I can relate. Went through something very similar myself. Setting up my first, Benz Glider on Graham, it sounded great right away, really impressive! Then I started adjusting VTA. Turned out it was way too high! Like a couple mm too high. Had no idea. Listening, purely listening, kept dropping it down one tiny little bit after another. Better and better, could not even believe anything this good could keep getting better but it did!
Finally one of these little drops it got worse. Instead of fuller and more focused it was just fuller. Less focused. I backed it off a bit. Nope, too much. Then my next fascination- I was finding the perfect VTA by interpolating between the marks on the Graham! One reason for buying the Graham was the micrometer VTA. Now it turns out I was having to interpolate to get it perfect! Freaking-A!
Well the first one took a while. I wrote it down in pencil on the record sleeve. Next one, already close, went way faster. Did not take long and then I could tell playing any record if it was a bit too high, or low, adjust on the fly. By the end of the first side of every record VTA was dialed in, and I mean dialed in! Perfect! The image focus- well read the comments from people who hear my system. It has been damn good a long time now. One reason why.
Got a Benz Ruby. Same thing. As each record was played the new numbers were written down. Not really that big a deal. Just the process, kind of like demagnetizing. Do it once, done. Why people fret and talk like this is some big deal. Takes hardly any time and once done is done!
Until you get a new arm. Origin Live Conqueror, same thing. Only now I had to make my own micrometer marks, it had the wheel but nothing to gauge it by. No problem. My solution is here https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
VTA was dialed in perfect on every record, every time, the first time it was played. Then dialed in each time it was played.
This was my VTA routine until Koetsu Black Goldline. With this for some reason there was the same improvement as VTA got dialed in. Except funny thing, once we got real close I just lost all interest in tweaking out that last little micrometer. Not like it’s not there. More like it is so hard now to get up out of the chair and go for it. If a mining stock I would say the risk:reward just isn’t there. The Koetsu is a buy and hold. 😍