Mint LP a no go – now what?

After some back and forth with Yip and after relaying some particulars supplied by VPI, Yip said that he would not be able to provide a protractor for my set up (a VPI TNT 6HR with a JMW 12.5 tonearm). After all the great things I’ve read about the Mint, I was pretty disappointed.

I currently am using the VPI jig for set up, and I’m wondering if there is another product I might use to dial things in a little better. Any suggestions would be welcome!

I have the Wally tractor for the VPI 12.5/6 arm
- effective length is 315mm
- pivot to spindle 302.1mm
- overhang (B) 12.9mm, (L) 13.3.

I have used the Wally many times, but ended up preferring the sound of Harry's plain old one point jig, which Harry indicated he chooses as it ensures better sound over the last 3rd of the LP, which is where most trackling issues occur.

Yip told me he is not confident that his baer algorithim will give you any better distortion figures based on VPI's effectibge klength and pivot to spindle dustance - at least for me on the 12.7 specs

I will quote Harry's last email to me regarding the 12.7 effective length details and other alignment methods.

" If you go by science, bumble bees can't fly, tell them that when a hive is chasing you. Seriously, I don't use either of those curves, I did it by ear on my system, not by math on a computer. If you go by distortion you would never use tubes, only solid state. I began using the Mitch Cotter system and tweaked it from there.

This is not a condemnation of either system, it's just that I know what they sound like (doing this since 1958) and like my system better. That does not say you shouldn't make the guage, it may sound better for you so I would do it.

They said the same thing on Vinyl Asylum and the German guy ran the number and said the distortion is higher, then he listened to the arm and said I understand why he uses it.

Just my take on audio, yours may be different and there is absolutley nothing wrong with getting the lowest distortion possible. "

Oddly enough, there seems to be some variation in the measured numbers - which wouldn't seem to make a lot of sense. Although it may become apparent that the VPI system is preferable, I'm curious enough to try an alternative or two. If nothing else it will be interesting to see what set up changes another system results in.
I wanted to post a follow up to the previous comments. I took Johnbrown's advice and contacted Steve at the Analog Dept. He was great to deal with and he had a protractor on hand for my 12.5 arm. He sent it the next day and I received it a couple days later.

I spent about an hour with the protractor yesterday. Definitely a fussy process. I had taken a fair amount of time several weeks ago setting up a new cartridge using the VPI instructions, and I was convinced that I had it pretty well dialed in. When I started using Steve's protractor it quickly became evident that I was off - and by quite a substantial margin. I probably moved my cartridge back in the head shell at least 1/16 of an inch -likely just shy of 2mm??? Once I did that it was just a matter of fine adjustment to align the two primary points on the protractor. The cantilever on my cartridge (a Dynavector XV 1s) is pretty exposed so care is required, but it made it easy to set the zenith. I then went through the tracking force, lateral, VTA, rechecking, etc.

As soon as I put on the first record I must say that the change was awesome! Clearly, the set up process using Steve's protractor definitely made an audible difference - and for the positive. Everything is better focused and sounds much cleaner - less distortion I presume. Anyway, well worth the hour I spent on it.

Johnbrown - thanks for pointing out this alternative. I don't know how the results would compare with a Mint, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.
The vinylengine site on JMW arms states 262mm spindle to pivot distance for 10.5i. That is not even close on my Aries 3.

I measured it myself and it matched Yip's number. The Tractor does sound great but I think the VPI jig has it's own sound which is good as well.
It is impossible to align the cartridge without a mirrored protractor. The reason is that, without being able to align the line with its mirror image you cannot know if you are looking vertically down on the cantilever as opposed to one or other side of it. If you are looking slightly to the side the cartridge could be perfectly aligned but will look out or vice versa.