Do you own a stylus force gauge and any sort of protractor for establishing geometry?
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Lewm, I have a force gauge & I got a protractor off Amazon. I mounted the old cartridge. I just hear so many people say at this level & above, how precise mounting is both tricky & an absolute requirement. I don’t want diminish the cart by saving a buck by not having it done precisely.
Im still hoping there are audiophiles here in Chicago who can either “tutor” me or point me towards a professional who will install & teach.
First thing is, what turntable and cartridge are you using? Depending on that, there may be little to do (with a Technics turntable and conventional Technics arm, use the provided offset gauge, then with a Shure SFG-2, set the tracking force to spec of the cartridge manufacturer and set anti-skate to the same value, finally check and adjust VTA and azimuth) or all of the above plus getting out the alignment protractor. Or if you have a p-mount arm, there is nothing to adjust except tracking force.
What sort of protractor did you acquire from Amazon? Does it have a brand name? (Amazon will sell anything to anyone.) These days, you can purchase a very accurate digital stylus force gauge (SFG) for a few bucks more than the cost of the Shure device, which is laughably inexact by comparison, even though for much of our audio lives that is all we had to use. I recommend the Ortofon digital SFG, because the weigh pan is completely non-magnetic. Some of the others that you can buy on eBay and elsewhere have a slightly magnetic pan. Not good if you are setting VTF for an MC cartridge, which tend to have powerful magnets.
If right now you only have a Shure SFG, I do not mean to imply you shouldn't use it. It does require care and skill and a willingness to fuss, in order to get the VTF in the ballpark, which is to say +/-0.3gm.
The Shure SFG-2 has worked perfectly for dozens of years, and unlike no-name electronic devices, will never go out of calibration unless the Earth’s gravitational force changes substantially. Its graduations are in 0.05g increments, and don’t be fooled by non-believers, the accuracy will remain +/- 0.025g forever. You get a 2 year warranty also, not a “90 day” warranty from an untraceable manufacturer in China.
There is one electronic stylus force gauge sold on Amazon that is really good, made by Riverstone Audio. Non-magnetic construction, measures with the arm/cartridge at playing height, etc. $28.95 with free shipping. Video on You Tube explaining its’ design and demonstrating its’ use. Positive reviews on the VPI and Steve Hoffman Forums and Analog Planet.
The Shure SFG-2 has worked perfectly for dozens of years, and unlike no-name electronic devices, will never go out of calibration unless the Earth’s gravitational force changes substantially. Its graduations are in 0.05g increments, and don’t be fooled by non-believers, the accuracy will remain +/- 0.025g forever.Yes, but it's very fiddly to use. And the styus must sit in a metal groove, while I'm sliding the weight around on the other end of the fulcrum. That groove could break the stylus right off the cantilever. I use one but it makes me nervous.
I have a digital scale, but don't trust it — the readings vary too much, even when VTF is constant. Probably a bad one.
Mostly I use the old Technics SH-50P1; electronic though not digital. Much safer than the Shure, and more consistent than (my) digital unit.