Counter weights on your turntable...another dirty little secret?

This is more of a public awareness post for us Mid Hifi peeps who have recently made the  dive back into vinyl. I did back in 2020 and did my research and decided on a packaged deal- please be gentle on me- from one of the two biggest online sellers out there. They set up too and provided some simple instructions to finish the set up when it arrived.

Fast forward a couple year down the road and I am thinking I should bring the table to my local audio repair guy in Northern Litchfield County, CT for a check up. I was concerned that maybe something was off, and man was I  glad I did.

My turntable is ProJect Classic SB- you know that 1970's vintage looking one,  coupled with the second generation Sumiko Oyster Blue Point II. This guy is extremely  busy with endless warranty and service work- so it sat for time before he could check it out, but he knows  what he is doing. He soon discovered that the most he  could track the cartridge was at 1.47 grams-the Sumiko is supposed to track at 2 grams.

The problem was the counter weight. Next challenge was finding the right one and it was not an easy task, as tech support was tough for ProJet and he ended up fining something posted online back in 2018 on counter weights for ProJect turntables. He also reached out to a peer, who has a very  reputable brick and mortar store here in western Connecticut for assistance.


As many of you may know most online sellers do not even sell counter weights.


He eventually found what I needed- for only $35 too, but I was  shocked that this turntable was paired up with this cartridge-and this was not a cheap one either, it could not even track it properly. Why would that even happen? So for over two years I have not  gotten the  best  performance I could from this set up.


So as they say buyer beware and add this tale to the long list of questions when sourcing a table, verifying settings, if your new table was set up at the  factory correctly, or upgrading your cartridge



The supplied counterweight is a standard  

"no. 183 for cartridges with weight between 7 - 14g"

The chosen cartridge weighs 6.3 gm

The online seller didn't do his homework.  It most likely wasn't  possible to get the weight any closer to the tonearm pivot.

Exactly, ghdprentice - support local dealers who are invested in customer service rather than pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap online vendors.


fuzztone wrote, "If you can't setup your own TT you have NO business owning one."

What as piece of bloviated bullshit.  I am blind in one eye and my sighted eye has required retina surgery inside the eyeball twice in the last seven years to retain the vision I have with it.  A good turntable set up guy is a must for me.  On the other hand I have designed and built my own speakers for the last thirty-eight years.  How would you like it if I said those who can not design and build their own speakers have no business owning speakers. 

+1 @jasonbourne52 

Learning how to setup your cartridges is an absolute necessity if you are serious about getting the sound you like. There is so much you can do with your cart and arm to mold the sound to your ears, it's literally like an equalizer.  I don't understand folks who rely on pros to do it for them. They are missing all the options and enjoying only one sound, the one the "pro" picked with his install, whether it was done correctly or not.

For rookies on a budget with this issue, tape a nickel to the headshell then balance the arm via instructions at Vinyl Engine. That would probably get the tracking force in a workable range. If the nickel is too heavy, use a dime. Nickel too light, use a quarter. Et cetera.