I can't speak to the Benz cartridge specifically, but the general rule of thumb for adjusting VTA is start with the arm in the horizontal position and go from there. It's worked for every cartridge I've ever used. It is possible that Benz may have some specific quirk in design that requires a different method, but that is something your Benz documentation should make clear.
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I think they are all correct. The issue is the groove bearing edge or facet edges should be at 92 degrees, but if you have an additional facet on the back (towards the cartridge body) of the diamond you cannot use that back edge as your measured line with the microscope. Visualizing the facet edge contacting the grove can be difficult. It is usually the junction of two facets who form the line on the side of the diamond somewhere between the front and back of what you visualize on the microscope computer projection. If you used the easily visualized back edge of the additional facet and set it to 92 degrees, your actual contact line could be at many degrees above 92. I hope this helps some.
Guessing is way too complicated with this cartridge on this installation. What I did today was LISTEN. The arm is a bit high, but not absurdly so which the microsope dictated. I just heard Mahler's 2nd symphony conducted by Bernstein on DG....E-Gads....I never heard anything so fine. Because the arm was raised, the VTF is now probably a bit too light, the Azimuth, is probably skewed....I'm too tired to futz with this arm. When Harry sends me the new weight he promised, I will fine tune the setup.
The whole point of this exercise is moot simply because no two pressings are going to be exactly the same thickness. Way too much attention is paid to this VTA/Rake issue IMO.
The answer is to set it by ear (as you have done?) to a ~180 gram pressing and be done with it. Some records will be thinner, increasing rake, and some will be thicker, decreasing rake.
Set it and, please, by all means, forget it!
Listen to some music!
I got a tip from VDH and a very tweaky audio buddy of mine who was a principal in a speaker group with Linkwitz and set up Pacific Rim shows for Rowland.
As a consequence, I now never (even with two tables: an easily adjustable and measurable air bearing arm and a Triplanar) adjust for the MM or couple for various pressings. However, I was told to forget how weird it looks and really crank that baby up in the air/measurable and not subtle degrees off of horizontal (higher at the back). I was amazed. I lost nothing with the experiment and have to admit that if Mr. VDH gives me that advice for one of his high-dollar Black Beauty carts he made for me, joined by my friend with some of the best ears I've ever known in 36+ years in this hobby: I'll try it.
Try it. The worst that will happen is it will sound like hell and you lose nothing. Of course, lab measurements and instrument calibration and set up would be nice, so I ain't knocking that. Give it a shot and trust your ears.
Sorry to slightly hijack this thread. My problem is that I cannot reliably move my Dino microscope to where I need to in order to take a photo. I use a carbon fiber tripod and adjustable metal arm (Photek The eXtender, 38" Telescopic Horizontal Tripod Arm with Ball Head). To the Photek I attach the steel cylinder also supplied by Dino. All this equipment is steady and precise. The problem comes now with the flexing plastic cradle that comes with the Dino which I use to mount to the steel cylinder. Despite hours of trying to adjust I cannot get a clear or properly positioned shot. I wish there was a metal cradle available.
As a consequence, I now never (even with two tables: an easily adjustable and measurable air bearing arm and a Triplanar) adjust for the MM or couple for various pressings. However, I was told to forget how weird it looks and really crank that baby up in the air/measurable and not subtle degrees off of horizontal (higher at the back).Could you translate that into plain English?:) Thanks
My problem is that I cannot reliably move my Dino microscope to where I need to in order to take a photo. ... Despite hours of trying to adjust I cannot get a clear or properly positioned shot.Actually, your problem is that you (and the OP, and Fremer, and others) are wasting hours on a pointless exercise when you could be listening to music.
The number of angels that can dance on the point of a stylus is of greater musical significance than figuring out how to precisely dial in 92 degrees (or any other number) of SRA. That is an utter waste of time and resources. As others have pointed out, 92 degrees may or may not be correct for any particular record. Even if you achieve it you'll have to fine tune by ear, since the cutting stylus may or may not have been set at 92 degrees. There was never any standard for SRA. 92 degrees is just somebody's ballpark average guess, so futzing endlessly to achieve it is nonsensical.
Further, even if you did achieve 92 degrees for one record *and* it turned out to be perfect for that record, it will certainly be incorrect for every other record. You'll have to fine tune again, so why did you waste so much time dialling in that arbitrary number?
Set your cartridge body or tonearm parallel by eye. This should take about 15 seconds. Adjust from there while listening, but only to the extent your ears tell you is necessary. This should take the rest of your life and will be far more satisfying. You may even get to dance with some of those angels, which would be heaven compared to the hell you're putting yourselves through to no earthly purpose.
Harry and Peter got it right.
Although the setting the arm at the horizontal position by eye works for most arm/cartridge combos, isn't the advantage of using the microscope to set SRA come down to being able to set a good ballbark VTA for those cartridges that have more unusual cantilever/stylii angles or sylii with unusual sensitivity to SRA (micro line, shibata etc.)?
Doug Deacon (as always) offers great advice.
I would allow that some people are more comfortable with measurements, and if that makes you happy and improves your listening experience; then by all means go for it. Please note the the paper cited by Mikey indicates that the optimal SRA lies within a range of ~4 degrees with 92 degrees representating the approximate mid point of the range.
Since the cartridge in question is my stereo reference, I'd add my agreement that the cantilever/tip are difficult to visualize and that effort spent trying to achieve a precise 92 degree SRA is likely futile. You can achieve great results with this cartridge by dialing it in by ear. On my Telos tonearm, the tail of the arm is up a bit from horizonatal and the VTF is best at 1.93-1.94 gm. Attention to azimuth will yield great sonic benefits.
I find it useful to keep a log while dialing in a cartridge setup, changing only one parameter at a time. Also remember that you will need to go past 'optimal' (i.e. until the sound degrades) to confirm best set up.
I try and find the best compromise for VTA/SRA and do not adjust with every record. I also recheck my set up at the end of each month.
Hope this helps.
Ever since Jon Risch posted his seminal SRA article on Vinyl Asylum, people have over-interpreted 92 degrees +/- 2 as "SRA must be 92 degrees exactly and perfectly". People with a fondness for measurements and exactitude are vulnerable to this distraction. I should know, I used to do it myself. ;-)
Some cartridges do indeed have difficult-to-see styli. My highly myopic eyeballs can spot some contact edges with almost no magnification (e.g., ZYX). OTOH, I once wasted 45 mins trying to spot the contact edges on an Ortofon A90... to no avail. Then I came to my senses, roughly levelled the arm and adjusted by listening. In two minutes I had SRA nailed. From there, readjusting for different LPs (also by listening) took less than a minute. This was an unfamiliar cartridge on an unfamiliar tonearm (Kuzma Air Line) in someone else's system. In my own system I could have done it even quicker.
Good tip about keeping a setup log. That satisfies the need for perfection while actually being useful, lol.
Additionally, once I find the optimal arm height for any particular LP, I note it on a sticky note stuck to the inner sleeve. Makes tweaking for replays quick and easy.
Here's a twist. As Dougdeacon so well reminds us, each record is different and styli shapes differ, so it is somewhat futile to fixate on the 92 degrees. However, out of curiosity, I did check to see how close my SRA is to 92 deg. when my arm is horizontal. Very close. So with that for comfort and as a starting point, I adjusted further by listening to a variety of LPs until I found the setting I liked. For me it is a compromise because the VTA is difficult to set with my arm, so I don't do it for each record.
Doug explained to me once what it is that should be listened for. It is not a tonal balance between highs and lows as I had thought, but rather it is a timing issue involving the initial transient, the sustain and the decay. The relationship of each of these for a plucked note on a mandolin or harpsichord should sound natural and have the correct timing.
Rather than corrupting Doug's description any further, perhaps he could once again explain exactly what to listen for when adjusting SRA.
I thought this SRA stuff was over the top but I am not so sure now. I track an old, re-tipped by Soundsmith, Koetsu rosewood signature fitted with an enhanced line contact (original Aeries 1 deck/arm). I read Fremner's article and even downloaded the original '81 article and thought it was worth trying. Previously I have always set the cartridge base to parallel and tweaked from there, usually ending up with the back of the arm a little lower. My system sounds quite good considering the components but some voices, etc. are still not quite right (ssssssss'ing/S's too emphasized occasionally/etc.). Cannot justify currently the price of the digital 'scope so I just did a crude check using a x30 illuminated jewelers loupe with the needle on a CD (so they ARE useful for something). As far as I could tell (and I do use microscopes routinely/microdissections) my SRA was >92o. I therefore lowered my arm significantly so the SRA seemed closer to ~90o (all guesstimates but possibly with a trained eye!) and low and behold the sound improved exactly as Fremner described: smoother more easy, natural sound BUT with more detail! For example I quite like/pretty familiar with the album "Survival of the Fittest" by the Headhunters (Herbie's backing band for his album amazingly called Headhunters!): on one slow track a shaker of some sort moves slowly from right to left producing 3 clear shakes, now I can "see" that shaker shaking clearly in space moving realistically across the soundstage- I was gobsmacked. The difference was minor but to my ears very significant. Now I cry even more when listening to the MFSL pressing of LIVE/DEAD. Everything now seems more psychedelic!(Fremner has used this term too- believable illusions).
So perhaps it might be worth trying it, even with a crappy x30 lens 'cos this crude guesstimate seems to have produced a significant improvement.
This is some good hints on setting VTA.
"Raise the VTA (raise the rear of the arm) and the highs will usually get better. Too much and you will lose the bass.
Lower the VTA and the bass will get stronger. Too much and you will lose the highs."
I have been playing with cartridge loading. It is interesting that I hear some of the same differences from loading changes as described above with VTA changes. Nothing ever seems easy. LOL
Dear Stringreen: ++++++ " What I did today was LISTEN. " +++++
that's all about.
+++++ " The arm is a bit high, but not absurdly so which the microsope dictated. " +++++
as Dougdeacon I posted several times that those 92 degrees could be a start number as could be 89 or 91 or whatever. 92 is not a compromise, perhaps and only by coincidence ( at random ) what you listened in a specific LP grooves can be that 92 but in the next one will be different.
LP are way imperfect items. For some time now and in some LP titles I bought two samples ( same lot. ) and I can tell you that even here both can/could sounds tiny different.
Now, what's important is to have a well proved VTA/SRA self test process that in almost any " escenario " can works and be repetable.
That test process must has a reference/standard against you will/can compare it. Best reference can be live music at near field listening because normally recording microphones are " near field " position against where we are seated in a concert hall.
IMHO could be a mistake to make comparisons against our latest set up when that set up was made with a different reference/standards. In the other side and even with the same reference we have to ask our self: what if that set up was " wrong " even that we like it and that we are accustom to?
++++ " Because the arm was raised, the VTF is now probably a bit too light, the Azimuth, is probably skewed....I'm too tired to futz with this arm.... " +++++
not only that butyou need to reset something more critical: overhang, because if not then you will have always a higher tracking distortion and all the other set up parameters could help almost for nothing because the overhang was moved with those VTA/SRA/VTF chanes.
Now, the right cartridge VTA/SRA set up depends on the audio system/room quality performance level and your self knowledge level on how live MUSIC ( near field. ) sounds.
IMHO DYNAMICS is the main live MUSIC characteristic that we " want " to even in our system ( with out success. ) and the one that contribute the more for comparisons. Main definition of that Dynamics is how we perceive both frequency extremes in a live event, any deficience in the bass range or HF range goes against dynamics. Precision, definition, accuracy, velocity and natural coloration and agresiveness are part of changes on dynamics.
I think we have to look for in our systems through analize quality performance at both frequency extremes and very especial on the bass that IMHO put the frame for the reproduced sounds in he audio system.
Regards and enjoy the music,
It's hard to imagine anyone designing a cartridge for something other than headshell-parallel-to-LP-surface. Why would they do that? It would restrict sales of their own product. Every tonearm on earth, even the wacky RS-A1, is designed to place the cartridge mounting surface parallel to the record.
This doesn't change with stylus profile. I have cartridges with all sorts of styli: conical, elliptical, micro-ridge. All sound best with the tonearm (fairly close to) level. A touch of tail up or tail down? Perhaps. But nothing extreme.
This makes Fremer's reported advice (in the OP) to jack the back of a tonearm up very high quite suspect. He either didn't say that or he wasn't thinking clearly when he did.
Your recollection of what I hear when tweaking SRA was accurate. The most concise description I've heard was Frank Schroeder's, "Adjust for proper timing between fundamental and harmonics." He said that and moved on to another subject, as if he'd described everything we needed to know. And so he had.
If someone doesn't know what that sounds like, they need to get away from amplified music and listen to acoustic instruments in natural environments. It's easy to hear mis-timed harmonics in a mandolin or harpsichord pluck. Electic guitars are more congested. Tracker-action organs like the one E. Power Biggs built in Cambridge are easy, at least when played staccato. A Sears Silvertone? Not so much.
Of course the more resolving the cartridge and system, the easier this is to hear. Lower resolution setups may not reproduce enough audible harmonic information. If they do, they may smear things enough so that timing shifts actually do sound like a change in frequency balance. This may account for different descriptions of what people hear when adjusting arm height.
Just to comment on Karl_desch's post above, we all assume (expensive!) cartridge manufacturers ensure the styli are mounted correctly on the cantilever: then starting with a parallel base should work if designed properly and within VTF recommended range but Fremner examined some (expensive!) ones and found significant variations which apparently came as a complete surprise to the cartridge manufacturer who outside sourced styli/cantilevers. Assuming correct orientation may be unwise.
Doug, your final assessment is spot on and is absolute since what proper timing sounds like at the stylus tip is exactly the same as what it sounds like on all the rest of the gear individually and is a perfect reference. Perfect because the same transitional changes will take place during adjustment no matter what the gear is and therefore represents an ideal model.
Nwright: what came as a surprise was when Stereophile (not Michael) switched around the photos and captions, so that the SRAs and cartridges in the published article didn't match up. Corrections were printed in a follow-up issue.
FWIW, there never has been any published industry standard for SRA. The sole documentation supporting the 92-degree SRA that I have been able to find - in any language - is the Jon Risch article, and that never became part of any industry standard. What does "mounted correctly" mean if there never was a standard?
There is more of a standard for VTA (originally 15 degrees, which is where Shure's "V-15" name comes from, later gradually revised upwards until it became 20 degrees) than there is for SRA, but even so, some cartridges (both present and vintage) deviate from this significantly. On the Vinyl Engine website, Werner Ogiers collated a VTA table for various cartridges from various manufacturers, based on measurements made by HiFI News & Record Review magazine (rather than manufacturer's specifications):
You can see that even industry heavyweights such as Ortofon or Denon made cartridge models with 28 or 30 degrees.
Raul, in the "Who needs MM/MC" thread, didn't you write that some cartridges sounded best with the back of the tonearm raised quite high up? Do you still believe this to be true, or do you feel that improvements to your system and testing methodology since that time may give different results?
Also, did you ever try to measure what SRA you had when the cartridges were adjusted to their best-sounding position?
As a general message (not addressed specifically to Raul), rather than attempting to force all cartridges into a single SRA "standard" that never existed to begin with, it would be far more useful for both manufacturers and audiophiles if audiophiles would align the cartridges to their best-sounding position, measure the resulting SRA (and VTA), and the various real-world experiences could gradually be collected into a single table for further study.
OTOH, regarding overhang, due to decreasing linear groove speed towards the record label, the frequency response of an LP changes with groove radius, and so does distortion. The upper frequency response falls the closer the groove being played is to the label, while distortion increases.
At the same time, many classical orchestral works have their most dynamic climaxes at the very end of the LP, where distortion is highest and upper frequency response most suppressed. For this reason, you should not choose your cartridge alignment (Baerwald, Lofgren, Stevenson, modified versions of these) without considering how close the groove extends toward the label on the LPs that you prefer, and how dynamic and complex the musical content is at the innermost groove positions.
At the same time, many classical orchestral works have their most dynamic climaxes at the very end of the LP, where distortion is highest and upper frequency response most suppressed.
That is why the Classic Records RCA reissues in 4 single sided LP's are so good. You stay far away from the dreaded label, besides the other benefits of 45 rpm vs 33.
I have been chasing this 92 degree thing off and on for a year or so with fair results. Basically, when I've checked the two carts I've had for SRA after setting them by ear the results are not far off that 92 number. BUT, when one of the premier cartridge manufacturers says there is probably not much validity to this concept, I think I may relegate my USB microscope to the closet.
Has the fact that both VTA and SRA measured angles change as soon as the stylus is loaded been mentioned? Also, this load changes with the depth of the groove causing more or less friction. The more cuts crammed onto the record the shallower the groove. Not only that, but the angle of the cutting stylus which is typically set up and adjusted by the particular technician at hand, varies from shop to shop,(even within the same shop), brand of machine, and specific cutting bit. The actual SRA issue is moot because of the variables. It's only valid for the sake of conversation. 'Around 92 degrees', or so. A tone-arm without adjustable VTA on the fly is imo, inferior. You've got to tune in every single record.
Wntrmute2: IMO, visual observation of SRA with USB microscopes is not a waste of time - if it is being done correctly (which I have found is another very big if). But as I wrote above, 92 degrees was never an industry standard. Even the Jon Risch article that is the sole published article on a 92-degree SRA, acknowledges that SRA when cutting LPs can vary from 91 to 95 degrees, which tells you that 92 degrees in the original article was a chosen as a "one-size-fits-all" number convenient for publication.
There are a variety of reasons on the LP production side, cartridge fabrication side, and optical measurement side why 92 degrees may or may not be "it".
At this point in time, I believe that it is best to let the ears guide and the optical measurements follow, rather than the reverse. If measurements in hundreds of audio systems begin to suggest that 92 degrees is indeed the magic number, than cartridge manufacturers such as ourselves can seriously think about reshaping our stylii and cantilevers so that best sound is achieved.
I suspect that optical measurements of a hundred cartridges that are set up for best-sounding SRA are likely to show a bell-curve, with the majority coverging on whatever the magic number is, but with a reasonable number of outliers in both the positive and negative direction.
Keep in mind that whatever angle specified by the designer, however, it will be subject to manufacturing tolerances, and some cartridges may still look "odd" when the SRA is set to 92 degrees. Also, with the USB camera lens so close to the cartridge, there is a fair degree of optical distortion and subjectivity involved in interpreting the photos taken.
Here are two more links that you should study and think about before jumping in the 92-degree bandwagon (especially my second post):
This link discusses how vital it is to be absolutely spot-on if you try to take stylus photos with a USB microscope.
And this link describes how a Kleos customer deliberately ripped off the washi paper coil protector and damaged the cartridge dampers in his attempts to drop the SRA to 92 degrees. Kind of a tragedy-comedy.
hth and kind regards
Fear J.Carr: Yes, a few years ago testing Empire cartridges ( I think the 900/1000GT and the 1000 Z/xe. Other cartridges I can't remember. ) I found out that performs the best at " odds " high up cartridge tail/back of tonearm.
I did not tested again since then. But now that you brought here the subject I will try to do it and report my findings. I have to tell you that those VTA/SRA experiences made me to disappear the " afraid " to have that kind of " high up " VTA/SRA. I have to say too that with some today and vintage MM/MI/LOMC cartridge and when I use that high up kind of set up what we can hear from upper mid frequency range and up can be outstanding but unfortunatelly with detriment on the bass management quality performance and perhaps?? higher distortions in the former/that frequency range ( but I do not know for sure because the experience is so different/new. ).
In the other side and know that you asked: I'm just starting to include in my cartridge tests the SRA measure, I'm only waiting for the digital micro arrive.
Btw, I'm with you about try to have a table/chart with all those audiophile experiences with any cartridges where each one report on the SRA measure where we set up the VTA/SRA because was the position that we " like it " and not because it measure that 92 number that as you I still think means almost nothing and certainly is not and is far away to be the industry standard till that can be proved. That chart/table will help to cartridge manufacturers as you are to be " spot on " in the whole subject.
+++++ " For this reason, you should not choose your cartridge alignment (Baerwald, Lofgren, Stevenson, modified versions of these) without considering how close the groove extends toward the label on the LPs that you prefer, and how dynamic and complex the musical content is at the innermost groove positions. " +++++
as almost always there is no perfect alignment ( for several reasons as the one you name it. ): trade-offs always exist and something that helps a lot to lower distortions in the inner LP grooves ( other that the kind of alignment choosed. ) is to choose a cartridge high trcaking abilities and here you cartridge designers/manufacturers are the ones that have the " last word ".
Regards and enjoy the music,
I think 92 degrees SRA as a starting point is better than just setting the arm to level and having no idea what the SRA is. Adjust for best sound after that. You should get more consistent results adjusting between various different carts by starting at 92 degrees.
Even though there is no standard for SRA, 92 degrees seems to be the middle of the range for what records are cut at. To me it would be logical for a cart designer to shoot for 92 degrees when the tonearm is level if possible. That way it is easier to get to whatever SRA sounds best within the adjustability of the arm.
I think it would be a good thing to have a standard but it is probably a little late in the game for that. I wonder if modern reissues are all pretty much the same SRA or are they still all over the map?
As said before in this thread it is not possible to get an accurate reading of SRA using a microscope unless you are lined up perfectly due to the curvature of the optics. How one knows they are lined up perfectly I do not know. I have very good close up vision and trust it more than my results with a USB microscope. My far away vision is another story though. ;)
Whatever your starting point, level or 92 degrees, the actual SRA arm height range is very, very small! Adjust "on the fly" is worthless, because you will pass over this very narrow peak with a quick adjustment. You must "zero in" over time, to find the optimal spot, and reset azimuth and VTF as you go. Note sonic changes throughout this process, as it is a learning experience.
On my VPI JMW 10 the final sweet spot "window" is plus or minus one index mark on the Micrometer head height tower. This is a range of +/- 3 10,000 of an inch!
Without a micrometer head on your arm, I doubt you will find this optimal SRA spot.
Once I find this "sweet spot point" after listening to many Lp's, over a few weeks or months (after break-in is complete), I do not change the height. 95% of my records are of "normal" thickness, so I do not readjust height for the 180 gm Lp's.
I find I get super playback quality on 80% of my Lp's with this one setting.
One must also take into account recording quality variation, as some Lp's just sound "off" regardless of SRA setting. The resolution of ones system must also be acknowledged for your personal results. Adjusting for each Lp is too "anal retentive" for me!
What? It seems to me your process is far more tedious. Once you've set all other adjustments, it's simply a matter of tuning in the particular record. Similar to tuning a station on the radio. You can hear the sweet spot fade in and out as you tune forward and back. There is no better way. It may be anal if you care that much, but it's certainly not "retentive". If you have not tried this method, it will seriously enlighten you if you do. But you need a tone arm that allows it.
Don_c55, I think what most people are adjusting for with fine VTA adjustment is actually proper overhang. Adjusting VTA will change overhang slightly. IME overhang adjustments make more difference than SRA adjustments. This is just a theory and I have no hard evidence to support it but it is my suspicion. Not to say SRA does not make a difference because it does. I just think fine VTA adjustment has more to do with dialing in overhang than it does with dialing in SRA.
Dear Sarcher30/friends: For years audiophiles talked of VTA and almost never of SRA. When making adjustments at the pivot of tonearms almost all refered that adjustments as VTA, even today many speaks as VTA.
In reality noithing " wrong " with that because at the end what we want is to understand what is happening with that kind of adjustment.
VTA and SRS are two parameters that can't " live " one with out the other: when you change VTA you change too SRA and the other way around too.
In both cases always affect the overhang that could be more critical ( as I posted here ) than changes in VTF that affect too overhang. The right overhang always lower tracking distortions and minute overhang deviations increment in a severe way the tracking distortions all over the LP surface.
IMHO if we are making changes in VTA/SRA with out checking/new set up on overhang then what we are doing is only listening higher distortions but ( even if we like what we hear. ) that achieved " sweet spot " is totally FALSE or everything but sweet spot.
The name of the game in cartridge/tonearm set up ( as in almost any audio subject ) is: accuracy, with out it we have almost " nothing " but high distortions.
Btw, if I remember we need around a change of 4mm. in VTA for one degree change on SRA.
Regards and enoy the music,
PS: ++++ " me Lp's just sound "off" regardless of SRA setting. " +++++
in a decent audio system and with decent system set up that could happen only if is a bad recording/LP or comes with a different recording equalization than the RIAA.
"Adjust for proper timing between fundamental and harmonics."
Since it came from Frank Schroeder, who is widely regarded as a guru in all matters vinyl, this simple statement sounds brilliant and true. Now, will someone please tell me how "timing" is affected by SRA? I thought I knew that timing was the job of the turntable. Perhaps what is meant is that when proper tonal balance is achieved (by optimal adjustment of SRA/VTA) then harmonics are more naturally portrayed, which may give one a sense of better time-dependent relationships. (I don't really even like this, my own, explanation.) But when a guru speaks, the faithful must struggle to understand.
My difficulty understanding Mr. Schroeder's statement (which you all seem to accept as gospel) reminds me of a well worn anecdote about an all-knowing Buddhist monk who lives high in the Himalayas. A group of his acolytes struggle for months through deprivation and hardship, climbing to reach his lair, whereupon they ask him, "Oh great one, please tell us, what is the meaning of life?" His response: "A wet bird never flies at night."
Timing is referred to as a definition of transient performance as it relates to the stylus/groove contact point. The narrower the better, 'perpendicular to the apex'...or so. Hence, the 92 degree figure.
Start with a parallel arm and set overhang. I'm willing to wager that if you then set SRA on the fly, you will not find any measurable change in overhang. Granted, at or near that 90 degree standard.
Dear Lewm: I posted here:
++++ " IMHO DYNAMICS is the main live MUSIC characteristic......... Precision, definition, accuracy, velocity and natural coloration and agresiveness are part of changes on dynamics........ Rythmum is another characteristic of live music. Dynamics affect it. " ++++
Main part of that dynamics is related to transient performance ( as Csontos posted. ) and time decay and part of that transient response is related to stylus-groove contact where VTA/SRA as azymuth, overhang and cartridge owns tracking habilities define it quality level.
Now, when all those cartridge/tonearm parameters are in " perfect " relationship in the set up: you just will know it even if you don't know nothing about " fundamental, harmonics or timing " but know how live music sounds in a near field experiences.
Of course that we can't even the near field live MUSIC event because in a live MUSIC event there is nothing that " filter "/degrade/modified/obstacle in between you and the MUSIC source but the AIR. Here is the magic!
Regards and enjoy the music,
Csontos, This is easy to test for yourself. Just check your overhang after you change SRA. I've done this many times and you might be surprised how much it moves. The only instance it wont change is if you started out with tail up and then changed to tail down the exact amount from level that you were with tail up. This is because at level your overhang will be the farthest. Going tail down or up from level will shorten your overhang.
I agree Raul. I think it is worth resetting overhang after changing in SRA. Especially if you moved it allot.
Using my MINT LP arc protractor, it is very clear that changes in VTA (SRA)
alter overhang. It is more severe at the outer edge than at the inner grooves
because of the trace of the arc. IOW, the variance away from the arc is
greatest at the beginning of the LP.
In my system, this is audible. The MINT is extremely precise, assuming that it
was ordered correctly with the right pivot to stylus distance, or effective
Now the Mint glass thickness is different from the various LP thicknesses, and
thus overhang changes slightly with different LP thicknesses.
Regarding the timing of the note when adjusting VTA, I think Schroeder is
talking about the harmonics not arriving before or simultaneously to the
fundamental. IOW, the note's fundamental (frequency?) should be heard first,
followed by its harmonics with a natural sounding delay. This is pretty easy
to hear with a mandolin or harpsichord pluck. If the timing of that pluck is
off, the VTA is off. I think this is his and DougDeacon's point.
Peter et al, If you hear an effect of VTA on timing, I don't doubt it. I just wonder why that would be so. I certainly believe that VTA adjustment makes a difference, and I do pay attention to it in a non-anal way. However, I never thought about it in the way stated or inferred by Frank Schroeder. If there is substance to it, it's interesting to me.
I think of it like this: If the fundamental is being obscured by the harmonics, the harmonics are arriving too early. I hear this when the arm is too low in the back. If the fundamental occurs unnaturally early, or there appears to be a minute lag before you hear the harmonics after the fundamental, then the arm is too high.
This is roughly how Doug described it to me and it corresponds to what I hear. I can see how this could be described as a tonal shift or emphasis between the high and low frequencies.
This is exactly what my experience is. Let's say we're starting at 90 degrees. If you guys claim you will see a change in overhang from a minute SRA adjustment, Because that's all it takes to go from one side to the other, then it's an inherent fault of the system because of the vinyl. The only way this can be overcome is by incorporating an adjustment to raise and lower the platter itself. However, this still does not deal with the tooling issue. But I'm not so sure that this is relevant to playback.
Dear Lewm: I think ( I'm not an expert on that. ) that timing could be a not so good term/word to apply on the subject.
Harmonics are a development from the fundamental and in a home audio system the quality of the fundamental during playback depends on tyhe transient response that depends on the " right " whole cartridge set up. Different transient response gives different sound reproduction of fundamental/harmonics that change the dynamics we perceive.
Now, as I posted: when you are " there " you just know at once.
Timing is not easy to explain because there are several parameters that affect transient response not only VTA/SRA. What's important is to understand the whole subject an the importance of accurate cartridge/tonearm/LP set up.
Btw, any one of you read it ( from audiophiles or reviewers. ) something like: " SRA on the fly " instead " VTA on the fly " ( related to tonearm. )?
Regards and enjoy the music,
None of you explained the mechanism, only why it is a good thing. I agree it is a good thing. After thinking about it last night (what I do in the dark before sleep), I decided maybe it has to do with how music is encoded in the groove vis how the stylus contacts the groove and is thus able to translate physical undulations in the groove into an audio signal. The relation between the stylus geometry and those undulations might be the critical factor. I could imagine how that might effect what some would call "timing". But I don't think it's really timing by the formal definition of same.
Also, I commend you (plural) and anyone else who can confidently distinguish first order harmonic tones from the fundamental. As a (part-time amateur) singer, I can tell you that is no easy thing even in a live venue. The brain doesn't really care a lot about that first octave of tonal difference. (Why sometimes if my pianist starts out an octave too high, I will go right along with him, until I realize that the high notes are going to be out of my vocal range.)
SRA/VTA adjustment requires overhang adjustment. This point has been mentioned by some and glossed over by others. Here is Judith Spotheim's take from her setup instructions at page 20 for her 1990's The SpJ Arm (which allows for VTA & overhang adjustment by micrometers):
"Certain audible improvements achieved by adjusting VTA without compensatory adjustment of overhang are actually nothing more than the manipulation of the stylus tip location into the vicinity of a more accurate overhang setting. To properly adjust VTA away from the reference point, it is necessary to also adjust the overhang..."
"Adjusting for the discrepancy in the overhang brought by VTA alteration of 2.5 degrees (with an effective length of 244 mm) requires moving the arm's pivot point 1 mm forward....(An error of 2mm in overhang can increase tracking error distortion by 300%!)"
Dear Csontos: +++++ " If you guys claim you will see a change in overhang from a minute SRA adjustment................then it's an inherent fault of the system because of the vinyl........... But I'm not so sure that this is relevant to playback. " +++++
I think you can't see it but you can hear it and no it's not an " inherent fault of the system ".
You posted that don not know if it's relevant during playback so you are speculating only with out any fact.
You can find out facts that can confirm or not what you are posting if you take the time o make some tests in your audio system, something like: change by 0.3 mm your today cartridge/tonearm overhang ( right at the headshell. ) and listen.
IMHO if you have a good audio system set up and good system resolution and you are aware how sounds distortions for a wrong overhang then you will hear that with that overhang 0.3 mm. changed the sound is " different ".
Example, if we change from Baerwald to Löfgreeen B set up we can hear the sound differences even that the only change on those geometry set up is only on overhang ( less than 0.5 mm. ).
Audiophiles that today use a better protractor than the one they used for cartridge/tonearm set up can attest that they can hear the differences for the better even that the change in overhang was minite against what they have it.
Almost every person that now are using the Mint LP protractor can tell you that those minute overhang changes makes a difference for the better. Accuracy always make a difference.
So, I think you have to make some tests about and then come back here to share your experiences before more speculations.
Regards and enjoy the music,
Good 'transient' performance is always easily distinguishable from poor transient performance. It really is the final goal and distinguishable difference we hear when successfully correcting set-up errors. It's not a matter of our ability to isolate first order harmonics when timing is right. It's a matter of the natural ability of our brain to recognize when it's not. It's when we hear the difference that we then recognize correct timing in comparison.
Dear Peterayer: ++++ " If the fundamental is being obscured by the harmonics, the harmonics are arriving too early. I hear this when the arm is too low in the back. If the fundamental occurs unnaturally early, or there appears to be a minute lag before you hear the harmonics after the fundamental, then the arm is too high. " +++++
I respect your opinion as the Dougdeacon and FS but I always like to understand a subject analizing what is really happening around that subject before take other opinions as the " bible ".
I posted that maybe " timing " is not the right word but I don't have nothing against the word per se.
+++ " if the fundamental is obscured by the harmonics...." ++++
IMHO you have no precise evidence that that is what really happen because when the cartridge set up is not " perfect " and is off it then we can hear what you are saying because a wrong transient response on the bass but not because the " harmonics obscured the fundamental ".
All of us know that if we want more bright in the cartridge sound/performance we have to make a change to put higher the cartridge tail and for the bass the other way around.
Now, when we are listening our audio system fundamentals and its harmonics over the whole frequency range, of an LP score, comes one after the other in extremely fast way where you, Dougdeacon, FS, me or any one but a Mars bat can identify.
The only way to prove what you say could be to make a live tests:
using a musical instrument ( by a specific player: arp, piano, violin or whatever. ) make a live recording of one and only one note and try to identify fundamental and harmonics live against a D2D recording of that single note and with and with out a " perfect " cartridge set up.
Dynamics and what this envolve is IMHO what we have to look during a cartridge set up.
Regards and enjoy the music,