VPI Avenger turntable on the way to me for review with Grado Labs Epoch cartridge. It's here.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germantown, Md.
    O.k. Thanks - My stylus is slightly bent toward the spindle, do you think this is due to too much anti-skate?
     
    Warren Jarrett likes this.
  2. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    imagine dipping a hockey stick into a fast running stream flowing away from you.
    if you stand directly behind the stick parallel to the flow of the stream (hopefully the water is warm!) there will be equal force left and right keeping the stick straight in front of you.
    now imagine standing to the right while holding the stick at an angle to your left. Similar to what an offset tonearm does. The force of the flow will want to push the stick to the right. your arm has to exert force pushing the stick outward to keep the stick at an angle.
    the outward force is the direction of the anti skate- i.e. away from the spindle.
     
    Chris Schoen likes this.
  3. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Incorrect. Antiskate pulls the arm away from the spindle to compensate for the natural skating force which pulls towards the spindle. This skating force is present on all pivoted tonearm designs.

    If you ever want to see this in action, try playing a record without any groves sometime. The tonearm will naturally fly towards the spindle if not compensated for by an apposing antiskate force.
     
    HiFi Guy likes this.
  4. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Well, let me advise you this way. Simply add some anti-skate force and see what the cantilever does. Then, reduce some anti-skate, and see what it looks like. Then report back what you saw.

    In my opinion, it is not what angle the cantilever takes once the record is playing, that is important. What I think is important is how the cantilever shifts at the moment the stylus first touches the record.

    After that initial shift of the cantilever, I believe the cartridge will adjust itself to a stable, steady-state orientation. So it is the initial shift that I advise you to notice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
    HiFi Guy likes this.
  5. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Forum Resident

    I do not lose sleep over VTA and record thickness. Most of what I play is 180g, so I make all setup adjustments using 180g and I make no adjustments for 120g or 200g records. It's just not that big of a deal.....On the fly adjustment would be nice but then you are moving up and down several times and at some point even for 80-85% of your records you will not be optimal setting.
    I'm good with 8/10 records being spot on and 2/10 records being a tad off.
     
    Barnabas Collins likes this.
  6. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    I feel about the same. I just don't like taking the time and trouble to adjust VTA after an initial careful set-up. I would rather take a little hit in sound quality, if it means I can throw on a record and start enjoying the music.

    I do have VTA carefully optimized for the Flying Fish record. Then I consider that my average VTA, and accept whatever sound is compromised when playing other records.

    But, please note, vinyl thickness is not the major factor in optimum VTA. Many record labels (companies) require their own VTA setting despite the record's thickness. The most important factor is what cutter angle was used when making the master. There is no industry standard for cutter angle. Then, from there, yes vinyl thickness also plays a part.

    NOW THIS IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND: All we are doing, when we adjust tonearm height to achieve optimum VTA, is optimizing our cantilever's angle with respect to the original master's cutter angle, so that our stylus tip can move in exactly the same radius of motion as the cutter did.

    Think about this in terms of simple geometry. The original cutter stylus had a pivot point, and a distance from that pivot point to the cutting tip. This specific distance means that the tip had to move in one specific radius. Not in a back-and-forth wiggle, as we usually imagine it to move, but in a simple arc with a specific radius. Now our cantilever also provides a specific distance between our cartridge's pivot point and its stylus tip, and therefore can only move in an arc radius. We have to tweek the angle of our cantilever (with respect to the record surface) so that our stylus tip will move in exactly the same arc radius as did the cutter, for THAT particular record. It is just this basic and this simple, there is nothing more to it than matching this radius of motion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
    Dennis0675 and ggergm like this.
  7. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Forum Resident

    We are on the same page, as I have always done what my cartridge mfg suggested regarding VTA.....In the case of Lyra, they have their New Angle design which helps to optimize the cantilever in relation to the magnets/coils and playing position. I have tested this and it is accurate, fall outside of their suggestion and your sound performance suffers.
    Getting VTA 100%, I don't think exists as this is a physically moving media.....Settings have to be checked after so many hours. But if you are patient I think you can be very, very close to perfect.

    Cheers
     
  8. ggergm

    ggergm Forum Resident

    Location:
    Minnesota
    Totally agreed with @Warren Jarrett that the purpose of adjusting tonearm height is to match the cutting geometry. While it's been my experience that record thickness can be a predictor of how high the tonearm should go, there are so many exceptions to that rule that inevitably I do it by ear, not by eye. I start low and slowly raise the tonearm up on my Classic 2 while the LP is playing until the bass comes into focus. If the tonearm is too low, the deep bass can dominate and the mid-bass doesn't seem tight. When the bass gets snappy, I'm most likely there. On a well recorded record, sometimes I can hear the soundstage's depth come into focus. Another indicator is the treble will both become clearer and smooth out. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. I adjust tonearm height until the music sounds right. I also accept failure. If I can't hear positive results, I just set the tonearm to a happy medium and leave it there.

    There are other predictors. Modern MFSL records require the tonearm to be very high. 196os recordings often ask for the opposite. I will have to set the tonearm very low. Between these two extremes, I may have to turn the height adjusting dial on my turntable four to six revolutions. It's not a minor adjustment.

    All this said, by far and away the best listening sessions are when I set the tonearm height once and leave it alone. Sure, I can get anal and change the height for each record, and I often do, mostly when I'm alone. But if I have a friend or two over and we are enjoying tunes, I usually won't mess with it. Rather than being an audiophile, I'll focus on the friendship and the music. I let the people drive the fun and good times, not the hardware. Screw tonearm height. The hi-fi is sounding great. Who needs their drink refreshed?
     
  9. Kristofa

    Kristofa Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    Agreed. My Pro-Ject is an Allen wrench task as well. A VPI with on-the-fly VTA will be my upgrade when necessary.
     
    chacha likes this.
  10. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    My Jelco arm is an allen screw as well.
     
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Just note that record companies had more than one cutting lathe in their facilities, sometimes 2 stereo lathes in New York (or more) and several in San Francisco and Los Angeles. All different from each other in age and set up, etc. You never know what lathe you're getting when you play a (for example) Columbia record so you cannot just estimate for "Columbia Pop" or "Columbia Classical" it has to be record by record and not even THAT! Because a popular album could be recut many times and which lathe was YOURS cut on? No idea.

    And that, my friends, is a real good way to lose your mind.

    Use the Flying Fish disk to get an estimate, use as average for non heavy vinyl records, get your 180 gram estimate and be happy.

    If you feel like it, mess around with your FAVORITE records but don't take all the joy out of playing music by going loco...
     
    baconbadge, Catcher10, ggergm and 7 others like this.
  12. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    I can safely say that since tweaking with Flying Fish and leaving it at that same VTA setting, I have been beyond pleased with stuff I've played the heck out of, but pulled it back off the shelf to hear it again. Varying thicknesses, labels, genres - I am pretty sure I'm just dialed in closer overall and all my LPs are benefitting from it.

    No plans to get any more nutso about it - set and forget at this point.
     
    Warren Jarrett and Kristofa like this.
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    It's amazing once it's dialed in how the sound changes for the better with correct Vertical Tracking Angle. On the other hand, I've played records all my life in blissful ignorance and have been perfectly happy with the sound..
     
  14. chacha

    chacha Forum Resident

    Location:
    mill valley CA USA
    That’s so odd to me that there wasn’t an industry standard for cutting - even within a label. I wonder why one wasn’t developed?
     
  15. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germantown, Md.
    It sounds fine (DL-110), I probably won't mess with it. Just my O.C.D. ...
     
  16. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    Is there a place to measure from the base of the arm to the plinth or arm board with a home made "feeler gauge"?
    I use playing cards for example- I have a deck dedicated to this purpose. I establish a baseline arm height, measure the distance between base and arm board with playing cards and record how many are used. Right now my arm is 20 cards off the board.
    If i want to raise the arm 1/2mm i will add 2 playing cards to the stack, loosen the allen screw and adjust the height until the card stack us snug. My deck of cards is a fairly precise 4 cards = 1 mm thick.
    The thickness is not that important, you can experiment by noticing how it sounds by adding or subtracting cards from your baseline height.
     
    IanL likes this.
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    The records all passed quality control. That’s all that mattered.
     
    McLover likes this.
  18. G E

    G E Well-Known Member

    Steve,

    Will "Whistle Stop" be part of your record rotation in your review of VPI/Grado set up?
     
  19. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    Well, anti-skate is not only about sound. It is about minimizing stylus and record wear too.
     
    TarnishedEars likes this.
  20. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    I agree that using a stack of playing cards or business cards is an easy way to duplicate arm height. Take notes about how many business cards, stacked, fit under the tonearm ledge, and keep these numbers for future reference.
     
  21. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA
    As irony would have it... I was playing a virtually NOS Kinks - Sleepwalkers (orig US) this weekend. During the first track, I was getting transient distortion in the vocals and only in the right channel. Refusing to believe it was the LP, I went to work. After checking every setting (including adding more A/S), I was down to VTA. I've never experienced transient distortion from improper VTA though. I also knew I was pretty darned close to being at an ideal average. Even this LP sounded great other than the slight transient distortion. Anyway, I must've turned (lowered) the VPI dial only 6-8 hashes and it cleared the distortion. To say I was amazed would be an under-statement. This is a pretty thin (120g?) record and I always use 160ish gram records for setup. Maybe the effects of a light weight record and the angle of the cutting lathe compounded to cause the setup distortion? Either way, I have a new understanding of precision VTA.
     
  22. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    That is interesting, I have never heard distortion from improper VTA either, but I believe it.

    Lately, I have been thinking more about WHY instead of just WHAT and HOW. I mean why is VTA so important? This is just a theoretical speculation, on my part, but it fits in with what I have read from David Shreve, Michael Fremer, and others who try to explain correct VTA and SRA position/angle. I realized we have to learn something from each of these guys, and combine their thinking to arrive at the full story.

    As I explained earlier (I learned this from David Shreve, plus some simplification and interpretation from me), since bass notes in the record groove require the largest excursion, our cart's cantilever length compared to the cutting-head's cantilever length explain why we need to optimize VTA. It is simply so that our cart's stylus can trace the same arc as the cutter-head made. So, the differences in bass we hear, as we raise and lower the tonearm, is explained by VTA this way. Remember VTA means the angle of the cantilever, with respect to a line vertical line in space, that is perpendicular to the record surface.

    But this setting of VTA for correct arc duplication doesn't explain why the high frequencies are bright, aggressive, or even distorted (per Cliff's experience) when the tonearm is set too high, yet the high frequencies are dull or rolled-off when the tonearm is set too low. I believe Micheal Fremer and others have it correctly stated that this is due to SRA. Remember, SRA is the angle of our cart's stylus tip (the almost vertical sides of it) compared to the record surface. It should match the angle of the record grooves (the almost vertical sides of them). In reality, "match" may not be the best setting for SRA, since we are listening to determine its best angle. So I don't care for some peoples' ideas that we can look at our stylus tip through a magnifying glass and actually measure the angle it makes, then set tonearm height for a particular angle spec. I think this is crazy, since listening works so well.

    My conclusion is that when setting best tonearm height by ear, we are finding a height that gives us an SRA for the best sounding high frequencies, and a VTA for the best sounding bass. We have to go back-and-forth a bit because we are listening for a best compromise (or a best balance). Maybe, if our cart was designed and manufactured to perfect specs, these might always correspond to EXACLTY one tonearm height for each particular record. But we are doing this by ear, so being EXACT is really not achievable. Our tonearm height setting will just be the best compromise, given our patience to go back-and-forth enough, listening for a height we like for a particular record... or in my case a best compromise for an average height setting, for most of my records.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
    chacha and Cliff like this.
  23. chacha

    chacha Forum Resident

    Location:
    mill valley CA USA
    A side effect of the Flying Fish record is having the bass riffs running around in your head for days.

    :nyah:
     
    McLover likes this.
  24. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Tell me about it. I've heard that segment maybe 100 times.
     
    chacha likes this.
  25. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    That is Dave Holland, one of the greatest jazz bass players ever. If he couldn't create an addictive bass riff, then nobody could.
     
    chacha likes this.

Share This Page