VdH VTA setting preferences

I have a new Condor. I am curious what VTA people have been using on their varoius Condors, Grasshopers or Colibris for best sound. It seems to be that just a little bit negative is great. I am breaking it in right now so we will see.
No negative! What cartridge maker in their right mind would have you tilt their cartridge backwards to get the correct SRA? (Read the vdH website as well.)

I've discovered it's only when folks have their cartridges loaded way too high that (they think) they get better sound that way.

If you have the .55 mV copper coil Condor, your optimum loading will be 2400 ohms +/_ 50%. (In other words, start at 1200 ohms and work your way up until the bass is tight and full and the highs are smooth but not shrill.) Your VTA (actually SRA) for a van den Hul will just about right (1-2 degrees) by raising the tonearm post about 4-6mm above the point where the cartridge/tonearm is parallel to the record.
Thanks for your help. I have the 0.35 copper coil Condor. Using 1Kohm as recommended in all the reviews & my dealer. VdH recommends 200 ohms. I can play w. resistors. I started w. 200. It was smooth but closed in. Now it is much more alive & everything is getting there w. each record played.

I had an Urushi before. You had to have my tonearm almost touching the record (100 ohm setting) to get it to sing, but boy did it sing.
Hi Dgad. The .35mV Condor has an internal coil resistance of 36 ohms. Using the standard 25x multiplier, that puts the (theoretically) optimum load at 900 ohms. And the overall range in which you should find your best setting (+/_ 50%) 450 ohms to 1350 ohms.

So you're probably close to perfect at 1Kohm. If it were me, I'd start raising it in 100 ohm increments until the bass started thinning out and the mid/highs started getting bright, glarey, grainy and/or shrill, and then back off.

The best way to set the SRA (stylus rake angle) for any cartridge is as follows:

Tape the platter so it can't spin.

Get a small first surface mirror (from an old SLR camera. They have lots of 'em at camera repair shops now.) and put it on the platter (without a record) near the outside where the stylus sets down.

Take off anti-skate, but make sure VTF is correct.

Lower the stylus to the mirror (get some good light too) and viewing the stylus from the side with a 50x pocket microscope, raise/lower the tonearm until the stylus is perfectly vertical, ie it lines up with its own reflection in the mirror (for a vdH stylus, this will be a perfect hourglass shape.)

To add 1.5 degrees of SRA using a standard 9" (23cm) tonearm, raise the tonearm post approx. 6mm. This is an excellent starting point, and by raising or lowering the arm 1mm at a time from this point, and listening carefully, you may improve over this setting or you may not :~)
I have a vdH Frog and followed the instructions on the van den Hul website for setting VTA, which does indeed advise that the arm be slightly raised at the pivot end.

After much experimentation, I was still not satisfied that I was getting everything out of the cartridge. Owning a VPI Aries with a VPI JMW 10.5 arm, I consulted VPI, as they have a lot of experience with the Frog / JMW arm combo. They advised that the pivot end should be slightly down. Here is the e-mail, in pertinent part:

"From our own usage of this combination and from overall industry designs we have found that the Frog usually sounds the best with the back down slightly and the tracking weight around 1.5 grams. The biggest changes in sound when doing VTA happen when you are in the sweet spot. I do not think you are their [sic]. Try lowering the arm so that the back is slightly below level and rebalance your system for this setup."

Once I did this and really dialed it in, the cartridge sounded much better (more balanced, more extended, much better timbre ... just way more right). I do not know whether this result is unique to the VPI arms with the Frog (the resonant frequency of the Frog with that arm is not ideal, even though it is a popular combo), but the Frog features the same frontpole and suspension as the Grasshopper IV, and the same stylus shape (VDH - IS), radii (2 x 85 microns) and suggested VTA (22 degrees) as the Condor, Colibri and Grasshoppers.

I have a friend who also ran a JMW arm with Frog combo for several years, and he had the exact same experience. I'll ask him to chime in.
I am using an SME V & repeating VTA is difficult. I did repeat VTF measurments w. different VTA & I found that the VTF did not vary with VTA in regards to my SME V. This runs counter some articles & threads I have read. I have damped my SME V w. Blue Tack. This was very positive as I was using my Koetsu & the sound improved . I am seting VTF via the counterweight and not via the dynamic spring. I was recommended to do so but honestly never heard a difference. This is a major departure for me compared to my Koetsu in sound. It is beginning to open up now.

I am wondering that by using the Blue Tack I have increased the effective mass of the arm & could change the resonant character from what is optimal for my Condor compared to my Koetsu. The main arguement against 12 inch arms is the increase in size and mass. The arm is balanced for the increase in mass with the damping being placed at both ends of the arm.

Thanks for all the advise so far. No harm in trying but repeating is a pain w. the SME V
No negative! What cartridge maker in their right mind would have you tilt their cartridge backwards to get the correct SRA?
Well, ask any Shelter owner!

I didn't have my Shelters loaded too low either. Besides, IME impedance loading and VTA/SRA have quite different effects on sound quality.

Impedance loading simply alters frequency response. Gross changes in VTA/SRA may alter frequency response, but it's the subtle adjustments that bring the sound to life. These integrate the time domain response of different frequencies without changing tonal balance at all. The effect is quite different from an impedance adjustment.
My experience with the vdH Frog has been identical to that described by Raquel above. Set up as recommended on the vdH web site with the pivot end slightly inclined, the cartridge sounded tipped up in the highs and emphasized surface noise. The sound was much better with VTA in the perfectly neutral position, and, when set up with the pivot end declined very slightly, IMO the sound was best. During my first round of these set-up experiments, I was using the VPI JMW-10 tonearm and the Lamm LP2 phono stage with a fixed impedance of 40 ohms. If anything, this impedance loading was too low for the Frog. which prefers a loading of about 500 ohms. In my latest round of experiments, I was using my SME IV tonearm and the Manley Steelhead phono stage. I experimented with impedance loading of 200 ohms and 400 ohms, and the pivot-end-declined set-up once again maximized the sound of the cartridge.
Unless any of you taildraggers would like to explain to me why it makes rational sense NOT to have your micro-ridge stylus fit the groove as the cutting head did when it cut the groove, you've got a lot of happy surprises in store once you accept the mechanical realities of the stylus/record interface.
Nsgarch, all I can tell you is what sounds better to me in my system. I don't have the technical depth to attempt to explain the reasons, but I know what I hear with this cartridge in my system. Technical explanations aside, it sounds like VPI has settled on the same set-up to optimize the sound of this cartridge to their preference. If, as you suggest, this set-up is causing the cartridge to track at an angle that is inconsistent with the angle of the cutting head, that is an interesting fact to know, but it does not change what I am hearing.
I can only second what Cincy_bob has added. It just sounds best this way to me.

FYI, I run my Frog into a Rowland Cadence loaded at 400 Ohms.
Bob (and others as well), with all due respect, this is beginning to sound like the debate between evolution and "intelligent design."

Has it occurred to you, VPI, etc., that maybe the "good" results you are reporting are due to a happy collision of errors? And that if you'd just ONCE! take the time to find out where your stylus is REALLY VERTICAL, and then with proper VTF and load, set the correct SRA, who knows what incredibly better results might await you -- I know this is what sirspeedy (a veteran ass dragger) reported once he took my advice.

If you want to read the whole thread, it's at:


or the following excerpts:

1.) 04-16-05: sirspeedy70680@earthlink.net
Nsgarsh,my instruction manual(that came with my cartridge)indicates this stylus angle as preferred. (MY COMMENT: He means negative rake, but he had mis-interpreted the instructions) I,in the beginning, had the BODY fairly parallel,but found myself tilting backwards,as I played more and more records,over numerous listening sessions.I fully understand your trepidation with this,as I never would have thought the body needed this degree of back tilt.However,as time went on it became obvious to me.What I find hardest to obtain,in analog,is TRUE timbre in instruments.Too many hobbyists get off on bass.To me,dialing in the cartridge using various records,showing off timbre, results in ALL ELSE falling into place.I have a friend with the exact cartridge(vintage of about 18 months old),and his tilt back,is virtually identical.Once done,when one looks at the stylus tip from the side,the diamond seems to be about vertical in the groove.Obviously this is not written in stone,and some slight variation can be preferred.But,all in all,close to vertical is close to correct,in my set-up.As for the "W" I don't know.

Please understand,I'm not trying to get into any kind of an arguement.It's just that on my set-up,what my instructions(coming with my Temper-V)state,is in fact what my results came to be.I will admit that I overlooked the instruction recommended angle,for a long time,since I set up by ear.The only reason I went back,and took a hard look at the instructions,was because I,myself,could not believe that I had to go back on the arm,as I did.A paralel body,or even close to parallel,will be off sonically.When I noticed that the instruction manual said to check for stylus tip vertical,I did so,and found that my ears were not far off.The tip was,just about vertical,as stated.As for cutter rake,etc.,I could care less.I'm only concerned as to what sounds best,to me.

Excerpt 2.)

04-17-05: Nsgarch
RE: cartridge loading and stylus rake angle:
Groove undulations not only wiggle from side to side, they also angle forward, because a cutter head has to point backward (at 1 degree) like a chisel, so that the wax cuttings will fly away as it's making the goove. If you have a spherical or elliptical stylus, it doesn't matter a lot if the stylus is vertical, or leaning a little forward or backward, because it fits in the groove more or less the same (inaccurate) way in all three cases. BUT, with the new generation of micro-ridge styli, vdH being one of the first in the early 1990's, (if not THE first) it's a whole 'nother matter. These styli are chisel or "spade" shaped, almost like the cutter head itself. If they sit vertically in the groove (or -yikes!- tilted backward) then their sharp side edges actually scrape over, or "clip" the tops of the forward-slanting groove undulations! Paradoxically, even "mis-set" that way, they still sound better than conventional (old-type) styli because their very tip (at the bottom of the groove) can still "see" information that elliptical styli miss.

To extract all the information in the groove, these new styli must "see" the groove from top to bottom, and the only way they can do that is if they can lock into the groove by leaning forward at exactly the same angle as the cutter head.

Now, one can go on and on expounding on the vagaries of different systems and components and tubes and rooms ad nauseum -- however, there are certain scientifically proven mechanical and electronic rules that must apply "across the board" regardless of the equipment or the room. I have just described a couple of them.

Excerpt 3.)

04-18-05: sirspeedy70680@earthlink.net
Nsgarch,are you tellig Transfiguration owners that,when the cartridge instructions indicate one should view the stylus tip as "leaning slightly back",when viewed from the side,that the stylus is actually leaning forward,with the tip angling towards the rear?Wouldn't the instructions have said,"tip raked back",as this would then more closely follow your choice.I'm asking,not questioning.In my case I have the arm leaning back(cart. body too),because I understood the instructions to mean tip backward slightly,as lowering the body towards rear!

Excerpt 4.)

04-19-05: sirspeedy70680@earthlink.net
Nsgarch,just had a really great breakfast,with the EGG THAT I PEELED OFF MY FACE.You are correct in your description/advice,and(well the instructions were a bit ambiguous to me)the tip now rests as you describe it,with better sound,obviously.Too bad I already named my kids,or I'd be obligated to name one after you!Thanks!!


You might want to write speedy and have him relate his experiences as he discovered the beauty of correct SRA.
Raquel, assuming you have the original Frog (.65 mV output, 21 ohm coil resistance) 400 ohms would be well within the calculated load range (260 - 790 ohms).

God forbid I would be associated with the Intelligent Designers.

I don't doubt that you're right -- I'm sure you are -- maybe it's just that
"ass (pivot) end down" is what it takes to get the vdH
"spade"-shaped stylii seated in the grooves at the same
angle as the cutter head. Thanks for the info.

In any event, my VTA is only spot on for the LP I used to set it, as I lack
the patience to adjust VTA for LP's of differing thicknesses.

I just saw your loading post: my Froggie is vintage 2000 or so, and
recommended loading on the box is 500 Ohms. In addition to the 400
Ohm loading that I use, also have a 250 Ohm loading option -- the
sound is a bit closed down at 250. The loading options on the Cadence's
high gain settings are typical MC loading options of 30 and 50 Ohms,
but I've never spent any time listening to them, the gain being way too
high at 74 db. (my Frog has the 0.65 mV. output).
FWIW, in a related but not vdH specific matter, my Zyx Airy 3 likes the ass end down just a tad also. Not much mind you, but enough to make the difference quite noticeable.

Zyx owners talk to me.
Here's a little reading for you ZYX owners by Hisayoshi Nakatsuka san himself (translated into English)


in which he describes the complex windings of the ZYX cartridge coils, and particularly the importance of their axes being correctly oriented to the groove modulations to achieve what he calls "original stereo sound."

Why don't you write to him at:


and ask him about the advisability of tilting his cartridges backwards. I'm sure he'll be politely horrified.

Two other points:

1.) ZYX styli have the sharpest edged micro-ridge diamonds of all. If they don't exactly lock into the forward slanting groove modulations, they will wear off the delicate high frequency undulations in the groove and

2.) Most tonearms are designed so that their geometry is most stable (center of gravity below the bearings) when the arm slopes slightly down toward the record. This configuration provides the most resonance-free platform for the cartridge. So if you insisted on tilting your cartridge backward, it would be best to shim it at the headshell and let the tonearm assume its natural downward slope.

Are you sure you still want to do this?

Allow me to chime in on my own thread. My Koetsu Urushi was not listenable unless it leaned back until the SME V almost was touching the perimeter of the record. With the VdH Condor in the current position I have tremendous clearance between the arm tube & record perimeter.

Now on to another few benefits of Nsgarch's ideas. I can now ad an outer ring from Bob Benn & keep my SME V tonearm. Also record wear will be reduced.

One question is that VdH recommends a load of 200 on his cartridge. Why then do all the reviewers & Nsgarch recommend 1000 Ohms? I find this confusing.

Also every article I have read on setting up VTA from Loyd Walker & others recommend setting VTA to neutral & then adjusting by ear. What I have done in the past is use a CD to compare to an LP & compare the output of the treble & bass to match the CD. This actually worked very well. I was hoping the advise would save me the work. Now I have to try both options but if I don't try it & then find out 5 years later I was wrong I will regret it.

You can lean the cartridge forward but then maybe compensate w. loading a little.

I am getting fabulous sound now. It still has a long way to go. My phono stage needs to break in. I have resistors to change loading but nothing above 1k besides 47K. I do have 100, 200, 500, 800. They are sloted to be placed directly in the phono stage. No dip switches so no combinations.

No harm in trying Nsgarch suggestion, so why don't we all do it & see. HTA will need adjusting as well with the amount of change which makes this a pain.

Now for a funny anecdote. I had a proffesor in Material Science @ Berkeley ( I can't spell so I am not sure) who was a big shot brought in to analyze all electrical failures on planes etc. I asked him about why some interconnects cost so much more.

His response was, "Ah heck I don't know, but I just spent a ton of money on some MIT cables". This just goes to say it all. Our ears often know what our minds don't.
Thanks for the info. Regarding the tilting back of the arm, I probably should clarify my earlier post. With a bubble level placed on my tonearm, only 5%-10% of the bubble sits outside of the guides. To a naked eye the tonearm appears perfectly level and I would venture a guess that most tonearms are not perfectly parallel.
That being said I do not advocate excessive "tilting" either way only a slight tweaking to fine tune performance. My current settings are the result of first my own ear and second the HiFi test record. I am quite comfortable with this setting. Sorry for any confusion.
Dgad: First regarding your cartridge loading. Most cartridge makers simply state a minimum input impedance (load) for their cartridges. Below that number, the phono preamp input will (and I'm oversimplifying) begin to look like a short to the cartridge and shunt it's output. But that doesn't mean that that is the optimum load for the cartridge-and-phono preamp electronics which will give you the most effective output and flattest response in your system. The figure of 25 times the internal coil resistance of the cartridge is a good place to mark as the center of a range that goes from 50% less than that figure to 50% more than that figure. I've found the best way to dial in the optimum setting (for your system) is to begin near the lower end of that range and work up, keeping the midpoint in mind for reference. As you begin, you will probably experience muddy or undefined bass which will tighten and tighten as you move up the range. But at some point, if you continue to add load, the (amount of) bass will begin to drop off and the balance will begin to shift toward the mid/high end. You then need to reduce the load a little at a time until the top to bottom frequency balance is restored.

If instead you continue to add load, the mid/highs will continue to predominate, and may even become glarey or grainy. If you now tilt the cartridge backward, you will be mechanically reducing the high frequency response of the cartridge, because the stylus will be "skimming" across some of those delicate groove modulations, and the frequency balance will (only) appear to be restored.

As for the advice of Lloyd Walker and others, I have no problem with it except to ask, "What is neutral?" If it means with the stylus perpendicular to the record, that would be OK, but my suggestion of first setting up the stylus perpendicular, and then adding an average Stylus Rake Angle of about 1-1/2 degrees, gets you a lot closer to the starting line.

However, the only way you can do this, even using Lloyd's method, is to actually take the time (it can be tedious, but you only have to do it once for a given cartridge) to really find out where that "neutral" position is for your stylus. I inspected two vdH Frogs, a standard one and a Gold, and the Gold stylus was vertical (perpendicular to the record) when the cartidge body was parallel to the record. The other Frog had a rake (of unknown amount) on the stylus when the cartridge body was parallel to the record. Lowering the back of the tonearm brought the stylus of that cartridge perpendicular. From that point, the back of the tonearm was then raised 6 mm to apply the 1-1/2 degree SRA. And lo and behold, the tonearm was just about parallel!

So I can't stress enough, the importance of doing this preliminary determination. You'll be glad you did. After all, the "big breakthrough" in stylus design, after the elliptical styli (which were ground, like on a jeweler's wheel) was the "line-contact" stylus which is shaped and polished using lasers, and was developed so the stylus could more effectively approximate the cutter head and "lock" into the groove. I might be crazy, but it certainly seems to me counterproductive to risk defeating this capability by not taking care to insure that these sophisticated styli fit into the groove as their designers intended.
The van den Huls are known to be "artisanal' in the sense of variation from one cartridge to the next for a given model. Nsgarch's findings that one stylus was spot on and the other a bit off is consistent with this reputation.

A line-contact stylus is basically a Shibata stylus, which was created by RCA for its quadrophonic program in the early 70's -- they needed something sharper than the elliptical and conical designs of the day to be able to track the 30 kHz. high frequency carrier that had the information for the rear two channels. It was after this that its use was extended to stereo LP's.
The Shibata stylus was definitely a precursor to the line contact, but it was still crafted using standard grinding techniques. I thought it predated the SQ records, but my memory may be wrong. As I recall, it had slightly curved edges, which was as close as could be achieved by the standard shaping methods, without breaking the diamond. I think vdH was actually the first to develop a true line contact by (as I understand) using lasers.

I was unaware that vdH had these variations from cartridge to cartridge, but it doesn't surprise me, and highlights the need to make the initial determination of stylus position I recommend. Further, if you examine certain cartridges that have short cantilevers (notably Condor, Colibri, Allaerts) you'll notice the pole piece (behind the coil) or in the case of the Allaerts, the front pole piece, have been beveled to better clear the record. If you tilt them backwards, even a little, you could be in for a heap of trouble.

Thanks for the excellent quotation from Nakatsuka-san. As you and he said, the contact edges of the playback stylus must be oriented as precisely as possible to the angle of the original cutting stylus, particularly with these new styli. Every ZYX I've had in my system (seven different models from the Airy 2 upwards) has played best with the cartridge body very close to level. This has in turn resulted in an SRA just slightly forward of vertical.

One variable you haven't mentioned is variation in cutting angles. As I'm sure you know, the industry standard for VTA was not established until well into the LP era, and even then it was not always followed. With very sensitive cartridges like the ones being discussed on this thread best sound can only be attained by adusting arm height for each LP. (In fact, we have one or two LP's whose master lacquers for each side were cut at different angles. We have to adjust arm height when flipping the record - oy!)

Whether adjusting for each LP is worth the bother is an individual choice of course, but there's no question it's beneficial. For us it's a matter of necessity. On most records my partner cannot tolerate SRA being off even a little. (Remember the princess and the pea?!) Setting SRA visually, even with a magnifier, would only get us in the ballpark.


Using a CD to adjust SRA/VTA might help your ears learn the basics, but it must ultimately be an unsatisfactory method for a number of reasons.

1) Mastering of CD and LP are often different.

2) As I mentioned above, cutting stylus angle varies from record to record. Therefore, maintaining the "perfect" contact angles so excellently described by Nsgarch necessitates resetting arm height for each LP. No CD can help with that.

3) Frequency balance only changes with coarse VTA/SRA adjustments. Fine adjustments change the time-domain response of different frequencies without altering their overall balance. This is the fine-tuning Lloyd Walker mentions in his second step.

Again, whether one chooses to take this last step is a personal choice. If you do, then Nsgarch's starting point (SRA very slightly positive) is a fine place to begin. After that it's a matter of listening and adjusting. The range of arm height changes at this stage is very small. Moving our arm up or down .007" will take us on or off the sweet spot.
Doug, thanks for your support. Your are right of course about various cutter settings and record thicknesses affecting the optimum SRA for any given record.

I only wish I had your arm (I mean your tonearm!) so I could make slight adjustments on the fly. Just try that with an SME V -- or better yet, don't!
Dear Dgad: +++++ " VdH recommends 200 ohms. I can play w. resistors. I started w. 200. It was smooth but closed in. " +++++

If the VTF and SRA were right on target and the Condor was already " broke-in " and you have that closed in sound: that could means a mismatch with the tonearms or a problem somewhere ( any link ) in your audio system/chain or an out of cartridge specs: not the load impedance.

Dr. Van denHul always gives a load impedance range and the optimal load impedance figure and in your cartridge is: 200 ohms, so this is the value that you must to use. I respect the Nsgarch advice about but he is not the designer so he does not which one is the optimal value: only Dr. Van denHul.

As I already post in other threads please don't use the cartridge load impedance like an " equalizer " to improve the sound when ther are deficiencies on the audio system. The closed in sound tell you that you have problems in your audio system : try to find it not to hide it through the use of the wrong load impedance.

With my Colibri I use the Dr. Van denHul load impedance advise and the VTA is slightly negative: this was too a Van denHul advise, I'm using the Colibri through a Breur/Brinkman tonearm like: the Sumiko MDC 800, great match.

The best we can do is to ask to the manufacturer.

Btw, Jan Allaerts told me that the VTA for my MC2 Finish has to be a little ( 1 mm ) on the positive way and he is right, he too is extremly critical about load impedance on his cartridges: 845 Ohms and the VTF no more than 0.05 gr of the optimal value and he is right here too.

Don't be nuts about VTA for each record: I agree with Raquel about. Btw, all the LP are convexs, this means that even in the same LP the VTA changes through the LP. So why take all those time to fix the VTA/SRA with each record instead to take that time to enjoy the music on our LP's?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, according to the vdH website, the recommended load for the .35mV Condor is 500 ohms, not 200 ohms, and 500 ohms is within the suggested range. In any case, the "optimal" value will not be exactly the same in each system because of the difference in tonearm cable impedance and the effective impedance of the circuitry of the phono preamp (or the impedance of the step-up transformer if you are using one.)

That is why it's important to have a mathematical method to determine a working range (a high load limit and a low load limit for each cartridge) and then to have a reliable way to hear when the load is a little too high or a little too low, or just right.
Just to clear some things up. I changed my load from 1000 as suggested by a few magazine reviews of the Condor w. a 0.35 output version (one w. gold coil & one with copper) and dropped it to 500. I don't have 800 unfortunately. I prefer currently 500 to 1000 or 200. VdH recommends on the box 200 & it is indicated as such in the review. The website is different. I am not sure why.

The impedance of the tonearm cable & phono preamp is in the end the key. Mine is a custom job. I can order any resistor set to try luckily.

I agree about adjusting SRA/VTA when your tonearm makes it easy. Once you get that amazing sound I would note your settings so as to never lose it. Nothing like having the magic. Unfortunately an SME V isn't the easiest to work with in this regard.

Boy do Ellan & Louis sound good right now.


You make sense about the difference in mastering. I still feel having a reference for a 180 gm record would be ideal. I wonder if someone sells such a tool. We could then dial in perfectly. Maybe they would have a 200 gm & 160 etc. All w. the same mastering.

I found that once my Koetsu found its sweet spot (though not for all records) I refused to take a chance & tweek any more as I wouldn't be able to find it again. Everything was very palpable & music was the end result.

I am running my tonearm positive right now. I can't get it to what AJ recommends. It just isn't possible, but it does sound good. I am giving it some spins on a few sides before I start playing around.

Thanks to everyone for the help.
Dgad, check your Condor box again. I betcha it says ">200 ohms" which means "greater than 200 ohms."

On the vdH website, in the "recommended load" column of the specs for your cartridge, it says "500 (>200)" which means that van den Hul recommends 500 ohms, but NO LESS than 200 ohms.

The information from the box is Loam Impedance is 100 ohm - 47 KOhms.
Opt. Load Impedance, 200 Ohms.

It mentions an effective arm mass of 12-20 gm. the SME V is 11 gms if I remember correct, yet they recommend it for the SME V. This leaves me confused.

The Antiskating force is 0.1 - 0.3 grams. Does this correspond to the SME V antiskating scale?? as listed on the side of the arm?

I just finished listening a bit & had great sound @ 500 ohms. Very impressed. Positive VTA as you suggested. I prefer this anyhow as it allows for a record outer ring.

I have some issues. I am using a battery operated Phono Stage. I am still having a ground loop. Any ideas on that? I unplug the charging unit & still have thumps when I turn off lights (flourescent) and do other things. It is on a dedicated breaker but still the lights in the kitchen affect it.
Dear Dgad: I don't know how many hours had your Condor on work, but when already get between 300 to 500 hours you can send to AJ to a " final touch " for free.

I do this with my Colibri and I have a great quality sound improvement: highly recomemnded !!!!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dgad, I find the discrepancy between the specs on your box and what's published on the vdH website very strange. I would call or email Andre at the USA vdH office in California, give him the serial no. of your cartridge and ask him to check it with the factory and get back to you.

On the other hand, if you use the standard multiple of 25x the (36 ohm) internal resistance, you could still wind up at 500 ohms be in the load range I suggested (although I would've guessed more like 900, but whatever....)

You are correct about the effective arm mass issue, but not to worry, the resonant frequency for the compliance of the Condor will still be well below 20Hz. There is an interactive graph at www.cartridgedb.com if you want to check it.

The anti skate dial of the SME V does indeed correspond to the vdH specs, except that the markings on the dial don't go low enough! Here's a better way to do it (you'll need good light, but it's very easy):

Set anti skate to zero. Viewing the cartridge from the front and just slightly above, note the position of the cantilever relative to the pole piece behind the coils. Then gently lower the tonearm to the record somewhere in the middle of the first band. Watch the cantilever carefully, just as the stylus goes into the groove. The cartridge body-and-headshell will tend to move toward the middle of the record, pulling inward slightly on the cantilever, and when you lift the stylus up out of the groove, the cantilever will return to center. Do this a few times until you see what I'm talking about. Then begin adding anti skating force a little (1/10 gram) at a time until there's no movement of the cartridge/headshell relative to the cantilever, whether the stylus is in or out of the groove. That's the correct setting. Soloist vocals should be solidly between the speakers. You can fine tune it by ear, but the visual adjustment is extremely accurate once you get the hang of watching for movement/no movement.

Regarding ground loops: they should produce a continuous 60 cycle hum in one or both channels. Is that the problem? or are you getting buzzing, and pops when you turn the lights on and off? The latter is usually due to radio frequency interference (RFI) produced in this case by arcing in the switches and fluorescent starters. This noise can picked up even by your dedicated lines or by phono unterconnects because it is sent out like a radio signal from those devices, and is best eliminated by stopping it at the device(s) rather than trying to filter it out afterward. Usually, you can replace the switches with noise-free ones that have a capacitor across the switch contacts. I think there's a remedy for the fluorescent lights too, but you'll have to ask an electrician.
I posted this tid bit in another thread and thought it might be appropriate here as well. Here goes:

IMO the only response to Raul's posts is no response. He is entitled to his opinions, as misguided as most of them are, like everybody else here. The record is replete with his omniscient and combative ideas so why not let him go? I for one take no stock in anything he says and read them for the entertainment content. Roll with them and grab a few laughs.
Wc65: +++++ " and read them for the entertainment content. " +++++

Tks for reading me and for to be your favorite !!!!! It was a pleasure.

Regards and enjoy the music.