[Semi-Newbie]Cartridge Setup and Alignment Questions

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by VictoryHighway, Aug 26, 2015.

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  1. VictoryHighway

    VictoryHighway Use of goto is deprecated. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Hopedale, MA
    Greetings,
    Last night, I replaced the phono cartridge on my turntable (Audio Technica PL-120), with a new Shure M97xE cartridge. I was previously using a Shure SC35C cartridge (out of ignorance, not knowing that it was a DJ cartridge.) I'm using the stock tonearm and headshell that came with the 'table.

    I aligned the cartridge using the included protractor, and got it aligned as best I could (I'm not very mechanically inclined!). It's actually kind of weird looking, because the cartridge looks cock-eyed to eye, but the alignment looked OK on the protractor. (Is it common for the cartridge to look off angle to eye, but actually be aligned properly?) I set the stylus pressure to 1.75 grams, based on Shure's instructions.

    Once I had that set up, I set the anti-skate to 3.0 (which matched where the dial on the back of the counterweight was aligned with the centerline on the arm).

    Then, I started to play an LP. That's where I ran into a bit of a problem. After the record started to play, the stylus was "dragged" inward a bit and then started to play normally. I tried a different LP and it didn't seem to have that problem. If I get the stylus to drop in right place in the lead-in groove, I don't get the issue.

    So, tried adjusting the anti-skate and eventually set it to its maximum value (7.0) and I'm still having the same issue (but it's better than before).

    So, my question is what did I do wrong or what should I do to fix it? I'm playing a record right now, and everything sounds good. I'm not hearing any distortion or phasing issues at all. In fact, the new cart sounds a heck of a lot better than my old one.

    Regards,
    Geoffrey
     
  2. Captain Wiggette

    Captain Wiggette Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    You should not have to set anti-skate to the maximum, that is definitely a sign that something is amiss.

    My first troubleshooting question is: is the turntable level? The turntable MUST be perfectly level.

    My next question: do you have the cartridge brush down or up on the Shure?

    Last question: when you say the cartridge looks cock-eyed, what do you mean? Crooked in comparison to what? It may be a little crooked in the headshell, in fact it most probably will be turned a little bit inward in the headshell.

    Also, have you tried the SEB protractors here: http://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge-alignment-protractors.shtml

    I find the arc protractor to be easier to understand and easier to get right compared to the protractor that comes with the Shure.

    (Use the one for the Technics 1200.)
     
  3. VictoryHighway

    VictoryHighway Use of goto is deprecated. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Hopedale, MA
    Hello Captain Wiggette,
    To answer your questions:

    1.) I just checked the level of the turntable with a level app on my smartphone, and it indicates that it is slightly off level by -0.3 degrees. I guess, I'll have to shim up one side of the table.

    2.) I was using the brush.

    3.) Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I've posted some pictures:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sc/l5x6uizx2h5en67/AAB_vxnILcSksnkdu7arANNka

    4.) I haven't tried that protractor yet, but when I will take a look at it when I get a chance.

    Regards,
    Geoffrey
     
  4. Captain Wiggette

    Captain Wiggette Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    1) Use a real level. I don't know if the AT table has adjustable feet like the Technics 1200, but you need to get the table *perfectly* level.

    3) Thanks for the pics. Yeah, that looks very screwed up. If anything it should be twisted inward (the other direction) ever so slightly. That being said, I don't think the alignment is what is causing the skating problem, that is most likely due to the table being out of level. Alignment is a pain, you have to go back and forth and back and forth between the two null points to get the cartridge placed right front/back, and at the same time get it lined up with the guide lines at those two points, and it has to be very precise. It should take you at least 30 minutes to an hour the first time you do this as you figure out which way you have to move the cartridge front/back, etc. This is why it's easier with the big arc protractor, IMO, because you don't have to move the protractor back and forth as you're doing it between the two points, only very little movement of the protractor as you move it and the cartridge ever closer iteratively to a correct alignment. I think you're not quite using the Shure protractor correctly. It's harder to mess up the arc protractor because you'll know that you're off, whereas a newcomer can screw up on the simpler two-point protractors and not understand that they have.

    And this may be a 'duh' question, but when you set the weight to 1.75 grams, you did zero out the weight and the arm first, right? You didn't just put the weight on there and set it to wherever the 1.75 mark happened to be...?
     
  5. Tero

    Tero Forum Resident

    Any reason the cartridge is not straight in the left two pictures?
     
  6. VictoryHighway

    VictoryHighway Use of goto is deprecated. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Hopedale, MA
    I'll go through the setup again tomorrow. It looks like I messed something up.
     
  7. Tero

    Tero Forum Resident

    Sort of sounds to me the stylus is somehow slightly tilted. Enough to play in the groove but also come out from the slightest disturbance, like walking next to it.
     
  8. Antares

    Antares Forum Resident

    Location:
    Flanders
    I think this is the giveaway: you didn't balance the arm and set the CW dial to zero correctly and tracking force may be too low now.
     
  9. VictoryHighway

    VictoryHighway Use of goto is deprecated. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Hopedale, MA
    I did use a digital scale to set the tracking force, but I'm going to run through the whole setup proceed again.
     
  10. Tero

    Tero Forum Resident

    If there is no scientific way, you can still do tracking force by trial and error. You read off the numbers on the weight starting with "too heavy" which is obvious so don't play it there too long. Then back off in units to "too light". Note both numbers and take the average.
     
  11. VictoryHighway

    VictoryHighway Use of goto is deprecated. Thread Starter

    Location:
    Hopedale, MA
    Thanks for all your great advice. I re-directed the cartridge setup tonight and it is looking (and working) much better now. I discovered that my turntable was slightly off level. Since my turntable doesn't have a height adjustment on the feet, I shimmed it up with some folded paper.
     
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