Sorry - a couple more newbie analog questions

I did a search on this but couldn't find answers pertaining directly to my situation so here it goes...

Stupid question #1) When changing records should I turn the player off, or can I change on the fly? My paranoid half is telling me that I might be damaging the other side of the record and/or the motor. I am not using a clamp.

Stupid question #2) When a cartridge is still breaking in what ways does it sound bad? I am noticing sometimes, not always, high frequencies distort - high, loud, short piano or violin notes. Is this normal break in or do I not have the cartrdige set up properly. (Goldring Elektra/Rega RB250) The VTF is set at the top end of the suggested range, 2 grams. The cartridge is factory pre-set, when I checked the alignment with the paper thingy it looks okay. Could this distortion be a software issue, most of my lps are pretty old and I am still waiting for my disc doctor kit. The cartridge has about 20 hours on it.

Thanks in advance!
First of all - there are no stupid questions, only stupid people. I can safely say you don't fall into the latter category by the simple fact that you've taken the plunge into vinyl!

That being said, if your turntable doesn't have a "sticky" mat made out of rubber, etc. it's perfectly fine - in my opinion - to change the record side without turning the table off. My table (a Rega P5) has the stock felt mat on it and I leave the motor running during an entire record playing session - it's easier on the motor and if you're records and mat are clean you should have no problems.

The other problem you're having I'm inclined to say is probably software issue, but I'll be curious to hear what others have to say about it. I've got a couple of discs that this happens on too with my Rega Exact cartridge and I'm fairly certain it's the pressings since it's not consistently a problem.

I was originally concerned that the Exact cartridge could have been overloading my phono-preamp and causing the distortion but have since learned that the phono-preamp has plenty of headroom to accomodate the cartridge. This might be something you want to check on though since the Goldring cartridges are very high output MM's as well.

The only other suggestion I would have would be to keep playing to a minimum if the records are dirty until you get your cleaning supplies.

Have Fun!
Tooter, I agree with Slate1: there are no stupid questions. I'm glad to see you asking!

Your concern about about changing records on the fly is appropriate, and I think Slate1 is spot on in his reply to you. They key factor is whether you can gently levitate the LP off the platter without the underside of the LP dragging (which would not be a good thing under any circumstances).

As to the high frequency distortion, it could be the cartridge still breaking in (the cantilever suspension material still limbering up). Or, it could be that the LP needs cleaning. Or, it could be that the VTA is set just a bit low for those LPs (my vote for most likely candidate after cleaning). Or, it could be that the LP is damaged from prior cartridge mis-tracking. All of these conditions could result in the occasional high frequency distortion you describe.
To follow on Rushton's last paragraph, it could be that some of the other set up criteria aren't spot on, i.e. asmuth and overhang. If your cartridge is properly set up you shouldn't hear much if any distortion. Brightness, lack of bass, for lack of a better word musicality, unless the problem is in the records.

I'm going to disagree with the others about removing records without stopping the TT. Forgetting the fact that this begs for an accident of some type, the mat will be sweeping the record as you pick it up and put it down which can cause static electricity, which can produce unnecessary noise. Better to take your time, relax and enjoy the music.
Thanks everyone. Actually I do have a rubbery mat, it's a Herbie's mat so maybe I should turn it off everytime. I was also concerned if turning the motor on and off every album side would be taxing it.

As for the distortion it doesn't happen on all of my records but it does happen on a good percentage of them, say 1 out of every 4. I should have mentioned that the phono preamp is also new, Creek OBH18, and doesn't exactly have a great reputation for warm upper frequency range. If the problem doesn't subside after I have some more hours on it or with cleaning I may have to focus more on the cartridge setup, although the reason I bought this table (Goldring GR1) is that it's supposed to be pretty plug-n-play. The only thing i can easily adjust is the VTF.

I'll also have to do more research about Slate1's suggestion about overloading/heardroom issues. I kind of chose the Creek 'blind'.

Thanks everyone. Keep the suggestions coming.
Records which have been played alot on mass-market turntables, with possibly mistracking cartridges, can cause this high frequency distortion to be permanently on the records.

If this practically never happens on a new LP, and only the older ones, then it is very likely damaged records causing this noise.
Twl - a lot of my records (so far) are used classical $1 "specials" I see in my local Manhattan record shops so you are likely right about the software issue although several of my new rereleased Dylan albums also distort on the high harmonica stuff. (Although I suspect this might the actual recording, not the record).

After everything settles/plays in and the lps get cleaned properly the next area for me to learn more about is how to identify the problematic LPs at the store so I don't buy them! Any tips about picking LPs? I seem to remember a thread about this ... off to the archives.
I wouldn't try switching LP's without turning the motor off with the Herbie's mat in place.

One thing you can do to really help out the motor and, especially, the belt life is give the platter a light spin with your finger before turning the motor on. A majority of the stress a motor undergoes is when it's trying to get that heavy platter up to speed from a dead stop.

The Goldring table is basically a Rega P2 table isn't it? If memory serves it's got the RB-250 arm on it. I would think that Goldring would make sure the VTA is correct with the Elektra. Interestingly enough - that's the same cartridge that was on my first "better" turntable, a Music Hall MMF-2.

Maybe some others have got the same Dylan LP's you've got and could check to see if it's in the pressing. One of the LP's that I've recently listened to that had this problem was a newer 180g pressing of an early Black Sabbath album (keep your comments to yourself please....)during a sustained very loud bass note.
Turn it off 'till you get used to handling LP's. Come to think of it, 'taint no reason to ever not turn it off. Sometime, someday, you'll either: drop the thing and have it hurled off onto the floor, or worse, on it's way down to the floor, the LP will make a detour and trash your cartridge stylus.

The other problem, IMHO & IME, is just basic record cleaning. Vinyl is often a bit overated in some areas, but the one thing in my X decades of dealing with it, is that it is a lot tougher than a lot of people give it credit for. And, to optimize it, requires a significant time investment in the cleaning procedure.

Wet wash, vac dry. And I've recently adjusted my procedures per Mikey Fremer's Tracking Angle article on cleaning.
Slate1 - good idea about the Dylan lp. I'm thinking that if the cleaning doesn't help I'll either post a question here on A'gon or even maybe just go out and buy another one for comparison.

Shasta - thanks. I'll have to check out the Fremer article you mention. Is that in a recent issue?
It really depends on the type of turntable Tooter. A high torque direct drive turntable is not going to suffer no matter how often you switch it on and off, but a low torque, high mass turntable is going to be doing a lot of extra work (read extra wear) if you are constantly starting it from rest.

The following is from the Planar 3 Instruction Manual:

"Leave the turntable running during a record playing session. Switch on before the session and only switch off after you have finished playing."

Mike - that's interesting. My Goldring GR1 is made by Rega and is basically a P2, slightly different plinth I believe, but the instructions it came with mention nothing about leaving on/off. I guess my worries are two fold - extra wear on the motor, damaging the lp. I think I will contact the maker of my mat and see what they say. The mat I'm using is rubbery and really grips quite well to the record.
A great deal of stress that the motor undergoes is in getting the platter up and spinning from a dead stop. With a belt-drive table 99% of that stress can be alleviated by simply give the platter a light spin with your finger prior to switching the motor on.
I agree with the previous post that picking up from a moving table is “an accident waiting to happen” as well as the issue of static build up.

Concerning your distortion issue: what phono pre are you using and is it set up correctly for your cartridge? Couldn’t too much gain or the wrong loading be contributing to your troubles?

Best regards.
Well, I spoke with the maker of my Herbie's mat. He claims that it is perfectly safe to change records while the table/platter remain on. I have decided however after considering all the posts above to just go ahead and turn it of each time. I live in New York City and with winter approaching, dryness/static become a major problem here. Also with Slate1's suggestion of helping the platter along when I turn it on will hopefully allow me to save the motor, avoid an accident, reduce static...

Vvrinc - my phono pre is a Creek OBH18. It is MM only and from the specs should work well with my Goldring Elektra. Since I started this post I have become more convinced that the distortion is a software issue. I've bought some new vinyl, all of which play quite well.

Thanks to all. I am amazed at how close this cheapo table comes and in some ways surpasses my Meridian CD player. I feel like in terms of soundstaging and imaging my Meridian still betters analog but in terms of tonal accuracy the Goldring is more "real". Rhythmically it's a draw.