Mint LP provides Stevenson Alignment


First, I happen to own and like a Mint LP protractor, but over the course of time it has become obvious to me that no one up to now has pointed out that it is providing the Stevenson alignment.  I have even read several self appointed  experts here argue vehemently that either Lofgren or Baerwald alignments are far superior to Stevenson, but then go on to equally strongly advocate the use of the Mint LP.  If ever there were an argument that alignment is somewhat over emphasized in our hobby, this is perhaps a good example of the truth of that thought.  Recently I bought a Feickert protractor, which is very easy to use and have tried all the alignments using it.  I can hear differences, but not always, certainly not on every track of every record, and honestly they are all good.  So don't get you pants in a bunch over this trivial issue.
billstevenson
Right. All these alignment theories are great for mathematicians because in their imaginary world of intellectual perfections these things matter. Not only do they matter, they are everything, a fact they love nothing more than proving to you with math and logic all day long. Meanwhile back in the real world where we just want records to sound good playing music the reality is it just don't hardly even matter.


Don't be afraid to use Stevenson, 99% of the Japanese tonearms designed to use Stevenson alignment. 

In my opinion the best protractor is the one with at least 3 different methods, so we can choose what we like and we can always realign to another one. Dr.Feickert has all 3 methods on one protractor. This is one of the reason i think this is the best protractor to experiment with different alignments, different tonearms. Precision Pivot to Spindle ruler is a must have for any protractor. 

Personally i can't detect any disadvantages using Stevenson compard to Baerwald or Lofrgen. Actually i use different alignments for different tonearms. 




I run a London/Decca with a paratrace stylus. Fussy enough you might imagine. However, I set it by eye and have never used a protractor or loupe because it sounds fine. I don’t mean fine as in acceptable, I mean fine as in soaring female vocals, shimmering cymbals, pan pipes, Rachmaninoff piano. All sounds great.

So would using an alignment device bring a wakeup call improvement? Have I been betraying my rig by not using these tools?
If you don’t specify a specific alignment when ordering Yip will provide you with designer intended alignment for your specific tonearm. That could be Stevenson, Baerwald, Lofgren or proprietary (ie. Technics, Rega).

So he is 1) not supplying Stevenson only protractors and 2) will also build any protractor to order based on what the customer requests (ie. Baerwald, Lofgren for an arm that was originally intended to be used with Stevenson or another similar alignment like Technics/Rega etc.)
I level the platter. Level the tonearm. Overhang as best I can estimate.  Eyeball cantilever alignment at two null points. Then be careful with tracking force.  Adjust as necessary. Seems to work.   What is a protractor?  Lol
millercarbon
All these alignment theories are great for mathematicians because in their imaginary world of intellectual perfections these things matter ... in the real world where we just want records to sound good playing music the reality is it just don't hardly even matter.
That there are various alignment methods, and ongoing debates over which is best, does not mean that precise alignment "just don't hardly even matter." It matters very, very much, especially if you seek low distortion and want to minimize wear on your LPs and stylus.
"If you don’t specify a specific alignment when ordering Yip will provide you with designer intended alignment for your specific tonearm."

Not according to Yip. I asked and he told me his protractors are supplied using the Stevenson alignment model. Full stop.
I have four of them here. Only one of which is Stevenson. Two Baerwald and one a modified Lofgren B. 

So that would be news to me. 

Mind you, I have known what I wanted each time I ordered and specified that with Yip.

He had no problem delivering what I requested, although he did ask for clarification and if I was sure about the parameters when ordering the modified Lofgren B as it was a bit unusual. 

That one was delivered to me in November/18. 
Someone please educate me. How do you set up a cartridge by eye when you have no reference point to start with ?  What exactly are you eyeballing, the record surface ?
I have even read several self appointed experts here argue vehemently that either Lofgren or Baerwald alignments are far superior to Stevenson
Stevenson optimizes end-of-side play — namely it reduces distortion intrinsic to the inner grooves' diameter and velocity. This makes sense with much Classical music, which often ends with a fortissimo finale that's harder to track. The finale of Mahler's Third, for example, taxes any alignment and Stevenson handles it best — even so, it can't match a linear-tracking arm with (theoretically) zero trackng error.

Personally, I'd rather have a bit more distortion on other parts of the LP, where it's less noticeable, than at the place where it's most noticeable.

All these alignment theories are great for mathematicians because in their imaginary world of intellectual perfections these things matter. Not only do they matter, they are everything.
Whether these 'obsessive' mathematicians actually exist or not, the idea that 'lowest average distortion' over the course of an entire side is better than 'lowest distortion where it's most distorted' is a questionable notion.
@noromance, yes. @flatblackround, a protractor is the tool you use to set your cartridge up on the tables arm for optimum results.
Eyeballing
yes tp the record surface.  A good perfectly flat record, selected by eyeballing.  The platter is already level determined by....you guessed it... a level.  If the cantilever is straight, as it should be, then a 90 degree angle should be achieved And can be verified with use of a small mirror.  Dial in by raising or lowering arm to change  stylus angle.   This is how I have done it for 40 years.  Careful listening to test albums tells me I can’t be that far off. Or maybe I just have poor  hearing.
I mean, like @flatblackround, I use a level and ensure P2S and overhang are correct per arm manufacturer. VTA is set by eye and then by listening. VTF by ear at lower end of manufacturer's spec. Azimuth by eye using a straw 90° headshell. Maybe it's because I've been doing it for 30+ years but I'd be gobsmacked if a protractor made a difference.
Post removed 
I have for years just used simple tools like a two point ruler and azimuth block from Hudson Hifi.
Oh and my ears....
Pretty happy with my results and a check with a real protractor showed it to be as close as needs to be to satisfy myself.
I very recently ordered and received a Mint Lp protractor from Yip. I ordered a 9 series, which are protractors he has already made for some of the more common turntable/tonearm combinations, in my case a Project Debut Carbon with a Project 8.6" carbon tonearm. In communicating with Yip he specifically told me the protractor for that specific combination, and what I would receive is based on Baerwald alignment.

billstevenson OP157 posts
02-04-2019 7:05am
"If you don’t specify a specific alignment when ordering Yip will provide you with designer intended alignment for your specific tonearm."

Not according to Yip. I asked and he told me his protractors are supplied using the Stevenson alignment model. Full stop.


Interesting. I first ordered a Mint tractor from Yip in 2008, when I asked what he generally uses, he said
" Far as possible I use Baerwald. More or less it has been proven by the many users feedback I have so far received.
Loefgren gives a better performance at the outer circles. But as it goes to the inner 70mm and closer, the magnitude of distortion creeps in."

That said in 2009 when I had him do a tracytor for my Pioneer Exclusive P10 / P3 - he said Stevenson without me asking.

What tonearm do you use Bill?       or perhaps he has changed his views, or more like he has a more detailed database to do what generally sounds better.

I have always found that the alignment that the manufacturer designed his tonearm with sounds best - Graham with the unique Graham jig, VPI with his unique alignment and jig - Japanese tonearms in gerneral - Stevenson.

cheers
If you send Yip your Mint's serial # he can tell you the alignment used. 
Dearb @flatblackround  : """  Overhang as best I can estimate.  Eyeball cantilever alignment at two null points...."""

From where do you determine where exactly position have those null points ( each one. ), only by eyeball.

" Overhang as best I can estimate ": again : how do you determine the correct stylus tip overhang? which your reference? or from where came to you that " estimate " about.

Could put you some " ligth " for us that always are willing to learn?

Thank's in advance.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.

Mr. Miller, I venture a quotation:

"But one thing is certain, never before in my life have I troubled myself over anything so much, and that I have gained great respect for mathematics, whose more subtle parts I considered until now, in my ignorance, as pure luxury!"

1912 letter to Sommerfeld, by one A. Einstein.



Dear @bimasta : and only for your records, against Löfgren A/B Stevenson has lower tracking distortions in the last 3mm. only and this is ONLY if the LP has recorded grooves between 60-63 mm.  must inner grooves.

Stevenson alignment is absurd if not " stupid " alignment and totally useless for 12" LPs.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.


Dear @downunder : "  I have always found that the alignment that the manufacturer designed his tonearm with sounds best - Graham with the unique Graham jig, VPI with his unique alignment and jig - Japanese tonearms in gerneral - Stevenson. """

those japanese tonearms that use Stevenson did it only by ignorance of those designers of what I posted here to bimasta.

R.
rauliruegas
Stevenson alignment is absurd if not " stupid " alignment and totally useless for 12" LPs.
Hey Raul - not everyone who disagrees with you is absurd or stupid. Not everyone who agrees with you is smart. Also, an LP is a 12-inch, by definition.

those japanese tonearms that use Stevenson did it only by ignorance of those designers
Again, not everyone who disagrees with you is ignorant or stupid.
Dear @cleeds : This is not about who disagree or agree with me, this is not the issue and not my point.

Please let us know if you are using Stevenson alignment and after that let us know how many of the LPs you regulary listen to have those inner 3mm grooves. Because those are the issues from my post.

Btw, Stevenson alignment is absurd for the facts I pointed out: FACTS. From a total of recorded 86mm. St. has lower tracking distortion in 3mm. and in the other 83mm. recorded grooves higher tracking distortions. Don't you think that that alignment is absurd for say the least?

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/es/diccionario/ingles/absurd

Where are you seated?  Löfgren alignments or Stevenson.

R.



First off, I don’t claim ability to enlighten experts here.  I have enjoyed my records for a long time without  protractors like those mentioned in this thread.  The overhang distance is provided by the tonearm manufacturers.  I say estimate and eyeball because my ability to be precise in this regard is limited by hand coordination and failing eyesight.  I use machinist tools like small calipers to help. Once there, null points are determined with a simple paper printout hung on the spindle.  Perhaps this is a protractor, but I don’t know what type and I did not pay for it. These can be downloaded for free.  Final adjustment is eyeballing tangency of cantilever at the null points.  As noted earlier careful listening of test records tell me that I am close. 

those japanese tonearms that use Stevenson did it only by ignorance of those designers of what I posted here to bimasta.
Really Raul.

I have tried my P3 and P10 with Baer and Uni-din alignment.  I prefer the sound of Stevenson with these two Japanese tonearms.

perhaps it not the Japanese that are ignorant :-)
flatblackround

That paper print out that you are using is a protractor.
@downunder : Perhaps not?, I have no doubt: do you? because is you who like it higher distortion levels in the 97% ! of the recorded grooves ! ! that you listen it and maybe not the 97% but 100% %.

Good for you ! !

R.
Benjie and Raul
Thanks.  It is obvious that I side with “it doesn’t matter which protractor you use.”   Maybe I should look into this more.  Nah...I’ll just listen to music.


rauliruegas9,055 posts02-05-2019 7:52am@downunder : Perhaps not?, I have no doubt: do you? because is you who like it higher distortion levels in the 97% ! of the recorded grooves ! ! that you listen it and maybe not the 97% but 100% %.

Good for you ! !

R.

ROFL. I also own the Thales Simplicity 2 tonearm that makes all the alignment choices a complete joke as it has no tracking distortion.

As I said, I prefer overall the sound of the alignment that the tonearm designer used - Stevenson in the Exclusive P3. I can hear the added bite/distortion in the first track of so of Stevenson alignment, but it’s pleasant ( not distorted at all) and much preferable overall to Baer alignment in this tonearm, despite the BS about higher distortion figures.

You go on and on about the distortions of the 30K SAT tonearm, yet many buyers love the sound and reviewers go gaga over it.

Perhaps you should do some listening instead of looking at distortion charts :-)

btw - What alignment does the SME 3012-R have. Superb sounding tonearm and craps all over my Graham Phantom - it luvs the heavy Dyna XV-1s.
Anyone can reread an earlier post about alighment methods, so much has been said HERE
@downunder  : "  despite the BS about higher distortion figures. ""

as I said it: that's what you like it and was not me who used the BS expression. Every one has what his knoledge levels permit and what you have is exactly that. BS or not you can't do nothing against facts and you have no single fact that proves what you posted other than the BS: " That's what I like it ", this is real BS. Don't you think? where are your facts? where?

R.
@downunder:"What tonearm do you use Bill?      or perhaps he has changed his views, or more like he has a more detailed database to do what generally sounds better."
I have several turntables, three of which have Mint LP protractors:  A VPI HW19 with SME III tonearm, a VPI Prime with two tonearms, a 3D and a metal arm (use the same protractor for both), and a Technics SL1200GAE.  All are Stevenson.  As you say perhaps he has changed his views over the years.  Clearly he has given different information at different times to those who have contributed here.  This could be a language based or contextual misunderstanding. 

I believe the Mint LP protractor to be the most accurate tool in my experience, but it is not the quickest, nor is it the easiest to use.  It also is very costly if multiple TTs are involved.  The Feickert if used carefully yields results that are very similar.  The sound differences of the various alignments are relatively easily evaluated using the Feickert, which is a major selling point.  The differences between Lofgren and Baerwald are very difficult to distinguish, at best, on most tracks.  Stevenson is more different and hence easier to hear, but it is not always easy to say which is better.  I think the vehemence surrounding this issue in our hobby is clearly irrational.
Well Bill, of course all are Stevenson.....
@billstevenson 

Hi Bill. thanks for the reply.

  Given the 3 tables you mention, logic dictates Yip used Stevenson. the VPI alignment jig, Harry says its designed to have the least distortion in the last 3rd of the LP so similar to Stevenson.  As we all know the last 3rd is the hardest part of any LP to track and play, hence why having the least distortion in alignment curves imo is the most important aspect ( despite our mexican friend not being able to hear as he only listens to specs, not music) 

  At some stage, it might be fun to use the VPI alignment jig to see if you still prefer the Mint Stevenson alignment.

cheers
Somehow lost in the ensuing discussion is a point made in my original post, which is that I recently bought a Feickert protractor.  It is from the use of it that my observations concerning Baerwald, Lofgren and Stevenson are derived.  I did compare the VPI jig with the Mint LP some years ago when the Prime was first purchased.  I felt that the Mint LP yielded the better results between the two, but admit that my conclusion could have been reached on the basis of expectation as much as on actual sound.  With that said, the VPI jig is not a particularly precise device and it is almost impossible to obtain repeatable results using it.  One of my curses is that I am an engineer, for better or for worse.

To complete this circle, I think properly executed any of the three alignments provides quite acceptable results.  The difference between Baerwald and Lofgren is often extremely subtle or some times even indecipherable.  Stevenson is different enough to be consistently noticeable and it can be better, worse, or neither depending on the position of the cartridge relative to the spindle and of course listener taste. 

Something that has not been mentioned yet is that the whole alignment issue is really very vague.  Rare is the perfectly flat record.  Equally rare is the record with a hole placement that is perfectly centered.  So we take our imperfect records and align them using one model or another and give a listen to side one.  Then, between hammer blows to one another, we turn the record over and get ready for side two.  Does anyone honestly think that the alignment on side two is identical to what it was on side one?  And of course the alignment on neither side is perfect because of the imperfections of the records anyway.  So alignment is all a set of approximations. The irrationality of all the fuss defies any semblance of logic.
billstevenson
... the VPI jig is not a particularly precise device and it is almost impossible to obtain repeatable results using it.
If the results are not repeatable, then it is by definition not precise. That’s not the kind of tool I’d want to be using.
... the alignment on neither side is perfect because of the imperfections of the records anyway. So alignment is all a set of approximations. The irrationality of all the fuss defies any semblance of logic.
That’s not the way I see it; I think it pays to start with as precise an alignment as possible. Consider the benefits of precise four-wheel alignment on your car. Roads aren’t level (they’re usually crowned by design), we don’t drive in straight lines or consistent curves, and roads are full of bumps and irregularities. But a good car handles better when the wheels are correctly aligned, regardless of the road.

In my view, setup is everything with LP playback. It doesn’t matter that virtually no LP is perfect.
Dear @downunder : I think that you as @billstevenson  want to win this discussion and both of you along those japanese tonearms that use ST alignment are way wrong and not because I say that or because I " only listens to specs, not MUSIC ".

No, boths of you are wrong because in reality did not READ what other gentlemans posted as what @hdm and me posted or what VPI designer posted somewhere. Let me explain why you just don't read the posts or for whatever reasons just don't understand it/misunderstood it:


"""  logic dictates Yip used Stevenson. the VPI alignment jig, Harry says its designed to have the least distortion in the last 3rd of the LP so similar to Stevenson. As we all know the last 3rd is the hardest part of any LP to track and play, hence why having the least distortion in alignment curves imo is the most important aspect..."""

hdm posted that he owns four MINTLP protractors: 2 Baerwald, one Löfgren B and one ST.

I posted a simple fact: ST HAS LOWER TRACKING DISTORTIONS IN THE LAST 3mm.  of a LP with recorded grooves in the last inner groove distance: 60 mm. where only a few LPs has it.

Where did you read about that 3rd last part of the grooved LP surface. ST advantage is only in the last 3mm.. Repeat: LAST 3mm.

Got it? or have to repeat again.

Btw, the VPI jig has nothing to do with ST alignment, the designer has not so lower knowledge levels on that regards.

R.
@billstevenson Stay away from statisticians, sounds like they would drive you crazy, Bill! :-) 

FWIW, Yip is happy to make any protector to whichever alignment you prefer. He's done SME/Baerwald for me and is making an Audiomods/Baerwald for me as we speak. Cheers,
Spencer 
@billstevenson 

I recently bought a Feickert protractor. It is from the use of it that my observations concerning Baerwald, Lofgren and Stevenson are derived.
  
Good choice. If you're an engineer you will quickly realize how good this Feickert engineering. I have no reason to use any other protractors, i have no idea why people recommend that plastic Mint without PS ruler if the Feickert has all in one and much better quality for any tonearm in existence.  

In addition i would only add a magnifying glass and very good lighting. 

Chakster "i have no idea why people recommend that plastic Mint without PS ruler"
There is a misunderstanding here.  The Mint LP is made of glass not plastic and if used correctly it is capable of greater accuracy in my experience than the Feickert, although the latter is very close, close enough in my opinion.  As you correctly point out it is a universal protractor and it is considerably easier to use.  OTOH, Yip supplies the Mint with two magnifying glasses one of which is lighted, which is a nice touch.  For hobbyists with multiple cartridges and/or multiple turntables the Feickert is the most practical option.  But for the last word in accuracy the Mint LP is the best in my experience.
As to the point of my original post that all Mint LP protractors are Stevenson, that is not correct as attested to by several respondents here.  I stand corrected.
I guess when it comes to accuracy in microns no one can detect it by ears, so when something is more accurate than Feickert i don’t know what to think (only some sort of UBS microscope comes to my mind if a person is so concerned about absolute accuracy of everything). I believe it’s irrelevant when we’re comparing precision tools like Feickert or Mint. Personally i’ve never noticed that Feickers is not accurate, it’s always spot on with 6 tonearms i’m currently using from time to time.
@chakster Sounds like "believe" is the key word in your last post. Have you ever tried the SMARTractor or the Mint? If so, and you don't observe a difference, I can respect that. Please elaborate. If not, it's sounds like your belief might just just be the bias of ownership and wanting to justify your decision. Not the high level of informed content that I usually see from you. Cheers,
Spencer
@sbank i have had at least 4 different protractors, i hate those with the mirror, i’m not crazy to buy more expensive protractors than Feickert and as i said all i need in addition to Feickert is a lamp and magnifying glass. After adjusting of at leats 10 different tonearm and maybe 60 cartridges with Feickers i don’t see any disadvantages of this protractor and this is the reason i highly recommend it to the others. Also, as i said, i am the one who use many tonearms, and it’s so stupid to buy protractor for each tonearm if the Feickert can serve all of them with 3 different alignment methods. In my opinion this is a precision tool, the spindle hole in it is just fine for my Luxman or Technics turntables. The PS ruler is always spot on. 

You can advise people to buy a new protractor everyday, or a new one for each toneam and claiming you’re able to hear a difference in microns (in my opinion it’s just a waste of time and money), but i would recommend just one protractor for all toneams and all turntables for those who’re looking for "real" tool for reasonable price with all 3 methods of alignment, not just a piece of glass or plastic or paper.

Comparing Feickert to the original paper protractors provided by the tonearm manufacturer i can’t detect any difference.

People often overestimate a problems with cartridge alignment, i am here to add a bit of common sense. For the maniacs USB microscopes available on the market to check avymuth etc., but it’s not necessary for people with 20/20 vision.