Technics SL1200: Baerwald or 1200 white gauge?

Hello Guys,

I always used the original Technics SL1200 white plastic gauge to set my cartridges and I have always been happy about the results even I changed many cartridges.
Well , I have read on the net about the MintLp Tractor or the Wally Tractor (looks the same as the other one) used on the Technics SL1200 to give the Baerwald null points
I never tried those Tractors .. and I'm curious about the sonical difference
Anyone here has already tried them? .. and what is the sonic improvement or difference regarding the original gauge setting?

Thanks to everyone for your opinions
Buy a MintLP. It will be money well spent. The others cannot produce the same results due to the cartridge shaft alignment method unique to the MintLP

The white plastic Technics gauge is pretty much useless for audiophile use.
Pretty much what Tvad said. The MintLP will be much more accurate and precise than that useless plastic gauge. What you can try doing first is grabbing the Technics Baerwald arc protractor for free over at and see if you like the results. It is almost the same thing printed on paper by your printer instead of a mirror.
It is almost the same thing printed on paper by your printer instead of a mirror.
Solman989 (System | Threads | Answers)
The difference is in the MintLP's mirror and guidelines printed on it, which make use of the parallax effect to assist in the cantilever alignment. A Baerwald printed on paper cannot begin to mach the accuracy afforded by the MintLP.

I've used both.
Ok I got the MintLP or the paper through Vinyl Engine are good template but where and how does the sound change compared to the default white useless Technics gauge?
Less distortion.

MintLP results in lower distortion than paper Baerwald, and both result in less
distortion than the Technics jig.

Read all the positive comments written by those who purchased the MintLP and
heard significant improvement over their other protractors, and your decision
should be easy.

Really, this is one of the biggest no-brainers in audio, IMO.
A question I have, about this particular Table.
I understand some like Baerwald Null Geometry, and some claim Stevenson Null might be as good, or another preference.

So, I ask this?

Knowing Yip at MintLP, how precise he is, with getting every little thing right with his Protractor per user's Table, Arm Spindle-Pivot Distance, Spindle Diameter, etc, would Yip possibly suggest a different, specific set of Null Points best suited for such a Table?

I would assume it would not be beyond Yip to provide special Null Points to accomodate a particular Arm?
2 Curio,
don't worry much. The Technics gauge provides the geometry the arm was designed for. I never experienced tracking problem using this gauge. Use the small screwdriver, the one that comes with cartridges, to see of the diamond tip and the end of the gauge are aligned.
The results using the MintLP versus the Technics white jig are so superior as
to be ridiculous.

We are not talking about tracking problems here. We are discussing reduction
of distortion when the cartridge's cantilever is accurately aligned, which the
Technics jig cannot possibly accomplish because it was not designed for the

Sorry, Siniy123, but you are fooling yourself into believing the Technics gauge
is providing optimal alignment. You have not used the MintLP, and therefore
you do not have the experience from which to draw a conclusion. Try the
MintLP and join the dozens of other owners whose ears have been opened to
a new paradigm.

The MintLP is
TVAD, I agree with both you, and Siniy as well. Both of you bring good points to the table here.

As Siniy says, akin to a Joe Pesci line from Good Fellas "You worry too much". Which might have a bit of truth, as Curio might find complete happiness without spending a dime, going any further with Alignment. He might get very good performance, never hear any anomalies, and live happily ever after.

I agree with you Tvad, that it isn't particularly tracking, or even inner groove distortion. The end user may never really notice, or have issues with such, even with a simple supplied overhang gauge.

It is the issue of extrating the very best performance from any given cartridge, and I'll agree, the Mintlp protractor will be pretty hard to beat in this regard.

As some tell me, there really isn't necessarily, a "wrong geometry" per se, but as many note, one particular Null Geometry might be better liked, versus another.

That's what I perhaps threw this on the table, if Yip would do a custom Null geometry per manufacturer's specs, rather than Baerrwald for every instance-Arm?
Could be.

However, Curio asked about the sonic differences, and to my ears they are not subtle.

Maybe to him, the differences would be impossible to discern. Perhaps the same would apply to Siniy123.

Nobody know what they will hear until they have have tried both.
However, Curio asked about the sonic differences, and to my ears they are not subtle ..

Yes Tvad .. thanks!
It would be interesting for me to know how the sound change with these Tractors compared to the standard gauge setting .. and how are changed the other parameters like soundstage - depth - wide - tall etc..etc...

Thanks again to Everyone ...
Lower distortion always creates a larger image...taller, wider and deeper.
if you want to spend $110 of piece of etched mirror - go for it.
Think about this: team of Matsushita engineers designed the tonearm and headshell overhang to be 52mm (as per their gauge). Just put you cartridge square in the headshell (use caliper if you want) and measure the distance of 52mm from the connection.
There are NO comments from any Technics SL1200 owners who have purchased
a MintLP, and then gone back to the Technics jig after setting up their tables
with the Best Tractor. None.

Siniy123, borrow a MintLP (and the instructions) from a Technics
SL12XX owner, and spend the time to set up your cartridge with the Tractor. I
am certain you will hear substantial improvements versus the Technics jig.
There is much more involved than overhang.

Just borrow one if you can, paying only for round trip shipping. Less than $10.

Then, come back and comment after you've heard your table using both set-up
if you want to spend $110 of piece of etched mirror - go for it

WRONG! You know nothing about the MintLP protractor. It is not etched glass. The protractor is printed on a plastic sheet that is attached to a glass surface. By doing so the lines are actually above the surface and this enhances the parallax affect. The laser printer used is far beyond what anyone has in their home or office.

Just put you cartridge square in the headshell (use caliper if you want) and measure the distance of 52mm from the connection.

WRONG! AGAIN! Many of us have tried to measure pivot to spindle in just such a manner. There is absolutely no way you can be as accurate trying to measure this as hitting the lines on the MintLP protractor. Much of the accuracy here comes from the way any arch-style protractor works. What sets the MintLP apart is the precision of the lines, both in the arch and in the fineness. Even so, getting pivot to spindle spot on is still only part of the story with proper alignment.

And don't forget, those engineers at Technics where only concerned with getting some high percentage of these arm/cart that went out the door just close enough to sound good. Getting one to sound great is up to the user.

So if you want to shoot holes in something you know nothing about, go for it. But please be a lot more intelligent about it.
Think about this: team of Matsushita engineers designed the tonearm and headshell overhang to be 52mm (as per their gauge). Just put you cartridge square in the headshell (use caliper if you want) and measure the distance of 52mm from the connection.

Yeah Siny , that's what I think too
I have mounted many different cartridges on my SL1210 MKII and just now I'm listening it with my loved Grado Statement Master
I never had any problem with distortion or with 52mm. because I use a millimeter paper (we call it "Carta Millimetrata") and I'm able to fix the cartridge at exactly .. further I traced two lines 2mm. distanced and I can align the cantilever on the middle line perfectly thank to a powerful magnifying glass.
Since I'm satisfied about the results I always got with this procedure I was curious about the differences with more than the default and Technics tested 52mm.
Assuming there aren't distortions .. are you sure Tvad about the correct soundstage/depth/front-rear perspective of your MintLP setup?
I think that into the Technics factory there are someone who knows how a turntable arm works and how to get the best through an SL1200 arm.
I don't think Technics has problem to make a stupid white plastic gauge 2mm. longer than the well known 52mm. if it performs better.
By the way since 110 USD$ aren't alot of money I have bought today this MintLP Best Tractor
I 'll try this template on my Grado Prestige Gold and I 'll tell you what I 'll get.

So if you want to shoot holes in something you know nothing about, go for it. But please be a lot more intelligent about it.

Dan , here no one has the "Last Word" on his hand , we all are here debating and exchanging opinion and esperiences just to increase our knowledge .. at zero $ thanks to Audiogon and to EveryOne!
are you sure Tvad about the correct soundstage/depth/front-rear perspective of your MintLP setup?

Curio (Threads | Answers)
I am sure what I hear now is better than it was using the Baerwald protractor or the Technics jig. As I have repeated, there is more to the MintLP set-up than overhang.

Once you've tried it, you'll know. Until then, I think the debate has run its useful course.
Dan, how dare are you to criticize technics gauge?! it was precision molded on multimillion dollars Swiss made equipment armed by proven rules of divine geometry.
the technics factory aliment sounds that good so, I don't have any need to go to some garage made tool.

different aligment will give you different amount of distortion at given distance from spindle, then it was originally intended by Technics designers. Depending on the material, cartridge, diamond profile it could sound better or worst. But, on average, technics default alignment will sound better.
If the Technics jig works for you, then terrific.

I sense from your other posts in other threads, that the price of the MintLP may be an obstacle, and you are therefore steadfastly defending the less expensive alternative. That's why I suggested borrowing a MintLP. Why not open your universe of potential? At least you would have tried it and not dismissed it out of hand.

For me, this discussion has run its course. The only folks dubious of the superiority of the MintLP over the Technics jig have not tried the MintLP, and they are not educated as to what it accomplishes.

One cannot have a useful discussion if some participants choose to not be fully versed on the topic.
|There is much more involved than overhang.
what more, VTA?
no way you can dial the VTA visually unless you are using some powerful microscope that can focus where your stylus contacts the LP and measure the angle on say computer screen. Dialing VTA using ears is a breeze and very repeatable on Technics.

I seriously doubt that you correct significantly off azimuth. Many today's manufactured cartridges are not properly aligned related to the azimuth. Such cartridge/stylus should be promptly replaced. Manufactures should learn a lesson that we are not going to tolerate this.
Perhaps nobody on this forum yet has used a Mintlp Tractor on a Technics 1200-1210, but I have used my Mintlp spec'd at 211mm arc on my Denon DP-2550, with new Acrylic Armboard, and retrofitted my mint 11 year old AQ PT-8 Arm.

My machinist buddy Andy had to make-machine a "locating Pin, that could be installed into the AQ Arm Base (A custom Arm base was made on my HW-19) This locating Pin-Rod, which was machined to a sharp pencil point, was then installed into the Arm-Base at a level height to Spindle, which is highly critical, so an exacting, accurate measurement could be insured on the S-P distance of exactly 211mm +-.001"! Yes, Andy's that good.

Thus, my Mintlp Tractor, at 211mm woks for both my Denon, and VPI Tables. This I feel is the very most important parameter, insuring that indeed, you are giving Yip exact measurements for your S-P Spec. Just "trusting" what VPI, Technics, or any other manufacturer for that matter "claims" thier S-P distance is might not be enough. If, the Distance is possibly off my 1mm, or 2, then you are back to square one, and you might not be getting any better alignment than the cheapo plastic jig that some provide with thier Tables.

I had found on both Tables, that the Turntable Basics Mirror Protractor was at least off by +- .500mm-1mm. The sound improvements on my HW-19 prooved the Mintlp did do a better job, and the sound did improve.

As a crazy experiment, just for the hell of it, I pulled out a bought new Benz Ruby 3, from it's Box, and mounted on the Denon Table, set up with the Mintlp Tractor, and I was very impressed at the fine performance, and sonics this old Turntable was giving me. I can only think of one catchy phrase to describe the sound, and that is "PRAT".

Still, the question I persist in asking, will Baerwald null provide a suitable set-up, versus another null on these technics, and I would assume yip would not have any problems slightly skewing the null points to a slightly different measurement to accomodate some of these japan made arms.

Has anybody asked this of Yip? Or are we to assume that Baerwald will be the best for a Technics 1210? I know if I owned a Technics 1210, I might feel some comfort in knowing I did a critical alignment with the Mintlp, but might not be too happy, or confident seeing a good Cartridge sitting very cockeyed on the Headshell. Mark

Do some reading and learn a little more about the product and the process.
Humorous read, but I won't bang my head against this wall. I agree with Tvad. It really isn't an issue of anyone having to have the MintLP to enjoy their vinyl. That is certainly true and maybe $100 is a lot of money these days. However, this price is certainly pretty tame compared with many audio tweaks. So anyone who wishes to explore what else may be possible with their current table this is a well respected way to try.

Have fun!
11-12-08: Markd51
Perhaps nobody on this forum yet has used a Mintlp Tractor on a Technics 1200-1210.
I have.
I'm sorry Tvad, if I possibly missed your comments that you have used the Mintlp for the Technics. Guess in all the "excitement", I overlooked this.

So, may I ask, not so much for my references, and knowledge, but others, here, present, and future folks, did you particularly note any oddities of how the Cartridge sits, if it is canted in Zenith with Baerwald? I suspect it might be slightly, but as others claim, this is of no importanace-signifcance of how the Cartridge "looks', the most important thing I assume, it how it sounds!? Mark
Yes, it is canted slightly toward the platter, so the front of the cart does not sit parallel with the headshell.
|Humorous read, but I won't bang my head against this wall. I |agree with Tvad. It really isn't an issue of anyone having to |have the MintLP to enjoy their vinyl. That is certainly true |and maybe $100 is a lot of money these days. However, this |price is certainly pretty tame compared with many audio |tweaks. So anyone who wishes to explore what else may be |possible with their current table this is a well respected |way to try.

$100 will always be lot of money to throw down the toilet.
As with any "tweak" the questionable benefits exists only in the mind of believer, manufacturer PR and audio press.
As with any "tweak" the questionable
benefits exists only in the mind of believer, manufacturer PR and audio press.
Siniy123 (Answers)
True in some cases. Not true in others. It just takes some willingness to learn
to discern the difference.

The MintLP is tailor made for each customer so it has the appropriate
geometry for the owner's table/arm combination, and the Tractor works as

In an earlier post, you indicated that you were apparently unaware of the
aspect of cartridge alignment. Here's a good cartridge set-up primer to read. Section 5 discusses alignment. Along with overhang, precise alignment is what the MintLP addresses.

Setting up your cartridge properly would yield increased enjoyment in your
system. It's a shame you appear so resistant.
I certainly wouldn't classify the MintLP a "tweak".

Perhaps instrument or tool is more appropriate.
For an alignment that is *mathematically guaranteed* to be wrong everywhere on the record except for two points, the MintLP seems a tad too expensive for the reward.

Given the intrinsic inaccuracies of cantilever alignment in the context of visual acuity and skating/antiskate force, as long as the null points are at least on the surface area of the record, I think that's about as accurate as anybody could get, $110 protractor or not.
What you've said is of course basically correct. That at only two points (at best) can a Stylus be correctly aligned to the groove with a Pivotal Tonearm.

I'd probably be correct as well, saying that a large number of us end users, that were using poorer quality tools for alignment, never even succeeded to achieve correct alignment at least at those two points. For those that actually did, when they eventually compared to a better, more accurate tool (such as the Mintlp Tractor) dare I use the word "luck"?

The question arises, then just how accurate must one be? How much error will then impart a noticeable degradation of sonics? Some say accurate alignment should be within +-.5mm. But, perhaps what if the tool istelf has its own inherit error of poor resolution, and not designed-manufactured well enough for repeatable accurate results?

Of course again correct, an end user must conclude-decide what is the worth-value of a highly accurate alignment with a well made tool. Or take the other path-philosophy that says "My Technics Plastic Jig, or a lesser protractor is good enough, and the rest must be poppycock"?

All I can say from personal experience, using a lesser, but thought to be a decent tool, the Turntable Basics Mirror Sight Line Tractor, I used this tool a number of times, and every time I used this tool, I came away with what I saw as minute error, and a uncertain interpretation of that I had precisely aligned my Cartridge-Stylus. No doubt an inherit flaw of such tools, is the repeatable accuracy of aligning the site line, to center of Tonearm Pivot.

All one is doing with such a tool, is "guessing" where the center of Arm Pivot is. An ever so small error in aiming of course equated to an error of where the Null Grids would be positioned. Not only skewing correct overhang, but zenith angle as well.

After the use of the Mintlp Tractor, for the very first time, I did not feel compelled to re-check, or have a doubt that I did finally succeed in correctly aligning my Cartridge. Versus the TB Protractor, the Mintlp Tractor did indeed show the errors, in both overhang, and zenith angle.

All here who have used the Mintlp, including myself have noted worthy sonic gains. The value of those sonic gains are again up to an end user to determine what thier value is? Mark
I would like to welcome Siniy123 and Rtollert to A'gon. I see you both are relatively new here and I hope you both will continue to share your knowledge with the rest of us. Hopefully, you can learn from us and we can learn from you.

Rtollert is correct. All alignment methods with pivoted arms is based on a model that does not have a 100%, dead nuts on final solution. It is all an approximation and as such there is built in error. The best we can ever hope for is to reduce this error as much as possible. And that is all the MintLP can help with. Minimizing the error. Otherwise it is just another arch-style protractor.

Here is an analogy that may help illustrate how the MintLP works. It is an over-simplification but I think works to help understand what this is all about.

Take a big, fat marker and draw and "X". Notice the size of the area that is covered by the two crossed lines. Now find the exact center.
Next, draw an "X" with a heavy ball point pint. Notice the size of the area that is covered by the two crossed lines. Now find the exact center.
Now draw an "X" with a #5 lead pencil. Notice the size of the area that is covered by the two crossed lines. Now find the exact center.

Get the idea?

And all the while you are doing this with the MintLP you are also continuously going back to check that you are still hitting the arch at the extreme points, one close to the spindle, one as far outside of the edge of the record as possible. It is an iterative process that takes a lot of time and patience. It really cannot be done in one session either. Think in terms of something like doing this every Saturday for an hour, for a month or so.

Fanatical? Absolutely!
Rewarding sonically? Absolutely no question about it. Necessary? That is up to the individual.
Dan_ed, I feel the Alignment with Mintlp Tractor can be done in one sitting but a quite long one. I myself took about 1 hour 45 minutes before feeling confident that I'd never have to go back again. Insuring that I did indeed have exacting precise Spindle-Pivot Distance, and providing Yip with this info, I had eventually noted "absoilutely poifect" tracing of the Arc at both extremes, but this of course is only 1/2 the battle!

Then comes zenith angle adjustment, and of course, this then becomes another monkey wrench-fly in the ointment, as making any adjustments in this regard will-can skew your hard worked-on overhang. So, it's back, and forth, and I found I walked away, and came back to the Table a good 1/2 dozen times, took a break, took a deep breath, and then back again at it.

Of course there's no law that says "this is it", and of course, I'll agree with you Dan_ed, that all parameters-adjustments on a Table should be periodically checked.

Of course as has been brought up before, and Doug Deacon I believe commented about this, and that is the fine tuning of VTA, as some of you folks do like to do almost on a "per record basis".

By varying VTA, this will of course slightly alter Overhang, and possbly as well Zenith Angle to an extent. I haven't my Airy 3X to be quite so sensitive to altering VTA all the time. Mark
I would like to know if there is big difference between what Turntable Basics offers for $20 to the $110 for the MintLp. I took a look at the MintLp site and the only difference I saw was it was optimized for each arm. Oh, and the lines are on an attached plastic sheet rather than etched on the glass. It provides for two null points. I use the Turntable Basics tool for my Linn/Ittok/ATOC9 setup, Dual CS5000/Grado Gold and a Fisher Studio Standard/AT440Mla.
P.S. I am not affliated with any brand or company nor a reviewer. Just a long time amateur audiophile trying to get by on the cheap!

11-14-08: Bgpowell
I would like to know if there is big difference between what Turntable Basics offers for $20 to the $110 for the MintLp.
Yes, there is a significant difference: primarily the fine lines and cross points on the MintLP that allow the user to carefully dial in overhang and cantilever alignment. I owned the Turntable Basics protractor, and I can say unconditionally the MintLP is a significantly better tool.

Also, what is being overlooked is the outstanding step-by-step directions provided with the MintLP that guide the user through the process. IMO, the instructions alone are half the value.

Alignment, especially with the MintLP, is never done. It is impossible to reach "done". But each of us is certainly within our individual freedom to decide "I don't want to keep trying for more, what I have achieved now is good enough for me", and stop there. At least now we have a tool that can take us as far as we choose to go.

To me the overhang is only the beginning of what the MintLP can do. I found that much more benefit is obtained from iterating the stylus alignment.

All, do a search here on MintLP and you'll find two or three excellent and lengthy threads on this subject. Several people, most notably Palasr who brought the MintLP to our attention, have used just about every protractor out there and offer comparisons to the MintLP.
Not trying to be rude at all, but why wouldn"t it (The Alignment with the Mintlp Tractor) be "done"?

The platter isn't going to move, the Arm Base-Am isn't either, and provided the Cartridge doesn't drift on the Headshell, I see no personal reason to continue to distrust myself in that I somehow was "blind" that day, and only imagined I had the Stylus perfectly tracing the Arc, and the Cantilever in perfect harmony with the Reference Null Grid's Lines.

Under those circumstances, and the fact that I haven't played with VTA since, I don't truly understand why the Alignment is "never done"?

Yes Bgpowell, there was a marked improvement I noted from doing further refinement from the TB Tractor, to the Mintlp, and again, I will say that the Mintlp was well worth the money spent.

And I as well have no affiliation, nor axes to grind with TB, or any other Protractor brand-model.

The TB Tractor is a fine bang for the buck piece of gear, and I do as well highly recommend it as a less expensive alternative. If you search the archives on the TB Tractor, you may find posts about it, and how it is mentioned how one can enhance the use of this Tractor, with Thread to aid in sighting the Arm Pivot.

I also recommend the use of good Lights, Magnifiers, Loupes, and any other tool, or crerature comfort which you can use to your advantage in trying to achieve the very best alignment you can. The time, and effort in all cases is well worth it. Mark

Say I have a cart. It has a 10mm cantilever and a compliance of 20 um/mN. (I think these numbers are rather generously conservative; many carts will have numbers that generate even worse results than those shown below.)

Let's say that the skating force on the cartridge changes by the equivalent of 1g during playback. This isn't so hard to imagine: skating forces change drastically over the course of playback due to misalignment; antiskate calibration is known to be a little off when calibrating using torture tracks instead of real music selections; etc.

That 1g of antiskate is equivalent to 9.8mN of force. When applied to the cartridge, it deflects the cantilever by 9.8*20=196um. Compared to if no deflection occurred, this will deflect the cantilever (and therefore the cartridge) by 1.1 DEGREES. That, in the context of the ~2 degree errors present in a Baerwald alignment of a 9" arm, is huge.

I really don't think I'm exaggerating the issue. I can see my OC9 deflect visibly on a running record when I adjust the antiskate on my 1200 from 0 to 3g. Skating forces are of the same magnitude as vertical tracking forces, and they change over the course of a played record.

So even if using an inferior protractor gets me to no better than perhaps 3-4 degrees off optimal Baerwald... it doesn't matter. I'll never get it right anyway. And neither will you.
I'm not saying you shouldn't align or you should just use the Technics gague. I hate that thing just as much as the next guy. All I'm saying is that there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty inherent in the horizontal alignment of the cantilever while it is in a groove, and that makes me doubt the efficacy of ultra high accuracy alignment solutions.

At the very least, if you are going to need to take the trouble to use a MintLP for optimum sound, you should also be prepared to go to STUPID lengths to set antiskate. As in, you might want to consider changing the antiskate for each track on a side.
HI Mark,

Naw, you're not rude in the least. I live near Boston. Trust me. I know rude. ;-) It is often hard to get meanings across through forum posts. This is especially true for me since I am pretty challenged with the written word. Dammit Jim! I'm an engineer, not a journalist.

I am not saying you are wrong to consider yourself done with alignment. I suppose I'm just forcing my version of "done" as it applies to cartridge alignment. When I was a kid and would bug mom about when dinner was ready, she would always say "it's done when I say it's done".

That is my opinion regarding cartridge alignment. It can always be improved, and Yip has given us the tool to do so. I've done this alignment process several times and I do agree that the most immediate and noticeable improvement comes with that first session. I agree that this is because of the improvement in setting the overhang. However I have gotten more improvement since with a few more sessions where I am mostly trying to improve the stylus alignment with the cross hairs.

Now, some of this can indeed be contributed to finding better lighting and visual aides. The better you can see that tiny stylus on those tiny lines, the better you can adjust and the better results you can achieve. For myself, each time I improve my ability to see what is happening on the protractor I find that there is room to improve. And what I'm experiencing goes right along with what Yip has told me about what is possible. The issue is that after the first session or two the adjustments require finer and finer motor skills in order to nudge the cartridge ever so slightly one way or the other. I will agree that going beyond this point is bordering on obsession. But it is an obsession driven by the rewards in the improvement of playback due to better alignment.


You'll need a lot more mathematics than that to worry me. :-)

Seriously, I don't dispute anything you have offered. I believe we are all aware that there are many, many forces acting on our cartridges. Some we can do something about, many we can't.

I am not familiar with the OC9 and what stylus profile that cart uses. I also have no idea how you set your table up. All I can offer to you about the possibility of improving what you have now is to perhaps contact Yip and ask if will give you a trial period. He is a very nice guy and I've not heard of anyone who hasn't been completely satisfied with how he has taken care of his customers. (Contrast that with Wally Tools.) I'm not trying to sell anything. I have no connection with MintLP other than to be a very happy customer. There is quite a number of vinyl enthusiast, most of whom are miles ahead of me in experience and hearing acuity, who were just as skeptical as you and Siniy123 about what could be achieved with this protractor. I was as well. Almost to a person, those who have tried using this protractor have been very surprised and very happy with what they were able to coax out.

As to anti-skate, that is a whole 'nuther conversation. I'll make it short to say that I, and many others, stopped using test records to set AS a long time ago. I use a couple of o-rings that weigh just a few tenths of a gram to adjust AS on my Triplanar. The total AS weight I use is just under a gram. If I could get away with no AS, and I can on about 80% of my 2000+ LPs, I would never use it. Nothing squashes dynamics more than AS. I do something very similar with VTF.
This where of course where you sort of leave me in the dust, math is not my forte. I do understand, note, and agree with the fact that many different forces are all taking place simultaneously on the Stylus-Groove Interface, and all do impart thier sonic qualities.

You are no doubt correct that incorrect anti-skate will impart incorrect geometrical alignments of the Cantilever, and in turn skew the Stylus in the Groove Wall, something that is no doubt highly critical, especially with a radical line contact-micro line Stylus.

But isn't this something that should be dealt with, with anti-skate settings, rather than us end users perhaps trying to compensate by intentionally skewing our zenith angle to achieve optimum settings-results?

About the only contributions I can offer and note in my personal experiences, is that this was one important area which I feel the Mintlp Tractor very easily surpassed the abilities of the TB Tractor.

Before I set out to use my newly recieved Mintlp Tractor, I sat down for a number of minutes, Table in front of me, and checked my previous setting with the TB Tractor. All looked well in regards to alighment, both as far as overhang, and zenith angle were concerned. I used the exact same methods of using Yip's lighted magnifier, and his "Lupe" as he calls it. (Loupe)

From what I could determine from the TB Tractor, I had a perfect alignment. The Cantilever (at rest at least) was perfectly aligned, with Stylus precisely touching down within both Null Grid's little reference square.

Then I swapped out, and began with the Mintlp. Firstly, I immediately noted that my Stylus was not properly tracing the Mintlp Arc, being slightly short at arc beginning at edge of platter, and slightly long at inside travel of Arc. I estimate my errors at both ends of the Arc were +-1.5mm to 2mm.

I at first ignored these errors to then go to both Null Grids, and see what degree of errors there were with the Mintlp. The errors were slight, perhaps less than +-1mm, but they were unquestionably there. The Cantilever was as well skewed slightly crooked at Both Null Grid Lines.

The reasons I conclude for these differences, was one, that the resolution detail of the Mintlp being much finer, finally allowed me to correctly see for the first time these not before seen errors, two, the design principals of the sight line LP Tractor is a shortcoming, thus allowing a somewhat vague interpretation of accurately sighting the exact precise center of the Tonearm Pivot, even using Doug Deacon's smart suggestion of enhancing the accuracy of this tractor with a piece of fine thread to aid in pointing the Tractor.

And perhaps lastly, and this is a possibility, and one that entered my mind, how great of a degree is/was the quality control of the TB Tractor, to insure correct, exacting placement of the Sight line, the positioning of the two Null Grids, and last but not least, where the Hole was drilled for the Spindle, as any slight error for the hole placement would completely skew the hoped for accuracy?

Of course, the same concerns would hold true with any similar Protractor, that extreme measures were taken to insure a perfectly accurate geometric tool.

With all that being said, (whew!) Wouldn't then an inaccuracy with achieving both highly accurate Overhang, and Zenith Angle only compound-worsen the errors you previosuly mention? I would assume so.
Interesting thread. I don't want to get into the main dispute. Just want to ask the OP to consider a protractor that is exactly like the MintLp except for these 2 differences: (1) the maker will provide you a unit tailor made to your table/arm based on effective length of arm, and he will scribe up to 4 alignment arcs on the finished product, for 4 different geometries. You can have him include Stevenson AND Baerwald (as well as Loegren or any other) and then you can compare the geometries yourself and choose your preference. (2) He sells it for $50 (+$5 shipping), so it's exactly 1/2 the cost of the MintLp unit.

I have no affiliation at all; I'm just a satisfied customer.

Oh, did I mention that he will usually mail you a pdf file with the arcs worked out, so you can print it to see if it works for you. If he has the data already, which in the case of the SL1200 I would be sure he does, he emails it to you for free! If you like it, you can purchase a more permanent one. No sales pressure whatsoever if you just keep the paper copy. After doing my alignments a few months ago with the paper version, and having sonic improvement in both Stevenson and Baerwald arrangements, compared to other Stevenson and Baerwald protractors I'd downloaded or purchased, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and bought a permanent one last week. It's a great, simple to use, product.

Its only downside is its main upside -- it's tailor made for a specific table/tonearm, so if you change tables it's not likely to be of any further use to you.

If you're interested, look up "kwillis" at audioasylum.

Good luck.
After reading this thread I am going to purchase the Mint for my Kab M5g/Goldring 1042- the value is obvious considering the posts of others whose judgement I value.
Thanks again guys
Yes, Winegasman, Ken Willis is another very good option, Ken's a super guy, and I am glad that there are other players out there to provide such as Ken does.

As you mention, the options of different Null Geometries are great to have, and lets a user experiment, and finding one that suits them best.

Ken had previously set me some PDF Files as well for download, and that was when I first recognized that an Arc Style Protractor could have advantages versus the Sight Line Type.

Everything you state is true, but I would like commenting that there are some differences between the two Designs, I'm aware of some, but cannot honestly comment about others.

As far as I know, Ken's Tractor is printed on a sheet of Plastic. This holds advantages, and disadvantages versus Yip's design. yes, the Plastic will proove more durable, less chance of breakage, as the Mintlp Tractor is indeed a sheet of real Glass, not Plastic Glass, so any cocking-canting, or rough handling of the Mintlp, or an incorrect fit on the spindle will most likely cause a disastrous breakage of the Tractor.

And here's the advantage of the mirror. The Mirror will immensely aid in reducing any parallax aiming errors, in that one is correctly sighting down the null grid. This will be advantageous for Zenith Alignment, and is one property-quality the TB Tractor possesses as well.

As for resolution of Ken's Tractors, and how it compares to the Mintlp, I cannot honestly say, having never bought one of Ken's actual final product.

I can only say, that on the Mintlp, one cannot easily see the small reference Null Tics, nor the ultra fine zenith null lines to align the Cantilever. I myself could only see them with magnifier, or Loupe, that's how fine they are. Under magnification, my Airy 3X Cantilever looked like a thick Log in the middle of a 3-deimensional two lane Road, with the ultra thin-hairlike reference lines, as well as the reflections of all lines, thus enhancing aiming abilities, and insuring one was positioned correctly in sighting both Null, and Zenith. This I know is something the K Willis Protractor lacks. Mark

When you say "zenith" are you referring to azimuth, or is there yet another angle of alignment I need to consider?

If you're referring to azimuth, one of the added bonuses of ken's plastic protractor is that it in fact is reflective (when cartridge is backlit) and I've been able to easily correct azimuth -- the new lpgear zupreme headshell makes it extra easy!

I can't speak to the other differences you discuss as I've never used a mintlp unit. But judging from its description and looks, I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to fork out an extra $55 over ken's unit - at $55 shipped, I think ken is providing one of the most cost-effective tools in the analog world.
Both the Ken Willis and MintLP protractors are arch-style. But they are not exactly the same. The extra features of the MintLP are, IMO, worth the extra bucks.

The "zenith" angle of a cantilever means the direction the cantilever points when viewed from the zenith, i.e., from directly overhead looking downward.

Of course one can't actually adjust zenith this way (though it would be optimal) for the obvious reason that the cartridge body and headshell block your view of it.

We adjust zenith by looking at the cantilever from dead ahead. As pointed out by Mark, a mirrored protractor like the TTB, Mint or Wally offers the only practical way to have any certainty that we're actually viewing the null point from precisely along the intended alignment line. If you move your eye off line by the tiniest amount, the dual images of printed/scribed line vs. its reflection go out of synch, letting you know you're out of position. No paper or plastic protractor offers that, and no one who's only used them has any idea whether their cantilever is aligned or not.


The "battle" above over Technics vs. Mint was saddening. The only people saying the Technics is good enough are those who've never tried anything else, never heard the results. Why is it so tempting for humans to invent theoretical "explanations" to discount things we're unwilling to test, even in the face of overwhelming testimony from those who have tested. The popes treated Galileo that way, and we haven't improved much since.
Hello Winegasman,
Zenith Angle, is the Alignment of the Cartridge so that it is parallel, or I should say plays parallel to the Groove.

Commonly, all we used to do decades ago (now I'm showing my age) is make sure the Cartridge was aligned squarely in the Headshell. Zenith Angle can only be precisely correct at two Null points on the LP.

Zenith Angle perhaps may not be so critical with a Conical Stylus, but for Elliptical, or Micro Line, Line Contact-Shibata, it is very important.

It of course goes beyond this, it is the Cantilever, and hopefully the Stylus, provided the folks at whatever factory, have done thier work, insuring that the Cantilever is straight, and that the Stylus is properly bonded to the Cantilever.

Many know that just aligning the Cartridge Body to the groove, or just squaring the Cartridge Body on the Headshell is not good enough. It is more particularly, the Cantilever itself that must be in perfect alignment-parallel with the Groove at the Null Points.

Azimuth is the angle in which the Stylus is positoned in relation to the Groove Wall (Looking from the front of a Cartridge, and this angle should be at exactly 90 degrees. In other words, the Stylus must be precisely straight up, and down, for proper, even contact of the sides of the Stylus to contact the Record Groove Walls.
As for a visual aid, this is where I feel a reflective surface, such as the TB , or Mintlp Tractor can be used to an advantage, just sitting the Stylus on the mirror, it does anhance being able to see any slight cocking of the Stylus, better than just sighting on a flat surface, or an LP. Even a small cosmetic mirror could probably be used, prvided its surface is flat. There are other methods which I understand can also be used to check Azimuth, such as a Multimeter. Mark