I'm taking a poll...

Vote for A, B, or C---

Assuming all other turntable set-up parameters are dialed-in, optimum vinyl playback is achieved when:

A. You set the tonearm at level and leave it there.
B. You use your ears and adjust the VTA incrementally up or down.
C. You get the stylus to ride in the groove at a 2 degree angle forward, to match the assumed angle of the cutting stylus.
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A and C assume records are the same thickness and are all cut at the same angle, which isn't the case.

So, B it is.
A. For optimal tonearm transitions over warps.

B. For optimal sonic reproduction of the waveforms carved in the grooves.

C. For optimal ease of mind, assuming you're comfortable with false assumptions.


Letter B. This is because not all records are cut at exactly the same angle. You would do it for each individual record you put on the turntable. Life's too short for this.
Viridian, I think Will meant 22 degrees, not 2 degrees.

I typically start with A, (assuming the cartridge itself is parallel with the tonearm), and then move onto B for further a variety of record thicknesses, until I get the sound dialed in to what I like best.

(I don't bother with changing my VTA for different record thicknesses, so I just set it somewhere between the thin and thick records in my collection. I prefer to listen to music, than to play around with the VTA in order to get the nth degree of sonic bless.)

My two cents worth.
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Actually, the 22 degrees on that page refers to VTA. A few paragraphs down he talks about an ideal SRA being at 1 degree from vertical, but then if you click on his "PS" follow-up at the bottom he corrects his mistake and states that the ideal SRA is actually 2 degrees from vertical, so that's where the 2 degrees in my original post comes from.

Here's another interesting page, read the portion at the bottom:

Personally, after spending days thinking endlessly about this stuff, I'm really beginning to believe that getting the stylus rake angle in the ball park is the way to go, no matter what the VTA and height of the tonearm pivot turns out to be in the process of getting it there. peace, Will
I dug up that thread a few months ago and use it as a starting point. With the VTF set midway in the range I set the VTA so that the stylus is leaning forward just a bit. I have not been able to tell two degrees but I can tell vertical.

Then I use the VTF and AS to fine tune the sound. Changes to the VTF cause much more change in SRA than changing the VTA does, which is why I don't bother trying to change the VTA with different thicknesses.

There is much more on this subject on the web, though I have not been able to find the original articals mentioned.

Dear Will: I already read your last three threads on the same subject ( how to obtain better cartridge quality performance. ) and I can see that you are " nuts " about the SRA/VTA/VTF subject.

There is no doubt that the most critical parameter between VTA and SRA ones is the SRA a parameter that for many people is unknow or mix up with VTA.

But that is not IMHO the the real subject but how achieve the best on your rig performance?.

First your system is unique against other ones out there so any advice/changes is system dependent, ears ( yours ) dependent and according with your music sound reproduction priorities that are unique ( to you ).

So, if we take the cartridge alone you have several parameters to play with and because some of those parameters have interaction each to others the " work " is a hard one and one that needs know how and patience, some of those parameters already mentioned on what the people posted: SRA/VTA/VTF/Azymuth/load impedance/overhang/etc, the problem is ( example ) that when you change the VTF you are changing ( at least ) the SRA/VTA/overhang so you have to re-setting those parameters, other example could be when you change the load impedance ( like when you change to 100 Ohms ) , in this case ( dependent on the phonolinepreamp quality ) some times you have to change other cartridge parameters before you say: " now the sound is dull " , you know what I mean?.

Now, your system ( like any other one ) has its own quality performance limitations so the cartridge overall quality performance will be good as the weak link on your audio chain, this means that the 17 D3 cartridge can be better performer in a better whole rig.

I don't know if your Rega tonearm is the best match for that cartridge and this stand alone subject makes a huge quality performance differences in any cartridge evaluation.

About the Step up Transformer subject and if you think that your active high gain phono stage is a good one IMHO there is no single doubt that adding other stages: Step Up Transformer, input RCA connectors, output RCA connectors, cable IC and a impedance mistmatch between the cartridge internal impedance and the SUT impedance only can/could make a heavy degradation to the cartridge signal quality performance and does not matters which SUT you choose.

No, I don't have the right and precise answer to you but at least you can have an almost whole view of the complex that process is and where there are non simple universal rules.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Rauliruegas has very good points on how to look at the LP system. So my answer is: it depends on your system and if your are playing mono or stereo!

My situation: I have a one TT/Arm system but play stereo with a Koetsu OPS in one B-44 arm wand and mono with Lyra Titian in second B-44 arm wand, I end up with two loadings two TFA's, and two VTA's. One setting for each - usually that's all. Have I tired more, yes. But the complications out-wade benefits on most records. The more anal you are the more you can do - it's just time, frustration and money.
I guess I am closer to "B" but in addition to vta, vtf is also important. Actually, i have gone through several iterations of vtf, vta and resetting overhang (i have a modded linear arm so its pretty easy) to reach my optimum for my cartridge. I will adjust for record thickness if I put on one of the real thin ones or if the sound isnt quite right. I think they call this an affliction
Hi Will,

1st of all, I don't understand the 2 degrees bit. 2 degs from where to what?

2nd thing, if its SRA thats being referred to, should'nt it be 88 or 92 degrees?

How do we measure 2 degrees on something like a stylus? A profile projector. I have one at work, costs 40k, does anybody else own one?

Even if we did have it, how do you measure it and set it up on something sooooo compliant like a cantilever???

I have a solution to this. I've built an infinitely variable suspension system for the mounting of cartridges. Just tracks accurately everytime. The music, is so much more FREEEEE sounding.

assuming you have on-the-fly VTA, why not adjust it? It makes quite a bit of difference when the VTA is dialed in. I mark the setting on the plastic sleeve of the LP and can quickly reset for each LP.
I adjust VTA by listening to width and depth of the soundstage, and also to clean definition, but I do not adjust VTA as a tone control. Although my VPI tonearm is VERY easy to adjust on the fly...I just leave it alone once I get it to my satisfaction
I would have to say B, as on my VPI I adjust for what is TO ME the proper balance between treble and bass. I knock no one for adjusting VTA (and VTF) for different thicknesses of LP's nor for doing same for every LP. I'm just not that anal. Also, the amount of adjusting I do is inversely proportional to the amount of zinfandel or single malt I have imbibed.--Mrmitch
I go for A, life is too short to adjust VTA with each record, particularly if VTA is not adjustable on the fly. The extra factor to consider is the cartridge. I think there is no doubt VTA affects the sound, in general front down accentuates treble, back down the base. I know it is'nt as simple as that. For my last Koetsu Rosewood signature, it sounded better front down slightly, with my current Zyx Airy 3, dead level.
I do'nt think one should ignore the potential for "tuning " the sound to your preference.
How do we measure 2 degrees on something like a stylus? A profile projector. I have one at work, costs 40k, does anybody else own one?

You can look at the stylus (under magnification) from the side as it sits on a first surface mirror and adjust it for zero degrees easily. The stylus and its reflection will appear like a perfect "X". Then do a calculation that tells you how high to raise the arm to put the stylus at a 2 degree angle.
and a tonearm that has on-the-fly dial-in height (The arm base height "dial" is marked in millimeter increments), I can change cartridges faster than I can change a record and with absolute repeatable results. That said, since the wands are of differing mass, I can also hear each cartridge in an optimized environment.

I love each cartridge I use, but I must admit that depending upon the music, I do have a preference for one over the other. This is why I have had this set-up for nearly 30 years.