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  • Magnifiers, Microscopes, Lights & Lighting.

    I suspect that many of you are well-covered with these very helpful, if not essential, accessories. I've never really paid much attention to them as I'm not a DIYer or much of a hands-on person, plus I've always had very good lighting (mostly natural) and a decent enough magnifier. Things however have changed, mainly due to my room now being in the basement with practically no natural light at all. I can no longer accurately identify LP matrix data or checking on cartridge condition, alignment, etc. I need some better lighting or at least a light and a stronger magnifier.

    I'm looking for suggestions on magnification strength and the type of light I should be looking for. I'm not a fan of those small loupe magnifiers and prefer something with a handle.

    Also, feel free to use this thread as a one-stop discussion.

    Thanks!
    Johnny
    Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

  • #2
    Following are some of the magnifiers and light gizmo's I use.

    Click image for larger version

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    I particularly like the Fluke Volt Light LVD1 with the integrated clip.

    Over the last few months, I have tried several microscopes but have not found any that can take a good closeup photo of a stylus. If anybody can recommend something, it would be highly appreciated.
    Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
    Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
    Phono 1: VPI Signature 21 Belt-Drive Turntable with 10” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Decade Phono Preamp
    Phono 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable with 12” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
    R2R Tape: Studer A810 with Bridge Console
    Digital: Lumin Network Player with Lumin NAS
    Cables: Genesis Advanced Technologies/Absolute Fidelity Interface Interconnects, Speaker, Phono and Power
    Power: Audio-Ultra Power System, IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
    Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM

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    • #3
      my most indispensable magnifier is the donegan. its the closest thing to hands free and one size fits all with interchangeable lenses. only thing is you'll look like dork wearing one, so says my wife.

      TechDAS | Graham Eng | ZYX | B.M.C. | Boulder | Magico

      "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

      Comment


      • Johnny Vinyl
        Johnny Vinyl commented
        Editing a comment
        That's cool. Thanks!

    • #4
      Good thread, Johnny! I have some to contribute. I also like the idea of using stuff that isn't "audiophile" approved -.
      More soon, I'll add a few of the things I use.

      Comment


      • #5
        Here's the lamp over my turntable- it is an old brass surgeon's lamp from a ship. It has a strange green cast to the filter and for some reason, makes it really easy to see details on the record. I find this the easiest way to read deadwax, though the green tint doesn't photograph well. I have a bunch of other lamps, magnifiers and loupes that I use, but that turntable lamp is my mainstay, along with some small flashlights, like mini-Maglite, for checking "stuff." I use a lamp over my cleaning machine that my wife bought (several of) at Ikea (I think). Inexpensive, two stage brightness and completely adjustable for height- it also swivels, so when I need to open up the Monks to drain or fiddle with it, the lamp is easily readjusted for that.

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        • #6
          I agree, lighting and magnification are critical tools, at least for my eyes.

          Posted this one before. Understand yr preference for something handheld. For me, anything that minimizes hand movement around a stylus is a good thing.




          The 4" brass and glass magnifier is very handy. Amazon

          The light is: Olight S10R Baton rechargeable 400 Lumens CREE XM-L2.. In the pic its on its lowest brightness setting, I usually have it higher. .Best small and super bright light I've found for turntable work. cartridge setup, looking at circuit boards, you name it.. It has a flat bottom and squared off collar so it won't roll when laid sideways. Again, Amazon.

          I also have a set of these lighted Vivatar magnifiers. 2X,/2.5X, 3X Amazon

          Comment


          • Johnny Vinyl
            Johnny Vinyl commented
            Editing a comment
            Nice very nice options!

        • #7
          I use one of these Celestron digital microscopes, though the one we have actually belongs to my wife. She uses it for fine adjustment of laser and ink jet jet print heads on the commercial photographic gear the company we work for makes.
          https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

          Steve Lefkowicz
          Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
          -
          Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
          Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 28, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
          Electronics: DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
          Speakers: Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
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          Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
          Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
          Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
          Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

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          • #8
            Originally posted by Steve Lefkowicz View Post
            I use one of these Celestron digital microscopes, though the one we have actually belongs to my wife. She uses it for fine adjustment of laser and ink jet jet print heads on the commercial photographic gear the company we work for makes.
            https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
            Steve I am interested in this one how does it work with a lap top? How does it work over all?

            Comment


            • Albert Porter
              Albert Porter commented
              Editing a comment
              Same question as Steve. Also, does the Celestron focus far enough away for setting cartridge VTA? Some of these USB microscopes have limited working range. Sometimes only a couple of inches.

            • Steve Lefkowicz
              Steve Lefkowicz commented
              Editing a comment
              It plugs in a USB port and has a small app that runs on a PC, so you just view on the screen, and it can do screen captures. The magnification adjustment (10X or 150X) is actually continuously adjustable so allows focusing at any distance.

              I'm trying to see how to get good quality images of the grooves of an LP at 150X for an article on a record cleaner I'll be doing soon. Need to pad the edge and possibly diffuse the LEDs that light it.

              Haven't tried it for VTA yet, as I just use a Wally VTA gauge to set my arm height. I've used it mostly to check the cleanliness and condition of the stylus. Amazing how dirty the cantilever and other exposed parts of a cartridge can get.

              Albert, remember when an Agfa 8X Lupe was all we needed?

            • Steve Lefkowicz
              Steve Lefkowicz commented
              Editing a comment
              When I can find one of my old buret clamps it'll be much easier to hold it in position for things like VTA adjustment.

          • #9
            What magnification do you (all) recommend for getting a good look at the wear on a stylus? Thanks, Larry
            Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
            Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
            Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
            Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
            Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
            Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
            Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.3KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

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            • #10
              I found THIS adjustable floor lamp at Ikea Canada. They recommend a 400 lumen bulb...is that bright enough?
              IKEA - BAROMETER, Floor/reading lamp, , You can easily direct the light where you want it because the lamp arm and head are adjustable.Provides a directed light that is great for reading.
              Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

              Comment


              • #11
                Re: USB microscopes ...

                There may be other audio uses, but I've heard only of using a USB microscope to examine a stylus and mostly for gauging SRA.

                There are, imo, three keys to using a USB microscope for assessing or setting SRA:

                1. The Stand. The focusing distance of the microscope is such that the lens must be very very close to the stylus. With your cartridge close to the edge of a record, the microscope is positioned less than an inch away. Don't even think about holding it in your hand, you can't do it - well I can't - with sufficient steadiness to see a clear image on the screen of your laptop, or take a clear picture. You need something to hold the thing that can be adjusted small distances to bring the stylus/cantilever in focus. (Their may be versions of 'scope you can focus electronically, but I haven't found one and likely it will be uber expensive if it exists.) Ideally you want micrometer-level control of the lens position. Think about your TT (plinth, no plinth, etc.) and where you could position the stand such that the 'scope it holds can reach the stylus. I settled for one sorta like this, with a flexible 'goose-neck'.


                Dino-Lite MS33W

                2. The Setup: In order to do the requisite measuring (next item) the orientation of the camera must be such that the picture it will show or take has the the stylus on a true horizontal. Or, better, the record the stylus is sitting on is at a true horizontal relative to the picture the 'scope camera will take. Most of the 'scopes are round, meaning you can rotate one and its picture rotates. Aim it at the edge of a record - that's the horizontal - but there is nothing that assures the camera is exactly horizontal relative to that edge. Some digital cameras include a built-in digital level, but I haven't seen a USB 'scope that does. Not sure if I'm explaining this well, but you'll realize the issue when setting up the 'scope to view the stylus. I try to position a lined card behind the cartridge as a back-drop for the picture, but this is a partial aide.

                3. The Software: Most of these 'scopes come with some software that figures the angle between two lines touching at one point. That point will be the point of the stylus. One line will be horizontal, the other the angle of the stylus coming off its shank (not the shank itself.) You draw the lines, typically with a mouse. First, the line width must be very thin and second you must position it exactly on the edge of the stylus angle. The higher the resolution of the 'scope camera, the easier it is to draw the lines. (1MB or greater.) Using the software drawing tools adeptly is a condition of success.

                I noted that in his original article on using a USB microscope, Fremer said it took him a day to get decent pictures. It can be done, but (for me anyway) the process is rather fiddly. I spent a fair amount time on several occasions doing this but never came away with total confidence in the result. When everything goes well It can get you a good starting point, for tuning SRA by ear. Of course all of it is predicated on the notion that there is some angle (92-degrees?) that is the sacred starting point.

                Or, you can start from a level cartridge, or the underside of a headshell, and go from there. WallyVTA device recommended to make this simple.

                As Wes Phillips used to say: I didn't have time to write this short, so I wrote it long. Excuse my sloppy prose.

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                • #12
                  Originally posted by astrotoy View Post
                  What magnification do you (all) recommend for getting a good look at the wear on a stylus? Thanks, Larry
                  Larry, I can't answer your question from direct experience, since I've only used small jeweler's loupes, but this thread suggests that you need 200x magnification, based on the OP's discussion of using an old purpose built optical microscope made by (or for) Shure: http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.p...oscopes.87723/
                  I just bought the Celestron that Steve mentioned, and will play with it (it apparently only goes up to 150x). My suspicion is, at these higher magnification levels, the hard part is micro adjusting the lens in tiny, precise increments. The Dino scopes that most people have seem to be more spendy-- but I'm also curious about looking at groove anomalies. I don't know what the magnification power is for cutting head microscopes- that would be instructive on that front. Happy to post eventually on what i find (or don't find) with the Celestron. (I know the brand from telescopes- assume it's not a piece of junk).
                  bill hart
                  Last edited by Bill Hart; 09-21-2016, 08:50 PM.

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                  • #13
                    Originally posted by jcmusic View Post

                    Steve I am interested in this one how does it work with a lap top? How does it work over all?
                    I bought one of these- it is decent, but in my estimation not strong enough to really see the stylus point in detail. FWIW, I think Celestron just rebrands these- the design seems pretty ubiquitous- same basic shell, focusing method and stand, with variations on image capture button. Also, I think the stand is not very good. I had a retort clamp (3 prong) that works perfectly to hold it and adjust it on a standard lab stand- all stuff you can buy on the cheap. I just ordered a 300X device with a 5MP image sensor for the same price- we'll see if that brings it home. Even with the additional cost of the stand and clamp parts, if you don't have them, you are in under a hundred bucks, total.
                    I'm using it on a Mac with PhotoBooth as an image capture device; no need to load any special software. And, you can click on the trackpad of the computer to take a pic, no need to jar the microscope by touching it once you've aimed and got it focused. Thanks for getting me on this- I remember when those Dino-lites were 2-3x as expensive just a few years ago. These may be cheap, but seem to work. You just need more power.

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                    • Guest's Avatar
                      Guest commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Imo, it's the software that makes the thing a tool beyond being a magnifier. I vaguely recall that Visio had angle calculation. Do have something like that with the Mac?

                    • Bill Hart
                      Bill Hart commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Tima- there may be something in the one on the way, I was more interested in seeing how well it magnified first. I'll report back on the one arriving Monday, b/c that one will be more powerful. I have the VTA/SRA set by ear--easy enough to do on the fly w/ the Airline. When a recent visitor wanted to hear it with a higher arm setting, I did that, but the next day, tore down the set up and re-calibrated everything -I wound up pretty much exactly where I usually set it for playing "normal" records. I'm sure I've said this before, but when I had Lyras they were acutely sensitive to tiny changes in VTA; the Airtights, much less so.
                      PS: The Celestron has measuring software that is part of the readable CD that is used for Windows. I never bothered to load it, since it was plug and play with the Mac. On the more powerful one, now en route, it also claims measuring features as part of software, so I'll get to that. First, I want to make sure I can get a tight enough, clear image.
                      PPS: plus, it looks like there are a variety of apps for Mac that do measurements and angles, from free to paid.

                    • Guest's Avatar
                      Guest commented
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                      5MP should give you give a v. good image. Have fun!

                  • #14
                    Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post

                    I bought one of these- it is decent, but in my estimation not strong enough to really see the stylus point in detail. FWIW, I think Celestron just rebrands these- the design seems pretty ubiquitous- same basic shell, focusing method and stand, with variations on image capture button. Also, I think the stand is not very good. I had a retort clamp (3 prong) that works perfectly to hold it and adjust it on a standard lab stand- all stuff you can buy on the cheap. I just ordered a 300X device with a 5MP image sensor for the same price- we'll see if that brings it home. Even with the additional cost of the stand and clamp parts, if you don't have them, you are in under a hundred bucks, total.
                    I'm using it on a Mac with PhotoBooth as an image capture device; no need to load any special software. And, you can click on the trackpad of the computer to take a pic, no need to jar the microscope by touching it once you've aimed and got it focused. Thanks for getting me on this- I remember when those Dino-lites were 2-3x as expensive just a few years ago. These may be cheap, but seem to work. You just need more power.
                    Great I will be waiting for your report on the new one you have coming!!!

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