Mint Best Protractor

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by McGruder, Dec 9, 2011.

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  1. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    I've become rather obsessive lately about cartridge setup since I've started using the VPI Zephyr. I came across someone's rave about a Mint Best Protractor. It's easy to find lots of positive reviews for these protractors on various forums.

    I went on to read the Vinyl Engine article about the VPI protractor jig, which they analyzed extensively and concluded that it does a pretty good job, but could be improved upon. I read elsewhere that the VPI jig does not optimize the inner groove performance, which is where emphasis on improvement should be placed.

    Does anyone have experience with one of these protractors, or know about the effectiveness of the VPI jig? I'd like to think Harry Weisfeld knows whats best for his own creations, but I thought I'd check with some of you vinyl PhD's. Also, if you own one of these, what is the order process?!? I couldn't really find anything but a link to PayPal.

    Thanks in advance...
     
  2. jazdoc

    jazdoc Active Member

    Location:
    Bellevue, WA, USA
    I have used the MintLp with Triplanar and Durand Talea/Telos arms. It's a terrific tool for getting set up spot on. There is a huge difference between 'close' and 'nuts on'; worth many thousands of dollars in component upgrades. The protractor is customized for your table/arm combination. It takes a little practice to use, but once you've installed a couple of cartridges, it's really easy. Just go to the "Order Best Protractor" at the bottom of the page: http://mintlp.com/best.htm
     
  3. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    I use the VPI Jig (which really makes sense) and have checked with several other tools that I have, among them the Clearaudio tool, the DB tool, the Shure 2 point alignment tool and the my favorite the Geo disk. Having said all of that I'm going with the Feickert tool, cause...

    OT

    You should really try one of the Shure Jico SAS combinations. I have a M97XE/SAS and it really sings in the VPI arm.

    M~
     
  4. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    Go ahead, I don't care. What do you like about Feickert?

    Mac, I own one. I agree that the Jico SAS transforms that cartridge, which is too warm to my liking for the cartridge with stock needle. It's still warm sounding w/ the Jico, but with more detail and bass definition. I like my MC carts better than the M97XE w/ Jico SAS. If I had another arm, I'd like to have the M97XE mounted and ready for the harder sounding, or bright LP's.
     
  5. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    The Feickert Universal Protractor is a fantastic tool that will last a lifetime and can be used on just about any arm/cartridge you can throw at it.

    Highly recommended! :righton:
     
  6. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    I own a Mint but prefer to use an arc protractor generated by Conrad Hoffman's software, which is what I was using before I purchased the Mint.

    Choose your parameters, print out on good quality paper at high resolution on a decent laser printer, spend $3 to have it laminated and attach it to a junk record. Total cost: about $3.20. I find the black on white to be much easier to deal with visually in terms of doing the alignment than the Mint, which IMO is a bit of a pain.

    In terms of accuracy, the Mint confirmed the alignment of the Hoffman software generated protractor. I align with the Hoffman protractor and then confirm with the Mint to make myself feel better for spending the $130:sigh:.

    Plus the Hoffman software allows you to experiment with different alignment protocols at virtually no cost should you want to and will generate a protractor for any table/arm combination providing you know the pivot to spindle distance.

    Arc protractors are great though-can't really see using anything else.
     
  7. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    He makes good stuff (as in well thought out and easy to use).

    Also, I agree with you on the JICO, but it plays all those records with cement and asphalt in the grooves, that those other cartridges won't play. You know the ones that look good and sound like crap even though you've cleaned them for an hour using 1 step this and 3 step that.

    I hear about the arm, I have to get another so that I can mount another cartridge on it.

    M~
     
  8. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    Looks like the one I downloaded is Windows based. Is therre a Mac version available somewhere?
     
  9. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Others have run into that problem-sorry I don't believe there is a Mac version. Find a friend with Windows!
     
  10. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    The Feickert protractors I found at Music Direct and Needle Doctor are $250!!
     
  11. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, USA
    I said it was a fantastic device, not a cheap one! :D
     
  12. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    Is sending Ken Willis email the way to place an order with him? What does he charge for a custom protractor??
     
  13. audiolab1

    audiolab1 Active Member

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    My understanding is that the VPI alignment jig is designed to create uniform average tracking error across the entire arc of an LP. This is slightly different to the typical Loefgren or Baerwald alignments. I have tried other alignments on my JMW 12.6 but have always come back to the VPI setup jig as it simply sounds better on my system.
     
  14. Yes. It was $50 a couple of years ago. Don't know if that has changed but he is a really great guy so definitely contact him for details.
     
  15. Turntable

    Turntable Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi McGruder

    I used to own the VPI HRX and had a wally tractor ( the original that Yip from Mint copied from) and ultimately preferred the VPI. The VPI algnment guage is optimised for the inner third, so not where you heard that from but it is incorrect.
    You just need to take your time and try to align the cart/cantilever as straight.

    Please note that Harry's algnment for his tonearms is unique and does not algn to Baer, Loef or Stevenson. Itnis closer to Stevenson, but not the same.
    Mint will not make a Mint tractor for the 12 inch arm as his standard alignment does not work with the VPI alignment structure. If you own the 9 inch arm Mint will make one for you, however I would be surprised if it sounded better than Harry's own alignment guage.

    As far as Feikert goes, outside of measuring pivot to spindle distance the Mint LP tractor is easily better if you have one or two tables. However if you have a few tables and tonearms, the Feikert is good

    Cheers
     
  16. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    Thanks for your feedback on this. I also appreciate the comments provided by others on the different protractor offerings out there.

    After a fair amount of reading, and the feedback on this thread, I'm going to continue using my VPI jig. On balance, I didn't encounter a lot of criticism for the performance of the VPI jig alignment, but there are a few out there that think others, such as the Mint, yield an improvement.

    There is more evidence that VPI owners that have used multiple alignments feel the optimization approach works well and addresses the entire range, and inner grooves in particular are part of that approach.

    The Feichert kit looks really nice, but too expensive without a compelling case that the VPI jig leaves a lot of room for improvement. When the opportunity arise, I'll get someone with a Windows computer to download Conrad Hoffman's software app and print a protractor that I can experiment with.

    Thanks again for the comments, and I appreciate any additional information provided in this thread. :cheers:
     
  17. rockitman

    rockitman Active Member

    I used my Mint Lp tractor last night for the first time. The instructions are great includling his funny zen attitude approach to getting the alignment spot on. We are tallking about hundred's of an inch accuracy for overhang done with the arc and the zenith with the two nulls made for your table arm/table combo. I have one for a Graham Supreme 10" arm. The jig for the Graham is made only for the 9" arm, even so, you still can't get a perfect alignment on the 9" with the jig. It's easy for the overhang to be off...no end point in the alignment guage and the parallel lines for the cantilever are quite wide allowing for more error. The Mint in more work to use, but it get's it right. I was stunned at the difference my Graham/A90 combo sounded. I can't imagine owning a Graham arm without one. Highly recommended.
     
  18. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    Yes

    But like all well made tools, they are worth their weight in gold when you have to use them. For example I have a set of old Snapon tools from the 70's, they are just simply wonderful to use, they just feel right. It's something to consider as the local B&Ms go away, we will no longer have access to someone who will do our table setups for us. What I'm trying to say is that well made tool enhance our ability to get the setup done optimally and efficiently.

    M~
     
  19. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    I've got a few sets of Snap-on wrenches and sockets too. They're wonderful, but like LP's pieces of those socket sets disappeared with lending out over time. Most of my stuff is Craftsman now. The Snap-on stuff is first rate, and like you said, I love the variations in the wrench handle and the way it fits in my hand. Is your "macster" handle a play on Mac tools by any chance? I don't see Mac audio gear in your profile.

    Based on your 2nd post, I thought you said you're using your VPI jig. Does your Feichert do a better job for sound, or is it just easier to use?
     
  20. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    I don't find the cantilever slots on the JMW 10.5i SE to have much play at all. Still, statements like this make me wonder if I'm getting the best out of my setup.
     
  21. slovell

    slovell Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chesnee, SC, USA
    I use the Mint with my VPI Scout and I'm quite happy with it. I first use the VPI jig to set overhang and then use the Mint to align the cartridge. Its a bit fiddly but produces very acceptable results.
    Regards, Sam :ed:
     
  22. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    I ended up going this route as well. I used the VPI jig to get myself 95% aligned, and turned to the glass Mint LP protractor and the 8x loupe magnifier.

    This process did require about 30-40 minutes of meticulous alignment activity. I had slight adjustments to make for both overhang and cantilever angle. I would gladly admit no audible improvement over the VPI jig if that were the case, but the improvement after the Mint LP protractor was not small. Extremely pleased with this, and I will always go to these extents for alignment in the future. :thumbsup:

    I'll also add that the magnifier showed just how much dust crud builds up on the cantilever and stylus, which Zerodust does not address. So I've also adopted the practice of using stylus cleaner and brush. After just a few (cleaned) LP plays, there is new crud on the stylus and cantilever, so I'm cleaning every 2nd or 3rd LP now.
     
  23. slovell

    slovell Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chesnee, SC, USA
    I like the fact that the Mint allows you to adjust the cantilever by itself. I have a Denon Dl-304 with a cantilever that is not exactly straight in the body and after aligning the cantilever with the Mint the results were very much improved with a big improvement in inner detail and soundstage. It does require a lot of patience and a good light to use the Mint but the results are well worth it. Its also less than half the cost of a Fozgometer. As an aside I also use the KAB Speedstrobe kit for setting turntable speed. Its very simple to use and inexpensive at $100. When I first used it I discovered my Scout was running about 5% too fast and it was being caused by having too much tension on the belt. I lessened the belt tension and the Scout now turns at 33.3 and varys nearly zero. It also made a big improvement in the sound being produced from the Scout. Well worth the money IMHO.
    Regards, Sam :edthumbs:
     
  24. McGruder

    McGruder Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Maryland
    Sam, I concur on that KAB Speedstrobe. The black strobe disc with white markers works better visually than the VPI white disc with black markers.
     
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