The Mood Was Ruined

I recently bought an analog set up and a few lps.  I have always been militantly pro digital.  I’m trying not to accumulate lps and trying to limit purchases to interesting stuff that may not be available digitally.  I have my lps cleaned ultrasonically.  My tastes are generally confined to Classical Music.

  Today I was playing a Columbia lp  that had just been cleaned of Charles Rosen playing late Beethoven Piano Sonatas.  Specifically I was listening to Beethoven’s last Sonata, Op.111.  The second and final movement has very long trills, great arcing trills that tend to dissolve into arpeggiated chords in the highest octaves and played at various shadings of the pppp range.  A great performance and recording can make you afraid to breathe because you don’t want to break the spell, and Rosen ( a noted scholar and author of the Classical period besides being a great musician ) had me transported there.

  And then it happened.  With perhaps a minute to go, as I was in rapture, a loud POP! and then the music stopped.  Apparently my turntable, a Technics direct drive, when it can’t track a divot in a groove, stops playing and the tone arm lifts up.  I grabbed a magnifying glass and there is a visible interruption of the vinyl surface.

  It was every thing that I have ever hated about vinyl crystallized in a moment.  
  This record was as presumably clean as it will ever get.  I just picked it up from the business that cleans it, and provided a new MoFi inner sleeve as part of the service .  I am not blaming the service.  I had never played the lp before getting it cleaned, but the other lps that I had cleaned the same day came back in great shape.

  I will never probably play this lp again.  It was like having great sex and then having the husband knock on the bedroom door with the stock of his shotgun.

  I am now listening to a CD of Jonathan Biss playing Op.111, but the magic of the moment is gone



... my turntable, a Technics direct drive, when it can’t track a divot in a groove, stops playing and the tone arm lifts up ...

Ugh. Automatic turntables and pickup arms are almost always compromises.

Totally agree. The only thing worse than musicus interruptus is coitus interruptus.

I have CD's that exhibit digital "rot", the result being the music becoming completely chaotic. No format is perfect.

Your Technics direct drive turntable is not what "tracks a divot in a groove." That is the responsibility of your pickup and tonearm.

In your desire to show your displeasure, which is understandable, some meaning was lost.  Are you saying that the LP was grossly defective or just dirty?  And what Technics are you using that still has autolift? I am not aware they have made such a one since maybe the mid-90s, which makes your TT pretty old. Whatever it was, the problem is not sufficient in magnitude or breadth to justify throwing the baby out with the bathwater, unless you never really wanted that baby in the first place.

Sounds like you are a true music lover. I noticed you do not have your system shown under your user ID. That would be helpful.


Unfortunately, once in a while you can get an album with an issue like yours… For me, maybe one in 250… of 500. I have 2,000 and maybe acquired a dozen over the years with a skip of big pop.

The other part of this is the quality of the turntable. The better the turntable, the less the surface noise and the better the recovery from problems. Still, you have to toss one out of every few hundred albums.

The issue is, especially for classical music, you need a really good analog rig to sound spectacular. It can. But, in this day and age, not sure tip toeing in is going to be satisfying for you.

My Vinyl system sounds fantastic, but you probably do not want to invest the kind of money I have in it. I think I am going to pull out a Mahler symphony on vinyl… you got me thinking.

The way I see it, your Technics record player has one heck of design flaw. To be sure, a piece of "whatever" stuck in a groove can be annoying, but there's no reason for the record player to suffer a tantrum/hissy fit over it. At the worst, the arm & cartridge should repeat the preceding revolution until either a power outage or Doomsday. Just as an experiment, if it is possible to adjust the amount of antiskate, turn it down a bit and see if the needle/tonearm will just bull its way forward past the obstruction.

Piano solo is the acid test for any system. In my case I have come off vinyl because of its many distortion issues and limited dynamic range. That said, digital has a way of getting screwed up through bad editing and dynamic compression if you chose the wrong recording. Agree with @edcyn that it is reasonably likely that your record player isn‘t set up correctly. And try Andras Schiff, his Beethoven transports.

Thanks for the comments, a few replies.  First of all, why would I need to detail the rest of the system?  This issue is clearly related to the vinyl and the turntable (I am using turntable as shorthand for table/arm/cart/).  For the record it is a Technics 1500 Direct Drive with an Ortofon 2 M Blue cartridge.  At the moment it resides in a second system .  The Phono PreAmp is Cambridge Audio, athe speakers are Silverline Panatella floorstanders, and the amplification is the dreaded Anthem 5.1

AVR playing in 2 channel for analog.  I can hear the sneering on the other end, but the analog front end cost about $2K, and I choose to put it in a secondary system for now because I am trying to reconfigure my rack in the main system.  (I had started to wall mount a dedicated shelf for the turntable, discovered the studs aren’t in the right place, and trying to figure out the next move).  
  My issue isn’t the sound of the system.  As another poster noted Piano sound is the hardest to get right, and this Direct Drive is the best non digital source for Piano that I have ever heard.  And the rest of the current rig doesn’t pertain to the original post

I was listening to Jonathan Bliss play Sonata 31 recently after having played Gilels’ Olympia recording, Brendel’s and Serkin’s. What’s with the guy’s tempos? Robs the piece of its majesty. I also played Andrew Rangell. All great, but Gilels greatest. Bliss is too damn fast. Just my uneducated opinion. I don’t read music so maybe he’s the only one observing the metronome marks, but my heart says no.

This is the beauty of streaming….I could go on to Kempf, Pollini, Uchida, etc.

"It was like having great sex and then having the husband knock on the bedroom door with the stock of his shotgun."

Think how Rosen must have felt, as he ran shrieking from the room.

Correct @mahler123, a record defect has nothing to do with the system. The only solution is to get another copy of that record if you can. Occasionally something gets stuck on the surface of the record and you can flick it off with a fingernail. But, if the vinyl has been damaged the only solution is a new record.


"It was like having great sex and then having the husband knock on the bedroom door with the stock of his shotgun."

I enjoy cutting and pasting quotes from the forums for future reference.  Sometimes for the wrong reasons.

Two things might solve the problem.

1. look for a boulder stuck in the groove where the problem occurs.

a. spin platter slowly, watch the position relative of the paper label to help you find it.

b. alcohol wipe: get that bolder out of there. play, problem gone?

2. . your arm/cartridge’s setup.

all must be precisely done

a. TT level (check at platter, AND check at base of arm (verify arm is mounted level with the deck)

b. remove any anti-skate force, (last thing to do)

c. cartridge/stylus tip: set overhang (for that arm, _____? MM in front of spindle).

d. Null points (2). (for that arm). Look down from above, see the cartridge body relative to the null point lines. Look sideways, position of the arm/cartridge the stylus tip at the indicated line. Adjust the cartridge body in the headshell, so that it’s body is parallel to the lines at both null point lines. (i.e. twist cartridge left or right in the headshell). (do not move cartridge forward or back, i.e. do not alter the overhang, double check the overhang).

c. arm height. remove any tracking force, use big weight to level the arm when in playing position. Note, the cartridge/arm will be very slightly up when cue lever is down, arm floating. the arm should be parallel to the lp when the and stylus is in the groove.

d. set tracking force. use digital stylus force meter to get the tracking force in the middle of the range specified by the cartridge maker. LP off the TT, the scales are the thickness of an LP.

e. Azimuth, viewed from the front.

lp off, a mirror the thickness of an lp, placed below the stylus. ANY deviation from ’straight’ will be reflected ’opposite’ in the mirror, (easier to see). adjust so that there is no off vertical.

IF not straight, solutions:

1. shims above one side of the cartridge

2. some play when the removable headshell is tightened.

3. arm has a set screw at the headshell mount: loosen, rotate to straight, tighten

4. buy a headshell with azimuth adjustment, like ’Pat’s adjustable azimuth on ebay.

By hook or crook, azimuth is correct.

f. balance the arm: use the big weight to balance the arm, lever down. (arm very slightly up, will drop down to level when lowered onto the LP.

g, add tracking force. set in the middle of the maker’s range for that cartridge.

i.e. maker says: 1.25 tp 1.75, set at 1.5 gm

Now the arm should be parallel when the stylus is in the groove.

h. last: anti-skate force.

1. spin the platter when on a blank disc with no grooves, it should naturally ’skate’ into the center. this is what anti-skate’s opposite force will eliminate.

Generally the anti-skate needs to be equal to the tracking force. You cannot trust the anti-skate dials. Add some anti-skate force, spin the platter, watch, add more/less force until the arm does not pull in or pull out. spin a few times, adjust as needed.





My tools for cartridge alignments:






3,529 posts

12-16-2022 at 09:02am

I put this together in another discussion.

Not meant to scare you, or anyone starting out, just to encourage everyone to learn, bit by bit, and acquire the simple tools and skills to change/align your cartridges after the first one is worn, (typically elliptical, avg. 250 hours play time.

If you get hooked on vinyl, which I suspect is a high probability:



I’m a bargain hunter, I say ’inexpensive’ tools and these are them:

I put this together for a friend, I hope the links are still good



$15. ALIGNMENT DISC: one side: Lines for Overhang and Two NULL Points

ANTI-SKATE: other blank side: spin platter manually, adjust anti-skate control while watching,aps,120&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1

$14. TRACKING FORCE, Digital Scale,aps,67&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

$10. AZIMUTH and VTA Alignment Block: clear actylic with Grid of Lines

$6. MAGNIFYING MIRROR to VIEW STYLUS (two). 3-1/2” DIAMETER, One: 10X; One 20x + 2 tweezers

$11. FLAT MIRROR to View Azimuth Reflection 4” X 6” X 3MM. Thickness of LP, place under the stylus, view from front, any deviation from straight will be reflected ‘opposite’.

$13. STYLUS CLEANING FLUID, Audio Technica

  1. CLEAN LPs

$50. MANUAL LP WASH SYSTEM (do batches of 10)

$9. INFANT SCALP SCRUBB BRUSHES (3). Scrub Dirty LP’s Vigotously, then rinse in above system,aps,77&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&smid=A2W58AXSS61W30

$13. OVERSIZED EYEGLASS CLOTHS, Dust LP ONLY IF Needed (13 pack). I DO NOT use a brush anymore. Place LP on platter, just lay cloth on, spin platter by hand while very lightly pulling cloth off the edge to remove surface dust, not push anything down into the grooves.


$6. ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL, 91%, 1 Quart


$14. STYLUS BRUSH, Carbon Fiber, Non-Slip Textured Handle,aps,65&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1



$13. ISOLATION PADS below Turntable, I wrapped my edges with black tape)

$__ CENTER WEIGHT, Disc Stabilizer. Size/Weight/Style Vary, how strong is your motor?



Rulers $6. Pair of Metal Rulers, mm and inches, starts on the edge of the ruler


$31. Finally, Removable Headshell with Azimuth Adjustment

You adjust it ONCE for your arm’s fitting which may be ’off’. Then, each time you use that headshell in that arm: before you tighten the headshell into the arm, there is very minor movement possible, you snug it up, double check it’s azimuth with the mirror, fully tighten

Some arms, like the Micro Seiki 505 have an adjustment of the fitting IN the arm, a very nice feature. I installed two of these, standard and long on a Luxman TT for a friend. Magnificent engineering

This one has unique base, others a simple hole and bolt below.

Report this


3,414 posts

11-19-2022 at 08:47am

Suppose you do not want to add weight on your platter, i.e. the Luxman Motor lifts the platter to reduce bearing wear.

These rubber gizmos hold reels on tape recorders. They are the same diameter as the TT platter spindle

You press them down, they stay holding the center and pull off easily when done.


you want one’s with flexibility, not dried out that have become rigid/brittle.

Above just for a visual example.




Knowing the entire system is helpful to determine if it is adding to the issue you are having, and gauging an appropriate solution.


Knowing your ancillary equipment I am not going to suggest a $10K turntable with a $8K cartridge. It is not appropriate. Your phono stage is likely contributing by not being quiet, warm and relaxed. But, you have a good turntable in the context to the rest of your system.

Much better turntables are much (much!) quieter and will reduce noise and take imperfections better. However, I think in your situation… you could look for a cartridge that is more forgiving… and realize that sometimes you are going to have to toss an album. It happens.

Sorry. My typewriter is not working. If it was something that glorious, then I would look for multiple copies. One will have what you need. 

Maybe you should stick to digital, if vinyl is so painful for you. I quite agree with you that DD turntables get piano right, whereas some of the other TTs that use other drive systems don’t. Anyone else’s turntable excepted. (Note, I am leaving huge verbal loopholes in my less than sweeping generalization, so no one will be offended or feel inclined to attack me.) I am only speaking for myself listening to my own home systems. Why I settled on DD finally. A quiet idler drive and a fine belt-drive can certainly do it too.

Studs in the wrong place ,  so take a 2' x 2' or longer piece of 3/4" plywood and screw that into your studs with 3 or 3 1/5 " screws then mount your TT bracket onto that ,  I drilled 1/2" holes thru both the board and the wall then used toggle nuts and bolts .  My TT is about 50 lbs.  pictures on virtual systems .

Buy another copy of the album . 

@elliottbnewcombjr Can you explain how you use the magnifying mirror? If you rest the stylus on the mirror is it actually magnified and in focus or do you use it some other way?



I keep the mirror on the deck, and lift the arm up, then angle the mirror this way and that, below the cartridge. Stylus never too near the mirror, never touches anything.

I have a light from the side, so plenty of light is reflected to the bottom of the cartridge as you angle the mirror.

You can see anything on the stylus tip, cantilever, and at the end of the cantilever where it joins the cartridge body.

and it’s magnified.

@ghdprentice I appreciate the attempt to be helpful, but I really think that the issue of how a tone arm and cartridge navigate an lp has nothing to do with phono preamp, etc.  I wasn’t complaining about the quality of the sound; in fact I was intensely enjoying it when it was so rudely interrupted

.  I had intended the turntable to be in my main 2 channel system, but I might just leave it where it is.  I am really impressed with how it resolved the differences between the two hands.  I could clearly hear the gentle growl of the bass clef and every subtle pedal effect with the many grades of pppp that Beethoven asks for.  The caveat is that I have never heard a digital version of this recording.  Instead of trying to collect multiple copies of a hard to obtain decades old lp, all of which may contain flaws (Columbia pressings of this period were decidedly not known for pristine vinyl and quality control, and this was probably a budget collection 3 lp set at the time) I will try to get a digital copy if for no other reason to be able to compare.

It happens, it sucks, but it happens, fortunately not often. And yes, it ruins the whole album. 

My copy of Dire Straits On Every Street has a different issue - "static" sounding - the whole album. Took it into my deal who has an Audio Desk - helped a little but still unplayable. 

Digital is handy in these moments...


Increase the tracking force slightly and play it again. The stylus may actually remove the debri. Otherwise get a good light on the lp and a high magnification glass and see if the obstruction is visible. If so, it is possible to remove it with a toothpick. If however it is a deep scratch, disregard previous....


Weird to have an arm pickup over a pop!!! Automatic TT? My TTs don't do that, automatic is an enemy for sound performance.

Even so it was cleaned, some spec of whatever may have attached itself to the vinyl while handling it. A close look at that very spot may reveal it and simply wipe it off with a clean lens cleaning cloth. I also ultrasonic all my records and once in a great while I can get a similar issue, but it either keeps playing after the pop or, if bad enough, skips. Most always a good wipe will take care of it. Of course, since you started out digital, this is more annoying to you. But to me, it's no biggie. One of the easy setbacks in my life :)

Post removed 

You did not say if the record was new but since you had it cleaned I presume it was used. I have  bought and listened to new LPs for 60 years. No new Lp ever had a defect like that. Maybe some ticks or warped but never something like that. f it was new the presser should be outlawed. I have never found a great used record only some less damaged than others. Caveat emptor. Digital is way better from a noise or defects perspective but get it ripped off the CD.




Sounds like Technics auto lift triggered sooner than this particular record ended. I believe Technics allows adjusting when auto lift is triggered. 

Personally, I like the idea of auto lift feature very much. It saves those expensive cartridges from damage and allows your to properly reflect on the last record track instead of being forced to rush from your chair to manually lift up arm.

And those add-on auto lifters require extra step of arming them. 

Yes, the auto lifter, especially Audio Technica are terrific. They have height adjustment, and you simply rotate the top barrel to position the trigger.  You keep it's amount of lift a bit lower than your cue lever lift.

In my case, because the rim of the JVC TT81 is so wide (denons are similar) there is no room to position the lift for my 9" arms, it only fits my 12.5" arm because the arm base is small and so far away.

It's a good reason to buy from someone who accepts returns.

I have never used an auto lift nor owned a turntable with that feature built-in. I am  in no particular rush to get up and change the record when it reaches the run out grooves. So my cartridges log many seconds in the runout grooves per side, looking very happy. I have no evidence that this damages the cartridge in any way. In fact, why should it be even as damaging as playing an LP?

Gotta give records credit. I hope I am able to perform as well as many records still do when I am as old as record playing technology is.

Having said that, after 50+ years dealing with records, I recently acquired an automatic ultrasonic record cleaning device. Every serious record lover should have one. Only $500 or so these days and works very well. Your loved ones perform best when clean.  


Turntable, tonearm, cartridge setup is really complicated.  But once done right it is almost heaven.  

Please, I have sat as you have and listened to digital music, was almost at peace with the world and the CD skipped or didn't track correctly, etc.  So, equipment issues occur no matter the format. 

As others have mentioned, I'm thinking that turntable, tonearm cartridge setup you have may have contributed to this issue.  I've never experienced an auto lift system that when a pop happens, it lifts the arm.  wow!  but okay, it is what it is.

But, if you really appreciate digital and don't feel you are missing anything with digital, then enjoy.

Some people ask about your setup to discriminate or to determine if you have a piece of equipment that may not be quite up to snuff.

You know.  If you didn't spend $80,000 for a turntable, tonearm, cartridge setup then you aren't in the same league with them and well, that is why....  not true at all but that is what some feel.  

Simple systems with the right music would bring out the emotions in me.  

It is a big deal with analog systems.  But once set up correctly, well... heaven (almost).  

anyway, enjoy