Hum and pops with New VPI Prime 21

Hello!

I just recently upgraded my turntable from an Rega RP3 with a VPI Prime 21. I also purchased the Nordost Weisline tonearm cable.

Before the upgrade I was running the Rega RP3 with a Hana ML cartridge with a Superline into the Aux 2 in my Supernait 3.

I never had any issues with the previous setup, but after meticulously setting up the new VPI, I started to hear farily loud pops and a consistent hum. Oddly, I disconnected the Weisline grounding wire from the Superline, and the consistent hum stopped.

The loud pops sound like static shocks to me, which makes me think something just isn’t properly somehwere down the line.

Setup is:
VPI Prime 21 TT → Superline
HiCap DR → Supernait 3
XPS DR → NDX2
CD5si

Any ideas on what I can try here?

Thanks!!

The hum stopping when you disconnect the tone arm ground cable sounds like you may have introduced an earth loop with this connection. Removing it breaks the loop.

You have two other sources in your system that can already provide a signal ground to mains earth connection, the NDX2 and CD5Si. You only want this connection in one place, so it’s worth checking the NDX2 ground switch is set to float.

Do the pops only occur when you switch the VPI off and on or during playback ?

Is the VPI on the same power strip as the rest of your Naim kit ?

What loading plugs are on your Superline ?

The hum sounds like a ground loop, as others have diagnosed - I had one and removing the armlead earth was necessary to fix it. On the Stiletto LP12, we also removed the earth on the sub-chassis, but I am not sure there is any second earth on the VPI to worry about, and it sounds that you have found the solution to that part.

Another issue I had when (briefly) changing arm cables recently was that my Superline’s RCA sockets were not making a good connection with the RCA lugs favoured by Lyra - hence loud crackles and worse.

For the crackle, you could try rotating the RCA plugs in the Superline sockets - if it makes a noise, you have found your problem.

If you still have residual noise, adding a 1nF capacitance plug (versus none) can help. So can higher values than 1nF, but they can reduce musical vigour too, so it is not the first thing to try imho. Moving the TT’s power to be as removed as poss from the mains supply for the rest can make a worthwhile difference too - if you can.

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Yes - consult the Dealer who sold you the VPI.

They should know far more about this sort of problem, than most on here.

But… YMMV… :expressionless:

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I’ve come across this kind of thing before in the factory with a high end deck we had on loan. There were terrible static cracks every now and then. Initially we thought it might be a poor electrical contact between cartridge body and tonearm head shell but there was some suspicion that it was being generated by the deck itself - likely the bearing that needed grounding.

However, Nick may be on to the right track with the RCA plugs and sockets. The Next Gen sockets can be tricky with anything other than their own plugs (make sure you orientate the plugs properly) or else with plugs that have a locking collar that you can really tighten up hard. A poor contact here will at best give poor sound, and at worst you’ll get actual buzzing and crackling.

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Charge to BNC on the
Phono cable it sounds so much better on the Superline.

As long as you don’t switch to BNC by employing a pair of BNC-RCA converters like my emergency set…

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Hi James, thanks for the response!

Definitely was popping when I turned the VPI motor on and off. Few pops during playback, and I noticed between songs the consistent hum.

When I unplugged the grounding wires from the tonearm cable on both ends, the hum stopped. The pops persisted though occasionally.

Confirmed that the NDX2 is set to “Floating”.

Yes same power strip, AV Options SuperWiremold, but I took it out to try and plugged the VPI motor directly into the remaining Hubbell outlet from AV Options.

I also checked all RCA connections (seemed secure), and re-plugged the cartridge into the tonearm.

Currently only using the 100r in the Superline.

With the above it definitely seems better, but I’ll give it more of a test later today.

@IanRobertM bought it from an online retailer, but VPI is based out of Clifton, New Jersey (not far from me) which factored into my decision on this deck!

Lot’s of VPI dealers around as well, so support shouldn’t be far, if all else fails.

Try the BNC input, use adaptors (make sure they are 50 ohm) if you need to - not the best solution performance-wise but will at least mean you can remove one possibility if things remain the same, or if the situation clears up then you have found the cause.

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That’s good regarding the hum and also confirming the NDX2 ground switch position. I’d try the 1nF loading plug as suggested by Nick, to see if that help with the occasional popping.

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Installed the 1nf per as suggested.

Still getting the pops, unfortunately with 1nf. Not bad sound-wise, but it definitely altered the bass to be more controlled.

The issue sounds similar to the loaner problems you had @Richard.Dane, as the spindle itself definitely seems charged and pops if you touch it.

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I own a Prime with a Stageline+ Hicap DR without any hum but some static charges occasionally.
First of all almost all statics disappear washing the records and using a Audioquest carbon fiber brush before playing the records.
However your issue Is known in the US by owners and members of the VPI forum.
I remember that one of the solution that were successful was an additional ground wire from the bottom of the deck. There should be a screw close to the bearing houses. I cannot check now.
Last but not the least…are you using a mat or are you going “bare platter”…?

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I was thinking the same.

I plan to purchase a grounding wire and run it directly from the TT or junction box to the SN3.

I’m disappointed in the situation overall, and a lot of folks are also reporting similar issues across VPI models. I’m considering returning it if it can’t be remedied, as I don’t think I can live with the pops.

I’ll see what the retailer thinks, and perhaps VPI can offer some support.

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Grounding issues can drive you crazy…leaving you with no joy. Best of luck, I feel your pain :cry

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I ran a ground wire from the bearing of my TT (not a VPI) to try and cure static, no popping hum present but with a cartridge running at 3g (SPU Royal N) there was enough static to pick up nearby dust when I lifted the record. I compared direct to earth at the wall socket to my 552’s grounding post to adding it to the superline’s grounding post along with the arm board ground. My turntable insulates the motor from the bearing, from the arm board and the arm wand is wooden, thus insulating the cartridge body. There was a difference in how the music hung together between the three grounding locations with the superline being the best option. It didn’t do much for the static but did improve the sound.

Hi, sometimes it is useful to pull away (sorry for my bad English, hope you understand what I mean) the motor from the turntable a little bit. And keep the cables from the tt to the phono pre away from all other cables. I had this problem only with naim (nothing against naim but it seems that the electronic is more „sensible“).

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I have eliminated the static charge that I experienced intermittently when removing a record from the TT by using the Furutech De-Stat III Static Charge Eliminator. I hold this over the centre spindle before removing the record. It may also work with the Zerostat gun.

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Totally get what you’re saying.

I had to pull the motor about 1.25" to get the speed right using my KAB SpeedStrobe.

Cleared from wires, still getting the static pops.

I checked this out, pretty neat!

$400 seems like a lot, but it gets excellent marks from what I can tell.