I have a almost new (20 hours) Clearaudio Virtuoso cartridge mounted on a Satisfy Tonearm. When you look at the cartridge head-on the stylus cantilever seems to be very slightly leaning towards the left (towards the center of the record). My vinyl sounds great and it doesn't appear to be affecting performance, but I don't know if it will get worse over time and cause long term issues. Has anyone seen this before? Is it common? Can it be fixed by adjusting the anti-skate or something else?
Is it that way only when a record is being played, or is it still that way even when the tonearm is in its rest position?
If the former, it means that your anti-skating needs to be adjusted. If the latter, it means that the cartridge was manufactured that way, but I don't know whether that represents a manufacturing defect, or is characteristic of that particular model.
It has been rumored that now and then the cartridge manufacturers will send out a cartridge like yours in hopes that it will find a truly neurotic audiophile like most of us and that it will drive them totally crazy......Enjoy your music that apparently is being reproduced wonderfully......If it suddenly stops sounding so good...then you should get the cartridge fixed. Whatever you do...do NOT worry about it getting worse over time because I am sure no one has that answer.
I picked up a Virtuoso wood a couple of years back used with low hours. It has a slight bend to the left as well. I noticed it from day 1 but it didn't seem to have any issues playback wise and it was a great deal so I decided to live with it. I have gone through a bunch of cartridge changes since and haven't wanted to pass it along to anyone else to avoid any arguments. It sounds like it's not a terribly uncommon issue with these cartridges. Also, to answer another one of your questions it did not get worse over the couple of hundred hours I used it for, exactly the same now as it was when I received it.
Jerko: I just purchased a used Clearaudio Emotion with Satisfy arm and Virtuoso cart from a member on Audiogon. I noticed the exact same thing when setting it up. I did my alignment according to the cantilever and not the cartridge body, however, I am unable to get the tonearm exactly lined up with the long parallel lines on the alignment chart. Whenever I line up the tonearm, it would be nearly impossible for me to get the stylus to line up correctly on the cross hairs. Things seem to sound ok, although I am getting distortion sometimes when playing the inside of a record. I've been experimenting with tracking force, but my pressure gauge is old and doesn't appear to be entirely accurate.
If you use and arc style protractor and align the cantilever with the paralel lines, it should sound right reguardless of this bend and I don't think it should worsen over time. Then again, if you think it sounds right now maybe you're well aligned already. Still the Mint LP best tractor may be a worthwhile thing to try.
I aligned the cartridge according to the directions. You basically pull the cartridge to the most forward position in the head shell. I'm not too experienced with turntable setup. I did check it against some of the free alignment printouts from the internet and it seems to be pretty accurate.
I also set my amp to mono and changed the setting so the meters freeze on the peak level. It looks to me that the left/right balance is even. Is there anything else I can do to test this?
As long as it sounds good to me I guess it is aligned properly. What can I listen for that is a telltale sign of improper alignment?
I've noticed that the louder sounds, like loud vocals, will sound grainy and distorted. Just an overall lack in clarity across the whole spectrum. I've been thrown into an OCD fit over this, but who knows...maybe a lot of my albums just have groove damage. That would mean that all my obsessing over this was for nothing, because you obviously can't do anything about that except buy new records. People have suggested buying the MintLP protractor, but I don't see how the provided alignment chart can be THAT flawed to the point where it doesn't even remotely do a good job at alignment.
The other problem is that the Virtuoso is a much more detailed and revealing cart than the Goldring 1012 I was previously using; these albums may have always been damaged, but now it is just easier to hear.
Ideally QA would keep these from leaving the factory, but it does happen. I suspect it's more common for new cartridges that are sent as replacements for cartridges that failed under warranty (which is rare) -- maybe those examples don't go through the usual QA.
In my case I have a Cadenza Bronze with noticeable cantilever skew, but I carefully aligned for the cantilever and it sounds absolutely perfect. However, if you bought this cartridge under warranty and have the opportunity to exchange this, you should do so, as it will significantly affect the resale value should you need to sell it.