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Schiit Sol- The Next Great Turntable?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by msinderson, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    But isn't that just matching the levels? That would work if the cartridge channels were perfectly balanced, but they normally aren't, so you are possibly not optimizing the azimuth. The usual method is somewhat similar, you use a test record with separate left and right channel tracks, and set for minimum amount of crosstalk on both channels. For example, play left channel track and record levels on both left and right channels, then repeat for right channel, then adjust azimuth to balance the crosstalk percentage.

    An alternate method is to use the scope and try to minimize the phase difference.
     
  2. periclimenes

    periclimenes Hears the tape speed issues

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I think you are correct, @Davey . I made the mistaken assumption that the azimuth adjustment would be for minimizing channel imbalances. After a little reading, I see that it's more about maximizing channel separation. I'll have to get back to the test record and minimize the crosstalk. Thanks for helping me to understand this better!
     
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  3. periclimenes

    periclimenes Hears the tape speed issues

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I think if you do this, you're running into the same issue that @Davey helped me to see, which is that you are minimizing channel imbalance not the cross talk. That said, I think what you would want to do is use the out-of-phase 1kHz reference tone (track 14) into your Y-adapter mono setup, and have your speakers wired normally. Then you can adjust to minimize the result by ear.
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  4. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    In the intervening minutes between when I posted that and now, I broke out the digital multimeter and did what Davey is describing. I think I've got the balance correct, now I have to fine tune it with the channel separation method. Essentially, I've identified the spot where I'm getting equal voltage out of the amp per channel. Now I need to, if I'm thinking about this right, find the spot where the voltage on the channel that is not being played is the same percentage on both sides, as the one being played.

    But, I think I may need a better meter :( My meter only has .1 decimal precision, and that's making it difficult to get very far.

    All that said, I LOVE Schiit's azimuth adjustment. It is very easy to make fine adjustments IMO. I never liked the "rotating headshell" approach, or the VPI approach. Just seemed difficult to make minor changes. Schiit's way seems easiest of all the ones I've used.
     
  5. periclimenes

    periclimenes Hears the tape speed issues

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I agree about the Sol adjustment. I put a dab of nail polish on the brass weight so it was easy to see how far I had turned it. Piece of cake!
     
  6. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    One update I forgot to give earlier - having now fitted the MP-500 cart, my buzzing sound is essentially gone. And when I pulled the stylus off the MP-200 to get it unscrewed, I realized there is a kink or knick in the metal that slides into the generator portion of the cart. I'm not certain, but that can't be good. At the end of the day, my MP-200 "backup cart" appears to be FUBAR as now it doesn't want to seat right inside the housing. So I'll need a new stylus for that if I ever want to re-use it.

    And, Schiit is sending me a tested platter/bearing assembly to put on mine and see how it goes. So I'll be able to measure with that and the Cruise Control, see how she does, later this week.
     
    Nathan Z and periclimenes like this.
  7. periclimenes

    periclimenes Hears the tape speed issues

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Thanks once again to @Davey for setting me straight on the purpose of aligning the azimuth. I used a digital voltmeter to measure the crosstalk of my "optimized" setup that was about 2 degrees off of perpendicular to the floor. The measurements were 31dB in one channel and 19dB in the other! I was able to minimize the crosstalk at 25.5dB and 26dB with the tonearm tilting about 2 degrees in the opposite direction of where I had set it previously. The difference was incredible. The sound stage now extends way beyond the speakers and the music sounds more like a band is in the room with me.

    This made a huge difference to my ears in a way that messing with the VTA never has. If anyone is on the fence about going through the hassle of getting this dialed in, I highly recommend it!
     
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  8. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Those numbers you're quoting - are those the differences in each channel? So one channel was a 31 dB difference between left/right and the other was 19 between right/left (for example purposes, this would be a left channel only track and then a right only channel, respectively)?

    I wasn't able to get mine totally dialed in with the method I'm trying to describe above, but I was able to improve it over where I started and I agree - the difference, even non-optimal, is plain as day. At this point, I'm just trying to make sure I'm speaking the same language as everyone else on this :)
     
  9. periclimenes

    periclimenes Hears the tape speed issues

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    toddrhodes likes this.
  10. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    periclimenes likes this.
  11. Nathan Z

    Nathan Z Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    Ah yes, the magical sound of a properly set up turntable. How I wish everyone would realize that all these tweaks matter...
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  12. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Point taken but I can't recall getting such noticeable results on my old AT Art9, which is also a fine tip that can benefit from perfect alignment in all directions, having used a Fozgometer to set its azimuth.

    I have a better meter on the way with more precision to it, to help dial mine in more. It's honestly sorta fun to do it, lol.

    Edit - the puzzling thing to me is that on a cart with supposed > 27 dB separation figures (Nag MP-500), the numbers I was getting from the meter indicate more like 23.5 or 24. That's at least a little odd. But, I cannot argue with the sound, it sounds excellent and since this is the first time I've tried setting it this way, I don't really have a good metric to compare against, beyond what the gent above is getting on his. @periclimenes - what cart are you using?
     
  13. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    You really need to filter the output for an accurate separation test, so if working in real time, I think they generally use a precision test record with 1K tone and a spectrum analyzer to just look at that narrow frequency band, and ignore the noise and other effects, such as from warps and off center pressings. The noise will decrease the separation readings if making wideband measurements, such as with a DMM. I think most of us just record the tones and do the processing on the computer, takes more time as it becomes an iterative process, but most of us also don't have an easy way to adjust azimuth in near real time like you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
    toddrhodes likes this.
  14. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Got it, that makes sense. I'll see if I can dial it up any closer than I have it but I'm going to mark where I am now because really, it's just my nature to see how far I can go with it, but I really have zero complaints about what I'm hearing. I would describe everything as just more spacious across the jmage after the change. Was listening to a drum solo on Kenny Burrell feat Art Blakey last night and was just sitting there incredulous to how it all sounded.
     
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  15. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Sounds like you've got it dialed in pretty well. Note also that tonearm designers are kind of split on the importance of offsetting the pivot bearing axis to match the cartridge offset. There are pros and cons of both ways, but with the bearing axis perpendicular to the arm tube, like on your unipivot (to a large degree), and on many gimbal designs, you will have small azimuth changes as the arm pivots vertically, or when you change VTA.
     
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  16. periclimenes

    periclimenes Hears the tape speed issues

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    This was with the low-end Vessel LP Gear cartridge. Next up is my MP-110, though. I'll let you know what I end up getting.
     
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  17. periclimenes

    periclimenes Hears the tape speed issues

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I got my Nagaoka MP-110 dialed in with a Fluke meter and an old CBS test record. The crosstalk figures are 25.5dB and 26.5dB. Both the Vessel and Nagaoka cartridges have minimum crosstalk when the tonearm is "leaning" away from the spindle by 2 degrees or so.

    @toddrhodes what are you using for the audio source in your testing?
     
  18. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    I'm using the Analogue Productions test record, tracks 2 and 3.

    My current meter only goes to .1 decimal precision, so I have a bit more precise one on the way (wanted a Fluke... can't afford a Fluke) but I'm not sure that's going to make up the difference.

    That said, at least so far, I'm finding on mine that I'm leaning slightly away from the spindle as well. I was going to say mine was the opposite as yours but I was thinking you said pivot, not spindle. By sight, it seems like I need to angled slightly toward the spindle but that's not how the volt meter showed me the way.
     
  19. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    So @periclimenes and @toddrhodes when you get your azimuth dialed-in correctly, how does the headshell look relative to the record?

    I ask because it is apparently common for some unipivot turntables to have the headshells assembled such that they are 1-2 degrees off from the pivot.

    So azimuth correction can be due to the cartridge requiring it, or the tonearm being assembled slightly askew.
     
  20. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    One nice thing about the Sol is that with its azimuth adjustment, you can pretty plainly see which way the headshell will skew. With the weight dead center on the azimuth adjustment pin, the headshell is level with the playing surface. Any deviation from center introduces a skew to the opposite side as the weight pulls down that side of the headshell.

    If I'm reading @periclimenes' words correctly, both his and my weights are just slightly to the right of center if you're looking at the tonearm head on, therefore skewing the headshell slightly down and away from the spindle, from the perspective of looking forward at the spindle.

    | /

    Spindle | / headshell tilt (grossly exaggerated)
     
    Phil Thien likes this.
  21. periclimenes

    periclimenes Hears the tape speed issues

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    @toddrhodes 's illustration shows the orientation of my cartridge as well. I just measured it and it is 1 degree off of perpendicular to the platter
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  22. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    So having a more precise meter certainly seems to be helping. The one I got also displays the frequency I'm measuring too, which I thought was kind of neat.

    So the AP test record I've been using has a first track of reference level 1 Khz tone, L/R balanced. First off, my l/r offset needed just a tiny bit of tweaking. It's amazing how a virtually indistinguishable twist of zenith can balance out the L/R. It was about .15 volts off between channels at 4V. I now have it to about .25V. And considering a hair in either direction off where I have it sends it into a tizzy, I'm leaving it.

    This brought my overall azimuth to where I was able to dial both channels into "perfect" separation. Now that separation is only 21.5 dB - and I don't really know why - but I also don't really care. Maybe it's my record or something else, but the fact is I was able to get both channels' crosstalk ratios to match and I'm going to just leave it. While tedious, this was actually pretty fun to do.

    Here's where I ended up, in pic form:
    [​IMG]

    Getting the perspective and the focus right was tough, but it's just barely to the right of center on the post, facing the tonearm head on. It's a good 1 to 1.5 turns inward toward the center from where I started, before tweaking the offset angle slightly.
     
    Ham Sandwich likes this.
  23. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    The Fremer review is online now ...

    Conclusion

    I spent a great deal of time listening to, playing with and “tweaking” the Schiit SOL turntable (I think Schiit can produce a few good “tweaks” too, like, perhaps a silicon damping reservoir and paddle designed to fit under the ring). It is a fascinating design, incorporating many good, fundamentally sound ideas priced to bring vinyl lovers on a budget, both tech and sound quality otherwise out of their reach, but (and it's a zoftig butt) getting the most out of the SOL requires more than a casual set up, though even then you'll get pretty good sonic performance. However, it would be a shame to buy one and not pursue the sonic excellence it is capable of providing, starting with as good a medium to high compliance MM or MI cartridge you can possibly afford.

    So, please consider getting the necessary tools to properly adjust the iconoclastic, versatile arm including in addition to an accurate VTF gauge, a Fozgometer to set azimuth and if you can at least borrow one, a microscope to set SRA. Oh, and remember to set overhang using the paper alignment tool's arc before aligning to the grid.

    The Schiit SOL Turntable
     
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  24. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    So the new platter and bearing arrived. Haven't listened to a side yet but I can say that the speed stability has improved a bit.

    I'm now seeing W/F around .1% and just anecdotally watching the numbers scroll by on the RPM app, they seem more stable and consistent than from the previous platter.

    The best part is, the stability seems to be consistent whether I use the CC to change speeds or moving the belt on the pulley. So to avoid touching stuff, I'll now use the CC to change speeds for different LPs.

    Hoping to hear (er, not hear?) an improvement in noise/rumble while the stylus is in the groove between tracks. It was already pretty negligble after I added the PolyWeight and re-lubed the old bearing but this one, again anecdotally, seems to spin more freely when not connected to anything and also seems quieter while rotating, to my ears.
     
    Ripblade likes this.
  25. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    Location:
    SW Washington, USA

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