There are many impacting forces upon the performance of your analogue turntable. Precise setup and alignment should be high on your list when you are looking to improve your analogue sound.
Cartridges need to be aligned extremely accurately in order to achieve the performance intended by the manufacturer. A conventional pivoted tonearm prescribes an arc as it traverses the record surface. There are only two points at which the cartridge stylus is actually tangential to the groove, these are called the Null Points. At all other points there will be some tracking error and all the information cannot be retrieved from the groove. Linear tracking tonearms address this problem by traveling in a straight line across the record in the same way that the cutting head did when the recording was made and eliminate tracking error altogether(albiet complicating the tonearm and creating potential for other issues). In order to minimize the tracking error of a pivoted tonearm you need to make sure that all parameters are set very accurately. These include the spindle to pivot distance, cartridge overhang, offset angle, vertical tracking angle (also known as stylus rake angle) and azimuth. These terms may be foreign to the newcomers but they are actually fairly simple concepts and are very well described in the links below. Once you understand what it is you are trying to achieve the process of cartridge adjustment is very simple. To make life a lot simpler we offer the Dr. Feickert Analogue Setup Protractor & Digital Stylus Force Gauge which allow you to set these parameters quickly and easily. When you purchase a cartridge from us we will will do the installation for free when you bring your turntable and tonearm to us. We also offer in home setup service on new turntable systems and are also happy to help diagnose issues and perform setup on existing turntables for a service fee, please contact us for details.
Once the basic visual cartridge geometry alignment is completed, the most comprehensive way to optimise the setup of a cartridge is then through a process of measurement and listening. The AnalogMagik cartridge setup software and test LP's have become a valuable resource in optimising each and every cartridge for the best possible performance. This is a very time consuming process requiring a lot of patience and attention to detail. The interplay between each and every parameter requires thorough repetition of each optimisation. Due to a range of factors, meaningful measurements are not always obtainable for every turntable & cartridge and therefore of course fine tuning is best done by an experienced ear. The AnalogMagik Torque Driver Kit is a companion tool for accurately setting cartridge headshell screw tension.
A brand new cartridge will also require a period of "break-in", during this time usually ~50hours, the sound may change quite a bit as the materials in cartridge suspension system bed in and the wiring runs burns in - regardless which setup method you have used, you may want to make some fine adjustments after this time to both VTA&VTF but also your phono stage loading. Again, AnalogMagik is invaluable in confirming the changes we hear, and those we cannot.
When you purchase a cartridge from us we will will do the installation for free when you bring your turntable and tonearm to us. We also offer in home setup service on new turntable systems. We personally use a combination of both precision analogue and digital measurement tools to ensure you are getting the best performance from your high end cartridge.
Turntable Setup Products