Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby babybird » Sat May 11, 2019 5:42 pm

Its been awhile since participating here, just too darn busy lately deal with audio and especially vinyl.

I am hoping to find someone who has ran across the same issue that I am having with this cartridge, terrible thing to wish on someone though.

For the most part I have thoroughly enjoyed this cartridge and felt it was a substantial upgrade to the original MM Zephyr. However on some disc I am running into an issue that truly baffles me and leads me to believe the cartridge is not an ideal match to my standard JMW 10" tone arm. To the point on a few records, especially ones that have intense percussion attacks it appears my stylus is jumping the track and when it does the sound & distortion will just about make you levitate out of your seat. Its really quite unsettling when it happens. Initially I thought it was just one album, Donald Fagan's The Nightfly that was produced by MF as a D2D record, with time I am also starting to discover a few others. For instance the MF 45 RPM remaster of Dire Straits, Brothers In Arms. One of the best or at least one of my favorite tracks is Down to the River and becomes almost unbearable to listen to due to this distortion. The sound/distortion is reminiscent of out of control speaker drivers reaching their limits of excursion and flapping against the suspension and back plates but with 1000 WPC mono blocs powering my Genesis 6.1 speakers I know this isn't the issue. Besides my other cartridge never did this.

I have gone through the setup and alignment many times thinking somewhere along the line I blew it, but all to no avail. Heavier VTF has little to any effect, nor does the volume at which the records are played. I feel quite confident my Azimuth and VTA are where they should be also. The use of anti-skating also has no effect that I can tell either.

Thanks for taking the time to consider this. Looking forward to any insight that any of you have.
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Re: Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby MOON » Sat May 11, 2019 5:54 pm

Can you tell us what VPI turntable you own. It seems strange this problem didn't come up in the past, just recent .Perhaps adding the 2nd pivot might help.

I have to say I love having the 2nd pivot on my tt. It is an unexpensive upgrade. Where is your turntable located? Is it anywhere near your speakers ?
Classic 4, 12"3d, hrx pulley, 3 belts, dual pivot, sds, Lyra Kloes, Waynes Perifery Ring 3.8 lb, Stillpoint LPI , Simaudio 610 Evolution phono stage , Audio Sensibility silver statement cable, tru lift & sweep
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Re: Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby babybird » Sat May 11, 2019 6:15 pm

MOON wrote:Can you tell us what VPI turntable you own. It seems strange this problem didn't come up in the past, just recent .Perhaps adding the 2nd pivot might help.

I have to say I love having the 2nd pivot on my tt. It is an unexpensive upgrade. Where is your turntable located? Is it anywhere near your speakers ?


Hi Moon thanks for the comments. Whoops forgot to include the rest of the important gear. The TT is a Classic 1 approximately 3 or so years old and no I have not employed the 2nd pivot and in fact know very little about it or how it works in use. The TT is not close to the speakers and doubt it would matter if it was. The system is in a dedicated room in our basement with thick concrete floors. There is no rumble or issues with low frequency feedback. I'm fortunate in this regard. This distortion I have described is NOTHING like what one would experience with low frequency rumble, its more of an intense snap-clap sort of sound.

I agree this is quite odd given I never had this issue with the original Zephyr MM cart, but the stylus is considerably different too. In doing some research today I was able to confirm this cart is low compliance, while the 10 inch JMW tone arm sort of straddles the low to mid range of mass for a tone arm. I can't help but wonder if adding some mass to the tone arm then resetting VTF might mitigate this issue?

Thanks
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Re: Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby seamonster » Sun May 12, 2019 9:48 am

I've been using the plastic Soundsmith EZ Mount cartridge screws with my MIMCStar mounted to a 10" 3D arm (effective mass 9g). I was concerned that the arm was too light for the cartridges compliance, and first tried the aluminum screws that came with the Soundsmith screw set. They were too heavy, and I didn't like that I had to move the counterweight so far aft. The plastic screws have worked nicely, and I experience no problems. My VTF is set at 1.95g.
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Re: Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby babybird » Sun May 12, 2019 10:18 am

Thanks audiom3 and seamonster for you thoughtful comments.

Just a quick followup on things. In the past I have used the Feickert protractor for alignment and it has worked well but decided to double check it with the supplied VPI jig. Turns out no matter what one does there is an approximate 1 MM ± difference in overhang using the VPI jig vs the Feickert. What the heck got nothing to loose so dialed things in using the VPI jig, once again all to no avail or discernible change in this distortion. Then I added just a tad bit of mass to the tone arm (small brass washer taped on top of the head shell) reset the VTF to 2.2 grams which was as light as I could go with the extra weight. Again no discernible change.

At this point I am at a loss for what to do next, but will certainly take a closer look at the stylus tip to check for damage or irregularities. I have a note into the folks at Sound Smith so hopefully I will hear back from them tomorrow. Talked with Sam Arnold at Elusive Disc yesterday as well and this was the first he had heard of such and has sold many similar systems with the same combination. I do want to emphasize this only occurs on a some but certainly not all records but oddly enough the higher the quality of pressing the worse the situation becomes. Weird!
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Re: Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby dodgealum » Sun May 12, 2019 10:29 am

Sorry to hear you are having issues--that can be really frustrating. I'm using the MIMC Star with a 10" 3D Gimbaled arm and haven't experienced any of the issues you describe. I also own the One Step Nightly and play it frequently--sounds amazing. It sounds to me like you have set up problem. If you have gone through all the checks and are confident you have it set up properly I would send the cartridge to Soundsmith and see if they see any issues. You should not have any compatibility issues with that arm but be sure to tell them what you are using so they can advise accordingly. Best of luck to you.
System:
VPI "Scout Supreme" (Custom w/ 3D-10 Gimbal)
Soundsmith MIMC Star
Herron VTPH-2A
Herron VTSP-3A (R03)
LTA Ultralinear Amplifier
Daedalus Audio Apollo Speakers
Empirical Design/Dynamic Design Cables
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Re: Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby babybird » Sun May 12, 2019 11:01 am

Thanks dodgealum, glad to hear you are not having any of these issues. Regarding setup and alignment, I'm certainly not infallible, but one would think things would have to be really far off to create such distortion and never ran into this with the previous Zephyr.

I agree The Nightfly album sounds awesome except for this one issue I am having with it. Sets a whole new standard IMO. I also have this as a digital download running through a Holo Spring R2R Ladder DAC/Singxer SU-1/Intona USB Isolator and while it sounds fantastic as well, albeit different, there is something special about the vinyl pressing.

Thanks again.
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Re: Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby babybird » Sun May 12, 2019 1:04 pm

audiom3 wrote:Sorry if this is a dumb question but have you removed your armwand and measured your S2P distance? The differences in protractor results is the reason I ask.


You know I have not, but this has occurred to me for the same reason you suggest. However 1 MM of distance if its even that much would not seem to make a huge difference in setup so long as other parameters are taken into account, ie VTF etc. In any case it made no difference with the issues I am having. FWIW I have checked as closely as possible the stylus tip and cannot see any damage or irregularities.

The plot thickens!
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Re: Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby Golear » Sun May 12, 2019 6:32 pm

I have a SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC* on a 10 inch 3DR arm. No issues. Very clean, very nice soundstaging. I measured the arm-cartridge resonance at about 9 Hz, which is very good.

I doubt if alignment is an issue because its related to loud and intense music, so I wouldn't worry about the protractors.

The only thing left to ask: Are you using the mechanical anti-skate or the wire twist? SoundSmith is quite insistent on the mechanical anti-skate. If you are using it, then I'd make sure it's set up correctly, and that there's minimal twist from the wire.

I'd send the cartridge back to SoundSmith and have them check it.

PS: @audiom3, if one uses a heavier counterweight, that will be closer to the pivot, then the effective mass of the arm is reduced.
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Re: Sound Smith Zephyr MIMC Star Issues

Postby babybird » Sun May 12, 2019 8:40 pm

Golear wrote:I have a SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC* on a 10 inch 3DR arm. No issues. Very clean, very nice soundstaging. I measured the arm-cartridge resonance at about 9 Hz, which is very good.

I doubt if alignment is an issue because its related to loud and intense music, so I wouldn't worry about the protractors.

The only thing left to ask: Are you using the mechanical anti-skate or the wire twist? SoundSmith is quite insistent on the mechanical anti-skate. If you are using it, then I'd make sure it's set up correctly, and that there's minimal twist from the wire.

I'd send the cartridge back to SoundSmith and have them check it.


Thanks Golear for this informative post. I agree at this point having been all over the court and back so many times I don't believe its the alignment and or protractor. FWIW I have also implemented SS's recommendation for anti-skate as well as VPI's version, and NO anti skating what so ever. Nothing seems to change this anomaly. And under close inspection with magnifiers I could not see any damage to the stylus. I'm at a loss for whats wrong or how to fix it unless there is something defective within the cartridge.

Spent some time today looking into the Duo Pivot item which I should invest in, but have my doubt this will cure my issues though it might improve the over all performance.
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