"Muddy" sound from vinyl

Naim Uniti Star
Rega Planar 6 c/w Ania MC
Arcam rPhono
NAC A5 cables

I have noticed that the sound that comes from the Rega is very “muddy” compared to streaming (Roon / TIDAL), and so don’t use my records as much as I would like. Fearing that it might have been due to the position of the deck WRT one of the speakers I have just moved it to between & slightly behind the speakers - about 2m from each - but still the sound is muddy. I have tried several LPs and whilst some tracks make it easier to spot, the muddiness continues.

The stylus is little used (maybe 100 LP sides in 2 years), always looked after with great care, and the deck lid removed during playback. Even a brand new 180gm disc isn’t great, especially during a vocal section (Peter Gabriel / Bozz Scaggs etc).

What might the cause &/or solution be? I have unplugged / re-connected everything to ensure a good fit.


Have you played a bit with loading impedance of your phono stage?
I see 50 to 550 ohm, maybe it is worth to try to find the right load before looking at anything else. IMHO :relaxed:


Has it always sounded muddy or is this a recent thing?


It is certainly more noticeable now than before, but that could be due to an element of Emperors New Clothes when I first bought the deck & not wanting to think the sound was sub-par. :hot_face:

I clean the stylus with a clean pot of Audio-Technica AT617a gel, and the discs with a mix of an ACC-SEES velvet “brush” and a Milty Zerostat.

I am using the settings as recommended my Rega (obtained via my dealer, Audio-T), ie Input Load 50R and 440pF, Phono Gain 52dB, with Rumble set to Off, and the cartridge type is MC.

I’m not a MC user but it may be that the coil is damaged in the cartridge?
Perhaps a call to Rega may assist.
I know that some MCs are serviceable.
Just a suggestion.

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Thanks - I will ask them.

Meanwhile, tracking is 1.7g, which is at the lower end of Rega’s suggested 1.75 - 2.00g

I’m wondering if this is a loading issue. When you bought the Rega did you try it with the Arcam in the dealer?

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No, I didn’t. Some might suggest that I shouldn’t have bought the Arcam rPhono & gone for a Rega Fono MC, but at the time of purchase I needed a combined MC/MM phono stage. And whilst the rPhono was more expensive (~£400, but I paid £320) than the Fono MC is now (£249), I am slightly reluctant to buy a new box if I don’t have to.

But I will see if Audio-T are up to lending me one to test …

Acording to the Rega website and the Ania MC manual (pdf copy available on the Rega website) the correct loading is 100 ohms. I would reset both channels to 100 ohms before looking at any other changes.



Thanks @Boxed-In - I will give that a try.

FWIW there is a very small screwdriver “pot” on the back on the rPhono that is labelled 50-550 Ω, so getting a precise value will always be a bit hit & miss.

What is your Planar 6 sitting on?

Are you using the cleaning gel correctly?

Does running at the upper end of Rega’s tracking force range make any difference?

Hope you can get it sorted since playing records should be a pleasure.


Worth checking the cart is tight (correct amount), in the headshell.

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Yes, most carts I have used prefer top end of recommend downforce.


Forgive me for stating the obvious. Do check the plinth is level and the platter. Check the asimuth looks correct. I don’t know how the bias works on a Rega, others may advise.

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The Planar is sitting on top of a CustomDesign Milan 6 rack withan IRAP isolation shelf supported by three balls/legs. It is as level as I can get it to be, and the floor itself is solid.

I have tended to gently raise the gel up to the stylus, but now read that I should let the stylus drop on to the gel - hopefully I haven’t damaged it in the process despite always being very gentle …

I will try increasing the tracking to 2.00g.

Thanks All !


“Muddy” sounds like cartridge load to me too.

According to Arcam’s manual the gain for MC starts at 60dB and not 52 as mentioned.

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I would definitely try turning up the load resistance a bit - too low a load and too much capacitance could well give a rather over-damped sound

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Have there not been instances where the cantilever on some cartridges eroded from using liquid stylus cleaner? May be worth looking closely at. I seem to remember it was aluminum cantilevers that were more susceptible. Just a thought. I have heard tables with broken or bad cantilevers. They do sound muffled or muddy.



Thanks all; I have increased the load “pots” to circa 120 Ω but if anything that is worse. I will see if Audio-T might bring up / lend me a different phono stage to see if that helps.

To complete this thread, I took my Rega P6 & Arcam rPhono down to Audio-T in Brighton this morning to check it against their equipment. Replacing my rPhono with a Rega Fono MC made a noticeable difference, so I bought one. Now back home & all is good.

John @ Audio-T was fabulously knowledgeable and helpful. But it is clear that perhaps 15-20% of my “problem” is down to the not 100% pressing / mastering / whatever of the LP. I will now try to locate an earlier version on Discogs to see how they compare.

Again, thanks to all on here too.