Cart not parallel after Mint LP alignment?


Howdy,

So after reading about 1000 paragraphs on how good the Mint LP Tractor is - I purchased one and had a marathon session yesterday with my new SL-1210 M5G, AT440MLa and Zupreme headshell...

After all was said and done - the alignment itself took 90 hard minutes - I am finding the cartridge sitting about 5-7 degrees "right" of center. The actual cantilever and stylus are about as dead on as I wanna go with it for now.

Now a comment and a question....

Question: Is this non-parallel result in the headshell normal? It's making me think I may have a bent cantilever or something.

Comment: I have run 10-12 sides thru the rig so far and I must say - I have not yet heard the "revelation" that others have described when comparing their alignments to other protractors or even the white Technics alignment gauge. The rig sounds good...but...what I am missing here.

I must temper the above by saying I have changed phono stages frequently in the last month as well...I was getting nicely familiar with a Bellari VP-130 and then moved that for a Cambridge which lasted less than a week and I now have a Moon LP3 with maybe 25 hours on it...Even my AT440MLa might have 40-50 hours on it as well....

I am thinking that a whole bunch of stuff might need to "burn" in before the system starts to really reveal itself.

But I am very concerned with the stylus/cantilever on the cart...even with all the moves the Mint required...I expected the cartridge to sit straight in the headshell...perhaps expecting too much?

Appreciate any feedback.

Cheers!

VP
vocalpoint
It's normal. The MintLP is all about getting the cantilever correct. Disregard the relationship of the cartridge body to the headshell.

When I set up my SL1200 w/Zupreme headshell, the cantilever was parallel but the cartridge in relation to the headshell was not parallel.
I presume that you had your protractor specifically built for your turntable/tonearm. With that as a given, you ask, "Question: Is this non-parallel result in the headshell normal? It's making me think I may have a bent cantilever or something." If your cantilever is bent by the 5 to 7 degrees that the cartridge is off line, you should be able to see that yourself, just by looking at the cantilever. If the cantilever looks perfectly aligned with the cartridge body, then the answer to your question must be "no". Otherwise, it is not necessarily a problem that your cartridge body is slightly misaligned with the long axis of your headshell. (I assume this is what you meant.) However, I am surprised, as you are, by your finding, given the custom built protractor. It may be due to the fact I may have recently read elsewhere that Yip prefers the Stevenson geometry (of the various algorithms, Stevenson is closest to Technics geometry but not identical), so the discrepancy between Stevenson and Technics probably accounts for the slight twist of your cartridge body. In the end, your cartridge is probably properly aligned, and you are not blown away by the result. Possibly your system lacks whatever it takes to blow you away. Compared to before you did the Mint LP alignment, is the sound at least better than it was? If not, maybe you do need to re-evaluate your equipment. Alignment is not the panacea that some would have us believe it is. And thanks for your post; you may have saved me some money.
When I owned my analog rig, the MintLP produced the most profound improvement of any tool in the box.

For me, the MintLP BestTractor was worth every penny and more.
Dear vocalpoint, You might be interested to read the following post from Vinyl Asylum addressing just the question you are raising, whether you knew it or not:
http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/vinyl/messages/90/901608.html

The post supports my recollection that Stevenson and Technics are different. If they ARE different, that may account for the fact that you need to twist your cartridge a bit in the headshell in order to align it with the protractor. You might ask Yip what geometry he uses for Technics tts. I'd be interested to know the outcome. I would repeat however that I doubt this accounts for the fact that you are underwhelmed with your results.
By the way, I agree with Tvad's very first post: If the cantilever is indeed bent a bit then that accounts for the "problem" you note, which is not per se a problem in fact.
Just as a point of clarification, I was not commenting in my initial post about a bent cantilever.

The cartridge I set up with the MintLP on my Technics SL1200 with Zupreme headshell had a straight cantilever. That is to say the cantilever was parallel with the sides of the cartridge body.

However, after setting up the cart with the MintLP, the cartridge body was not parallel with the headshell.

The primary method employed by the MintLP is to set up cartridge by aligning the cantilever parallel with markings on the MintLP's mirrored surface. This is in contrast to a few cartridge set up templates I have used that guide the installer to adjust the cartridge's angle using the sides of the cartridge body as the reference (rather than the cantilever).
I love the MintLP tractor, and have bought one for every tonearm I have owned, and they do make a difference. That said, the difference is really based on how close you came to getting the geometry correct on your initial set up.

With my current rig, I found that the I had VERY little adjustment to do at all when I got the MintLP. When I set the cartridge down on the mirror the first time, it was about dead on from setting it up with the VPI jig that came with the turntable.
Thanks guys - for all the responses.

As far as I can see with my eye - the cantilever is straight - however - without a precise measurement - and I must admit - my eyes were ready to pop out - how can I be absolutely sure? I will assume a precision product like the AT440MLa does in fact ship with a straight cantilever.

But - with the Zupreme and the lame screw set included with the AT...nothing like those tiny round nuts to drive me crazy - I probably didn't have the cart perfectly parallel to begin with and as the movement back and forth continues with the Mint - it ends up being "off".

If it's normal - I can live with it for now. The AT is fine piece but I am also considering an upgrade to the 2M Bronze shortly...with it's threaded body...I believe it will be much easier to get a tighter grip on the headshell and ultimately finer more precise movements against the Mint.

For you folks using the nuts/screws method...is it better to use the round nut or a hex that will "grab" against the cart body and provide a tighter "tighten".

For the record - my Mint - is specifically designed for this table. This was my first use of it and I am sure subsequent runs should be more precise.

Appreciate anything else that you can add.

Cheers!

VP
04-18-10: Vocalpoint
As far as I can see with my eye - the cantilever is straight - however - without a precise measurement - and I must admit - my eyes were ready to pop out - how can I be absolutely sure?
As long as you've set up the cart according to the MintLP instructions, and as long as the centilever is not significantly bent, i.e. you can see the bend clearly in relation to the sides of the cart (assuming they themselves are parallel), then it doesn't matter.

Is your cart set up correctly according to the MintLP...the stylus hits both null points and the cantilever is parallel and centered between the MintLP's mirrored hash lines? If any of these are off, then the cart is not yet dialed in.
Tvad, but if cantilever is straight and cartridge is parallel with the long axis of the headshell, then the cantilever is also parallel with the long axis of the headshell. "QED", as we used to have to say in geometry class. So, since your cartridge ended up slightly twisted wrt the headshell, we can conclude that Yip chose a geometry different from the one chosen by the maker of your tonearm. This is not to say Yip is "wrong" to do this. I am sure he knows more about this stuff than I do and has his reasons. The Technics geometry is said to be not so great (based only on internet scuttlebutt), so, if true, that is one good reason right there.
"Is your cart set up correctly according to the MintLP...the stylus hits both null points and the cantilever is parallel and centered between the MintLP's mirrored hash lines? If any of these are off, then the cart is not yet dialed in."

Tvad,

Well...the stylus tip is hitting the arc at the outermost possible point (off the platter) and the inner most point. Within this parameter - I am "eyeing" in the line with regards to the headshell...

However - the screws were giving me fits and once I got around to lining up the cantilever with the null points...I had to loosen the right screw and move the cart down to the right enough to get the cantilever to line up with the null points (when aligned via the parallax effect - I could clearly see two clear spaces on either side of the cantilever indicating a very good lineup.)

So that tells me one of three things...my "line" cart-to-headshell was off to begin with and just got more "off" as I proceeded...or the Mint LP math by design causes the cart body to be off parallel...or the cantilever is bent ever so slightly.

I am thinking if the cantilever position is perfect and is 100% parallel to the body - then the body should line up perfectly. Yes? No?

I look forward to your update...

Cheers!

VP
I am thinking if the cantilever position is perfect and is 100% parallel to the body - then the body should line up perfectly.
VP
Vocalpoint (Threads | Answers)
Line up perfectly to what?
Lewm, I don't know if Yip uses geometry different than the Technics tonearm, but he required the model of my table the arm to generate the protractor.

In any case, whatever geometry he chose made no difference to me. The protractor worked exceptionally well in my system and the improvement in sound was not subtle.

As I mentioned, the cartridge body was not parallel to the Zupreme headshell.

I'm simply offering my observation without attempting to answer why things were as they were. I really have no interest in dissecting the reasons why because the results were so good.
"Line up perfectly to what?"

To the headshell - of course. If everything is 100% true on the cart - especially cantilever to body - I should not have to tilt the cart on the shell. When the cantilever is exactly set between the nullpoints - the straight front of the cart body should be parallel to the straight front on the headshell.

And that exactly how it is for me - right up until I have to set the cantilever to the null points. The cart body is 100% straight when I set the initial "effective length". Everything looks straight - until that cantilever lineup phase...then the cart must be tilted "toe-out" to the right.

Another possibility is the Zupreme headshell itself. Not sure what Yip calls standard but I assume when he designs his tractors...he is using the standard Technics headshell to scribe those lines into the glass...not some third party shell. Perhaps the length, width or something else is playing into it?

I have been meaning to get a backup stylus anyway - so I will probably just get another 440 stylus from LP Gear. Seems to be the cheapest route and the only way to have a guaranteed new 100% parallel start point.

Cheers!

VP

Anyone comment on the "screw/nut" question...round nut or hexagon shape for best adjustment?
04-18-10: Vocalpoint
When the cantilever is exactly set between the nullpoints - the straight front of the cart body should be parallel to the straight front on the headshell.
That's an erroneous assumption, IMO.

And that exactly how it is for me - right up until I have to set the cantilever to the null points.
It's been a while since I set up my cart with the MintLP, but as I recall, the instructions call for setting both null points first, and then setting the cantilever to parallel. Small adjustments may be required afterward, but the process is one of increasing refinement in the adjustment until both null points are hit by the stylus and the cantilever is parallel and centered between the protractor's hash marks.

The cart body is 100% straight when I set the initial "effective length". Everything looks straight - until that cantilever lineup phase...then the cart must be tilted "toe-out" to the right.
Correct. As I mentioned, whether the cart ends up parallel to the headshell is of no importance.

I assume when he designs his tractors...he is using the standard Technics headshell to scribe those lines into the glass.
This is an erroneous assumption, IMO. I'm certain if you email Yip he will verify that he does not scribe the mirror's hash lines according to the headshell.
Dear vocalpoint, The answers to all the questions in your latest and recent previous posts are all to be found in my and Tvad's posts that went before. Please read them and think about it. The protractor does not give a rat's behind about your headshell. The position of the cartridge body will depend upon where the protractor tells you to put it. If you lined up your cantilever true to the protractor, you are done. If then there is a lack of alignment between the cartridge body and the long axis of the headshell, this has to be because the headshell offset angle, i.e., its geometry, is different from the geometry chosen by Yip for your tonearm. This more or less sums up what I have been trying to get across, in less detail. Peace. Out.
This is an erroneous assumption, IMO. I'm certain if you email Yip he will verify that he does not scribe the mirror's hash lines according to the headshell."

Tvad,

Thanks again for all the updates. I do appreciate your time. Regarding the Mint "process"...it's effective length first (ensuring the headshell "front" is exactly parallel to the cartridge head - Yip's words) and then null points...Inner first and then outer.

It's odd that you seem to think it's normal to have a slight rotation of the body when Yips actual instructions consistently remind the use that the headshell front and the cart head should remain in parallel thruout the entire procedure.

You would think he would make some mention of the fact that if it occurs "in some cases - your cartridge head may not line up with the headshell front" and say that it's okay...but he does not.

I did drop Yip a line with all my comments and questions. It will probably end up being driver error by me...or maybe I did actually bend this thing enough for it to be noticeable.

I will get it figured one way or another.

Cheers!

VP
Good luck, VP.
Efective length= distance from pivot point to STYLUS TIP. Where the headshell ends up means diddly.

To get your Mint alignment there is a lot of back-and-forth. Adjust you effective length inner and outer, then do your null point adjustment. Then check VTF. Repeat, then repeat. Keep repeating until ALL the points are correct and your VTF is correct. Your cart being perfectly straight in your headshell is NOT one of the perimeters to worry about to get your alignment correct. This is also why I believe you are not happy with your results. Use the MINT Luke...Use the Mint.
VP, if you were able to get the stylus tip to hit the arc at the inner and outer points, (setting overhang) then the tip should also hit the center of the null points. Make sure the protractor doesn't move from this point on. Now all you need to do is twist the cart to get the cantilever perfectly aligned between the crosshairs. While I have not personally used a MintLp protractor, I have used arc protractors to set up a cart. As others have stated, don't worry about the headshell or cart body, it's all about the cantilever and stylus.
Vocalpoint!
I experienced exactly the same problem with my PC-1 using Mint Protractor and was as surprised as You.
But the sound was definitely improved afterwards, micro details, soundstage, blacker background ....just about everything I can think of.
But it took me 2-3 days of finicky.

Good Luck!
Apparently the MINT tractor does use a different geometry then the one the designer(s) of your tonearm had in mind. If it works fine with you and does produce the sound you were longing for, I wouldn't care too much about the optical issue....
If it doesn't you may cross-check with other "universal" templates like a Dennesen or a Feickert. Maybe they will produce results more to your liking.
All,

Thanks again for the all the feedback. I heard back from Yip - maker of the Mint LP Tractor and he did say that some degree of "twist" in the headshell "can" occur to obtain maximum alignment. He did not indicate in any way that it was "normal" however.

He also wants to see a phono of my setup to see how much "toe-out" is involved.

As far as the sound goes...after a number of sides that I am really familiar with - I am now starting to get a sense of a better blacker background etc.

I will continue to monitor this for the rest of the week but I agree with the "finicky" aspect of this and may attempt another alignment session on the weekend.
I don't know...I worry about everything. If the cartridge is not square in the shell, or leaning to me that means that the suspension of the cartridge may be "leaning". I wouldn't want my Porsche to lean in any direction at rest.. the suspension has to be perfect for me. I would send back the cartridge for inspection and repair, or get a new one.
>>04-19-10: Stringreen
If the cartridge is not square in the shell, or leaning to me that means that the suspension of the cartridge may be "leaning".<<

Not true.

All cartridges are not perfectly symmetrical.
If the cartridge is not square in the shell, or leaning to me that means that the suspension of the cartridge may be "leaning".

See that's my thing too. While I understand the possibility - whilst ever so slight - that a toe-in/toe-out may play into a setup - something still doesn't sound right...we are dealing with products here that are built to very high tolerance and precision.

After dropping x amount of dollars on headshell, cart, table, Mint etc etc...I expect - no actually - I demand perfection. If this was a 20 dollar cart in a 40 dollar turntable - I wouldn't care one way or another.

FWIW - I do not see any "leaning" - the stylus is making correct contact...but I was reading up on a few other forums that it may be a simple as the stylus assembly (the AT440MLa uses a removable model) has a bit of "play" to it and simple bit of "persuasion" in the right direction make clear it right up.

This "play" is not evident to the naked eye...but when you get down to the micron level with this Mint LP (Actually - I think Yip's real agenda here is to prop up the optics industry :)) - even the smallest bit of pressure one way or another can make a huge difference in how that cantilever lines up under 8x magnification.

I am also looking at getting a replacement stylus as well...because in all my alignment adventures - and I have had many - I have never ever had to "toe" a cart one way or the other. Could be the precision of the Mint but I still think something else is up here....

Cheers!

VP
This is as I would expect it to be - the cartridge slightly twisted in relation to the headshell - using the Mint Protractor.

Yip makes the Technics protractors using the Stevenson alignment geometry. Stevenson null points are 60.3mm and 117.4mm whereas the Technics null points (that will result in the cartridge being close to square in the headshell) are 58.8mm and 113.5mm respectively.

It's a common misconception that both Rega and Technics use the Stevenson geometry as stock, but it's simply not the case.

Long story short - everything you're describing in regards to how the cartridge is positioned in the headshell is precisely as I would expect it to be using the tools you're using. If you were to align to something like Baerwald, I would expect the cartridge to be rotated even further with respect to the headshell.

BTW, let me know if you decide the Mint protractor isn't your cup-o-tea and I'll buy it from you. I've got a family member who would like it instead of having to borrow mine all the time!
+2 to what vinyladdict has said, I'm betting this is the culprit. Mark
It takes LOTS of light, good eyes, a higher loop power, and PATIENCE! 2-3 hours is not a long time your first time around to get it to the enth degree. Keep trying, and play music you are familier with, you'll get it right. Happy listening.
For goodness sakes! What Vinyladdict wrote and what Markd51 seconded and what Dertonearm and others suggested is exactly what I wrote way back at the top. How much more reassurance do you need? The ultimate would be to get Yip to confirm that he uses Stevenson geometry when he makes a protractor for the Technics, if you do not care to believe all the other testimony.
"PATIENCE! 2-3 hours is not a long time your first time around to get it to the enth degree. Keep trying"

Polk is exactly correct.
Indeed, what Lewm said.

This is self-evident. If you use a protractor with a different alignment scheme than a tonearm was designed for, the cartridge will not end up square to the headshell. Why would anyone expect otherwise?

Try aligning a cartridge to Baerwald points on a Rega arm. Same "problem", same reason.

Only a protractor made to the same alignment scheme as the tonearm will produce a headshell-square cartridge.
in case more reassurance is needed, I am hereby agreeing with Vinyladdict, Lewm, and Dougdeacon. If all you care about is getting the cartridge square with the headshell, you could have used the plastic jig that came with the Technics and saved a lt of money. The Mintlp is not just more precise than the Technics jig. It also uses a slightly different alignment geometry, which is why the cartridge must be twisted in relation to the headshell.
in case more reassurance is needed, I am hereby agreeing with Vinyladdict, Lewm, and Dougdeacon. If all you care about is getting the cartridge square with the headshell, you could have used the plastic jig that came with the Technics and saved a lt of money. The Mintlp is not just more precise than the Technics jig. It also uses a slightly different alignment geometry, which is why the cartridge must be twisted in relation to the headshell.

Reassurance duly noted. I am officially "past" the "square to the shell" question - but I am surprised how some people have reacted - like it's a federal crime to ask a question and try to understand all the angles. Uh - still learning over here, guys - everyday...sorry to not "know it all".

Anyhoo - now that I have spent a few evenings with this layout - and I am now getting comfy with it's "sound" - it's time to start comparing this setup - cart for cart - to another AT440MLa aligned using the standard Technics gauge.

Using the same 4 or 5 albums - I will play each album with the Minted cart first followed by another run with a standard aligned cart - to find out if there are the kind of differences to the level that some folks are claiming to hear.

Again - thanks again for the comments...

Cheers,

VP
Dear VP, I guess I did get a little exasperated. But for a while you did not seem to be reading or digesting the responses to your question, which from the get-go contained the information you needed. In fact, you seemed determined to ignore the good advice you got. Anyway, there is a learning curve for all of us, and we all learn from each other and from direct experience. In my case, I had just finished reconciling the fact that the cartridge in my Dynavector tonearm (designed for Stevenson geometry) did not sit square to the headshell after alignment with a protractor designed for Baerwald geometry (the Turntable Basics protractor). That experience brought home to me the effect on cartridge alignment of choosing any one of the major different tonearm geometries, in a way that I had never before appreciated or even cared about. Plus I had read the posts on Vinyl Asylum regarding the Technics tonearm, its shortcomings and its lack of congruence with the nearest formal geometry - Stevenson. I apologize for sounding cranky. Glad you are on the right track at this point.
Dear VP, I guess I did get a little exasperated. But for a while you did not seem to be reading or digesting the responses to your question, which from the get-go contained the information you needed.

I was reading and digesting everything. I did not say that I agreed with everything nor did I say that I was going to "run" with any of it.

In fact, you seemed determined to ignore the good advice you got. Anyway, there is a learning curve for all of us, and we all learn from each other and from direct experience.

Certainly wasn't ignoring any of the advice...more like collecting it and trying to understand it. Now I do.

That experience brought home to me the effect on cartridge alignment of choosing any one of the major different tonearm geometries, in a way that I had never before appreciated or even cared about.

See - this is what I just reconciled after pouring through this stuff. Until I got the Mint - I never knew a cantilever from a bar of Level soap. I always thought - with all these protractors - if your stylus tip hits the arc at all points - you are golden. Better yet - jam the cart into the Technics jig..adjust and start rockin' 2 minutes later.

I apologize for sounding cranky. Glad you are on the right track at this point.

No prob...the comparison should be fun.

Cheers!

VP
Hi VP,

I've been watching this thread and would like to offer that I have been waiting for this moment when you might catch on that there is more to this vinyl thing than just following the crowd or picking up the latest doo-whacky. ;-) I don't mean to sound like I'm putting you down, but your first post wreaked of someone who jumped without understanding.

Not to worry! I've been there myself, which is why I can appreciate your learning experience.

I think a man has just begun learned to fish for himself.

Loud applause would be called for here!
Vocalpoint,

I look forward to your findings in comparing the two alignments. I haven't read of anyone ever doing this before. But I wouldn't be surprised if the differences are pretty minor. We old, hardbitten audio vets have a habit of hyperbole, I'm afraid. And we often make what others would consider minor changes seem like they are night-and-day. If you do hear a difference, I also wouldn't be surprised if are unable to determine whether one alignment is clearly "better" than the other. As in many comparisons, "different" doesn't always mean "better."

-Bob
I found after setting up my cart on the Technics tonearm with the MintLP that the sound was clear and free of distortion. The difference was not subtle.

Sometimes people complain of "brightness" with turntables, when in fact what they're complaining about is distortion, especially in the upper mids and highs.

The MintLP eliminated this distortion.

That was the difference I observed. Some might consider it subtle. It wasn't like the first orgasm by any means.
Bob, with the Mint LP, it isn't so much a question of which alignment geometry is better, Baerwald, Stevenson, Lofgren. It is the fact that the Mint facilitates a more precise cartridge alignment.
...with the Mint LP, it isn't so much a question of which alignment geometry is better, Baerwald, Stevenson, Lofgren. It is the fact that the Mint facilitates a more precise cartridge alignment.

Hear! Hear! (Pardon the pun)
You're right, of course, Dan. I overlooked the imprecision introduced by the Technics alignment jig. I have an SL-1200, which I aligned with a protractor, and I guess I was thinking of that. In any case, it would be interesting to hear impressions of precisely set-up carts with different geometries!

-Bob
I look forward to your findings in comparing the two alignments. I haven't read of anyone ever doing this before. But I wouldn't be surprised if the differences are pretty minor.

Well - so far - I have had this alignment rolling since thr weekend...and I am still not hearing the audio nirvana that others are touting - hence - the comparison. I figured I would stay as identical as I could...only changing headshells after each side.

We old, hardbitten audio vets have a habit of hyperbole, I'm afraid. And we often make what others would consider minor changes seem like they are night-and-day. If you do hear a difference, I also wouldn't be surprised if are unable to determine whether one alignment is clearly "better" than the other. As in many comparisons, "different" doesn't always mean "better."

The hardbitten audio crowd just wants to feel important much of the time. I am just as guilty as others within certain areas of so called "expertise"...

I relate this "alignment" area with the same general skepticism that I have toward audio cables. Nary has there been a single area in the history of electronics that is filled with more snake oil, scams and skullduggery. However - if you feel that a 500 set of cables makes your music better or brings you more enjoyment - then so be it.

Very similar circumstance here. We all interpret and hear things completely different from one another. After all is said and done - the alignment that gives me what I am looking for - from my music - enjoyment wise - is the right one. And despite what some folks believe - it may end up being the white little jig. Or it may be a very expensive precision protractor.

Also of primary concern - is value vs. effort. If the mint doesn't give me an immediate and noticeable difference in "enjoyment factor"...it is not worth the C note that I paid for it when a 4 cent plastic jig gets me 90% of the way there in less than 2 minutes.

As I get older and crankier - I guess my time is worth just as much as money...and spending hours and hours messing around with this thing makes little sense if the rewards are not obvious.

Whatever happened to 1979? I buy an SL-D2 turntable at Kelly's Stereo Mart...have the guy slap in a 40 dollar Audio Technica cartridge. Plug it into my Pioneer SA-3800...whip out a Rush album and rock on?

Throughout my entire formative years - I never heard of a protractor or had an alignment gauge of any kind. Never seemed to bother me then - and given my enjoyment of music back then vs the endless "tech" tweakin' going on today...I sometimes feel like I spend way to much time dickin' around with the gear instead of just enjoying the music.

Cheers!

VP
Vocalpoint,

what is wrong with you? You are on the wrong website and Forum to talk basic common sense. Please check your common sense hat at the door, and put on you "smarter than the average bear" audio hat. Don't you yet realize that a .0005% improvement in sound is worth $5000? That's just how it is.

That said, I do like the MintLP protractors, but I have used them a bunch, and they don't take me very long to set up. I am accustomed to the process. But, as I said earlier, with my latest table and arm, it was basically dead on with the VPI jig, so.....I see your point.

I agree with you wholeheartedly regarding cables as well. Beyond a basic improment on the first level, I do not hear much difference at all as you move up the crazy priced ladder. Don't get me started on power cables, that's just snake oil in a paper cup!!
OOOOOO! You just lost your accolades, VP. Back to school for you. ;-) I won't waste any of my time with ye. Bye.
Hello, VP, please don't dismiss cartridge alignment. There is a precise point where stylus and grove walls interface. This includes azimuth. Follow this link for a printed arc protractor for your choice Lofgren B, Stevenson or Baerwald (considered there as a variation of Lofgren A):

http://www.conradhoffman.com/chsw.htm

Overhang for each differs (IIRC) by about 2.5mm. Using a two point Baerwald at 15mm overhang, your cartridge may be canted several degrees outboard.
The skeptic doubted Confucious's assertion that a man determined to do so could move a mountain. The philosopher replied he would begin, one pebble at a time. In audio, cartridge alignment is one of those pebbles, and cumulatively significant. If you are willing to devote the time needed to tweak cartridge alignment, you will at the least learn not to use your eyes to listen.
Dear friends: I would like to share my opinion on some different tonearm/cartridge geometry set up subjects.

IMHO the MintLP protractor is not magic or the perfect protractor that per se change what you was hearing through your cartridge.

It sounds different?, certainly. Because is better? certainly NOT.
So what's all about?, many things like: that your non MintLP cartridge set up was wrong, that you like it more the distortions/colorations of what you heard through the MintLP, that through the MintLP set up now the cartridge has a right set up, that even that your non MintLP is right you like more the MintLP trade-offs, etc, etc.

There are almost an infinite different tonearm/cartridge geometry set up, it depends what targets we want to achieve, example: less tracking distortion/error at inner grooves, less tracking distortion/error between null points, average at both " sides ", etc, etc.
We can't achieve the lesser/lower inner grooves distortion/error an at the same time the lesser/lower between null points distortion/error we always have a trade-off.
Now, we can choose between Löfgren A, Löfgren B, Baerwald, Stevenson, Pisha, etc, etc. Which better?, depend what you are looking for.
To make more complex what we choose and before take either equations method we can choose two different parameters necessaries on those equations to make calculations and obtain: both null points, offset angle and overhang, I'm refering to: Inner Groove Radius and Outer Groove Radius.
Any change in these parameters change the final cartridge set up parameters: overhang, offset angle and null points.

To " live " what I'm telling here you can take the Calculator that Timetel linked and compare it against the Calculator that you can find in www.enjoy the music.com.

In both Calculators you can find Löfgren choice and if you made calculations taking Löfgren equations you will find different results due that both Calculators even that are for Löfgren has different Inner Groove Radius and Outer Groove Radius.

Some one posted here that with MintLP there is no inner groove distortion, well that he does not heard it not say that the inner groove distortion is there and only goes lower but against higher distortions between the null points: nothing is perfect and this is part of the trade offs I'm talking. Your choice.

My own experiences tell me that if we really take care about trying to be accurate as we can be in the cartridge set up the differences between what " geometry " we choose are really low and don't have to worry which method we have to choose. All them have trade-offs.

Why the MintLP seems to us better when it is not?, IMHO because when we use it what we do we do with more accuracy, example: several other protractors does not fit exactly with the spindle TT where the MintLP fit exactly with no " play " this means accuracy where in other protractors here exist an error tiny error but less accuracy.

The tonearm/cartridge set up is very important subject especially when our audio system has high distortions elsewhere. As lower distortions have an audio system as less capacity we have to discern between different methods on cartridge/tonearm set up geometry.

Now, I agree with the people that say that we have to take more time to enjoy music than on hardware/set up.
Why I agree?, easy: every time we change VTA/SRA we have to reset all what we already do on the cartridge/tonearm set up, every time we change the VTF we have to reset, even when we change the azymuth we have to reset. So when have we time to heard our recordings?

To make it more complex: all of us think that we have to align the cartridge cantilever and not the cartridge body on the protractor and this seems " a priori " the right way to go.
Dear friends please take a cartridge with a tiny ( tiny but significant enough for we can see it by eyes. ) cantilever deviation that when you put on the protractor ( static condition. ) you can see the cantilever deviation. Then run it on any recording and what you can see is that that tiny deviation disappear, that in dynamic way the cantilever maybe for the tracking forces in the recording is automatic aligned!! and what happen with our static protractor set up where we made it with that cantilever deviation but in dynamic status there is no more tiny cantilever deviation!!!??????

Not easy task what we have in this truly analog extremely imperfect world and even in this imperfection we love it!!!

Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul.
Here is the other Calculator: http://www.enjoythemusic.com/freestuff.htm

at thje end of the page you can download the Löfgrenn Calculator and can compare results against the Timeltel Calculator link.

Raul.
Raul,

Are you implying that someone should select one of the alignment calculations and use a single null point to align the cartridge rather than two?

I have seen excellant results with either situation, depending on the arm and cartridge combination.

I think the bottom line here based on what you stated, is that one has to be willing to accept the inner or outer groove distortion levels based on the geometry model they select. Is that correct?

Ciao,
Aidioquest4life
Dear Audioquest4life: No, the Calculators give you both null points.

Due what the geometry model ( equations ) we choose then we have to accept: lower distortions out the null points with higher distortions between null points or higher distortions out the null points and lower distortions inside the null points.

In the Enjoy the Music calculator you can see on the graphic what I'm talking about on those null points.

Now, the distortion level between those little different geometry equations are really low and maybe we can't hear it.

As I point out the accuracy of our cartridge/tonearm set up is what could makes the differences, but in this imperfect analog world that is surrounded by so many parameters/factors that could affect that set up this task is very complex: example what I posted about the set up of the cantilever in static and dynamic status, which " road " we have to take here? and with the VTA/SRA changes.

We have to be on the " middle " of the whole process because if not we can hear/enjoy music because almost anything we change we have to re-set the whole process: endless process one and again.

Each one of us have to decide with which trade offs we can live.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul.