Sibilance with my zephyr star

Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby Bloodflame666 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:00 pm

I'm starting to notice sibilance in the high end and especially on hi hat hits during almost all of my records. This is a new cartridge and I've set it up according to the soundsmith instructions. I am using about 2.05 grams of vtf. About a level headshell for vta. Azimuth was set up using the VIP provided stick. Alignment was done with the VIP jig. I'm running it at 475 ohm and 60 db gain. I set up antiskate according to the soundsmith website. This is mounted on a prime signature. Can anyone help me solve this annoying issue?
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Re: Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby Stringreen » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:24 am

Bloodflame.....that metal rod yields only approximate results. Get/borrow a Fozgometer and set it correctly. Get /borrow a digital scale and make sure the spot on the scale that weighs the cartridge is at the same height from the platter as is a record. It sounds as though you need better setup. I don't use a/s at all...but that's up to you.
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Re: Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby Bloodflame666 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:49 am

I do have a digital scale. 2 of them actually. I'm able to get an accurate reading and it's tracking around 2.05 grams. I played around with azimuth last night and that didn't seem to fix it completely.
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Re: Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby Brf » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:35 am

Unfortunately, sibilance can be caused by a number of things and a combination of of a number of things.

Since your cartridge is brand new, we can rule out stylus wear. Start with the following:

1) Azimuth
2) VTF
3) SRA
4) Anti-skating
5) and a combination of all of the above
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Re: Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby Bloodflame666 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:43 am

That's the thing. I believe I have all of those things set up correctly. I guess I can start from scratch later today just to make sure but the only two things I can't be certain about is azimuth and sra. I have to eyeball azimuth with the VPI stick because I don't have any other way to do it. I also have vta set at what I believe to be level.
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Re: Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby JimTimP » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:00 am

Get something like this: http://www.highendcity.com/headshell-alignment-block/

Sometimes referred to as the millenium block. Use it to set the initial azimuth by placing it in front of your cartridge with the stylus in the groove and after you have set VTF and overhang. Square up your azimuth. Next place it behind the cartridge on the inside side and square up your front to back angle of the cartridge by looking through the headshell to the lines on the block. Front and back should be level to the record surface. If you are worried about scratching your record, place a piece of paper slightly larger than the block under it.

These will be starting points for you to set the final Azimuth.

If your cartridge was made correctly, your SRA should be correct when the front to back of the headshell is parallel to the record surface. Do not use the top of the headshell. It may have paint buildup that makes it appear level, and thereby forcing the cartridge to be a few degrees out. Use the top of the cartridge for all alignments. Why the VPI stick method isn't always too accurate.

Once you get this baseline set, you'll set the rest by ear. You should be close. So make small movements. If you have the dual pivot, change in less than 1/8th of a turn. If you don't you may want to get one.

Also check your VTF occasionally. Especially after changing the front to back alignment as this may affect your VTF.
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Re: Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby babybird » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:08 am

FWIW, I also have the MIMC Star and experience no sibilance what so ever, though I did struggle with this on my VPI Zephyr cartridge.

My own personal experience indicates that too much VTF contributes to sibilance and so I have mine set at approximately 1.9 grams. I do NOT use the supplied protractor from VPI but the newest version of the Fieckert protractor and also use the Fozgometer for azimuth setting. As others have mentioned making an azimuth adjustment based purely on a level head shell is not accurate at all. Too much anti skating can contribute to distortion on the left channel and too little anti skating distortion on the right channel all else being equal.

Its also important to understand, especially with a new cartridge that all of these adjustments will change over time as the cartridge suspension breaks in and all of the adjustments or at least most of them will have some effect to the other parameters. In other words they are all moving targets. And one last thought, make sure your stylus is very clean, debris build up can also cause some distortion, and last but not least some records are just pressed better than others which might cause some sibilance and other distortions.
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Re: Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby Bloodflame666 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:14 am

JimTimP wrote:Get something like this: http://www.highendcity.com/headshell-alignment-block/

Sometimes referred to as the millenium block. Use it to set the initial azimuth by placing it in front of your cartridge with the stylus in the groove and after you have set VTF and overhang. Square up your azimuth. Next place it behind the cartridge on the inside side and square up your front to back angle of the cartridge by looking through the headshell to the lines on the block. Front and back should be level to the record surface. If you are worried about scratching your record, place a piece of paper slightly larger than the block under it.

These will be starting points for you to set the final Azimuth.

If your cartridge was made correctly, your SRA should be correct when the front to back of the headshell is parallel to the record surface. Do not use the top of the headshell. It may have paint buildup that makes it appear level, and thereby forcing the cartridge to be a few degrees out. Use the top of the cartridge for all alignments. Why the VPI stick method isn't always too accurate.

Once you get this baseline set, you'll set the rest by ear. You should be close. So make small movements. If you have the dual pivot, change in less than 1/8th of a turn. If you don't you may want to get one.

Also check your VTF occasionally. Especially after changing the front to back alignment as this may affect your VTF.


thanks for the info. I actually have a similar block coming my way next week. I ordered it off eBay. I'm going to redo everything tonight and see if that will address the problem. The weird part is that I don't hear the sibilance in the vocals or cymbals. I hear it mainly in hi hat hits on many recordings.
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Re: Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby Bloodflame666 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am

babybird wrote:FWIW, I also have the MIMC Star and experience no sibilance what so ever, though I did struggle with this on my VPI Zephyr cartridge.

My own personal experience indicates that too much VTF contributes to sibilance and so I have mine set at approximately 1.9 grams. I do NOT use the supplied protractor from VPI but the newest version of the Fieckert protractor and also use the Fozgometer for azimuth setting. As others have mentioned making an azimuth adjustment based purely on a level head shell is not accurate at all. Too much anti skating can contribute to distortion on the left channel and too little anti skating distortion on the right channel all else being equal.

Its also important to understand, especially with a new cartridge that all of these adjustments will change over time as the cartridge suspension breaks in and all of the adjustments or at least most of them will have some effect to the other parameters. In other words they are all moving targets. And one last thought, make sure your stylus is very clean, debris build up can also cause some distortion, and last but not least some records are just pressed better than others which might cause some sibilance and other distortions.


Interesting. I would think that the more vtf you use, the less sibilance you will hear. I guess I chose the 2-2.1 vtf because soundsmith recommended that those that listen to heavier/louder music do so.
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Re: Sibilance with my zephyr star

Postby babybird » Wed Sep 06, 2017 1:44 pm

True that is their recommendation, but I listen to all sorts of music, rock, classical, jazz you name it. I've yet to see this cart jump the groove so far. And your experience could differ from mine too. But with my VPI Zephyr I also noticed much less sibilance with lighter tracking force vs heavier as well.

Regardless even though I know you feel you have it set up correctly I would encourage you to go through the entire setup again. And you might also try another protractor too.

Good luck
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