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Inner groove distortion - fixable?
2018-06-03, 20:05 (This post was last modified: 2018-06-03 20:06 by Jas0_0.)
Post: #1
Inner groove distortion - fixable?
Hi all,

I finally took the plunge and bought an LP12 - a lucky punt on an eBay sale. It’s a really old model - Afro plinth, Basik LV-X arm, Ortofon VMS30 MkII cart, pre Cirkus and pre Valhalla. It’s just back from being serviced by a certified Linn dealer in London and sounds wonderful most of the time - much better than the Pioneer and Shure table it replaced, but there’s a clear deterioration in quality as the needle reaches the inner grooves.

Having balanced the arm, I set the tracking to 1.3g as recommended by Ortofon, then set the anti-skate to the same. Is there anything else I can do, or is inner groove distortion just something I have to live with?

Many thanks,

Jas
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2018-06-03, 20:14 (This post was last modified: 2018-06-03 20:30 by Glyn Ruck.)
Post: #2
RE: Inner groove distortion - fixable?
Have you checked your cartridge alignment with a protractor? Centre tracks of LP's usually do not sound quite as good as outer tracks due to information compression as a result of the Constant Angular Velocity (CAV) of the format. Is the effect equal in both channels? If not check/set bias/anti skate by ear & you might improve it.

It is also possible that certain inner tracks of older LP's have been damaged by poor turntables/arms/cartridges/worn styli. Use a known good low hours LP for set up. Presume your stylus is in good shape & the dealer got the overhang correct?

Good luck & enjoy!

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2018-06-03, 21:49
Post: #3
RE: Inner groove distortion - fixable?
Thanks Glyn, I haven't checked alignment - will get a protractor. The distortion seems to be the same on both channels and the records I noticed it on are pretty new and have only been played a few times.

I think the stylus is ok as I asked the dealer to check it and he said they'd look under the microscope - came back with no reported problems.

How do I check if the overhang is correct - is that another use for the protractor?

Thanks again,

J
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2018-06-04, 02:30 (This post was last modified: 2018-06-04 02:48 by Glyn Ruck.)
Post: #4
RE: Inner groove distortion - fixable?
Try increasing tracking weight slightly & try dialing in anti skate by ear. If it does not improve things it is easy enough to go back to your present settings.

Linn 9" arm specs. Stylus overhang = 18mm.

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2018-06-05, 08:09
Post: #5
RE: Inner groove distortion - fixable?
I used a similar setup to yours and also experienced problems with inner groove distortion. I went through the alignment settings many times and experimented with tracking weight and anti-skate to no effect. There seem to be two main issues:

As stated above, sound quality is not as good on inner grooves even on a good day and any damage here is much more noticeable. A fair percentage of my secondhand vinyl purchases have inner groove damage even though they look perfect and play perfectly on the outer grooves. Because dealers often buy collections, it's quite possible to go home with several records that have been damaged in the same way.

Inner grooves are are challenging for your arm and cartridge. When I was using an LVX and ATF-7, some new records (particularly those that are comparatively louder for the same volume control position) started to sound rough towards the end of a side. With an Ekos / Krystal that problem is gone completely. This setup also copes better with damaged records and although there is still some distortion, it's less noticeable and easier to live with.

An original VMS30 is a fair age now and it's also possible that the suspension has deteriorated even if the tip is still perfect. It might be worth having a listen to some others (take some of your 'problem' vinyl along with you). An Adikt would work with your LVX and it's good enough to take with you if you decide on deck/arm upgrades later.

Good luck
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2018-06-05, 11:24
Post: #6
RE: Inner groove distortion - fixable?
It is also possible that certain profile styli will improve this issue.
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2018-06-05, 16:40 (This post was last modified: 2018-06-05 16:49 by nopiano.)
Post: #7
RE: Inner groove distortion - fixable?
I’d second the point about the age of the Ortofon. Unless it has been examined under a powerful microscope and declared good, it might be damaged - and hence damage your LPs - and the suspension is highly likely below par. Is it spotlessly clean? If you’re sure it’s ok, then try 1.5 or 1.6 grammes tracking as that is within the original range.

Personally I’d fit a new cartridge, though, given its age.

Inner groove distortion isn’t curable as such, as its just one of many laws of physics we try to defy when playing our records! Grooves are inevitably more compressed at end of sides, and traversed more slowly, though better gear will reduce its audibility.

Lastly, if the distortion you’re hearing isn’t equal in both channels, then that’s an anti skate adjustment. Left channel distortion means you’ve too much antiskate; in the right, too little.

Sneaky Music DS, Michell/Rega/Grado, Primare I32 amp, Marantz SA14s1 SE SACD player, ATC SCM40 speakers. (Once owned LP12/Syrinx PU3/Goldring Electro lz.)
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2018-06-06, 14:05
Post: #8
RE: Inner groove distortion - fixable?
(2018-06-05 16:40)nopiano Wrote:  Inner groove distortion isn’t curable as such, as its just one of many laws of physics we try to defy when playing our records! Grooves are inevitably more compressed at end of sides, and traversed more slowly, though better gear will reduce its audibility.

The laws of physics indeed are why I wish Linn would push the boat out and unleash a wide wheelbase LP12 - with a 12" Ekos SE - upon us. The ads for SME's V-12 don't lie: there really is an audible reduction in end of side distortion (and "wow" on off-centre pressings, for that matter) with a longer tonearm.

(Poster winces and ducks for cover from the inevitable shots of "unmusicality" and "not playing the tune"...)

KDS/3 - CD12 - SME 20/12 with V12 - Krystal - Uphorik - KK/1 - KCT/1 - custom Slate Age rack - Silvers - K200 - Akudoriks
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2018-06-06, 15:39
Post: #9
RE: Inner groove distortion - fixable?
(2018-06-06 14:05)Fitter Stoke Wrote:  The laws of physics indeed are why I wish Linn would push the boat out and unleash a wide wheelbase LP12 - with a 12" Ekos SE - upon us. The ads for SME's V-12 don't lie: there really is an audible reduction in end of side distortion (and "wow" on off-centre pressings, for that matter) with a longer tonearm.
A longer tonearm may well improve inner groove distortion, I don't know (although personally I think an advanced profile stylus is the only real solution), but it can't help the effect of off-centre pressings. The "wow" or pitch variation is only affected by the speed of the stylus in the groove, and that is only affected by the distance from the stylus to the spindle. Take it to the extreme and imagine a mile-long tonearm - the stylus will still drift in and out exactly the same amount, and that's what causes the problem.
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2018-06-06, 17:00 (This post was last modified: 2018-06-06 18:10 by Fitter Stoke.)
Post: #10
RE: Inner groove distortion - fixable?
(2018-06-06 15:39)Hartley_hare Wrote:  A longer tonearm may well improve inner groove distortion, I don't know (although personally I think an advanced profile stylus is the only real solution), but it can't help the effect of off-centre pressings. The "wow" or pitch variation is only affected by the speed of the stylus in the groove, and that is only affected by the distance from the stylus to the spindle. Take it to the extreme and imagine a mile-long tonearm - the stylus will still drift in and out exactly the same amount, and that's what causes the problem.

I get that: thanks. But I can only speak from the perspective of my own ears, and they tell me that wow is less pronounced with a 12" tonearm than a 9" one. If you get the chance, take an off-centre record you've owned for years (I suspect we all have them, alas - not least many CBS/Epic LPs of late 70's - early 80's vintage) and compare the end of its sides on good decks with 9", 10" or 12" arms. I think you may hear a difference: I know I can.

KDS/3 - CD12 - SME 20/12 with V12 - Krystal - Uphorik - KK/1 - KCT/1 - custom Slate Age rack - Silvers - K200 - Akudoriks
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