Hum mystery to me

Calling all Hum guru solvers!

A while back, I started getting a hum out of my right speaker when playing a record on one of my 2 turntables. When I played the 2nd turntable, there was no hum.

On table 1, I am using an MC cartridge which runs into an Audio Valve phono pre-amp and from there into the system preamp.

Table 2 is plugged directly into the phono input on the system preamp.

 Since the tables have different phono pre-amps, I thought it was the Audio Valve phono pre-amp and took it to the shop for repair. After getting it repaired, I hooked it up and now I am getting a hum out of the right channel. So, I took it back to the shop. We hooked it up to a turntable, played and there was NO hum at the shop. I will say that they had a MM cartridge on their test turntable, but do not know if that makes a difference.

This is a mystery to me and if anyone has any suggestion to try, please chime in,

These are the trouble shooting tests I have done so far:

  1. I played a side on turntable 2. No hum. So that should rule out the amp or pre-amp.
  2. The table 1 phono pre is connected to a DVD input on the system preamp. I changed the input to another line level input on the system preamp. Hum continued to be produced. So, I concluded that the inputs on the system preamp are not the problem.
  3. I disconnected the ground wire on the tonearm—hum persisted.
  4. I hooked up a cheap NAD PP2 phone pre-amp to turntable one and there was NO hum.
  5. I tried a different interconnect from the Audio Valve phono pre-amp to the system pre-amp and the hum persisted. I conclude it is not the interconnect.

This is not clear did you ever run table 2 into the phono pre and then into your preamp? And if so did you get hum? If not you need to try this.

Did you try running table 2 through the phono pre if possible?  I’d try a cheater plug on the phono pre just to see if that eliminates the hum, and if it does maybe someone here smarter than me can help you troubleshoot for a more permanent solution.  Best of luck in finding a solution.

Thanks Gents for the excellent suggestions.  Will give it a try and report back.


If the information you provided is correct, you are done troubleshooting. You said:

  1. I played a side on turntable 2. No hum. So that should rule out the amp or pre-amp.
  2. I hooked up a cheap NAD PP2 phone pre-amp to turntable one and there was NO hum.

Looks like the offending component is the phono preamp. Am I missing something?  Also when troubleshooting, eliminate one item at a time. You have to be patient. You might get false positives. Try to replicate the results consistently. You are lucky to have 2 tables, that will help you eliminate things faster. Don’t overlook loose connections. Good luck. 

Make sure there's no Wi-Fi routers nearby. You could also have an iffy tube in the phono amp.

Developed Hum.

Something changed, seemingly on it’s own.

Always check your cartridge wires, remove, if off too easy, tighten them carefully and reattach.

btw, after 70 years of not knowing this: I read on Ortofon’s site: the connector wires in headshells: the pins of cartridges and pins of headshell are slightly different diameters. reverse the wires if all seem a bit too easy to get on at one end, other end hard to get on.


From Shure



What is the diameter of the four terminal pins on the rear of a Shure cartridge (standard mount, not P-mount)?


The pin diameter is 1.32 mm, with a tolerance of +/- .05 mm.

The mating socket (soldered onto the headshell wire) has an inner diameter of 1.2 mm. 

shure 'find an answer'.


What else ON THE TT can you check yourself?

My TT, one tonearm, the delicate silk covered litz wire moved very slightly as the tonearm pivoted, rubbed against the square edge of the hole it passed thru. Bad design, they have changed it. Took over a year, but eventually the insulation of one of the wires caused a slight hum. Found it, VAS re-wired it, "humless days are hear again".

@dmgrant1 Whenever you have a problem in one channel only, to find out what's up you swap cables (at one end only) left for right to see if the problem moves.

1) Since the hum is associated with the outboard phono section, swap its output cables left for right at the input of the system preamp. Don't do it at the output of the phono section just yet.

2) If the problem moved, then swap the cables at the output of the phono section. If the problem does not move you have a bad cable. If it does move, swap the inputs coming from the tonearm.

3) If the problem moves from one channel to the other, the phono section is off the hook and you have something going on with the turntable. It might be a loose connection where the tonearm connects to the tonearm interconnect cable.

If the problem did not move then it makes a difference that you are using a LOMC cartridge and the preamp still has an issue.


I have run all the tests that have been suggested and it all traces back to the phono pre-amp.  Am taking it back to the shop and hope they will honor their labor warranty.  I also hooked the offending phono pre to a head phone amp and got the hum out of the left head phone speaker.  Done trouble shooting with the aid of the good fellas on Audiogon.  Thanks so much for your time and input.