inconstantcyPut a pair of Depends on it. Should do the trick. Or let it out with the dogs.
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My experience with these repackaged generic gauges like the one you are using is that they are all unreliable - perhaps its some form of magnetic interference (i.e. this is why it measures fine on calibration weights but goes haywire with a cart)
The Riverstone that others cite likely does not suffer from this due to the added mechanism offsetting the location point and getting the cartridge magnet away from the weight mechanism.
These days I use the Rega Gauge which eschews magnetic materials entirely and works a dream but it is rather premium priced
I watched someone doing a setup where three different digital scales were used and none of the scales agreed (the user averages the readings). None of the scales were low-cost models, one was a Win scale that is made for cartridge setup and costed about $900 more than 15 years ago.
I don't know what to make of this. I use an outrigger that rests on the scale which has an attachment that can be set at different heights so that the measurement is taken at the level of the record. This also means that the cartridge is never close to the scale itself (the outrigger is acrylic). I don't know if this improves accuracy, but, it certainly removes issues involving magnetic attraction of the cartridge to components in the scale, and incorrect readings from the cartridge being at the wrong position (height) when the measurement is taken.
To the OP: Lower the cartridge (preferably an MC cartridge, because they have big magnets) until it is barely above the weigh pan but not touching it. Does the gauge show a negative weight value? If so, that indicates it contains some low level of iron; the magnet in the cartridge is pulling UP on the pan. If the weigh pan is magnetic, even a little bit, that messes things up. I used one of the popular digital scales for years before realizing that it had the problem, which was only evident when I tried to adjust VTF for an Ortofon MC2000 cartridge, which has a humongous magnet situated in its belly, near to the platter or any weigh pan. I subsequently bought one of the 2 or 3 gauges made by Ortofon, the weigh pan of which so far seems to be non-ferrous, although it is metal. This problem seems so easy to avoid in designing such a gauge. But apparently the sellers do not care a fig. As long as they're selling.
I still use the old Technics that came with the EPA-100 arm. It's electronic but analog, not digital, and doesn't give you milligrams (which are SO important). It's just a needle that swings from .5g to 3g, with markings for each .1g — and I can squeeze the needle between them for .05g. Accurate enough for me, and utterly consistent. Not high tech, but cool in a retro way.
That is a very big discrepancy; it’s normal to have some minor discrepancy with any of these gauges and especially those that have 3 decimal point resolution but that is huge. Also, try to hit the centre of the dot each time.
In light of the fact that scale takes triple A batteries, I would replace the batteries first to see if that might fix the problem if you are using those that came with the scale. You may already have some extras around; if that doesn’t correct things then, yes, look for a new scale.
The body of the Riverstone gauge---they actually make two, but get the one with the extension arm which puts the stylus at playing height when measuring VTF---is made of a tough plastic, and that extension arm of a non-ferromagnetic grade of stainless steel. The gauge has resolution to 0.005g (!), and can be recalibrated to zero via the 5 and 20 gram weights included. Riverstone Audio has a video on You Tube in which the gauge is displayed, described, and explained, and then demonstrated.
The ubiquitous electronic gauge that most companies are rebranding and marketing as their own is, in comparison, a piece of junk, regardless of price. Many of them sell for more than the Riverstone, some much more. I mean come on, $28.95---whaddaya got ta lose?! For more details, see the Riverstone Audio website.
What you purchased looks like a re-branded cheap scale that is sold all over ebay for under $10. If it is giving you inconsistent readings, toss it and look for something better. Lots of suggestions here. I use a "MY Weigh" scale. It is not a stylus scale and has to be fiddled with to do the job well but it has been excellent over many years. You do not have to spend a great deal of money to get something that works well.
Personally, I have not had problems with the Canrong scales over the years. These are the scales commonly referred to as the cheap, Chinese, rebranded etc.
The first one I bought had .000 grams resolution and I think I paid about $50 about 10 years ago. It shipped with virtually dead (button) batteries (which is why I suggested replacing original batteries above) but once those were replaced the scale functioned perfectly for about 7-8 years before biting the bullet.
For what it's worth, my wife was a researcher at that time and I had her take that scale into work and test it against a couple of scales in that lab that cost between $1500 and $2000 at the time. The variation between the Canrong and the expensive lab scales never exceeded .007 grams doing a number of measurements between one and five grams. So good enough for me.
When that one stopped functioning I was feeling a bit frugal so bought one of the lower resolution scales (.00 grams) off ebay for about $10. Anecdotally, I do feel that the higher resolution version was built to slightly higher standards-notably, the weigh tray on the more expensive version seemed to be straighter, less canted.
But I have two of the cheapies here and they register within .02 grams of each other; that is certainly acceptable to me. So I don't think it's necessary to spend huge amounts of money on these, or any scale to get accurate repeatable results.
But easy to get a bum product with anything you order. Hopefully the OP got this sorted out. The post about it possibly being the tonearm (and the scale being accurate) was interesting and a possibility that I did not consider. Small differences in height in terms of where the measurement is actually taken can be a factor with unipivots and/or arms with low slung counterweights but the difference the OP experienced does seem extreme.
I'd be curious for him to weigh back in (no pun intended!) to hear if he's resolved the problem.
All that being said, the Riverstone at $29 does appear to be a very good value and option. Looks good.
I’ve never liked those type of scales either. The Mapleshade scale is very accurate but not great looking. Pierre has modified a jewelers scale to accept a (loooong) platform which is one of it’s drawbacks. I too use the Rega now. The Shure beam scale is very inaccurate, I couldn't believe it when I read not too long ago, MF was endorsing it.
"The Mapleshade scale is very accurate but not great looking. Pierre has modified a jewelers scale to accept a (loooong) platform which is one of it’s drawbacks."
Mine is 10 years old, and working fine. As long as fresh batteries are in it, I seem to get consistent measurements anytime.
The platform is kind of hokey, and I've had to reglue it several times from knocking it loose. Otherwise, it does what it's supposed to do.
Thank you to all that have chimed in to my post and much appreciated is the Riverstone Audio gauge recommendation from bdp24 and Uberwaltz. I ordered one from Amazon and used it over the weekend; sure enough the Riverstone is a good scale and offers consistent results - hallelujah! One thing I did notice, however, is that it takes longer than 30 seconds to warm up and settle down. Leave it on and use it for about 5 minutes before final result becomes accurate and consistent.
I am using a unipivot VPI 3D printed tonearm with dual pivot mod. The cartridge is Lyra Etna.
@seasoned, one thing to be aware of about the Riverstone gauge is that it is so sensitive merely breathing near it will change the reading. A ceiling fan, wind from an open window, even moving your hand can change the reading. So, set your stylus down, stand still and hold your breath, and take a reading!
Bought the Riverstone few years back and never looked back.
Unfortunately the Riverstone will not work with carts like Benz that use very powerful magnets. I tried it with my Benz Wood SL and it exhibited the classic "negative read" as the cart approached the landing zone. Both on the body platform and on the accessory arm. The folks at Riverstone confirmed they had received some reports about this with carts like Benz. I was disappointed because I otherwise really admired what Riverstone did with the design.