Bent Cant, Can't get azimuth right. Does it matter

Hello again,

I just got a new Benz Micro Gold for my scout and jmw-9 arm. When it arrived, the cantilever was bent slightly over to the left. I aligned using the vpi jig.
With the HI-FI news test record, I can track all the test tracks except the torture track 9. Everything sounds really good, and I am corresponding with Yip to get a mint lp sent out to me soon.

My problem is the azimuth set-up, track 5 side 2. Because the cartilever is bent slightly, in order to get the stylus perpendicular to the record I would have to tilt inward about 20 degrees! On the azimuth track, I can't get the output of the channels equal otherwise, but in all the tracking test tracks the output is identical?

My question is:

If the cartridge is tracking well (excellent) and I don't hear any distortion in my music, is having the azimuth perfect going to make a big audible difference?
I can always send it back to the dealer?

I added a photo of the cartridge to my system ( the photos need to be updated )

Any thoughts?
Hi,I would send it back and demand a good one.You should not have to accept a flawed brand new(I assume you mean brand new never used)cartridge no matter if it affects the sound or not.I bought several cartridges in the last five years or so some new some used and none have a bent cantilever.
Many here will tell you to send the cartridge back but it is not an uncommon problem. As long as it is not too severe and it doesn't look too severe from your photo then simply align using the cantilever rather than the cartridge body. Cartridge body alignment is not what you are aiming for. When you get Yip's Mint you will need to align the cantilever using parallax anyway. I have an Orpheus which is slightly twisted in the arm's head shell to ensure the cantilever is correctly aligned and I have no issue with azimuth adjustment as the cantilever is aligned correctly. The cartridge body simply looks a little odd in the head shell. Performance has been excellent for the last 700 hours. The Transfiguration manual makes a point of saying to align the cantilever and not the cartridge body so I guess that they are aware that the cantilevers are not always perfectly aligned. Should be but you have to deal with what you have not what you would like it to be.

In your system does it track OK when the cantilever is correctly adjusted for azimuth using your test record? If so then you will be OK. Seems like you are hearing good things so you can't be too far out.
Well-yeah. Reproduction of music via a phonograph is based on various parameters at a very, very small level. Any of those parameters, singly and by themselves, may not seem particularly important, but they all combine into a whole that will, or will not, provide the best that your system can offer. Your picture doesn't seem to show an issue, but if it's as you describe, I'd definitely see about a change.

Oh, and I wouldn't become too enamored with the Test Record. Set up the cart with the Mint, and you should be good to go.
Benz bent slide to the side???
You might have tracking issues and you'll need to test by listening your groves.
I'd ask for replacement by warranty.
Take a patience and replace it.
Dear Hanaleimike: Normaly a test record is a help to confirm that we have a good cartridge set-up but at the end our ears are the best tool to decide if what we are hearing is right on target.

There is no reason that a " bent " cantilever preclude to make azymuth changes ( by ear ), so I can't see any trouble with your cartridge where you like its quality performance.
Now, a brand new cartridge ( in theory ) must comes with a straight cantilever and if in your cartridge this is not happening then make sense that you claim for a change of the item according the manufacturer warranty.

If we take the attitude: " that if sounds good is ok ", then the build quality control on audio items can't improve in detriment of us the customers, we have to claim!, especially on brand new items.

Regards and enjoy the music,
To Raul, what you say re build quality is true and what you say regarding relying on what our years tell us is correct also but this depends very much on your level of experience and your ears. You have set up at least hundreds of cart/arm combinations and have a well trained ear. No disrespect to Hanaleimike but he and many others may rely on test records as they need some simple mechanical device to assist in determining correct alignment. Just what does correct alignment sound like? If something is not quite right where does one look for the cure? There are a number of adjustment parameters and things like test records assist with these adjustments when hands on practical experience or the assistance of a skilled tutor is missing.

Doesn't make what you say incorrect just that you have to remember where you are coming from is a different place to many others.

Benz sent me out a new cartridge, straight as an arrow. I installed it today, and there was a lot of "missing" information in the right channel with the bent cart. I am glad I sent it back, thanks. Now I have to wait for it to break-in again.
With any cartridge featuring a "bent" or "off-line" cantilever one should always remember that it is the cantilever (and of course ultimately the polished area of the stylus in position towards the grooved walls of the record...) that has to be aligned - NOT the cartridge body.
In an ideal world the outer lines of the cartridge body are absolutely parallel (or 90 degrees....) to the cantilever and can help to align precisely - but they are only an optical support for alignment.
Its never the carts body that has to be aligned.
Phaser and Dertonarm: Aligning the cantilever/stylus isn't the only parameter that needs some attention. If the cantilever is askew enough that it isn't aligned optimally within the cartridge generator then sound quality will suffer. The cantilever/stylus/groove AND the cantilever/cartridge body/generator need to be in alignment. There is probably a range of cantilever alignment within the cartridge that is acceptable but if the cantilever appears to be that far off then I consider the cartridge defective.

As Raul points out, if consumers accept poor quality construction then it isn't just the consumer that suffers. Manufacturers need to know of defective products so they can maintain quality standards. Obviously Benz-Micro agreed with you, Hanaleimike, since they replaced the cartridge.

Hi Tketcham,
I do agree completely. I had a case of a 'misaligned' cantilever, and the manufacturer conceded that the cart has an "VTA error" (I was riding VERY low from the onset).
BUT as you pointed out, this also had a very detrimental effect on the internal alignment, with the result that the cart when it was measured with test record and oscilloscope performed very badly.

How such product gets past the quality assurance of a respectable and renown manufacturer is telling not a good story in deed. It is also a reflection on customers that are prepared to pay thousands of $$$ for a faulty product -- and don't query it.
In my case it took 4 month! but it was eventually replaced with a new correctly aligned cart.

Tketcham, there are two parameters in a given MC cartridge that need to be aligned when mounted in a given tonearm:

1) the position of the stylus' polished area in relation to the cutting angle of the groove walls.

2) the position of the coils (attached to the cantilever) in the designed center of the magnet field.

The first is a matter of azimuth, VTA and geometry of the given tonearm.
This parameter most certainly varies with different records (different cutting angles, different record thickness) as the groove-compliant VTA is depending on the record under track and the angle that record's matrix was cut with.

The second point is a matter of VTF (and to some degree and in some cartridges a matter of "break-in" - i.e.: of time....).
However- there is only ONE optimal VTF when the cantilever (and thus the coils... ) is positioned in the absolute center of the magnetic field.
It may ever so slightly vary with time (suspension giving slowly in or ambient temperature varies), but it is constant during the "healthy live-span" of a cartridge and under constant ambience conditions.
There may be 2-4 positions of a cantilever inside a given cartridge where one may thinks the alignment is "o.k." - but in reality as in theory there is only one optimal position.
D., I was referring to the horizontal position/alignment of the cantilever relative to the cartridge body. If the cantilever is noticeably offset from centerline with the body than there's a problem. But your point about vertical positioning of the cantilever is also true.

Hi Tom, the situation you do describe is a cartridge which should always and right away be returned to the manufacturer - its certainly defective.
Which brings us back to Raul and the fact that we - the customer - do get what we accept.
If we accept less than perfect mechanical craftsmanship, than we deserve no better - and will get no better.
Any cartridge - for any price - should be mechanically perfect and geometrical correct to its design parameters to start with.
No excuse - no exceptions (no matter how much hype around its 120+ year old designer (coming from 20+ generations of ancient warriors.....) who only makes 12 samples a year and only at full moon and with wire delivered by real Trolls........).
Hi Dertonarm,

I aligned my new cartridge with the Mintlp which arrived today. Even with only a few hours on the cartridge it sounds amazing compared to the last one. In regards to your comment about vtf, what in your experience is the window for the "one optimal vtf" I was playing around with the vtf tonight. When the vtf is too low, the magic of the mint is lost, when I had too high a vtf ( vpi recommends .1 plus the maximum manufacturer recommendation, which in my case would be 2.3) things start to sound damped and a bit dead. It seems to be best at around 2.2-2.3. How many decimal points is the size of this window? Should I still be fine tuning to the next decimal point? I had it and lost it a couple of times tonight in the 2.1-2.4 range. I also noticed a difference of .1 when setting the gauge on the platter vs. the record. I have been using the platter height. Any tips you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Mike, in general: in the very first 1-20 hours of a new modern cartridge you will notice that the sounds does change literally if not by the minute, but by the hour. The suspension velocity needs to adapt to the ambient conditions and needs these initial "break-in" to adjust itself to its specs.
It is always good, to set the initial VTF at the upper maximum of the recommended range. I would stick to the 2.2 grams and just play and wait till you have at least 20-30 hours of actual playing on the cart.
No need to fine tune the VTF now, - nor would it show it.
Get past the initial break-in and do adjust the "sweet-spot VTF" when the cartridge is actual awake (read: suspension has reached specified velocity).
Do ever so little decrease the VTF then till you find the spot with the most open, dynamic sound, while still not lacking authority and weight.
As we can't really look into the cartridge with a microscope while playing, the fine-tuning of the VTF too is a matter of ears, experience and skill.
Move slowly, precise and only after you are sure the break-in period is past you.
Please make sure the tonearm is absolutely in zero-balance before setting any VTF.
Excellent primer from Dertonarm regarding adjusting VTF. Exactly how I do it. Reduce VTF in TINY increments until bass/dynamics suffer, then bump it back up a TINIER amount, but not so far that you lose HF extension, microdynamics, speed or "air".

I would only add that as a cartridge continues to accumulate hours the suspension may continue to change. Elastomers are notoriously unstable and unpredictable. Fine tuning VTF (via the methods he described) is often beneficial throughout the life of a cartrdidge.
Thank you Gentlemen,

Is playing your turntable for 11 hours with the needle in the end closed groove a good way to speed the break-in process? The reason I ask is because I left it spinning last night and would love to feel like less of an IDIOT! Hopefully I haven't wrecked my new cartridge. Thanks for the vtf tips.
If the run-out groove is smooth-ended, you won't have any trouble.
In any case, every cartridge worth the name has to survive any run-out groove without any damage at all.
However due to lack of modulation, the run-out groove doesn't help at all to speed up the break-in procedure.
So, no break-in while you sleep.