Help setting up cartridge VTA

I have a question about what is the proper angle for the verticle tracking on a stylus? My turntable is a Sota Star Sapphire, the tonearm is a SME IV, and my cartridge is a Benz LO 4. I don't have any documentation for the cartridge and the tonearm, so I thought my analog friends here might help. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I have adjusted the height of the tonearm a little and found that the results are impresive.
Tony, I'm afraid VTA is usually adjusted by ear.If too low the highs will start to disappear,too high and your harmonic structure will be lean.Usually piano or small jazz ensembles work best,though drums aren't bad.Watch the transient edge definition alter as you move up and down.There will be a proper weighting, good detail and air when you are close.The final tuning will depend on your system and room. Good luck! Tom
Tony, I usually do it by ear. Set the tonearm/cartridge up so it is level when it is on the record. Then, remove it from the record, and raise the VTA adjustment very slightly. Make note of where you adjusted it to. Listen to the record. Play around with it in very small increments till you get the best sound. Do not go with a setting that lets the pivot end of the tonearm get below level with the cartridge. This will cause a poor sound that I call "screaming". Usually, a setting with the pivot end just a few hairs above level is in the ballpark. Remember this can change when you play different thicknesses of records.
I respectfully disagree with you. Negative VTA can be necessary with certain cartridges. One example is the Sumiko Celebration, a very musical pearwood cartridge. In its thorough set up guide (complete with diagrams), Sumiko suggests a 1.2 degree negative rake angle for "very fast, dynamic, robust sound," and 1.5 degree negative rake angle for a "more rounded low frequency dynamic structure, less clarity in the midrange, and a reduced high frequency component." In practice, I can tell you, using this cartridge with a Positive VTA, causes it to have a much thinner, less warm sound.

My point of this post is to tell Tony (and others) not to be afraid to try a negative VTA, if it doesn't sound to someone's liking they can change it. Some cartridges are designed for it, even if the Benz may or may not be.

Best Regards,

I agree that VTA/SRA should be set by ear. In the broadest sense the idea of raising the tonearm post to increase attack and lowering it to make the sound smoother is correct, however I listen for different things than the other posts. First, when VTA is exact and "locks in" the surface noise on the record is presented in a different plane than the music. It will sound completely seperate and be very easy to tune out even on fairly damaged discs. Second, when listening to solo vocal music the voice will take on a three dimensional quality, throat and mouth being part of one continuum. It sounds tough but the change, at the perfect point, which unfortunately may vary somewhat by record, is very easy to hear even to the untrained ear.
My experience with the Grado cartridges is that they too sound best with slight negative VTA.
Sorry, I never had a cartridge that used negative VTA. My apologies for the partial "bum steer".
I also have a Star but I am using a Rega RB 900 with the Benz Glider and I have to use a slightly negative VTA with this combination. You have it much better though since the Rega has no VTA adjustment while the SME is fairly easy to work with. With a nude cartridge setting the VTA is more difficult too. If your Benz has a body you can use the under side of it as a guide. Run the cartridge a little less than parallel to the record surface. Measurements are useless here as very few people will have the tools nessasary to make the measurements. Use your record clamp while doing the adjustment or the lip on the edge of the platter can raise your record ever so slightly. It comes down to the fact that all of these little things are finally settled by ear not measurement. Good luck. Nrchy
In theory, the stylus should track @12 degrees positive to the LP surface. In theory, cantilevers are designed to account for this, when seemingly parallel to the LP surface. In practise, you have to experiment, starting from the parallel point -- as detailed above. VTA tips from the cartridge manufacturer or, better still, from users are very useful IMO.
Pls note, however: don't forget to adjust the OVERHANG too, as +/- VTA can change the effective length of your arm!
Good luck & enjoy!