I read Thom's remarks in the attached thread. It helped a lot in understanding the importance ans ways of measuring VTF. It was the basis of some of my questions.
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Andtrew,take a look at the "for sale" area of Audiogon,under cartridges.The 95 dollar digital guage(measuring in the 1/1000's,btw) was ordered by myself,and a few friends.It is very accurate(we compared it to a Winds guage)and NOW Acoustic sounds is selling it for 185 dollars.I highly recommend it,and for 95 bucks,it is very well priced.I predict that this will be "the" guage to have,and will obsolete many others.Good luck!
Good question. They supply a 5g weight with the gauge, which will re-calibrate to that weight. But I have not verified the accuracy of that weight and it certainly is not of the quality of calibration weights made for the scientific community.
However, for what you say you want to do with it, Andrew, it doesn't matter all that much whether 2.0 grams is actually 1.983 or 2.037. In terms of finding the ideal VTF, you just want to know that it sounds better when the scale reads 2.150 than it does at 2.05. Right?
That's correct. The gauge specifies an accuracy of +/- 0.002g. I would be happy with an order of magnitude worse. All else aside, I feel a lot more comfortable buying a gauge where measurments are perfromed in the middle of the range as opposed to at the bottom end. It also seems that it's easier to position the stylus tip on the center of the measuring platform.
I think I'll give it a try.
Remember that the most important thing about any guage is whether or not it measures the tracking weight at the same arm height as when the stylus is in the groove. The Shure doesn't, and some of the digital ones don't either. The importance of this varies depending on the arm design but it can be a huge difference. The Well Tempered arms, as an extreme example, get much lighter when raised even a tiny bit. You can't just put the guage on the platter, you must place it on something else that is the same height as the stylus in the groove. The fact that guage makers don't address this is inexcusible.
How would they address it except by creating a gauge that allows you to position the reading platform outside of the platter and adjust its height to align with the top of the platter plus a little bit. The $95 gauge reads pretty low to the platter surface, but is still raised a bit.
But again, relative readings matter more than absolute ones for the purpose of finding what's best in your setup and being able to get back to that place should things change.
There were some pretty cool pictures in that previous thread which showed how to make a fixture that would insure you would be weighing at the same height as a record surface. All you would need to do is tare to the weight of such a fixture. This fixture along with some of the scales mentioned here would be ideal and save alot compared to the cost of some guages.
CTM,you have to pay closer attention!The first guage(which I have,and like)measures to 1/1000's.The second guage is only measured in 1/10's!This is a big difference in the ability to get the most from a good cartridge!Though the ability to measure to 1/100's is all we really need,so the extra range of guage #1 is a bonus.
I just ordered one of these based on the comments here. I will let you know how it measures against my 1/100ths gram Winds after it arrives.
Even if it's not perfect, once the "correct" weight is determined, the user can repeat that perfect setting anytime.
That's the real value of any stylus force gauge, repeatability in very fine increments.
Per comments mentioned above. Agreed, it is proper to measure VTF when the arm height is the same as when the stylus is in the groove.
The Clearaudio Exact gauge does have this coveted ability as the measuring platform is quite thin! As such, placing the the Clearaudio gauge on top of a platter and dialing in exact VTF is a simple task. It is a very functional stylus force gauge.
I had the Cartridge Man guage.The problem with it was that it needed to be recharged often.Not a good thing if you suddenly need to check downforce.Also,I was sceptical of the accuracy after about ten minutes of going back and forth to the table.There was, often,a differing readout.Sorry!Maybe mine was out of wack.
As to you,Albert.Though the 95 dollar guage seems to be a really nice unit,I'd be happy to trade you mine,for your Winds. -:)
We have compared this guage to my friend's Winds guage and found a difference of 6/100's difference.Not really a big thing,and who knows for sure which is most accurate.
The nice thing about the 95 dollar guage(btw-Acoustic Sounds sells it for 185 bucks)is that it immediately tares to zero,so checking downforce is really fast.It seems to be quite consistent too.
I do wish it was a little more robust looking though.The Winds looks like a "Mosler Safe",and I like the heavy duty look,and feel.Yet it can be a pain in the tush to "fotz" around with that little zeroing out dial,to achieve that "blinking zero" reading,which must be had for supposed accuracy.
Still,if I already had the Winds I'd never think of another guage again,unless I was the kind of 'phile who had a really complex,tube laden,and (word on the street,from what I've been told)slightly dark sounding system,that lacked a bit of inner detail. -:)Just kidding!!!
There are times when friends in my group want to borrow a stylus force gauge. The last time I loaned out my WInds, it was gone for a week and a half.
If this $95.00 unit is good, and I have no reason to believe it will not be, it is the gauge I will loan out.
It's also the gauge I will carry, along with my LP's and tools when I go help friends with TT set up.
Here where I live, there is an unlimited supply of clowns that love to stop in the middle of the freeway for no apparent reason. To avoid a collision, that bag of necessary goods is thrown across the vehicle, stopping against whatever is hard enough to break the fall.
The good news? The WInds will be home in the cabinet where it belongs.
Albert,you are quite good natured to actually loan out your Winds.My pals will bring it,but it goes home with them,for sure.
As to the bag of necessary goods,which goes flying across the vehicle,I hope it does not contain any Early pressing Deccas/EMI/Early Columbia recordings.That surely would be the pity!Those are not replaceable!
Admittedly, $100 isn't a lot of money to worry about for most of us, but why are audiophiles such suckers? For me it's the principle! Why would you want to spend more than this:
Or if you want to get really crazy, this:
The "stylus" gauges being marketed to audio people are just relabeled, doubly marked up diamond scales.
Oops I sent before done. To continue - it doesn't matter AT ALL if the scale is accurate on an absolute basis. All that matters is that its results are nearly identical over multiple passes (repeatable). Because ultimately, if you're going to set up a table really right, the VTF that you measure is only a starting point and later a reference point.
Every cartridge/tonearm/table combo has different characteristics (not to mention interplay between VTF and anti-skate settings), so the manufacturers' VTF recommendation is just a rough estimate which becomes immediately irrelevant. You'll ultimately adjust VTF up and down BY EAR until it SOUNDS AND TRACKS BEST. and then you'll re-measure with the scale to note the result ONLY so you have a reference for when you need to reset the VTF later - e.g., your cartridge suspension has softened up. But that's all - the scale by itself only serves as a somewhat random starting point even if it's accurate to a gazillionth of a gram.
(Nor does it matter, as has been speculated here, whether the arm is in it's exact vertical "playing" position. Do an experiment if you'd like - lift your scale up on top of an old Mariah Carey lp with a couple of quarters and watch how much the VTF changes. Not much - it's a simple vector calculation.)
SirSpeedy, will a gallon of MD 20-20 suffice? Or Boones Farm perhaps?
Opalchip, I have a guage very similar to the one's in your links. The difference here is the the scale we're talking about (assuming the claim is valid) has precision that is a magnitude greater than the range we care about. This extra precision means we are using the scale well within its limits. We know that absolute accuracy isn't as important as repeatability. It also, and most attractive to me, has the feature of weighing VTF very close to the surface height of a record on the platter. I could fabricate a jig as others have done but I'm not sure that it is worth my time to save a few bucks. Though I have no idea what it is, the shipping charge must be fairly hefty if it is coming from Singapore.
Hi Dan - I realize that most of the people posting here are sophisticated enough to know this stuff, and make a decision based on their own needs (or psychology) - but I often like to play the Devil's Advocate for newbies who are reading Audiogon and wondering if they now need to spend $250 on a scale for their $650 Rega, etc. These pocket scales (like the $35 American Weigh type) that are used in the jewelery trade are very accurate - they have to be. A tenth of a carat can be $100's of dollars.
BTW - in my own experience, subtle changes in antiskate have a larger effect on sonics than equally subtle changes in VTF. Everyone's different, but I need about two tenths of a gram change in VTF to hear a really significant change, while less than a 1/10 gm. change in A.S. can make a huge difference to me. So part of my reasoning also, is that I don't think I need a scale which is maybe 20 times more sensitive than my ears.
For what it may be worth, I have a lab certified 2 gram weight and today this new scale from Singapore read exactly 2.000g nine out of ten times. One time it read 1.998g. Last week, it read 2.000g ten times in a row. It also seems to be very consistent in its readings when used with a cartridge. It may be worth every bit of a C-note.
Two things.Well,maybe three.--Dan,I said cheap(still some good stuff,there),not "crapola".Just kidding.You owe me nothing!
The guage,for 95 bucks,includes shipping!Put THAT in your pipe,doubters!!
As to the business of the Jensen scales.I had one,and actually liked it,though there was a platform for dropping the weigh area.I guess I have no problem getting "ripped" a little.Take a look at,and use some common sense regarding stuff like NOS tubes(I spent big dough,here,and got a nice improvement/revoicing,in my phonostage)etc!PLEASE!95 bucks for a really cute device like this is a MUST,to me!My two other friends who have it love it too.
Vetterone, thanks for posting some measurements. Sounds like your results back up SirSpeedy's.
Hi Albert, I knew that shipping and the paypal fee was included but didn't think about it being airmail.
Opalchip, I understand your reasoning and don't really disagree. I don't think this is a "must have" set-up tool. However, it has been my experience that I will always be changing arms, cartridges, tables, etc., and any tool that can speed up the process is worth my giving serious consideration to adding it to my tool box. Thanks to the feedback this guage has received here on A'gon and the fact that Acoustic Sounds is now selling them, for a pretty hefty mark-up, I'm convinced enough to risk $100. I don't think anyone who buys one of these should be considered a sucker. But, to each his own.
SirSpeedy, I had seen this guage about the time you did but my hat's off to ya for taking the plunge first. I'll gladly buy the first round. But trust me, you don't want me picking the wine! I've pretty much exhausted my knowledge if wine with my last post. :)
Opalchip,I can't say that I'm not a sucker,at times.-:)
Also,I really DO believe that though the Winds is a fabulous guage(my friend has it,and I've used it extensively),the asking price is going to be it's downfall,now with this new 95 dollar job being so darn good.
The only thing,IMO,keeping this new guage from being the "ONE" to have would be its long term accuracy,and reliability.Let's hope it holds up.Then it would be "sayonara" to the 600-800 dollar Winds guages!Or any other,I guess.
"BTW - in my own experience, subtle changes in antiskate have a larger effect on sonics than equally subtle changes in VTF. Everyone's different, but I need about two tenths of a gram change in VTF to hear a really significant change, while less than a 1/10 gm. change in A.S. can make a huge difference to me."
Opalchip, I have found slight changes in VTF to have a very worthwhile effect, but I actually wonder if I'm not adjusting VTF to sync with a particular antiskate setting. The former obviously influences the later, and VTF is usually adjustable in much finer increments.
I find myself setting suitable AS first, then dialling in VTF to lock in the sound. If AS is adjusted, then VTF must be fine tuned again.
IMO a single best VTF for all AS settings doesn't exist.
Aoliviero, the surface that is used to rest the stylus on is non-magnetic genuine stainless steel. It also has a thin plastic or nylon type pad with a bull's eye glued to the recessed center of the scale's metal pad. This "landing zone" is slightly concave. I guess this is there to help center the stylus and give more consistent readings as well as potect the stylus. If you place the stylus on the bull's eye, your stylus has no where to move but up hill. While this unit is built to a price point, it is also well thought out. It has nine felt feet on the bottom to protect your platter, you can turn the readout light on or off and the scale pad has a built in cover to keep the dust off the LZ to help keep your little diamond clean. It comes with a 5 gram test weight, three batteries, a vinyl case and you can calibrate the readout. Unlike many gadgets in our beloved hobby, this one has real bang for the buck.
I wonder if they are using a 310 or 316 grade of SS. Below is some background of magnetic properties of stainless steels. I have one on order and will check this with a magnet.
Magnetic permeability is the ability of a material to carry magnetism, indicated by the degree to which it is attracted to a magnet. All stainless steels, with the exception of the austenitic group, are strongly attracted to a magnet.
All austenitic grades (300 series) have very low magnetic permeabilities and hence show almost no response to a magnet when in the annealed condition; the situation is, however, far less clear when these steels have been cold worked by wire drawing, rolling or even centreless grinding, shot blasting or heavy polishing. After substantial cold working Grade 304 may exhibit quite strong response to a magnet, whereas Grades 310 and 316 will in most instances still be almost totally non-responsive.
The change in magnetic response is due to atomic lattice straining and formation of martensite. In general, the higher the nickel to chromium ratio the more stable is the austenitic structure and the less magnetic response that will be induced by cold work. Magnetic response can therefore be used as a method for sorting grades of stainless steel, but considerable caution needs to be exercised.
Just so happens that I received my order of this scale in time to take it with me to Denver. I didn't do any actual VTF measurements with it, but Thom and I did compare the readings to his scale and also test the metal with a pretty strong magnet. Based on what we say I feel confident in saying that we all have absolutely nothing to fear. I used the calibration weight in my kitchen in New Hampshire and got a reading of 5.001. In Thom's basement in Denver I got a reading of 5.006. Pretty good considering the differences in altitude and weather.
SirSpeedy, I'm not sure what you were referring to specifically in some of your comment on the build. Now that I have one I can hold in my hands I'll look back through your posts and see if I can pick out what you meant.
In all, I'm very happy with this scale. I plan on doing some actual VTF measurements tonight when I get home. for those that have a scale that works for them I can't see the need to buy one just for the sake of it. But if you are in the same situation like I was of still searching for a good way to get repeatable VTF then the just could be exactly what you're looking for.
I received my gauge from Singapore as well. I am completely satisfied with it's appearance and construction for the low sum of $95.00 delivered.
Tomorrow night is music night, we plan on testing two or three different stylus force gauges, once the Walker is warmed up.
Lloyd Walker himself will be here in a few days, I plan on getting his opinion too.
For those that did not read my earlier post, I have the 1/100ths gram version of the Winds for reference.
Thanks. I ordered one a couple of weeks ago but haven't received it yet. I'm glad that everyone is happy with it. I like the fact that its range is only 5g, its accurate, and non magnetic.
Many have said that it's important to measure the VTF at record level. Instead of making platfroms and jigs, etc, what about increasing the VTA by roughly the height of the scale. I guess this should only be done if you have a ultra-reproducible VTA adjustments.
PS, Dan I'm looking forward to your Denver trip report.
Great posts,by many of you "reliable" guys!!
Just to clear up some of my comments regarding the Build of the Singapore guage,which I DO own,and like enough to have given away(for free,btw)my Audio Parts guage(another nice one,too),my concern about build was only in reference to my friend Sid's Winds guage.It is built like a tank(the Winds).I know the "Singapore special" is alot less money,but I'll bet it costs next to nothing to manufacture,and even at 95 bucks,they could have made it a bit more robust in the density of the plastic.It is SOLEY my little gripe,and taste.
It is clearly "the" guage to have,based on the performance,and it was me who felt my friends should go in on one,with me.Trust me,it was NOT an easy "sell" to them!!Well we did,and ALL like it.
I'm really glad all of you like it as well,as you are some of the nicest hobbyist types I've ever corresponded with.
I'm especially happy that Albert feels it is a good value,since he has the FABULOUS Winds!!Then again Albert seems to have "the fabulous everything"!
I'm confused as well, Albert. This scale looks to be just about perfect for taking a reading with the stylus at the same level as it would be sitting on an LP. Just place the scale on your platter and take a reading. Couldn't be more simple.
If Andrew is referring to a method that uses a "normal height" scale without using a jig then I'm not so confused. However, why move VTA at all? That is much more complicated and prone to error than just going ahead with a jig. There is nothing wrong with a jig as long as the scale you're using it with can tare out the weight of the jig and the weight of the jig doesn't overload the scale.
One more thing to add about the 95 gauge. I've noticed that as the cartridge is lowered down onto the gauge, and just before touchdown, the gauge begins to read negative. In my case it can be as mach as -0.03 g. Although the gauge is advertised as being non-magnetic, I suspect that there is some magnetic attraction between the cartridge magnet that slight pulls the gauge in its direction. The actual negative component is probably greater when the needle is on the surface. Therefore, the actual VTF is probably higher than indicated, albeit repeatable.
Have you experinced this?