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08-07-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
jeff1225
Posts 21
Joined on 01-10-2011

Post #: 1
Post ID: 19858
Reply to: 19858
Tonearm Alignment Method
fiogf49gjkf0d
Romy,Could you tell me what is the preferred alignment method (tool and geometry) of your tonearms is? I personally have always used Baerwald but I have been reading lately that Stevenson would work better for classical music.


08-08-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,511
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 2
Post ID: 19868
Reply to: 19858
It makes sense to a point only.
fiogf49gjkf0d
 jeff1225 wrote:
Romy,Could you tell me what is the preferred alignment method (tool and geometry) of your tonearms is? I personally have always used Baerwald but I have been reading lately that Stevenson would work better for classical music.

Jeff, I do not have any preferred alignment methods and I do not follow recognized methodologies and do not follow what people say out there. I do not feel that alignment has to do with classical music or any type of music; to me it is pure geometry. I would like to hear the argument for  Stevenson and classical music but I will be arguing it as I do not feel it would be accurate hypothesis.

The Stevenson vs. Baerwald vs another couple methods is not truly applied arguments. The differences between the alignment methods are pretty much where to set the point/s of alignment reference but I do not feel that it is right argument. I for sure for two points of alignment, still we need to understand that there is no perfect alignment regardless what methodology we use.

The cartridges are not geometrically perfect. My carpenter who over 40 years built a lot educated me that there are no 90 degree angles in construction. The very same is in cartridges. There are no 90 degree angles, there are no parallel surfaces. The cantilevers are all bent, glued God knows how to the coils and the needle’s tips are not always positioned properly. For sure they have to be but it is very seldom the case. Do not forget we have absolutely zero quality control in cartridges making and they go away with everything.

Anyhow, I use regular two points alignments, set proper geometry and then look for more or less uniformed sound in the begin and end of record. I never was able to get it in perfection but the question would be: what the proximity to perfection you want to achieve? Do not forget that the perfect anti-scatting as well might be set only for a single point at the record, so by the topology of the arms I used I am restricted to have a perfect error across the disk….

The caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
08-08-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
jeff1225
Posts 21
Joined on 01-10-2011

Post #: 3
Post ID: 19869
Reply to: 19868
Stevenson's Theory
fiogf49gjkf0d
Thank you for your insight Romy. What I found interesting was Stevenson's theory that tracking the inner most grooves of the record was critical for classical music as the most demanding passages (finales) are at the end of the record.

08-08-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,511
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 4
Post ID: 19870
Reply to: 19869
It is just a theory.
fiogf49gjkf0d
Well, I guess the Tchaikovsky Pathetique symphony with its slow gloomy decay will be out of picture to play on TT with Stevenson's alignment….
Well, as I said I would argue any alignment theory that relates alignment with music type. So naturally I disagree with the idea above that in classical music the demanding passages are at the end of the record and therefore the arm need to be aligned differently. On surface it makes sense but let look in the subject a slightly deeper.

If your cartridge/arms are aligned properly by any methodology then you shall not hear too much distortion in the demanding passages. It is not that if your arm was set by Baerwald then during the faunal blow of the Mahler 6 your needle shall jump out of groove. If the needle is toss or if you have too heavy distortion then you have problems way more severe than the differences between the alignment types.  You might have very MINOR sonic difference between the alignment types but the true difference you will see only after you inspect   your cartridge after let say 500 hour of use under a microscope. You will have a typical right leaf wearing coming from anti-scatting and you will have some very minor side-asymmetrical wearing coming from alignment.

Now the biggest question I ask myself what I think about those things: which part of record I play more beginning or end. With my reference arm I play records usually to the end but with my dally arm I frequently if I do not like record then I do not play it more than half. So, with my reference arm I alight two null points and care about the whole records surface. However, my dally arm I alight only for null point beginning of record. The same with anti-scatting: on my ref arms I use 2/3 of record surface point but with the the dally arm I use a good inch or two earlier.

I do not feel comfortable to comment about sound and alignment types. With proper alignment you shall not be bothered by differences, even though they do exists. I have seen cartridges that might not be aligned in second point and I have seen those that require wrong arm mount to alight them properly. I do feel that ambiguity between the cartridge and frequent bad user alignment is far more severe problem then the difference between the alignment types.

You might have a perfect alignment and then you accidently punish the lowered needle across records. We unfortunately all did it. So my question: how much your cantilever get bent during this disaster and do you re-align your cartridge after the incident?

The caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
08-08-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,138
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 5
Post ID: 19872
Reply to: 19870
The Theory and the Proof
fiogf49gjkf0d

Hmmm. It seems like many people have difficult-to-adjust tonearms, which does take the fun out of fine tuning. And overhang/tangency is always a PITA, in any case.  But I always thought that the final tweaking is done by ear.  I do start with the two null points on my dB Systems template, and I do start with the top of the cartridge visually parallel with the record.  But after that, I listen and adjust to suit.  I can't say I've often recognized problems I could trace straight away to tangency; but it has happened to me.  Usually, problems with my l-o-n-g line stylus are VTA/SRA, azimuth or (and I don't know why),  VTF, or sometimes anti-skate.  Although the adjustables do not seem to want different settings for different music, it does seem like some settings sometimes simply change "on their own", for reasons I cannot always determine, so I try to keep a weather eye out for this.  I have chronicled the VTA issues and attendant solutions in a dedicated thread.


Best regards,
Paul S

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