Hmmm... is it my stylus or the record?

Try1256

Very Special Member
I am coming up in 3 years with my Soundsmith Aida. It is a wonderful phono cartridge. However, I am experiencing something unusual. My daughter gave me James Taylors “One Man Band” record for my birthday. I opened it up and put it on and there is some very noticeable distortion throughout the first 2 sides. Bad enough that it isnt pleasant to listen to. I thought “oh crap, stylus is going out” but when I put on a known good record, there is no distortion. Hmmmm. The new JT record is an RTI pressing which are usually very good. I tried the second LP and although it was better, there were still some spots that distortion was audible.
I actually spoke with Peter Lederman last week on a zoom meeting our club had. He said they are usually good for 1000 hours. I would estimate that I have 700 or so hours on the clock.
Is it possible that there is enough stylus wear/damage that one might only hear distortion during peak passages on a very dynamic recording but not in a recording that is less dynamic

I can return the record and get another on. I can also send the Aida to SS and they will inspect it to see if it is worn or damaged.
If I send the Aida, I would go ahead with the rebuild since it would be pretty close. That would be about a 6 month journey.

just thought I would throw it out there to see what you think.
 
I'd return the album - if other albums sound fine - then most likely it is the album. Wouldn't be the first time I've sent an album back that had issues - and received a better album.

Also good to have another cartridge to slap on - to also confirm. I'd also clean the stylus well.
 

Try1256

Very Special Member
I'd return the album - if other albums sound fine - then most likely it is the album. Wouldn't be the first time I've sent an album back that had issues - and received a better album.

Also good to have another cartridge to slap on - to also confirm. I'd also clean the stylus well.
I clean the stylus per SS instructions after every use. I have a barely used AT OC9 II, which is nice but I have gotten the SS set up so well I hate to take it off unless I am sending it back.
Exchanging the record will most certainly be the first step.
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
My buddy has a SoundSmith cartridge and he wore his out without even realizing it. It still sounded okay but just wasn't great. His just got back from a rebuild. Inspection isn't a bad idea, I need to send my OC9/III into A/T for inspection and/or upgrade. I am quite certain I am way past 1000 hours.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
It very well could be the pressing. There is, unfortunately, no shortage of quality control issues with new vinyl. That being said, some research has shown that a 1000 hour estimate of stylus life may be on the optimistic side, and you may want to have your stylus checked. Here is some interesting information about that: The Finish Line for Your Phonograph Stylus… - The Vinyl Press
Great read. This deserves its own thread. Thanks!
 
I am coming up in 3 years with my Soundsmith Aida. It is a wonderful phono cartridge. However, I am experiencing something unusual. My daughter gave me James Taylors “One Man Band” record for my birthday. I opened it up and put it on and there is some very noticeable distortion throughout the first 2 sides.
Your thread title caught my attention as I just had a similar experience with a new record that was distorting.

Perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not, but my record is JT's "October Road." The distortion is most noticeable on the inner groove tracks. It's one of 7-8 brand new records and the only one with this kind of distortion.
 
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