I know there have been many posts about the use of this protractor for turntable setup. I wanted to report my impressions and add to that topic, though I don't have much experience using other protractors. I've used the Vinyl Engine Rega specific ones, printed out on regular computer paper, to compare Baerwald (Loefgren A) to Stevenson on my Rega P5 (w/Groovetracer upgrades) with a Dynavector 10x5 cart, and I didn't hear that much of a difference. I ended up leaving it aligned to the Baerwald arc and loved the sound, though there were still some difficult tracks on some records where sibliant performance that just fell short of perfect. Dialing in tracking force and antiskate was important and improved much about the sound, but not the sibliant performance.
After reading through all the positive reviews regarding the Mint LP, I decided to try this out as my first "real" protractor. I went with the stock Rega one offered by Mint LP (Stevenson alignment), since it would ship immediately and I didn't think a Rega Baerwald version would really be worth the wait.
Yip, from the company, got back to me within hours of placing my order and I had a protractor in hand about 1 week later (later than I could have if I had waited at home for the package instead of picking it up at the post office). Yip's customer service, communication, and packaging was superb. This guy was a class act - off to a good start already!
I then read the instructions about 20 times or so, along with every review I could which included notes or setup tips. I played around with the 3x and 10x magnifiers, practiced immobilizing the platter (with silly putty), and made sure I understood the parallax effect. Then, I waited until I would have a free afternoon to work on this with good daylight - this took another week.
Finally,I sat down to complete the alignment - start the clock. I moved my turntable and equipment to the living room table so I had light and space to work. I leveled my turntable meticulously using a bubble level, decreased the tracking force a bit, and set the antiskate to zero. I then set the overhang. Using the outer most portion of the arc, actually located past the edge of the platter, I moved the protractor until the stylus was sitting right on top, as evidenced by a 10x magnifier. I then swung the arm in as close to the spindle as possible and noted the amount of overhang in relation to the inner portion of the arc. I moved the cartridge back in the headshell almost to the arc, but not all the way. This is crucial - it is not in the instructions, and I picked it up as a tip in another post.
I then swung the arm back to the outer most portion of the arc and moved the protractor so that the stylus sat on top of it in the magnifier. These two steps were repeated until the overhang was perfect. Remember - outer arc adjustments are made by moving the protractor; inner arc adjustments are made by moving the cartridge almost to the line, but just short of it.
One hour down.
I then used the two null point strips to adjust how much to twist the cartridge in the headshell. You have to get the stylus right onto the center of the crosshairs that can only be seen using a 10x magnifier. You then use a 3x magnifier to see if the cantilever and stylus exactly bisect the inner null point lines when viewed with one eye, dead-on. This is determined with the aid of the parallax effect and is quite tiring. I did end up using the 10x magnifier to confirm the degree of twist after getting it close with the 3x. Finally, when I thought everything was spot on, I tightened the cartridge screws and rechecked everything just to be sure - still dead on in terms of overhang and alignment with the null points. Two hours down.
The last thing to do was set the vertical tracking force to just past 2 g (recommended 1.8 - 2.2 for the Dynavector 10x5). I used the HiFi News test record to set the antiskate approximately, then dialed it in using a few records - this step always has to be done my ear and, at least in my setup, is vital.
First impression using my 2003 reissue pressing of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon: whoa.... Using Grizzly Bear's Vekatimest: no way.... Using the reissue Beatles Sgt. Pepper: holy !@#$
Improvements: top and bottom extension and overall cohesiveness; bass is tighter and contains more information; instrumental timbres are smooth and effortlessly portrayed; complex passages easily sorted through; transients kick you in the friggin face; low level detail everywhere; images are better defined and better placed in a wider soundstage.
Mostly, it made me want to spin every record in my collection again
I don't know how this performs compared to cheaper protractors that fall somwhere in between the zero cost paper printout and the $110 Mint LP, but I'm happy with my results and the improvement is more than what $110 worth in upgrade cost has ever gotten me before. Color me impressed.