I have had good luck with the “SMARTstylus. www.acoustical-systems.com
I would not recommend setting azimuth by using any combination of any bubble levels. The opportunity for error is too great. After all is said and done, it is not really a bad idea to set the cartridge visually typically using a mirror so that the cantilever is at a 90 degree angle to the surface of an LP. For most well made cartridges from reliable manufacturers, this will work fine. If one is crazed enough to want to set azimuth electrically, you can use a Fozgometer for sure or any of a few other methods for minimizing crosstalk. To do this, you need a suitable test LP that has bands with signal only in one and then only in the other channel. Based on what you say about your equipment, you probably can figure out how to set for minimal crosstalk.
I second the use of the Foz and its accompanying test record. The results are super
AnalogMagik looks intriguing but having to spend $750 plus another $75 plus tax, and no support unless you buy a “$150 Lenovo” from them seems extremely suspicious. You simply cannot get a usable laptop for $150. Their literature is written by someone who is borderline illiterate, which also seems their product seem as genuine as an email from a Nigerian “prince” who has millions of dollars for you.
The Fozgometer ostensibly could be replaced with a decent oscilloscope, so what is it’s benefit to someone who already owns a couple of high-end oscilloscopes? Don’t take my question as being combative, I’m just curious if the Fozgometer has any unique qualities that lend it to being better or easier to use for the task.
The most accurate way is an oscilloscope. Using a Fozgometer is second. My problem with it is the price. Both methods align the coils with the record not the stylus. If there is one manufacturing inconsistency that worries me most is the stylus not being properly aligned with the coils, an easy error to make. The above methods may result in the best sound but I prefer the least record wear so I use the mirror method lewm referred to above. That gives you a stylus aligned to the groove and you can't beat the price. I do add loops to the process.
I am in agreement with those who prefer that the stylus be properly aligned to the groove over a correct electrical alignment. With my current setup, I used the mirror approach to get a decent visual alignment of the stylus to the groove. I then used a Fozgometer which indicated such a small change that there was hardly any change to the visual alignment (good for me that the cartridge was built so well).
I use a now ancient Signet Cartridge Analyzer along with its companion test LP made by Shure. The SCA has a ‘scope output, but if you have no scope, it has a dB meter built onto the faceplate. So, play test LP with (usually) 1kHz test tone in one channel only, set the signal appearing in the driven channel to 0 dB, and measure dB of output in the opposite channel, shown on the meter as a negative number of dB. Then play the band with a 1kHz test tone only in the opposite channel and likewise measure the output in -dB that appears in the non-driven channel on the meter (or on your scope). Alter azimuth from 90 degrees to get the least crosstalk, L to R vs R to L. In my experience, it is folly to try to achieve exactly equal crosstalk levels, R to L and L to R. Best to just go for the best absolute values.
By the way, I agree that there is no need for a Foz if you have an oscilloscope and know how to use it (which many don’t). You still do need the test LP with 1kHz signal in one channel only. (Needs two bands, one for L channel only and one for R channel only.). Shure made such an LP for the Signet Cartridge Analyzer, for one example. And I agree that in the end it may be best to just adjust the stylus so it sits properly in the groove, regardless of crosstalk, in which case you are relying upon the manufacturer to have built the cartridge to exacting standards, which some do. 99% of the time, I adopt the latter leap of faith. I think the obsession with azimuth may lead to more alignment errors and more distortion and stylus wear than one would care to admit.
I have a few test records in my collection, so I’ll have to check if any have the single channel 1kHz tones. I couldn’t imagine not having at least one good oscilloscope. For a long time it was a 20mHz Philips 2 channel with CRT, but I have a Tek 100mHz 2 channel with LCD screen also now. Also have 2 Technics TPBGA003 headshells on order (C$120 each from Panasonic through my Technics / Panasonic dealer) that have the azimuth adjustment feature. The guy there tried to convince me that everything from the cartridge and turntable factories is already optimally aligned, but I want that extra degree of certainty.
Great minds think alike. I should think a USB microscope would work fabulously well. I use 10X loops because I already have them. You can get a USB microscope for much less!
This is a challenging hobby for my failing eyesight. Arrggghhh.
For those who are using a mirror make sure you have one that is slivered on the same surface as you rest the stylus, or you will set it wrong. ( you can get the proper mirror from a camera repair)
those who are using a mirror make sure you have one that is slivered on
the same surface as you rest the stylus, or you will set it wrong. I'm not sure why you say that. Actually, the further the silvered surface is from where the stylus sits, the more apparent any deviation from level will be. That makes it easier to set accurate azimuth, and some stylus gauges are intentionally designed just that way, such as the terrific Wallytractor. But you can set accurate azimuth either way.
Have we become so enamored with technology that we have neglected the best tool: our EARS?
First, it is easiest to set azimuth if you have a tone arm that makes it easy. Generally the VPI tonearms do NOT make it easy unless you use the dual pivot. IMO the dual pivot makes it crazy easy.
Then, using a small flashlight shine it on the front of your arm and cartridge and make a horizontal line on the cartridge/arm parallel to its reflection on a record. That is your starting point; do a lot of listening.
Then using your fine azimuth adjustment, move VERY slightly in one direction. Listen for a while, and if better continue with small movements in that direction until one of those settings gives you the most spread and separation. If worse, do the same in the other direction. If both worse, stay at level.
Best of all, your ears are free!
melm, I hate to say it, but for stuff like this, the ears are woefully inaccurate. To begin with, most of us do not have equal acuity in both ears, not to mention equal frequency response sensing, and not to mention room effects, etc. And then there's the brain...
However, I also have no beef with just sitting the cartridge squarely at 90 degrees to the LP surface. This is a recent and radical change of thinking for me.
While setting up my Garrard today, my friend Rick had brought round his Fozgometer and test l.p. ( amongst other essential tools!) to be able to set azimuth.
I decided to just set it 90 degrees to the LP instead just as I always have done.
Maybe one day but I think I am close enough to enjoy the music as is.
For a long time I set it at horizontal and let it go at that. Using an AT Art 9 I felt very comfortable with that, as the more expensive ATs are probably more carefully aligned than lower volume cartridges. I was enjoying my analogs. Using a VPI uni-pivot arm, setting at a true horizontal was as much work as I wanted to handle.
But when I got the dual pivot, I made a real discovery. Using the long slender hex screwdriver that VPI used to include with their arms, I made the very slightest adjustment in azimuth (so easy to do) and was astonished at the results. Fortunately it was in the correct direction. It is such a small change that I can see no difference in its horizontal alignment, but I can surely hear the difference.
Interesting that I am at the moment working on improving the digital side of my listening. After the very basics, trying to make it sound like analog, most of the refinement is exactly like setting azimuth, to wit, soundstage, width, depth, etc. So my ears are well tuned to these things these days. They tell me everything I need to know.
Can’t you use an app meter and test record
To start it helps to set a zero reference and go from there. With a well manufactured cartridge, only tiny adjustments if any will be necessary from this reference to get correct azimuth. One should also pay attention to how the various parameters interact.https://www.wallyanalog.com/wallyreference
I use the SmarTractor to first install the cartridge and then the Foz to determine how well my cartridge is centered. The SmarTractor is one of the most accurate protractors available - Analog Magik even suggests using it for a good initial setting before starting the tests in its module. I have used both AM and Feickert's Adust + for azimuth, but now only use the SmarTractor and Fozgometer. My results for multiple cartridges over the years concluded that this method combined with my ears was adequate to set azimuth. With the 10 plus cartridges, I never had an issue with crosstalk or at least where my ears could tell. As a result, I sold my Adjust +, but will occasionally check azimuth with AM just for sanity.