’t disrespect a gesture form a loved one by demolishing what they had given me. This did cost the gift giver an amount of money that most people can’t just throw away, and the thought behind it was generous and well-meaning.

    This can be a delicate and awkward situation for OP, depending on whether the gift giver is close enough to be aware if this was to be used, replaced, discarded, destroyed, etc. From a pure gear evaluation perspective, all the advice to find something better is correct if OP is hoping to experience good-sounding playback. However, there are likely hurt feelings at risk in this situation, so it may be more complicated than had he purchased it himself.

    Maybe keep this one around for playing the old 78s (with the correct stylus), but find something better if OP decides to really get into vinyl playback? I would suggest taking some time to research options and come up with a budget, anyway, so having this one around in the meantime may not be the end of the world (though I personally wouldn’t put any records I care about on it).
    Leonthepro likes this.
  21. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident

    I'd get an inexpensive Rega even if it's second hand and then you can upgrade it with a better cart, white silicone belt,glass platter, different kinds of mats...
    JohnCarter17 and Echoes Myron like this.

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