I don't find it hard to do. If you're getting into vinyl, its something that you should be able to do yourself. Just get some basic tools and take your time.
If you need a store, try Audio Connection in Verona. If that's too far, Longplayer Stereo in Goshen NY should be closer.
If you are good at detail and don't rush it is easy and very fun. check Vinyl Engine if you need a manual or diagram
If you possess patience, attention to detail, patience, good eyes/ears, patience, the correct tools, patience and steady hands- no problem. I've never had a problem, quickly getting things right, after decades of experience, but- when instructing/guiding others, I've found many lack.....guess what? You'll never learn, if you don't try.
My advice is to have a competent professional perform the initial setup. Learn how to do it. Future adjustments can then be done by you. It is critical that your TT is set up properly so that you can enjoy the full benefits of vinyl.
If you don't have steady nerves, patience, a good idea of what you are doing and some small needle nose pliers, things can go really bad.
I tried to swap a cartridge (I did many times before) and broke a pin off a lead. These wires are SO SMALL that it is next to impossible for the novice to repair. I could not find ANYONE, including THE MANUFACTURER (!) to fix it (putz).
I ended up trading the whole thing for a new 'table.
Depends on the turntable you are purchasing.
If you are buying a dj oriented turntable, it has a universal headshell, so installing a cartridge should not be a big deal. The adjustments are also pretty straightforward.
Any of the entry level audiophile tables from Pro-ject or Rega or Music Hall usually come with an installed cartridge and are factory adjusted.
It is when you start cartridge swapping or dealing with more intricate arms and cartridges, that having the dealer do the adjustment is worth it.
I live in North Jersey and second the Audio Connection recommendation. There is also a guy in Blauvelt, NY which isn't far from North Jersey who set up a turntable for me a few years ago he was very cool, Mark Gringer 914-907-7648 firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck
I own a VPI Classic (first generation plinth) 2.7 (hot-rodded). First couple of times, a little scary. Now I can set it up in my sleep.
That said, if you read through some of the vinyl threads, we have some OCD members who, IMO, are a bit over the top with set-up LP-neurosis. I just get it as close as I can and I'm off to the races.
It really depends on the table. I've done it myself and I think it came out OK, but I would always prefer to have a real artist do it - if you can find one. Not every dealer can necessarily do it better than you can. Therein lies the problem.
Yes, definitely depends on the turntable and arm.
I agree with AudioConnection, however, it may be out of adjustment by the time you get it home. Setup requires time and patience (and a few tools)..time is not freely given from a store and expect to be charged for it. You don't mention your turntable... I find getting the cartridge wired is particularly nerve racking for beginners. Wire the cartridge first, pushing the wires on with your fingers...then attach it to the tonearm. Too many times, tools slip, and the connections are ripped off.
I decided to have a dealer, in this case also a distributor, to mount and align the cartridge in my Nottingham Spacearm. Those wires are very thin, the risk of breakin off the pins is high.
I could've done the alignment myself, but I would want something like Feickner protractor which costs more than what I paid to the dealer to have it all done.
Setting up the table itself should not be a problem with enough attention.
I am not the one who will want to change the cartidges often, probably once every three or five years.
Playing with VTF, VTA and bias can be fun though.
My advice is to have a competent professional perform the initial setup. Learn how to do it. Future adjustments can then be done by you.
Isn't it's just simpler to go youtube instead?
If you have the proper measuring equipment for setup, then maybe a YouTube video may be the trick. If you don't, these are the areas you will need to address, that a professional will be able to calibrate for maximum enjoyment:
Each of these items can be set with the proper accessories.
I'm just suggesting that, out of the box, it's good to have someone who has significant experience in turntable setup. I would want your enjoyment of vinyl to get off to a good, sonically enjoyable start. And, yes, as time goes by, you'll want to able to make the adjustments yourself, especially as you change cartridges, tone arm and table.
All the best....
Each of these items can be set with the proper accessories."
pen, paper, ruler and scales?
It is not that hard, patience and no distractions however are a must. I have set up several and never had a problem.
Mounted 6k cartridges with utmost confidence. But I cannot solder for s#%t or desolder for that matter. Not even a spade without butching it up! So everyone has limits.
Have your dealer do it and ask questions as they set it up. The red flag is if the cartridge leads are not user replaceable; its all too easy to break a cartridge lead if you aren't experienced and replacing a tonearm wiring harness can be expensive.
Papermill is correct.
But, as you listen, you will find that the initial adjustments are only good approximations, and that magic happens when you get it just right. So watch the pro and ask lots of questions and have him teach you to do it. That means, try each procedure with him present. Make notes. Then, when the spirit moves you, consult your notes and make tiny adjustments in each direction and see if there is an improvement either way.
Then consult a psychiatrist specializing in audiophilia.
The most difficult thing I found was knowing what to listen for when I screwed things up, err, I mean made an adjustment. I'm not referring to gross break-up distortion. That's easy. It's how the many adjustments interact and how they relate to the ease, focus, coherence, L/R balance, top to bottom frequency balance and sibilance. It can be very elusive and frustrating for the beginner. Repeat, repeat, repeat until it's right and then do it again until it's not "good enough" anymore because there are no doubts, you've done it that good. If you're a beginner and you've done it right, it wasn't easy. If you're a beginner and you've done it easy, it isn't right.
I wouldn't do final arm adjustment until your the cartridge had been fully burnt-in, that's at least 100 hours but possibly more. 100 hours is a kind of universal number, more or less. My Grado phones was not fully burnt-in after 100 hours but probably 90% so. The same with Purist Audio interconnects. But both kept improving after 100 hours. Cartridge is something different but still..
I would give it 200 hours. Now if you are going to adjust VTA and anti-skating for each record as some do - you got a problem of being frustrated and busy all the time.
Inna, according to Soundsmith, the mechanism of cartridge break-in is rather disconcerting.
They say that a cartridge breaks in by twisting its guts to accommodate an imperfect installation. Certainly my Koetsu has not changed much, except for the "magic" when I got the final minuscule correction just right.
If Soundsmith is right, and they are, after all, a cartridge manufacturer and rebuilder, then it follows that adjustment should be continuous until you get the magic.
We have better hearing and more objectivity than Peter. Just kidding.
There is a thread here, most people agree that 30-50 hours are needed for certain. Some think 100. I am trying to save the man a lot of time and effort. Make the initial adjustments to cover the basics, then wait for 200 hours and spend a day to get it right. Not too much work. But if he wants to make it truly spectacular - align the cartridge by ear. This might take couple of weeks, so what? I was kidding. I certainly am not going to do this, though it could be interesting. In this case you would be doing individual custom alignment.
I was brought up on the conventional wisdom too - 100 hours or so, but I never did understand the mechanism. It sounded a lot like a practice from WW2 where riflemen from US and UK would exchange a single round (.30-06 and .303), fire it, and find that their rifles shot better.
Then I heard the word from a manufacturer. Who would know more about cartridges breaking in than a manufacturer? Only a rebuilder. And Soundsmith is both. So I accept their considered opinion until I have very good reason to change.
Fiddly, yes, but worth it in longevity, I think.
I don't have enough experience to insist on anything. However, he is one man, and there are other cartridge manufacturers. For example, Nagaoka states 30 hours, and they don't say it will be fully burnt-in after that.
Anyway, if it doesn't or almost doesn't need it, that's perfectly fine. I just never encountered a high-end device like that. It varies wildly, true.
Who would know more? Well, people don't always say everything they think. I believe, Vladimir of Lamm said that his amps would work well with any good quality power cord. And that's true. What he didn't say was that they would work even better with great quality matched cord. Lamm/Purist Audio/Kharma set-up was consistenly considered one of the best by many. Another example. My tuned Nakamichi deck exceeds factory specs and with Purist Maximus cable and Maxell Vertex tape sounds far better than guaranteed by Nakamichi in 1981. They might've tested it with the same quality cable but I doubt that they insisted on using it. So, I don't think that Peter tells the whole story.
In any case, if I hear the difference, I do hear it. It can be subtle and it can be not.
All stylii have a suspension and the suspension will compress a little during its life time. Which is why user adjustable VTA is a good thing.
Its not that hard, but it is exacting. Be prepared to spend days before it's done.....actually it would be beneficial to tweak it from time to time thereafter. You should have the proper tools...good light, a quiet safe desk to work on, including all the usual things.
Setting up a TT is not too difficult. But it takes trial and error to get it done to a satisfying setting. And you have to be very careful on how you handle the cartridge. I was setting up a McIntosh MT 10 for a friend and my finger pass the stylus and it fell off in my hand. I had to send it to Sound-smith to get it repaired. Good thing I had a backup cartridge. I have a VPI Classic IIl which I set up myself. You did not say what TT you have.