The analog disc is devoted by audiophiles that have a little resource. Nonetheless, it only becomes skillful at the fine points of cartridge installation. Then, when properly installing up the precise appliance (it requires a large amount of time and patience), the related steps spend for the sound maniac with a pair of steady hand and the correct tools.
The vinyl playback has the goal that is to extract. Thanks to the cutting lathe of the record, the small signal might carve into the record surface. Once the path of the cutter through the groove of the record is accurately replicated by the stylus – all three dimensions. Then, the extracted signal has to be an accurate duplicate of the opposite one in the cutter’s groove. Inevitably, the right stylus geometry with regard to the groove is not enough to guarantee the perfect-signal extraction of analog, the electromagnetic properties of the inside wire system and magnet structure of the cartridge, and the stylus shape. These ones exist plenty of reasons. Additionally, the patience and care during the setup process can be hoped to be good as the initial signal. In fact, it turns out to be enough to bring the great-music result.
Table of Contents
Turntable Cartridge Guide
Here are some essential tools to set up the phono cartridge yours:
- A small needlenose pliers
- Tweezers (a pair)
- Headshell screws (non-magnetic), washers, or nuts (possibly have or not, depending on providing of the cartridge maker)
- A set of screwdriver (small and non-magnetic)
- The stylus pressure gauge
- A magnifier lightens at least 10X power
- A gauge of the alignment
- A test record
10 Essential Guide the Audio Enthusiast Should Know
Initially, if the cartridge has a cover, which clips over the stylus assembly, it should keep it in a place (in this step) as well as the wiring step will also be described below.
To start, the cartridge setup is to affix the body of the cartridge to the tonearm headshell. In particular, this position often contains holes or slots to screw (frequently came with the cartridge) through the cartridge body. Furrow-drain headshells enable the cartridge’s location to be adjustable for a right alignment. The fixed position of the holes is contained by headshells, so it assumed that the partnering cartridge geometry is to have a proper alignment, by utilizing the supplied holes. Unluckily, tonearm headshells involve the fixed holes that shall not allow all cartridges’ the right alignment. Nonetheless, let’s set up the compatible cartridge a simple way.
In the cartridge body, the holes require the screws that affix the cartridge to the headshell. Frequently, there are 2 flavors – threaded or non-threaded. It is known that the threaded holes are more beneficial to utilize because they help to avoid the difficulties to handle the required nuts. The purpose is to ensure the cartridge’s screws to the non-threaded cartridge. If a threaded body does not have in your cartridge, it forces you to have to utilize nuts to protect the cartridge screws. The best is probably to insert the screws under the cartridge through the holes or slots in the headshell. Like that, it may ensure the nuts from above. Fortunately, there has a tapped cartridge, which might insert the screws down passed the headshell into the cartridge body’s the tapped holes. In both cases, it ought to tighten the cartridge screws in order to ensure the safety for the cartridge, but it is still allowed moving with the average-hand pressure. Let’s remember that the cartridge screws should be tightened but it is not over tightened because it can cause the crack in the worst case.
When attaching the cartridge to the headshell, the coded-color wire of the tonearm is connected to the correlative coded color pins the rear of the cartridge body. While the tonearm wires are connected to the cartridge pins, it is necessary for handling the wire with a good care (because they are pretty fragile). By using the tweezers, you will terminate the tonearm wires and grab the small-metal cartridge clips. Concurrently, the clips are also guided onto the cartridge pins. It will probably be difficult to suit over the cartridge pins except you utilize a toothpick or a small screwdriver. It avoids overdoing, otherwise, it will not have the good connection the clips with the pins. In case the clips are too wide, you might use the needlenose pliers to squeeze back together.
- To track weight
*Note: Let’s remove a stylus guard if it is still in place.
The stylus will have to contact with the record groove walls to play again a record. The downforce is usually specified by the cartridge maker. It is considered as the best for starting the determining process of the optimal tracking weight in the specified range, thanks to setup the highest value in the same range. To dispel a popular one, the given cartridge is not enough the tracking weight to make the groove damaged in comparison with the set tracking weight at the end of the requested range. This is due to the tracking cartridge, which is pretty light, so it has tended to lose the contact with the mistrack or groove wall.
You can use the available device to measure the tracking weight (Shure SFG-2 stylus is a typical example). This gauge works as the balance. At the end of the balance, the stylus is put within the recessed groove. Toward the opposite this balance point, the sliding counterweight will also be moved along a considerable scale to counteract the cartridge weight. When it gets an excellent balance, from the considerable scale, it can read the stylus weight against the balance. Generally, the gauge devices may not bring the best result, but they are good enough in the majority of the cases. A good suggestion for you is the Winds gauge – the simplest and the most precise gauge.
Before trying to install the tracking weight cartridge, you should utilize a test record or a gauge. Essentially, the balance is zero or it floats the arm with the affixed cartridge. This offers a good-reference one, thanks to this, it starts increasing the tracking weight with respect to the desired value. By moving the counterweight arm either near or far the headshell, the cartridge or arm is floated until the arm may reach a virtual weightlessness point. At that time, the cartridge tracking weight is equally 0 grams, along with the exact setup of the gauge.
- The height of the arm – part one
Once the stylus pressures up the high end of the specified-range manufacturer, it’s high time to adjust the tonearm height in order that the tube of the arm is virtually parallel to the platter. In the process of installing, you are adjustable the arm height, but the previous parallel setup will help the later adjustment easily. The majority of the arms allows some height forms to be adjustable. One of the fewer cost arms is Audioquest PT that provides a set of screws. The Graham 2.0 and the VPI JMW which is more expensive provide the complex adjustment mechanism and allow the previous setup has easily repeated. And there, one of the few arms provides the non-adjustable height, but the small spacers are under the arm that helps to raise the desired height – the Rega RB300.
- The alignment
The cut records by a cutter head are located in a parallel or tangent to the cutting groove. When a tonearm is pivoted, an arc across the surface of the record is traced by the stylus. In fact, a pivoted stylus’s the tracking error might be minimized once the stylus is the parallel alignment to the groove at both points along the curved path; especially, the distance of both points is 66 and 120.9 mm (~ 2.6 and 4.76 inches) from the spindle center. These two points are known as null points when the tracking error is reached zero; then, the stylus is connected to the groove at both. The available gauge of the cartridge alignment might be utilized so that the cartridge is aligned. At once, at the null points, the requirement of the tangency is satisfied.
Simply, the majority of the alignment gauges is plastic, cardboard, or glass templates. They are scribed or printed the null points. Based on this, the cartridge is aligned. Over the spindle of the turntable and against the platter, the template will be put in there. In the headshell, the position of the cartridge is manipulated until the stylus is parallel to the tangency’s the line gauge at the null points. By using the small magnifier, you can easily observe the stylus clearer because both points are often obscured by the cartridge body’s shadow. It can say that the time-consuming task is to install the cartridge. To connect the stylus to the null points, the small adjustment may change its relationship to the tangency lines or contrariwise. Necessarily, it keeps the screws, which help to hold the cartridge to the headshell, but it must be loose enough to be allowed small changes in the position of the cartridge. If you are lucky, the screw force against the headshell shall keep the cartridge position when you test the changes compared to the template. After all are lined up, the headshell screws are necessarily for tightening while the cartridge is being kept steadily. Let’s hold the steady cartridge in place when the force of the torsional has generated.
If possible, at several points in this process, the alignment is known as the freaking cartridge, along with the freaking points and lines the freaking gauge’s – it seems impossible. Actually, you only have some hours away from displaying a freaking record.
With the aligned cartridge, it’s high time to install the azimuth cantilever (the perpendicularity) to the groove. If not it sets up the right azimuth, the electrical output from two generators of the cartridge will not be equal. The result, the channel loses the balance. Whether it be warned, not all tonearm can change the azimuth – the Rega RB300 is a typical example. Some tonearm like the Audioquest PT might be adjustable the azimuth at the headshell base.
By inspecting the face of the cartridge, the azimuth may be roughed in when the stylus is in the groove of the record. To be closer to the record’s surface, it forces you to use the tonearm devices so as to be adjustable the azimuth (the cartridge body is parallel to the record’s surface). Once the adjustment of the rough azimuth is found, you may adjust through the measurement.
The installation of the optimal azimuth is to produce the equal amplitude’s the electrical signals from the generators of the cartridge when they appear in two channels the record’s. Consequently, if the record is played with the similar signal in two channels – the wire of one out-of-phase channel, the azimuth is accurately adjusted – it produces zero output as both channels out of phase are summed.
Obviously, you may utilize the azimuth test track, which includes a mono signal with the right and the left out-of-phase channels. If your preamp has a switched mono, you may play the test track, take part in switching the mono, and adjust the cartridge azimuth until you hear minimize the output via the speakers.
In case your preamp does not support a switched mono, you might dial your cartridge azimuth, by the way, it uses an oscilloscope, analyzer of the cartridge, or the rough-in ready visual test.
- To track weight: review
Tracking weight might be reduced until it gets the minimized value. The result, the tracking test is good. Beyond that, tracking weight ought to represent an excellent balance between the ability to track and the record wearing. Inevitably, changing the tracking weight leads to change the cantilever deflection with regard to the cartridge body. On the other hand, the Herculean will support you who reach the stylus in order to fall on the alignment gauge’s the null points – by the simple change in tracking weight. It repairs the cartridge alignment and checks back both the azimuth and the tracking weight, especially, when you present in the place.
Basically, the anti-skating mechanism has offered on the tonearm yours. Let’s adjust the quality of the anti-skate until the Bias setting tracks provide a clean; especially, it is not distorted in two channels. Buzzing in the right channel has shown that plenty of the anti-skating force is necessary. On the contrary, buzzing in the left channel is less required the anti-skating force.
- The height of the arm – part two
So far, the cartridge is aligned in a specific way so as to minimized the tracking error through the record surface and the setup cartridge azimuth (the stylus is perpendicular to the record surface. In the final adjustment, you can perform to duplicate the cutter path via the records. The purpose is to install the cantilever angle compared to the surface of the record to approximate the origin of the cutter head. This angle is called VTA (the vertical-tracking angle) is modified by changing the tonearm height that relates to the base its. If the height of the tonearm is raised, the VTA will also increase and vice versa. The majority of the records is cut with the VTA ~ 220. Occasionally, it still has the lower or higher VTAs – 180 or 220.
If possible, you should set the VTA of the cartridge parallel to the surface of the record. Actually, not all the manufacturers of the cartridge have the cantilever angle ~ 220. Therefore, the parallel setting is sometimes not effective. The best is to experience a variety of setting and position on the greatest audio to your ear. If you satisfy with the receiving sound parallel to the surface of the record. Hence, let’s leave it and begin to enjoy your vinyl collection. Inversely, if you want to experience the difference-VTA setups, you must remember that the too-high-VTA setting will be able to lead to the fatiguing presentation. When the VTA setting is too low – the result is the sluggish presentation.
Anyone want to spend the best option for their VTA of the cartridge. Nonetheless, this one also depends on the record thickness, so you need to have to invest the proper budget in the VTA setting.
- The last adjustment
Now, you go back and determine the force of the alignment, tracking, and azimuth to ensure that does not have any errors during the process of adjusting. Particularly, it is necessary for paying attention to the azimuth when adjusting the height of the tonearm.
Continuously, it listens to your setting and performs the essential adjustment until you feel satisfied with everything. Thus, the alignment, the stylus pressure gauge, the test records are put away. Besides, your favorite vinyl will also be kicked back.
*Note: The cartridge installation must be performed as the guide. Of course, it does not apply all tonearms or cartridge. Consequently, let’s follow what things from the maker.
The above guide is relatively obvious. Based on the manufacturers of your cartridge, you can easily set it up. We hope that you will get the best result with all the effort.