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Pro-ject problem

Sister Ray

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I have been enjoying my Pro-ject Xpression III for about a year.


However, the other night I went to listen to some LPs and was somewhat alarmed to discover a marked decrease in sound quality.


It sounded like the needle had a big lump of dust on it. However, it did not. I tried several other records, but all suffered from this same problem.


Anyway, today I tried again. And, unfortunately the problem persists.


Any ideas on the cause? I guess maybe I need a new stylus?


If so, suggestions?



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The problem could be any of the following;


The stylus.

The Cartridge.

The tonearm wiring.

The setup of the arm (tracking weight, VTA, antiskate, catridge alignment)

The interconnect (assuming it's seperate).

The Phono Stage.


If anyone else uses the system interogate them to see if they flicked any switches/settings to contribute to the change in performance.


Probably the first thing that you should do after cleaning the stylus, is to remove the cartridge from the headshell, clean all the contacts, then re-install the cartridge, setting up the arm from scratch.


This is a good housekeeping exercise so it's not a wasted effort.


If that doesn't fix the problem you'll need to try the TT with another Phono Stage and then another cartridge to see which is the culpret.


Good luck.

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omegaspeedy;103844 wrote:
Phono stage or cart if nothing else has changed on the TT. What are you using?
Valve based..




Are all the wires that plug into the cart secure?


Hmmm...Okay thanks guys.


Too many potential culprits...


Connections to cartridge seem okay.


I am using a Tube Box II.


Cloth_ears I will go through your checklist tomorrow...

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omegaspeedy;103866 wrote:
Tubebox, 14months daily, get the tubes tested. Someone on the forum is bound to have a tube tester. May be it's just failed or failing. 12AX7 or 12AU7 type valve?


Covered that in a PM... My thinking exactly James. They're pretty cheap glass unless you want to venture into NOS territory, then there are a few members who can suggest glass upgrades. Could be a timely move...

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Sister Ray;103861 wrote:
Cloth_ears I will go through your checklist tomorrow...

I think that better and more focused advice has now been offered and that you should look at the Tube Box as being the likey suspect.


If you have (or can borrow) another phono stage to try your TT on, that would allow you to prove this either way.

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Gidday Sister Ray.


What is the nature of the 'decrease in sound quality'?


Does it manifest itself on both ch's?


If so, I would focus on the areas that affect overall performance, eg...


Tonearm function

Turntable function

Power supply or connection


If not, then that points you to a specific channel problem....

Then, start a process of swapping ch connectors.


I wouldn't necess suspect the Tube Box, tubes should last many many yrs & sound degradation of the tubes themselves is usually a v gradual process, not sudden... & not both ch's suddenly. The PSU is another thing.


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Okay. First, thank you all for the advice.


I am, pretty sure both the channels have this problem. However, I will check this evening when I return home.


As I stated in my original post, my turntable currently sounds as if the needle is covered with dust. Everything is unclear and generally unpleasant.


In addition, something I failed to mention, LPs which I know to be in fine condition are sometimes skipping.


Thus my original suspicion of stylus problem.


So, Ernie suggested taking my stylus to Shore Hi Fi for a check up. I think I will do this over the weekend.


BTW I am rather ignorant of the workings of my turntable beyond the actual playing of records. The oft-mentioned ease of set up of the pro-ject tone arm really pushed my technical skills to the limit. Thus I would prefer to use the services of professionals if at all possibe.

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OK... this does now point to the Tonearm-Cartr adjustment, specifically tracking downforce.


And possibly...

- Antiskating

- Cartridge alignment (does the cart gen. look as if the stylus/cart body is at 90deg to the spindle?)

- cartridge bolt/s become loose?



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Gently acquainting the stylus tip with a strip of dry Magic Eraser (available under the Chux brand name from New World supermarkets for almost nothing) would be the quickest, easiest, cheapest, and most telling way of assessing whether or not stylus contamination is the cause of this.

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Owen Y;103940 wrote:
OK... this does now point to the Tonearm-Cartr adjustment,
specifically tracking downforce.





Ha ha. Okay. Thanks Owen. Nice diagnosis. Very simple to fix.


I wasn't aware this could change spontaneously, I'm sure no one touched my t/table. Thus didn't think of it.


Thank you all.

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Oh good, another happy customer ;)


Tonearms are mysterious things, shrouded in unexplainable ritual... it's not unusual for tonearms to spontaneously misbehave, esp if you have not recently appeased the analogue gremlins by performing the required purification ceremonies before playing records... carbon brushing the vinyl, cleaning the stylus, dusting the platter, checking the subchassis levelness...etc.


(:D In the TT manual you should find the instructions for setting tracking weight/force, firstly by 'balancing' the tonearm, simultaneously zero-ing the counterwt dial, then setting the tracking wt,... all whilst taking extreme care with the unprotected stylus.)

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