"Straight" talk

I can't emphasize enough about the importance of proper azimuth.  When even a bit off, the result is smearing of soundstage, emphasis of one channel or the other, blurring of lyrics, loss or air around the instruments...etc.  If Paul Simon (et al) doesn't sing in his own space exactly between your speakers....better get a Foz.
Good point Stringreen but I worry that the title you have chosen for this thread might be a little misleading? In many cases ideal azimuth may be anything but straight -- I've had a significant number of carts that need to be canted well off to one side, Air Tights in particular seem very prone to this
I agree that improper adjustment of azimuth can result in suboptimal listening, but I fear also that improper adjustment of azimuth often results from either improper use and understanding of devices used to check crosstalk or use of faulty measuring tools to assess crosstalk.  In other words, on average, one might be better off with ignoring azimuth adjustment in favor of setting the cantilever 90 degrees with respect to the LP surface.

And for another thing, if your cartridge has to be set "well off to one side" to achieve whatever one defines to be proper azimuth, then that places stresses on the cantilever which I fear can also cause distortion.
When buying my latest iteration of the Dynavector DV 20X2, I had the good fortune of having a true perfectionist mount and tweak the cartridge set-up such that all parameters were maximized.  What a difference that makes.  Methinks sometimes we emphasize the importance of which cartridge over how it is mated to the tonearm.
Folkfreak.....   Actually, I thought it was kind of clever.   The object of the game is to get the diamond to sit straight in the record groove....  Lewn....the diamond is to be straight in the groove...If the stylus was not affixed to the cantilever properly than the arm should compensate....that's exactly what the Foz easily permits.
@stringreen sorry, too clever for me 😀 I’d assumed you were referring to the classic horizontal cartridge top when viewed from the front! Now you explain it makes sense
Post removed 
... on average, one might be better off with ignoring azimuth adjustment in favor of setting the cantilever 90 degrees with respect to the LP surface.
I absolutely agree. Moreover - although every aspect of phono cartridge alignment geometry is important - I do not think that azimuth is the most critical. Much, much more important is assuring that the cantilever/stylus is truly tangent at the chosen alignment's null points. Gauges that align the cartridge rather than the cantilever are particularly vulnerable to getting this wrong. That's why I always suggest the use of a mirrored gauge, such as the WallyTractor or Mint gauges. These use the reflection of the cantilever itself to ensure proper tangency. The only better way, imo, is to use instruments, such as an oscilloscope.

I've been all around the block with azimuth, aided and abetted by the fact that I own a Triplanar, which was once one of a very few tonearms that allowed precise adjustment of azimuth (albeit while messing up zenith).  (Nowadays, there are many tonearms or just headshells that offer this feature.)

Plus, I own a Signet Cartridge Analyzer, the grandfather of the Foz.  While obsessing over crosstalk using the Signet and the Triplanar, I found I was occasionally messing up the sound by canting the cartridge extremely to one side or the other in order to make the meter on the Signet happy.  This was the case in particular with my Koetsu Urushi, which was canted way over, like folkfreak said, in order to achieve best crosstalk numbers.  When I just gave up and set the Urushi so the cantilever was perpendicular, the sound was and is a lot better.  Maybe crosstalk isn't optimal, but all else is copacetic.  Now I have become a nihilist where azimuth is concerned.  I think a lot of this has to do with the perfection or lack thereof with which the coils of the cartridge are positioned inside the body, which is something one can not directly observe.  If the build was flawed, then pushing the azimuth to fix the problem is not without its cost to overall sound quality (and probably aberrant stylus wear).  I don't claim that it is not a good idea to have crosstalk maximally adjusted when possible.
Re results that end up canted. As I’ve posted before while I own a fozgometer I much prefer (and get better results from) aligning azimuth by ear using this method. 
Folkfreak, At first reading, I find a few problems with the blurb on the Durand website.  First, correct azimuth is ideally as they say, with the stylus perfectly centered in the grooves (however vague that is).  But most cartridges are not perfectly constructed, and the issue of crosstalk is most related to how the cartridge "reads" the L and R channels.  Reading takes place at the other end of the cantilever, where the coil moves between stationary magnets, in the case of an MC type, or where the magnets move between stationary coils, in the case of an MM type.  If the interface between the stationary and moving parts is not perfectly symmetrical, that will cause unequal amounts of crosstalk.  Second, they imply that badly adjusted azimuth is a major cause of channel balance problems.  That is simply not the case, and you can prove it to yourself by playing with the azimuth adjustment.  I found that extremes of azimuth adjustment affect channel balance by about 1 db at most, using the Signet analyzer.  Moreover, most texts on this subject will agree with what I say.  Playing with azimuth is no way to treat channel imbalance.  Azimuth affects crosstalk. I recommend treatises by Victor Khomenko of BAT and by another guy whose name escapes me.  If you go on Vinyl Asylum and search on "azimuth", I think you'll find their lengthy posts on the subject.
@lewm not sure you read the entire piece, you need to click on the link "Tips to Set Azimuth" and Joel explains what to do and why his preferred approach using solo mono vocal differs slightly from the classic 1KHz/Foz approach (which has nothing to do with correcting for channel balance, and which also provides a link to the Khomenko work).
Dear @stringreen : All cartridge set up parameters are critical an important but the problem is that exist no-perfect cartridge building for we really can be sure of our set up.

Now, almost all parameters has a intrinsical relationship that when we make some changes in one parameter some other goes off. Example: when we change VTA/SRA the AZ changes too, when we make changes in VTF VTA/SRA changes too.
In the other side the imperfections in the LP surface makes that our set up almost never is mantained during playback due to those LP imperfections.

I agree that AZ is a must to have rigth but at the end all the set up must be setting up in the same way, not an easy task.

Because of that inherent relationship in between all the set up cartridge parameters I don't like those advises or tips to set up one single parameter. 
Few years ago I decided to have a repeateable " bullet proff " whole test process for room/system evaluation that obviously included the cartridge set up. Through the years I was refinning ( time to time. ) that process and till today is functioning very well and makes my audio life more easy.
Important part of that process is that the track LP recordings are almost the same and I said " almost " because time to time I add a new track deleting some other because the new one is more " informative ".
This evaluation process took me not a week or a month to have it but several months/years to stay where it's today.

Obviously that for a process of this kind be succsessfuly we need in deeep experiences with live MUSIC and with several and different audio systems and a deep self training with the overall evaluation process, so it's not plug and play.

That kind of process can permit to almost any one evaluation of a room/system  in no more than 1 hour because when doing that evaluation we know in precise way WHAT TO LOOK FOR and not what we like it.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
" Example: when we change VTA/SRA the AZ changes too "

It is obviously apparent from this claim that Raul is not well informed about the intricacies and standards involved with properly installing and aligning a phono cartridge/tonearm assembly as part of a Music Reproduction System or there would be no way Raul would make this claim. Now it is possible that Raul has achieved this observation soundly through analysis of his own phono cartridge/tonearm assembly in his Music Reproduction System but for that to be true he obviously has a damaged or defective or faultily designed tonearm because of course if the tonearm is properly manufactured and is not suffering from damage then changes to VTA/SRA will not effect the azimuth this would be true even if the azimuth of the phono cartridge and/or tonearm is defective. To restate it in other words azimuth is independent of these other variables and frankly for someone such as Raul who claims to be a guru of sorts with phono cartridges this claim undermines his authority at least as much as his claims about phono cartridges that he has purchased used that are decades old and so have in most cases certainly decayed as a result of age to the point where no one can reliably draw any meaningful conclusions about their performance. 
@lewm  I just checked who is Victor Khomenko and realized he's from my home town. He was born in St.Petersburg, then emigrated to the US in 1979 — with $400, a family, no home, and no job. Here is the article

I believe all parameters should be given time and effort.  Azimuth , I have an AZ-1 I purchased with a Graham 1.5tc arm years back. I use it with a mono lp and by ear as intended. Tried a  Foz,  sold it, and kept using the AZ-1 and my ears with better result . 
folkfreak, Perhaps I spoke to soon. I agree with you; I read the rest of the piece by Durand, and he does get it right, or at least I agree with the gist of it.

If you’re using an instrument to set up azimuth by measurements of crosstalk, rather than by ear, the question arises what is your endpoint? Are you shooting for equal crosstalk (L into R compared to R into L channel) or lowest db of crosstalk? The two are almost never achieved at the same setting. I have read arguments both ways, but I think the FOZ dictates you are searching for equal crosstalk. Perhaps that makes sense.

Clearthink, Say what you will about listening to old phono cartridges, but hundreds of us have benefited from Raul's now 254-page thread on the subject of MM cartridges.  I credit Raul with bringing these gems to my attention. There is a lot of agreement among the devotees about what are the best ones and what ones are mediocre.  The very fact that this is so indicates that aging does not have such a differential effect on one sample vs another, provided the cartridge has been properly stored in a home environment (not in the garage or basement).  Therefore, discussing such cartridges and comparing them is not such a ridiculous pastime. Ironically, Raul himself has given up the quest in favor of modern MC cartridges.  Perhaps you don't want to know that; it would conflict with the flimsy rationale for your vendetta.

The point of me posting this thread is that in my setup, nothing I did has had as great a difference as when I locked in azimuth.  I tried tracking 1/2 grm more or less than Ortofon's recommendation, I tried raising/lowering the back end of the tonearm, I tried using more/less load to the cartridge..... but nothing I did was as important to the final musicality of my system as was the zeroing in of azimuth.  This adjustment made the low end effortless and seeming octaves below the former setting, the air and 3 dimensional portrayal is light years ahead of the former setting......etc., etc.  It was so important I just wanted to share my experiences with my audiophile friends. VPI suggests eyeballing the rod on the head of their tonearm...  The point is that even a "bit" off is off.  It sounds good, but not when care of adjustment is carefully fineallized.
@stringreen That's interesting, do you have digital microscope? 
Life is easier with tonearms like Reed 3p with Azymuth adjustment on the fly, amazing solution. It can be much more complicated to set azymuth on headshell with other tonearms. M.Fremer talking about crosstalk settings in this video somewere in the middle or in the end of the seminar. 
Chakster....the point of my post was not to discuss which arm is better than another....only to emphasize the importance of proper azimuth setting.  All too often there are those that think that a setting with a bubble level,a metal rod, a mirror reflection et al is adequate.  I'm cautioning against this and emphasize azimuth importance. Effort is unimportant...only that it be proper.
Stringreen, Fact is, if one is going to be truly anal about maximizing the listening experience for each and every LP, then one would be constantly fiddling with tonearm parameters.  Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit it, but when I am in a listening session, I want only to get lost in the music.  I do take pains to set up, when I first mount a cartridge in a tonearm, but after that I rarely change settings except perhaps to fiddle with VTF once in a while, by a few tenths of a gram up or down.

I will never forget the first time I heard a Triplanar that was set up for azimuth.  At that point in time (must have been the 1980s), no one was talking about "azimuth" at all.  There were nearly no tonearms or even headshells that permitted azimuth adjustment. Herb Papier himself, the inventor and for many years the maker of all Triplanars, was doing the demonstration.  It was striking how the sound stage, imaging, whatever you want to call it, "locked in" (to use your words, which are very apt), when Herb set the azimuth correctly.  At that moment, I knew that I had to have a Triplanar, but I had to wait several more years until I could afford it. I guess I have become lazy.  However, I still have the Triplanar, a Reed, and several headshells that permit azimuth adjustment.
Lewn....I wrote what I wrote to say that the adjustment is not just an act to get it done, but a very important one for which care should be given.  Too many on these pages seem to go through the motions with alacrity rather than care.  The Fozgometer and its accompanying test record   are very valuable for precision results.
@clearthink wrote.

" Example: when we change VTA/SRA the AZ changes too "

It is obviously apparent from this claim that Raul is not well informed about the intricacies and standards involved with properly installing and aligning a phono cartridge/tonearm assembly as part of a Music Reproduction System or there would be no way Raul would make this claim.

You observation is ONLY correct if you are talking about linear tonearms or tonearm without an offset.  Basic geometry tells you that cartridge azimuth will change with a change in pivot height due to the fact the cartridge stylus is not in a direct line with the pivot i.e. offset tonearm/headshell. 

If you need to visualize the effect, assume that the headshell offset is 90 degrees.
Hey Testpilot thanks for the 90% example. Takes all the subjective out of the equation. Here is one example of black and white which the debate is over. Now will the poster get it ???
Stringreen, I am basically agreeing with you about the value of correcting azimuth.  On the subject of the Foz and its wonderfulness, I am not qualified, because I do not own one, and I do not fully understand how it works. I do know however, that there have been some complaints about it.  One possible problem I recall was a claim that it becomes inaccurate if there is even slight decay of the voltage coming from the battery.  That didn't quite make sense to me (because integrated circuits such as the ones that must be used in the Foz will generally work fine so long as the power voltage is approximately Ok), but that's what more than one person was claiming.  
Lewn...yes I know the battery issue is bantered about.   Its really not nearly as critical as has been posted.  Never-the-less...you really only have to do the proceedure once or twice ...and then a week later to absolutely assure yourself its correct....then take the battery out and use it in your fire detector while awaiting your new cartridge in a few years.
Dear @stringreen : """  The point is that even a "bit" off is off. It sounds good, but not when care of adjustment is carefully fineallized. """

You are rigth and agree with and with the critical importance that AZ has in the quality level during playback. 

" Perfect " AZ set up means that the cartridge will pick-up truer grooves information  and  with stylus tip as the Replicant 100 in your cartridge the set up is a must to care about.

As I said the role of any single cartridge set up parameter is critical but it's almost imposible to have all of them exactly at the rigth set up due to its inherent dependent relationship  and the LP surface imperfections.

As @lewm pointed out any one of us can be as anal we want on several audio subjects, like me that I am almost obssesed to mantain distortions at minimum and of course that a precise AZ set up is important for my targets but in audio and especially in analog audio we have to choose for the best trade-offs that can fulfill each one target.

I'm with you.

@testpilot , thanks to put the ligth on tha issue, I always say that each day is a learning day for each one of us. Not all of us have exactly the same knowledge levels.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


You might consider getting a Black Swan to try.  The cartridge loading in real time from the front panel will give you new tools to tweak' the stylus/record grove relationship and thus reproduction timbre and space.
How does cartridge loading ( a electronic circuit) change the needle in the groove position  (A mechanical adjustment)???

Now maybe a CNC tonearm if they could get the vibration under control.  Then you could program all the variables to change for each record and change even when playing.  Now that would be anal !!!
you have to be nuts to readjust your arm for every or even for different records.  This started out to be a caution for all to properly adjust azimuth, and how important this adjustment is on sound.  I've said what I wanted  - this line of posts is finished for me.
I adjust all my carts flat for the thickest records, and as most of my vinyls are thinner I´m running most of my carts a bit high (e.g. a greater VTA). All sound well balanced and I just forget different vinyls. Nowadays I don´t mess with VTF either, I just adjust it a bit higher than recommended average.
And then I just enjoy the music because my carts sound right then. And as vinyl play is already a VERY complicated thing why on Earth should I make it more difficult, I simply have no time to waste on inessential subjects.
As for atzimuth, I adjust it correct regarding the exact balance between the speakers (test record). Job´s done.

By your own admission, azimuth is critical. I’m not sure that one parameter is more crucial than another as you seem to suggest, as they all work together, IMO.

You said, "you have to be nuts to readjust your arm for every or even for different records."

You just, (by your latest post), affirmed that your reason for your post is not justified by your latest statement.?

Because all records are not perfectly flat or even perfectly pressed,. You opened the door...?

I don't need a Foz, (even though I own one), to let me know when I have azimuth adjusted correctly. I haven't used mine since I took my ET 2.5 out of play..
I use a foz as well. One point that has not been mentioned, and it is an important one, is to calibrate the Foz before each use. That is assuming that you are using it on occasion, and not every day
@stringreen, "yes, I know the battery issue has been bantered about. Its really not as critical as has been posted".

It has been/was posted by you....

You have many a time repeated that you use a fresh battery once, then relegate it to a smoke alarm, no?
The Foz is not self calibrating...there is a simple procedure. Mine always registers  0 to begin.  If you can set azimuth by ear...have at it. I know mine is correct.  The arm does have an offset, however, the arm moves up and down on the same plane as the pivot so that azimuth remains fixed.  That is certainly one of the benefits of a 2nd pivot on a unipivot arm.

I think you're right, this is what Van Den Hul said in the interview:

 "In play position, your tone arm should not be parallel to your record but at a small angle: around 3 - 5 degrees. This can be achieved by lifting the tone arm at the rear (i.e. the bearing part and not the cartridge mounting part) by 4 - 8 mm. The sonic result is a better spatial reproduction and cleaner high frequencies."  

chakster.... who told you that?  ..just saw VandenHul...... this is not a hard and fast rule.  Maybe for VdH, but not as a universal rule.  Also, in regard to the arm used....   If the bearing is at a different angle than is the headshell/cartridge, the azimuth is constantly in flux ...changing with the rise and fall of the warp...not good
Post removed 
Chakster, I know I´m right and I completely agree with A. J. Van Del Hul.
Well, he is a specialist isn´t he. And he´s not the only expert with that opinion/experience in this complicated business.
Most of my carts perform best with flat or/and a bit high position but never in low position (then highs become worse both quantity and quality). Many things in analog /physics are simple atfer all.
But I must admit the Foz gadget is quite tempting...
According to www.analogplanet.com , the later versions of the Foz are self-calibrating.

Regarding setting azimuth by ear... some rooms are not symmetrical and there may be other room circumstances that would be beneficial to set azimuth by ear. It is more fun.

Why do you dismiss offhanded (setting azimuth by ear?)

With the 3d arm, this operation should be quick and easy. And an experienced music listener such as yourself, should be able to perform, no problem.

Forget the FOZ!

Lay a CD playing side up on your turntable. Put a very tiny bubble level (you can find them on Ebay) on top of the head shell just in front of the mounting screws. Set the stylus on the CD. Then repeat, to adjust the azimuth to "center" the bubble.

The diamond will be exactly vertical to the Lp, and the azimuth optimal.

Makes a very big difference in size and width of soundstage, and also improves detail.

@don_c55, you are assuming that the stylus is perfectly aligned and affixed to the cantilever with absolute accuracy, which rarely happens with a hand made component.
Slaw et al.....without looking at the speedometer...can anyone tell when you're going 56 mph....
@stringreen .... how do you tell your Foz , is actually "correct"? I'm guessing like those you shade, your final acceptance is with your ears. If it was off , your stance is no, its correct even if your ears tell you different ? Likely not , so that said if you know what correct is then how can you be so flippant that it can't be done by ear from the get go. Sorry I find the logic flawed to assume a meter is the metric of choice that your ears make the final decision on.
Your speedometer analogy,.....can you tell your foz is correct without hearing results after its set...........

+1 do it by ear. Especially if you have a dual pivot on your vpi arm wand - makes it easy peasy and you don't mess up your vtf every time you adjust it. And also if like me your fozgo stopped working and you don't want to Spring for another one