Looking for some guidance from experienced turntable maestros.
I've got a Pro-ject The Classic turntable which I've run various carts on: Ortofon 2m Blue, Black, Nagaoka MP-110 settling with a Nagaoka MP-200 and a Goldring E3 as a spare a year ago. I've had Regas before this and got good results with aligning via arc protractors obtained from another forum. From memory Stevenson worked well.
My problem with the Pro-Ject is I'm having a devil of a time resolving what I assume to be IGD but could well be something else. Both the Nagaoka MP-200 and Goldring E3 show up quite a bit of distortion from mid to end of record side. I notice this mainly in vocals, especially in loud chorus sections on rock albums or loud guitar solos or saxophone solos for example. Not every record. An example of this might be Talking Heads "Remain In Light" record. The wailing guitar solo on The Great Curve at end of side A ends up very distorted, slightly worse on right channel.
My tone arm is parallel to the playing surface, azimuth is dead perpendicular but I've experimented a tiny bit to see if that helped or hindered but got nowhere with that. The Pro-Ject comes with a two point alignment card, and I've got the Ortofon alignment card as well. Both the Nag and Goldring cantilevers are not perfectly straight with the cartridge body so I'm careful to align cantilever at the null points rather than by relying on cartridge body at null points. But I've also aligned by cartridge body just to see, still same issue.
What is perplexing me is I'm certain I'm near perfectly aligned say with the Ortofon alignment card but I still hear IGD on half my records and very noticeable as mentioned above with peak sections of loud solos or vocals etc. So this weekend I just experimented endlessly with angles and lengths on the tone arm head and just played inner groove to see if any variation worked. Couldnt get rid of the problem!
I've experimented with tracking weight, didn't help. I'm fairly lost on how anti skate works on this thing too with the weight hanging on the nylon wire. 3 settings I can see and I've tried them all and with no anti skate at all. Couldn't detect much difference but I might revisit that.
Am I correct in thinking (hoping) the Pro-Ject and Ortofon alignment cards are pretty useless? Would I have more success trying to source an arc protractor online for say Lofgren, Stevenson etc? I'm assuming the Ortofon and Pro-Ject cards are Baerwald?
I don't hear peak distortion or any real distortion from start of record to midway. And if the two last tracks are pretty quiet I can get away without hearing much IGD at all.
Pro-Ject is going directly into phono stage of my Marantz PM8005 then into Monitor Audio RX8s. I've eliminated speakers as issue as problem is present via headphones.
Pretty frustrating, very keen to hear opinions