Resurrecting an old lower end table

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by Pescatore, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. Pescatore

    Pescatore Rando

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    After many years away, I got the hifi bug again a couple of years ago, and have built a headphone rig (Modi MB, Vali 2, HD6xx) that has been really enjoyable. But I've also got a vinyl collection that has been in storage for 25 years. There's a lot of it that isn't available digitally, and I've been missing it. So I recently ordered a Mani and Sys to add to my little rig, in the hopes of using it with my old JVC L-A31 I pulled out of storage this week while I wait for the Mani. Decidedly not high-end, but a place to start back in on vinyl. It spins, and seems to be generally functional, though I haven't been able to actually listen to it yet.

    What I do know is the stylus probably has a couple thousand hours on it, and this is where my dilemma starts. If I find I'm enjoying the vinyl again, I'm likely to want to upgrade to a better table. But I don't want the old table to get in the way of that enjoyment. So I'm agonizing over replacing the stylus, replacing the whole cartridge, or maybe buying a lower end current turntable. And if I replace the cartridge, do I get one that can move up if I choose to upgrade to a better turntable in 6 months.

    Current cartridge is an AT, but I'd have to pull it off the headshell to get the full model number. I believe it is an AT 120, based on the fact that I see "AT1" before the headshell covers the rest, and also based on the fact that the stylus is a gold-orange color which seems like the one in most AT(N)120E(T)/p photos I see. Seems like I could order a replacement stylus for that,or even upgrade if I'm reading some other threads correctly, as the least expensive path. Also considering replacing the AT with something like a 2m Blue as another option.

    What do you all think?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
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  2. Pescatore

    Pescatore Rando

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    Anyone? Tell me why I should just replace the stylus on the L-A31 instead of buying a U-Turn Orbit? Just discovered U-Turn is 3 miles from my house and I drive by there some nights on my way home from work... now I'm wanting to "buy local".
     
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  3. RedFuneral

    RedFuneral Acquaintance

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    I'm far from an expert here but I'd throw a nagaoka cartridge on there and call it a day. The 'why' is because the page you linked stated the arm takes to high compliance cartridges which the nags tend to be, they match well with light rigid arms.

    Honestly your table is probably better than a new budget model so long as the platter spins quietly and isn't warped. The motor has better spec than new budget beltdrives & the low mass arm should be a great tracker.
     
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  4. Pogo

    Pogo Almost "Made"

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    Standard issue mid-fi Japan made DD from the early 80's, just before CD's disemboweled affordable TT design and production. You'd have to spend 700-900 in today's dollars to equal it IF your JVC is still working within spec. 40 years old,hmm,but my early 80's HK belt drives are still good without having needed major surgery.
    I would recommend replacing the cartridge/stylus with a new production Audio Technica 95e ($50) to start with before going down the upgrade rabbit hole.
    And do invest in modern record/stylus cleaning supplies before digging out the old vinyl, nothing will give you a better return on lasting sound quality.
     
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  5. Jalsar

    Jalsar Almost "Made"

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    The AT95e is a good cart for ~$50 but has a dip in the mids and loose bass. I would just get a Nagaoka MP-110. It has a warm full sound and doesnt pick up a lot of surface noise.
    Any entry level table will not be as good as your vintage JVC. If I had been smart I would have stuck with my old technics table and a mp-110. Instead I went down the vinyl rabbit hole.
    As far as cleaning vinyl the Squeaky clean is what I finally ended up with. It’s a very quick and easy system to clean your vinyl with. The Spin-Clean is a cheaper easy way to clean but tends to leave residue.
     
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  6. Pescatore

    Pescatore Rando

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    Good advice from all, thank you. I think I'll hold on to the JVC table for now. I've been looking at Nagaoka carts. Of course I've already tried to validate starting with an MP-200. But I'll start with the MP-110. Or maybe the 150. But then the 200 isn't THAT much more than the 150... see how that goes?

    To veer a bit WRT cleaning vinyl, I was a Discwasher fanatic back in the day and always always cleaned before I played. So unless there's been some revelation about residue left by the discwasher fluid in the last 25 years, I think I'm starting off in good shape with my own collection. It does look like cleaning methods have changed quite a bit since though, so I will get a cleaner.
     
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  7. Jalsar

    Jalsar Almost "Made"

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    The mp-200 is better in pretty much every way of the 110 and 150. But its debatable if its worth the extra cost $300ish. I use a mp-110 on my 2nd table and a 2M Bronze on my main. The mp-110 does better than the mp-200 at being more forgiving with worn older vinyl. It picks up less surface noise and the pops and cracks aren’t as loud.

    With cleaning there is a huge difference with vacuuming. Ultra sonic is really good too but didn't make much of a difference over vacuuming for me on my gear.
     
  8. Pescatore

    Pescatore Rando

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    So I received the Mani today and I couldn't wait. Picked out a record that wasn't really anything that I cared about and played it. I hear music, and once I got the gain adjusted on the Mani it sounded really good. Chain is L-A31 -> Mani -> Sys -> Vali 2.

    But I've got 2 classes of noise.

    First is a 60 Hz hum in the right channel. Went direct from Mani to Vali, swapped interconnects, tried ground wire connected and disconnected to Mani. Basically every combo, and the hum is still there when the turntable is connected. I did also remove the headshell with cartridge just to see what that did and the hum went away. So I suspect the noise is coming from the cart that I plan to replace anyway.But is there anything else on the turntable itself I should be looking at as a source of the noise?

    The other noise is white/pink noise that only becomes apparent when I turn the volume up to a level I'll likely never listen at anyway. With inputs and ground disconnected from the Mani I still hear it. So this is probably a Mani behavior, and maybe even normal.

    I'm more concerned with the hum at this point. Any confidence this is the cart?
     
  9. Pogo

    Pogo Almost "Made"

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    40 year old cart,yep could be. Or the wiring between it and the rca output leads to the Mani. Which is why I suggested starting out with a new cheap cart until you're sure the TT is up to spec. Hum indicates a ground issue, can you get the service diagram from VE? Got Deoxit? Got a decent iron and solder? Multimeter?
    In the late 90s/early oughts I used to flip a number of these midfi TTs , well made other than really poor internal wires/wiring. Made a few bucks on ebay, learned a lot from opening them up.
     
  10. Pescatore

    Pescatore Rando

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    @Pogo In fact I did download the service manual today, I've got multiple soldering irons and solder, and a couple of multimeters. Looks like I'm going to do a little spelunking over the next few days. Was just trying to make sure I didn't overlook anything obvious as this isn't a type of device that I've taken apart before.

    I figured before I buy a new cart I'd make sure there wasn't anything major wrong with the table.
     
  11. Pescatore

    Pescatore Rando

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    So I've been messing around with some troubleshooting today instead of working. Found a great guide to isolating hum on another site (not sure if I can name it here or if karma will bite me). Because the hum is right channel only, I disconnected the wires on the cart and connected the left side wires to the right side of the cart. Sure enough, I had hum on the left now. So has to be the cart. Reconnected everything back together on the correct sides and what? Hum stayed on the left side. Disconnected everything from the cart again, and straightened out the wires because the grounds had crossed on the headshell connector side. Checked again and the hum is now 75% gone. I have to crank the amp up past 2:00 on high gain to hear it now, and the other noise from the Mani is almost covering it up.

    So I'll get some deoxit and give everything a good cleaning when I do put the new cartridge on. But for now, it's certainly not offensive and I can live with until my MP-110 arrives. The pink noise from the Mani is my next bug to work out.
     
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  12. Pogo

    Pogo Almost "Made"

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    Good job! Beats going outside with your weather today, been texting with my daughter who's at BU, got cold just looking at her pictures....
     
  13. Jalsar

    Jalsar Almost "Made"

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    Most of my hum on my technics was from the headshell connection. I just used contact cleaner and a little sandpaper.

    I’ve never had a turntable setup that didn’t have a little bit of static. Its should be lower than the surface noise of vinyl.
     
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  14. Pescatore

    Pescatore Rando

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    It's that time of year here in the Northeast. I just finished 90 minutes of cleanup and still have to shovel my back deck. Love skiing, hate when it snows at home

    Definitely will be cleaning everything once I get a new cart. Probably going to order that and the cleaner tomorrow, after I get my Newport Folk tickets :)

    So I opened a ticket with Schiit on the pink noise and they have already given me an RMA and will cross ship a new unit once the Fedex tracking number they gave me is active. Very impressed with their customer service! This sounded like the ocean, and became audible at about 10:00 on my Vali on high gain. Can't wait until this is all ironed out and I have a new cartridge and I can hear my old favorites for the first time in 25 years!

    What listening I've done so far, even with the noise issues, has caused me to remember vinyl sounded great. Must. Control. Upgrade. Impulse.
     
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