The tracking force should be set with the tonearm in the 'playing' position, which means in a true horzontal position when the stylus tip is placed on the scale.
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I agree with Raul, agreeing with Jameswei!
When aligning a cartridge or weighing VTF, prop something beneath the TriPlanar's antiskate arm to take the side pressure off the string.
Yes, we all fine tune VTF by ear. But knowing exactly what weight sounds best can be useful on an arm like the TP, which has no fine adjustment for downforce. Resetting the c/w by ear alone could take a week!
Doh!! I must really be going nuts, "disengage anti-skate" thank you, thank you. If I ever have a problem with a unit powering up, I should check to see if the cord is plugged in, LOL.
I just wanted to know whether VTF should be measured ON the playing surface or OUTSIDE of the playing surface...Jameswei with his Graham made an interesting point.
I believe Doug fully understands my query (and anyone else with a Tri-Planar). I have many cartridges that I swap on a regular basis and setting VTF "properly" the first time will allow me to enjoy more music with less tweaking, ie. fine tuning by ear...
"Knowing exactly what weight sounds best can be useful"!!
This is really of paramount importance,IMO!!I have always gotten in "the range",with a decent digital guage,and tuned by ear.However it has become clear,at least to me,that once one sets azimuth/vta/damping(if needed)it is really easy to know exactly which downforce is the "maximum performance setting",though sometimes the room conditions can impact this,like is A/C on,and temperature/humidity etc).By having a really good digital guage(nothing less than accurate to 1/100 gm)and after experimentation with the various parameters mentioned,it takes only a few seconds to dial in the "Exact" downforce.BTW--As I'm sure it is well known,differences of a hundreth of a gram,or less,is clearly heard on a fine "rig"!
EX:--My pal,who has a pricey set-up,and a decent,but not "I'd bet my life it is spot on,in accuracy" digital guage has CONSTANTLY had problems in analog consistency.I've pulled out hairs (I'm bald-btw)wondering why I am always coaxed over(20 miles),to re-dial arm parameters,and bribed with chinese food,and wine.OFTEN!!I've endlessly played with all his arm/cart parameters,yet when my pal Sid brought over his Winds guage(accurate to 1/100 gm)we were able to get everything else to line up,and since the VTA is Locked in,as well as proper Damping fluid amount,the only thing he now does is place the Winds down,and dial 1.87 grams.We have tried so many different configurations that it's driven my nuts,but FINALLY we think we have this solved.
BTW--If the arm sees the anti-skate as it plays the record,I can't understand why one would not want to adjust downforce with it engaged.Believe me,if I'm wrong here,I'd love a plausable explanation,that might allow me to get better sound,by readjusting armforce,with the antiskate disengaged!
BTW--If the arm sees the anti-skate as it plays the record,I can't understand why one would not want to adjust downforce with it engaged.Believe me,if I'm wrong here,I'd love a plausable explanation,that might allow me to get better sound,by readjusting armforce,with the antiskate disengaged!Smart question.
1) If the weighing platform were "perfectly" hard and smooth, AS would literally drag the stylus off the scale. We could not obtain a VTF reading at all.
2) Of course no platform is "perfectly" hard or smooth. The AS force will be resisted by some amount of stylus/platform friction. A sensitive scale could react to this pressure. This might result in "downforce" readings varying with AS setting, even if actual downforce remains unchanged.
As you said, the goal of measuring VTF is not to "know" what the "real" downforce is. We are simply establishing a reliable baseline for repeatable setup. If you disengage AS every time, your results will be consistent, repeatable and will avoid the problems above.
Not to try to be dismissive of the "disengagement" of A/S,as mentioned,it just makes no sense to me,to measure meaningful downforce,this way.The arm is tracking at 1.87 as the disc plays.This,with A/S engaged.If we were to disengage the A/S and adjust downforce,then re-engage A/S,we will, now, not really know the actual "record in motion" downforce.Right?I'm really NOT trying to be contradictory.It's just that the A/S "is" part of the "playing" aspect,and it seems that it should be engaged in the downforce cycle.This way,it's easy to have a repeatable setting,to adjust to,with a good guage.I HOPE!!!Truthfully,I know no-one who disengages A/S to set downforce,and then re-engages to play a disc,but I'm TRULY open to any new ideas here.I'm not emphatically positive of my own methods,but being lazy,I like my way better!!Hey,I have NONE of my inner sleeves marked for vta,but I know some who do.I wish my laziness didn't come into play here,as this is the mark of a REAL enthusiast.
My pal,who always had inconsistent settings,has always had drift,in his azimuth/downforce,due to lazyiness in setting with his "own" guage.He always relied on others to come over and check it for him.He also had a soft dustcover,that made continual contact with the arm,when at rest.WE've convinced him to get more actively involved in his own set-up parameters,and he has bought a hard dustcover,which is taken off during play(obviously).He,also,has the worst listening environment any of us have seen,regarding massive static,Rfi,and Emi.Just to touch a button,in the preamp has sent huge static charges into the system.Yes,we've seen a display of blown drivers,amp and pre problems,and continual hard dust build-up under the cartridge body,over the years.Fortunately,we have gotten a handle on this,and he's lucky to have spare "bucks"!!Thank goodness.It's an amazing tribute to technology,which has allowed him to quell much of this,over time!
Moral of story--try NOT to set up a high end system,on the 22nd story of a N.Y. highrise apt bldg,by yourself.
On a much lighter note(as in --WHITE OUT-- LIGHTER)DOUG,we may not be exactly on the same page regarding some analog issues,yet,and yet we have much more in common(as of this writing,11:43 PM),as WE are now COMMONLY being SOCKED,BIG TIME,with a seriously pain in the tush BLIZZARD.
Times like this,it's SO nice to be SNOWBOUND with a great system and fine music collection!!Excuse me,now,I've got to turn over my new SAX pressing of Oistrach doing the Brahms double cto.
What's that you say,Doug?You want me to refill my glass of cheap(but good) Shiraz,while my neighbors worry about cleaning off their driveways,tomorrow.I think I WILL go for a re-fill,and don't worry!I won't forget to call the snowplow guy(to do my driveway).'Cause it's gonna be a late nighter,for me.It's not often I can go to sleep with a smile.How about you?
Best regards,and here's a toast to all!!Sip,Sip.
Dear Sirspeedy: WElcome a board!!!
+++++ " BTW--If the arm sees the anti-skate as it plays the record,I can't understand why one would not want to adjust downforce with it engaged. " +++++
You are right but there is a little problem: usually the AS value changes a cross the record, so the VTF will change with those AS changes and we need a constant VTF. Now, if we have a constant AS then your idea is not only right but we can work with it.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Sirspeedy, unless you have a dynamic load cell at the stylus, you really don't know the 'true' VTF at any given place on the record. If you think that because you reset your VTF to 1.87 that you are getting 1.87 every time, then you are mistaken! The 0.01 variation or precision that you claim is an illusion, since other parameters involved vary more than that. +/- 0.1gm is all that is needed and also to set up with the AS de-activated. Activating the AS will falsify the VTF reading by more than 0.01g due to the horizontal vector force applied. Re-applying the AS after the VTF is set is only approximate anyway and is correct for only 2 spots on the record anyway.
After pondering some of these excellent responses,Bob's really puts the "Kabbash" on anyone using an arm with antiskate.Possibly!
Maybe this is one reason Harry Weissfeld,of VPI does not employ an antiskate setting on his unipivots.
This does seem to lend creedence to the issue of a "tangenital tracking" arm.Like the Air Tangent/Kuzma Airline/or Walker!
In reality I guess the best I can do,in my own set-up,is "guesstimate"!!
However, just to continue the discussion, if we assume that on a given listening session all things being equal (humidity, temp, phase of the moon, etc.) that these variances that Bob mentions across the record will be pretty much the same each time the record is played. (I would hope they are or there is something really wrong with all of our playback equipment.) In this case the VTF of 1.87 is the only parameter we can measure to somewhat predict the behavior of the arm/cartridge across the grooves. Perhaps with some arms and some cartridges it can make a difference. (I admit I haven't experienced it but I don't yet own a cartridge that could respond to that level of adjustment. Mine don't even respond much to VTA changes. :) ) I can't help but draw an analogy to a stock car. The suspension, and thus the load on any tire, is constantly changing all the way around the track but the only way to somehow predict the behavior is to weigh the static load on each tire. Then changes are made during the run to compesate for what is actually happening. We have the advantage in that our "track", the grooves, are much more predictable in that we don't have to worry about what line we trace since there is only one.
Sirspeedy, the reason that AS is not a good idea with uni-pivot arms is that the horizontal vector imposed at the stylus will cause a unipivot to twist and drive the stylus out of azymuth (and also lower the VTF, due to the upward vector imposed by the torque)since there is no bearing in that horizontal plan to counteract that force. My STAX UA7 was a unipivot arm, which had a very elaborate AS (variable across the disc), but I ended up using very little AS, as determined by listening with a test record.
Dan_ed, if every record were recorded at the same level (level and frequency affect the friction which causes the centripedial force, along with the VTF and the 'lack of tangency'), were of the same length and thickness, then yes I would say that extreme accuracy on the VTF would be worth it. However, as you have mentioned, one cannot get 0.01g repeatability reliably from the VTF mechanisms on todays arms. Even those that claim to dial in the 1.87g and play, will tell you that after they carefully and painstakingly set the VTF to 0.01 precision, they then reset the VTF according to ear.
Might as well set the VTF to 1.9g (with less fuss) and then tune the VTF. It is quicker and just as good, depending on your ears, of course.
Though good points by Dan and Bob,the fact is that I want to enjoy my vinyl with the feeling of being as close to the "zone" as possible.No need to get as technical as Bob(though technically right).In our setting up(to max)my friend's arm/cartridge,we used the Winds guage,which is sensitive to 1/100's gm,as I've stated previously.We found the correct combo of vta/damping fluid(2.2 arm)and a reasonably close downforce,that we all agreed was in the "very close to ideal" zone.We did this over numerous listening sessions at my pal's home.
Dan,if you have a hard time differentiating between vta settings,I think something may be amiss!Any change of vta/downforce/fluid is clearly heard in my friend's set-up(as in my own).We settled in on 1.87 gms(for my friend)after zoning close to it,using all settings(1/100 gm increments)starting at the min recommendation,and ending at the max mfgr recommendation.We literally played around for an endless variety before settling in on the 1.87.
Here's how we settled,in finality.----My friend Sid is an extremely experienced audio buff/music maven(of the highest degree).We play a series of discs that we are familiar with,but Sid gets final approval of ultimate performance,as he has his own set of discs we also use.Fortunately he has actually been to some of these recording sessions,so when he states that Pavarotti's voice needs to be fleshed out a bit more (even though it seems fine to me),I adjust arm/cart to his ultimate preferrence.Truthfully the guy has the best sense of musical perception(as opposed to just great ears)that I've ever experienced!
When he likes the way voices sound,as well as complex orchestral tracking,we lock all in.We do use populr music too,but the hard stuff is complex orchestral music,as the cantilever "hates" to track this stuff!!This is how we wound up at 1.87.Which may not actually be 1.87,based on the technical input previously,but it's "THE 1.87" to us!
Now we have a benchmark that my pal can set his downforce to,with a good digital guage.Vta is locked,as is the fluid level,so unless environmental conditions change,alot,he's in good shape to finally get consistent vinyl sound.
I hope this makes sense,as nothing should be set in stone,but I want to simplify my own time involved in dialing in settings,and don't care if my 1.87 is not really 1.87 at some points of playback,as long as the quality of sound is good,and is repeatable at this particular designation.
I mean if we wanted to get really technical,we could argue the drift differences in "spirit levels".Which all vary,in the collection I've got.Who knows if we are actually perfectly parallel,on all planes.This makes an audible diff too!Just a thought,to ponder.
Bob, I agree with most of what you're saying. However I do believe that arms such as the 2.2 is it possible to get repeatable VTF settings provided the scale used is good enough which is what SirSpeedy is telling us. I am betting that I could do this with my RB-250 that has a Mitchell weight installed with the micrometer-like VTF adjustment. But first I would need to invest in the $800 Winds (OUCH!). If we're talking about a Vector, or TriPlanar, or perhaps your Stax (I'm not familiar with the VTF machanism on that arm) I will agree completely with you as it is damn near impossible to move the weight in such small adjustments on these arms. All this being said, I think we do all agree that getting it really close with the guage and then adjusting by ear is the way to go.
SirSpeedy, I've only played extensively with a 103R and a Benz Glider. Both of which do no seem to react much to VTA over a fairly wide range. This used to drive me crazy because here I am trying to listen for changes and they just never happened on both the Vector and 2.2. I've since learned from others that these two cartridges are not real sensitive to VTA and I guess I've proven that to myself.
Sirspeedy, sounds like you have a winning formula. I am sure that your formula for dialing in the vinyl playback would work just as well with a 0.1g resolution VTF measurement, however! Sometimes just adjusting the tone controls (ee gads, tone controls) on your preamp or adjusting the phono input parameters (capacitance, resistance etc.) will give you the same results as 'playing' with the VTF at 0.01g intervals AND is much more repeatable.
Salut, Bob P.
Dan_ed, 'All this being said, I think that we do all agree that getting it really close with the gauge and then adjusting by ear is the way to go.' Yes.
We are disagreeing on how close one needs to get before adjusting by ear.
BTW, have you ever you checked the repeatability of your gauge? Try measuring the VTF every day for the next twenty days without touching or adjusting any of the parameters on the arm. You might be surprised by the different readings you get every day.
Heck, Bob. The $35 digital guage I have now will hardly give me the same results if I measure VTF one right after the other only seconds apart. :) I'm not sure if that sucker is any better than my Shure balance.
Oh, yes. I would expect that the VTF could change from day to day. I was arguing only that it is possible on some arms to adjust to that .01 fairly repetatively.
I certainly wouldn't mind being wrong on this. I'm planning on purchasing a Winds soon and this could save me $200.
BTW, does anyone have any feedback on that digital guage being offered under the cartridges for sale? SirSpeedy mentioned it a few days ago but I've not been able to find out much about it. If it is that good it could save me another $500.
Sorry Bob,tried that,and don't agree(respectfully).It's clearly easy to hear the 1/100 gm differences in the set-ups that I'm privy to.The other pre changes you mention,don't impact the fact that the arm/cartridge "ZONE" is extremely important,based on what I've learned.Yet I'm NOT preaching anything to be set in stone.This is simply my own,and friends',observations.
As to the guage situation,here's my take--I've owned the Shure(totally unacceptable).The digital Cartridge Man guage was a pain to use properly,in that it needed a 24 hr charge,and was supposedly accurate for about 1/2 hr.Unacceptable for checking something out,on a whim,which I do often as I get new discs.Sometimes a new LP opens up a new door to checking certain parameters,at least to me,and I hated having to re-charge just to check this.My own set-up consists of a sort of "averaging" to a wide variety of LP's,in my collection.Wish I owned the LEGENDARY Air Tangent, remote/digital read out of vta,arm.I do think that this is the arm in GOD's system!
I bought the quite nice Digital One stylus force guage,from "Audio Parts",a year ago.Yet my pal got the same one,and it is .13 off from Sid's Winds guage(which I know to be accurate.He's had it checked).I never compared my Digi One to my friend's,but since his zero'd out to the supplied weight,as does mine,I see no reason mine is any different.
Also,since we've NEVER gotten such superb performance from my friend Ed's system(though he puts the emphasis on a recent shift from IC-70 to Venustas phono link),and the Winds was used EXTENSIVELY during the arm cable comparisons,and I was present,and active in the comparison(I was FANATICAL about the differences between 1.83/1.84/1.85/1.86/1.87)settings,all audible,as well as hyper fine tuning vta,and fluid during a 12 hr period,here.So my take,as well as Sid, was the fine increments of the "accurate to a fairthywell" Winds seemed to offer greater credibility than the actual cable differences.Hence,though I originally was interested in possibly changing to the Venustas,I'm now reasonably convinced that the Winds is the better investment,for me.
BTW-Dan--You can get about 100 bucks off on this guage,if you time it right.Like spring/summer!In my case I'm going in with a few other lunatics(like me),so I hope to get a fair market price.
Though any really good input on the NEW guage being marketed on the for sale area of Audiogon,would have the potential of putting the "Kibash" on a Winds purchase.It looks that good!I'll bet it's too good to be true,though!!Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
One final thought.Any feedback is always welcome!Though it is very good to ultimately set by ear,and I do this alot during long listening sessions,isn't it a good idea to finalize our efforts by checking the downforce,after all is tuned?This way (even with some inevitable drift)we can zero in on ultimate parameters quickly.To me,if there is always going to be some slight drift,then it's a matter of easily resetting with a good guage.If this is NOT plausible,then I think I may have to give my CD player more consideration,as I'm not really into tweaking as much as many of you may think.Just food for thought!
Dear friends: For any newcomer to analog and after read all those ( very interesting ) posts about VTF/AS/0.001/VTA issue any one of them would withdraw before to star on analog: very complicated.
Why don't just enjoy the music?
This VTF/VTA/etc/etc can't be perfect or near it. There are many parameters that preclude that:
- we need to know the right load impedance where the cartridge has flat frequency.
- we need to know the right VTF where the coils are precise centered.
- we need to know the right VTA where the frequency is flat and of course with the right VTF and Azimuth.
- what we " meausure/hear " today, tomorrow could be different for the same setup because: suspension changes ( for the use ), stylus wear, record wear, tube wear, etc, etc.
- every record is different and is cutted different and with different thickness.
- all records are concave, so the VTF/VTA change along rhe record ( some of you setup the VTF/VTA-SRA every single record, but this is not enough you have to change in every single track!!! ).
- our ear perception changes every single day: different mood, auditive loss, etc, etc.
- if today we do our analog setup with two other friends in the audio room and tomorrow we do the same with out any of them, the sound reproduction that we hear will be different because we have two less " audio traps " in the audio room.
All of you are experienced audio people why don't do an " average " setup and use all the remaining time enjoying the music?
Don't be nuts, you are trying to be perfect on an imperfect medium: you can't have success.
Now, we have severe frequency deviations all over the audio system, at least: 1-2 db on cartridges, 1-2 db on phono stages, 5-10 db on tubes and SUTs, 5-10 db on speaker/room, 5-10 db on tube amplifiers, 1 db on SS amplifiers, 5-10 db on our ears, etc, etc.
If we want a better music/sound quality reproduction ( because is what I think we all wanted ) we have to " touch " every single link on the audio chain to a minimum frequency deviations, then the VTF/VTA-SRA issue means something to be nuts, not before.
wELL, AS i TOLD YOU: WHY DON'T JUST ENJOY THE MUSIC?
Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, I think that is what I have been trying to say - set the VTF (0.1g accuracy is enough) at any position on the record and then enjoy the music after doing a further adjustment by ear.
Your description of all of the other parameters that might affect the listening experience is also a reason not to go vinyl.
With respect, Bob P.
Hi Raul, you and Bob are right, of course. We should all just relax and enjoy. However, some of us are not new to analog and want to investigate, experiment with this stuff. Far and away the music is the most important thing. If some of us do find a method of setting one of the parameters of a given piece of equipment that yields a better or more consistent result it will have been worth it. Much like experimenting with different types and levels of dampening fluid on some arms.
Anyway, it is all meant to be in taken in good spirits.
I'm a bit surprised with you,Raul.I certainly agree with this current point,of yours(and understand Bob's as well).Yet it has always been you,who have been very techno oriented about getting the best results!Now you seem to have a "glossed over" approach,and emphasize "just enjoy the music"!What gives?Have you finally gone over to digital?
Nothing wrong there,btw.I have a nice CD player that's in use,now,as my COSMOS gets two of Sota's latest mods.
Believe me I DO get what you,and Bob are saying,and most of my own arm/cart voicings are set by ear,but I STILL check ultimate downforce,for a benchmark,after all is set.It gives a fairly reliable reference for set-up,which though not "absolute" is still better than not knowing,and only relying on ones ears.When it is only us,who basically only listen to our systems,if it goes off just a bit,it is hard to clearly identify when this happens.Since we get used to our particular sound.Usually a pal comes over,and mentions,to me,that I may want to recheck something.This is where a critical parameter like downforce can be simplified,after some prior work has been done.VTA stays locked,as well as damping fluid.I doubt my coils/cantilever "sag" as I believe you state,as my cartridge is fairly new.Also I have a dedicated room,with controlled humidity/temp.Fairly consistent parameters.Why would anyone not want a consistent downforce reading?I'm perplexed!
I find it hard to believe that all the mumbo jumbo with other factors is more pertinent than having a really good starting point.Assuming one has played around a bit,with a good variety of discs.What doesn't make sense here?Even Harry Pearson recommends the Winds guage,as do numerous people I know.I have finally had extensive experience with one,and now think it's indispensable.
I mean let's all take a look at our analog investment---Tables(big bucks)-arms(fairly big bucks-to the stratosphere)-cartridges(pricey,expensive)-even arm cable isn't cheap(if it's a seperate entity)!So to recommend an accurate digital guage for a few hundred bucks is to be "blown off" is silly,to me.
I get the impression that those who don't ascribe to this have either not really extensively utilized the better digital guages,and found how effective they can be.Or,Don't really want to bother,or have invested in something like the Shure,or older,and "once classic" Technics guage.Here some rationalization may have set in.
Believe me,I'm NOT trying to insinuate my feelings on this subject,as I regretably have in some past posts.My only criteria is to, maybe, relate how an important set-up parameter can be made easy,and repeatable!I'll say no more,after this.
It happens to be a very viable subject,and one that has made itself surprisingly impactful,to quite a few of my own friends,as well as me.I would LOVE to find a reason for keeping my own guage,but accuracy to 50/100's doesn't seem to be up to snuff in my own set-up.I hate the thought of spending anymore!
Please understand that this is only our opinion,in our systems.Nothing is set in stone.This is certainly not my old rants in defense of the "not perfect by a long shot" 2.2!I'm only relating input from extensive sessions that took place at some friends' homes.Others have their own way of doing things,and I'm fine with that.
As for the pricey Winds guage--I want one,but that cute newbie guage shown on Audiogon,that reads to four digits really has to be considered.Not that anything beyond 1/100 interests me.Who knows?I certainly don't!
Dear Sirspeedy: +++++ " ...about getting the best results!Now you seem to have a "glossed over" approach,and emphasize "just enjoy the music"!What gives?Have you finally gone over to digital? " +++++
Not yet. Btw, maybe you don't read what I posted or I can't explain about:
" If we want a better music/sound quality reproduction ( because is what I think we all wanted ) we have to " touch " every single link on the audio chain to a minimum frequency deviations, then the VTF/VTA-SRA issue means something to be nuts, not before. "
Regards and enjoy the music.
Sirspeedy, with all due respect, you sound like the accountant who wants to calculate average costs to +/- 0.5 cents because he/she (and the computer)can do division to 3 places after the decimal. One can't get more accuracy, nor need, than 1 cent out of 100 cents. So it is with VTF. Although the scale might show a figure to 0.01g, the measurement is not of that accuracy or reproducibility and thus not really more 'accurate' for the baseline start points to which you are referring than a simple 0.1g accurate gauge.
Having said that, there is no harm in continuing to use the 'higher' accuracy gauges, but much of the perceived 'finer' adjustments that you are making is simply 'chasing your tail' so to speak, that is making adjustments to compensate for the lack of repeatability of the 'finer' measurement.
respectfully, Bob P.