Turntable/Cartridge break-in question

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Well-known member
Mar 14, 2005
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Carlisle, MA
Last night my Pro-ject Xpression turntable arrived. This TT is one ugly bugger, but got good reviews and appears to be an excellent value. It was fitted with a Sumiko Blue Point No.2 cartridge as an upgrade over the Oyster it normally comes with. Mounting and alignment were done by the dealer before shipping. I mounted the counterweight, balanced the tonearm, and set the tracking force. Then connected the little fishing line counterweight to the correct antiskate notch on the tonearm. Out of the box, the cartridge sounded OK, a bit tinny, moreso on some recordings than others. I am assuming I will need 20+ hours of break-in before this cartridge settles into its "natural" sound. Is this right? I am pretty optimistic this will sound good with my system, but I don't know if I can wait 20+ hours for this to happen :D
Anyone have experience with this cartridge?

ML Aeons
TAD-150 preamp
Rotel RB-1080 amp
ML Depth Sub
The Cardas record really works (use it often), just don't turn the sound up too loud - and remember to leave the room while it's doing it's thing.

Might want to put the cat in the basement for a while too. :D

Mounting and alignment were done by the dealer before shipping.

Might have headshell screws lose from shipping..................might not of set it up as "right" as could be.

I bought one of the DB Systems alignment tools - a real bugger to use if your cartridge has non-parallel sides (but it works well). I've read good thigs about the "Wally Tracker". Perhaps if it does not break-in to your satisfaction you can take it in to a high-end shop for re-tuning.

I'd call the Needle Doctor or where ever you purchased it from and ask them the same question you asked us. While you are at it order the Cardas record, somehow it helps with CD playback too.
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I used the Blue Point Special years ago. It was slightly bright. I don't know if the latest versions share this characteristic.

As far as break-in goes, cartridges can take 50 hours or more to finally settle in. Until then, you can't really evaluate the final sound. Try to spin as much vinyl as you can without listening critically for about a week. As hard as this sounds, it is your best bet.

Good luck!
check the capacitance load at the preamp...

Hola...if your sound with the cartridge is too bright, change the capacitance value at the preamp. This might solve the problem. Your cartridge is a High output moving coil, right?
Happy listening, and trust your ears!
Roberto. :)
I've read that the Blue Point is MC (Moving Coil) yet many stereo shops recommend it for people with MM (Moving Magnet) phono preamps.

I've never really bought into that.

What's the truth?

Here is risabet's review of the preamp:


............here is what was said (final comment):
The phono section has none of the sound of SS, and is very quiet in the MC section
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Since I am a vinyl newbie, I don't mind asking "how does one change the capacitance load at the preamp?". The cartridge is MC, and the preamp has a switch to select for MC or MM cartridges. Assuming of course the cartridge still sounds bright after break-in.

Also, another question I forgot to ask earlier, is how do folks deal with static on their records? I cleaned about 20 records with the Disc Doctor system, and found them to be very staticky (sp?) afterwards. I re-rinsed to make sure all the cleaner was off, but they still seem to have a lot of static. Should I get one of those guns or something like Gruv-glide?
mondoribo said:
Should I get one of those guns
Yes, but I can't believe they are up to $80 now..........used to be $20 in the early 1980's. :p


Carbon fiber brush for touch ups.

Stylus cleaning fluid and brush (turn volume down all the way).

Nasty used records (or any record) can be steamed cleaned with a travel sized cleaner, don't steam off the lables.:cool: Clean afterwards with Record Doctor - don't need any fluid on first pass if still wet from steam. Do it a second time with fluid.

Note: If you have not used the MC selector on the preamp before you are also breaking in your phono section at the same time - give it time.
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Thanks. I have the carbon fiber brush, but it looks like I have some shopping to do.
Steam cleaning looks interesting, but I'm guessing I'd melt the vinyl. :eek:
It's a low temp steam, not much chance of burning your hands - just enough to get wrinkles out of a pair of slacks. I have warped the record while doing it, but it seems to flatten out on the record doctor as it cools down. It helps to work quickly, evenly and hit both sides in the same session.

Sometimes there is a white film left on the felt of the record doctor (brush/suck it off). This is deep cleaning which I've only seen done with the orba-trac, and steaming is much easier.
kach22i said:
Yes, but I can't believe they are up to $80 now..........used to be $20 in the early 1980's. :p
zerostat. lasts forever. mine is just "zerostat", my dad's is "zerostat by discwasher". dunno who the current holder is.

kach22i said:

Carbon fiber brush for touch ups.
along the way of this road we call life i picked up an oracle branded carbon fiber brush. this one came with a drain wire. since i'm removing static i don't think i would hurt.
Now I do feel old :eek:

I still have the Discwasher set with the brush, the stylus brush and the ZeroStat Gun. I use the Zerostat on my records and not the Discwasher brush that ofter. A matter of fact I think I have two of those brushes(?). I do occasionally use the stylus brush that came with that set. I also have a softer brush that I had "back in the day" when I had a B&O turntable. (I still have it in a cabinet :cool: ) that I also use.
I also have a Hunt EDA carbon fiber brush that I use with every playing. This is new and it seems to work well. I also have Gruv-Glide that I use.
Some of my albums are 40 years old and still sound great even for their age for their age. There are some albums from my college days (1970's) that have seen better days that I still play sparingly. :D

Jsut a comment

I use a VPI 16.5 Record Cleaner with RRL Supervinyl Wash for cleaning. I use a Hunt carbon fiber brush for static on every play and use Last Stylus Cleaner with a Mister Clean Magic Eraser rub followed by a light brushing with the Last Stylus Brush ever few records.
kach22i said:
I've read that the Blue Point is MC (Moving Coil) yet many stereo shops recommend it for people with MM (Moving Magnet) phono preamps.

I've never really bought into that.

What's the truth?


The Blue Point Special is a high out MC that is compatible with a MM phono input. It is a decent entry level cartridge.
Hola. Also in some MM preamps you can adjust the capacitance. This will make you to control the brightness (not all the time) in some systems. As you might know, the capacitance does not affect the MC (low output) cartidges, but to my ears, it does to the high output ones. Capacitors allow you to kill that brightness perhaps. More capacitance, less bright the sound is. Trust you ears and play with them. Who know, it might work for you!
Happy listening,
Thanks, Roberto. I have learned a lot from everybody in the last week about turntables, cartridges, break-in, static, phono stages, etc.. I borrowed a Shure stylus force gauge from a friend and rechecked the tracking force. I also borrowed a Zerostat, which helped a lot with the static problem, so I will order one, along with a record clamp. On the preamp front, my TAD-150 has a phono stage built in but it is only MM/MC selectable. After doing some research I see that there are other options available (even low cost options!) that allow selectable gain, impedance, capacitance and a subsonic filter. There seem to be several available on Audiogon like the Pro-ject Tube box or Monolithic PS2. I will wait for the cartridge to settle in and think about adding on of these. Some of them are small enough, so maybe my wife won't notice yet another purchase. I still only have about 5 hours on the cartridge but its sounding better already. Thanks to everybody for their advice.