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I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One...

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I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One...

Postby Quartz_Lock10729 » 21 Apr 2018 23:33

When switching out a cartridge for a replacement/new one, does the tonearm HAVE to be rebalanced doing the whole balancing/zero weight routine if using a digital scale to measure VTF?

In other words, when I eventually get a microline cart and stylus to replace my AT95e with, do I have to rebalance the tonearm of my LP120 if I'm using a digital scale to measure the tracking force, or can I simply plug in the headshell with the new cart and dial in VTF (and AS) for the new cart's specs? I don't have to "zero out" the arm again if I'm using a digital scale, right?
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby smee4 » 21 Apr 2018 23:50

Cartridges don't all weigh the same amount, so yes, you need to adjust the tracking force, but, sure, you can choose to ignore the the dial on the tonearm and any precious setting. Just plug in the new cartridge/headshell, align it properly using a protractor, then set the vtf using the digital scale.
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby Quartz_Lock10729 » 21 Apr 2018 23:53

smee4 wrote:Cartridges don't all weigh the same amount, so yes, you need to adjust the tracking force, but, sure, you can choose to ignore the the dial on the tonearm and any precious setting. Just plug in the new cartridge/headshell, align it properly using a protractor, then set the vtf using the digital scale.


Smee,

Of course I know that different carts require different tracking forces; but because I DO ignore my turntable's counterweight (because it's been proven that it's off compared to the digital scale after doing the whole zero-balance routine and dialing the tracking force value in by just turning the counterweight to "2.0" or whatever value on the markings) I was wondering if I needed to STILL do the whole "balance the arm and turn the indicator to 0" thing when I install a new cart IF I am measuring VTF with the digital scale...

My first thought is that I DON'T have to, because I AM specifically using the scale, but I wanted to be sure...
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby smee4 » 21 Apr 2018 23:56

I thought that's what I said :) You do not have to 'zero' balance the arm and set the dial unless having it read incorrectly bothers you. As long as the digital scale reading is correct that's all that matters.
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby Quartz_Lock10729 » 22 Apr 2018 00:45

smee4 wrote:I thought that's what I said :) You do not have to 'zero' balance the arm and set the dial unless having it read incorrectly bothers you. As long as the digital scale reading is correct that's all that matters.


Well, I DID adjust my counterweight markings to REFLECT the CORRECT tracking force as confirmed by the digital scale (so, my counterweight ring reads around "2.3")...so I would do the same with the new cartridge installed...
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby terry-a » 22 Apr 2018 01:16

I like to do the same thing. Once tracking force is set via the digital scale I rotate the scale on the counterweight to match. It's totally unnecessary, but I do it anyway.
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby Trio KD1033 » 22 Apr 2018 01:36

There is no definitive yes/no, but in my opinion for the small amount of time it takes, doing the whole balance thing gets you very much in the right ball park initially. Then you can fine tune with the scales. If your new cart was considerably heavier than the old one, you could easily have a tracking weight way above the recommended value which you would obviously correct when you measure it with the scale, but some cantilevers don't take kindly to such stresses. Just not worth it for a few seconds of preparation in my opinion.

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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby poutrew » 22 Apr 2018 07:58

THIS is exactly why I got the higher mass counterweight for my LP120. Is doesn't have any markings on it to adjust. Problem solved :)
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby Quartz_Lock10729 » 22 Apr 2018 20:21

terry-a wrote:I like to do the same thing. Once tracking force is set via the digital scale I rotate the scale on the counterweight to match. It's totally unnecessary, but I do it anyway.


Yes, it's good just so you can glance at it and think "Oh, right -- I'm at 2 grams!" or whatever it is... =D>

But Terry, can you confirm or contradict for me what I have trying to ascertain -- that is, when a new cartridge is put on an arm, does the arm have to be rebalanced again by zeroing out the weight to make it float and all that IF I'm using a digital scale to confirm VTF? All I have to do is install the cart (I would have it pre-aligned by the vendor I'm buying it from) and then dial in the correct VTF to measure via the scale, correct?
Last edited by Quartz_Lock10729 on 22 Apr 2018 20:28, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby Quartz_Lock10729 » 22 Apr 2018 20:26

Trio KD1033 wrote:There is no definitive yes/no, but in my opinion for the small amount of time it takes, doing the whole balance thing gets you very much in the right ball park initially. Then you can fine tune with the scales. If your new cart was considerably heavier than the old one, you could easily have a tracking weight way above the recommended value which you would obviously correct when you measure it with the scale, but some cantilevers don't take kindly to such stresses. Just not worth it for a few seconds of preparation in my opinion.

Andy


Andy,

I had already established that my stock counterweight did NOT really get me in the ballpark when I compared readings with a new, functioning digital scale (when I thought I was at "2" on the counterweight markings just doing the arm balancing routine, the scale showed something else completely). And, there SHOULD DEFINITELY BE a yes/no answer on this -- it's not arbitrary. In other words, you should either HAVE to balance the arm again before using a digital scale (which doesn't really make sense to me) or NOT HAVE TO balance it and just put on the new cartridge and measure with the digital gauge...

Which brings me to something you mentioned regarding excess weight on the cantilever: I understand what you're saying, but what I had planned on doing was to initially dial the tracking weight down to the "1" gram area on the counterweight markings BEFORE taking VTF readings with the new cartridge (which will track much lighter than the AT95e I'm using now), so that way the new cart isn't "shocked" by an excessive weight on the arm...make sense?
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby Trio KD1033 » 22 Apr 2018 21:36

Quartz_Lock10729 wrote:
Andy,

I had already established that my stock counterweight did NOT really get me in the ballpark when I compared readings with a new, functioning digital scale (when I thought I was at "2" on the counterweight markings just doing the arm balancing routine, the scale showed something else completely). And, there SHOULD DEFINITELY BE a yes/no answer on this -- it's not arbitrary. In other words, you should either HAVE to balance the arm again before using a digital scale (which doesn't really make sense to me) or NOT HAVE TO balance it and just put on the new cartridge and measure with the digital gauge...

Which brings me to something you mentioned regarding excess weight on the cantilever: I understand what you're saying, but what I had planned on doing was to initially dial the tracking weight down to the "1" gram area on the counterweight markings BEFORE taking VTF readings with the new cartridge (which will track much lighter than the AT95e I'm using now), so that way the new cart isn't "shocked" by an excessive weight on the arm...make sense?


That makes sense as long as the cart you are fitting is the same weight or lighter, then you can't accidentally put too much weight on the cantilever assembly. On a couple of decks that I've got, the Technics SL 1500 is absolutely spot on with the balance and set routine, but my SME 3009 series 2 improved is a bit heavy. It's a bit odd that yours is so inaccurate. How wrong was it? Was it too light or too heavy?

I don't think that you're going to get a definitive yes/no on your original question though. There is no reason to go through the whole balance routine when using digital scales, other than the reasons I mentioned, ie not to put too much weight through the assembly by accident.

Andy
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby Quartz_Lock10729 » 22 Apr 2018 21:50

Trio KD1033 wrote:That makes sense as long as the cart you are fitting is the same weight or lighter, then you can't accidentally put too much weight on the cantilever assembly.


Right -- I am thinking of switching my current AT95E (which tracks at two grams and above on most systems; I'm running it at 2.3) out for the AT440MLa/b equivalent (which will track around 1.5 to 1.7 grams from all accounts). So I'm going to fit the headshell to the arm and then drop my counterweight to around "1.5" or so to begin taking readings for the new cart...this way no damage can be accidentally done.

On a couple of decks that I've got, the Technics SL 1500 is absolutely spot on with the balance and set routine, but my SME 3009 series 2 improved is a bit heavy. It's a bit odd that yours is so inaccurate. How wrong was it? Was it too light or too heavy?


To be honest, I don't remember what the weight read because it was some time ago...but some turntables are NOTORIOUS for being off on their counterweights out of the box; the AT-LP120-USB is one of them, depending on what a buyer gets in terms of stock.

Did you ever Google inaccurate counterweights on turntables, or some such combination of keywords? There is an almost overwhelming number of discussions on this, and how turntable owners should trust a scale or some kind, whether analog or digital, rather than their counterweight markings.

I don't think that you're going to get a definitive yes/no on your original question though. There is no reason to go through the whole balance routine when using digital scales, other than the reasons I mentioned, ie not to put too much weight through the assembly by accident.


Well, that's a kind of definitive answer right there -- that there's NO reason to re-balance the arm if using a digital scale. :wink:
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby Trio KD1033 » 22 Apr 2018 22:08

Quartz_Lock10729 wrote:
Well, that's a kind of definitive answer right there -- that there's NO reason to re-balance the arm if using a digital scale. :wink:


Unless the cartridge you are fitting is considerably heavier, then even dialling back to one gram might not Help. For example, an Ortofon OM cart can weigh as little as 2.5 grams. A shure V15 III is about 6 grams. If you were to replace an Ortofon OM with a Shure V15 and just dial it back to 1, your tracking weight would still be in the order of 4 grams plus. A lot to put through the cantilever of a cart with a maximum tracking weight of 1.25 grams.

In your case I don't know the difference in weight between the AT95E and the AT440ML. If it were me, I'd just balance it until it floated, dial in just enough tracking force to allow it to touch the playing surface, and go from there with the scales.

Andy
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby toaster999 » 22 Apr 2018 22:18

[quote="Quartz_Lock10729"]When switching out a cartridge for a replacement/new one, does the tonearm HAVE to be rebalanced doing the whole balancing/zero weight routine if using a digital scale to measure VTF?

yes.
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Re: I Could Never Get a Definitive Yes/No Answer on This One

Postby nat » 23 Apr 2018 01:53

Is the scale you are using at the same height as the record surface? Most arms do not have the vertical bearings at the same height as the record, so unless the scale platform is at the record height, it will read incorrectly - think about the geometry, where the arm moves in an arc, which, with most bearings, will move the stylus backwards (based on a line perpendicular to the record surface) when placed on a scale that is higher than the record. At the same time, the counterweight is moving, in the same way, closer to the bearings. So the reading will be wrong.
Companies capable of designing and manufacturing turntables on an on going basis are usually completely capable of working out the geometry of moving systems, and of how to get a simple spiral thread to correlate with the markings on a bezel. As someone who was an obsessive reader of equipment reviews in the 70s and 80s, I can say confidently that almost never was the tracking force scale off by more than 10 percent. Of course this was with experienced technical staff, which not all subsequent reviewers, especially on the internet, are.
I do not understand the mindset that is convinced that a cheap ten buck scale employed any which way is obviously superior to fine mechanical scales used by professionals with long experience in the field, but apparently if it is digital, that is all that matters.
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