Alignment gives me a headache

the thin end of the wedge
Post Reply
OldRelayer
senior member
senior member
Posts: 271
Joined: 28 Jan 2006 12:51

Alignment gives me a headache

Post by OldRelayer » 05 Feb 2006 22:44

I recently bought a AR-XA off Ebay, don’t actually have it yet. I haven't decided yet what I will replace the M91ED that came with the TT, its down to 3 or 4 and I won't know until I actually click the mouse to buy it which one it will be. And I have received all kinds of help here at the forum and have been on a research project trying to determine what will be best for me, it is hard because I really can’t hear any of them, but I am pretty sure I will be ok, if all else fails I will just buy what I know, a Stanton.

I have to admit something. I have been using an AR-XA for 30 plus years and never knew there was any adjustment needed to align the stylus, other than the length. Having said that I just read the sticky on protractors and got a gigantic headache.

I am not certain how you even make the adjustment they are talking about. All of this may steam from the fact that I didn't buy my first table new, it was purchased from a friend that bought a new XA and sold me his old one. No manual and I just went fat and happy, replaced the cartridge and kept the stylus pressure maintained. I don’t know that he knew more than I did, if he did he never offered it to me.

Ok, lets say I buy a new cart. I install it, which has always been pretty easy. Now what? What is my mission and how is it accomplished?

Is it worth having one of these test records to determine proper setup. If so where would one purchase one?

Be gentle, just trying to learn.

Thanks
Barry

Gatto Murr
member
member
Posts: 134
Joined: 14 Apr 2004 07:28
Location: Italy

Re: Alignment gives me a headache

Post by Gatto Murr » 06 Feb 2006 07:17

OldRelayer wrote:...
Ok, lets say I buy a new cart. I install it, which has always been pretty easy. Now what? What is my mission and how is it accomplished?

Is it worth having one of these test records to determine proper setup. If so where would one purchase one?

Be gentle, just trying to learn.

Thanks
Barry
HFN test record?

Here:

http://snipurl.com/m9pp (first item at "Sound accessories")

http://snipurl.com/m9ps

you'll get a protractor as well.

If you are in Europe, you could give a glance at phonophono.de or Mantra (uk) or Walrus (uk) or .. I don't know where. A Google search would be a good idea.

By the way, a Vertical Tracking Force gauge (Shure, Ortofon) would be another good idea.


regards, Piero

JaS
engine room
engine room
Posts: 11211
Joined: 12 Feb 2002 16:32

Re: Alignment gives me a headache

Post by JaS » 06 Feb 2006 07:56

OldRelayer wrote:I have been using an AR-XA for 30 plus years and never knew there was any adjustment needed to align the stylus, other than the length.
If you have want to keep the standard alignment rather than Baerwald/Loefgren then using the original overhang gauge for the deck and keeping the cartridge square in the headshell should give satisfactory results. From the manual in the library the XA arm doesn't appear to have slots to offset the angle of the cartridge so standard overhang it is!

A test record would be useful for initial setting of anti-skate (does the XA arm even have this?) or for checking arm/cartridge resonances etc but in your case a quality VTF gauge (as Piero suggests) could be more useful?

Regards,
JaS

Audiophilewannabe
member
member
Posts: 107
Joined: 15 Nov 2005 22:07

Post by Audiophilewannabe » 06 Feb 2006 09:46

Yes i can sympathise with you , on this , but if youve got along fine for the last 30 years , with your own way , why change :wink:
The more i read , the more confusing it gets , effective arm length,correct overhang, alignment with null points etc its even more confusing when there seems to be no way of achieving those settings with my setup , now ive been using the protractor that came with HFN-test record , been going reasnably well , now ive read elsewhere (mag) that the cartridge should be aligned with the headshell ! :? (but its sort of fun learning)

JaS
engine room
engine room
Posts: 11211
Joined: 12 Feb 2002 16:32

Post by JaS » 06 Feb 2006 10:24

Audiophilewannabe wrote:now ive read elsewhere (mag) that the cartridge should be aligned with the headshell ! (but its sort of fun learning)
Honestly it isn't that difficult :wink: The cartridge sides/cantilever will be parallel with the sides of the headshell if the protractor/overhang gauge you are using is specifically for your arm. If you're using a universal two point Baerwald protractor (like the HFN one) then the cartridge may need twisting in the headshell to align at both null points (if the arm isn't a Baerwald design). In the tonearm database in the library I've calculated null points for various arm designs; those close to 66.0 and 120.9 mm are Baerwald designs. FWIW if you get your cartridge to align at both points on a two-point protractor then overhang, null points, effective length and offset are all set correctly!

Regards,
JaS

OldRelayer
senior member
senior member
Posts: 271
Joined: 28 Jan 2006 12:51

Post by OldRelayer » 06 Feb 2006 10:27

Thanks guys for all your help. I was hoping one of you would actually own an XA and could say these are the things that I do to get great sound from my table.

The more I try to learn the more I find things I don't know.

One of my speakers is going to be close to the turntable. No way I can mount it on the wall, I am getting away with a lot as it is, don't dare to go there. This will be the first time I have had this situation, normally I have had the speakers, quite by accident, way away from the turntable. I am not going to be shaking the walls but I do like to listen at concert level at times, not Rock Concert, probably Symphonic concert level. I bought some stick on feet that are probably some kink of soft plastic with a tad of rubber, this may offer ever so slight isolation but attaching the leveling and isolation problem in one product seems logical. I did have another post about the leveling and didn’t get any specific ides, I am still very open. Which brings me to another question. I have seen on a table that was for sale on Ebay an Audio Technica (and it doesn't have to be an AT) level, it was a nice bull eye kind of thing, anyone have one? Know where to get them. I haven't been able to locate one, you would think that every LP gear kind of place would sell them, if they do they hide them pretty well.

Thanks guys and gals for all your help
Barry

JaS
engine room
engine room
Posts: 11211
Joined: 12 Feb 2002 16:32

Post by JaS » 06 Feb 2006 10:37

OldRelayer wrote:I have seen on a table that was for sale on Ebay an Audio Technica (and it doesn't have to be an AT) level, it was a nice bull eye kind of thing, anyone have one? Know where to get them.
These should do the job nicely?

http://www.crawfordtool.com/empire.html
http://www.sargentwelch.com/product.asp ... it+Level_E_
http://www.leveldevelopments.com/surfac ... levels.htm

Regards,
JaS

bauzace50
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
Posts: 8083
Joined: 11 Jun 2005 15:48
Location: Guayama, Puerto Rico

Adjustments for AR

Post by bauzace50 » 06 Feb 2006 10:50

Hello Barry,
All the above suggestions are good. Here are other tips from having owned two AR XA from new for over 20 years:
The only two designed adjustments for the AR XA are: (A)- tracking pressure, and, (B)- overhang.
The easiest way is to follow the original manual's intructions. If you don't have any, you can probably get a copy at http://www.vinylnirvana.com This is a kindly and useful service for AR turntables!
They may have more solutions than you can imagine, and may help you have your AR running at its marvelous best!
There are several non-designed adjustments one can do. But these come from your own experience, as you use it from day to day.
One UNIVERSAL CARE TO BE TAKEN is to HANDLE THE CARTRIDGE TAGS CAREFULLY NOT TO BREAK THEM OFF, and caring that the connecting wires do not break off from the spot where they join the headshell. The other is to care not to have the stylus fall and break...ouch!
If your turntable accidentally does not bring the AR stylus pressure gauge, there is a replica marketed now under the ReKoKut brand, sometimes on eBay. Another useful gauge is the Shure SFG-II.
Also, if your unit does not bring the original plastic overhang-adjustment gauge, you may download one good substitute from http://www.vinylnirvana.com/ar_diy_overhang.shtml

OldRelayer
senior member
senior member
Posts: 271
Joined: 28 Jan 2006 12:51

Post by OldRelayer » 06 Feb 2006 10:51


Audiophilewannabe
member
member
Posts: 107
Joined: 15 Nov 2005 22:07

Post by Audiophilewannabe » 06 Feb 2006 10:57

Jas wrote: FWIW if you get your cartridge to align at both points on a two-point protractor then overhang, null points, effective length and offset are all set correctly!

Regards,
JaS
Thanks again "Jas" youve lifted the fog yet again :wink:
as to the levels , your best bet is "Hardware/Diy" stores !

OldRelayer
senior member
senior member
Posts: 271
Joined: 28 Jan 2006 12:51

Re: Adjustments for AR

Post by OldRelayer » 06 Feb 2006 11:05

bauzace50 wrote:Hello Barry,
All the above suggestions are good. Here are other tips from having owned two AR XA from new for over 20 years:
If your turntable accidentally does not bring the AR stylus pressure gauge, there is a replica marketed now under the ReKoKut brand, sometimes on eBay. Another useful gauge is the Shure SFG-II.
Also, if your unit does not bring the original plastic overhang-adjustment gauge, you may download one good substitute from http://www.vinylnirvana.com/ar_diy_overhang.shtml
Thanks for the reply. I did download the manual, which is great to have. I do have my original stylus gauge, not sure one is coming with the table. The manual does show an adjustment on the length of the arm which basically puts the stylus dead center on the record. There is another gauge but from the picture I can't tell what you are suppose to do with it, this must be the overhang gauge, need to read the manual a few more times. I suspect the other non official adjustment must have to do with rotating the arm so the stylus rides better, I don't remember but I thought the arm was slotted, but that may just be for the counter weight. So all the talk about adjustments is more for other tables? It sounds like AR has made their best guess for you and although it may not be perfect, it probably is quite acceptable. Am I reading this right. Frankly that would make me happy, because messing around with the turntable isn't how I want to spend my time, enjoying it seems like a much better idea to me.

Thanks
Barry

Klaus R.
senior member
senior member
Posts: 378
Joined: 23 Apr 2004 09:57
Location: Netherlands

Post by Klaus R. » 06 Feb 2006 11:09

OldRelayer,
One of my speakers is going to be close to the turntable.

I'm sometimes listening at quite high levels and one of my speakers was (changed setup in the meantime) also close to the turntable so I wanted to know 1. if there is "acoustic breakthrough" and 2. what effect the dustcover has. I played a CD at wall shaking levels, had the cartridge track the silent groove of a test record and recorded the whole to MiniDisc. I tried dustcover open, closed, removed etc.

Yes, the tune from the CD could be heard on the recording, but at levels I consider as negligible. At levels lower than wall shaking the tune was barely audible on the recording.

So if you want to know for sure, run such a test, then you know what happens in your situation with your components.


Klaus

HotHondr98
member
member
Australia
Posts: 41
Joined: 03 Mar 2004 14:03
Location: Hobart, Australia

Re: Alignment gives me a headache

Post by HotHondr98 » 06 Feb 2006 11:16

OldRelayer wrote:Ok, lets say I buy a new cart. I install it, which has always been pretty easy. Now what? What is my mission and how is it accomplished?
When you put the stylus down on a record, imagine a line running from the centre of the record to the outside of the record. Ideally, for the lowest possible distortion, where that line intersects the stylus on the record, the cartridge should be at 90 degrees to the line. Because that’s impossible at all points on the record with pivoted tonearms like the one on the AR turntable, there is a good compromise. That is to get it at the correct angle at 2 points on the record, so that everywhere else on the record, it is fairly close to the ideal angle. That’s the point of the alignment protractors. They generally have a hole that you put over the turntable centre (where the record hole is). They then have marked two points, that you put the stylus down on and move the cartridge around, so that at each of the two points, the cartridge body should be at 90 degrees to the line. The protractors have lines marked on them, so that all you have to do is line the cartridge body up with the lines. When the cartridge body is perfectly lined up with the protractor lines at BOTH points marked on the protractor, it should be perfectly aligned for minimum distortion as you play a record.

The problem is that there has always been some disagreement among the boffins about exactly where on the record those two points should be! Just disregard that, and use the one which is most frequently used, the Baerwald/Loefgren alignment method. Just get the protractor, which is available in the library here https://www.vinylengine.com/manuals_ton ... tors.shtml . It’s the first one out of the many available. Print it out, make the holes for your AR turntable at the relevant points marked on the protractor, and set the cartridge up according to the protractor.

There is an excellent description on another forum which tells you exactly how to align any cartridge using one of these protractors. It’s at: http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/vinyl/ ... 51464.html . It makes aligning the cartridge really easy.

One of the other people here who answered your question above, mentioned that the AR headshell has only two holes in it, which aren’t elongated. If that is the case, then you’re probably wondering what everyone is talking about. The answer is that most headshells that cartridges mount in have elongated holes, so that you can move the cartridge backwards and forwards in the headshell, and twist it around, to get it aligned perfectly. Have a look at this headshell available from Stanton: http://www.stantondj.com/v2/prod_h4s.asp . See how there are two slots on either side of the headshell to enable cartridges to move backwards and forwards? That’s what is needed to get the cartridge aligned. Note that when it is aligned perfectly, it won’t necessarily be parallel with the headshell sides, but may need to be twisted. It may not look as good, but it should sound better, and that’s what you want – you won’t sit looking at your headshell or cartridge for hours, so it doesn’t matter what it looks like! If your AR headshell only has round holes, I would recommend elongating them, like the Stanton one, so that you CAN move the cartridge backwards and forwards in the arm. Most headshells have the slots about a quarter of an inch long. You will need some small files to be able to elongate the holes in the headshell – many hardware shops sell small files (often called needle files) which can be used. Just make sure that you do it off the turntable, so that metal filings don’t get in your turntable or records.
OldRelayer wrote:Is it worth having one of these test records to determine proper setup. If so where would one purchase one?

Thanks
Barry
It’s not absolutely necessary, but can be helpful, to have a test record. The most commonly available ones are the Hi-fi News and Record Review (HFNRR) test record, and the excellent Shure test records, which used to be supplied with the topline Shure cartridge, the Shure V15. If you want to buy one, the Shure records are often available second hand from sellers on Ebay. It is often called either a ‘Trackability Test Record’ or ‘Audio Obstacle Course’, depending on when it was produced. They are usually fairly cheap, and as they are usually only used to set the cartridge up initially, are often in near mint condition. Do a search in Ebay on ‘Shure test record’, and you should come up with several for sale at most times. They are really useful in checking that anti-skating is set up correctly, and that the correct tracking weight is being used for a cartridge. You can also check just how good your cartridge really is – most excellent, relatively expensive cartridges, like the later Shure V15 models, should be able to pass most of the tracking tests on the record, but cheap cartridges won’t be able to! The HFNRR test record is reviewed here: http://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/hfnrrdisc_e.html . It is available from sellers in many countries – here in Australia Decibel Hi-Fi http://www.decibelhifi.com.au and Scientific Design http://www.sdaudio.com.au sell it, and in the USA the Needle Doctor http://www.needledoctor.com , Elusive Disc http://www.elusivedisc.com and Acoustic Sounds http://store.acousticsounds.com sell it, and in Britain, British Audio http://www.britishaudio.co.uk and the person who produced the record, The Cartridge Man http://www.thecartridgeman.com . Do a search on Google if you live somewhere else – you don’t have your country set up in your profile, so we don’t know where you are!! If you buy the HFNRR test record, it comes with a protractor (2 were supplied with mine) to set your cartridge up correctly, and instructions on how to do it.

Hope that that helps!

bauzace50
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
Posts: 8083
Joined: 11 Jun 2005 15:48
Location: Guayama, Puerto Rico

Post by bauzace50 » 06 Feb 2006 11:43

Barry,
Yes and no to some perceptions. Indeed, the manual is the best way to go. But the overhang adjustment does not place the stylus at the center of the LP, when using the Overhang Gauge according to instructions. It actually places the stylus a specific distance beyond the center of the LP, which is appropriately called the "overhang", or the distance the stylus hangs past the center spindle.
The tonearm is indeed slotted where it inserts into the bearing block. This is designed to automatically set the azimuth when you tighten it per instructions after setting the overhang.
Yes, AR has made the best adjustments for you, as they are written in the manual. If you set up your AR XA according to the manual, then everything is set correctly! However, one extra thing that you could verify is whether the stylus joins the LP vertically when looking at it From The Front. This is entirely probable. But on the off-chance it is not, ingenuity should be used to bring vertical alignment about...this is the famous azimuth. Most probably NOT an issue with the AR...when set up according to the manual.
The other setting which AR did not design into the XA is VTA, which was not a recognized issue when it was designed. The standard rule of thumb is to observe the tonearm to be parallel to the LP when the stylus is placed on the LP. If the tonearm slopes downward towards the stylus, or, conversely upward towards the stylus, some ingenuity should be used to play with the arm parallel to the LP. Refinements on this criterion fall under the "deeply involved audiophile" category.

bauzace50
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
Posts: 8083
Joined: 11 Jun 2005 15:48
Location: Guayama, Puerto Rico

Adjustments on AR XA

Post by bauzace50 » 06 Feb 2006 11:53

Anti-skating force adjustment? No, the AR XA does not have any. The manufacturer said that raising the tracking pressure about 1/4 gram takes care of this. However, I have seen some ingenious mods adding antiskate, with a bent paper clip and a thread with a little weight on its end, attached strategically as a "field expedient" solution. I have also seen some tonearm damping ingeniously incorporated into the AR XA. But your AR XA was designed to work wonderfully when set up according to the manual. Anything beyond that is frosting on the cake...good, but extra.

Post Reply