Sibilance

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Johan Bos, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Johan Bos

    Johan Bos Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Hi all,

    I recently bought "Man on the rocks" on vinyl by Mike Oldfield. Although sound quality is good, there is (some) sibiliace: especially "s sounds", but "f sounds" also, sound distorted. (sibilance)

    It seems only on this record. I'm just wondering if it is in the record itself, or in my turntable hardware? I have an AT100E cartridge. Any idea what it could be? Woud a different stylus (line contact instead of elliptical for instance) improve this problem?
     
  2. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    Location:
    Belgium
    If you only have it on that record, I wouldn't worry to much. It's the record imo.
     
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  3. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brazil
    Sometimes it's not only this record but the recording. Try a digital version, if it also has sibilance than it's not your cartridge.
     
  4. Grant

    Grant Audiophile and Music Fan

    Location:
    United States
    Yup. Tape saturation, the use of a compressor or limiter can cause this on a tape recording.
     
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  5. vinnn

    vinnn Active Member

    Location:
    England
    I have the same deal with a brand new copy of Norah Jones' Come Away With Me.
    Excessive sibilance on the last ~25% of each side, only this one record, tried different styli, tried realigning to different standards but no dice. Can't figure it out.
     
  6. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brazil
    Most likely a defective record or recording.
     
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  7. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    If it is a new record, it happens that they cut them to hot. There is usually no "precut" distorsion in new records. I have had a few new pressings that show the same, but distortion is on average lower using my Shure V15Vx/JICO SAS stylus.

    So the answer is: probably you can benefit with a finer stylus AND lower moving mass for hot cut pressings. There should be some alternative stylii for the AT100E for upgrade purposes.
     
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  8. BrilliantBob

    BrilliantBob Use The VTF, Luke...

    Location:
    Romania
    If your VTF, SRA(92), azimuth, cart alingment and anti-skate are OK, the vinyl is a bad pressing. You can increase the VTF targeting the cart recommended weight. No big differences between a spherical stylus and an ordinary elliptical stylus, only more soundstage and fuller. The distortion and phase error will, therefore, be less but not completely eliminated.
     
  9. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    If the recording is ok by checking a digital source, then it's probably the record. If it's a new pressing, then it could be cut hot as other members have said. I have been doing some digital mastering, and I must say, some of the sibilants in the waveform can very high amplitude. When cutting a lacquer, it's worse. The RIAA pre-emphasis amplifies the sibilant frequencies by about 10dB, so these can be the most crazy "wiggles" in the groove. The amps driving the cutting head can clip, and would clip first at the strongest sibilant frequencies. It could be record isn't defective, and we have no way of knowing except to try a line contact. Most high quality cartridges with an elliptical are excellent performers, and will track all but the most difficult passages.

    edit: A hot pressing increases its dynamic range.
    The mastering engineer may have done an excellent job on the Oldfield record in question, but need a stylus that can track it!
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
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  10. SixtiesGuy

    SixtiesGuy Ministry of Love

    Can you elaborate on what you mean here? Particularly as far as sibilance and inner groove distortion is concerned, stylus shape is critical.
     
  11. BrilliantBob

    BrilliantBob Use The VTF, Luke...

    Location:
    Romania
    A common .7mil spherical stylus have a greater contact surface than a common cheap .4x.7mil elliptical stylus.
    The smaller the diameter of the side radius, the better the stylus can track/follow the high frequencies - suddenly sibilants no longer distort!

    Mistracking can cause distortion/sibilance even when using high quality styli.

    More details about styli shapes here:
    Stylus Shape Information | Soundsmith

    I found also a very interesting study released by Discwashers Laboratories in March 1981 about how important is the VTA/SRA value for the high end styli.
    Dropbox - 512MFVTA_article.pdf

    For people who hear no differences between 44.16 and 192.32float is useful to check if their audio systems can play higher formats using Hi-Res players with WASAPI or ASIO drivers.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
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  12. DPM

    DPM Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nevada, USA
    The problem record for me vis a vis sibilance is the Sundazed reissue of Parallelograms by Linda Perhacs. It is far and away the most sibilant pressing I own. Nothing else comes close. I believe Kevin Gray cut this one which makes it the lone disappointing mastering from his hands that I own.
     
  13. I think that 99.9% of the time, the problem of sibilance comes from the record itself. The reason is self explanatory, if not every record has a problem with sibilance, then you know it's not your equipment. When your TT has the superior advantage/convenience of removeable and interchangeable head shells, plus you have multiples with different cartridges mounted, you will find that no matter what quality cartridge you use, most will have problems with sibilance on the same records.
     
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  14. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    If you start hearing it on a LOT of records I would be concerned, but it's probably just the cut or mastering on the recording.
    Find another copy of that album, maybe it won't be an issue. If your best sounding record still sounds good, then your setup is o.k. That's the pain of vinyl, "variables".
     
  15. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    In record mastering, it is possible to faithfully record levels that can't be played back without mistracking distortion, either because the acceleration is too high for the stylus to remain in contact, or we experience the "pinch" effect, where the waves modulated into the groove are actually smaller than the tip of the stylus.

    Records and cartridges have a limited playback level, one that decreases with higher frequencies and decreases in the inner parts of the record.

    [​IMG]

    Atonal vocal siblance and drum sounds such as cymbals and snares can extend into the ultrasonic frequencies, and make for very hard to track audio when they aren't filtered or controlled in mastering. You've identified the sound of mistracking.

    This is why "tracking" was a word you'd find in every cartridge ad. Here's a montage from just one 1975 Audio magazine issue:


    [​IMG]

    A cartridge with an advanced-profile stylus and a better-tracking suspension can resolve more information without this distortion. A tonearm alignment optimizing the center of the disk (or a linear tracker) can better play the most challenging sections.
     
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  16. BrilliantBob

    BrilliantBob Use The VTF, Luke...

    Location:
    Romania
    Distortion in left channel = too much anti-skate.
    Distortion in right channel = too little anti-skate.

    I have also found that a little more tracking force can help. I would try the tracking force first. Also clean the stylus.

    The SRA (Stylus Rake Angle) matters too. The perfect balanced SRA is 92 degrees. On a microscope, lateral viewing, the stylus sliding in the groove must looks like this: \

    Hope this helps.
     
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  17. SixtiesGuy

    SixtiesGuy Ministry of Love

    Thank you
     
  18. DPM

    DPM Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nevada, USA
    I believe you have this backwards. The left channel is the inner groove wall, and anti-skate is designed to prevent the cartridge from favoring that side of the record.

    Therefore, too much anti-skate would force the cartridge against the outer groove wall/right channel causing any loud sibilance to splash to the right side of the soundstage.
     
  19. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Location:
    Mid South
    You are incorrect. Too much anti skate will cause the stylus to lose contact with the inner groove wall causing distortion in the left channel. Too little anti skate will cause the stylus to lose contact with the outer groove wall causing distortion in the right channel.
     
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  20. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    3 possibilities

    • The music is naturally sibilant
    • The record is just badly cut/pressed
    • Your stylus is not thin enough
    Check a digital version to see if its naturally sibilant.

    If your stylus is not some exotic profile like micro line you should expect some sibilance sometimes.

    If youre good on both above then its probably just a badly produced record or your stylus is worn which is unlikely if its under 500 hours old.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  21. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Well, sort of. If that were totally true then the stylus would constantly be leaving contact with the groove because no anti skate setting is ever correct across a whole album.
     
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  22. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    So many variables Leon, I had a 150MLX that was worse than my AT7V for baked in S.
     
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  23. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Yes, I often feel disappointed in users who just assume one or the other before investigating and telling the poster to buy a better cart or just saying its unsolvable.
     
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  24. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    Good call on checking the digital, I'll head over to the tube and try searching someone who has upped a video playing the same tune (on vinyl), usually gives me a good clue.
     
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  25. BrilliantBob

    BrilliantBob Use The VTF, Luke...

    Location:
    Romania
    There is no "perfect" anti-skate (AS) system because the weak link of any AS system is always the cantilever. The AS is designed for the tonearm but the pressure is on cantilever and suspension (the only moving part of the AS system). If the AS is disabled, in time the front of the cantilever will deviate to the right side of the cartridge (front to back view) and stylus will lose the optimal surface contact with the groove walls. In the MM cartridge the magnet will change its position towards coils and sound will be different.

    The TT manufacturer recommendation for the AS value is only informative. The optimal AS depends on each particular cantilever/cartridge used. The sweet spot of AS is a trial-and-error process.
     

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