Cartridge Alignment

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by rtaylor76, Aug 9, 2018.

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  1. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    Let's hear it...

    What is your preferred alignment method? Stevenson, Baerwald, Löfgren B, or some other way, like whatever your turntable says or a linear tracker?

    What protractors and methods do you use to get that cartridge just tight in alignment?

    Do you even have a preference?
     
  2. LetMeBeFrank

    LetMeBeFrank Won't tell anyone my name is actually Francis

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    Looking forward to reading some methods!

    My orbit custom has either the factory alignment or one that @Vansen did when he owned it. It sounds fine to me but I don't have much experience, and this one sounds far better than the other turntables I've heard owned by friends or family. I'd like to check it though to make sure it's still in spec.
     
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  3. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Baerwald - not because I've tried alternatives, but because Baerwald and Stevenson arc protractors (more accurate than the common 2-point type) for Regas were (and still are) available at vinylengine and I prefer the philosophy of trying to equalize mistracking across the record rather than focusing just on the inner grooves as the Stevenson/Rega alignment does.

    Technics and Thorens are there too:

    https://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge-alignment-protractors.shtml

    Alternatively, if you know the pivot-to-spindle distance of your arm/turntable (vinylengine again), you can make a suitable arc protractor using Conrad Hoffman's little app ('Custom arc template generator' at http://conradhoffman.com/chsw.htm ).
     
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  4. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    The best alignment is no alignment, aka linear tracking.

    But for everyone else, Baerwald is most common as it provides the lowest average tracking error across the entire surface of a record. Some classical weenies like Stevenson for its low tracking error at the inner grooves. While Loefgren B DIN provides lower tracking error in the middle of the record than Baerwald, but higher distortion at the inner and outer grooves. I'm in the majority who use Baerwald because I listen to entire sides of LPs. But use what works best for you. There's shittons of info on cartridge alignment out there on the internet. VPI protractors align to Loefgren B, or very close to it, as I recall. I borrowed a Feickert protractor, and found that it didn't do any better than the protractor that came with my tonearm. I did find I preferred Baerwald to Lofgren B, and as I mentioned, have stuck with it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  5. luckybaer

    luckybaer Friend

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    I'm glad I have a system allowing detachable headshells and an S-shaped tonearm. This alignment stuff is something I appear to have, for the most part, dodged.
     
  6. luckybaer

    luckybaer Friend

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    I was an ignorant noob. I thought I had my cartridge good-to-go on my Technics SL-1210GR. Overhang was good-to-go, and I eyeballed the alignment. Things sounded OK, so wasn't worried.

    Out of curiosity, I picked up a Baerwald protractor, and checked to see if alignment was OK. Well, it was off - and it was pretty obvious when I took pictures.

    I took the time to align the cartridge correctly, balance the tonearm, and ensure proper VTF. It was worthwhile - I noticed a lower noise floor - especially when listening via headphones.

    As to why I used Baerwald... I just stumbled into it and found out what kind of protractor I had (based on the 2 null points) AFTER I purchased it.

    DON'T BE LIKE ME. Do things right and don't just eyeball it!!
     
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  7. monacelli

    monacelli Friend

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    Have you checked out Conrad Hoffman's awesome [arc template generator]? It's available in the 3rd link on that page. If you have access to a Windows machine, the template generator will allow you to create and print a protractor that is custom fit for your table. Take care to print it at the correct scale. You just have to know a few key measurements (e.g., pivot-to-spindle distance). The template generator allows you to choose from the main alignment types (i.e., Baerwald, Lofgren, Stevenson). @Biodegraded mentioned it a couple of posts ago, but it's worth reiterating because it's cool and free. It's really nice of Conrad to make it available at no cost.

    On Japanese decks with S-shaped tonearms, it's a good idea to think about the type of headshell you have when choosing an alignment target. For instance, if you have a headshell that doesn't permit zenith angle adjustments (like the Audio Technica MS-9), or you simply want your cartridge to sit straight in the headshell, it's best to stick with the Stevenson alignment. However, if your headshell allows some play in the zenith angle, you can dial in the Baerwald or Lofgren alignments, but the cartridge may be askew in the headshell. Not a problem, just a consideration. Fremer talks about this a little bit [here].
     
  8. westermac

    westermac Friend

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    Wow, this is over my head.

    Just set up my first system recently (SL-1400 and DL-103). I got a Technics alignment gauge on Amazon so I have the overhang set to 52mm-ish and the stylus centered-ish. Thought I was good to go but I gather that it requires more precision than that...

    Don't want to waste a good cartridge with poor alignment, any recommendations on which method to start with?
     
  9. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    See @monacelli 's post above. If you want Baerwald alignment on your 1400 I'd either use the Hoffman arc template generator with the pivot-to-spindle distance at this link; or, if you have a vinylengine ID or don't mind signing up, download the Technics arc protractor from this link.

    Note, as stated in the blurb, that "Technics arms do not use Baerwald alignment as standard, so you may have to offset the cartridge in the headshell in order to align with arc." IOW, dooing it properly will result in the cart appearing 'twisted' in the headshell (which I gather is what @luckybaer discovered above). Same thing with Regas - looks odd but works better across the record than the 'standard' alignment.
     
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  10. Pogo

    Pogo Acquaintance

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    I've used the MFSL Geodisc for going on 30 years, it's Baerwald,simple to use and yields better sound overall than any other protractor I've tried, and I've tried a lot of them. It's easy to get OCD with turntable setup but trust your ears. And your eyes.
     
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  11. luckybaer

    luckybaer Friend

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    Have you tried it with an s-shaped tonearm (like on Technics SL-1200 type turntables)? I have something from Hudson HiFi that works for me, but I've looked at the Geodisc online, and wondered if it was mainly for straight-tonearms or if the s-shaped tonearms were served well, too.
     
  12. Pogo

    Pogo Acquaintance

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    Geodisc works fine with any tonear m geometry as do most universal protractors. I have the Hudson Hifi platter size protractor which is a bargain vs the Geodisc but the Geodisc makes it easier to align the cantilever since you can't assume it's perfectly aligned in the cartridge body.....now there's a thought to get your OCD humming......
     
  13. luckybaer

    luckybaer Friend

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    Darn you!!!
     
  14. loki993

    loki993 Almost "Made"

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    Is it worth buying a protractor or something like the geo disc for ease of use or do most people use the free printed ones? I originally aligned my cart with one of the paper ones but I don't think I did a very good job, thought I did at the time, so I think I need to try to realign it. I mean I don't mind spending a few bucks to get it right. I think I need a force tracking gauge too right?
     
  15. luckybaer

    luckybaer Friend

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    Here is the alignment tool I use. I tried a couple of others, but this one is easiest for me. YMMV.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MU6AD2E/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Here's the scale I use to measure tracking force. One of the best investments I've made, since I swap out headshells/carts from time to time:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BXVYB66/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    For less than $50, I made my life much, much easier when it came to setting up my cartridges.
     

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