At the risk of being overly blunt, let me urge you not to spend the kind of money you are proposing for a digital stylus force gauge, UNLESS you already own a megabuck moving coil cartridge (say, $2k or more) that is requires EXTREMELY precise tracking force adjustment. The reality is that most cartridges have a range of tracking force (say, 1.5 - 2.0 grams), and it is not necessary to be precise within hundredths of a gram.
I have successfully used the Shure SFG-2 stylus force gauge for many years, and continue to do so. My current analog setup, which hardly state-of-the-art, is still pretty good (click on link to my system), and the Shure SFG-2 provides as much accuracy as necessary. The SFG-2 is accurate to within about one-tenth of a gram, which is more than accurate enough for 98% of the cartridges on the market.
You may well get alternative advice from other A-gon regulars, but my personal opinion is that digital stylus force gauges are grossly over-priced and largely unnecessary. The Shure SGF-2 works great, and sells for about $25. Unless you have an absolutely superb analog front end, and/or suffer from "audiophilia nervosa", my gentle urging is to save your money, get the SFG-2 (or something comparable), and spend the money you save on some good LP's.
I would agree with Sdcampbell. If anything, these gauges discourage the very necessary act of trimming tracking force by ear. The Shure is great. I use the, now discontinued, ADC strain gauge which is a bit more elaborate. There is one very compelling argument for Wally's SFG though. It measures tracking force in the plane of the record. Other gauges can be rigged to do this, and I prop mine up with a deck of cards. But tracking force is only meaningful if measured in the correct plane and that's what makes Wally's so darned good.
I got the $150. digital Wally Scale about six months ago, and it's really great. Will measure (with extra, supplied 0.05 gram weight) to nearest 1/20th gram. It's consisent and very accurate. I found it very useful in setting up my Naim Aro/Ortofon Jubilee. Easy to use - works great with any cart.
I also have an old Shure SFG-2 gauge that Sdcampbell mentioned. It is fairly accurate - probably within 2/10th gram - and entirely adequate for most purposes. But due to the "skirts" on the bottom of the Ortofon, I found it difficult to get an accurate VTF reading with the Shure.
I agree with the above positions. I'm using a Denon DL-103D
which is generally regarded as one of the classic and still
top performing MC cartridges. I bought mine for about $300
from Denon USA. Why spend another $300 for a stylus force
gauge, when a $25 Shure will be every bit as utilitarian.
Spend the money on some good vinyl to put under the stylus........
Many thanks for all your replies. I'm not sure I'd call my Arkiv B a megabuck cartridge considering the prices of Keotsu's and Clearaudios, but it does clear the $ 2K bar by just a hair. I have used the Sure SFG2 for years also, but I want to set my Arkiv at the very top of the recommended range without exceeding it since it is here that it offers the best tracking performance. Although my SFG2 claims I'm already there, I have a sneaky suspicion that I might be off by at least 1/10th of a gram...yet I'm afraid to go beyond. Oh well..at least your replies seem to suggest that the Wally would be the best bet if I decided to go digital....
Better be careful with discussions in the open like this. Herr Ashcroft might think that you're REALLY measuring your 'rocks' with amazing precision, and ban digital stylus gauges as "drug paraphernalia" and raid this website. "I vant za names, und I vant zem NOW!"
I would go in any case for a digital scale with 0.01 g accuracy. You do not need a special "vinyl guru snake oil treated scale", any small pocket gauge will do the job absolute perfectly. Current brands are MyWeigh MX-50 or Palmscale 0,01, which are frequently sold on ebay. Then you have to make a device which brings the measure point level exactly to the record surface level. You can look at Wallys Vinyl Corner at www.simplyblack.net how such a device can be done.
I DO have a use for a digital gauge -- but it's practical for reference rather than set-up purposes. I set the basic VTF using a good'ole Ortofon thingy (or a Shure) and then fine-tune by ear. The increments in the fine-tuning are difficult to measure -- hence the use of the digital readings on mega$$ gauges, to keep reference of the exact force (my arm doesn't offer digital out readings for VTF). So, IMO, I still don't see the need for the digital in your case (i.e. you're sure you need the extra 0,01gram & if so, why not just try some extra force...)
But then again, I'm a sloppy audiophile...
Side notes you may enjoy:
a) I don't actually own a digital, so I have to keep borrowing one whenever I'm in tweak mood (typically winter, summer & when I'm out of tranquilisers).
b) The Ortofon thingy was actually given to me by a Clearaudio person (OK, I own one of their serious$ cartridges...)
Alexc, I am also in sdcampbell's camp. We, at one time, tested the accuracy of the Shure vs: the Winds. The Shure was SPOT ON!
And once again, if you really intend to acheive accuracy based on the numbers, either of the aforementioned tools will work well.
Although, the final sound quality will be fine tuned by making very slight adjustments in tracking weight (within the manufacturers tracking range) at which point these tools will only become secondary and their measurements somewhat irrelevant.
I personally have found that the most significant changes in sound quality are achieved using the VTA. This is assuming that cartridge alignment(tangency)and anti-skate(if you use it)adjustments are correct. But, do keep in mind that VTA changes will in turn, affect the tracking weight. Raising or lowering the VTA adjustment will change the tracking weight as you are in affect changing the weight biasing of the arm.
You may want to consider opening a Roth/IRA with the additional money you will be spending on the Winds, purchase the Shure, and then let your ears be your tool for fine tuning.
Your ears, by far, are the most accurate tools available.
Since I work in a aerospace calibration lab I calibrated my Shure VTF Gage (about 15 years ago) with calibrated 1 and 2 gram weights. My gage was one minor division off from nominal (1 minor division = .1g (100mg). The tolerances of the class E2 weights which I used are 0.030mg (0.00003g) and 0.040mg (0.00004g) respectively, which in turn were calibrated by class E1 accuracy 0.010mg (0.00001g) and 0.012mg (0.000012g) respectively.
FYI: Since Wally of Wally Tools is just one guy, there is a backorder waitlist of approx. 8 weeks on his stylus force gauges! I just called Music Direct and got this info. Also, as others have noted, the guy at Music Direct uses the Shure $20 scale in all his TT setups for customers. The Shure measurement was always spot on with the Wally tool readout. That's not to say the digital readout is not easier to use. I find it hard to see the Shure scale, use the Shure "mirror," and make the tiny adjustments with the little Shure sliding scale. But I guess I'll keep trying. I ordered some more LPs and some stylus cleaning gel from Music Direct this morning instead of backordering a Wally gauge.
Sc53 - you can order all Wally Tools directly from Wally M. himself. When I ordered my WallyScale from him (last September) there was no wait, and I got it in a couple of days. Nothing against MusicDirect (I've bought stuff from them several times and have found their service excellent), but if one is considering a WallyScale, I'd contact him directly and get the low-down on delivery time.
Thank you, Rshak, I will try contacting him directly. Do you have a website or phone no. or email for him?
Sc53 - take a look at www.simplyblack.net/english/Wally/wally_1.htm
Wally's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be reached at home (Minnesota) at (763)478-6685.
He's a great fellow, and if you do speak to him, tell him that Robert-With-Almost-Polish-Name said "hello"!