Why Would Azimuth Ever Need To Be Adjusted?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jtw, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. tim185

    tim185 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Australia
    I dont disagree with any of that Fringe...
    I have noticed that records I have played extensively with a slightly out of alignment stylus seem to have suffered no audible damage since the alignment was corrected. They instantly played back better and quieter. I wonder, if my cartridge had of been of lesser quality (Im using a 2m bronze), if then damage would have been worse. Sometimes I wonder if we slightly overstate the fragility of vinyl records. Maybe just a little?
     
  2. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Oddly, I note nobody on this board has ever posted a thread asking, "why do we keep having to replace our shoes?"...
     
  3. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    I don't know. I'm not into that.
     
  4. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    Micrometers. But I don't think there's an application for plastigage where turntables are concerned.
     
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  5. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    We could say either fragile or resilient, dependent on expectation, and what they're played on.
    Records are extremely robust and tolerant when expectations are non-critical. I had a good friend now deceased, who enjoyed his records with crackles and pops. He just played the records! A record played on an old stiff ceramic element hardened from age, will probably be wiped out on the first play. In this regard, records are fragile, zero tolerance for a heavy, unmovable stylus. I am like everyone who buys a thrift store special once in a while, then clean it, and be very satisfied with the remarkable improvement in fidelity and lowered background noise. However, my expectation of a new record would be at a higher level, and would probably return a new record if it played like a used record.

    My experience corroborates with yours with the slightly misaligned cartridge. It was a light tracker, an un-worn stylus, a clean stylus. I have played crackly records in the past, cleaned them on a RCM, and almost all noise goes away. In this regard, the record is remarkably resilient. No major damage occurred. (no audible detractors that I noticed) But again, my expectation is not the same as it would be for a brand new record.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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  6. tim185

    tim185 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Australia
    Insightful as always Fringe, good one.
     
  7. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    I think Azimuth is an important adjustment. I've always thought this is one of the reasons Rega tables are so popular. Especially with their 3 bolt mounting system. I've heard an RP6 and an Exact set up that way with a little torque wrench then measured with a calibrated Fozgometer. It was practically spot on. There'd be no way you could get your Azimuth that close with out a Fozzy. Rega really has tried to engineer all of the little setup tweeks out of the process and I think that is the reason behind their famed Rega Synergy.
     
  8. jtw

    jtw Active Member Thread Starter

    These manufacturers really ought to be able to figure out how to get their tolerances down to a gnat's ass, or a hairs breath, or a BCH.
     
  9. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    What does a racing engine, spec'd for operation at 15k RPM and 60+ lbs of boost, go for these days? A little more than a 2M Red, I imagine? Heck, a little more than a Goldfinger, for that matter :)
     
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  10. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    You must be joking, or high, comparing the precision of engine tolerances with record players. Engine building is massively more precise than anything to do with LP playback. If LP playback were EVER seriously intended to adhere to critical tolerances, the LPs themselves would be manufactured to reasonable tolerances themselves. We all know that records are almost always off center, not flat, different thicknesses, different material compositions, etc etc etc. I believe that those hobbyists who pay much attention to the finery of azimith and VTA/SRA are obsessing for vanity's sake, or are just off the mark. You could own the PERFECT record playing machine, set to PERFECT tolerances in every way, and yet with EVERY record change you would require completely different settings on your machine to account for the imperfections in thickness, centering, etc.
     
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  11. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    It should also be noted that racing motors require precision tools costing well in excess of what something like a Fozgo goes for. Additionally, those are torn down and rebuilt after every race. Have fun with that!
     
  12. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Yeah, anyone comparing genuine precision engineering with LP playback just isn't very knowledgable. Hobbyists are free to obsess and to jump down the crazy rabbit holes that come with analog playback, but it's simply counterfactual to consider the entire process/playback chain a precision endeavor. I'll call it a precision hobby when anyone can show me a genuinely flat LP. Good luck with that folks!
     
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  13. jtw

    jtw Active Member Thread Starter

    I think y'all are letting the manufacturers off the hook way to easily. For a turntable without an azimuth adjustment, it can't be that hard to get the front of the head shell (from left to right) level within a tiny fraction of a degree.
     
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  14. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Exactly. Although a record player is a sensitive measuring device tracking very tiny groove wall modulations, it's not typically a very precise or over engineered device -- there's almost always plenty of motor vibration breakthrough and speed instability from torque ripple, there's plenty of flexing of various different materials in various direction, it's typically make with relatively inexpensive and often off the shelf materials, carts are made by hand -- and you know, we expect to pay a coupla hundred bucks for these things. People complain -- the tolerances should be like a rocket ship and the deck and arm together could cost $300. And then the records, like you note, are more wildly off kilter than even a primo, top dollar record player is. Sure, in a world of Platonic ideals, someone could engineer and manufacture records and record playing equipment to such tight tolerances as to be engineering marvels, but we're talking about consumer electronics here, not race cars and rocket ships.
     
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  15. tim185

    tim185 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Australia
    It's the eighth wonder of the world it even works, much less potentially sounds so good.
    Digital should be smashing it ,all day every day.
     
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  16. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    And many would say it does. Certainly with respect to the freedom from mechanical playback artifacts it does.
     
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  17. mcbrion

    mcbrion Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    In terms of artifacts, you're right.
    But if you were listening to music in the 50s and then went to digital in the '80s, it was obvious that a lot of the "music" in music was gone. It was as though music lost its "soul" on digital.
     
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  18. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I dunno, early digital was a dicey proposition. And certainly I adore a lot of the great recordings of classical and jazz of the '40s and '50s and '60s (and even earlier), but I suspect a lot of that "soul" that was "lost," if any was, had more to do with the change from the recording processes being about capturing a performance in a room and the sound of that, and more about making a record that was something other than just a performance, a kind of artifact of it's own with studio-specific techniques beyond performance and engineering goals to match (vs. just trying to capture the sound of performance in space). I don't really think recording techniques have soul or playback formats have soul. Musical performances have soul. And you can capture 'em on one format or another, and they'll still have soul, and if you listen to 'em on a great hifi or streaming on a laptop, they still have soul.
     
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  19. mcbrion

    mcbrion Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Well, I'm talking strictly performance. And I have 6,000 albums on vinyl and then the same performances on CD. The CD versions compress the "life" in the recordings. James and Bobby Purify do not have the same energy on CD (and I've owned some top of the line CD players in my time) that they do on vinyl. Neither does Aretha. She still sounds like Aretha on CD, but not with that "church" sound that is a hallmark of Black Baptist churches with the call-and-response style. I'm not talking about capturing the hall: I'm talking strictly about voice, and most specifically, Black voice. Just listen to Fontella Bass on any Rhino Records release on CD and then play it on vinyl. Maybe it IS how it was transferred from the tapes to CD, but whatever it is - and it's still there on CD - but greatly diminished compared to vinyl, it just doesn't elicit the same emotional response. And I can't be fooled by a simple format change. I sang in a Black Baptist church when I was young: I KNOW what it feels like and what it sounds like. I don't need anyone to tell me about soul, in life or on a recording: that's my culture. I didn't have to learn it. It's either there or it's not. And I have yet to have any of my friends who are my age, listen to the CD and then the vinyl and not respond just as I did. On some kinds of music, you won't miss it. But with James Brown, Fontella Bass, Aretha, Otis Redding, it is all too obvious. BUT, If I'm listening to Motown, the Stylistics, or Delfonics, singers who have a smoother style of singing it can be a toss up. But not if I'm listening to Chaka Khan singing 'Masterjam.'

    I can put up with some distortion, and snap, crackle and pops, as long as it takes me back to 1967. And, unless one has a straight-line tracking tonearm, which has almost no distortion, you'll hear the tracing errors increase on vinyl, but I find myself bored much faster with digital than vinyl, and I didn't even realize it until I borrowed my sister's little Rega Planar 3 back into the system after years of CD. And suddenly, I realized why I rarely listened to more than 2 cuts of a CD at a time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
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  20. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    For the cartridges I have tested, keeping the cartridge parallel to the record has been working quite fine. When measuring cross talk there was no obvious advantage in changing that position.
    The difference between channels in cross talk were no more than 2dB at 1kHz, which is nothing to worry about IMO.
     
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  21. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cheshire UK
    If anyone with a non-adjustable arm (ie Rega etc) wants to tweak azimuth, I have a simple & effective solution...

    Cut a thin strip of card, about 2mm wide, 1.5mm thick & the length of the cartridge body (or from several layers of yellow 'post-it' paper using the sticky edge so they stay as a small block - thickness can be varied by peeling layers away).

    This strip is then lightly glued with pritt-stik or similar along the centre of the cartridge body (front-back), between it and the headshell so that by loosening/tightening the fixing bolts, the cartridge leans slightly in the required direction & is continually adjustable until azimuth is correct.
     
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  22. Lenny

    Lenny Member

    Location:
    New York
    Azimuth is reasonably adjustable if you use a single pivot arm, like a VPI arm. But there are also some conventional bearing arms that provide for even easier azimuth adjustment. One way or another, when buying an arm this is a very important consideration. Unlike VTA, azimuth adjustment is equally important no matter the shape of the stylus--and it should remain consistent enough regardless of the thickness of the LP. When properly adjusted you easily get a stereo spread from speaker to speaker, and with the right recordings, from beyond each speaker. When wrong, the soundstage space is constricted. Peter Ledermann, who should know, has written that he considers azimuth adjustment at least as important as VTA. See his write up, referred to above, as to how to do it. IMO you don't need instruments like the Fozgometer. A good ear will do, first with any test record having some only left or only right sound. Equalize the sound in the non-sounding channels. And you don't even need a "test" record. Remember "Persuasive Percussion"? You will know it's right if you hear the spread, and especially the "space," from beyond the L to beyond the R channel on well recorded vinyl.

    Sometimes you can get lucky with a cartridge, as I think I did with an Audio Technica Art-9. Very careful examination with a loupe shows the cantilever and stylus to be perfectly centered and vertical. I think that A-T's large scale manufacturing makes that possible on a consistent basis, for it seems not always so even with more expensive cartridges. So I am able to view a horizontal line on the front of the cartridge and set it perfectly parallel to its reflection on an lp. I've verified with other testing, and it's pretty easy to keep an eye on it from time to time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  23. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Forum Resident

    Unless you have optical gear that will show you this kind of detail so you can then apply measuring tools to make sure you are perfectly vertical...in the groove.

    [​IMG]

    In my mind the only way to be assured of optimum stylus performance is with measuring the output voltage L&R. Because even if you are perfectly vertical, does not mean the output voltage will be perfectly balanced. Again, there are other components of the cartridge design you are adjusting for. How many times have you read a person state that "my cartridge is skewed 5-10 degrees to one side, but that is giving me the best sound..."

    Look analog setup is basically all trial and error, figure out what sounds best to your ears and run with it. I am approaching being an old fart, although I am only 53 and I am sure I can run faster than most of you LOL! My point is I have been with TT all my audio life, I have done all the adjustments known to man probably, and adjusting azimuth by reading the output levels gives me the best soundstage, tracking and lowest surface noise possible. And now that I run exclusively MC carts with line contact stylus and magnets that need to be as perfectly aligned as possible (VTF topic), this is the best procedure for me.

    Ohh...YMMV blah blah :)
     
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  24. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I understand what you're saying, but I think what you're talking about is a private, personal, psychological reaction, or at least one shared by you and your friends, to something you're hearing in the older vinyl recordings and masterings (which we know often had highs and lows rolled off and then to be more middy), or to the format it self. Not something that's endemic in the format or translatable to someone else. It's something you and your friends bring to the experience, not something that's in the vinyl.

    I have thousand of albums and thousands of CDs many of the same music (although obviously different masterings), many of them involving musicians I've seen including musicians with that kind of soul -- like JB and Aretha and The Staple Singers -- and many with other kinds of soul or spirit in performance whether it's Yo-Yo Ma or Mitsuko Uchida or Sergiu Celibidache or Sun Ra or P.Funk or Bob Marley. Seen 'em all in person, heard 'em all on record, even had a chance to speak with some of 'em. I know what they sound like and I know what they're emotionally capable of in connection with an audience.

    And while I didn't grow up in the same church, I'm very familiar with gospel music and gospel performers of the golden age, in fact spend more time listening to the likes of The Caravans and the Soul Stirrers and The Spirit of Memphis Quartet and Rosetta Tharpe and The Staple Singers than I do to most other artists. But I don't hear what you hear because I'm not bringing your psychological experience, and your nostalgia or memories or whatever to the experience.

    I've also played a lot of gigs on multiple instruments, I've done sessions as a musician and producer, and I've spend a lot of time in small jazz clubs with capacities of 100 where there's a tremendous amount of emotional give-and-take between musicians and audience, I know what the experience is like and I know what music sounds like. And my experience is like I said, recordings don't have soul, playback formats don't have soul, electronic gear doesn't have soul, performances have soul and CD, vinyl, streaming, whatever, there's no endemic difference between them with respect to their ability to capture the emotional content of a performance (to the extent than any recording can really capture it, all are pretty weak substitutes for that third presence that can arise in performance between audience and performer).

    I love vinyl. I spend a lot of time listening to it. And I adore older recordings, on whatever format. But I think there's a lot of romanticizing of vinyl, and demonizing of digital, that relates to things other than the relative strengths and weaknesses of the format.
     
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  25. jtw

    jtw Active Member Thread Starter

    OK. So, can I hear some 'amens' on equal output on the test tones trumping (sorry) an absolutely vertical stylus? In other words, it is more important to balance the test tones than to have the stylus vertical in the mirror.

    And can we say that it is also true that the test tones SHOULD be balanced at the absolute vertical position, but usually aren't due to manufacturing limitations?

    What are the tolerances on an average car engine? How about mechanical watches? I'm sure there are cheaper items manufactured very acurately.
     
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