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Sperling Audio PDM-1 azimuth adjuster

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  • Sperling Audio PDM-1 azimuth adjuster

    Has anyone used or seen one of these?

    Click image for larger version

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    It looks like it is along the lines of a Fozgometer. Runs on batteries, comes with its own test record and in quite the nice box. I like the large meter with fine gradations. Eu 1,790.00

    Google translation of partial info on their Web site:
    "... The trick: Depending on the design of your tonearm, the exact adjustment of your system with the PDM-1 takes at most 10 to 15 minutes. If you really want to adjust your system precisely, you will not be able to ignore this tool. Interesting not only for the enthusiast but especially for use in service.

    The PDM-1 is made in Germany by hand using only the highest quality components. Each meter is calibrated and tested. The cabinet is made by a master carpenter and covered with fine Makassar veneer. Even the measuring instrument with its scale travel of stately 175mm unparalleled and is made exclusively and exclusively for the PDM-1 at a renowned German company.

    Power is supplied to the PDM-1 via built-in batteries to eliminate any kind of interference from the mains. Thus, the meter works completely self-sufficient, and that for several hours...."

  • #2
    Looks like a very nice instrument. However, totally the wrong number($) for a single piece of the analog setup puzzle IMO.

    At this point, most of us have a piece of software ( analogmagik or Fiekert) and a few pieces of hardware ( Smartraktor, Fozgometer) that will do it all. Furthermore, you can accomplish the azimuth adjustment with some simple instruments at home with test record if you are bit technically inclined.

    I think a little late to the party but nicely executed. It kind of looks like they buillt something for themselves to a standard commensurate with their brand and decided that if anyone wants to buy one they will "pay" for it.

    What I was really waiting for was Soundsmith's tool for analog set the making for the last 10years --will we ever see it? it may be too late for this piece as well with analogmagik and Fiekert taking hold.. that certainly would be interesting though!
    Front end: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
    Brinkmann La Grange & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
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    Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222


    • tima
      tima commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah, market saturation. But it sure looks cool !

    • kcin
      kcin commented
      Editing a comment

  • #3
    Originally posted by kcin View Post
    What I was really waiting for was Soundsmith's tool for analog set the making for the last 10years --will we ever see it? it may be too late for this piece as well with analogmagik and Fiekert taking hold.. that certainly would be interesting though!
    I've also been waiting for the Cartright and asked Peter about it during a conversation ~six months ago. He told me that even though he was so busy with other projects, it's still in development. I'm hoping that he is able to complete work on it now that he just finished the redesign of his entire cartridge lineup.

    Regarding the Sperling PDM-1, it's a bargain when compared with the Clearaudio Azimuth Optimizer which costs Eu 2750.


    • tima
      tima commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm not sure the Clearaudio AO is even available - at least I didna see it on the Site.

  • #4
    Originally posted by chrisfromri
    I used to use a Fosgometer and even one of my Tektronix scopes, but ran into a couple of cartridges which had slightly misaligned generators inside the cartridge body (referenced to the stylus) and I was ending up with poor groove tracing after doing the electrical azimuth adjustment. This is because I was using a test record and a device that optimized electrical channel separation by optimizing the generator's position - and NOT the stylus's position in the groove. In those cases I ended up with the stylus not perfectly vertical in the groove.

    Today, I first check the stylus aligmnent on the cantilever relative to the cartridge body with my microscope. Then assuming the stylus alignment is plumb (correct with the stylus 90 degrees to the cartridge mounting area) I simply set the cartridge down on a Front Surface Mirror and adjust the azimuth so the cartridge is perfectly vertical, and thus the stylus as confirmed earlier is vertical and sits evenly in the groove for best tracing, tracking, and even groove and stylus wear.

    Here is another explanation of why electrical azimuth alignment may in some cases be less accurate that visual azimuth alignment:
    I agree, if you want to work visually a first-surface mirror is the way to go. The issue is getting your eyes parallel with the mirror. The angle of your head or even breathing is a challenge. (Don't forget to breath.)

    The Lederman videos on Azimuth and SRA are quite good.

    Wrt Azimuth the best solution is having a well made cartridge where the proper position of the stylus in the groove and the optimal coil/generator alignment are coincident. If they are not then it becomes a trade-off. One way to think about this is in terms of the degree of stylus lateral cant in the groove and the dB difference of channel balance.

    I think a primary consideration is the extent to which stylus offset from vertical, first, does no damage to the groove, and second, causes no audible distortion. What is a degree too far? I'm not aware of any definitive guidelines. We can work in .25° increments vs how close moving such an amount yields how much gain in minimizing channel separation / crosstalk. What are people willing to accept: .5°, 1°, 1.5°? Is there a number you're not willing to go beyond?

    Btw, a first surface mirror can also help to look at a stylus from the side in efforts to get it perpendicular to the record, although different stylus shapes with exotic angles don't make this quite straightforward (similar problem for USB/92° approach.) Should work well for Lyra type stylii.


    • #5
      Originally posted by chrisfromri

      I do have one small problem with using a USB (or other) picture taken at the edge of the record or First Surface Mirror for SRA. Thanks for the new and I'm sure more correct mirror term than what I was using. I think this methodology will only get you close to the supposedly "perfect" 92 degrees. My problem is that the platter is stationary during this process, because that's the only way to take a clear picture, so while this may get you close it can't be the final angle. The final angle must also take into account the further flexure of the cantilever assembly caused by the drag of the stylus plowing through the modulated groove at 33/45 rpm. Clearly that drag flexes the cantilever further depending upon the suspension, but we can't take that picture clearly so we don't know by how much. Accordingly we're back to making the final adjustment by ear.
      Wrt SRA, I think one could make a case that the real value of a USB microscope or first surface mirror (which can be used with the 'scope) is to get the stylus perpendicular to the record. The simple example is to imagine a V shaped stylus point - again Lyra carts are an example. With a mirror in place you'd see an image that is a V and an inverted V point to point, forming, in effect, an X. Ideally a line through the points (or center of the X) should be perpendicular to the record surface. (Similar to the technique you show for azimuth.) Of course if the stylus is mounted in the cantilever at an angle, this would not be the way to go. Getting the top of the headshell parallel to the record may be a more generic approach.

      If you have a tonearm with a VTA tower (Tri-Planar, Kuzma, etc.) or even a VTA screw (SME), ask the tonearm manufacturer: "if the tonearm headshell is parallel to the record, how many millimeters (or increments if the tower is marked) do I move the tonearm adjuster up to achieve a 1 degree change in angle of the tonearm." That could be an easy way to get to a "static-92°."

      Going off topic further, I suspect the 92° figure came from Wally Malewicz and was repeated by Fremer until it became a mantra. (Jon Risch says 91°; I've head others say 93°.) What I'd like to ask Wally (rip) is if the 92° figure is pre-compensated for stylus flex or not.


      • #6
        That's a really good point that when arriving at the 92-SRA guidance figure they might have been already compensating for cantilever/suspension flex due to drag. The only challenge I then see is what Compliance and Tracking Force of the cartridge's was assumed? I have cartridges with compliance specs ranging from 5 to 40. Possibly stylus shape enters into this drag compensation as well.

        I do have a Lyra on a Graham on my Oracle, and its SRA/VTA seems to be set perfectly (by ear), at least when I use the Master Tape dub as the reference to the record made from that Master. I'll try to take a picture or two of that one and share it.


        • #7
          Lyra Azimuth as viewed via a First Surface Mirror:
          Lyra Azimuth by c f, on Flickr


          • #8
            Lyra SRA as viewed by a USB camera on the edge of the First Surface Mirror, at the edge of the platter.
            Lyra SRA by c f, on Flickr


            • #9
              Etna on a CD

              Click image for larger version

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              Next time I do a set-up, I'll take a frontal picture of the azimuth. (...if I can remember !)


              • #10
                Last edited by chrisfromri; 06-24-2019, 02:12 PM.