Stanton DJ Knowledge Base

Troubleshooting using the Timecode Calibration Meters

The Timecode Calibration Meters can be used to detect not only the level of the timecode, but also other potential problems with the equipment you’re using.  The following are examples of some problems you might encounter and what they will look like on the meters.

This is what a normal timecode reading should look like.  The white pattern should be just inside of the black circle, and it should be mostly symmetrical.  This particular example was taken from a vinyl timecode source.  You will notice a slightly more well defined pattern when a CD source is used.


This is what the timecode meter looks like when the source is at lower than optimal level.  You can see that the pattern is still circular, but it needs to fill out the black space in the meter.  Use the Gain knobs on the front of the Scratchamp to bring up the level of your timecode source until it looks like the picture of the normal timecode.



In these examples, one of the stereo channels is missing.  You should check the RCA cables going to the Scratchamp from your decks and make sure that they are all connected and working properly.  If you’re sure that the cables are correctly attached and working, the next place to check would be your cartridge.  If you’re using a “Concord type” cartridge, remove the cartridge from the tonearm and check to make sure the contacts are intact and clean.  If you’re using a headshell mounted cartridge, make sure all the wires connecting the cart to the headshell are still attached.  If you’ve done the above and are still experiencing the problem, swap carts and see if the problem travels to the other deck.  If it doesn’t, this could point to several hardware problems with the turntable (including a bad RCA cable or problems with the contacts or signal wires inside the tonearm).


Another minor problem you can detect using these examples is whether your decks are “channel heavy” (one side is louder than the other).  If the waveform is taller than it is wide, then your signal is left heavy.  If it’s wider than it is tall, then it’s right heavy.  You can see in the normal timecode pic that my deck is slightly left heavy.



Rumble is low frequency noise that gets fed back into the turntable.  It’s most often caused by either the house PA or booth monitors being either too loud or too close to the turntables.  This loud noise turns into vibration which is picked up by the turntable and transferred to the needle.  Most turntables have some sort of vibration dampening built in, but rumble can affect even the best turntables if the problem isn’t addressed beyond the turntable.  The Final Scratch 2 software also has a way of addressing rumble (by adjusting the rumble threshold – the red circle you see in all of the meter pics), but it can only deal with so much.  The best way to deal with rumble is to isolate your turntable from vibration as much as possible.  There are several commercial products on the market that are made to fix rumble (one being the FreeFloat product by Freefloat BV).  There are also several home made solutions that work to varying degrees.  There are also solutions that don’t involve additional gear.  If you’ve determined that the source of rumble is your booth monitors, try moving the monitors away from the turntables.  Loud speakers should never be on the same surface as a turntable.  If the house PA is your problem, it’s likely a sub cabinet is your problem.  If you can track down the cabinet closest to the DJ booth and lower its volume it will help immensely.


A ground loop is an electrical condition that can cause a persistent hum in your audio.  They can almost always be identified by a diagonal line in the timecode meter.  For assistance with identifying and troubleshooting a ground loop, please search for the terms “ground loop” in the Knowledge Base.

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