SH Spotlight Newbies getting started playing vinyl, please avoid mistracking & resulting groove damage!!!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "like", "share", "tweet", or CARE. In Memoriam

    South Mountain, NC
    After 1976 they used BSR junkers. They were cheaper. But at least they had a magnetic cartridge.
  2. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    Some of them did, not all had magnetics. Some of the BSR/Zenith changers had slim heads and Tetrad ceramic cartridges installed. Also, some 1976 to 1978 Zenith consoles had Garrard 630s changers fitted, with ceramic cartridges (some of these were plinthed and offered with Shure M 44-7 MM cartridges, used on upper end compacts and components)
  3. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "like", "share", "tweet", or CARE. In Memoriam

    South Mountain, NC
    I worked for Zenith Audio from 1976 until it closed in 1981. I don't recall ever using a changer but the BSR. But I don't doubt that you're right, my memory is flawed, it was just too many years ago to remember accurately.
  4. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    I am going by my findings servicing these units over the years. As a rule, their audio quality was better than most of the genre. Support on parts and technical matters from Zenith was top notch, a terrific company to deal with on my end.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  5. The ultimate tracking test:

  6. Ride the wave! :laugh:
  7. Licorice pizza

    Licorice pizza Livin’ On The Fault Line


    Actually, my Ortofon concorde dj stylus can ride the wild surf on tough waves like those as well.
    Shak Cohen and The Pinhead like this.
  8. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ CMO (Chief Musical Officer)

    Salem, MA
    This is an older thread, but I'll add this -

    There may be an audio fix-it guy nearby. There is one near me in Salem, MA. This is the type of person who, himself, finds reclamation projects. You might find a vintage turntable that has been cleaned and tuned.

    That being said, today's inexpensive turntables are better than the ones from yesteryear. A brand new U-Turn table from Orbit, starting at $179, is upgradable. They're designed and manufactured in Woburn, MA.
    Vinyl Addict and Diablo Griffin like this.
  9. royzak2000

    royzak2000 Forum Resident

    I remember having a Philips Turntable in the early sixties were,in the instruction book they frowned on the auto changers, telling you with a twist to the left you could discard the top part of centre spindle.
    This was also the first record player I knew that converted to stereo with a separate matching box.
    My introduction to Hi-Fi.
  10. pez

    pez Forum Resident

    Good advice!! I have a similar turntable to you 1975 one..the pl-514 with a Pickering elliptical stylus on a Stanton gold 500 cart. It still sounds excellent
  11. ArpMoog

    ArpMoog Forum Resident

    Ive been using the same cartridges for many years. Both AT, a 12xe and 12s and love both.
    The 12 xe sounds better to me on rock and the sa on jazz and classical or acoustic music.
    My only complaint is the price now on shibata stylus. I wish I would have bought a dozen when they were 50 bucks.
    Neither have done any damage to my records.
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
    Shak Cohen likes this.
  12. elaterium

    elaterium Forum Resident

    I've been playing records for 60 years, I've never given any thought to the type of stylus, so after reading this I decided to take a look at what it is that I am using. I have a Music Hall Tracker, which, it turns out he has an elliptical stylus! Should I now be concerned about replacing it for a conical stylus? I have not experienced tracking distortion with it. I see tons of elliptical styluses online for sale. And certainly they would stop making them if they were so bad for records, no?
  13. cmcintyre

    cmcintyre Forum Resident

    Playing a record (side) no more than once per day is a large determinant of record wear. As the stylus comes thundering down the groove valley the immense pressure creates heat and the "elastic" groove deforms, taking up to 24 hours to return to its original shape.

    A well cleaned record played no more than once a day by a clean conical/spherical stylus in good condition will sound better than a dirty record played over and over again with a more accurate stylus shape.

    The closer the stylus shape is to the groove shape, the more accurately it follows the groove, and the less pressure it exerts on the groove walls. But it must be positioned correctly to do so. - (So alignment, azimuth and VTA (vertical tracking angle) need careful adjustment). The more complex the stylus shape, the more important the accuracy of the positioning.

    Illogical as it may sound, the correlation between accurate tracking (reduced record wear) and excellent sound is "generally so", not "always so"- some cartridges/styii combinations sound more realistic than others. An accurately tracked record will provide more detail, but may not create an overall sound that is "better" or "realistic" - there are other factors involved. For extended record life, aim for accurate tracking.

    Conical (or spherical) is the most simplest of stylii shapes, so easiest to set up, but has the lowest ability to track the grooves correctly.

    Elliptical are better, though vary in shape and size, but still mistrack the loud and complex sections of the record, as well having lesser ability in the inner grooves than the more advanced stylus shapes such as Shibata, Fritz Gyger, Micro line, line contact etc. These advanced stylii shapes usually don't have the word "elliptical" in their description.

    A dirty stylus has "bumps and lumps" on its surface, and hence will not track correctly. - Use a stylus cleaner after every side.

    A dirty record ( which is most - new and second hand) has foreign materials in the groove, which either get in the way of the stylus, and/or get pushed into the heated groove and as the groove cools the material gets stuck in the groove wall (permanent damage). - Clean the record effectively, even before first play (record cleaning machines are the best, though sometimes pricey, option)

    If upgrading or starting from new, choose parts that will work with each other well - cartridge and tonearm - there's a documented science to this, so if upgrading an existing setup, check that the high quality proposed new part will work in harmony with the existing bits.

    Possibly there needs to be a sticky with some clear instructions to follow.
    Heckto35, royzak2000 and DaverJ like this.
  14. Linus

    Linus Forum Resident

    Melb. Australia
    Got my V-15 type III, back in 76, put it in an AR-XB turntable, and still have this exact same combo 40 years later. Nothing has caused me to upgrade - the only glitch was when I put an elliptical stylus in the V-15, it groove jumped like crazy!!!
  15. In-jin Park

    In-jin Park New Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    would playing my 33s & 45s on Jensen JTA-230 eventually damage my vinyl?
  16. BuzzMan

    BuzzMan Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Wow, thanks so much for bringing this up! I've heard that, not on all my records, just several. And I couldn't tell what it was. I chalked it up as distortion or something else and it always irks me like fingernails on a chalkboard, but after hearing your sample on YouTube, that's exactly what it sounds like! I'm pretty sure it's not my set up but the actual few records that do it. I can't remember which ones (I think one may have been a Sinatra), but if I hear that again I'll make note and inspect the vinyl for signs. Luckily, this is more rare for me... and I have a fairly cheap system.
  17. izgoblin

    izgoblin Forum Resident

    Has anyone proved this with a microscope? Because, with all due respect, it sounds like hogwash to me.
    Heckto35, Ere, Ray29 and 1 other person like this.
  18. wes

    wes Forum Resident

    Well said for being sleep deprived!
    Hope you've slept since then.. :)

    I've bought and returned many records from the 50's 60's that were Webcor'ed to death..
    Pretty sad.. Seems like a 50/50 shot that records from that era don't have groove damage from mistracking...

    I usually try to buy play graded LPs.. The good thing is that most sellers don't give me any hassle for returns/refunds...
    McLover likes this.
  19. spencer1

    spencer1 Great Western Forum Resident

    OH MY GOD!!!
    All that information and here's what I came away with ... A WEBCOR!

    I had totally forgotten the brand and it all came rushing back.
    I actually got a weird head/body rush.

    I remember thinking as a kid, "Don't they make barbecues too?"
    No, that was Weber.

    I would stack my LP's on that spindle until my brother told me that was not a good thing to do.
    Still have my "Byrds Greatest Hits" that was abused by that record player ...
    God I loved that record player. I could listen to records in my room or on the patio instead of on my parents Magnavox in the living room ...

    Thanks for the memories buddy.
  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    That four inch speaker could really irritate parents! I remember playing Beatles ACT NATURALLY at 78 RPM full blast. Why I don't know but my dad, usually tolerant, begged me to knock it off.. Not long after he got me the Zenith Stereo. Thanks again, Dad!
    Mister Charlie and JeffreyB like this.
  21. spencer1

    spencer1 Great Western Forum Resident

    AND that Chipmunk's album at 16 RPM.
    It's where I discovered that Dave Saville (Ross Bagdasarian) voiced all of the Chipmunks.
    My young mind was blown ...
    Mister Charlie likes this.
  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    I remember doing that as well. I just had the 45 of The Chipmunk Song so I just used my finger on the Webcor platter to slow it down.
    JeffreyB likes this.
  23. marcb

    marcb Senior Member

    DC area
    All true - except for the first paragraph which is total nonsense.
    Heckto35, izgoblin and lukpac like this.
  24. Sax-son

    Sax-son Forum Resident

    Three Rivers, CA
    I still have that darn Chipmunks album. The one with the red vinyl.
  25. cmcintyre

    cmcintyre Forum Resident

    Both these comments refer to my statement,

    "Playing a record (side) no more than once per day is a large determinant of record wear. As the stylus comes thundering down the groove valley the immense pressure creates heat and the "elastic" groove deforms, taking up to 24 hours to return to its original shape."

    I recall reading this in some hifi publication years ago, and thinking about the laws of physics and why some record grooves turn grey with imbedded dust that has adhered to the grooves (and cannot be removed with any cleaning methods) , I thought - "OK, sounds reasonable"

    Doing some searching today on the net turned up the following. No microscopic proof (either way), but some interesting discussions, opposing views and commentary, including an 1954 article from cartridge manufacturer Shure made available in 2011 as part of their FAQ on stylus and record wear.

    Shure FAQ 2011:

    Stylus Wear and Record Wear | Shure Technical FAQ »

    Fifth paragraph in section "Stylus wear and reproduction" says: "....this forcing of the worn stylus against the groove walls may also distort the walls beyond their elastic limit, which results in additional record wear and distortion of reproduction.", clearly indicating that the groove wall has an elastic limit - it "stretches" and "retracts".

    Absolute sound Q + A.

    Two respondents, one has mixed answer that includes statement that on repeated playing of the same track a continual degradation in sound was noticeable. (for that to be the case the stylus groove relationship must deteriorate each play)

    Waiting before playing vinyl again | The Absolute Sound »

    Quora Q + A

    How many times can a vinyl record be played? - Quora »

    Response from Hi-end Hi FI salesperson that speaks to exact issue, identifies it and finds a solution for demoing purpose. Second respondent does not respond to playing repeatedly in short time.

    Record Collectors Guild

    The Microscopy of Vinyl Records - The Record Collectors Guild »

    In the section "Record Wear" it acknowledges that vinyl deformation exists, though doesn't discuss aspects of this, except that in the general sense it is caused by the stylus.

    Audio Circle forum

    A little Vinyl "CAUTION" »

    Discussion on this topic, with differing opinions. Some of them have quite measured and considered input.


    Anyway, it sounds like it would a very interesting experiment to undertake with the necessary equipment to take up - taking two copies of the same pressing, playing them both the same number of times ( say 50), one, no more than once per day, and the other non-stop, and analyse the sound with the correct audio analysers, and photograph the grooves at each play. Naturally record playing setup plays a part.

    I don't have that equipment, so in the meantime, I err on the side of caution - that dust that caused the groove to go grey got stuck there somehow, and a momentarily softened groove makes sense to me.

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