stylus/turntable acting as mic, picking up background noises

Hi. My set up is: [input] Ortofon 2m red cartridge > Technics 1210 turntable > Rega Fono Mini A2D Phono Pre-Amplifier > 2013 Mac Pro; using Audacity 2.1.0 > [output] Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 > Yamaha HS8 active speakers. I have a strange problem which I can’t solve. Can anyone help, please? I have been digitising my vinyl purchases for years with no problem (using a macbook, a Behringer external sound card, Technics 1210 and mixer). The set up I describe at the beginning of this post is new. My problem is that my turntable seems to be picking up background sounds when I record. My audacity preferences settings, OS X system preference settings (sound); and Audio Midi settings in Utilities in OS X contain no obvious mistakes - I have been through them with a fine tooth comb. Not every background sound makes it to the audacity recording, only loud ones such as hand claps. This only happens when the stylus is sitting on the vinyl - EVEN IF the turntable is switched off! When I lift the stylus arm off the vinyl, the problem stops, even though audacity is still recording. I really don’t think the issue is related to an internal mic setting on the mac pro. Can anyone help, please? Once I have cracked this problem I am going to digitise my whole collection - again! WAVs this time, though! Many thanks.

You can do some sleuthing. Start Audacity recording and scratch the area just to the left of the FN key on your MBP. Then thumb (gently) the stylus on the turntable. I expect only the stylus to make (loud) noise.

I’m not shocked that loud noises get transmitted through the record to the stylus. The combination is a microphone. The record will collect sound waves and turn them into mechanical vibrations. The cartridge’s job is to turn mechanical vibrations into an electrical signal (or two). If you have a top quality turntable with good suspension and vibration suppression, you can minimize this, but the effect never goes away.


And yes, archive sound files need to be in uncompressed, top quality WAV, not MP3. You can make an MP3 or any other compressed sound format for any player from a WAV, but you can’t go backwards. Once you compress sound into MP3, the MP3 compression damage is burned in and it’s permanent.


Excellent Koz, thank you (from London, by the way). What you say about the turntable makes total sense. I will do some sleuthing tomorrow. Cheers.

What Koz says - and a few points:

  1. what is your TT sitting on? Is it a resonant surface, like say a wooden desk? The best cart/arm sound isolation I ever achiewved was in a house I owned a while back that had a big thick slate slab installed as a shelf next in the alcove next to the fireplace and embedded in the brickwork (the previous owner installed it as a drinks shelf - but it made an excellent TT mount).

  2. Do ensure that in your settings you certainly do have your internal mic absolutely definitely switched off. Koz may remember that a while back I accidentally had the computer mic active in addition to the preferred recording input :blush:

  3. When recording the vinyl monitor with headphones rather than speakers - and certainly not with speakers turned up loud as the cart may well pick up the sound.


Just had a look at your TT on t’interweb and I would suggest detaching the plastic cover while you are recording (keep any cats you may have well away from the deck while you are recording like this).