I t can take me several hours, especially to get the azimuth dialed in.
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My experience is about the same as Onhwy61's. Perhaps a bit longer when trying a new arm or alignment jig. I use the MINT LP arc-type protractor. Then it may take quite a while after that to fine tune and readjust cartridge loading and gain on the phono amp.
My SME V-12 arm may be quicker to set up because the sled for adjusting overhang is very easy and precise. There is also no azimuth adjustability which saves time.
Love the statement, "You can spend the rest of your life refining the setup."
With a familiar cartridge on my own rig, 30-45 minutes is typical for a reasonable setup. After that I tweak while listening... a never-ending process, as Onhwy61 noted.
That's after 10 years of working with multiple tonearms and dozens of cartridges. It used to take days and several gallons of sweat, lol.
I use just three tools: a small screwdriver, an alignment protractor and a VTF scale. Like many, I've got all kinds of gizmos but I now find they add little if any value to the process or the result.
I use to use a Mint LP with my Graham Supreme. It took at least an hour to get it spot on. I used the Graham jig for the first time, 2 months ago. It sounds better than the Mint alignment and took less than 5 minutes to get the cart properly aligned on the arm wand. More time is required to get the appropriate tracking weight and azimuth.
30 minutes if I have everything out and ready. A little more if I use the fozgometer and adjust azimuth or if its on an arm that I am not familiar with. I dont tweak that much after I get it set, unless I am hearing something I dont think is right. I might fool around with vtf and vta a little if the sound is too bright, or bass muddy, but I find most cartridges play their best level with the record and in the middle of the manufacturers recommended vtf range. there is more variance in pressure, humidity and maybe temperature than in .01 gram in vtf.
No more than 60 minutes, start to finish, to get it 90% there using a Mint, Wally, or UNI-Pro, followed by a Foz. The UNI-Pro is faster than the arc protractors but I only like it with some arms. The next 7% or so is refined over a day or two by ear. The remaining 3% lurks in the void of perpetual uncertainty. Hey, I'm an audiophile.
The typical bugaboo in the first 90% is whether the cartridge screws creep an iota as they fully tighten, shifting alignment. If the do, after the profanities, I start again.
Dear Elizabeth: IMHO you could improve the cartridge quality sounds if you align the cartridge cantilever in a precise way instead " make certain it is square to the headshell. ".
With cartridges with " perfect " aligned cantilever usually works what you are doing now but several cartridges comes with an " off " aligned cantilever. Maybe yours is " perfected squared ".
Anyway, just a tought.
Regrads and enjoy the music,
Dear Rauliruegas: ++++ " well, I think that that (save time. ) is very high trade off/"price " to pay against the cartridge quality performance level adjusted with the right azymuth: don't you think? ++++
No, not necessarily, Raul, and here is why. First, I don't really care about saving time. I clean my records with a Loricraft and 5 step fluids, so that is not the tradeoff that matters to me. Second, you are assuming that my cartridge quality performance is being compromised without this adjustability. How can you be certain?
I have compared the sound of my analog to that in many other systems over the years. When azimuth is adjusted on other arms with other cartridges in those systems, I hear improvements in areas like focus, tonal balance, and midrange weight, only when azimuth was not properly set in the first place. I don't hear those issues in my set up. If the stylus, cantilever and headshell are all straight/level/correctly manufactured, they will not need to be adjusted.
Of course, I can't be sure that some azimuth adjustment would not improve the sound of my arm, but nor can you be sure that it can. When I owned the SME 309 arm with a detachable headshell, I did adjust azimuth from the factory setting (which I assume was straight) and the sound did not improve, so I set it back to how it came originally. It sounded better that way. I guess in that case, it did not need to be adjusted.
I think it does make sense for some cartridges and some arms, particularly those that are not straight. And I agree that most people find it a worthwhile feature. I have heard demos in which an azimuth adjustment improved the sound. But SME has decided that the trade off is not worth it in their top arms and they make the arm with no adjustment. Many SME V-12 owners have also decided it is a worthwhile trade off. Some of those owners have compared the SME 312S to the V-12 and preferred the latter with no adjustability.
It may be different for some other arms. I just adjusted the azimuth in a friend's TriPlanar arm. It was visibly slightly canted to one side. Of course the sound improved when I straightened it. But I can not be sure that if the arm did not have this adjustment that it would have sounded worse, assuming it is manufactured straight and true. The owner, not the manufacturer put it out of ideal alignment. I did notice a lot of other stuff on that arm that some owners do indeed remove to improve the sonics. What does that tell us about that design? There certainly is an adjustability/sonic quality trade off for the TriPlanar arm.
In general, I don't think it's bad to offer azimuth adjustment, but it is a tradeoff, and it is one that in my case, with my cartridge, I would rather not make. I just dont' think you can make such a definitive statement.
Sorry to highjack the original topic.
Mounting and connecting the cartridge, and adjusting overhang, offset, VTF, anti-skating, VTA/SRA, azimuth, and loading, takes me something like 5 or 6 hours. But once I'm done, I'm done. I don't generally continue to tweak the settings afterwards.
It would take me significantly more time than that were it not for the fact that I use a set of good headphones (an older pair of Stax Lambda Pro's) that allow me to make adjustments and listen at the same time, while standing next to the turntable. (The arm I use provides easy adjustment of VTA/SRA during play, and azimuth and anti-skating can also be adjusted in-play if I'm careful).
10 minutes because I bought a Well Tempered Simplex that has a fixed mounting distance just because I felt that I could no longer be confident that my setup was correct. I used to have a Moerch arm on an Amazon turntable and I don't think, even with the MintLP protractor that was made for the combo I ever go it right. Always something that I didn't like distortion wise. The Simplex plays silently and no distortion at the inner or outer grooves. Love it.
The one thing I learned about the Mint LP and the painstaking time to get the overhang and zenith spot on is that in the end, the cantilever flexes anyway, hopefully offset by proper antiskating. It will never be perfectly straight for the whole LP side. What I am trying to say...overhang, very important to get spot on, zenith not so much...only the best you can and don't lose sleep over it. Just some deep groove thoughts.
I guess i go overboard backwards to avoid the standard audiophile turntable setup madness.
No problem in my book for folks who fuss over it.. just that is not me.
Like VTA foreach LP.. maybe for the folks who do it, they find it worthwhile.. Not me.
Same for fussing over cart setup. Fussing over it? I would ratherthrow the damn thing out.
Just me and why I onky spend ten minutes.. Eventhough many say a careful setup improves the sound.
Also, IF any actual LP genius was around to do the setupp, well yeah i would pay to have it done. But since all the idiots I have seen only do about what I do and then charge $100.. No thanks