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Using the Mint Best Tractor

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Using the Mint Best Tractor

Postby nabil » 07 Oct 2013 13:51

A big thanks to VE members Wayne (wgallupe) and Nick (nickjj), Nick for giving me a great deal on a Rega/Audiomods designed Mint protractor and Wayne for providing a copy of the instructions.

Set-up-
Before receiving the Mint Tractor I had been using an AccuTrak Arc Protractor. It’s a nice product, but no matter how carefully I aligned the cartridge, I just couldn’t seem to get the offset angle right: I would get everything aligned, and then when I would re-check my work, the angle didn’t line up-I attribute this to my ageing eyes rather than the AccuTrak protractor. As such, I had a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I wasn’t getting the best sound possible from my set up. A Mint Tractor built for my tonearm/table combo came available at a very good price, so I thought I would give it a try; I had heard many positive things about the Mint Tractor and understood that it provided a very exacting set-up. There seems to be some question on the Internet about which alignment system the Mint employs. After using the one, I can say that it employs the Loefgren A/Baerwald alignment, because when first placing the cantilever of my Denon DL-S1 on the very fine lined arc of the Mint protractor the overhang was spot on; I checked and re-checked this four separate times-with the same result: no adjustment to overhang was required. Off-set was a different story, but I will say that I had gotten very close using the AccuTrak protractor as I only needed to pivot the DL-S1 inward about 1/64 of an inch to achieve Mint’s offset alignment. The Mint protractor’s visual sightlines provide an exacting, albeit tedious, set up. Did I say that the lines are very, very fine? Well they are! They will tire your eyes quickly, so be sure to give yourself lots of time. I will say that I spent a good four hours in total using this protractor-with probably about one hour of hands on work (I was careful to rest my eyes after every ten minutes or so) and would conduct several re-checks before making a movement. I used a 10X Loup and can’t imagine trying this without that level of magnification. I am sure that alignment is now correct because that no matter how many times I re-checked, everything was lined up correctly-I’m a happy camper…

Sound-
The differences are subtle, (remember my alignment was really close to being correct) but audible. The biggest change was an overall lowering of background noise: clicks and pops and surface noise are now a bit more recessed. The DL-S1 does a good job with this anyway, but now the overall presentation is quieter. In higher amplitude recordings (opera, choral) there is a greater ease in the production of sound: everything seems smother and more relaxed. I had been loading my DL-S1 at 50 Ω (to tame the highs on higher amplitude recordings) but since using the Mint, I’ve been playing around with loading and have settled on 500 Ω, which has opened up the soundstage a bit. I believe that this slight misalignment created a distortion that caused the high to sound a bit harsh-this was more noticeable on some recordings than others-and necessitated a 50 Ω loading. The Denon DL-S1 is unique in that it is a very low output, .15mV, but a relatively high impedance of 40 Ω. Anyway loading it at 500 Ω is closer to the general rule that one should load a cartridge at about 10x its impedance. I’m quite happy with what the Mint protractor has brought to my vinyl front end- highly recommended!
Rega P7, Audiomods Tonearm, Rega Exact II•MF kWPhono, MF A3cr preamp, B&K M200 monoblock power amps (modified by Ken Ealey) Mirage MRM-1 Loudspeakers, DH Labs Revelation Interconnects, Herbies Isolation products, Fostex TH-X00 Headphones, Apogee Duet II,
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Re: Using the Mint Best Tractor

Postby theophile » 12 Oct 2013 12:02

I just got the Mint about two days ago and I'm waiting for some days off from work to get into using it.
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Re: Using the Mint Best Tractor

Postby nabil » 12 Oct 2013 16:25

It's a really great tool-have fun, and take lots of time.
Rega P7, Audiomods Tonearm, Rega Exact II•MF kWPhono, MF A3cr preamp, B&K M200 monoblock power amps (modified by Ken Ealey) Mirage MRM-1 Loudspeakers, DH Labs Revelation Interconnects, Herbies Isolation products, Fostex TH-X00 Headphones, Apogee Duet II,
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Re: Using the Mint Best Tractor

Postby wgallupe » 13 Oct 2013 18:43

Glad I could help. I agree that its a great protractor and using it can be tedious. Particularly if the cartridge you're trying to align has a stylus/cantilever that is tucked underneath rather than out in the open. Makes it really hard to get close with a loup and see what you need to see.
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Re: Using the Mint Best Tractor

Postby blakep » 13 Oct 2013 19:12

Yip will build a Mint for any alignment protocol-just send him the pertinent info and money and it will come back to you.

I like the Mint but think that both the instructions and the magnification provided by Yip could be better. I found even the upgraded 10X loupe included with the Mint to be kind of useless and ended up buying a 20X illuminated loupe off ebay for next to nothing as well as a "miners' headlight". There are instructions for arc protractors provided in a post by John Elison at the Vinyl Asylum that are excellent, simple and very succinct.

With those two items the process becomes much faster in my experience. The last alignment I did using the Mint took no more than about 20 minutes. The arc line is so fine on the Mint that you really need, IMO, more than 10X magnification (20X definitely works for me, not sure if 30-40 would be overkill), along with a very bright light source. But if you have those and really nail the arc/overhang you'll actually have very little work to do on the grids.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Silver-20x-21mm ... 20d70b3190
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