Time to choose: Baerwald, Lofgren, Stevenson ?

I’ve managed Dr.Feickert Analog Protractor for a decent price (build quality is superb, such a great tool).

Time to play with Baerwald, Lofgren, Stevenson alignments on my Luxman PD444.
Need advice from experienced used of the following arms:
Lustre GST 801
Victor UA-7045
Luxman TA-1
Reed 3P "12
Schick "12

Baerwald, Lofgren, Stevenson ? What do you like the most for these arms?
Manufacturers recommend Baerwald mostly. 

Dedicated "7 inch vinyl playback deserve Stevenson alternative, maybe?
Since it's a smaller format than normal "12 or "10 inch vinyl, it's like playin the last track's according to position of grooves on '7 inch (45 rpm) singles. RCA invented this format, i wonder which alignment did they used for radio broadcast studios.   


Dear @chakster: "  Time to play with Baerwald, Lofgren, Stevenson alignments..."

With that statement maybe your thread has no sense because you own very good protractor so just play with and you will know what works for you.

Your system is " your system " as are your music/sound priorities and no one can do it or give any single advise but you that are whom knows everything.

Just play ! and remember that the name of the " game " is: accuracy.

Regards and enjoy the music,
There is something really odd in what you say Raulrigas - you say accuracy is the name of the game, there are 3 different alignments spoken of, and you say choose which one works.
Surely only one is accurate.
Just being devils advocate. 
Joking aside are you going to use one or two cartridges/arms - if so why not have one alignment that is better for outside tracks, and one better for inside tracks on a record?
Better still why not just go and a parallel tracker

Dear chakster, The answer to your question depends more from

you records than your ears. But first thing first. Lofgren was, uh,

the first who described the optimal geometry for the tonearm in

relation to the record radius. Hoewer Bearwald got the honors

( as being the first) instead of Lofgren. This ''optimal'' geometry

means ''optimal'' for the whole record radius. Aka ''average'' values.

Stevenson wanted ''optimal values'' near the spindle with assumption

that the grooves end is about 6 cm distance from the spindle. To put

it otherwise he thought that the ''inner grooves'' are the most problematic

for the (conventional) tonearms. The Japanese tonearm designers ,

among which also Ikeda, somehow prefered this geometry.

I own hardly any record with ''inner grooves'' near the spindle

so all my Mint tractors are ,uh, Bearwald (grin).


Stevenson wanted ’’optimal values’’ near the spindle with assumption that the grooves end is about 6 cm distance from the spindle. To put it otherwise he thought that the ’’inner grooves’’ are the most problematic for the (conventional) tonearms. The Japanese tonearm designers, among which also Ikeda, somehow prefered this geometry.

Thant’s the point, theoretically Stevenson’s geometry is better for 7’inch records (45s). In this case we don’t need optimal geometry for the whole radius of 12’inch, because the 45s (vinyl singles) are much smaller, there is only one track per side. That’s the same 45 rpm (7’inch) on my platter.

It make sence to use Stevenson with this format of the vinyl.

Since the RCA Victor invetned mono 45s in 1949 they soon became the most popular format (in stereo) of the industry for radio disc-jokeys in the 60s & 70s. As far as i know analog radio broadcast equimpement were on very high level in Japan (NHK), Europe and the USA in the 60s and 70s period (supplied by the top manufacturers like denon, technics, emt ..).

I wonder when Stevenson invented his alignment (before 1949 or after) ?

Dear chakster, ''Thant's the point?'' I have no idea what this

expression means. It my mean ''that is not the point'' but also ''that is

the point''. But if you know better why do you ask this question?

I considered only the ''normal'' (aka 12'') records. I hate it to

stand up and walk to my TT to turn the 12" records . So I never

owned those 7'' kinds. Are those also called ''records''?


So I never owned those 7’’ kinds. Are those also called ’’records’’?

Haha. Believe it or not, but many bands from the 50s, 60s, 70s never released a full albums, just one or two singles on independens labels in 7’inch format (often just 500 copies) and then they are gone, so many fortotten gems in all genres of music. That’s why they are highly collectable, i’m talking about originals of course. Even if the band got an LP album the 45 single version can be different (take or arrangement). Pressing of the 45 (7inch) release is also cheaper than LP or "12.

I know that most audiophiles ignoring this format and i can understand why, but for collectors those 45s are holy grails. Some of them recorded very well btw, some comes with mono and stereo versions of the same track on different side of the record (easy to comare).

As for the Stevenson’s alignment i’m not sure, it’s just my suggestion, i think there must be industry standard (special alignment) for small record.

But my original question is abut users experience with those arms adjusted by Baerwald, Lofgren, Stevenson.
@chakster : Again, """  Time to play with Baerwald, Lofgren, Stevenson alignments... """"

Do you already did it? what happens? whcich one do you prefer?. You are the one that in your system and according your music/sound priorities the best judge.

Accuracy means that any alignment you choose or like by your experiences " playing it " must be accurate on set up.

I can't understand why you ask for other people experiences on alignments when all depends on that accuracy level, system, kind of LP and personal priorities. All alignments in a pivoted tonearm designs has tracking error and some distortion levels. Differences is where in the surface LP grooves happens those different levels of distortions and that's all.

Alignments is not a rocket science very dificult to understand.

regards and enjoy the music,
Hi Raul, i’m gonna experiment with different alignment and different cartridges since the reconstruction of my new room is finished, finally. All set-up is ready to use and i’m looking forward to test everything.

Now about alignment for everybody:

Baerwald and Lofgren made their fundamental publications in the first half of 20th century. Later in the early 60s Stevenson (another mathematician) has calculated a new set of parameters taking into account that on records with classical music very often crescendos occur towards the innermost grooves! That make sence.

Dear chakster, On the most ''tractors'' one can see those two

''zero points'' at which a tonearm is assumed to have zero errors.

Those two zero points are not at the same ''points'' in relation

to the record radius. This imply different geometries. Lofgren and

Bearwald calculated '' average values'' for the whole record radius

with minimal errors in ''average sense''. Stevenson calculated the

optimal values in relation to the ''innermost grooves'' as you called

this. For such tractor a zero point near the spindle is necessary. So

this tractor must be different from Lofgren/Bearwald. The most

of my records are classical music but I hardly own any with grooves

near the spindle. You assumption is the cotrary. However in the

West, in contradistiction to Japan, the most tonearms have Lofgren/

Bearwald geometrry.

The key word for Stevenson is "crescendo" which is a passage played with a gradual increase in volume or intensity (in classical music). According to Stevenson's alignment method a new set of parameters taking into account that on records with classical music very often crescendos occur towards the innermost grooves. 

It's about arrangment of the classical music and where is the most complicated grooves located on the record surface (beggining, middle or toward the end on the record). It can be true if we are listening to a long (17 min for example) classical music track on 12'inch or 10'inch (or even a short 3 min track on 7'inch record). 

A crescendo is a way for composers to indicate that a passage of music should gradually increase in loudness over time (opposite of a decrease in volume which is described as a 'decrescendo'). It is also used in non-musical context to describe any situation in which volume is increasing.

BTW the most complicated grooves with cannon shots on Telarc 1812 Overture located in the end of the LP. 

My Gosh, How could Tchaikovsky know on which part of the

record to put (write)  those shots ? Beethoven , on the other side, would  not care for his crescendos  because he was deaf (grin). 

I was recently interested in this subject. I was paying more attention to the accuracy of the tonearm geometry of my VPI Classic 3 Sig SE and the Feichert universal protractor. Upon using the Feichert, I'm measuring 260mm STP. After going to the VPI site, the best info from HW was 258mm. So, I asked THE question. I was told by the administrator, brf, to loosen either or both the armboard platform screws or the arm mounting board screws and use any slack, to compensate for any difference. Neither worked. So, I just paid around 5k for a tt that hasn't even been machined correctly to conform to industry standards. I also asked if Harry's supplied gauge is based upon any of the (3) standard geometries. I have yet to receive ONE answer. WOW!
Stevenson responded to the thread I just referenced on the VPI site. He remarked that the difference in the 3 geometries was of little difference.

So, if this is accurate, why the reluctance of VPI to respond?

It does stand to reason that in the natural movement of music, especially in classical recordings, that the climax will be more into the end of every lp side. This is not new info.
Regarding the STP distance discrepancies...I ordered my TT through Music Direct and had them mount a cart. Apparently, they don't check such things before/or in the normal order of mounting customers cartridges. Wow! People need to know what's going on here. So much for relying on a VPI dealer to mount a cart correctly.
Threads on alignment always catch my attention. I have a generic setup-VPI Classic/AT ART9-tube phono stage. I’ve tried the VPI jig and Feikert,which has the 3 alignments.

I can’t hear a difference in ANY of them. I settled on Baerwald which seems to be the best "compromise" on paper. The VPI jig puts the cart somewhere between the Baerwald & Stevenson if I remember? Hindsight, I wasted the cash on the Feikert jig. I could be happy just using the VPI jig, and call it a day.Azimuth seems to be the only adjustment I can perceive when futzing with the cartridge.

If I owned a SERIOUS rig $$$$, I certainly would obsess in finding which alignment provides the best sonics. Second thought, if I had that kind of dough, I would PAY a "professional"

Astro58go-your VPI  story has me shaking my head with disappointment. Shame on BOTH of the companies involved. I have had positive experiences with the two. QC should be UNCOMPRIMISED regardless if one purchases an entry level product, or the very best$$!!!!

Here is my advice:  Find out what geometry your tonearm was built for. (Headshell offset angle will vary according to the length of the tonearm and the geometry assumed by its designer.)  Then use THAT geometry for THAT tonearm.  Here is why: In a few of my own experiments, I found that using a geometry not envisioned by the tonearm design, as you might expect, results in a need to "twist" the cartridge with respect to the long axis of the headshell; the cartridge will not line up perfectly with the headshell, in other words, if viewed from above looking down.  Listening tests suggested that this per se seemed to be a "bad thing".  I can think of theoretical reasons why this might be so, but I have no proof. However, to avoid that source of distortion, I say again, use the geometry for which the tonearm was designed.  Many vintage Japanese tonearms were designed either for a geometry unique to that company (e.g., SAEC, I think) or for Stevenson (e.g., Dynavector and probably your Lustre and Victor tonearms).  It's something like LP equalization; back in the "old days" there was no gold standard, and one company often did equalization differently from another.  Nowadays, RIAA and Baerwald seem to rule.

 By Yip , the owner of the Mint Arc protractor ,one can order specific

tractor calculated for the owners TT and tonearm. Yip has the

data of the most tonearms but needs the (exact) dimensions of the

spindle in addition. Those are not of the same dimensions. The price

is about $110 . The address: mintlp.com/best

I own three Mint protractors two of which are made for my Kuzma

Stabi Reference , Reed 3 P and Triplanar VII. The third for my SP-

10, Mk2 and FR-64 s .

Dear @astro58go: Here you can understand what you can do on your VPI tonearm:


Regards and enjoy the music,
A general rule?

OK, I’ll admit that can be dangerous, but how about this? If you need to set up for 7" records (nandric, those large center hole 45s) or mainly symphonic classical, then Stevenson may be your best alignment.

Otherwise, play other LPs (33 or 45 should make no difference) set up with the more common Lofgren/Baerwald.

Of course Lew’s recommendation to follow your arm design may overrule this. But then that may also guide you as to which type arm to select based on the records you intend to play.

I use a Dennesen Soundtracktor for alignment and that was designed to conform with Baerwald. I still have nearly 100 45s from high school but those are hardly ever played. And I enjoy many symphonies but they are a smaller percentage of my overall listening. So I’ve never felt the need to try the Stevenson.

Now, the truly anal may choose to have multiple playback systems, each specifically set up to play a particular type of record. ;^)

Hi pryso, If you mean with ''general rule'' any standards by cart

or tonearm producers then , as J. Carr stated, there are no

such rules. The arguments for Stevenson are rediculous as put

forward by chakster. Consider my records collection of +/-

3000 pieces. I would need to check them all in regards to the

distance of the inner grooves to the spindle as well regarding the

question if the crescendos are in those grooves. As I mentioned in

my post the assumption is that those inner grooves are the most

difficult for the arm and the stylus. So if the tracking error of the arm

is at its minimum on this part of the record then this means ''zero''

point on the tractor. Those zero points are elsewhere by Lofgren/

Bearwald. This is in accordance with their intention: the least

possible tracking error on the whole recod radius. Those are not

''small diferences'' but different approach of the tonearm geometry.

Hi nandric, you seem to be quite specific with language so I will try to clarify my intent.  In my mind a general rule does not set a standard.  It merely suggests something which may be followed or expected the majority of the time.  So a general rule is not hard and fast (possibly an American expression?). For me, a standard would be more inclusive, defining all that met a minimum level of performance/results.

My hope was to offer a simpler solution which does not require measuring "zero" points or specifically identifying crescendos.  Instead, one might need only consider the size of the record and/or type of music utilized for the majority of their listening.  In fact I recall reading that Stevenson stated his alignment was intended to optimize symphonic music playback.

If you buy an Eminent Technology air bearing linear tracking tonearm you won't need to worry about alignment at all, as there is no tracking angle error. Even your favourite 7" Conway Twitty records will sound fantastic.

With regard to Dynavector and their preference for Stevenson, I know that the reference system at their factory premises in the 70's/80's had a response flat down to 13hz and yes large symphonic recordings were commonly used for auditioning. At the time their view was that you were better off to have lower tracking angle distortion on the inner grooves.  

Hi all,

As far as using the designer’s intended alignment, this is one of the few areas where I say experiment (ignore the designer) and see what works for you.

Assuming a fixed mount on your tonearm (meaning that you can’t change your pivot-spindle distance), then the overhang difference between Baerwaald and Stephenson is less than 4mm.

The offset angle difference is minimal, and given the variance in cartridges’ cantilever alignment, the stars might just align and result in your having a cartridge whose body is "square" to the headshell ... or not. IOW, I don’t view twisting a cartridge mount to be a big deal.

You might find it entertaining to download the John Ellison spreadsheet on the Enjoy the Music website (I maintain a link on my main support page to it) and look at the distortion numbers generated as well as the geometric parameters.

Personally, I look at the Stephenson approach (optimizing for the inner groove at the expense of increased average distortion) to be less preferable than Baerwaald, but everyone is different, which is why I agree with Raul’s advice to play and see what works for you.

As far as Stephenson and optimizing symphonic playback is concerned (i.e. it's all about the crescendo at the end of the record), I view this in the same way that I view people who don't play half of their records because they don't sound good. 

Why would you sacrifice the delicate section(s) over the bulk of the record to improve the last part? 

This is somewhat like a mother saying to her kids:  "finish those terrible tasting peas on your plate, and then you get to have dessert".  I'd rather cook vegetables that my kid likes ;-)

Thom @ Galibier Design
Thom, I don't "view" it one or the other, either.  But my recommendation is based on actual real life experience.  At least one other person, reporting on Vinyl Engine, had the same experience.  I would not argue that others who do it do not seem to perceive that twisting the cartridge in the headshell per se causes any distortion.  Here is my hypothesis for the cause of the distortion:  When the cantilever is not aligned with the long axis of the headshell, then forces acting in the vertical direction on the cantilever are unevenly distributed back to the tonearm pivot point.
Fascinating reading. Anyone tried to do the alignment by ear? That's what counts, doesn't it, the way it sounds ?
No wonder I like tape, not much vinyl.
Hi Lew,

I was basing my comments on the fact cartridges are not perfectly manufactured, and the more expensive ones are by no means immune to this. They very frequently have cantilevers that are misaligned to some degree (not perpendicular to the two mounting screws holes).

So, you’re frequently twisting the cartridge in the headshell to achieve an alignment with any geometry you choose.

One’s altered alignment could have the effect of "fixing" this square-ness relative to some reference point on the headshell or alternatively making it worse.

Ultimately however, I think this goes to the greater point - that one’s preference for a distortion profile of a particular alignment will be more noticeable to the listener than any potential stray resonances resulting from going off the reservation by choosing an alternate alignment.

I just don’t know how one could separate all of the variables to test the stray resonance hypothesis, so in the end, it becomes a try it and see (different alignments) sort of thing.

I’ve been wrong before, and by no means am stating gospel here, but regarding your hypothesis, one could argue that a slight additional skewing of a cartridge (we’re talking a fraction of a degree) could break up standing waves.

I just ran through the Ellison spreadsheet (I only have Baerwaald and Loefgren sheets set up - not Stephenson). I hate to call anything trivial, but in this example, we're looking at an offset angle difference of 0.0402 degree difference between the two alignments.

I worked off the assumption that anyone doing this has a fixed mount armboard - that they cannot change the pivot to spindle distance, so this will be held constant. Here's how the numbers play out for a tonearm with a nominal 250mm effective length:


Pivot-spindle: 233.0331 (held constant)
Effective length: 249.5657
Overhang: 16.5326
Offset angle: 21.9891


Pivot-spindle: 233.0331 (held constant)
Effective length: 250.0000
Overhang: 16.9669
Offset angle: 21.9489

Thom @ Galibier Design
I'm generally in the same camp as Lewm on this one: I align the cartridges based on the alignment the tonearm was designed for. Since most of my tonearms use removable head shells and were designed for a 52mm distance from the head shell connection to the stylus, this has the added benefit that the cartridge needs minimal if any realigning when put into another tonearm.

The correct deduction will be true provided the premisse from

which deductions are made is true.

Is the premiss of this thread that we all own just one cart?

I own more than 40 . Consider then my geometry adjustment by

ear for them all. With the Mint tractor I need about 2 minutes for

this adjustment. Thanks to the tractor's ''curve''. Not the one Raul is

talking about (grin).


I view this in the same way that I view people who don’t play half of their records because they don’t sound good.

With this point of view It seems like you are ignoring all formats of the vinyl records, except the "12 inch format. I don’t play half of the record simply because "7 inch single is nearly two times smaller in size than "12 inch and there is only 1 track per side recorded on 45rpm on the 7 inch records. Why do i need Baervald/Lofgren null points outside of the surface of my vinyl when we have Stevenson?

I’m not into classical music at all, i prefer black music from the 60s and 70s (Jazz, Soul) on original pressings, but the logic of stevenson works great for small format of the vinyl singles (aka 45s) in any genre of music.

That's a good point about 7" records.  They're a bit off my radar.

Funny thing is, that I've not seen anyone develop math around smaller formats.  Stevenson would likely be the closest to an ideal alignment.

Frankly, I don't find distortion increasing across the record with Baerwald, so if I started collecting 45's, I'd likely stick with it - only because I'm not going to get out the protractor for every record ;-)

Thom @ Galibier
I'm generally in the same camp as Lewm on this one: I align the cartridges based on the alignment the tonearm was designed for. Since most of my tonearms use removable head shells and were designed for a 52mm distance from the head shell connection to the stylus, this has the added benefit that the cartridge needs minimal if any realigning when put into another tonearm.
I may be missing something here.  I've had a long night on my CAD software and I'm a bit dimensionally challenged at the moment.

If you have two tonearms using universal headshells:

  • Tonearm-A with effective length A and cartridge-A:  the tonearm is designed for Baerwaald and this cartridge/headshell is aligned for Baerwaald
  • Tonearm-B with effective length B and cartridge-B:  the tonearm is designed for Stevenson and aligned as such.
If you swap the cartridge-B/headshell-B combo over to tonearm-A, you would absolutely need to perform a new alignment.  I guess I don't get the concept of minimal realignment.  It either needs a new setup (alignment) or it doesn't.

Even if both arms were aligned for the same geometry (e.g. Baerwaald), the different effective lengths would mandate a different offset angle..

The whole concept of effective length is a dangerous one, because, two tonearms specified (for example) to have an effective length of 250mm would have different pivot-spindle specifications if one was intended for Stevenson or Loefgren and the other for Baerwaald. 

I'm having problems visualizing any scenario where you could make any cross arm swapping work, but I'll ponder this one ;-)

Thom @ Galibier Design


If the cartridge is aligned as designed by manufacturer, then the cartridge is straight in the headshell. Now move it another tonearm and align it according to that tonearm’s design: it will again be straight in the headshell. To the extent that the tonearms are designed to have different offset angles, those are manifest in the arm tube. So the only thing that could change then is how far in the headshell the cartridge is. But if both tonearms are designed to have the stylus 52mm from the tonearm connection, that doesn’t change either.

If you have difficulty visualizing this, then visualize moving an SPU from one tonearm to another. This is just replicating that with a normal cartridge & headshell.

If the cartridge is aligned as designed by manufacturer, then the cartridge is straight in the headshell.
Oh no, that's not at all necessarily the case. As others have pointed out, there's often a slight misalignment of the cantilever within the cartridge itself. Proper cartridge alignment aligns the cantilever to the record, and not the cartridge to the headshell. This is where mirrored alignment gauges - such as the WallyTracktor - really excel.
Thom, The issue of doing the twist (Chubby Checker, where are you now that we need you?) has most to do with using Baerwald or Lofgren with a tonearm designed for Stevenson. This issue therefore only or mostly comes up with vintage tonearms of the kind that you usually do not deal with. In my case, it’s a Dynavector DV505. To set up the DV505 for B or L, one has to twist the cartridge inward (such that the front end of the cartridge is skewed toward the spindle side of the headshell) quite a bit. And of course, when I use the term "cartridge", I am referring to the cantilever, which is what counts, regardless of the fact that some cartridges do not come to us with precisely aligned cantilevers. Ideally, the cantilever should move in an arc in the vertical plane; it’s possible that when the plane of that arc does not align with the vertical plane described by the tonearm bearing, vector forces on the cantilever would not even out. I actually suspect this is a real issue that may be confined to the DV505 and other DV tonearms, where there are two discrete bearing systems, one vertical and one horizontal at play. In these tonearms, the vertical bearing cannot move horizontally to compensate for such a misalignment of the arcs. Maybe that is why I heard distortion as a result.  Maybe it's a red herring for more conventional tonearms.
Oh no, that's not at all necessarily the case. As others have pointed out, there's often a slight misalignment of the cantilever within the cartridge itself. Proper cartridge alignment aligns the cantilever to the record, and not the cartridge to the headshell. 

As, lewm already indicated, that doesn't change the conclusion at all. If you align by the cantilever, then the cantilever (rather than the body) will be aligned straight in the headshell and will remain so in any arm if you use the alignment that the tonearm was designed for.

Dear @sampsa55 :  """   I align the cartridges based on the alignment the tonearm was designed for. Since most of my tonearms use removable head shells and were designed for a 52mm distance from the head shell connection to the stylus... """

that's true only if those tonearms has the same effective length.

Remember that the Löfgren calculations ( he was the first to do it and all the other kind of alignments starts by his equations. ) begin with the input know parameters:
tonearm effective length, inner most groove radius and outer most groove radius. This is the foundation of the alignments that must be untouched for the calculations.

From those 3 input parameters we calculate: offset angle, overhang, both null points and distance from the center of tonearm pivot to the center of TT spindle. If we move the overhang we need to move the tonearm mount distance in order to mantain distortions at minimum for the choosed alignment calculations.

Understanding all those we can have a " personal " alignments changing the effective length or any or both radius.

As I posted here in the tonearm/cartridge set up the name of the game with the choosed alignment is: accuracy on that set up.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear @sampsa55 : """ I align the cartridges based on the alignment the tonearm was designed for. Since most of my tonearms use removable head shells and were designed for a 52mm distance from the head shell connection to the stylus... """

that’s true only if those tonearms has the same effective length.

Ah, no. The effective length of the tonearm has nothing to do with this. You can have tonearms of very different length that are still designed to have the same 52mm distance from stylus to tonearm connection or tonearms with the exact same length that are designed for a different distance (e.g., 50mm) from stylus to tonearm connection.

Again, think about the SPU: it can be used in short and long tonearms.