I have the exact same setup. Put the level on the platter at 4-6 different points around the platter.
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Yes. On my TNT the platter is slightly dished, as moving the level around on the platter produces inconsistent level readings. When setting up an arm, you want a consistent reference point-- as provided by the armboard or plinth area close to the arm.
I use a 3" Stanley straight level (Home Depot item). This works better than the round bubble levels that come with most TTs. (1) Place the level on the armboard just in front of the arm pivot. (2) Orient the level from 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock and level the TT plinth from left to right. (3) Orient the level from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock and level the TT plinth from front to back.
The process takes just two steps, provided that with each adjustment you raise/lower the matching corner towers by equal amounts. It may take a bit longer if you're moving individual balls around.
That's what I thought...you'd level the platter in case the center motor bearing was off a bit in relation to the plinth. Maybe the platter on the Scout isn't dished because I get just about center bubble all the way around the platter? If it was dished, I should get the bubble high on the outside consistently.
Vinh Vu of Gingko Audio here.
I would use the level on the platter. If you have different readings on different places on the platter then you have a warped or uneven platter. The arm is mounted on the plinth on the Scout/Scoutmaster so the reading on the plinth and the platter should be the same otherwise your spindle and platter are not true.
You can also experiment with different balls in different positions to balance the load. More balls will make the suspension stiffer and result in a more punchy, dynamic sound. Fewer balls means a softer suspension and a fuller sound.
Have fun with it.
PS. By the way, some customers have asked us about the fact that the motor acrylic plate of the Cloud 9 would raise the motor and cause the belt to ride low on the platter. We provide the plate for older Scout/Scoutmaster that have shorter rubber feet. The newer models have taller rubber feet so you need not use the plate. Just put the motor on the shelf. We have reflect this in our current Cloud 9 manual.
OK, after closer inspection I see that the separate armboard on my older TNT is not quite parallel with the plinth top. The platter top is parallel with the plinth top, but not with the armboard. Apparently elimination of the armboard on the Scout improves upon the early TNT in this regard. I don't think this small disparity in parallelism would affect performance of my Graham unipivot arm, but it might be a problem for arms with fixed azimuth or on which azimuth is not set by weights & gravity.
It depends on what arm you have. If you have the JMW 9 you must level the platter. JMW is an unipivoted arm which is self-leveled and requires a leveled platter in order to maintain the correct angular relationship with a record.
On the other hand, if you have a bearing arm, you should level the pinch (actually the arm board). Otherwise, the arm will put more pressure towards the lower end.