Phono Problems

Trouble in turntable-land? Don't panic...but don't expect instant answers. Turntables are much more complex than "plug and play" digital. Here are some tips to get some basic phono problems solved.

Hum and Noise

Stop and read this: it is totally normal to have some residual hum and noise in a phono system, especially when you have the volume cranked. This is the reality of having to amplify the tiny signal from the cartridge to line levels. If you want a totally silent system, probably best to stick with digital.

That said, if you're having BIG hum and noise problems—loud, in-your-face kind of problems—here are some tips for resolving them:

1. Ensure you are using short (1m or less), well-shielded cables from the turntable to the phono preamp.

2. Ensure there is a short (1m or less), solid ground connection from the turntable to the phono preamp.

3. Don't stack the phono preamp on top of your power amp, preamp, or any electronics that may emit a magnetic field--this will cause hum. Same goes for the turntable—keep electronics away from it as well.

4. Check the wiring from the cartridge to the phono output to ensure it is solid and undamaged.

5. Even if you have the most perfect $10,000/meter cables from the turntable to the preamp, swap them out as a first troubleshooting step. Same goes for the ground wire.

Hum and Noise with Massive Distortion

1. When using an external phono preamp such as Mani, make sure you are plugging it into a line-level input on your preamp or integrated amp. That is, any input EXCEPT "Phono." If you're plugging it into phono, you're running the signal through two phono preamps—no bueno!

2. Similarly, when using an external phono preamp such as Mani, make sure your turntable doesn't have a built-in phono preamp. If it does, you're also using two phono preamps, and will get massive hum and distortion.

The Right Gain Setting

1. The right gain setting can be very different between different cartridges, but the stock 42dB setting is usually the best place to start.

2. The right gain setting gives you good volume without too much noise, and no distortion.

3. Trying different gain settings is fine, but don't switch gains while Mani is on, per the manual.