Dr.Feickert is the best ever to make alignment of everything. Still relatively cheap for such precision tool, top quality!
You can not measure Pivote to Spindle distance with cheaper protractors!
Also with Feickert you can choose between Baerwald, Lofgren and Stevenson
Excellent protractors can be had for free and up to big $$$. If you have multiple tonearms/turntables and swap out cartridges regularly, then it make sense to invest in a universal protractor like the Feicket. If you have one tonearm and one cartridge, a custom protractor like the MintLP would suffice and give you an accurate alignment. You can also go on the Conrad Hoffman website and print off a custom protractor free of charge. There are a lot of excellent options based on one's budget, system requirements, and desire to obsess over details.
Generally agree with brf.
There is no uniquely best way to set the horizontal tracking angle (HTA) for a pivoted arm. This is different than azimuth and even SRA where in each case there is a best position (even if it varies by disk for SRA). Experts disagree quite a bit on what HTA rule is best. Each possible setting is a compromise. Moreover, for this reason IMO the effect of a different HTA is exaggerated by some people and I am always amused to read that someone spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a protractor and came up with an HTA setting that "blew me away." My own suggestion is not to obsess over this setting.
Any of the usual tools used with care will get you to a reasonable solution. The only advice I have is that an even inexpensive tool with a mirrored base can help avoid parallax error.
All these suggestions are good, but you should know one thing about the Mint - It requires you to line up the cantilever between two minuscule parallel lines and this is very painstaking and, IMO, virtually impossible on a cartridge with a small, tucked-in cantilever. It's much better for carts like the Lyra with an out-front cantilever. Just letting you know. I bought one, but it was just too onerous with my Transfiguration cartridge.
I just use the gauge that came with my Basis tonearm and it sounds fine.
Though expensive, the Smartractor is the best. It saves a great deal of time, easy to use and has a unique alighnment called the UniDin (along with all the others). I love this alignment since you seem to get no perceptible IGD. I know it’s not inexpensive, but if you have multiple carts it saves you gobs of time.
I agree fully with @last_lemming
Nothing comes close to the Acoustical Systems Smartractor. For me, it is well worth the investment even if you only have 1 cartridge. I have typically only had 1 cartridge at a time except for the last few years when I have had 2 arms and 2 cartridges. It gets me the best result and that has made it invaluable to me.
If you go with the Mint be SURE to measure your pivot to spindle distance accurately. In my experience if it's off by even 1 mm of the factory spec, the Mint arc will be off and it will be impossible to align both null points simultaneously. I had incurable sibilance until I measured the P2S at 2 mm long and corrected it (previous table). Mint used to custom make their protractor to your P2S spec if the arm wasn't adjustable. That would be the way to go if need be. It's a case of "close enough" will definitely not work. It has to be spot on.Here are some Rega specific protractors and others.
Their Rega Stevenson protactor lines right up with the Rega factory one that came with my RP-10. My P2S is 223 instead of 222. I have to stick with the single null point protractors because the third screw mount for the Apheta 2 cartridge is not slotted and I can't quite reach the proper overhang. I wonder if that screw is really necessary..
@bluewolf and @lastlemming, wholly agree on the AS SmartTractor, but having got this far you really also should invest in Richard Mak’s AnalogMagik disc and program. It makes dialing in VTA, azimuth, amtiskate and even loading a breeze and takes the trial and error and mental anguish out of the process. The impact is very audible.
Apologies to the OP that this isn’t quite “reasonable price” but maybe you have an audio buddy with the tools who can come round and optimize your setup for you?
Depending on your location, there may be turntable setup experts that travel to one's home to set up tonearms/cartridges. If you don't swap out cartridges that often, it may be more economical to spend around $150-$200 for an expert with all the tools. I agree that the Audiomagik and Acoustical Systems SMARTractor are excellent tools, but they have a combined cost of $1300 which may be cost prohibitive for many audiophiles.
I will repeat it again, especially for people who spend $1300 for a Protractor (???), that DR.FEICKERT cost only about 140 pounds + shipping and it has everything that we need for ANY tonearm on ANY turntable to make proper alignment of ANY cartridge with choosed geometry (Baerwald, Lofgren or Stevenson).
Protractors without precision pivot to spingle measurements are useless!
Paying $150-200 to an "expert" for alignment of one cartridge is very strange when for nearly the same amount anyone can have precision tool forever for all types of cartridges and tonearms.
@chakster, $150-$200 would be a fair price for an in-home alignment by a knowledgeable and respected setup expert using the most sophisticated measuring tools like the Audiomagik and Acoustical Systems SMARTractor. I am big fan of the Feickert Universal protractor and own one myself, but it only aligns one parameter of the cartridge set up and not everyone has the time and expertise to optimize VTF, SRA and azimuth in conjunction with the alignment.
I will repeat it again, especially for people who spend $1300 for a Protractor (???), that DR.FEICKERT cost only about 140 pounds + shipping and it has everything that we need for ANY tonearm on ANY turntable to make proper alignment of ANY cartridge ...What's with the ALLCAPS? In any event, while the Dr. Feikert is a good tool, it's limited by the fact that its lack of a mirrored gauge prevents it from ensuring tangency at the null points. That's an essential aspect of proper phono cartridge alignment, and one of the key advantages to gauges such as the SmartTractor and the WallyTractor.
I own a few nice protractors including the DB Systems and a custom mirror one, but since I started branching out into a wider range of arm lengths and types I've taken to using the
Chpratz protractor I downloaded off Vinyl Engine and calculating my own null point pairs using the calculator on the site. I did have to carefully resize the download to get the measurements to be precise, but it wasn't difficult. The DB Systems was great for my 9" arms, but I run a couple in the 10" and 12" range now and the standard options really weren't cutting it. Even the null points from the manufacturers lit didn't work out as well as what I worked out so to say I'm happy with the system would be an understatement.
@cleeds I don’t like mirrored sufrace, i’ve tried some with white lines on mirror and it was awful, i think it was VdH protractor. I hate them. It’s absolutely no problem for me to make proper alignment of any cartridges with Dr.Feickert. I much prefer black surface with white lines on it, personally i don’t need any miror, it does not helps me at all. All i need is light and Dr.Feickert protractor. This protractor is universal for any tonearm, any turntable, any cartridge. And it has all 3 alignment method on it.
I have a Mint LP (SOTA/FR64fx), SMARTractor, GeoDisc, and Graham alignment jig (Phantom Supreme). Really, if you have (or can make) a good visual marker for the center-of-pivot on your tonearm, and are confident in your line-of-sight accuracy, the GeoDisc has a really nice combination of: universal, reasonably accurate, extremely easy/fast, and very affordable. The simplicity is beautiful. I still use mine for a quick and dirty install; less hassle than any other method.
The MintLP has the best alignment scheme - more than any other mirrored protractor, its markings are well thought-out to make incredibly clear whether you’re dead-on perfect or just off. It even works well for cantilever alignment with big boxy bodies like Koetsu and Shelter (usually very hard to align cantilever because it’s largely occluded by the body). It can also be made for a Graham Phantom. The big flaw here is: you need one per table/arm setup, and the spindle-to-pivot distance it was printed for MUST be matched by what’s on your table. Even when you specify a P-2-S distance for a custom arm-board, the end result can easily vary by 1 mm or more. So all that precision alignment might be for naught.
The SMARTractor is definitely a cool toy, but I don’t have as much confidence visually aligning to its markings as I do with the MintLP. I hate that little "dot". It’s also very hard to align cantilevers on a boxy Koetsu/Shelter, because the alignment pipes are too damn far back. I sometimes resort to aligning by body, which is not ideal and defeats the point of a $600 protractor. The P-2-S measure feature is sweet, but it won’t help with a Graham Phantom where the center cannot be precisely discerned from top (I stick to the Graham alignment jig/tools on this arm). However the SMARTractor works brilliantly with a ClearAudio Universal, which has a little top center divot for the SMARTractor’s arm spike to fit/lock into.
The Dr. Feikert looks like a very nice package/price.
GeoDisc and related products does not have a Pivot to Spindle Ruler, so i have NO IDEA how do you guys are using such products if you're gonna swap a tonearm ??? Maybe it's good for ONE fixed tonearm on a turntable, but devices like GeoDisc are useless if you have many tonearms. Precision pivot to spindle setting is the first step for any toneam setup. This is the reason why Dr.Feickert is always better.
The Geo-Disc certainly adjusts for any arm at any P2S distance; it’s a true universal. It does this by requiring a 1st step of aligning the disc via line-of-sight’ing its raised ridge to point directly at the tonearm’s pivot. By that step, the 1-point alignment grid swings into the correct position. Obviously some tonearms have better "center pivot" visual markings than others. And if you do something wacky, like having a way too large P2S distance on a short arm, you’ll run out of head-shell space to adjust the cartridge appropriately. I.e. the exact P2S distance doesn’t matter as long as you adjust and align for it specifically. But generally, Geo-Disc is the quickest reasonably accurate universal I’ve tried. I believe it’s a Loefgren A IEC alignment, which is fine IMO.
It works great for my FR64fx and especially Clearaudio Universal (very clear visual center). Yes, it gels with the same setting on my SMARTractor (its P2S "arm" has some play in it too, btw). I wouldn’t use it on my Phantom, but then I wouldn’t use anything other than the supplied Graham jig (or maybe a MintLP) on that arm, because the actual internal pivot point doesn’t have a good reference against the housing. The jig is really pretty nice; it could just use some minor alignment-visibility enhancements.
I could’ve been happy with just the Geo-Disc (and Graham jig for that arm).
@mulveling Sorry, but i don't understand why do we need that GeoDisc for $49 if almost the same protractor comes for free with Analog Test LP for the same price?
This is Analog Test LP and free protractor inside. There are 3 different method on that protractor, one of them is Linier Offset Technique with just one point for the stylus and a line accross the protractor to point it to the pivot of the arm (same as with GeoDisc). But for the same price ($49) we will get Test LP (to measure tonearm/cartridge resonance) and 2 additional alignment methods on that protractor.
This is GeoDisc with just one alignment method for $49
And this is Dr.Feickert which is a much better, made of metal (not plastic) with many more features such as Stevenson, Baerwald, Lofgren methods, and more important - Precision Pivot to Spindle Ruler on it. All these for $185 (without VAT if you're not in UK or EU).
Dear @last_lemming @bluewolf @folkfreak and friends: All of you were touting this or that protractor, yes always is fun to try some of them but other than that " fun " there is a critical main tonearm subject that all of us are contributing to the tonearm manufacturers fix for ever the problems of alignment with the tonearms they manufacturer.
They are not worried about and this " about " means that they have a main/primary responsability to put on sale a FINISHED product and a tonearm is FINISHED for sale when is on sale along its own ACCURATE AND USER FRIENDLY ALIGNMENT PROTRACTOR WITH NO NEED FOR AN AFTER MARKET ONE ! ! !
But because their serious irresponsability as the reviewers irresponsability and distributors irresponsability we " like " to spend any kind of after market protractors.
Just imagine: do you buy an amplifier that comes with out input connectors or a cartridge with out indication of VTF or load impedance/capacitance?
So, what are we doing with this kind of threads over the internet INSTEAD TO ASK THE TONEARM MANUFACTURER TO SEND YOU THAT ACCURATE/USER FRIENDLY PROTRACTOR AND IF WE DON'T RECEIVE IT THEN RETURN THE TONEARM FOR THE MANUFACTURER SEND US BACK OUR MONEY? because they are taking our money they exist because we CUSTOMERS but we all " like " to be " masoquist ". I don't know why.
No one analog rig needs more than two kind of tonearm alignment: LÖFGREN A AND /OR LÖFGREN B.
When will comes the day in that we CUSTOMERS can take a LITTLE control of the audio market?
Till today: SHAME OF US. We have what we deserve for that " dead " attitude.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
@chakster - I have a question for you. I have an original Denison Soundtractor, which also uses a spindle-to-pivot measuring device. But unless your arm has a dimple specifically made to be microscopically centered over the pivot, how can you ever be absolutely accurate? You are going to have to be off by a fraction of a mm, which are the distances we're talking about here.
@chayro well, i have 6 differen tonearms and pivot center point is easy to locale and to point Feickert right there. When i set up any cartridge i trust my eyes with Feickert protractor. At the moment i just don’t know of
any better protractor for reasonable price built like that german Feickert.
I think an error of a fraction of a mm can not be detected by my ears, so i don’t care.
Tonearms OK, but almost impossible in many turntables .I have a Feickert , one of most common decent arms are Pro-Jects 9cc variants , very difficult .Of the 100+ TT's I've owned over the last 50's the easiest to do is the
Pioneer TXL-1000 current production than has a large pin sticking up
on top of pivot . With this you can get dead on a fine-line or shibata that makes this cheap TT, if 700$ is cheap, sing better that many more expensive ones .