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Firstly, it would help knowing what Table-Arm, and what geometry is suiatble before making any solid recommendations to you.
Most Japanese vintage Tables will more than likely be better suited with Stevenson Null Geometry. Although some do like, and use Baerwald with Table like the Technics 12XX models.
Ifm you should find your TableArm will be suitable with Baerwald, there are numerous, cheaper options, suuch as a going to vinylengine.com, and downloading free protractors, and printing some up. Just make sure you double check proper scale size when printing to paper
Then there's Protractors like the Mobile Fidelity Geodisc (about $40), the Turntable Basics Mirror which is very good (about $24 shipped), and there are others like the Ken Willis Arc Protractor ($50 for a 3-Null, 2-Point Geometry Arc Protractor, Baerwald, Stevenson-Loefgren) The MintLP Protractor is another at $90, but is from overseas. Said to be a very good Arc Protractor as well.
With Arc protractors, versus Sight Line Type, like the Geodisc, or Turntable Basics Models, you will need to know the exact Spindle-Pivot distance specification of your Tonearm, and you should confirm this exact required distance by actual accurate measurement to be positively sure before ordering a specific Arc Protractor. I hope this helps you. Mark
Ken Willis , handle, K. Willis on Audio Asylum produces an arc protractor in your price range of $40.00 to $50.00.
I have not used it however I understand it is highly accurate.
MintLp.com produce a highly accurate arc protractor for $90.00, shipping included, that is custom made for just about any particular table and arm.
I have used the Mint tractor and found it to be exceptionally accurate and easy to use.
The WallyTractor is another exceptional protractor. Price $150.00.
However, Wally is hard to nail down to get one.
You can read more here on Audiogon at Feikert Analogue Protactor... Owners Impressions
I suggest the Hi Fi News test record, which has a paper protractor in it, complete instructions, and test tracks to help you get things dialled in. I got mine for around 30 bucks from either Acoustic Sounds or Elusive Disk, can't remember. Be patient. It takes a few weeks of adjusting and listening, readjusting and listening . . . but your ears will tell you when it's right. Also, there's lots of info. on the Web regarding cartridge alignment. Good luck, and happy listening.
well, its an old jvc a-l31, dont know the arm length. the vta isnt adjustable on my deck, so im not worried about that. its one of the thinner straight arms though. my cartridge is a audio technica of some sort. i know its probably not a great cart, but im just getting started here, so i went cheap. and i didnt want to spend more on a cart than i did on the deck itself (i paid 40 bucks for the deck, used in great condition, very clean)
Lots of info @ the following link (see the Cartridge and Turntable Setup section).
I also suggest starting with the free "Enjoy the Music" printout, basic hand tools (usually found around the home) and a VTF gauge.
If the cartridge is new VTA may require adjustment following 50-100 hours of playing time (for suspensions that sag a bit with intital use).
In that case if you feel the sound is either too full or too bright once you get it up and running you can adjust VTA by using thicker/thinner mats.
The mats can be DIY (all mine are) made from wool felt or other fabric, cork, paper with cork or felt rounds (research "spot mat"), et cetera.
If the sound is too bright then a thicker mat is in order (thinner mat if too dull/full).
I adjusted VTA to normal/average stock and simply add a shim mat for super thin import LP's.
Correct (good/decent-:) Azimuth is when the stylus makes similar/same contact with both sides of the groove.
It's having the center vertical line of the stylus being at a right angle to that of the flat surface of the LP (a T-joint).
Suggest you read through the articles in AA's FAQ section, linked above, as they explain is much better than I can.
However, I will say that when eyeballing this adjustment it's best to key in on the stylus stem/shaft itself, rather than focusing on the cartridge body (as stems are often cockeyed to the body of the cartridge).
The better the adjustments (up to a certain point) the better the sound, but just taking the time to ballpark them will still offer up a very, very high % of the sound quality available from the given gear.
Take your time, BE GENTLE & CAUTIOUS, and have fun with the learning process.
It's a hobby.