Sibilance! (And how cabling might affect it??)

Hi guys,

New to the community here (have owned my Uniti Atom for about 6 months) and love my new baby. However, I’ve been dealing with vocal sibilance and distortion on certain brand new records (especially in inner grooves, but not solely). It’s far beyond what’s “normal” and I’ve played with skate, tracking pressure, etc. to no end.

Today, I stumbled upon this extremely enlightening post by @Kryptos who happens to have had my EXACT setup (Rega P6, Ania cart): Vinyl sibilance - your advice - #222 by Innocent_Bystander

In it, he mentioned that upgrading his Star’s cabling solved the sibilance (though he also swapped out the Ania for the Ania pro). Wondering if anyone has had similar success with swapping cables? And do you have any recs for cabling? (I’m using a Uniti Atom)

@Kryptos – would be especially interested to get your thoughts here…

Appreciate your help, guys!

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I took it from that thread that it was the upgrade to Ania Pro that brought the biggest improvement. Also worth keeping the stylus scrupulously clean. A good stiff stylus brush is useful here.


It’s certainly a good idea to try some NACA5. I’ve recently made a switch and found it to sound great with the Atom even though it’s not absolutely necessary. It’s just good to know that it’s not your issue I suppose. I doubt that cables are your issue. You didn’t mention what you are using for cables unless I missed it. Do you get the same issue when streaming?

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The Ania Pro has a better stylus than the Ania, that said I don’t really have sibilance as an issue with my P6/Ania. I doubt the answer is in cabling though. My P6 really didn’t like not being perfectly level but otherwise seems pretty forgiving of set up… Can you get someone to check the cart, it could the stylus is damaged or misaligned? good luck

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This sounds like a cartridge alignment issue…1st check cartridge bolts (yes they do back off) then check the absolute cleanliness of the stylus… then alignment very very carefully…read up about this… and also check the vta and stylus force (you may need to use upper range for your cartridge). Finally check with dealer see if cartridge is loaded correctly…impedance wise…being Rega and Naim it should be ok) At each step…test…it is painstaking…but worth it. Finally cabling…neat with good spacing and minimal crossing wires all contacts need to be cleaned…

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Welcome :slight_smile:

Is it just new records? As a couple of posts mention keeping your stylus clean, how do you clean your records and stylus at the moment? Seems weird it could be an alignment issue given the difference between new and old records.

I went for years with nothing more than a carbon brush. Having bought a basic record cleaner and some stylus care products recently I would say sibilance is now conspicuous by it’s absence!

I do get the odd bad sounding inner track, but might put that down to a minor alignment issue, the cleaning regime seems to have helped.

[edit: just read a bit of the thread you link… definitely seemed to be the cartridge swap that fixed it! Good luck resisting a bit of cartridge shopping :wink: ]

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Thanks, everyone, for your helpful responses! A few direct replies:

@Mark84 I didn’t even know there was Naim-centric speaker cable, that’s crazy. And while I’m sure it won’t help me with this issue, I’m wondering (independently) if it’s really worth $500??? Any chance you could clarify how, exactly, it improves playback? (Oh, and no, I don’t get the same sibilance issue when streaming, so it’s clearly phono-related…)

@KiwiMarra Yeah, my deck is perfectly level and was set up by a renowned pro shop. I don’t think this is a cart setup issue… I think I might just be super sensitive to sibilance and the the elliptical shape of the stylus on the Ania causes a good amount, while the speakers I’m using (Dynaudio Evoke 10s) are especially unforgiving. I think I might be stuck with this until I wear out the cart?

@Richieroo Again, I think this is less of a setup issue, as I’ve been pretty careful about alignment and loading. I’m going to swap out the cable to see if it has any affect, but as I previously mentioned… I think it’s just the combination of speakers / stylus that I’m using.

@gthack I currently clean with Onzow Zerodust (the sticky pad thing) and occasionally I will use a stiff, wet brush (AM Clean Sound). It’s not just new records – it’s just on records where the mastering is especially hot and the dynamic range is poor. So the sibilance is there on the recording (I can hear it when i play digital versions), but it gets taken to unpleasant levels when.

A few records that are especially bad: Def Leppard’s “Hysteria,” Dave Matthews “Under the Table and Dreaming,” Squeeze “Argybargy” (cue joke about how those records are just bad, period. ha.)

Stuff like Jazz at the Pawnshop, Hugh Masekela’s “Hope” or anything by Steely Dan sounds as it should (fantastic fidelity).

Ultimately, again, I think I might just have to deal with it until I upgrade the whole system in a year or two…

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Hey thanks for reading about my adventure!

It was the upgrade from Ania to Ania Pro that solved it in the end. I tried a lot of things first but at the end of the day it was the stylus difference.

The stylus of the Pro better follows the groove than the elliptical stylus of the normal Ania. Also elsewhere I found references to elliptical styli being more prone to sibilance.

We also reproduced it with the Ania of my dealer so it really is inherent in the cartridge.

However it must be said that for instrumental music the Ania works perfectly. But for vocals and especially some (my kryptonite was Nick Cave) it just went wild.

If you change to the Pro it will cut down your sibilance to only cases where the vinyl pressing is actually sibilant.

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Oh two more things

My dealer tried the Ania on their P8 with the same sibilance as result.

And on Rega you can’t really misalign the cartridge cause of the three bolts.

Yeah, but those records are just bad, period. You should cue up some Hugh Masekela :slight_smile:

I did wonder how badly aligned the Rega could be, particularly if it shipped with it fitted?

Good luck with it anyway, particularly if you decide to replace the cart!

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This is hugely helpful – thank you. I am going to see if I can trade in my Ania for a Pro. Having read through your entire journey, it’s eerie how much it sounds JUST like what I’m dealing with – I even have the same issue on Let Love In! (Which sounds relatively fine digitally.) After so much research (and your proof), the problem is clearly the elliptical shape of the stylus when combined with the rest of my rig.

I’m sure the upgrade will help – now it’s just a mater of determining how / when I want to make the jump. Hopefully my Rega dealer will show me some mercy…

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Hahaha, it’s an all Hugh playlist right now…

And yeah, per Kryptos’s response, this isn’t an alignment issue, I’m sure of it. But appreciate the good luck wishes! I am gonna need it when negotiating with dealer…

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Tell them we sent you :slight_smile:

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I think you may be right as the issue is when the record is using the groves nearer the center…the last track on an LP is more difficult to track…so the better stylus follows it more accurately. I had it years ago with the K9 stylus…changed to ATOC7 and wow it tracked like a honey… you pays your money…and makes your choice…

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Thanks Richie. One other thing I’m curious about RE: stylus break-in, wondering if any of you can answer:

My dealer said that the Ania sounds good at first, then gets worse, then gets amazing after like, 100 hours. I’ve heard lots of different things about break-in (some say it’s bullshit, others swear that the stylus needs to get more flexible to really pull the audio out…)

Wondering if you guys have any thoughts / experience with this? (And particularly with the Ania, if anyone has it…)

Maybe @Kryptos still knows how many hours he had on the Ania? I can’t find it in the older thread

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Actually, you can, though not terribly, as there is a tiny bit of play.

That said, I’d bet on this just being a symptom of tracking limitations of the Ania.

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This, in fact, was the record I used to demo the problem to the dealer. Red Right Hand sits nicely nestled in the inner grooves and it went ballistic on my Ania. Then they tried it with some of their own records in the store and found the same issue. Initially they tested these tracks with an Apheta as comparison and the sibilance disappeared. Then they got the Ania Pro and retested and again the Ania Pro was free from that extreme problem.

Look, this seems to be a recording that is edging towards sibilance even in digital so on the Pro the S sounds are still pretty pronounced but sounds, to my ears, to be similar to the digital. And that horrible blast of sibilance I got from the Ania was gone.

Oh I had close to a 300 hours on it when it went. [Edited, wrote something silly before]

IMO break-in is not a myth at all. Both the Ania and the Pro definitely improved at the beginning. But that is true of most things HiFi. I cannot say that it was ever unlistenable like other say but I think that is personal taste and sensitivity.

The protractor you get in the box, I think, has a similar margin or error to misaligning the cartridge on the head visually and still tightening the bolts. I think if you align it properly so it sits obvious straight with the tree bolts attached it is gonna be pretty good.

Yeah one could do more and get more sensitive protractors etc but a slight misalignment is not the culprit here at all. It was confirmed by the dealer as well and is the choice of stylus on the Ania.

Not to mention if @JoeyRamon bought it factory fitted it would have been just that, fitted in the factory by Rega and QC’ed.

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From memory mine sounded a little less open from new not harsh…then they got better and better… stabilised after about 80 hours or so and that’s it… ultimately they go off but mine lasted ages… infact I have an LP12 with a 39 year old cartridge in it… and it still sounds good…probably not as good as a new one…but even so…

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