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your opinion on my VTA

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by aunitedlemon, Jan 21, 2021.

  1. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    I'm at a wonky spot here. My TT is a Technics SL1500C and I'm currently using an AT VM95ML cartridge with the stock Technics headshell. The Technics manual instructs to set VTA so that the tonearm is level with a record on the platter, viewed from the height of the LP's surface. Audio Technica instructs one to set the top of the cartridge body so that it is parallel with a record on the platter. I cannot achieve both. I'm of the opinion that having the top of the cartridge body parallel with the record surface is more important than keeping the tonearm level but I'm here because I value your opinions.
    The VM95ML is 17.2 mm tall as per AT's website, and according to the Technics manual that equates to setting the VTA ~3mm higher, using the stock 3mm mat. I recently added an Oyaide mat which is 5mm thick on the outside edge so simple math says raise the tonearm height to ~5mm. Please see the attached photos. What I see is that the top of the cartridge is "tail-up" and the tonearm itself is "tail-down". I honestly, with my barely trained ears, or the lack of a more revealing system/room, cannot hear a tangible difference between adjustments. I'm just detail oriented and tend to perseverate over variables (ask me how often I make single click adjustments to the crossover or gain on my sub...).
    So, how would you proceed with a happy medium for my VTA?
    As always, thanks for any time or attention you pay to this nit-picking of mine. I appreciate your input.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
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  2. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    Visually, this looks quite good. In the top photo, it appears a bit "tail up" (arm pivot point a litte high) but some other photos look a little bit tail down. It is a good starting point. From here, you should experiment with small up and down adjustments to find where the sonic results suit you. As long as you don't radically deviate from where you are now, you should be good.
     
    The FRiNgE, rcsrich and aunitedlemon like this.
  3. Technocentral

    Technocentral Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
  4. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Note that AT suggests a VTA of 23 degrees for that cartridge. I would try to get it close and not lose sleep over it.
     
  5. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    I understand where you're coming from with the suggestion to "shim". I'll assume that you're suggesting adding a shim(s) between the cartridge and the headshell. That would help level things out as far as the cartridge being tail-up and the tonearm being tail-down but considering that I can only raise my tonearm 1 more mm I don't think I have enough height adjustment range for shimming the cartridge to be an effective solution. Adding shims under the headshell will angle the tonearm further tail down and I don't have enough height adjust to compensate for the space needed to level it on that course of action. I could go with a thinner mat but I'm pretty committed to the Oyaide at this point. Thank you, though.
     
  6. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    The 23 degrees is the relationship between the cartridge cantilever (as it leaves the cartridge body) and the surface of the LP, correct? I do have the ability to cut a piece of wood at any given angle to use as a template...
    Definitely not losing sleep, especially since I'm having a hard time picking out sonic differences between mm of tonearm height. I'm just having fun with the variables and trying to set things up to the best of my ability.
    Thanks for your input. Much appreciated, as usual.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  7. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Essentially yes. You may find this article of interest.

    Exposing the VTA myth? [English]
     
  8. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    I actually use a shim on this cart, but with a different headshell. Same mat. Shim was actually for a different TT/arm but when I moved it to the new TT I left the shim on.
     
  9. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    Ha. I read that last night. Interesting for sure. I want to believe that VTA matters. But as I've admitted, I'm hard-pressed to pick out any sonic differences between adjustments. It's fun to monkey with though.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  10. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Main thing to remember is that we need some tolerance for the angle due to records of different thicknesses and the occasional warp. Without it we wouldn't be able to play all those records without dickering with settings for every single LP. Dunno about you but I have better things to do. Get it reasonably close for an average record in your collection and call it a day.
     
    rcsrich and aunitedlemon like this.
  11. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    You're referring to the Zupreme 10g headshell, correct? I'm considering one of those (your recommendations haven't steered me wrong yet). I hate the phillips screws holding the finger-lift on. Picky picky picky
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  12. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Yes. I use it with a delrin spacer because I originally had it on a TT with no tonearm height adjustment. I'm not sure you would actually need the spacer. The fingerlift can always be removed I guess. I never thought about it much.

    If you wanna spend big Korf has some ceramic headshells that look nice. 250 Euros plus shipping though.
     
  13. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    I'd rather put that towards nicer speakers! Reminds me of the cyclists who spend big $$$ for ceramic bearings. They're SOOO round... to each their own.
    One item I took of particular interest in that article was the author's example of how much a wavy LP can cause VTA deviation, at least in most cases much more than the thousandths of an inch he was spotlighting. Best to not over-think it and just enjoy the music. Hell, my mood affects what I hear from my stereo more than some of the micro-adjustments one can make. If only my mood was so easy to adjust!:crazy:
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  14. MusicNBeer

    MusicNBeer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    I'll argue VTA at the mm scale is pointless. The diamonds and cantilevers aren't produced with accuracy enough to make it matter.
     
    aunitedlemon likes this.
  15. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    As much as I love the sound (or the idea) of a revealing soundscape that pulls you into every detail, I'm glad I don't have such a high-end system that every finite detail has to be loc-tite dialed to enjoy it.
     
    Gugaz likes this.
  16. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    I hear you on the bearings. There are high-end bearings for skateboards too, including ceramic. For certain styles of that sport, there might be some benefit but the street/plaza type skating that I grew up on tended to destroy bearings, no matter if they were expensive Bones Swiss or cheaper NMBs.

    Point is, in any hobby one can go overboard for diminishing returns very quickly.
     
    MusicNBeer likes this.
  17. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    True that. Think of how many foodies spend hundreds of dollars on salt!
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  18. MusicNBeer

    MusicNBeer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    I'm with you. A good cartridge loaded correctly with a well shaped diamond will sound great VTA +/- whatever, even VTF and azimuth are relatively forgiving in my experience. I've yet to swap cartridges with a known good one and have it sound like crap because I didn't set VTF, anti-skate, etc perfectly per spec.
     
    aunitedlemon likes this.
  19. MusicNBeer

    MusicNBeer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    Oh yea, I agree completely. I spent over $5K on a Bryston amplifier. It sounds great but I know perfectly well I probably couldn't tell the difference between it and a $1K (or less) amp. It's what I love for some unknown reason. It was that way since I was like 5 yo. I love the over engineering. I love the look, etc. It's definitely a hobby of love where money (if you have the means) is secondary.
     
    Gugaz and patient_ot like this.
  20. MusicNBeer

    MusicNBeer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    Caveat is that I have a Technics 1200GR with easily swapped headshells where initial alignment is maintained. I'm not saying you can avoid aligning.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  21. Sterling1

    Sterling1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    Your effective solution will be to put the stock 3mm mat back onto the platter.
     
  22. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    Like I mentioned above- I'm pretty committed to the 5mm Oyaide mat. It's a really nice mat and works very well with the Michell R clamp. I think my VTA is "close enough" and isn't worth getting real obsessed with. Thanks for your input, it's cool to hear different opinions.
     
  23. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    you are right to spot the top of the cartridge which is parallel with the top of the headshell. disregard trying to sight in the tonearm level, it is too difficult to see accurately and does not really mater.
    the top image shows you are close. is there enough travel left in the arm ring to lower the tail?
    keep lowering until the gauge is parallel to the top of the headshell flat.
    if the ring dial is down to zero, you will need either a shim under the cart or a thicker mat.
    other headshells will lift the cartridge even more making matters worse.
     
    aunitedlemon likes this.
  24. aunitedlemon

    aunitedlemon Music is medicine, dose often. Thread Starter

    Thanks, avanti1960. There is plenty of room to lower the tonearm. Those photos were taken with it set at the "5" indicator. I had the arm set lower (before I posted this thread), with my focus on getting the top of the cartridge parallel with the LP, when the obviously tail-down tonearm had me wondering if I was taking the right approach and considering what other experienced vinyl spinners might think about it. I set it where it was for the posted pics in an attempt to illustrate a "happy medium" of sorts. I've since lowered the tonearm to get the top of the cartridge parallel with the LP. Thanks to all for weighing in. I'll ignore the non-level tonearm :whistle:
     
    ivor likes this.
  25. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    This looks fine to me, though let’s keep in mind the angles and optics of a photo versus what it really looks like in person. But that first photo shows the flat of the underside of the headshell pretty darn close to level, so unless you can measure the SRA or VTA more precisely (honestly I have never been able to get a good measurement of that, so I go with getting the headshell level and tuning by ear if that doesn’t quite sound right), and unless something sounds off, you should be good.

    The arm tube, I find, is pretty much impossible to try to gauge against a block like that because of the curve. I just can never get a reliable angle on it, and the angle at the cartridge is what should matter, anyway. So I don’t suggest worrying about that.
     
    aunitedlemon likes this.

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