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Denon DP-400 Turntable has no treble

BullBuchanan

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I'm a complete vinyl novice, though I have been reading a lot. I'm a digital streaming guy and I'm only getting into a vinyl setup so that I can rip some very hard to find folk records from a friend of mine. To that end I just picked up a secondhand Denon DP 400 with a Shure m91ED cart and a Analogis Black Diamond Nude elliptical stylus. From everything I've read, this should be a very competent, though admittedly not high end, setup. It has a built in pre-amp, but I figured the one on my denon x3700h would be better. I connected the grounding plugs to both ends and switched the internal pre-amp off.

However, It just sounds so bad, like AM radio quality. I get good bass, but there's absolutely no treble and no clarity to the music. It's like someone just turned the EQ all the way down on the highs. I'm not sure how good it's supossed to sound against something like spotify, but it's definitely underwhelming my already low expectations. I'm trying to get as close as possible to CD/streaming quality for the purpose of digitizing while spending as little as I have to. I played a brand new record (Tommy Emmanuel) and while it did sound better than some old garage store records I tried (Hank Williams, The Eagles) it lacked all the dynamics of the same spotify track. The stylus picked up some lint so I cleaned it with a toothbrush after reading how to do it.

What should my order of operations be to troubleshoot? I ideally don't want to try a bunch of carts and stylus if possible, because I don't intend for this to be a hobby. I'd much rather stream than own, store and maintain physical media, and fidelity is kind for me. Does a boutique pre-amp make that much of a difference? The stylus and cart are pretty well reviewed, but do I need to go down that rabbit hole?

Appreciate any guidance, and I know what I'm asking is kind of bananas in a hobby where people spend 20k on a vinyl setup. If it's unobtainable, I guess I'll just forget about it.
 

audio_tony

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The M91ED is quite an old cartridge. Are you sure the stylus is in good order?

Poor top end can often be due to a worn stylus.

I would replace the cartridge with an Audio Technica AT95E or AT-VM95E (the VM95E is slightly more expensive, however for your purpose the AT95E should more than suffice).

Also check the tracking weight, and the VTA (vertical tracking angle) as an incorrect VTA can also be the cause of poor top end.

 

Thomas_A

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Change cartridge. AT95E as suggested is fine.
 

Balle Clorin

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What input and output are you using? Sound like you are missing something fundamental like using RIAA twice..or not at all..
Try it as it was intended for with internal RIAA connected to CD/aux/line input on amplifier.
 

restorer-john

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The stylus picked up some lint so I cleaned it with a toothbrush after reading how to do it.

Toothbrushes and styli do not go together- ever.

A very small artist's brush or even a tiny makeup brush if you must use one at all. Otherwise, pick up an old discwasher stylus cleaner and use a mixture of IPA/water one drop at a time.

1701642731391.jpeg
 
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BullBuchanan

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The M91ED is quite an old cartridge. Are you sure the stylus is in good order?

Poor top end can often be due to a worn stylus.

I would replace the cartridge with an Audio Technica AT95E or AT-VM95E (the VM95E is slightly more expensive, however for your purpose the AT95E should more than suffice).

Also check the tracking weight, and the VTA (vertical tracking angle) as an incorrect VTA can also be the cause of poor top end.

Owner told me that the stylus only had about 20 hours on it. It's my understanding these stylus are pretty new, having only come out in the last couple years. Visually, nothing appears immediately off, but not sure what I'm looking for.

I played it as he had it set up first and then I calibrated the VTA myself without a significant change. One thing I noticed was that he had an acrylic mat sitting on top of a cork mat. I asked him if they were both supposed to be used and he said he found the performance was best with the acrylic on the cork, but it seems to me that might impact the VTF, no?
 
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BullBuchanan

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Change cartridge. AT95E as suggested is fine.
It's my understanding that the cartridge is mostly just a platform for the stylus. What change should I expect changing the cart but keeping the stylus?
 
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BullBuchanan

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Toothbrushes and styli do not go together- ever.

A very small artist's brush or even a tiny makeup brush if you must use one at all. Otherwise, pick up an old discwasher stylus cleaner and use a mixture of IPA/water one drop at a time.

View attachment 331520
Can you educate me on why?

I ordered this cleaning kit, but it hasn't come in yet: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B091ZFDPDS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Most of the stylus brushes I see seem to just be nylon brushes like a toothbrush would be.
 

LTig

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I'm a complete vinyl novice, though I have been reading a lot. I'm a digital streaming guy and I'm only getting into a vinyl setup so that I can rip some very hard to find folk records from a friend of mine. To that end I just picked up a secondhand Denon DP 400 with a Shure m91ED cart and a Analogis Black Diamond Nude elliptical stylus. From everything I've read, this should be a very competent, though admittedly not high end, setup. It has a built in pre-amp, but I figured the one on my denon x3700h would be better. I connected the grounding plugs to both ends and switched the internal pre-amp off.

However, It just sounds so bad, like AM radio quality. I get good bass, but there's absolutely no treble and no clarity to the music. It's like someone just turned the EQ all the way down on the highs.
Sounds as if RIAA correction is applied twice. Connect the TT to a line input and activate the internal preamp of the TT.
 

restorer-john

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Can you educate me on why?

I ordered this cleaning kit, but it hasn't come in yet: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B091ZFDPDS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Most of the stylus brushes I see seem to just be nylon brushes like a toothbrush would be.

The kit you ordered seems to come with stylus 'cleaning' gel. It won't do much to actually clean a stylus or clean around the mounting. There's also a risk of cantilever damage. Be careful.

The brush has coarse nylon bristles- throw it out. It has no place near a phono cartridge.
The carbon fibre brush may be useful, if the fibres are really fine- like thinner than human hairs and millions of them. If not, throw it out too.
The record cleaning spray is likely risky. All manner of horror-show record cleaning sprays were sold back in the day. Most just added silicone to the record, quietened it down and gunked up your stylus. IPA and distilled water in a spray bottle is better.

The Discwasher brush has millions of tiny carbon fibres in a tight ~1cm 'head' that will take a genuinely dirty stylus and clean it with one, maybe two back to front movements under normal tracking load (1.5g). It lasts for decades. Mine are about 40 years old and I only just opened my last bottle of SC-2 solution. Put a search into Ebay and just get one.

IMG_2553.jpg
IMG_2554.jpg
IMG_2555.jpg


Bear in mind, the part of the stylus that rides in the groove doesn't really get 'dirty'. Stuff you can see on the 'stylus' is way up the diamond/mount and once you can see fluff, dust or hair, it's only likely to make noises as it drags on the record. It doesn't cause any damage as such.

There's some threads here on ASR where we've got high resolution microscope images of the stylus itself and discuss 'wear'. Do a search to see them. You might find it interesting. Basically, if your stylus is newish you can forget wear for a very long time. Just keep your records clean and enjoy.
 
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DVDdoug

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If both phono preamps sound the same we can rule them out.

"Double RIAA" WOULD over-boost the bass and (relatively) cut the highs but double amplification would also be "too loud", overloaded, and distorted.

It's not unusual for older records to be a little dull sounding but boosting the treble should help. Hank Williams is probably "too old". I don't remember The Eagles being especially good or bad. Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan were known for especially "clean sound", and there were some others.

I don't know anything about Tommy Emmanuel and I haven't heard any new records.
 

GXAlan

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Chrispy

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It's not likely that the turntable itself has no treble unless it has some very odd wiring issues. I had an M91ED back in '73....know nothing about the stylus you've got for it but that would generally be the issue if you've already ruled out different phono stages. I'd just get a new cartridge as suggested.
 
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BullBuchanan

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Owner told me that the stylus only had about 20 hours on it. It's my understanding these stylus are pretty new, having only come out in the last couple years. Visually, nothing appears immediately off, but not sure what I'm looking for.

I played it as he had it set up first and then I calibrated the VTA myself without a significant change. One thing I noticed was that he had an acrylic mat sitting on top of a cork mat. I asked him if they were both supposed to be used and he said he found the performance was best with the acrylic on the cork, but it seems to me that might impact the VTF, no?
So I may have answered my own question here. I took off the acrylic mat and just put the record right on the cork instead. Then I re-calibrated the VTF. I may have had it set too high the first time. It's kind of hard to see what parallel looks like with the s arm and the tiniest little adjustment sends it drastically in one direction of another.

The difference was significant and the highs drastically improved. It still sounds veiled compared to what I'm used to, but that might just be the limits of the gear and to a lesser extent the medium.
 

JP

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Then I re-calibrated the VTF. I may have had it set too high the first time. It's kind of hard to see what parallel looks like with the s arm and the tiniest little adjustment sends it drastically in one direction of another.

What does VTF have to do with parallel?
 

Chrispy

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So I may have answered my own question here. I took off the acrylic mat and just put the record right on the cork instead. Then I re-calibrated the VTF. I may have had it set too high the first time. It's kind of hard to see what parallel looks like with the s arm and the tiniest little adjustment sends it drastically in one direction of another.

The difference was significant and the highs drastically improved. It still sounds veiled compared to what I'm used to, but that might just be the limits of the gear and to a lesser extent the medium.
The extra mats just sound goofy. What sort of vtf adjustments do you have?

ps NM, thinking vta adjustment....
 
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BullBuchanan

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What does VTF have to do with parallel?
As I understand it, the first step of setting VTF is getting the counterweight aligned so that the tonearm hovers parallel to the platter/record, right? That's what my manual says and what every video I've found says. Once I did that, then I set the VTF, which according to Analogis is 1gram for this stylus, but most people recommend 1.25g, so I tried both and 1.25 seemed to sound better.

The extra mats just sound goofy. What sort of vtf adjustments do you have?

ps NM, thinking vta adjustment....
1.25g with just the spinning counterweight that comes with the deck.
 

Chrispy

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As I understand it, the first step of setting VTF is getting the counterweight aligned so that the tonearm hovers parallel to the platter/record, right? That's what my manual says and what every video I've found says. Once I did that, then I set the VTF, which according to Analogis is 1gram for this stylus, but most people recommend 1.25g, so I tried both and 1.25 seemed to sound better.


1.25g with just the spinning counterweight that comes with the deck.
I'd be more concerned with actual angles, which can be perverted by various non-intended mat height differences....
 

jmchrislip

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The Shure M91ED requires capacitance between 300 - 500 pf. It will sound somewhat dull if your capacitance is much less. You can add capacitance.
 

Balle Clorin

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Forget about the old Shure! It might be bad Get a a present day cheap cartridge and wire the system correctly as suggested several times and try again.
 
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