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REVIEW: MintLP Audiomods Accessory

99.232.76.29

Posted on May 17, 2014 at 05:03:23
steven d
Audiophile

Posts: 453
Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: June 21, 2002
Model: Audiomods
Category: Accessory
Suggested Retail Price: $110
Description: High-Precision Arc Protractor
Manufacturer URL: MintLP

Review by steven d on May 17, 2014 at 05:03:23
IP Address: 99.232.76.29
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for the Audiomods


I have to say that I'm thoroughly satisfied with the result of setting my cartridge with the MintLP Best Tractor. It would be an understatement to say I was skeptical about the cost of admission, but after helping a friend set up his Koetsu Black Goldline on the DV507II and hearing the effect in reducing distortions I had ordered my product as soon as I returned home.

To cut to the chase, the Mint allows you to dial the cartridge closer to the ideal by using a super-fine arc and the parallax lines aid aligning the cantilever to the groove at the null points. The result, for me, is better left to right balance, improved dynamics, more full and more rich bass (intelligible, with less overhang), improved clarity and extension of the treble (less washy/splashy), improved tracking ability, transparency is improved with background phenomenon better realized. Overall, a greater ease of the system to perform.

I had used the free printable Rega protractor from Vinyl Engine. I always had trouble and frustration getting the cartridge to align at both nulls, but this is because the geometry of Rega and Audiomods is just slightly out (Audiomods has an offset of 17.25mm and effective length of 239mm, compare to Rega's 15mm and 237mm). After using an Accutrak (printed) it got much better after very careful alignment. I was very impressed with this device - until I lay the needle on the Mint. Even without the magnification I could see that the offset was not correct which, again, I attribute to the fine arc of the Mint. The zenith was also out by a noticeable margin also.

I was a bit gloomy with my system prior to getting the Mint, it didn't sound right, I didn't listen to records very often and when I did I'd get fatigued and bored of it quickly. But now, I'm energized to the point of building/improving the system even further - just how much MORE is possible from my TT setup (and rest of the system). I'll never say my system is perfect and I do realize that there are trade-offs/compromises/limitations with the equipment and room. But now I'm enjoying it, and want to enjoy it more.

You MUST have excellent lighting (putting the needle between your eye and the light source really helps) and patience to use this device. It takes small adjustments and time. The result is well worth it, and the "upgrade" in sound for the price is better than cable swaps, preamp swaps or the like because all the detail that ISN'T picked up from an improperly aligned cartridge and all the mixed signals sent from such will muddy up the entire system.

I've now, for various reasons, re-installed the Colibri four times and it does get easier with each use. Most people, though, if not doing mods to their TT, will only really need to use this once for any particular cartridge. My guess is you might not want another cartridge once it's setup with the Mint.

On the downside... if you go through tables like underwear then the Mint will not be the best option (though it could be sold with the table to recover some cost). If you have multiple arms then you'll need one for each arm where the geometries differ.


Product Weakness: Only compatible with a specific TT/arm combination
Product Strengths: Precision, Precision, Precision


Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Custom Tube Amp
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): S&B TVC
Sources (CDP/Turntable): SL1200, Audiomods, vdH Colibri
Speakers: Watson Labs Model 7
Cables/Interconnects: DIY Silver
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Jazz, Roots Regge
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner


 

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RE: REVIEW: MintLP Audiomods Accessory, posted on May 17, 2014 at 10:47:08
CometCKO
Audiophile

Posts: 859
Joined: August 9, 2002
congratulations on getting your setup right! The MINT LP delivers the goods, but it takes a GREAT deal of patience and very good eyesight to achieve all that it is capable of delivering. I find that as the latter fails with age, the patience required goes up exponentially.

Enjoy your music (and upgrades)!
"Knowing what you don't know is, in a sense, omniscience"

 

RE: REVIEW: MintLP Audiomods Accessory, posted on May 17, 2014 at 10:56:02
SgreenP@MSN.com
Audiophile

Posts: 3002
Joined: April 23, 2007
I'm still recovering from my last Mint setup experience...its been a while too.

 

RE: REVIEW: MintLP Audiomods Accessory, posted on May 17, 2014 at 13:28:27
steven d
Audiophile

Posts: 453
Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: June 21, 2002
I'm only 36 and been in the vinyl game for two years, so my eyes are good and my eagerness is running high.

My pal who I helped set his Koetsu is in his 50s, is overweight, tall with a bad back and knees. He's anal about his system and I couldn't bear to think of the trouble he would have trying to do this process himself.

His Koetsu was aligned previously with the Feickert, yet still both his overhang and zenith were off and both were noticeable without the magnification.

Right now I'm getting a paint job for the TT so I'll have to go through the Mint process at least once more :(

 

RE: REVIEW: MintLP Audiomods Accessory, posted on May 17, 2014 at 13:31:17
steven d
Audiophile

Posts: 453
Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: June 21, 2002
It's exercise for sure.

I'd prefer to move the table into the kitchen while doing this, but it's a nuisance to level and re-level, so I just keep it where it is. I gotta be on my knees and hunched over see the needle.

 

Yes, and as you said, great lighting makes a huge difference!, posted on May 17, 2014 at 14:27:46
CometCKO
Audiophile

Posts: 859
Joined: August 9, 2002
For me the whole process is a huge deterrent to changing cartridges. Once one is right, it STAYS there. On one of my tables I have a couple of armwands which does let me listen to different cartridges without full setup. It's a nice benefit!

The bending over thing is really tough on us old guys' backs too...




"Knowing what you don't know is, in a sense, omniscience"

 

RE: I'm grateful, posted on May 17, 2014 at 14:47:12
I'd heard of the Mint in passing but never looked into it before; spent a couple of hours here and on Audiogon and came to two conclusions:

One, I may get as close to the Mint as necessary with the Hoffman Protractor I already use

Two, I can get properly close a great deal easier with magnification and so I ordered a magnifier linked in an Audiogon thread for just Seven Bucks

Make that Three Conclusions

Third, a Dime weighs 2.228 grams and my Shure SFG-2 balance scale is dead nuts accurate!

 

RE: I'm grateful, posted on May 17, 2014 at 17:02:07
steven d
Audiophile

Posts: 453
Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: June 21, 2002
I'm not familiar with the Hoffman. What is it's construction?

 

RE: I'm grateful, posted on May 17, 2014 at 17:09:49
Just an Arc Protractor you can customize and print out. I mounted mine on Foamboard. There are a lot of posts attesting to it's accuracy as checked against the Mint and Feickert.

One ambitious Filbert even printed his on a transparency, then affixed it to a mirror. Not sure about drilling a hole in a mirror with any accuracy so it might be BS.

 

RE: I'm grateful, posted on May 17, 2014 at 18:13:23
steven d
Audiophile

Posts: 453
Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: June 21, 2002
Thanks for sending the link but I have a Mac so can't execute.

What I did do, and should have done, in this day of Google was search prior to posting previously. Having just done a google search for images I can see what's up with the Hoffman arc. If I'm looking at correctly labelled images of the Hoffman then it would seem very similar to the Ken Willis system.

Let's assume for a moment that a printed arc protractor (Hoffman or Willis) uses the exact same geometry for a given arm. I can see a few sources of error with a printed arc:

-the ability of the user to cut the spindle hole to the exact size of the spindle
-the ability of the user to centre the the spindle hole
-the ability of the printer to print to the exact scale required
-the ability of the user to measure and resolve the scale with a measuring tape
-the ability of the printer to print fine
-the ability of the user to resolve the needle to be centred on the arc
-the ability of the user to resolve the cantilever to be aligned with the groove at the nulls.

These errors CAN be minimal, but all need to be minimized as close to nil as possible in order to keep the overall error at nil.

My experience with the Willis (and other printed protractors) and the Mint has led me to believe that the Mint takes care of most of these sources of error, leaving the only sources of error of the last two points above (which are made easier to resolve with the super-fine arc and the parallax lines).

Using the Willis arc I believed I was DEAD ON. The Mint and listening showed otherwise.


 

RE: I'm grateful, posted on May 17, 2014 at 18:50:14
markd51
Audiophile

Posts: 58
Location: Southern New Mexico
Joined: October 13, 2006
When I got my MintLP Tractor some 2 or so years back, I spent a good 1 hour 45 minutes aligning my ZYX Airy 3X Cartridge. This tractor couldn't be any more precise.

Yes, patience, and a good mood with no alcoholic beverages is required to say the least.

I utilized my Littlite Gooseneck Lamp to good effect, plus a plethora of two Magnifying Glasses, and three Loupes, Yip's, and two others to help aid myself.

Was the cost worth it? Yep, it was IMO.

 

RE: REVIEW: MintLP Audiomods Accessory, posted on May 18, 2014 at 08:24:05
nanbil
Audiophile

Posts: 117
Location: Oklahoma
Joined: March 5, 2005
I had a very similar experience to you with my Rega P7 with an Audiomods Series IV Tonearm installed: started with a printed protractor from VE-moved on to the Accutrak (purchased) and finally to the Mint-each step required small (and I mean small) movements to my cartridge. I will say that now I use my Accutrak protractor to 'rough in' the settings and then fine-tune with the Mint. Yes it is time consuming but well worth it. Nice review!

 

RE: REVIEW: MintLP Audiomods Accessory, posted on May 31, 2014 at 05:58:04
plastico
Audiophile

Posts: 22
Location: ontario canada
Joined: February 1, 2014
I just recieved my Mint and checked my alignment on my Rega P3 - Audiomods arm. I had been using a printed protractor up until this point. When I checked with the Mint I was off a 1/2 mm. Now, I scoffed and shook my head when I read people heard such a difference when their cart was out by this miniscule amount. Well, I too, have heard this. The image is sharper, more details are presented, and you just want to spin more records! Thanks steven d for pushing me in that direction!

Cheers, Plastico

 

RE: REVIEW: MintLP Audiomods Accessory, posted on May 31, 2014 at 17:44:12
steven d
Audiophile

Posts: 453
Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: June 21, 2002
0.5mm is quite a ways off. Which printed 'tractor were you using before the Mint?

What about the cantilever alignment... how much rotation did you require to settle it, if any?

 

RE: REVIEW: MintLP Audiomods Accessory, posted on June 1, 2014 at 06:18:34
plastico
Audiophile

Posts: 22
Location: ontario canada
Joined: February 1, 2014
I was using the KWillis and I did not have to touch my cantilever alignment.
Cheers, Plastico

 

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