The final word on VTA/SRA?

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Needler
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The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by Needler » 08 Jan 2019 20:28

VTA - Vertical tracking angle
SRA - Stylus Rake Angle

I read a review about the VTA adjustment on the Audio Technica AT LP120 not allowing you to go down far enough (Ignoring for a moment that many of its competitors do it with a headshell shim), and thought, "Oh man, what a design flaw". So I started reading article after forum about VTA and the more I read, the more it looked like (mostly) smoke and mirrors.

Then I came across this article that, for me, puts it to bed: https://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/vta_e.html

The final answer is that it's (mostly) much adieu about nothing. All the posts I read all over the interwebs about leveling your tonearm and then adjusting by ear sounded really crazy to me since, to hear such differences would imply this had a huge effect on sound. And in the end, who is too say the sound is "too much bass" or "too much treble", because that's what you have to do to set it by ear. It's not just unscientific but WAY too subjective. And for many turntables, there is no way to easily adjust it between listenings. It sounded more and more just a way to keep fanatics busy fretting over their turntables precise setup.

But the article clears up all my questions in such a way that I can set it and not lose sleep wondering my tonearm is "precisely set up properly". It's fine. Now I can move on to more pressing issues like, deadly hormones in my chicken nuggets. :)

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by JDJX » 08 Jan 2019 23:59

The VTA of course just referrers to the angle of the cantilever when playing a record.
As the article relates... it does not address the real issue which is the "Stylus Rake Angle" (SRA.).

You just want to set the stylus to "rake" forward about 1-2 degrees to match the average rake angle of the cutting stylus on the master lathe.
You just set it on an average thicknesses flat LP (with a bit of magnification) and forget it .

This graphic illustrates the importance of this for the best overall play back.
Yes, the best you can hope for is a good average needed but, at least you want a proper average setting .

BTW, I suspect that most of the differences that some experience with different mats has more to do with changing the SRA. .... than it does with the mat's material. :)
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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by Spinner45 » 09 Jan 2019 05:30

Needler wrote:
08 Jan 2019 20:28
VTA - Vertical tracking angle
SRA - Stylus Rake Angle

I read a review about the VTA adjustment on the Audio Technica AT LP120 not allowing you to go down far enough (Ignoring for a moment that many of its competitors do it with a headshell shim), and thought, "Oh man, what a design flaw". So I started reading article after forum about VTA and the more I read, the more it looked like (mostly) smoke and mirrors.

Then I came across this article that, for me, puts it to bed: https://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/vta_e.html

The final answer is that it's (mostly) much adieu about nothing. All the posts I read all over the interwebs about leveling your tonearm and then adjusting by ear sounded really crazy to me since, to hear such differences would imply this had a huge effect on sound. And in the end, who is too say the sound is "too much bass" or "too much treble", because that's what you have to do to set it by ear. It's not just unscientific but WAY too subjective. And for many turntables, there is no way to easily adjust it between listenings. It sounded more and more just a way to keep fanatics busy fretting over their turntables precise setup.

But the article clears up all my questions in such a way that I can set it and not lose sleep wondering my tonearm is "precisely set up properly". It's fine. Now I can move on to more pressing issues like, deadly hormones in my chicken nuggets. :)
Indeed, I've never gone "nuts' over insignificant trivial things, and myths that bear no facts other than opinions.
I have to wonder where it all started, was it some obsessed individual that grew up into a nitpicking crusader?
Some self-proclaimed perfectionist intent on gaining a following of easily-led others?
Maybe to boost their own egos?

When you're not a very scientifically-oriented individual, you're likely prone to what others say and think, particularly when it's something utterly rediculous.
Face it, there are many different kinds of people in the world, with many different views, and many different "smartness" levels.
Some, gullible, and then there's me. :wink:

Needler
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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by Needler » 09 Jan 2019 11:24

Spinner45 wrote:
09 Jan 2019 05:30
Needler wrote:
08 Jan 2019 20:28
VTA - Vertical tracking angle
SRA - Stylus Rake Angle

I read a review about the VTA adjustment on the Audio Technica AT LP120 not allowing you to go down far enough (Ignoring for a moment that many of its competitors do it with a headshell shim), and thought, "Oh man, what a design flaw". So I started reading article after forum about VTA and the more I read, the more it looked like (mostly) smoke and mirrors.

Then I came across this article that, for me, puts it to bed: https://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/vta_e.html

The final answer is that it's (mostly) much adieu about nothing. All the posts I read all over the interwebs about leveling your tonearm and then adjusting by ear sounded really crazy to me since, to hear such differences would imply this had a huge effect on sound. And in the end, who is too say the sound is "too much bass" or "too much treble", because that's what you have to do to set it by ear. It's not just unscientific but WAY too subjective. And for many turntables, there is no way to easily adjust it between listenings. It sounded more and more just a way to keep fanatics busy fretting over their turntables precise setup.

But the article clears up all my questions in such a way that I can set it and not lose sleep wondering my tonearm is "precisely set up properly". It's fine. Now I can move on to more pressing issues like, deadly hormones in my chicken nuggets. :)
Indeed, I've never gone "nuts' over insignificant trivial things, and myths that bear no facts other than opinions.
I have to wonder where it all started, was it some obsessed individual that grew up into a nitpicking crusader?
Some self-proclaimed perfectionist intent on gaining a following of easily-led others?
Maybe to boost their own egos?

When you're not a very scientifically-oriented individual, you're likely prone to what others say and think, particularly when it's something utterly rediculous.
Face it, there are many different kinds of people in the world, with many different views, and many different "smartness" levels.
Some, gullible, and then there's me. :wink:
HAHAHA! Reminds me of my daughter and her husband watching a movie with her husband's family, when the movie first came out. After the movie the family was really concerned and were saying things like "SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE!" My daughter and her husband were both skeptical and asked questions about the actual and specific content of the movie and nobody could answer. The movie was just a bunch of BFC's (Big Fat Claims) that were so full of false information that he was actually sued over it in the UK and lost.

My daughter and her husband spotted it when they watched it. It has since been completely discredited, yet a LOT of people were terribly frightened over its content and still respect the content to this day.

As you say, there aer "two types of people in the world".

Edit: I forgot. The movie's name is "An Inconvenient Truth".

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It may never be final

Post by EdAInWestOC » 09 Jan 2019 14:41

The adjustment is neither insignificant nor is it a waste of time. People like to justify their point of view by stating anything they can and backing it up with anyone who may or may not have agreed with their point of view.

I say one thing, try it out. Just use your ears. You do not have to agonize over anything. I do not have a type A personality and I side with anything to make life simpler. All the same I am a proponent of VTA on the fly.

The reason is simple, I tried it. I avoid fussy activities so I work on finding the optimum setting once, when I first spin the LP. Once found, I write this setting down and store it on a piece of paper I keep with each LP.

That way I can just listen. I dislike spending any time on other things. I like to spend my time thinking about what I going to spin next.

VTA on the fly does allow the user to optimize one last parameter to position the stylus as close to the position as the cutting head was when mastering the lacquer. There is a small sweet spot where everything snaps into focus but this sweet spot isn't prominent on all LPs. Some LPs show little to no improvement when tweaking the VTA/SRA.

IMO VTA on the fly is a controversy for only one reason. People pay lots of money for their analog playback hardware and some tonearms have VTA on the fly and some do not. There are absolutely great tonearms that do not have VTA on the fly.

People who own tonearms without this feature tend to favor the argument against VTA on the fly. It is easier to adopt an attitude than to admit anything could be missing from your excellent tonearm. People will be people.

If you do ever find yourself owning a tonearm with VTA on the fly, you might consider you are missing something by adopting a fixed VTA. At the very least, the most stubborn anti-VTAer should admit that VTA/SRA is a critical adjustment. And it is even more critical for advanced profile styli, like line contact styli.

All of that said, the SRA is dependent on several things and the vinyl thickness is the most obvious. With the advent of modern LP reissues, pressed on heavy weight vinyl, the subject of an easy to adjust SRA becomes all the more relevant. Adopting a fixed SRA places many LPs into a less than ideal playback configuration.

All of the disagreement over this feature should include some additional information. I would love to see the data on the people who support VTA on the fly and the people who do not. To make those stats relevant the data should include the age of the person being polled and whether their playback hardware includes VTA on the fly. That may Help explain some things.

The above proposed data may not be the last word on the subject but it could Help explain the argument. At the very least it would Help the manufacturers who may or may not include VTA on the fly on their next tonearm model.

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by noisefreq » 09 Jan 2019 15:32

I agree with JDJX about the platter mats.

Adjustment on the fly would be convenient but would become a OCD pita after a while.

Some carts need a precise angle to sound best to me.
Some carts sound fine without...was it just dumb luck it sounded good right out of the gate?
Maybe.

My last cart change, took several adjustments to finally come to life...to my ears, on my table.
But there was a big improvement as I dialed it in.

How many of you have switched cartridges on the same arm and after several, found the one that sounded, hands down, the best?
I'm thinking that's the one with the perfect SRA.

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by Audiodude » 09 Jan 2019 15:48

I also agonized over VTA/SRA adjustments. I read thread after thread, mostly people using digital microscopes and software to read angles, then began to research the cost/type of microscope and software. After becoming frustrated and confused I came to the revelation that what I was shooting for was a moving target (that moves from album to album), rather than a static adjustment. My TT doesn't have "on the fly" VTA adjustment, it has two small set screws to raise and lower the tonearm, not too difficult. There is no form of indexing on my tonearm, I use two feeler gauges, one for "standard" and one for 180g pressings. I would say this works for about 80% of the records I listen to, the other 20% require an adjustment of .003 to .007 up or down. Yes, this is completely subjective, but my ears can tell the difference. To me, that slight difference is magical.

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by Legrace » 09 Jan 2019 16:04

I will volunteer another data point. I espouse both points of view, with conditions attached, as follows:

1) For my exotic cartridges I desire VTA on the fly. Also azimuth adjust is a must have. While the latter need not be on the fly, I do have to admit it's convenient. Do I notice a difference, yes. So my "performance rig" features an arm incorporating both adjustments.

2) All my other tables I set VTA once and then forget about it. On these tables VTA on the fly is unimportant as I would not use it anyway. Just give me basic raise and lower capability. Sufficient for how I use these tables and corresponding cartridges which are more main stream types.

Way more people fall into case 2 then case 1. Why on the fly is largely absent from so many tables. Yet another case of it depends.

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by JDJX » 09 Jan 2019 17:08

How many of you have switched cartridges on the same arm and after several, found the one that sounded, hands down, the best?
I'm thinking that's the one with the perfect SRA.
Excellent point.
This is why tone arm height adjustment (like on vintage Thorens) is important.
You might still find one that is much better but, at least all will be set up properly to sound their best.:)

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Re: It may never be final

Post by Needler » 09 Jan 2019 17:51

EdAInWestOC wrote:
09 Jan 2019 14:41
The adjustment is neither insignificant nor is it a waste of time. People like to justify their point of view by stating anything they can and backing it up with anyone who may or may not have agreed with their point of view.

I say one thing, try it out. Just use your ears. You do not have to agonize over anything. I do not have a type A personality and I side with anything to make life simpler. All the same I am a proponent of VTA on the fly.

The reason is simple, I tried it. I avoid fussy activities so I work on finding the optimum setting once, when I first spin the LP. Once found, I write this setting down and store it on a piece of paper I keep with each LP.

That way I can just listen. I dislike spending any time on other things. I like to spend my time thinking about what I going to spin next.

VTA on the fly does allow the user to optimize one last parameter to position the stylus as close to the position as the cutting head was when mastering the lacquer. There is a small sweet spot where everything snaps into focus but this sweet spot isn't prominent on all LPs. Some LPs show little to no improvement when tweaking the VTA/SRA.

IMO VTA on the fly is a controversy for only one reason. People pay lots of money for their analog playback hardware and some tonearms have VTA on the fly and some do not. There are absolutely great tonearms that do not have VTA on the fly.

People who own tonearms without this feature tend to favor the argument against VTA on the fly. It is easier to adopt an attitude than to admit anything could be missing from your excellent tonearm. People will be people.

If you do ever find yourself owning a tonearm with VTA on the fly, you might consider you are missing something by adopting a fixed VTA. At the very least, the most stubborn anti-VTAer should admit that VTA/SRA is a critical adjustment. And it is even more critical for advanced profile styli, like line contact styli.

All of that said, the SRA is dependent on several things and the vinyl thickness is the most obvious. With the advent of modern LP reissues, pressed on heavy weight vinyl, the subject of an easy to adjust SRA becomes all the more relevant. Adopting a fixed SRA places many LPs into a less than ideal playback configuration.

All of the disagreement over this feature should include some additional information. I would love to see the data on the people who support VTA on the fly and the people who do not. To make those stats relevant the data should include the age of the person being polled and whether their playback hardware includes VTA on the fly. That may Help explain some things.

The above proposed data may not be the last word on the subject but it could Help explain the argument. At the very least it would Help the manufacturers who may or may not include VTA on the fly on their next tonearm model.
What the article did for me was to put the whole issue in the perspective I finally got regarding tire pressure on my car.

That is, on the car-nut sites I frequent, there is a lot of discussion about tire pressure. These guys really get into it, but they also do a lot of autocrossing. They talk about different pressure for front and back, different pressure for air temperature, track temperature, and on and on. They may even discuss humidity.

But for someone that just wants to drive their car, a quick read of a couple of articles (and the label on the inside of the driver door) can get you the best pressure for your car and the time of year. Then you can move on to worrying about using all season or summer tires - which actually makes a huge difference.

i.e. I don't worry about it any more, even though all my turntables have TTA adjustments. I have already eyeballed my tonearms and they are fine.

Edit: I can't imagine worrying about VTA on the fly, even if I had such an adjustment on my turntable. For starters, I have several thousand LP's. Add to that the idea that the difference in sound quality gleaned from getting it "just right" for each turntable simply does not merit the work involved, even in doing it only once per lp and "writing it down". If I considered that a necessity, I'd sell all my LP's and go pure digital. But I acknowledge that is just me. And the good news is that the OP finally convinced me I'll be fine.

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by plyscds » 09 Jan 2019 18:46

VTA or SRA?? Two terms that get you to the same place once you get it right. I've taken the middle road and taken to naming it simply "tracking angle".

And, yes, it is a demonstratable factor in getting good sound out of a cartridge setup. It is one of many factors that go into getting a stylus optimally positioned to sense every little undulation on both sides of a groove equally and accurately. And like many terms associated with many different paths of human undertaking, you may not appreciate it until you accidentally or scientifically experience it at it's best and can identify it for what it is. It's benefits are as tangible as optimal tire pressure on a car or getting a cooking recipe just right.

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by Needler » 09 Jan 2019 18:51

plyscds wrote:
09 Jan 2019 18:46
VTA or SRA?? Two terms that get you to the same place once you get it right. I've taken the middle road and taken to naming it simply "tracking angle".

And, yes, it is a demonstratable factor in getting good sound out of a cartridge setup. It is one of many factors that go into getting a stylus optimally positioned to sense every little undulation on both sides of a groove equally and accurately. And like many terms associated with many different paths of human undertaking, you may not appreciate it until you accidentally or scientifically experience it at it's best and can identify it for what it is. It's benefits are as tangible as optimal tire pressure on a car or getting a cooking recipe just right.
I agree with that sentiment. But not to add too much of a fine point on it, as the articles in the OP pretty solidly demonstrates, getting it "spot on" does not seem to be a priority of some of the highest premium tonearm makers in the world.

Tire pressure is important, but few can tell the difference between 32 PSI and 32.2 PSI. Or 32.002 PSI. And those that claim they can, well, they kinda take the fun out of driving and probably should just be mechanics and leave the driving to drivers that love to drive.

I think the analogy fits pretty well, and that's really the core of this issue.

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by Spinner45 » 09 Jan 2019 19:03

Needler wrote:
09 Jan 2019 11:24

HAHAHA! Reminds me of my daughter and her husband watching a movie with her husband's family, when the movie first came out. After the movie the family was really concerned and were saying things like "SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE!" My daughter and her husband were both skeptical and asked questions about the actual and specific content of the movie and nobody could answer. The movie was just a bunch of BFC's (Big Fat Claims) that were so full of false information that he was actually sued over it in the UK and lost.

My daughter and her husband spotted it when they watched it. It has since been completely discredited, yet a LOT of people were terribly frightened over its content and still respect the content to this day.

As you say, there aer "two types of people in the world".

Edit: I forgot. The movie's name is "An Inconvenient Truth".

Oh,..... THAT movie!
Just more propoganda to make people nuts over something.

As I pointed out before - something written on the internet to make people nuts.
Or.... on a movie screen.

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by Needler » 09 Jan 2019 19:19

Audiodude wrote:
09 Jan 2019 15:48
I also agonized over VTA/SRA adjustments. I read thread after thread, mostly people using digital microscopes and software to read angles, then began to research the cost/type of microscope and software. After becoming frustrated and confused I came to the revelation that what I was shooting for was a moving target (that moves from album to album), rather than a static adjustment.
Heh. :)

Don't forget the angle change on minor warps. ;)

My solution was to look at it more like a dart board. I stopped shooting for the bullseyy and am happy if I hit the board.

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Re: The final word on VTA/SRA?

Post by Spinner45 » 09 Jan 2019 19:28

Needler wrote:
09 Jan 2019 19:19
Audiodude wrote:
09 Jan 2019 15:48
I also agonized over VTA/SRA adjustments. I read thread after thread, mostly people using digital microscopes and software to read angles, then began to research the cost/type of microscope and software. After becoming frustrated and confused I came to the revelation that what I was shooting for was a moving target (that moves from album to album), rather than a static adjustment.
Heh. :)

Don't forget the angle change on minor warps
. ;)

My solution was to look at it more like a dart board. I stopped shooting for the bullseyy and am happy if I hit the board.
OMG!
The WARPS!
That will change things drastically ya know!
You gotta be RIGHT THERE to catch it, and re-dial that super-critical VTA knob as the lovely stylus rides over the warp!
Or Else! :shock:

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