Technics SL-1200GR setup question


Hey A'goners,

I recently purchased a Technics SL-1200GR TT and am very pleased with it. I purchased used and it came with a Denon D-110 cart.

My understanding is that when the VTA is properly setup, the tonearm should be parallel with the surface of the record. In my case, the arm tilts down slightly. In other words, it's higher in the back and lower near the cart. The tonearm adjustment is as low as it goes. If I lift up the tonearm to make it level it is probably a good 1/4."

Does anyone have any suggestions here? Is this common or an acceptable degree of tilt? I don't think a shim is going to get 'er done here. 

I appreciate any and all suggestions. 

Thanks,
Joe
4e2405ee 1261 4ebd 9a47 b2cdb2f76f13audionoobie
You could use thicker mat or a spacer between cartridge and headshell if you think it’s critical.  


From VdH 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, Was vdH talking about a general rule for all cartridges or about Denon cartridges or about the Technics 1200GR or what? Because that single suggestion is unlikely to be optimal for all combinations of tonearm. cartridge, turntable.
To the OP, are you sure there is not some further adjustability that you are not accounting for? Because there is nothing particularly esoteric about Denon cartridges or about the 1200GR that would lead me to think the VTA adjustment would be so restricted.  Some folks even like the pivot to be lower than the headshell end.

@lewm 

More from this interview with VdH: 

“What I learned was that in the playing position the arm must always be somewhat higher at its rear end (the counterweight end). A 9 to 9.5 inch arm around 7 - 9 mm higher. This improves the resolution a lot. Works with any arm and any cartridge. What you have to keep in mind is that each record is different. So fine- tuning the spatial resolution is slightly different per record. This can be fine-tuned by changing the distance between the arm bearing and the mounting board.

One millimetre up or down can be enough. But the average of 7 - 9 mm up works always in your advantage.”

chakster
... the arm must always be somewhat higher at its rear end (the counterweight end). A 9 to 9.5 inch arm around 7 - 9 mm higher. This improves the resolution a lot. Works with any arm and any cartridge ...
Ugh.
I’m sure the added distortion is likely to offer more of that warm, tubey-like analog sound. Some people like that.

I prefer neutrality, and have found a phono cartridge manufacturer’s VTA spec - typically around 22 degrees or so - yields the best result. In practice that means the pickup arm is level or very nearly so.
Both statements made by A.J. Van den Hul, not me.


Oh understood, @chakster, I should have made that more clear in my post.
To the OP, this mat comes in various thicknesses at a reasonable price. I used Herbies mats when I had a Rega TT.
https://herbiesaudiolab.com/collections/turntable-mats/products/way-excellent-ii-turntable-mat?varia...

I have a SL1200G with Hana SL and the arm is practically level.
   
I always run arms a little higher at the back. It does increase resolution. If it sounds good and distortion free, it's fine. 
OP, 

The height that gives you the best sound overall is the right height for your cartridge, as it most probably is near or just at the right stylus rake angle, which matters more than VTA.
Here's an article from Analog Planet: https://www.analogplanet.com/content/how-use-usb-digital-microscope-set-92-degree-stylus-rake-angle-sra Seven paragraphs down the article, there's a link to another article, "More than One VTA" which explains why SRA matters more. I never got to adjusting my SRA using a camera microscope, but I do it by ear by adjusting arm height until I get the best sound. Hope that helps. 
Thank you everyone for the replies. 

@lewm There is no further adjustability. The ring that adjusts the tonearm height is on 0 and cant be turned any further. 

@noromance There is non distortion that I can detect. 
Technics tonearm is normally NOT parallel to the record, the rear part is a bit higher. but you have to watch cartridge body. Some of mine on Technics are the Victor and Sony. As you can see cartridge body is pretty much parallel to the record surface. Read what A.J. Van den Hul said about tonearm VTA, if you can't detect any problem with positive VTA just enjoy! 
Thanks for responding to my question, Audionoobie. The 1200 GR is a very popular choice among those who post here. I wonder whether anyone else who owns the 1200 GR with its standard tonearm could comment on your experience . I still find it odd or surprising at least that VTA adjustment is so limited. However, if it sounds good the way it is, it is good.
OP, I think you are fine.

I now have two arms with VTA on the fly, adjust while listening, and, like prior TT arms, I find a slight tilt down is best.

Prior Audio Technica TT was the same way, arm at zero/lowest had a slight tilt down. Sounded terrific.

VTA is really to get SRA correct, Stylus Rake Angle, tip in the groove: +/- 92 degrees

https://www.ortofon.com/hifi/products/hifi-cartridges/mc-a95/set-up/#:~:text=STYLUS%20RAKE%20ANGLE%2...

You can move your TT anywhere, a position where you can view sideways thru a magnifying glass, set arm height, then put TT where it belongs. 

I bought one of these, easy to check VTA which is easier to see, then view Stylus tip with magnifying glass.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HF9PEA4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1


I have the 1200 G, and I believe arm adjustments to be the same as on  the GR.
The issue audionoobie raises is one I have myself sent requests to Technics' support about, but never received any answer. The fact that, although there is on-the-fly VTA adjustment on the table – it does not let one lower the arm down to the parallel level or below. I do not understand that anyone can insist that parallel is always right (or even the 7-9 mm raised back end). Correct level/angle varies from cartridge to cartridge; dependent on stylus rake angle, cantilever angle and compliance, cartridge height. I switch between 2 cartridges (Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC * and Benz Micro LP) and both offer better bass (not just more, but clearer and better defined) when I have set the back-end of the arm lower (i.e. below parallel). My prior deck (VPI Super Scout) had a much larger adjustment range than the Technics arm. Raising the back does not only cause the bass and lower mid-tone to become less distinct, but also carries a high-end distortion penalty – like sibilance. I have seen others complaining about this on the Technics, so it's obviously a design error. I have tried to work around the problem by using two mats at a time (cork/rubber and/or cork/leather) but it does not give me enough as the spindle is very short, so this leaves no room for a clamp or a record weight. I wish Technics would own up to this problem and come up with a solution.
I have commonly found that lowering the pivot with respect to the headshell does shift tonal balance toward the bass and that raising the pivot above level with respect to the headshell does shift tonal balance toward the treble, which, as you say, can enhance sibilance.  There are good reasons for this. Using a thicker mat doesn't help enough with VTA adjustability on the 1200GR?  Are all the G series models similarly affected? At least Audionoobie knows he has company.
Technics EPA-100 is much better tonearm and can be adjusted properly on any turntable.

Regarding G or GR stock tonearm all you need is a thicker mat or spacer between cartridge and shell and then tonearm will be parallel if you wish to.
make sure u are using the stock headshell, it puts the cartridge lower than other aftermarket headshells. 
to level the assembly level the platter in all directions, put a small round level on top of the flat part of the headshell (temporarily adjust vtf to compensate for the weight).  then adjust tonearm height dial to level the headshell. 
use of a thicker mat helps with my cartridge, i use a 4mm herbies, stock mat is 3mm. 
also i believe many use a spacer on top of the cartridge to lower it further and add mass, which helps with the system resonance.  
it looks like a denon cart is about 2mm too short to be level on a stock GR at the lowest tonearm height
chakster
... if you can't detect any problem with positive VTA just enjoy!
VTA is always positive, by definition.
Remember that VTA is the angle of the cantilever to the LP surface.
Such great information offered by everyone here. It's good to know that this issue has been observed by others. I don't think I'm going to put much mental energy into this as the table/ cart sound great. 

Thanks again everyone.
 I have the G and it does not have the problem you state.
@cleeds 

VTA is always positive, by definition.
Remember that VTA is the angle of the cantilever to the LP surface.

Arm tube angle is positive or negative and you can only change it by VTA adjustment on Technics tonearm if the arm tube is not parallel to the record surface when the needle is on the record. If tonearm manufacturer can't give you that option than a cartridge spacer or thicker/thinner mat can help (on Technics turntable the OP is talking about). 

chakster
Arm tube angle is positive or negative and you can only change it by VTA adjustment ...
I suppose you can consider pickup arm angle as positive or negative and, yes, you adjust it by changing VTA. But VTA (Vertical Tracking Angle) is always positive, by definition. That's because VTA is the angle of the cantilever to the LP surface.
correct.  arm tube or cartridge can be zero (level) while VTA can be positive.  
typically VTA can be set closely by precisely leveling the top of a flat headshell to the platter while the needle is in the groove, VTF compensated for the mass of the level.  
adjust by ear from there.