I currently have two : the HFNRR and the Micro Acoustics Test Record. The only Test LP I've used more than once over the years is the HFNRR. Generally it's handy for initial setup e.g. checking that I don't have the L-R channels accidentally wired in reverse, arm/cartridge resonances are within the expected range etc. If you are feeling wild you might even, at some point, sample the 12db tracking test band to see how the items behave together.
After that it can be safely consigned to the cupboard for a few years.
Under no circumstances would I base my bias setup on those tracking tests or consider my cart a complete failure because of them. Music (at all levels) is the best reference for adjustment.
Having said all this the Test Record is still a handy thing to have. Just another tool to add to the set. In reality you could get by without it.
As for oscilloscopes, the same applies to them too :)
I also use the Hi-Fi News LP, and it helps you figure out what it says it does. I found it especially useful for fine-tuning azimuth and anti-skate. Like Moonglum says, it's still no substitute for music or a good protractor.
Thanks, I did pick up the platter speed iPhone app and I think the Analogue Productions test LP has a 3150Hz track to check speed. But if that's all I can get out of it, it's not worth $40.
you need one for the Fozgometer....aside from that there is no need.
I've owned the HFN&RR test record for about ten years. It hasn't left its sleeve in the last five and I've set up dozens of cartridges on multiple arms without it.
If I connected a cartridge with the channels reversed or out of phase (did that once, lol), I'd surely notice the moment I spin a familiar LP.
I find it useless for anti-skating, which I can adjust more accurately and faster by listening to music.
It does work for fine-tuning azimuth, provided that you have a Fozgometer or a bandpass filter + multimeter/oscilloscope and the time to fuss with them. I've done it. What it taught me is that I can fine tune azimuth as accurately by listening to music, and faster too.
Stringreen's right that you need one to use a Fozgometer. Of course that just brings us to, do you need a Fozgometer? ;-)
Can't justify dropping $299 for a Fozgometer, protractor or a bandpass filter + multimeter/oscilloscope etc. I've used the MoFi disc to set up alignment, overhang, etc.
Just wondering if these LP's were worth it, but at $39-$49 it's not a real big investment after all.
I have both the HFN Test Record and the Cardas Test Record. IME using the HFN I would not depend on it for anti-skate adjustment. It tends to cause overcompensation for A-S. I found better results using the dead wax tracking method (you can find it by doing a search on AA) and then music to fine tune.
I have a Shure test record and it is invaluable in testing resonance with arm and cartridge. Make sure the test record you get has this test included!
There are some on Ebay for $20. It is called Shure era IV TTR 115.
You don't need to drop $299, but do consider spending $110 for a Mint protractor (or similar, except that AFAIK there is nothing similar - Wally Tractors being difficult to get).
The Mint is worth its price. Most owners report audible improvements vs. generic and less precise protractors like the MoFi disk.
This comes from a guy who's comfortable with measuring - I used to spend hours on all that - but who now prefers listening to music (albeit with a highly optimized rig). For nearly any cartridge setup, the Mint and a decent VTF scale are the only measuring devices I use. To me they're indispensable. Everything else measures something I can set better/faster by ear or don't particularly need to know.
I agree with Dougdeacon to get the Mint or Wally Tractor. have both for my arm. There is little to choose between them. Get a lighted magnifier to aid setup.
In addition, I would a decent digital scale to measure tracking force as well as something like the KAB Speedstrobe to set the turntable speed. I would rate these three tools as more important than a test record.
Next, VPI makes an Aluminum Rod that is handy for initial setting of azimuth. Any light straight object can be substituted. Same with Wally VTA Gauge I use to set initial VTA. Mark 1 Eyeball and a index card is a less expensive alternative :)
As for test records, I use three. I have the Cardas one because my Wally Analog Shop uses some test tones from it in setting Azimuth. I use the Hi-Fi News one for general set up, as well as the Telarc Omnidisc.
I finalize setup by adjusting by ear while playing my favorite LP's
I absolutely hate setting up cartridges. The one good thing about it is that once setup is done, it generally sticks. I check everything a couple of times a year just to make sure.
I'll check out these protractors. I already have a digital scale for tracking force. I've heard (don't know if it's true) that each Mint Protractor is set up for a specific table. I have an older Well Tempered Classic table (square motor). I think it's great, but the azimuth settings can be a bit tricky.
The Mint LP Protractor is designed for a specific tone arm i.e. Spindle to pivot distance.
For azimuth, instead of using a metal rod like VPI provides, I use a 6inch length of raw spaghetti. It is nice and straight and light. Once the cartridge head shell is level, adjust azimuth by ear.
Now that I think about it, my Well Tempered Classic came with it's own protractor...
Mark 1 Eyeball and a index card is a less expensive alternative
For azimuth, instead of using a metal rod like VPI provides, I use a 6inch length of raw spaghetti.
Now those are my kind of setup tools!
Dear Ebuzz: ++++ " Test LP's Worth it? " +++++
Many audiophiles makes their cartridge/tonearm set up by ear and nothing wrong with that if you are a real MUSIC expert, a real audio system expert and have a proved ears test proccess but even if you are time to time could be " nice " to check if what you are hearing has a true foundation or your set up is a wrong one but you just like it.
In the other side you can have some fun playing with those in porpose LP test tools and we have to remember that our ears are fallible: no perfect ears elsewhere.
Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul: Thanks, it's certainly worth checking out. BTW that is some awesome vinyl set up you've got. But damn, am I the poorest guy in this forum? I'd sell my mother for some of these rigs. :)