Using Wally Tools

J.R. Boisclair

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Jun 30, 2020
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Thank you for a very detailed accounting, @Bonesy Jonesy

Unfortunately, your VTA and SRA have competing interests. Your VTA really needs to come down to below 22 degrees while your SRA is quite happy where you have it now. What I find so interesting about your experience is that your SRA seems to carry more “weight” than your VTA. THIS IS *NOT* UNIVERSALLY TRUE as it depends upon - among other things - your stylus major radius, VTF and even the Young’s Modulus and Poisson’s Ratio of the records you choose for your evaluation. I have been doing a lot of work on SRA versus VTA lately. In most cases cartridges need correction in the same direction for both SRA and VTA. Only about 15 to 20% of cartridges have competing interests, such as yours. Your situation is a function of the specific stylus shank to cantilever centerline angle that cartridge manufacturers order from the vendor, which is Ogura in your case. I have seen this issue more than once from MSL before.

As you experiment with lower VTF (something that should be attempted ONLY with the most rigid and high effective mass arms out there) your SRA will become LESS important and your VTA is likely to become a bigger factor in your sonic performance. So, besides adjusting your anti-skate setting as you decrease your VTF, consider completely reassessing your tonearm height once you find a VTF that you’re happy with - and then continue to experiment with lower VTF again and then…

You see the process, no?

Keep us posted on your audio adventures.
 

tima

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Mar 3, 2014
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Using my WallyScope to see the Effects of the Sound With Changing Tonearm Height for the Changing Determined Dynamic & Static VTA & SRA

The amount of work and patience you put into this series of experiments is simply mind boggling -- all the while documenting each step, including sonic assessments. I am impressed with the sheer fanaticism of doing it. Learning to use the WallyScope and other tools surely took considerable practice.

Now, says the bench warmer with chagrin, make a video recording of your system to demonstrate the outcome of your favorite landing spot. :-o

Nice work. Thanks for sharing.:)
 

marty

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Apr 20, 2010
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That is the end of my posts for the Subject of Varying Tonearm Heights Having an Impact on the Dynamic and Static VTA and SRA.

Apologies to all for such a long post !

All have a great weekend
What a beautiful series of experiments! I loved the stylus photos as well. (May I ask how you photographed them?)

But for all your trials and tribulations, here's a point about LP set-up that I cannot dismiss. What is the weight of the LP you used (or the thickness)? I am a firm believer that a "set it and forget it" approach to finding the optimum arm/cartridge set-up differs as a function of LP thickness. (This is in stark opposition to Fremer and others who believe otherwise). Was the 45 rpm pressing you used a 200gm record? 180 gm? No matter, my point is, please confirm your set-up on a standard 140gm record or a 180 gm record and tell me if the sonic results you found optimum are the same. In my experience, they are not and a minimal VTA/SRA correction is required. This makes setting up an LP a frustrating experience if you seek maximum optimization across all the LPs in your collection.

The main problem is that the thickness of LPs vary, even within the published specs. Some specs even allow for tapering rather than constant thickness across the groove area! What is worse, even the specs for the standard 140gm LP may havre thickness vary between 2.540mm and 2.286mm. It is however unequivocal that 120 and 140gm LPs are not as thick as 180 and 200gm LPs. The difference in mid groove thickness for 140 vs 180gm LPs is clearly different and is often about 500uM (No exact thickness standards are specified but many measurements suggest the avg thickness for 120, 140 and 180 gm LPS are approximately 1.9mm, 2.3mm and 2.85mm respectively). THIS VARIABILITY RAISES UTTER HAVOC when trying to optimize tonearm height and in my opinion, is a complete pain in the ass when trying to play a given record that is of a different thickness than the one you may have used to optimize your turntable/arm set up!


Now as far as a remedy, there are a number of potential solutions.
1) Ignore the issue and accept that your optimization my not be ideal for every LP you play. Unfortunately, this head in the sand approach does not work well for me.
2) I generally "standardize" my playback for 180gm LPs. For 140 gm LPs, I use a 500uM Herbie's ring which is not an ideal solution but its not bad at all and better than nothing. (Its a lot easier to raise the LP height this way than to adjust it by lowering the arm. As an aside, adjusting the arm height was easy to do on the Reed 3P with its calibrated arm height dial, but the Reed 5T does not have such a handy dial so I must use an external micrometer following any arm height adjustment. As I said, the Herbie's ring is the easiest solution and works fairly well and can be rapidly employed or removed
3) For 200gm LP. I suck it up and make no arm height adjustments although I know I can improve the sonics a tiny bit if I raised the arm accordingly (20-50uM). What works best, is trying not to play 200gm LPs at all! But that is hardly a great solution!
4) The best solution. That's easy. Will someone please make a tonearm that is user adjustable remotely for VTA, and tracking force? (I don't care about anti-skate since I think pivoted tonearms should be outlawed due to their inherent tracking errors hence induced distortion,. But if you wanted to make a tonearm that also had remote adjustability for azimuth, I wouldn't complain!)
 

J.R. Boisclair

Well-Known Member
Jun 30, 2020
189
328
135
What a beautiful series of experiments! I loved the stylus photos as well. (May I ask how you photographed them?)

But for all your trials and tribulations, here's a point about LP set-up that I cannot dismiss. What is the weight of the LP you used (or the thickness)? I am a firm believer that a "set it and forget it" approach to finding the optimum arm/cartridge set-up differs as a function of LP thickness. (This is in stark opposition to Fremer and others who believe otherwise). Was the 45 rpm pressing you used a 200gm record? 180 gm? No matter, my point is, please confirm your set-up on a standard 140gm record or a 180 gm record and tell me if the sonic results you found optimum are the same. In my experience, they are not and a minimal VTA/SRA correction is required. This makes setting up an LP a frustrating experience if you seek maximum optimization across all the LPs in your collection.

The main problem is that the thickness of LPs vary, even within the published specs. Some specs even allow for tapering rather than constant thickness across the groove area! What is worse, even the specs for the standard 140gm LP may havre thickness vary between 2.540mm and 2.286mm. It is however unequivocal that 120 and 140gm LPs are not as thick as 180 and 200gm LPs. The difference in mid groove thickness for 140 vs 180gm LPs is clearly different and is often about 500uM (No exact thickness standards are specified but many measurements suggest the avg thickness for 120, 140 and 180 gm LPS are approximately 1.9mm, 2.3mm and 2.85mm respectively). THIS VARIABILITY RAISES UTTER HAVOC when trying to optimize tonearm height and in my opinion, is a complete pain in the ass when trying to play a given record that is of a different thickness than the one you may have used to optimize your turntable/arm set up!


Now as far as a remedy, there are a number of potential solutions.
1) Ignore the issue and accept that your optimization my not be ideal for every LP you play. Unfortunately, this head in the sand approach does not work well for me.
2) I generally "standardize" my playback for 180gm LPs. For 140 gm LPs, I use a 500uM Herbie's ring which is not an ideal solution but its not bad at all and better than nothing. (Its a lot easier to raise the LP height this way than to adjust it by lowering the arm. As an aside, adjusting the arm height was easy to do on the Reed 3P with its calibrated arm height dial, but the Reed 5T does not have such a handy dial so I must use an external micrometer following any arm height adjustment. As I said, the Herbie's ring is the easiest solution and works fairly well and can be rapidly employed or removed
3) For 200gm LP. I suck it up and make no arm height adjustments although I know I can improve the sonics a tiny bit if I raised the arm accordingly (20-50uM). What works best, is trying not to play 200gm LPs at all! But that is hardly a great solution!
4) The best solution. That's easy. Will someone please make a tonearm that is user adjustable remotely for VTA, and tracking force? (I don't care about anti-skate since I think pivoted tonearms should be outlawed due to their inherent tracking errors hence induced distortion,. But if you wanted to make a tonearm that also had remote adjustability for azimuth, I wouldn't complain!)
Hi Marty,

Statistically speaking only: your zenith error on your linear tracing tonearm/cartridge setup is ~3x greater than tracking error distortion is at its peak in a properly setup 9” arm. Few people with linear trackers have realized their full potential due to this reason AND because they aren’t measuring and managing the horizontal torque force on those linear arms (usually caused by the loop of wire).

As for the record thickness idea, the number of variables on this issue is so large that I can hardly trust my subjective assessment on this issue. Perhaps you’ve found a way and are a better listener than me.

The finite element analysis work we’ve done on SRA and the distortion studies done on the public scientific record on VTA suggest that ~0.25 degree change (140gm to 200gm record) throws off about the same mechanical distortion as the degree of “noise” variability in the test itself. In other words, we haven’t yet found a reason to believe that SRA and VTA are highly sensitive to change as zenith error and azimuth definitely are.

I am not saying you do not hear a difference. I am only saying that there are many variables that change when you change arm height (VTF, vector forces about the pivot, azimuth - on many tonearms - and, if you don’t adjust for VTF changes when raising/lowering the arm, then add skating forces and damper behavior.) So what are we really hearing? Even if you had the exact same stamper make a 200gm and a 140gm record, if they had different amounts of plasticizers in them they would sound different. Gary Koh of Genesis does a wonderful demonstration of this.
Again, I’m not saying you are “hearing things”. I am just asking you to consider the possibility that the variation you hear isn’t due to what you think it is. Conversely, I’m prepared to eat crow on this matter when a truly controlled test can be done. I have not ever seen, read or heard of one done yet.
 

mtemur

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Mar 26, 2019
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But for all your trials and tribulations, here's a point about LP set-up that I cannot dismiss. What is the weight of the LP you used (or the thickness)? I am a firm believer that a "set it and forget it" approach to finding the optimum arm/cartridge set-up differs as a function of LP thickness. (This is in stark opposition to Fremer and others who believe otherwise).
Of course the thickness of the Lp plays a role on SRA and changes the overall sound but the change shouldn’t be too much. The big change you hear when Lp thickness changed may be due to the lack of offset on your tonearm’s horizontal bearings and/or horizontal bearings not being on the same plane with Lp surface. Cause this kind of design issues slightly alter azimuth and zenith when SRA is changed and azimuth and zenith have more impact on sound compared to SRA.

Edit: sorry, it was a linear tracker, no offset.
 
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mtemur

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Tonearm increased in height from -5.0mm back to 0.00mm
Measured average static VTA = 23.73 degrees
Measured average static SRA = 91.54 degrees
Measured average dynamic VTA = 22.53 degrees
Measured average dynamic SRA = 90.34 degrees
Tonearm increased in height from 0.00mm to +2.5mm
Measured average static VTA = 23.35 degrees
Measured average static SRA = 91.16 degrees
Measured average dynamic VTA = 23.1 degrees
Measured average dynamic SRA = 90.91 degrees
Dear @Bonesy Jonesy,

Thank you for the effort and sharing the results, much appreciated. It looks like there is a discrepancy between those static SRA measurements (bold).

About the difference in sound at different SRAs;
- Did you check azimuth at each SRA? Because azimuth can change while rising and lowering the arm. VTA tower may not work vertically neutral.
- Did you check overhang at each SRA? Because effective length can change depending on VTA position of the arm and when VTA set screw is loosened.
- All these eventually changes zenith slightly.

The differences you heard at each SRA may be more related with the issues mentioned above than purely change in SRA.
 
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Bonesy Jonesy

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Thank you for a very detailed accounting, @Bonesy Jonesy

Unfortunately, your VTA and SRA have competing interests. Your VTA really needs to come down to below 22 degrees while your SRA is quite happy where you have it now. What I find so interesting about your experience is that your SRA seems to carry more “weight” than your VTA. THIS IS *NOT* UNIVERSALLY TRUE as it depends upon - among other things - your stylus major radius, VTF and even the Young’s Modulus and Poisson’s Ratio of the records you choose for your evaluation. I have been doing a lot of work on SRA versus VTA lately. In most cases cartridges need correction in the same direction for both SRA and VTA. Only about 15 to 20% of cartridges have competing interests, such as yours. Your situation is a function of the specific stylus shank to cantilever centerline angle that cartridge manufacturers order from the vendor, which is Ogura in your case. I have seen this issue more than once from MSL before.

As you experiment with lower VTF (something that should be attempted ONLY with the most rigid and high effective mass arms out there) your SRA will become LESS important and your VTA is likely to become a bigger factor in your sonic performance. So, besides adjusting your anti-skate setting as you decrease your VTF, consider completely reassessing your tonearm height once you find a VTF that you’re happy with - and then continue to experiment with lower VTF again and then…

You see the process, no?

Keep us posted on your audio adventures.
Hi J.R.,
Thank you for your very informative and most helpful feedback. Very much appreciated.
 

Bonesy Jonesy

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Dear @Bonesy Jonesy,

Thank you for the effort and sharing the results, much appreciated. It looks like there is a discrepancy between those static SRA measurements (bold).

About the difference in sound at different SRAs;
- Did you check azimuth at each SRA? Because azimuth can change while rising and lowering the arm. VTA tower may not work vertically neutral.
- Did you check overhang at each SRA? Because effective length can change depending on VTA position of the arm and when VTA set screw is loosened.
- All these eventually changes zenith slightly.

The differences you heard at each SRA may be more related with the issues mentioned above than purely change in SRA.
Hi 'mtemur',
Thank you for the kind words and your helpful feedback. Very much appreciated.

In answer to me re-checking at each tonearm height change and hence at each SRA and VTA the cartridges azimuth and overhang, no I didn't check these.

However, moving forward I will check these values also when I undertake the next set of tests i.e. decreasing VTF along with anti-skate.
 
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Bonesy Jonesy

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Jan 3, 2017
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The amount of work and patience you put into this series of experiments is simply mind boggling -- all the while documenting each step, including sonic assessments. I am impressed with the sheer fanaticism of doing it. Learning to use the WallyScope and other tools surely took considerable practice.

Now, says the bench warmer with chagrin, make a video recording of your system to demonstrate the outcome of your favorite landing spot. :-o

Nice work. Thanks for sharing.:)
Hi 'tima',
Thank you so very much for your kind words and encouragement and for the appreciation of doing such experiments and tests (especially in the concentration and dexterity it takes).

Lol :) ..... yes I could make a video would be great (YouTube video) showing the final settings I end up with (from being happy of the end result from a sonic prospective). However, I wouldn't be able to record the sound very well (if at all) as I use my headphone system (for critical listening) especially when doing such experiments & tests as my small speakers (Focal Electra 1008 Be) that I use in my current UK base are not ideally located both in position and the room they are in especially for such critical listening.
 
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Bonesy Jonesy

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What a beautiful series of experiments! I loved the stylus photos as well. (May I ask how you photographed them?)

But for all your trials and tribulations, here's a point about LP set-up that I cannot dismiss. What is the weight of the LP you used (or the thickness)? I am a firm believer that a "set it and forget it" approach to finding the optimum arm/cartridge set-up differs as a function of LP thickness. (This is in stark opposition to Fremer and others who believe otherwise). Was the 45 rpm pressing you used a 200gm record? 180 gm? No matter, my point is, please confirm your set-up on a standard 140gm record or a 180 gm record and tell me if the sonic results you found optimum are the same. In my experience, they are not and a minimal VTA/SRA correction is required. This makes setting up an LP a frustrating experience if you seek maximum optimization across all the LPs in your collection.

The main problem is that the thickness of LPs vary, even within the published specs. Some specs even allow for tapering rather than constant thickness across the groove area! What is worse, even the specs for the standard 140gm LP may havre thickness vary between 2.540mm and 2.286mm. It is however unequivocal that 120 and 140gm LPs are not as thick as 180 and 200gm LPs. The difference in mid groove thickness for 140 vs 180gm LPs is clearly different and is often about 500uM (No exact thickness standards are specified but many measurements suggest the avg thickness for 120, 140 and 180 gm LPS are approximately 1.9mm, 2.3mm and 2.85mm respectively). THIS VARIABILITY RAISES UTTER HAVOC when trying to optimize tonearm height and in my opinion, is a complete pain in the ass when trying to play a given record that is of a different thickness than the one you may have used to optimize your turntable/arm set up!


Now as far as a remedy, there are a number of potential solutions.
1) Ignore the issue and accept that your optimization my not be ideal for every LP you play. Unfortunately, this head in the sand approach does not work well for me.
2) I generally "standardize" my playback for 180gm LPs. For 140 gm LPs, I use a 500uM Herbie's ring which is not an ideal solution but its not bad at all and better than nothing. (Its a lot easier to raise the LP height this way than to adjust it by lowering the arm. As an aside, adjusting the arm height was easy to do on the Reed 3P with its calibrated arm height dial, but the Reed 5T does not have such a handy dial so I must use an external micrometer following any arm height adjustment. As I said, the Herbie's ring is the easiest solution and works fairly well and can be rapidly employed or removed
3) For 200gm LP. I suck it up and make no arm height adjustments although I know I can improve the sonics a tiny bit if I raised the arm accordingly (20-50uM). What works best, is trying not to play 200gm LPs at all! But that is hardly a great solution!
4) The best solution. That's easy. Will someone please make a tonearm that is user adjustable remotely for VTA, and tracking force? (I don't care about anti-skate since I think pivoted tonearms should be outlawed due to their inherent tracking errors hence induced distortion,. But if you wanted to make a tonearm that also had remote adjustability for azimuth, I wouldn't complain!)
Hi 'marty',
Thank you for your very kind words. Very much appreciated.
And thank you so very much for your very informative reply.

I took the photos with my iPhone taking the photo of my Lenovo laptop screen as this was the easiest and quickest way for me to capture the Wally Scope images and send them to my Macbook. The actual view off the laptop screen itself is far more detailed and much sharper etc. which is from the Wally Scope software.

The LP I used for the experiments and tests was 180g at 45rpm.

Over the last few weeks I have played different thickness records with most being 180g with some being 140g for my current tonearm height of +7.27mm. No records played at 200g.
TBH, any differences in sound from one record to the next I think would be difficult for anyone to know how much of a difference to the sound is purely down to record thickness changes.
I think more of the change(s) to the sound would be in the quality of the record itself, quality of record manufacture, quality of the actual recording made in the studio or recorded live, accuracy of the set-up of the record producers equipment i.e. the cutting head and qulaity of the record material etc. etc. i.e. many variables even before the LP hits the platter and is played.
I think the difference in sound purely for the record thickness say from 140g to 180g would be near impossible for somebody to isolate even if this could be done by tests and experiments. This would be down to the differences (which would be far greater in changes to the sound) of the record as mentioned above. As an example I have two identical LPs i.e. same thickness, same time they were made from the same record company etc. yet they sound slightly different to each other when played as a direct A to B comparison !
 

marty

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Apr 20, 2010
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Hi Marty,

Statistically speaking only: your zenith error on your linear tracing tonearm/cartridge setup is ~3x greater than tracking error distortion is at its peak in a properly setup 9” arm. Few people with linear trackers have realized their full potential due to this reason AND because they aren’t measuring and managing the horizontal torque force on those linear arms (usually caused by the loop of wire).

As for the record thickness idea, the number of variables on this issue is so large that I can hardly trust my subjective assessment on this issue. Perhaps you’ve found a way and are a better listener than me.

The finite element analysis work we’ve done on SRA and the distortion studies done on the public scientific record on VTA suggest that ~0.25 degree change (140gm to 200gm record) throws off about the same mechanical distortion as the degree of “noise” variability in the test itself. In other words, we haven’t yet found a reason to believe that SRA and VTA are highly sensitive to change as zenith error and azimuth definitely are.

I am not saying you do not hear a difference. I am only saying that there are many variables that change when you change arm height (VTF, vector forces about the pivot, azimuth - on many tonearms - and, if you don’t adjust for VTF changes when raising/lowering the arm, then add skating forces and damper behavior.) So what are we really hearing? Even if you had the exact same stamper make a 200gm and a 140gm record, if they had different amounts of plasticizers in them they would sound different. Gary Koh of Genesis does a wonderful demonstration of this.
Again, I’m not saying you are “hearing things”. I am just asking you to consider the possibility that the variation you hear isn’t due to what you think it is. Conversely, I’m prepared to eat crow on this matter when a truly controlled test can be done. I have not ever seen, read or heard of one done yet.
JD
I didn't even know what Zenith was a few years ago until I heard you deliver a lecture on it at AXPONA a few years ago! Thank you for that. However, with all due respect, I do not think Zenith is what is changing when I change VTA/SRA as I have confirmed my stylus alignment with microscopy and use a Reed 5T so I think that variable is not the seminal one responsible for sonic changes as a function of minor changes in arm/cartridge height. And yes, VTF is mandatory to change when adjusting arm height (25-30ug matters!) as you correctly point out. Rather, I think the experiments to test the hypothesis are easy to perform. Anyone can use their current set-up with a 140gm (or lighter) LP and add a Herbie's 500uM mat or simply lower their arm about 500 microns (with commensurate VTF compensation) and see if it sounds better. If you think it sounds the same, call it day and be happy! If you hear an improvement (in a system in which Zenith is corrected or, perhaps unnecessary) and a deeper exploration reveals that there are sonic differences as a function of record thickness, then you can join me in waiting for someone to make a remote user-adjustable tonearm which I think promises to benefit many listeners by replacing one pain-in-the ass optimization process with another! (Perfection has its costs!).

Let's use a tangible example. Take your current set-up and listen to Sheffield's Lincoln Mayorga Vol 3, a beautiful recording but a thin, light weight record (120gm). Play it with and without Herbie's 500micron ring or lower the arm 500 microns. Hear a difference? Do you like what you hear with the ring or arm adjustment? If not, please move on and turn the page. If however, you hear a difference and your jaw drops a bit, welcome to my world.
Marty
 
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marty

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I think the difference in sound purely for the record thickness say from 140g to 180g would be near impossible for somebody to isolate even if this could be done by tests and experiments. This would be down to the differences (which would be far greater in changes to the sound) of the record as mentioned above. As an example I have two identical LPs i.e. same thickness, same time they were made from the same record company etc. yet they sound slightly different to each other when played as a direct A to B comparison !
Bonesy
Your second sentence is easier to address. Even 2 presumably identical records may sound different for several reasons, including how many LPs were stamped using a given "mother". These pressing disparities opened up a world unto itself to collectors many years ago known as "hot stampers" whereby many fanatics have spent mucho dollars on certain pressings deemed "superior" by some folks who really take this stuff seriously. (I am not one of them). Like everything else in audio, some people consider this total BS while others insist the pressing differences are real and worth the expense to find the "best" pressings. (I have zero opinion on this as I have never done the experiment).

You first comment however, is really easy to demonstrate using your rig that used a 180gm record for set-up to now play a thinner LP and see if you think the sound is equally good (see the example in my previous post). I am convinced that you would pick out the differences in SQ in the 2 LP thicknesses on the same rig and could do it blinded, repeatedly and reproducibly 8+ out of 10 times under the right conditions (a revealing system, non-noisy environment, good room, etc). (Happy to do a demo for you if you pass through NJ!)
 

J.R. Boisclair

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Jun 30, 2020
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JD
I didn't even know what Zenith was a few years ago until I heard you deliver a lecture on it at AXPONA a few years ago! Thank you for that. However, with all due respect, I do not think Zenith is what is changing when I change VTA/SRA as I have confirmed my stylus alignment with microscopy and use a Reed 5T so I think that variable is not the seminal one responsible for sonic changes as a function of minor changes in arm/cartridge height. And yes, VTF is mandatory to change when adjusting arm height (25-30ug matters!) as you correctly point out. Rather, I think the experiments to test the hypothesis are easy to perform. Anyone can use their current set-up with a 140gm (or lighter) LP and add a Herbie's 500uM mat or simply lower their arm about 500 microns (with commensurate VTF compensation) and see if it sounds better. If you think it sounds the same, call it day and be happy! If you hear an improvement (in a system in which Zenith is corrected or, perhaps unnecessary) and a deeper exploration reveals that there are sonic differences as a function of record thickness, then you can join me in waiting for someone to make a remote user-adjustable tonearm which I think promises to benefit many listeners by replacing one pain-in-the ass optimization process with another! (Perfection has its costs!).

Let's use a tangible example. Take your current set-up and listen to Sheffield's Lincoln Mayorga Vol 3, a beautiful recording but a thin, light weight record (120gm). Play it with and without Herbie's 500micron ring or lower the arm 500 microns. Hear a difference? Do you like what you hear with the ring or arm adjustment? If not, please move on and turn the page. If however, you hear a difference and your jaw drops a bit, welcome to my world.
Marty
I was just making the comment about zenith error correction in relation to your comment about pivoted arms versus tangential tracking arms. That was a comment I made separate and apart from the SRA and VTA question.
 
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tima

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Over the last few weeks I have played different thickness records with most being 180g with some being 140g for my current tonearm height of +7.27mm. No records played at 200g.
TBH, any differences in sound from one record to the next I think would be difficult for anyone to know how much of a difference to the sound is purely down to record thickness changes.
I think more of the change(s) to the sound would be in the quality of the record itself, quality of record manufacture, quality of the actual recording made in the studio or recorded live, accuracy of the set-up of the record producers equipment i.e. the cutting head and qulaity of the record material etc. etc. i.e. many variables even before the LP hits the platter and is played.
I think the difference in sound purely for the record thickness say from 140g to 180g would be near impossible for somebody to isolate even if this could be done by tests and experiments. This would be down to the differences (which would be far greater in changes to the sound) of the record as mentioned above. As an example I have two identical LPs i.e. same thickness, same time they were made from the same record company etc. yet they sound slightly different to each other when played as a direct A to B comparison !

The number of variables and their relation to one another associated to the mass production of vinyl records is simply confounding to the correlation of any variable to any particular sonic 'effect'. From the quality of the vinyl pellets to the wear on a lathe or metal stamper to the skill of the press operator, we can probably get to a level of refined measurement sufficient to claim the groove in no two vinyl records is identical.

Throw in even the rudimentry setup factors and the correlation of change to one of those by change in another, coupled with variability in the physical elements at hand (vinyl record, tonearm adjustability, cartridge, measuring tools, electricity, etc) and it would seem the best we can hope for is to assymptotically approach the 'proper' position of the stylus in the groove for any few moments across time. Then we get to ask "how does that sound?".

Do we get more enjoyment from playing records the more confidence we have in our turntable setup?
 

mtemur

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Anyone can use their current set-up with a 140gm (or lighter) LP and add a Herbie's 500uM mat or simply lower their arm about 500 microns (with commensurate VTF compensation) and see if it sounds better.
Changing SRA makes a difference in sound I agree with you but Herbie’s mat you’re putting under the lighter Lp is the real cause of the change IMHO.

When you compared the sound of lighter Lp directly on the platter (or over the regular mat) versus over the additional Herbie’s mat the difference you’re hearing is hugely coming from the mat. IME adding a mat can alter the sound more than changing SRA does.
 
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marty

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Changing SRA makes a difference in sound I agree with you but Herbie’s mat you’re putting under the lighter Lp is the real cause of the change IMHO.

When you compared the sound of lighter Lp directly on the platter (or over the regular mat) versus over the additional Herbie’s mat the difference you’re hearing is hugely coming from the mat. IME adding a mat can alter the sound more than changing SRA does.
mtemur

I'm not surprised someone would say the use of the mat changes the sound primarily because of the mat. I've certainly considered that. Whatever the contribution of the mat, it is nominal as the control experiment is to change the arm height for the thin record rather than use the mat. The benefits are for all intent and purpose identical and easy to hear. As I suggested previously, why not simply do the experiment? The Herbie's mat is a nominal cost, and changing tone arm height of 500uM is easy as pie with a micrometer. No need to hypothesize about the role of the mat. Easy to test.
 

Bonesy Jonesy

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Jan 3, 2017
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@Bonesy Jonesy excellent write-up and GREAT information! I don't think I'd have this type of patience to do what you just did. Can you quickly say with the tonearm set at +7.27mm is your MSL body still close to parallel? Or slightly tilted up in the back now? What I can say is with my own MSL Plat Sig I find it very crucial to have the VTF very precise at between 1.94 to 1.97. Just my own expereince.
Thanks again for the time you put into this, well done!
Hi 'SOS',
As requested and promised, checked my MSL Eminent Ex cartridge body position and can say it is slightly tipping towards the nose of the cartridge body with my Kuzma 4Point 11" arm set at +7.27mm height (as shown in photos below playing a 180g 33.33rpm record);

thumbnail_IMG_4519.jpg
thumbnail_IMG_4520.jpg
 

microstrip

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May 30, 2010
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JD
I didn't even know what Zenith was a few years ago until I heard you deliver a lecture on it at AXPONA a few years ago! Thank you for that. However, with all due respect, I do not think Zenith is what is changing when I change VTA/SRA as I have confirmed my stylus alignment with microscopy and use a Reed 5T so I think that variable is not the seminal one responsible for sonic changes as a function of minor changes in arm/cartridge height. And yes, VTF is mandatory to change when adjusting arm height (25-30ug matters!) as you correctly point out. Rather, I think the experiments to test the hypothesis are easy to perform. Anyone can use their current set-up with a 140gm (or lighter) LP and add a Herbie's 500uM mat or simply lower their arm about 500 microns (with commensurate VTF compensation) and see if it sounds better. If you think it sounds the same, call it day and be happy! If you hear an improvement (in a system in which Zenith is corrected or, perhaps unnecessary) and a deeper exploration reveals that there are sonic differences as a function of record thickness, then you can join me in waiting for someone to make a remote user-adjustable tonearm which I think promises to benefit many listeners by replacing one pain-in-the ass optimization process with another! (Perfection has its costs!).

Let's use a tangible example. Take your current set-up and listen to Sheffield's Lincoln Mayorga Vol 3, a beautiful recording but a thin, light weight record (120gm). Play it with and without Herbie's 500micron ring or lower the arm 500 microns. Hear a difference? Do you like what you hear with the ring or arm adjustment? If not, please move on and turn the page. If however, you hear a difference and your jaw drops a bit, welcome to my world.
Marty

We have many articles and divagations on SRA/VTA effects on sound quality, unfortunately very little quantitative information on the threshold of audibility of such changes that we can consider reliable. 500 micron means a change of VTA around .15 degree (I hope my math is correct), some people would say it is inaudible - https://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/vta_e.html

Although I carried listening experiences of SRA with 500 micron steps I doubt that my precision was higher than 1mm, so I consider my threshold to be around the late value.

But if a 500 micron error is enough to make our listening inferior this would mean that most of our vinyl listening was in such conditions - the expected variations in SRA due to the manufacturing process of LPs are much higher than this value.

As my listening is mostly digital and I do not want to consider individual LP optimization I stick to M. Fremer recommendation of measured 92º SRA and forget about it. :rolleyes:
 

mtemur

Well-Known Member
Mar 26, 2019
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As I suggested previously, why not simply do the experiment? The Herbie's mat is a nominal cost, and changing tone arm height of 500uM is easy as pie with a micrometer. No need to hypothesize about the role of the mat. Easy to test.
I did both of them various times before. I tried many mats. I know what a mat does and also know what a small change in SRA does. No hypothesizing here, that's why I wrote "In My Experience" in my prior post.

If you've already lowered the arm IOT get rid of the additional mat and aligned SRA for the thin record then the difference may be related with the things I've written in my earlier post;
About the difference in sound at different SRAs;
- Did you check azimuth at each SRA? Because azimuth can change while rising and lowering the arm. VTA tower may not work vertically neutral.
- Did you check overhang at each SRA? Because effective length can change depending on VTA position of the arm and when VTA set screw is loosened.
- All these eventually changes zenith slightly.

The differences you heard at each SRA may be more related with the issues mentioned above than purely change in SRA.

When you change the SRA for the thin record please make sure you align zenith, azimuth, VTF and overhang exactly like before. Because when I said I don't find a huge difference when I slightly change SRA I do make sure other parameters are perfectly aligned too. Only exception is shibata tip, it is more sensitive to SRA.
 
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