I know most people into vinyl know this, but cart alignment is critical. I didn't realize how critical until I picked up a new phono stage. I was getting what I thought was distortion during some passages, but it turned out that my cart was just very slightly misaligned. I had never noticed the issue with my old phono stage, so it had me rather puzzled until I finally figured it out after about a week or so (with the help of Tom over at Aural Thrills). After correcting the misalignment, the system really smoothed out and I never hear my cart breaking up, not to mention overall response, imaging, etc. are all improved.