Gear / Advice Djing Vinyl records

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Handinon

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Oct 1, 2014
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Depends on the use ...

The cartridge angle to the groove is basically the same in both. If you trace a line between the pivot point of the arm and the cartridge shell, all those arms maintain the same angles through the entire playable area of the record. Only a linear tracking arm (or maybe the old Garrard Zero tonearms that changed the cartridge angle as it moved across the record) will maintain the correct geometry to match the way they were cut.

Now an S arm will generally have more mass and may give a bit more rigidity and the higher weight might help tracking in a club.

So, if you're going to scratch .. "S" shaped .. otherwise it's up to preference. My home TT is a linear tracker (Yamaha PX-3).
Yes and No

Fixed headshell arms have an offset head that allows for the cartridge to be angled enough that it minimizes tracking error. Removable headshells, which are absolutely necessary for DJ'ing, usually do not allow for this. When you use a removable headshell on an angled or "S" shaped arm, you can still get the tracking error pretty low (at the two null points), but when used on a straight arm, tracking error on the inner grooves of a record will be quite high. This is actually made worse since the pivoting straight arms on turntables designed for DJ'ing are extremely short. Because of this, a straight pivoting arm should only be used for DVS/Time Code.

Here's a good explanation of this. Imagine trying to get the "two null points" by twisting the cartridge mounting screws in the elongated slots of the headshell - which is what you would have to do if that headshell was attached to a straight arm -
 

steve149

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Sep 26, 2011
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Yes and No

Fixed headshell arms have an offset head that allows for the cartridge to be angled enough that it minimizes tracking error. Removable headshells, which are absolutely necessary for DJ'ing, usually do not allow for this. When you use a removable headshell on an angled or "S" shaped arm, you can still get the tracking error pretty low (at the two null points), but when used on a straight arm, tracking error on the inner grooves of a record will be quite high. This is actually made worse since the pivoting straight arms on turntables designed for DJ'ing are extremely short. Because of this, a straight pivoting arm should only be used for DVS/Time Code.

Here's a good explanation of this. Imagine trying to get the "two null points" by twisting the cartridge mounting screws in the elongated slots of the headshell - which is what you would have to do if that headshell was attached to a straight arm -
The arm length is is different than the pivot to cartridge length, which is pretty much dependent on the location of the pivot. As I said, it depends on the use model .. just playing vinyl and I might still opt for a straight arm. DVS or any platter gymnastics and I agree the removable head is a necessity.

And there are straight arms with removable heads:

1582605587477.png

Denon DP-300F

1582605652631.png
 

steve149

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The arm length will still be too short to get a proper cartridge "overhang".

I was trying to leave the math out of this. Bottom line, if the OP wants the best fidelity out of his records, stay away from DJ turntables with short straight arms -
That article is for a special straight arm with straight headshell .. I definitely agree with you that those should be avoided.
 

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
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Mix .. you can disagree, but you'd be wrong. EVERY time a piece of vinyl gets played, there is damage done to the surface
I have to agree with Mix. In theory the mechanical aspect of vinyl lends itself to your conclusion but, in real world practice it may take 20 years for that wear and tear to amount to anything acoustically significant. I have at least 20 years of commercial vinyl use as a full time club DJ to back it up. I worked through the era when vinyl was the ONLY choice for DJs. I used, abused, and worked with vinyl in all kinds of conditions and managed vinyl collections for venues and mobiles. In all those years of working with vinyl wear from use was never an issue. I was more likely to have a defective press right out of the shrink wrap than to wear out a top ten hit by repeated play seven days a week.

The single determining factor in how long a given record can be used effectively is whether or not the DJ returns the records to their protective sleeves upon every change. This is why well designed professional DJ booths always had record racks to properly store the medium.

DJs who habitually pile up the vinyl discs around them, or drop them into bins sans their full twin sleeves will experience a rapid deterioration and failure of the records due to gross surface wear rather than anything that happens while it's on the platter or in play. This is typically what home users did with their records - leaving them strewn all about the home or listening space. Many part-time and hobbyists carried that same behavior into their DJ gigs.

The surface of a vinyl record is grooved giving the entire surface the qualities of a wood-working file, yet - the material is soft. Lack of care wears these grooves down (reducing the walls which guide the styli) and fills them with debris (ramps the styli must jump or cut.) Proper use of the medium dictates that you never have more records out of their sleeve than you have turntables to place them on.

The second biggest culprit is sunlight. Nothing destroys vinyl faster than the expansion that comes with rapid heat accumulation, or direct UV radiation. put an exposed piece of black vinyl in direct sunlight on a nice day - and it will be unusable in about 30 seconds.
 

Proformance

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To the original poster - don't over think it. There should be plenty of good used DJ gear out there from the vinyl era. You can probably get some really high quality stuff for pennies on the dollar - but, you will have to be patient in your search and diligent in your quality control to make a good score.

Two turntables (direct drive, high torque, and pitch control) and ANY mixer with phono inputs and dedicate cue functions. That's it - 3 pieces of gear with the quality and features that will prevent the gear itself from getting in the way of your learning curve and enjoyment of the art. Additionally, learn to properly align the styli, set tracking weight, anti-skate, and tonearm height. These are the things that most seriously affect performance and fidelity on a turntable.

NO BELT DRIVE - ever! There's simply not enough reliable torque to advance a person's mixing skills without also developing bad habits that will be a problem later on.
 

Proformance

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Nov 6, 2006
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If you trace a line between the pivot point of the arm and the cartridge shell, all those arms maintain the same angles through the entire playable area of the record.
Perhaps as an engineering principle but, the "playable area" does not approach the distance to the moon. For an elliptical styli making planar movements the difference between the start of a 12" disc and it's end point is not acoustically significant.
 

djcrazychris

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I did my best to care for all my vinyl... however... as a club dj... who at times only played 30 seconds to a minute of each song... i didnt have the luxury of gingerly caressing each record one by one... stacks do happen... the energy of the floor dictated the time i could spend replacing records... the house and techno dj's played 6 minute songs.....so thats why they can all tuck their manhood between their legs and dantily wipe down each record with a soft cloth ...iron the dust cover...and place it perfectly back in its cute little road case...

If the OP wants to be a balls to the wall dj... then my advice stands.... in this day and age...with the power and ease of digitizing.... its ridiculous not to

cc
 

Proformance

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 6, 2006
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I did my best to care for all my vinyl... however... as a club dj... who at times only played 30 seconds to a minute of each song... i didnt have the luxury of gingerly caressing each record one by one... stacks do happen... the energy of the floor dictated the time i could spend replacing records... the house and techno dj's played 6 minute songs.....so thats why they can all tuck their manhood between their legs and dantily wipe down each record with a soft cloth ...iron the dust cover...and place it perfectly back in its cute little road case...

If the OP wants to be a balls to the wall dj... then my advice stands.... in this day and age...with the power and ease of digitizing.... its ridiculous not to

cc
30 seconds is a long time. I did much the same but, with a properly designed record rack all of the records are at your fingertips and easily moved in and out of their sleeves. Stacks are a habit - or consequence of poor booth design, not a hazard of good mixing.