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Do You Take Cartridge Zenith For Granted?

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  • Do You Take Cartridge Zenith For Granted?

    Before getting to the image above, let's reiterate some cartridge set-up facts: despite the instructions that accompany most turntables and tone arms, you can't reliably set stylus rake angle to 92 degrees by putting your tone arm parallel to the record surface. Insuring that the cantilever is perpendicular to the record surface does not mean you've correctly set azimuth. Why do the manufacturers tell you to do those things? To make set up simple, instead of telling you what you need to do to accurately set these critical parameters.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

  • #2
    No. I looked at a cartridge I bought a few years ago under 200X magnification with the cartridge cantilever up. I'd bought a cheap microscope just to look at such stuff. The stylus wasn't square to the cantilever, and I had to maneuver the cartridge to approximate the correct zenith.

    Comment


    • #3
      None of this is going to help anyone learn how to setup a cartridge/tonearm properly in fact I know that it will have the opposite effect and is as much a waste of time as the 92 degree/microscope nonsense that he's backtracking now.

      Fremer's wrong about not being able to setup cartridges by ear, there's no other arbiter. If you can't hear and analyze the sound then none of this matters because there's no other way to verify proper setup; and if you can then you won't need any of this.
      Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
      Distribution: NEODIO

      Special Sales: van den Hul
      Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

      Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
      http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
      http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

      Comment


      • seamonster
        seamonster commented
        Editing a comment
        "...setup cartridges by ear..."

        Always the way in the end.

    • #4
      Perhaps as consumers we should start to demand better quality control and no longer accept substandard workmanship.

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by Brf View Post
        Perhaps as consumers we should start to demand better quality control and no longer accept substandard workmanship.
        That would be nice.

        I think there’s always been and will be unit-to-unit variability when we deal with hand built products. They [cartridges] can only be as good as the people building the cartridge. I wonder too how much variation say in zenith might just arise for example when the glue that bonds the stylus to the cantilever hardens and sets? As they used to say: out of 100 cartridges there are 20 superlative units, 50 good pieces and 30 average or less than average models. Some brands-take Lyra for instance-seem to have a better track record when it comes to build quality than other brands.

        With microscopy we can now see and begin to understand some of the reasons why. And if the zenith is off, everything we try to do geometrically after that is for naught. We all take pride in lining that cantilever up but here we see another issue; just like looking with a loop to see if the stylus is mounted properly so is vertical to the LP. That stylus footprint should be perpendicular to the groove and if we have to rotate the arm tube to correct for electrical imbalances we are also screwing up that geometry. And from I understand about reading about building that armature and generating assembly it’s near impossible to have the exact same output from both channels.

        I still maintain it’s amazing that turntables and records sound as good as they do given all things that can go wrong with manufacturing and /cartridge setup.

        A final thought. Which distortions in the analog front end are worse than others. For instance, are distortions produced by anti skating worse than those produced by tracing error?
        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
        ________________________________________

        -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
        -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
        -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
        -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
        -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
        -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
        -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
        -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
        -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
        -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by david k View Post
          None of this is going to help anyone learn how to setup a cartridge/tonearm properly in fact I know that it will have the opposite effect and is as much a waste of time as the 92 degree/microscope nonsense that he's backtracking now.
          That’s not I am reading especially in this Stereophile article or the earlier Wallytractor tools piece.

          Fremer's wrong about not being able to setup cartridges by ear, there's no other arbiter. If you can't hear and analyze the sound then none of this matters because there's no other way to verify proper setup; and if you can then you won't need any of this.
          I think we are playing semantics here. Certainly one can setup cartridges by ear. And we eventually need to fine tune by ear as we know once you find that “sweet spot” that small changes in arm height make a big sonic difference. Not unlike using a camera and focusing the lens to get the sharpest picture. But given the number of people that can setup cartridges is shrinking, a much higher percentage of people can expect better sound using these practices. Certainly getting a better starting point to start with.
          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
          ________________________________________

          -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
          -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
          -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

          Comment


          • #7
            Mikey added,

            “David K it’s impossible to adjust a badly constructed cartridge that’s at 87 Degree SRA with the arm parallel to the record “by ear”. The point of the microscope and 92 degrees is to assess whether or not it’s possible to get in the “ballpark” and if so get there. Then as with VTF within the manufacture’s recommendations set it by ear. 92 is not an end all but a reasonable and scientifically valid compromise. If he wishes to do it “by ear” for every record in his collection to achieve perfection go for it. I’m more interested in listening to music.”
            Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
            Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
            ________________________________________

            -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
            -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
            -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
            -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
            -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
            -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
            -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
            -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
            -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
            -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

              That’s not I am reading especially in this Stereophile article or the earlier Wallytractor tools piece.
              Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
              Mikey added,

              “David K it’s impossible to adjust a badly constructed cartridge that’s at 87 Degree SRA with the arm parallel to the record “by ear”. The point of the microscope and 92 degrees is to assess whether or not it’s possible to get in the “ballpark” and if so get there. Then as with VTF within the manufacture’s recommendations set it by ear. 92 is not an end all but a reasonable and scientifically valid compromise. If he wishes to do it “by ear” for every record in his collection to achieve perfection go for it. I’m more interested in listening to music.”
              I wasn't thinking of Wallytools when I made the comment. Mikey's been touting the 92 degree for SRA for years and on many occasions has said to set it at that angle and forget it, he pulled back from that position in this article. My point always was and is that you can't assign this type of fixed value to products that have such wide tolerances and I'm not talking just about the cartridge but the entire playback front end including the records.

              Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
              I think we are playing semantics here. Certainly one can setup cartridges by ear. And we eventually need to fine tune by ear as we know once you find that “sweet spot” that small changes in arm height make a big sonic difference. Not unlike using a camera and focusing the lens to get the sharpest picture. But given the number of people that can setup cartridges is shrinking, a much higher percentage of people can expect better sound using these practices. Certainly getting a better starting point to start with.
              I'm not playing semantics, I addressed Mikey's comment:

              "If you think otherwise, or if you think you can "dial in SRA by ear" you are wrong. If you pay someone to set up your tone arm who dials it in "by ear", you are not getting your money's worth!"

              david
              Last edited by david k; 02-16-2021, 02:29 PM.
              Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
              Distribution: NEODIO

              Special Sales: van den Hul
              Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

              Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
              http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
              http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

              Comment


              • #9
                Just an example of how much the 12-inch SAT needs to be raised or lowered to achieve one degree of adjustment. The SAT can be reproducibly adjusted in 0.1 mm increments and one turn of the dial equals 1 mm. Thus need 5.2 turns to raise or lower the arm one degree. Multiply that to equal greater adjustments and one begins to appreciate the amount an arm must be adjusted for many degrees.

                Click image for larger version

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                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Hi guys. I just noticed this post for the first time so thought I'd write in (for the first time ever!). I am working with multiple engineers to publish the work on this issue. There are two ways to prove that rake angle matters - mathematically and by 3D mechanical animation. I am working on both and hope to have the results to share at a seminar during the upcoming (we hope) audio shows. Rake angle on its own needs to get quite bad before it is audibly a problem but if zenith angle is off then rake angle becomes a multiplier of the problem. It is best to start to explain the problem by focusing on zenith error.

                  When the left/right channel contact edges of the stylus are not perfectly collinear with the radial line of the record when viewed from above, you have what is called Tracing Error. When the cartridge has been properly setup, tracing error at the null points SHOULD be zero. Unfortunately, even the most expensive stylus/cantilever assemblies have up to +-5 degree tolerance on the zenith. See HERE. (Zenith error is the difference between perfect perpendicularity to the cantilever and the ACTUAL line formed between the left/right contact edges of the stylus when viewed from above or below. Viewing stylus shanks is not a reliable method to measure this since the contact edges are often not perpendicular to the sides of the stylus shank and the stylus shank itself is often trapezoidal).

                  Tracing Error results in tracing distortion but tracing distortion does NOT sound like euphonic additives or obvious intermodulation distortion, etc. In other words, I think you'd have a tough time HEARING tracing distortion. Why? Because it is a distortion that is subjectively experienced mostly as a subtraction of information, not an addition. When you add tracing distortion, you LOSE information that helps better define the soundstage and images and reduces the output at some frequencies. This is a mechanical certainty. The three mechanical conditions that tracing error causes are:

                  1. Phase shift between channels - one channel reads the groove earlier in time than the other. This will cause some slight cancellation effects and aberrations at high frequencies
                  2. Pinch effect - to transit an otherwise horizontally modulated groove, a fine-line contact stylus is forced to travel vertically (and vice versa on an otherwise perfectly vertically modulated groove)
                  3. Basin Miss - (this is our term since it hasn't been given one as far as we can tell) Tracing error results in the contact edge of the stylus not being able to reach down into the basins of all of the groove undulations, effectively reducing the electrical output of those frequencies. This isn't a big problem on single sine waves (other than at the high frequencies) but as the groove content becomes more complex, the basins draw closer to each other, regardless of content frequency. As they draw closer together, the stylus in error will not reach down all the way into the basins.

                  In the first of these three mechanical conditions, the stylus is reading the groove content with left/right channel timing errors. In the second of these conditions, it is adding content that is INdirectly related to the groove content and doing so with the two channels being out of phase with each other (would be fine for mono, but not stereo!). In the last condition, it is missing groove content altogether.

                  The addition of rake angle error exacerbates the last two tracing error conditions. I'll have the proof to share and available for peer review soon.

                  One additional consideration: since going from a 9" tonearm to a 12" tonearm generates only 0.32 degrees of reduced tracing error but adds considerably to the moment of inertia of the tonearm and reduces the VERY important design requirement of rigidity, why would we bother with the mechanical trade off and extra expense of the longer arms if our styli are mounted with the recklessness of a +-5 degree zenith tolerance?

                  I analyze 2-3 cartridges a week and see things that make my eyes pop out of my head too often. I still haven't tabulated my data gathered from these analyses yet, but I am CERTAIN that the majority of the cartridges I've seen would have one or more parameters that the user could not possibly arrive at by ear at their ideal mechanical angles either because the tonearm could not travel up or down enough to find the right rake angle (I make custom shims for all cartridges to avoid this and make setup a snap) or because the zenith is off by at least 1 degree and aligning the cantilever on a normal protractor won't get you to minimal tracing error.

                  See video on this problem HERE

                  Comment


                  • Rob
                    Rob commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Hi J.R. welcome aboard! great to see you here. I'm looking forward to more of your thoughts/writings re cartridge set-up.

                • #11
                  Zenith isn't an issue for me, haven't been able to afford those exotic stylus profiles so I've soldiered on with simple low tech spherical styli which I now see neatly sidesteps the zenith issue. Potential angst avoided.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Originally posted by Rust View Post
                    Zenith isn't an issue for me, haven't been able to afford those exotic stylus profiles so I've soldiered on with simple low tech spherical styli which I now see neatly sidesteps the zenith issue. Potential angst avoided.
                    Hi Rust. It is true that your conical profile sidesteps the conundrum of aligning a fine line contact stylus but it does so by making all the errors I mentioned above but with a multiplying factor of 2x...

                    ...and yet there is NOTHING wrong with that. It is a distortion experienced mostly as an error of omission, not commission and can STILL give you wonderful sound!

                    Comment

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