A wee bit cheaper than the CartridgeMan Gauge but very effective and reliable is the Clearaudio Weight Watcher Digital Tracking Force Gauge. I have a owned a few different digital tracking force gauges and the Clearaudio has been my fav to date.
I have the cartridge man digital level gauge. it is very accurate and easy to level in all planes with 0.0 degree level readings attainable. yes, it is expensive, but if you have highly resolving analog front end it can make an audible improvement.
The Winds ALM 01 100th of a gram is the best.
Cough,cough......i think the OP is talking about digital level gauge to aid in critical leveling in setup, not stylus force gauge.
Thanks for the heads up on the non audiophile product.
Sorry dont know that one DUDE!!
What does this device do that a carpenter's level from Home Depot doesn't?
my bad ... mis-understood Mauidj's request.
Have to agree with Stringreen on this one!
it nails exact level by tenths of a degree so there is no question when you have achieved perfect level in all planes.
Stringreen/Taylor514....There is no way a carpenters level can get the same results as a digital gauge. Change the angle of view of the bubble just slightly and the level reading changes. The digitals are accurate to 0.1 of a degree. Impossible with a regular spirit level. And as a level table is as important as VTA or any other TT setting it is vitally important with a high end rig running contact line type stylus that this is as perfect as possible.
Hiendmuse....does the CartridgeMan unit fit over the spindle or do you just place it on the table somewhere else?
I can see how that would make a difference if the gauge is heavy and it affects the level on a sprung TT. The DigiPas does not fit over the spindle but does weigh less than the CartridgeMan unit.
I use my Android Phone w. a nice program. Does the trick. Program was free. I think an iPhone has the same program. Look up level in the application market. You can even calibrate it.
And who says your turntable and platter are themselves 100% level in build?
yes Mauidj, there is a center hole for the gauge to fit on the platter spindle, as well as just placing the gauge on various positions of the platter itself. I have found especially with a unipivot tonearm such as the 10.5i on the VPI SSM it has made a substantial improvement both in terms of tracking and solidity of sound. there is absolutely no rocking of the tonearm whatsoever when it first touches the record or anytime during record play. check out the review of the cartridge man digital level on six moons.com, December 2005. I now consider this to be essential part of my setup toolkit when installing a cartridge, along with my mint lp protractor, digital stylus gauge, and other things. when the level is exact it reads 0.0 in all planes. I could not get this performance with a high quality carpenters level.
I use a 6" digital level from home depot about 50 bucks. Just downloaded the spirit level plus recommended above, WOW now that is killer!!!.
I agree with Dgad that android phone application "Level" is really slick.
There are over 20 Apps for levels in the App Store.
The problem with the App levels is that they all need calibrating. So who has a 100% level surface to do that on? They might get you closer than a regular carpenters bubble but from what I have read in the reviews they are not close to the accuracy of a dedicated tool.
I just downloaded a twin axis level app called Gyro Level.
It works from the internal gyroscope in the iPhone so does not need calibrating.
It aligns using gravity.
I would love to find a level table to check it on as this thing could be the $0.99 answer to the $350 question!
The problem with phone-based levelling apps is that the case of the phone is neither perfectly flat nor necessarily parallel with the internal gyroscope. It certainly isn't on my Moto Droid with its sliding keyboard and slightly bulged battery cover. ;)
The internal gyro may be "perfectly" level but that's of little use if the back of the phone is non-flat and/or non-parallel to the gyro.
I use a cheap but well made bubble level. The key is to use it properly. Check the spot you're interested in, then spin the level 180 degrees and check again. Reversing the level doubles the visibility of any error. Only when the bubble is centered with the level pointing in EITHER direction is the surface level (along that orientation). Never trust any level without doing this. A decent bubble level used this way (as machinists do) can produce pretty accurate results. Expensive tools are good, good technique is better. :)
I agree with your comments.
Certainly about the phone apps.
That's why I would love to find a level table to see how accurate this app/phone is.
And yes, you really can get a good result from a bubble level but I would suggest not nearly close to a good electronic devise.
Since purchasing my SME 20/12A and Soundsmith Strain Gauge cartridge I have become acutely aware of how the slightest changes in geometry and level radically affect the sound.
With this kind of money invested I feel that a couple of hundred bucks more to ensure a precise level is money well spent.
Technique is king...but a great tool used correctly is the ultimate solution in the end. And which of us doesn't love a great tool :-)
We're all great tools on this forum!
the way I see it is if the turntable and platter are not perfectly level, all of the other settings are compromised in one way or another, especially on a unipivot arm. I questioned the expense when ordering the cartridge man, bit after receiving it and using it, is now indispensable. I also use it to set up my record cleaning machine, a Loricraft.
"I also use it to set up my record cleaning machine, a Loricraft." .... good grief
Loricraft has a tonearm with counterweight and works better when the platter is level, and is more sensitive to out of level than a VPI type machine.
I own a PRC4 ... I just don't buy into your statement of it being "more sensitive" for cleaning a record.
Certainly more sensitive to level compared to a VPI 16.5 which I had before the Loricraft. However, certainly NOT nearly as critical and essential when compared to the turntable and tonearm though. Still, I found it useful for my PRC-3 anyway.
A machinists level is much more accurate than anything mentioned here. For instance, a very low cost Starrett 98-6 level (less than $100) has divisions that are approximately 80-90 seconds or .005" per foot (0.42mm per meter). An electronic level that reads to 1/10 of a degree is reading to 360 seconds.
If you need a level for something that is non-suspended, a machinists level is the way to go.
The phone apps are probably unbelievably inaccurate.
I would like to clarify a point that I had intended to put in my previous post.
If your digital level that reads to 1/10 degree is reading 0.0, you are most likely not at 0.0. You are hovering somewhere between the two points where the level display jumps to +0.1 or -0.1. Depending on when the display changes, you could have around a whole 1/10 of a degree of movement the whole time you think you're at 0.0.
This is just so funny. Think about it. We are debating level accuracy as it relates to listening to music. True audiofool nerviosa.
I willstickwith my Android for simple things and for construction a good level should do the trick. And finally I use lasers for large spaces but even they have a margin of error as do our heads.
True audiofool nerviosa.
Says a guy who uses a $1500 diamond scale to set up a tonearm :)
By all means, stick with what you're using if you're happy with it. I merely gave another option that's more accurate and less expensive than the fence post level mentioned by the OP.
I am just pocking some fun at myself and the concept of this thread. If you are an outsider and read this it is truly entertaining in a comedic sense.
As for the $1500 diamond scale? I am in the jewelry business. I setup retail operations and run them. I have diamond scales but trust me they can't be used to setup a tonearm. I do use calibration weights for the diamond scale. And use a $79 scale for my cartridge. And do use calibration weights for that as well. Guess what, I have used the little $79 stylus scale to weigh some other things and it has been very effective. I also have a very nice loop w. a light built in that is effective to examine my stylus. Finally I have my jewelers often help out w. some projects like Rhodium tipping connectors, or changing the length of cartridge screws when they are too long. Lucky that I can integrate my work w. my hobby.
But don't you feel at a certain point we are going too far, myself included. One thing happened to me tonight. We just finished installing some doors and frames and you put a nice level in the hands of a neophyte and he doesn't know how to use it is fairly useless. It was funny to see the contractors yelling at each other about where to check the level and how to hold it etc. I see to many people go nuts about tonearm setup without listening to the results. I can hear when VTF is off with my cartridges. For me it is that easy. Slow sound, or mistracking in the highs. And changes in VTA/SRA do change VTF. Most don't get that. And honestly HTA isn't near as important and we spend tons of $ on adjusting equipment for what really is minimal and often ignore the more important parameters.
Dgad, what I found really funny and entertaining are your responses to this thread. That you use your cell phone to check the level of your turntable (probably a Webcor record player!). Do you use your coffee pot to adjust VTA?! Or your toothbrush to set tracking force?!! Really hysterical!!!! Thanks for injecting your nonsensical funny tidbits into this thread. Lighten up! A $1,500 diamond scale............hahahahaha.