Clearaudio Azimuth Optimizer V Fozgometer

I have been through a few threads regarding the Fozgometer for Azimuth adjustment .Has anyone used the Clearaudio Azimuth Optimizer which cost quite a bit more then the Fozgometer and if so how did it go!!
Quite a bit more?...that's an understatement! The Clearaudio Azimuth Optimizer is currently retailing for around $3150 EU ($4300 USD), so it's unlikely that anyone hanging out here at Audiogon has made a comparison with a Fozgometer. If anyone has, it's probably the folks at Musical Surroundings, the distributor for Clearaudio and the Fozgometer. I would think that they'd want to know how the Fozgometer stacks up against the Optimizer. Whether or not they'd be willing to let that information out to the general public may be another matter. '-)

I own a Fozgometer so I'm curious if anyone responds to your question and provides a comparison.

They are both a rip-off, is what I concluded from internet audio forum searches.

I use a very small round bubble level on the top of the cartridge to set the azimuth initially, then make very small arm azimuth adjustments and listen for optimal soundstageing and low distortion.

Total cost, $10 for the bubble level from Ebay.

Azimuth is best set by ear.

I did the same gig with the bubble level on the headshell for a long time.
Got a Fozgometer for Christmas and when I checked it using the AP Test
LP, the measured azimuth was way off. I thought my rig sounded great
before, but once adjusted with the Fozgometer, I hear a definite
improvement in imaging and soundstaging precision and also a reduction in
surface noise.

After seeing how a minimal (tiny) amount of headshell rotation results in
such a big shift in readings on the meter, I think that it is nearly impossible
to set azimuth precisely without some type of measurement equipment.

Just my 2 cents based on my experience.

Happy New Year!

Did you try finer adjustments, after using the Fozgometer, or just believe the meter and go with that setting?

My arm [the original VPI JMW-10] has an azimuth ring with index marks and allows very, very fine adjustments.

The later VPI arms with dropped counter weight are too hard to adjust even with the SoundSmith Counter Intuitive IMO.

Rotating and locking a head shell is too crude for me, and most arms have no azimuth adjustment at all.

If you are satisfied thats fine, but YMMV applies here.

Other people have fine tuned, after using the Fozogometer, for even better results.

I have only had the Fozgometer for one week so I have not yet had the chance to experiment with other settings based on listening. What I can say at this point is that the reproduction quality I am hearing after adjustment with the Fozgometer is noticeably better than I was able to obtain before.

Interestingly, I own a 1st Gen VPI JMW 12 arm with the marked azimuth ring. I recently reinstalled my Eminent Technology ET Two air bearing arm on my TNT and am enjoying it immensely. It is, however, more difficult to consistently set azimuth on the ET Two than with the JMW 12, so I find the Fozgometer to be a real benefit here.

I will probably try some very small adjustments to the Fozgometer-determined azimuth setting to see if improvement is possible. Even if this proves to be so, I consider the Fozgometer indespensible in baselining the azimuth setting when changing cartridges or making other adjustments on the ET Two.

I wish someone would invent a similar easy-to-use and repeatable device for baselining VTA!

Happy New Year!

hello 1stump.
if you yuse a fozgometer or the claraudio azimuth optimizer, you have to read some numbers at the display and how correct can you do that? i am shure that you will come closer to the azimuth by listning with you ears.(sorry my English)
nils valla dk.
Don, You seem to assume that "correct" azimuth is always equal to the condition where the top surface of the cartridge body is parallel to the LP surface. Not so. Your bubble level will only be "right" for some cartridges; most are not perfectly constructed so that all the innards are oriented as you'd expect.

By the way, the bubble level must add a hell of a lot of effective mass to the tonearm. What does it weigh?
Lew ..., my experiences are the same as Don's. I own a VPI Classic 2.5 (that is a Classic 1/2 plinth and Classic 3 tone arm), plus the S-S Intuit for fine adjustments. I set azimuth with the VPI skinny aluminum bar and use a metric rule to measure azimuth. Crude ... but it seems to get me in the ballpark.

Do you think I could do better with the Fozgometer? I don't even know what the thing is or what it does. I'll check it out on the web.

Frankly, I hate screwing around with the arm after I set the cartridge up. So called fine adjustments made by ear are just a PITA. What do you suggest Lew??

Have a great New Year!!


I do not assume the optimal is with the cartridge parallel to the recored, that is just a starting point.

The bubble level that i use is very small (about 1/3 inch in diameter) and weighs next to nothing.

I aim for the diamond to be perpendicular to the record.

This assumes the cartridge is properly made, which I believe my ZYX Airy 3's are.

I believe small adjustments by ear, after the initial setting (whatever method you use), are an assurance that azimuth is spot on even if the cartridge construction is slightly off.

I may try the Fuzgometer after all, as it is not too much money.

Happy New Year,
Don C.
For a bit more than the Fozgometer, you can get a copy of Adjust+ which does azimuth, speed stability, overall speed and frequency response measurements.

It is computer based so all the data is available for future reference.

If you download the manual, it has a lot of good info on Azimuth adjustments even if you don't buy it.

hello 1stump.
when you use a fozgomete or the clearauio azimth optimizer, you have to read numbers at the display,an that will never be as easy and correct as settig azimuth by ears.(sorry my English)
happy newyear nils valla dk
Don and Bif, There were so many reports on this forum of odd results with the Fozgometer that I have never purchased one or even tried one out in my system. I am sure that some of those reported problems were due to misapplication of the instrument, but nevertheless, the seeds of doubt were sewn. I own an ancient Signet Cartridge Analyzer, and that's what I've used to set azimuth. The advantage of the Signet (I think) vs the Foz is that it takes the output of the cartridge directly, not via the output of the phono stage. So, errors due to imbalance in phono channels are avoided. The bad news is that the Signet does not have sufficient gain by itself to work well with LOMC cartridges. I have been meaning to build in an extra gain stage or to have Bill Thalmann do it. But the kicker is that I only bother to use the Signet with my Triplanar and my Reed tonearms, because only those two have decent mechanisms for azimuth adjust. With my other tonearms (mainly the Dynavector DV505), I just go with "parallel to the LP surface", realizing that this criterion is not always the best. I guess you could say that I've given up the ghost. To some degree, I side with Nils.

I am most tempted by the Feickert program, because I have a laptop that does not get much use. The Clearaudio is just plain ridiculous, based on cost alone. How much better could it possibly be than either the Feickert or the Foz? My response would be "not that much, if at all". The dark horse would be the device that Soundsmith was perfecting, last I knew. Supposedly it would read out a variety of cartridge characteristics and also provide for azimuth setting. What happened to that? Is it for sale?
Thanks for the responses.I had a play yesterday with the Graham Phantom II Supreme cart setup and Azimuth and to me although it sounds different at different stages of adjustment I can not pin point the sweet spot.To use the Clearaudio Azimuth Optimizer V Fozgometer would help to take the guess work out of it.The well built Clearaudio Azimuth Optimizer has extras which I would not need like phono stage and head phone amp.It would be a nice unit to HIRE but a lot of money to buy and sit in the draw most of the time.Dave I just watched the Adjust+ youtube which looks like another good option .Thanks
1stump: Like you, I found myself "wandering in the dark" on
azimuth adjustment before using the Fozgometer. I guess that I have not
yet developed the "magic eye/ear dexterity" to find the sweet spot manually
like many claim to. The Fozgometer made short work of it for me.

Lewm: It is a shame that misinformation has kept you from trying the
Fozgometer. The Fozgometer's manual states "Higher output
(>.3mV@3.54cm/sec) should have enough output to be connected directly
to the meter but ultra-low output cartridges may require additional gain. In
this case, RCA cables should be connected between the Fozgometer and
the phono preamp out or preamp tape out jacks."

There are posts here on Audiogon where users have hooked it directly (via
the tonearm cabling) to
<.3mV output cartridges with good results.

I tried it both ways (directly from the cartridge and also from the preamp's
tape out jacks) and found no difference in the readings. IMO, it is an added
benefit to be able to compare results using both methods to validate that
the phono stage and preamp are not misbehaving.

Getting to play around with the Azimuth has been a worth while tweak.I have a nice result now which is very enjoyable.Before I consider a meter I will have a hearing test as I think my right ear may be lacking in the mid notes.(Voice area)
I am biased because I have been using the Feickert Adjust Plus Pro software ever since it became available and have aligned dozens of systems, all to good effect. The software's azimuth adjustment part measures not only crosstalk between channels, it measures phase response. I am certain it could be demonstrated that our ears are more sensitive to minimizing phase error between channels than equalizing crosstalk. Sometimes both are at the same azimuth setting, but often they are not. Just last week I aligned a system that had a whopping 161 degrees of phase error at its initial setting and got it to within 2 degrees. The fellow stayed up way past his bedtime with his buddies listening New Year's eve, and the next morning the place was heavily littered with wine glasses and records out of their sleeves. I guess it was mission accomplished. The cost was far less than even just the standard version of the software, and all he had to do was sit back and watch if he wanted, and then listen to the results.