I have no experience with the new ones but the old Wallytractors are my favorite alignment devices and I have more than I'd care to list, including MintLPs and UNI-Pro.
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Interesting phrase, support the hobby. Have heard something like that used before. Never in connection with Ted Denney. Pretty folksy name, Ted. You'd think he'd get some love. Or Peter. If ever there was a hobbyist could use support.... What magic spell has Wally to get anyone thinking he's any different than the rest?
"I will be accumulating at least two more turntables in the next 6 months, and wanted to have another set of eyes to spot check my current methods of installing and measuring cartridges performance; ears, SME protractor, test records, Fozgometer, Schon Schablonne (German protractor), and glass protractor by Avid."
You clearly like checking imperfection.
“What magic spell has Wally to get anyone thinking he's any different than the rest?”
Not sure...I don’t feel like I am under any delusional voodoo spell to obtain such things from Wally. I just want them, period. I will leave it up to others to speculate and hypothesize as to why Wally is different from the rest. I just want to experiment and play around with new alignment tools which supports my own curiosity. If you have any experiences with Wally tools, then speak up...otherwise, ramblings about why Wally is any different than other alignment tools are useless.
I am the proud owner of all of the Wally tools you wish to purchase. I find them very effective in tonearm setup. The WallyTractor is a very easy to use protractor. Very flexible with many tonearm combinations and lengths. The mirror surface makes it very easy to read and is very accurate if you want to achieve perfection.
The WallySkater is another great product for setting anti-skate. The tool gives you the ability to check the condition of the tonearm bearing and the accuracy of the anti-skate setting be it a dial or a weight and string. I have a Graham Phantom II Supreme tonearm and I would have never set the anti-skate weight to where the WallySkater showed me to get 8% anti-skate across the record. Yes it did make a difference and yes we all know that there is no perfect setting for anti-skate because it is ever changing across the record but the WallySkater does make a difference.
The WallyReference is an amazing product in that now you can accurately setup your cartridge to be perfectly level to the record surface before you start to make adjustment to the SRA and Azimuth based on the specific cartridge that you are using. I think that you would find this tool most useful based on your need to experiment with many different turntables, tonearms and cartridges. The other added bonus to this tool is that more support tools are being developed to expand the usage in setting SRA, Azimuth and Zenith. I think this will probably be the most valuable tool in the kit for cartridge setup.
All in all I find these tools to be some of the best out there. I have been setting up turntables for over 50 years and have seen many different tools and methods come and go. I would recommend these products.
Thank you for that most informative and useful post regarding the use of the Wally products.
I have been doing my own setup for about 46 years. I look forward to experimenting with these tools and comparing the outcomes to some of the other devices I have used over the years.
Fun times in the analog world for sure.
There is no mystery in setting up a turntable correctly. The weakest link in the chain is the person doing the setup. If a tonearm's geometry is correct and it is mounted spot on, all that is needed is an overhang gauge. I made my own as there is not one on the market that suites my needs. It fits over the spindle and was calibrated for my arm on a lathe. There is not aiming things at the horizontal pivot or lining up the cantilever with fine lines. Once I find my the right VTA for a cartridge the gradations on the tonearm's shaft allow me to return to the same spot instantly.
IMHO all that other stuff is wasted money. The Wally Skater in particular would make Rube Goldberg proud. I can do exactly the same thing with a digital VTF gauge.
A few questions, how do you know that your tonearm geometry and mounting is spot on without the use of tools? How do you know the native stylus rake angle of your cartridge without the use of tools? Can't judge that by eye or ear. How do you know how much anti-skate your tonearm is producing when set to zero? Internal wiring and tonearm bearings are the culprit. They all produce a small amount and every tonearm is different, even from the same manufacturer. Can't use a VTF gauge for that. I think some of the weak link is the lack of proper tools and making too many assumptions on what you think is correct without verification.
I don't think anyone disagrees with your sentiments, Benjie. A few exceptions: You might not need to know the effect of bearing friction and wiring on AS, because when you determine a satisfactory amount of added AS, you have automatically accounted for the baseline represented by those inherent factors. I say " satisfactory", because we know there is no single value of AS that is correct at every point on the surface of the LP. As for SRA, only a very few diehards make the Herculean effort to see it, let alone measure it. And when measured, it seems from other posts I have read that virtually no two observers will have the same opinion on the angle visualized, given the complexity of all but the most simple stylus shapes. (See posts and discussions on Vinyl Asylum, for example.). The weakest link in setting up a cartridge, even with proper tools, whatever those are, is human error, IMO.
I was only familiar with the Wally Skater so I went to the web site to check out their other stuff. You have to be kidding me? IMHO that is just throwing money down the toilet. With a good eye, a DB Systems protractor and a good digital VTF gauge you can do everything all that overpriced plastic does for $100.00 about 1/8th the price. I love tools as much as any guy but I would rather spend that money on records.
I read your post above and I disagree with you, most people here do not agree with my sentiments. Many people here think investing in tools and equipment for setup is a waste of money. Downloading a pdf of a protractor and print if out on a piece of paper is just as good as a precision made protractor. An old scale you used to weigh you weed with works just fine for setting tracking force. The list goes on and on. I find it hard to believe that people will spend thousands of dollars on their analog equipment but when it comes to setup tools, become cheap and spend as little as possible, seeing very little value in them.
The two most important setting for your cartridge are SRA and Azimuth. Many people do not want to take the time or invest in the tools to measure these setting. The sad thing is a lot of people think that they can do this by ear or with a test track. Not going to happen. Lets use the example of rake angle. It is not very common to get a cartridge from the factory set at 92 degrees, which is the cutting head angle setting for manufacturing lacquers. That number has been around since the 1960’s. Most manufactures have a 2 degree window that they see as acceptable. So if your cartridge has a native SRA setting from the factory at 90 degrees, you would have to raise the back of the tonearm up 8 mm to achieve 92 degrees. Most agree that 4 mm equals 1 degree of change to the SRA. I don’t know if most tonearms have that much adjustment in them. My point is that if you have no way of checking these settings your never going to achieve high quality sound from your setup.
Over the many years of doing this I have found out two thing. Some people do not know what good sound is and that "they don’t know what they don’t know".
@benjie I agree with you, I was part of the first type of people. But then I realised how good your TT can get after a real alligment. I was so affraid to do the cartridge set up myself that after watching JR videos, spoke to him and after I bought the Wally Tractor and the Wally Skater I've called him many times and he has guided me through with patience. I am now super happy with my tools.
Benjie, You wrote, "I read your post above and I disagree with you, most people here do not agree with my sentiments."
I quoted you in order to avoid the tricky double negative in your sentence. For the record, I certainly do agree with the merit in using good tools to do alignment and any other job that requires precision. What I was trying to say is that setting SRA is a can of worms for anyone but the most experienced persons, not only for lack of proper equipment to visualize and measure SRA but also because, based on what I have read elsewhere on various vinyl oriented websites, and even with optimal microscopy tools, it is very difficult to know what you are actually measuring. This is because modern styli have complex shapes, and one wants to know the angle of the actual contact patch. I don't think that I, for one, can know that with confidence. This means only that I rely on setting VTA and hope for the best. If you can consistently make an accurate measurent of SRA, my hat is off to you. As to Azimuth, there are good debates for how to do that as well, electrically or physically. I have settled on my own opinion of what is the best way to do it. I own very good protractors and VTF scales and etc, and I do use them all. None of my alignment gear happens to come from Wally; that doesn't mean it isn't good stuff.
SRA can be tough due to stylus shape even with a usb microscope. The best compromise with the Gyger S and other styli like it such as Soundsmiths OCL is to set the oncoming face of the stylus to 90 degrees.
That will put the contact patch somewhere between 91 to 93 degrees which is the best you can hope for. Azimuth is best set by the mirror method. The Fozgometer is a bad joke. First of all the output of the individual channels is never equal and the goal is the get the stylus perpendicular to the groove not the coil orientation. Whatever is lost in channel separation is more than made up for in better tracking and record wear. The trickiest is setting overhang. It also depends on your eye and judgement. Having used the SmarTractor I can highly recommend it as it gives your eye the best shot at getting it right. It is superior to either the Feickert or Wally protractors and it is much better made than either. It also costs a lot more. As for Antiskating this is best done with a digital VTF gauge. The problem is that digital VTF gauges will not work in the horizonal plane. You need a devise to convert horizontal force to vertical force. I will post a picture of such a device on my system page tomorrow.
Pardon the crude appearance. It is just a prototype.
I use the UNI-Pro/P2S tools and an Ortofon scale. Could I get the job done with less? Probably. But its a real treat using well built tools. In the end of the day your ears ( should ) be the best tool you have; but getting a precise 'rough-in' is important for me.
I have been following a thread on wbf where JR has been posting and showing some macro closeups. Its funnny how anxious folks get when they see a stylus glued to a cantilever up close and personal :)
The picture of the "Gizmo" I use to measure anti skate force is up on my system page if anyone cares to look at it. It allows you to use your VTF gauge to measure anti skate force.
@solypsa, on my system page is a picture of a boron cantilever sans stylus. I would think that would make you a lot more anxious!