It think it's like a digital SLR camera lens on manual focus. you get it better and better and better and oops just a bit to far and have to dial it back..
So I am with you, while there is a perfect spot...it's not night and day if it's off a touch...just a bit better if not...
That cartridge (like the majority of Lyra carts) is designed to move any energy from the tracking process via its body into the Headshell / Arm. Based on this, the Titan i is like a race car, it simply show you what kind of driver is inside. It simply works best with Arms who have superior energy transfer and solid bearing. With regular arms it will never work at its maximum, no matter what setting is done. all you can do is to try what is the best position for your Arm and that's it. I use for it a Graham Phantom supreme but the Fr-64s is a much better arm for it for example. No matter in what position the cartridge, it is better from sonics compared to the Graham and the Graham is a really good Arm. A sonic disaster is for example SME 3012, Triplanar VII and some more...The Titan is one of those very, very rare carts which have no limit, the better your System is, the Titan will follow. I know from a dealer who has a customer who bought a expensive Brinkmann turntable, Thales simplicity and Lyra Atlas and he was totally frustrated. The hope expensive+expensive+expensive=excellent didn't work. It was quite the opposite. The Titan i is for ME one of those carts which never stop to amaze me. When done right it is among the best carts ever made.
Thank you, Jfrech and Syntax. I agree with your comments. My arm may not be the best but it should be good enough, the SME V. I fully agree with you Syntax, the Titan i is so good that tweaks continue to amaze. For example, I got considerable improvement, first, modifying my VPI HW-19, including a Bright Star sand box supported by bicycle tires (!), and lately, changing to a Hanss T-30 player with magnetic suspension.
I hope we get some "click-in" enthusiasts into this thread, describing "just the right" VTA-SRA tonearm (or shell) adjustment. If no one shows up, my preliminary verdict is that even if overall setup is very important, the VTA/SRA is not that critical. But this is obviously a topic that needs more illumination.
O-holter, What alignment protractor are you using? I used to own an SME V and now have the SME V-12. In each case, I had a Mint LP protractor made for my specific arm/cartridge combination and found that it does improve alignment over the standard SME template.
Have you also played with cartridge loading and gain on your phono stage? These and VTF can also effect results.
To Syntax's point, the SME V is effective at draining energy away from the cartridge down the arm tube and into the armboard. I also removed the finger lift from my arm which in theory at least can introduce additional vibration at a very bad location.
Thanks Peterayer. Did the Mint protractor measurement make you move the arm forwards or backwards in the base compared to the SME protractor?
Very slightly forward on the V and very slightly back in the V-12. But perhaps more importantly, it showed at the null points that the cantilever was not quite tangent to the groove, so I had to twist the cartridge in the headshell and it made a real difference.
Peterayer - this is very interesting. In my case I have always felt that the Titan (and earlier Lyras) had to be shifted slightly to the right, seen from the front of the record player. With the SME V arm, you cannot change much, but I took the freedom to bore the circular screw holes slightly oblong. Thereby I can turn the pickup a slight bit towards the right in the shell (seen from the front), to make it sound its best. Is this in line with your experience?
I was able to get all the movement I needed within the existing mounting holes. My rough guess is that I rotated the cartridge about it's zenith axis perhaps one (1) degree or 0.2 mm at it's rear edge. It's hard to say, but I rotated it as far as possible within the allowance and the cantilever lined up perfectly with the parallel guide lines at the two null points on the MINT LP protractor.
I also noticed that the stylus was off the arc by about 0.5 mm at the lead in groove, but appeared on the arc near the spindle. I could not see this but I could with the 10X loupe that is provided. So it took a bit of back and forth in very tiny increments to get it all lined up.
The overall sound became more clear and detailed and there is less tracking error at the inner grooves. The standard SME template is close, but the Mint is more precise. The problem is that one has to know EXACTLY the effective length of the arm (pivot to stylus) and that is nominal in the SME case because the mounting hole to stylus distance varies by cartridge sample and then you have to account for the headshell angle to do the math.
It was complicated, but I sent the figures to MINT and got the protractor.
Now, remember that I'm not suggesting that this is the solution to your particular issue. It is only a suggestion. VTA/SRA is also important as is VTF. Some would argue azimuth is also, but the SME V/V-12 don't have azimuth adjustability.
I also set the antiskate to the SME recommended setting corresponding to the VTF. The dial is calibrated. Others suggest that is too high a setting. I listened a lot to different settings and found the recommended setting sounded best in my system.
You also need to have clean records and a clean stylus.
Thank you for interesting information. I've found that I have to twist the pickup to the right (seen from front) in the SME shell to sound its best, and to appear best judging from optical adjustment with different protractors too. Is this in line with your experience? Regarding antiskate, I generally prefer it a bit more relaxed, a degree or two below the weight measure. This is related to arm damping also, I have tried a bit, but ended up not using it.
I recently did a comparison of the Titan i and the Ortofon Cadenza, in my arm and system. Very illuminating. The Cadenza sounded great, yet it is also understandable that the Titan is more costly. Potentially it offers more information.
Although the Cadenza sailed happily through the grooves, the Titan gave more depth and dimensionality, although this included problems also, like poorly recorded records. The two cartridges sounded surprisingly alike but the Titan was superior in overall musical information value.
I came away from the test feeling that I still have some way to go to get the Titan into focus. Disregard any earlier statements that this perhaps cannot be done.
Based on the advice in this thread, I am now trying out a few things. I ease up a bit on the turning of the cartridge to the right in the shell (I don't "bend" it to the right, but it is gently pushed, before I tighten the screws). Secondly I put the arm a bit forward compared to the SME protractor. Thirdly I improve azimuth by ensuring that the arm foot and base are parallel.
Does this sound better? My first impression is yes. Clearly there is more to be learned about adjustment than I thought.
It happened that I also have Titan i and SME V. but I also have TW 10.5 with my Raven 2. To me, the Titan is matched better with TW arm which they both sound detailed and neutral. I found SME V match better with carts that also have an emphases on emotions and a good touch on bass. I found Clear Audio match it well. The Titan will be glued to my 10.5 for a very long time. I am not expert but this is my opinion.