best way to figure out vta on tonearm

i have a fidelity research 64fx. you cannot adjust the vta on the fly (at least i have not figured out how). is there a test record that will help with this...or do you just move it up and down until it sounds good??

thanks jim
Yes. I guess that is sort of a short answer. Start by Just moveing it up and down. It takes a while and sometimes you may go way to far one way or the other you can always start over. I usually find that if the bass is mushy or muddy it is too low in the back. Move the arm up until the bass starts to focus.Keep going up in very small increments You should find a point where the upper mid and trebel start to become a bit hard or bright sounding. Now back it back down in amounts so small you can hardly see until the trebel smooths out. This should get you to a point where the sound is good top to bottom and with the most relaxed sound and best sound stage. If the maker of the cartridge gives you a starting point like Grado does with the wood body units(they say level or perhaps 2 degrees down in back) use that as a starting point. I Had a Shinon Red that didn't sound good until the arm was so low in the back that the body of the cartridge almost rubbed the record. Other cartridges are just the opposite and you end up with a tone arm set up that looks like a jacked up 68 Nova. I hope this is helpful Jim. That is a cool arm, very well made. I used to like their cartridges in the 70's too.Are they still makeing those?
Before you start playing with raising or lowering the tone arm to adjust VTA, you need a reference point. To start the process, be sure that your tonearm is level with the record surface -- a small bubble level that can rest on top of the tonearm is helpful.

Most of the time, I have found that imaging and focus improve when the rear of the tonearm is just SLIGHTLY lower than the front, i.e., there is a slight downward angle.

As others have noted, getting the right VTA is a matter of trial-and-error, but once you have the level reference point it becomes easier to make changes.
thx. for the above comments: very helpful!
So far with my Grado I've been using it parallel to the record surface with good results but haven't yet tried experimenting much. It did not work very well when tilted upward toward the rear; bass response was lean.
Jvr there is a popular test record available from Audio it's the Hi Fi News & Record Review LP (a.k.a. HFNRR). I just received mine but haven't tried it yet. There are a number of different test tracks for optimizing VTA, tracking force, antiskating force, etc.
Bob, Please let us know what you think of the test disc once you get a chance to try it. I am very curious about the VTA tracks. I used to work in a "high end" store that insisted every table was set up with Shure test records and an Oscope. It was mostly smoke and mirrors, but it was in Las Vegas, show capital of the world! They loved all the big expensive fancy HP test stuff sitting around to impress people. Sort of high ends version of "Sigfried and Roy"! Any way, the Shure test records at least, seemed to me, to not produce a set up that was very good sounding. I think they were designed as a marketing tool instead of a real world test. They seemed to create an exagerated need for anti skate. I could usually take a table set up this way and tweek it by ear and get an improvment. Working in this place was like "HiFi Hell". I got fired after I said that the Sony CDP 101(the very first CD player) they were all in love with drove me from the room. Thus ends another chapter in "The Further Misadventures of Maxgain, HiFi Gunslinger" Stay tuned next week Kiddies for another exciting tale of HIFI sales and adventure with Max!
Doh!......... Sorry Bob, I got carried away, just let us know how it works for you?
Sure Max I'll report back but it might be awhile. I just got the HFNRR test setup record; based upon a number of rec's that I'd read they seemed to prefer this one above others such as the Schure.
Here's a link to a review of the HFNRR test record:

However my "new to me" VPI TT has an issue with the bearing carrier not aligning perfectly tangent to the deck; if the platter is leveled then the arm is off kilter by several degrees so I'm making up a custom set of bearing shim washers to recitfy that.
When everything is all set I figure I'll begin setup alignment at nominal, then tweak by ear (I am not experienced at this so don't know exactly what to listen for, but I'll try). Following several hours of listening I'll then attempt to optimize alignment with the test record's instructions & perhaps even my oscilloscope, then go back & listen some more to compare. It will be an interesting learning experience; as in your case I figure that the test equipment will get me into the ballpark but the final alignment will best be optimized by ear.
Now I have a "bone to pick" with you about that Sony. My very first machine was the 102 which was pretty expensive compared to the competition way back then, but was worth the $. Maybe it was their oversampling? That player served me very well for way longer than it should have; even *years* later when others heard my rig they still complimented me on its' smoothness & finesse.
Don't even get me started about "tales from the stereo shop" I worked at a couple of those myself.