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Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy.

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Posted on February 8, 2021 at 21:09:26
ecl876
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I'm sure I'll get a fair share of criticism for this but I'm fine with that. This was my response to Fremer's posting. It helps if you read the link first.

The previous poster had said:
" Nearly all users in the world (and there are many) have totally misaligned setups without knowing."


My response:
Oy veh!
And maybe that's a GOOD thing! What percentage of those who play vinyl regularly want to go to this trouble? Damn it- what happened to just sitting down and listening to music? This is fine for the small percentage who are anal enough to spend significant dollars and hours of time trying to get the Exact VTA, SRA, azimuth, etc. . And if you're off two degrees in azimuth, you think your world will fall apart, you will no longer enjoy listening to vinyl? I love vinyl I have a Rega RP6 and Exact cartridge that gives me immense amounts of pleasure. The cartridge set up takes minutes, not hours. No VTA or azimuth adjustments. Not one.

Each to his own but I really believe many of us are really more interested in "listening" to their equipment than listening to music. I think our fathers and grandfathers fifty years ago probably enjoyed listening to vinyl records a hell of a lot more when they didn't have to worry that their VTA or azimuth was precise to a degree. In fact, I'm sure they had never heard those terms before. How lucky they were!

 

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RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 8, 2021 at 21:52:42
Posts: 2025
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At the risk of being run off the forum what do vinyl listeners care about accuracy? If you want rid of all the imperfections then go digital. Just enjoy vinyl, because it is enjoyable. I wonder if Mikey could pick out incorrect SRA and zenith and azimuth in an un-sighted test - and if he could identify the differences would he prefer the most 'accurate'?

13DoW

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 8, 2021 at 22:05:12
6bq5
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wood effect anyone?
Happy Listening

 

You Can't Set it by Ear!?!?!?, posted on February 8, 2021 at 22:50:44
belyin
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Fremer says you can't set SRA by ear--so if you can't hear the difference why worry about it? But what do I know--I have thousands of records and not an audiophile pressing in the bunch. And while I have Sony XL44 retipped with a line contact stylus, I mostly listen to a Denon DL103 and a conical SPU. They make my records sound like music without much fuss.

 

RE: You Can't Set it by Ear!?!?!?, posted on February 9, 2021 at 05:44:14
B. Scarpia
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I'm ignorant of what MF was getting at, perhaps he meant you can't find the "correct" angle by ear? What I do know is that changes in SRA as small as 0.015625 are clearly audible and I know what I like.

No fancy measuring equipment necessary. My arm post is 5/8 - 16 threaded and a quarter turn can be heard.

There's no virtue in being old,
it just takes a long time

 

So digital is finally perfect?, posted on February 9, 2021 at 10:15:17
M3 lover
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I wasn't aware that those imperfections had all been eliminated. ;^)

So I'll continue to listen to analog in ignorant bliss. Being careful with alignment is fine, but for me the minutia can be overdone. Like a friend says, "Don't bother picking the fly sh*t out of the pepper."
"The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances. Sometimes I play things I never heard myself." Thelonious Monk

 

I'm waiting John......, posted on February 9, 2021 at 11:04:10
ecl876
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.

 

RE: I'm waiting John......, posted on February 9, 2021 at 11:27:34
rivervalley817
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not everyone uses a ZENITH turntable and cartridge so ...





 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 9, 2021 at 11:31:35
fstein
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This is a good reasdon to avoid complex styli tips! Are there more than 6 people in the USA who can st this up "properly"?

 

Good one! nt., posted on February 9, 2021 at 11:40:40
ecl876
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.

 

Keep waiting! DSD is my preference these days. ;-), posted on February 9, 2021 at 11:42:04
John Elison
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I believe that DSD128 and DSD256 are both very accurate digital formats that can sound even better than vinyl. Most of my favorite LPs have been copied to DSD128 and they sound wonderful to me. Furthermore, I'm even more impressed with the sound of DSD256 from internet dealers like Native DSD. Consequently, I've basically given up on vinyl in favor of hi-rez PCM and DSD.

On the other hand, Fremer is probably right about those vinyl enthusiasts who spend $5000 or more on a phono cartridge. They might as well send their cartridge in for evaluation so they can see just how much money they've wasted on an imperfectly manufactured cartridge.

Best regards,
John Elison

PS. I owned a cartridge once that had gross inter-channel phase shift. I discovered it while playing a mono LP and I heard the cymbals drop down in volume each time I engaged the mono switch on my preamp. None of my other cartridges exhibited this problem. After measuring the cartridge with my oscilloscope, I discovered the phase-shift began at about 800-Hz and increase to 90-degrees by 20-kHz. The cartridge was a Dynavector XV-1.

 

"I've basically given up on vinyl in favor of hi-rez PCM and DSD", posted on February 9, 2021 at 11:53:11
Chris from Lafayette
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Your next move: hi-rez MCh! - then Dolby Atmos! You're going down the primrose path now! ;-)

 

+1, posted on February 9, 2021 at 11:54:24
Mick Wolfe
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NT

 

RE: Good one! nt., posted on February 9, 2021 at 12:02:54
rivervalley817
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OT ... my parents had that exact set-up ... it sounded pretty good playing Zeppelin 1 to my young ears ... which were admittedly somewhat 'enhanced' at that particular point in time .... but still

regards,

 

RE: Keep waiting! DSD is my preference these days. ;-), posted on February 9, 2021 at 12:04:33
ecl876
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Haven't we heard all this before in some form? 🤔 it seems to me you were either giving up or hardly ever listening to vinyl about ten years ago. Yet, here you are! Hope to see you in another ten years - if I'm still around!

 

RE: So digital is finally perfect?, posted on February 9, 2021 at 12:18:03
Posts: 2025
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I was, of course, exaggerating for effect but digital reply is essentially perfect when compared to all the distortions we know about from vinyl. But we like vinyl nonetheless - so just accept it as preferable rather than wanting it to be perfect!

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 9, 2021 at 12:30:31
Posts: 2025
Location: Orange Co., Ca
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Fremer's point is that unless the stylus is mounted correctly no one can set it up. The example of the wrong SRA requiring 20mm of VTA adjustment to compensate - who has that? And we only set tracking angle using the cartridge body or cantilever against a protractor trusting that the stylus is square on the cantilever. Someone made the good point that conicals won't be affected by zenith error.

I found that article a bit of a WallyTools shill.

13DoW

 

I always thought I liked vinyl in spite of the imperfections, not because of them., posted on February 9, 2021 at 12:32:39
Tre'
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So I do want to make it as "correct' as I can.

Tre'
Have Fun and Enjoy the Music
"Still Working the Problem"

 

RE: Keep waiting! DSD is my preference these days. ;-), posted on February 9, 2021 at 13:00:15
Tre'
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"I'm even more impressed with the sound of DSD256 from internet dealers like Native DSD. Consequently, I've basically given up on vinyl in favor of hi-rez PCM and DSD."

But those are different mastering jobs. Apples and oranges. I think there's a distinct possibility that you just like the new mastering engineer's "sweetening" better than the original mastering engineer's "sweetening" who did the vinyl you're familiar with.

As a mastering engineer I can make the best two track master tape sound awful if I want to. The last thing I am going to do is make my master file sound like the tape. Or, if I'm starting with a digital file, my mastering job will not sound like that file. It's hard to get a paycheck if all you do is a straight transfer.

Tre'
Have Fun and Enjoy the Music
"Still Working the Problem"

 

Why always "we" as if there is a we?, posted on February 9, 2021 at 13:10:14
Goober58
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Seems to me there are folks around who will find the post incredibly useful.

That's just my opinion. What this mythical "we" thinks I wouldn't give a rat's ass.

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 9, 2021 at 13:37:54
PAR
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Plus the whole point of all this "accuracy" in setting up is to accurately follow the path taken by the cutting stylus. However we already know that the cutting stylus itself is made within tolerances rather than with an error level of zero.

If you read Fremer you will find that even 92 degrees SRA is not "correct". It is just an average figure of typical angles used on cutting lathes from various mastering houses. So get it all set up absolutely correctly according to theory and when you come to play a real record ...it is still incorrect.

As you correctly imply, vinyl replay is not for the obsessive. It was invented many decades ago for the manufacturing capability of the time and for the average home user. There was no anticipation of this level of BS which the more one looks into it the less realistic it becomes (unless you only own a single disc in which case you may be able to optimise everything for it).


"We need less, but better" - Dieter Rams

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 9, 2021 at 14:03:45
ecl876
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" vinyl replay is not for the obsessive"????

On the contrary, it's the perfect medium for the obsessive! There are thousands of vinyl aficionados that love this stuff, no matter how complex it gets. The more the better. Just read the comments on Fremer's website.

 

"I found that article a bit of a WallyTools shill." I was thinking the same thing, but ..., posted on February 9, 2021 at 15:58:38
J. S. Bach
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...hesitated to post my thoughts. Might offend someone!

Later Gator,
Dave
Find more about Weather in Chester, SC

 

Two degrees of azimuth error..., posted on February 9, 2021 at 18:20:34
Lew
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is actually quite a bit of error.

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 9, 2021 at 19:11:08
flood2
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The article is a thinly disguised advertisement/infomercial for the Wallytools service and assumes that perfection is possible.

There are quite a few issues to comment on in that article.

Fremer's method of setting SRA is flawed to begin with - you can't set it "accurately" statically. It must be done dynamically to factor in the effect of drag and presumes that the optimum VTF has already been determined to set the operating VTA. If the SRA doesn't match the reference VTA for the coil relationship to the groove, then simply adjusting arm height to achieve the desired SRA will simply introduce an error in the coil alignment.
Secondly, the cutting angle (as defined in the standard) is between 0 to 5 degrees with DMM set at 0 degrees so it is pointless to slavishly set 92 degrees.

As for the merits of having Wallytools tell you the correct azimuth? Well that assumes that the horizontal bearing is perfectly normal to the plinth and platter and that the set offset angle matches the horizontal bearing offset for the arm. The arm height must be set correctly (i.e parallel to the record for the pre-determined Wally Azimuth to be valid. However, if you are going to adjust the arm height to "fix" a perceived SRA issue, then you will simply introduce an azimuth error. This is the reason that adjusting arm height in miniscule amounts results in an audible difference - multiple parameters are changing simultaneously including azimuth, offset and overhang with the resultant change to skating force. It is not simply due to the tiny change in angle which is inconsequential with respect to the record to record variation in cutting angle.

Lastly, whilst correct zenith IS important and the benefits are clearly audible, it is more important that the coils/motor be aligned for minimum tangential error to the groove rather than introducing an error in the generator alignment to correct any stylus zenith error.
It is all very well to have software that allows you to draw reference lines on an image to do calculations, but unless the stylus tip is perfectly normal and central in the image field, parallax will introduce errors in the calculations. The same issue applies to the measurement of tip rake angle.
The mounting tolerance for the zenith of a Shibata tip is +/- 5 degrees. You would not be successful in arguing that a zenith error of 4 degrees (as per Fremer's image, but assuming a Shibata tip) was defective since that would be argued to still be within specification. The manufacturer might replace the cartridge to maintain goodwill, but chances are zenith is almost never "perfect" if such large tolerances are allowed. A 1 degree error would be very hard to discern reliably.
If this weren't the case then a conical stylus would be unusable since the contact positions on the scanning surface are continuously shifting in a manner equivalent to a zenith error.

As it is, the tolerance for cantilever skew is (claimed to be) within 1 degree for AT and that is all but invisible given that this represents a displacement of the stylus tip of 0.1mm assuming a cantilever that lies perfectly on the centreline.

Still, I'm sure there are plenty of audiophiles with deep pockets who would happily part with their money for the Wallytools information and who believe that "perfection" could even exist for vinyl replay when in reality there is no such thing as perfection with vinyl replay given the myriad of variables involved and the effect of stacked tolerances.

To me the Wallytools service is pointless and a waste of money which is better put elsewhere. It would make more sense to send the cartridge to a retipper such as Peter Ledermann and actually FIX the problem if indeed it is determined that a problem even exists.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Wow! Is there a translation available for this post? , posted on February 9, 2021 at 21:44:36
ecl876
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The language seems somewhat familiar, but I can't for the life of me understand it! 🤔🤔🤔

 

RE: "I found that article a bit of a WallyTools shill." I was thinking the same thing, but ..., posted on February 9, 2021 at 23:38:07
John Elison
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Why is it a problem (or even a surprise) that Fremer is advertising for Wally Tools? He's advertising in his own internet audio publication; he's not advertising in the Vinyl Asylum. Maybe he has a financial interest in Wally Tools now that Wally Malewicz is dead. However, who cares!

 

too many variables just like vinyl, posted on February 10, 2021 at 06:33:39
Story
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and I didn't know you were doing any mastering, so I take your word as one of actual experience. Nice post Tre'.

As an example of the variables just with vinyl alone, I have several JCI collections of 'Rockin' Sixties' etc where the vinyl pressings are taken from the 2 track mixdowns without any mastering. Were they lazy or trying to save money? I don't know, but each track done in different studios by different engineers sound like they need SOME kind of mastering.

Some might say originality, I say blah. Tone control time for each cut.

THE SAME VARIABLES APPLY TO ANYTHING DIGITAL, REGARDLESS OF WHO & WHERE MASTERED.



 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 10, 2021 at 07:48:27
dave slagle
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Anthony,

you bring up a bunch of great points, I'd like to dig deeper into the one below.

it is more important that the coils/motor be aligned for minimum tangential error to the groove rather than introducing an error in the generator alignment to correct any stylus zenith error.

I'm not exactly clear what you are saying. The important relation of the coils to the groove are with respect to azimuth. I was made aware of this whole Zenith issue setting diamond cantilever combos a number of years ago. 1-2+ of rotation was obvious and given the 5 tolerance it was all within spec of the parts I was buying. It wasn't until recently that I stumbled across an electrical test that was really dominated by an incorrectly set zentih. When I would align the cartridge for minimum Zenith error independent of how crooked the cantilever looked, not only did the sound improve, obvious inner / outergroove distortion seemed to disappear. Below are two pictures of cartridges aligned for minimum IMD distortion electrically.

What I find most interesting about the analogplanet bit is how the "Hero" picture showing an askew zenith has some sincere parallax issues and when you add the precisely measured numbers up, 18 minutes (0.3) are missing. If the goal is 15' accuracy with a 95% certainty, how can an amount greater than the alleged precision go missing?

dave






 

Wow!!, posted on February 10, 2021 at 17:01:36
MikeWI
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Can you say phase shift! This is incredibly important and I have never heard any actual expert address this issue. I obviously assumed that the manufacturer / re-tipper would have managed this error to an inconsequential level. For a cartridge of this expense ($6K) to be so out of whack is ridiculous!

Peter helped me with SRA based upon USB microscope pics. I had to fabricate a significant mechanical shim to get things correctly aligned. Tonearm base VTA is very limited, do the math. The longer the tonearm, the less practical it becomes.

I would really like to hear an expert comment on this issue. Even if I knew the diamond skew, I have no tools that would allow me to align the cantilever with that adjustment.

Luckily, my system sounds wonderful as-is!

Mike

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 10, 2021 at 17:12:56
Todd Krieger
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I just set up the cart as if the stylus were put on perfectly straight..... If it sounds distorted (due to the stylus being misaligned), I would try another cartridge sample instead of go down this rabbit hole......... (I've exchanged cartridges for this in the past, and will likely do so in the future.)

Note that it's not even mentioned, if the stylus is "off", and the cartridge is then aligned by the stylus itself, the cantilever (relative to the record groove) and/or azimuth will then be made "skew," the ideal anti-skate may require compensation to keep the "skew angle" (to sustain stylus alignment) from changing... Would likely create unequal forces on the groove walls- Channel separation, trackability, and maybe channel balance would likely be compromised somewhat.... I'd rather deal with a sample that's dead-on (or close enough to where re-alignment wouldn't be significant) and not worry about these sorts of compensations.....

 

Yup! (nt), posted on February 10, 2021 at 17:18:44
MikeWI
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nt

 

Not To Mention...., posted on February 10, 2021 at 17:42:16
Todd Krieger
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This sort of stylus alignment would not even work on a tangential arm..... The "drag" on the stylus on a skew cantilever would "straighten out" the cantilever in time, relative to the record (which would "skew" the cantilever relative to the cartridge body), the stylus would in time become somewhat "misaligned" again.

In order for this to work on a tangential arm, a lateral force needs to be introduced to counter the "drag" straightening the "skewed" cantilever. Can be done by adjusting anti-skate on a pivoted arm, but no such adjustment is available on a tangential arm. (Unless the turntable could be "tilted" to use gravitational forces to compensate the "drag" on a "skew" cantilever.)

 

Well, c'mon. You can't expect quality for under 10 grand. nt, posted on February 10, 2021 at 18:03:42
Rick W
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nt

 

RE: Well, c'mon. You can't expect quality for under 10 grand. nt, posted on February 10, 2021 at 18:19:19
Todd Krieger
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If I were to pay over a grand for a new cartridge, and the stylus/cantilever alignment were defective, I'd better hope the dealer or manufacturer would exchange it.....

 

RE: Well, c'mon. You can't expect quality for under 10 grand. nt, posted on February 10, 2021 at 20:33:30
John Elison
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It's easy to test for inter-channel phase shift if you have a preamp with a mono switch. All you have to do is play a mono record while engaging and disengaging the mono switch. If you hear the cymbals and other high frequencies become reduced in volume when engaging the mono switch, that indicates you have high-frequency inter-channel phase shift.

I've noticed this only on a very expensive cartridge. My cheap cartridges were just fine. I owned a $4000 Dynavector XV-1 that exhibited a noticeable reduction in high-frequency volume when playing a mono record and engaging the mono switch. All my cheap cartridges had no such problem. When I say cheap, I mean cartridges costing between $300 and $1000 such as a DL-103R, DL-S1, AT-OC9ML/II, AT33EV, etc. The high-frequencies on these sounded just fine when engaging the mono switch. Therefore, I got rid of the Dynavector XV-1 and vowed never to pay more than $1000 for a phono cartridge.

HW wrote a post in 2004 about measuring inter-channel phase shift using a Lissajous pattern on his oscilloscope. He said his inexpensive Shure cartridge produced negligible phase shift but some other very expensive cartridges showed significant phase shift. He refused to identify the expensive cartridges.

Good luck,
John Elison

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 10, 2021 at 20:40:04
flood2
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Hi David

Just to reiterate, I am in complete agreement that zenith is important and the effect is audible.
However, my view is that the importance does not override the conventional wisdom to optimise cantilever alignment.
Indeed, the process of aligning the cantilever is already subject to large uncertainties depending on the tools used and patience of the user so even if one were to know the zenith error, it is highly unlikely that the correct compensation could be achieved by the average person and that in most situations, many users are probably completely unaware of the magnitude of the errors were they not told about them. In the first image you showed, I already observe that the cantilever is not aligned correctly. The question is how one can perfectly align offset with existing techniques which all rely on visual judgement which is at best unreliable and subject to repeatability issues and why I think that the Wallytools service is of limited value.

The purpose of optimising the cartridge alignment is to enable accurate tracing of the signal wavelength which requires that the cantilever is allowed to oscillate symmetrically about the mean centre position and the groove modulation is traced with the lowest distortion.
Consider a tangential cantilever alignment initially; this requirement becomes compromised due to the effect of (zenith related) phase error once the groove wavelength decreases and the radius of curvature of the groove approaches the stylus scanning dimension (i.e frequencies above a critical value and velocity). However, below this critical frequency, stylus zenith has a gradually reducing impact until the groove wavelength becomes sufficiently long that stylus zenith has little effect. However, cantilever alignment is still important for determining the phase relationship for lower frequencies.

I acknowledge that my use of the term 'coil alignment' is confusing - rather than orthogonality to the groove wall, I am referring to the relationship of the coil motion to the symmetry of the oscillation due to the lateral movement - it is important that the cantilever is moving symmetrically about the reference "zero" position where the amplitude of stylus displacement is greatest. Since zenith error introduces a phase shift at shorter groove wavelengths relative to the groove velocity, we have the situation of varying phase shift as a function of frequency in addition to that introduced by tracking error. So the question is whether the phase shift at shorter groovelengths approaching the scanning dimensions is more or less important than maintaining tangentiality of the cantilever as closely as possible. It doesn't seem sensible to me compromise the symmetry of the stylus displacement at low frequencies which impacts on tracking ability of large amplitude signals particularly when we start adding in the complication of tracing vertical modulation to recover stereo information.

The other reason why I am sceptical about prioritising zenith over cantilever alignment is based on the groove contact characteristics of a conical stylus (or larger cut elliptical).
You will no doubt have seen the graphic provided by JICO illustrating the contact positions on the stylus as the groove is traced which they use to highlight the advantage of the SAS. Ignoring the pinch effect which is also illustrated, we see that the contact position varies greatly with the conical stylus around the scanning surface. Although this produces an inherent distortion, users of the DL103 do not seem bothered by this!

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

You do know I was being facetious? nt, posted on February 11, 2021 at 08:59:28
Rick W
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nt

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 11, 2021 at 09:59:51
dave slagle
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My take thus far on this is quite different and only a hypothesis at this point so apply salt to what follows.

I suspect that the idea that incorrect zenith simply effects phase is flawed. The Electronic measurement I use is measuring the IMD of a 60Hz+7kHz tone with a 4:1 ratio. You then filter out the 60Hz and look at the FFT of the signal and the level of the sidebands at 6940Hz and 7060hz tell you the amount of IMD. If those levels are 40dB below the 7kHz fundamental then the IMD is 1%.

This is not a new testing concept. The Ultimate Analogue Test LP has instructions and a test track for setting VTA using this exact procedure and both the CBS STR-110 and the Shure TTR-103 lay out this test for mistracking. I stumbled upon this using Analog Magic's VTA setup and quickly realized that the zenith if slightly misaligned dominated the distortion measurements and a zenith error of 1.2 assures that a null point will never be hit on the playable record surface.

In trying to use this test to set VTA, The distortion was high and I could never obtain meaningful numbers by any amount of VTA change. I saw reference to try another alignment geometry so I twisted the zenith a bit and was shocked how much the measured distortion numbers changed. After a few I then began initially setting the Zenith first by using the VTA test outlined above. After a null in distortion was located in the vicinity of where the null point should be I them proceed to using the track to set VTA as it was intended.

here are the plots of IMD distortion vs. Zenith angle for a conical and a micro-ridge.





I have used this approach for electrically setting zenith on more than 20 cartridges and once you get the feel for it, it is a quick and effective way to get repeatably good sound across the entire side of an album.

I decided I should document this more fully as I typed this so I made a forum post about more of the details and to better document the whole process. It will be linked below and to avoid any appearance of being a shill I will say that I am a dealer for analog magik and while it is entirely possible to measure IMD by other means, I find it to be a simple and reliable tool for electrically aligning zenith. I would be all for any discussions on alternative methods of easily measuring IMD with a test record and a scope.

dave

 

RE: too many variables just like vinyl, posted on February 11, 2021 at 12:04:03
Tre'
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"I didn't know you were doing any mastering"

I'm not anymore but I did master quite a few CD's in my days working in recording studios. Nothing famous.

Tre'
Have Fun and Enjoy the Music
"Still Working the Problem"

 

Hmmm maybe that ultimately is a good thing, posted on February 12, 2021 at 08:08:16
Analog Scott
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Let's face it, it's the colorations of vinyl that largely set it apart from digital playback.

 

RE: Playing great music vs great music player?, posted on February 13, 2021 at 06:24:38
tketcham
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I'm not surprised that correcting zenith error is being pursued by vinyl enthusiasts. In fact, I'm surprised it's taken this long for it to be a "thing". The goal of perfect sound has to include a perfect music player and that starts with perfect cartridges and alignment. You can't fault people for trying. Otherwise, a turntable, tonearm, and cartridge are simply the means to listen to music. If it's really only about the music and not about the quality of music playback then I can't think of many good reasons to bother with vinyl. But I believe with vinyl it's not just about the music, it's about the experience of listening to music. That's why we bother.

The refinement of digital recording and mastering and the availability of high resolution digital albums has put vinyl on notice. There are some outstanding digital albums out there and they sound fantastic. So finding every possible way to improve the extraction of music from the groove of a LP record makes sense. Ironically the pursuit has been made possible with new technologies that include digital photography, digital recordings and computer processing. Having owned turntables for over 50 years I see the continued attempts at improving vinyl playback encouraging. But for now, like you, I'll have to accept the imperfections of my vinyl music player and just enjoy the experience. :-)

Tom

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 14, 2021 at 23:17:38
flood2
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Hi Dave

That's very interesting!

I was just having a good think about the point you raised about the issue of phase vs tracking error over the last few days.
If I may just go back to the issue of tracking error in relation to a long groove wavelength (relative to the radius of curvature for the scanning surface) and how it causes distortion - if the cantilever axis is not tangential to the groove then the movement of the cantilever is not perpendicular to the groove and this results in a distorted waveform with an FM-like distortion that is related to the groove wavelength. With a conical stylus, the points of contact are such that the line joining them is always perpendicular to the direction of the record motion and matching the cutter. I am sure that this is why a cartridge such as the DL103 has such ardent fans. With an elliptical or line contact stylus, the contact points are no longer perpendicular to the groove wall except at the null points and tracking error introduces the phase component which makes these styli far more sensitive to tracking error.
So the question is if, for a groove wavelength that is very much longer than the radius of curvature of the scanning surface, the tracking error due to cantilever alignment still dominates? It is not until the groove wavelength decreases sufficiently that the phase error due to the zenith compounds the problem. However, nulling a zenith error doesn't solve the distortion due to the cantilever tracking error and that you are still introducing an FM distortion to the signal.

I don't know the answer. Maybe zenith distortion dominates particularly for line contact styli and this IS the right approach, but I can't help thinking that "two wrongs don't make a right" and I think that shifting entirely to nulling zenith at the expense of the longer wavelength FM distortion due to cantilever tracking angle doesn't solve the problem. I have a number of styli that have a zenith error, I may do the experiment. However, I have not found setting the offset to be particularly consistent and I normally consign faulty styli/cartridges to the reject pile and move on to suitable candidates that are worth the time and effort!

The test method you described sounds a clever way to determine IMD.
I have the Ultimate Analogue Test LP and also didn't find the VTA test terribly useful given that the VTA is essentially pre-determined by the cartridge manufacturer and is also has a fixed relationship to the SRA.

One thought came to mind in relation to the position on the record for the VTA test - it is centred at a radius of around 100mm. For a typical 9" arm set to the standard 66/121mm nulls, the tracking error is about 0.9 with a estimated distortion level of about 0.5%. Therefore wouldn't adjusting zenith for the minimum distortion not be changing the alignment completely? Surely one would be trying to set the distortion to the equivalent value based on tracking error? If on the other hand, the you had a suitable test tone centred around the nulls, then perhaps your method applies directly.

The original Ortofon (0001 and 0002) test discs have a difference-tone test stepping down from 20/19 kHz down to 8/7kHz which enable stylus condition to be monitored using the level of IMD as a metric. These are still available on discogs and I can recommend it to you as I find it the most useful of all my test discs (which includes the CBS STR-110 and 112 as well as the Telarc Omnidisc). In particular it has a white noise test tone which makes doing frequency response checks a breeze!


Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 15, 2021 at 13:27:59
John Elison
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Do you play records? If so, how do you set up your turntable and cartridge? What setup tools do you use?

Thanks!
John Elison

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 15, 2021 at 14:03:17
John Elison
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> In particular it has a white noise test tone which makes doing frequency response checks a breeze!

Wouldn't pink noise be the type of test required for phono cartridge frequency response? I thought white noise would have a 6-dB per octave increase in amplitude when played with a velocity responding magnetic cartridge.

Thanks!
John Elison

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 15, 2021 at 19:50:44
flood2
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If you use a flat gain amplifier then a pink noise test tone would be applicable. However, most consumers would likely be using a conventional phono stage with RIAA EQ in which case the output signal being measured will have the pink 10dB/decade drop requiring the user to either interpret the response as is or apply a 10dB/dec gain to analyse the deviation from flat.
In the case of the Ortofon test disc, the test signal is pre-emphasised for RIAA therefore the output of a phono stage would be a flat signal within the tolerancing of the phono stage EQ.
In practical terms, it isn't validating the phono cartridge in isolation, it is only validating the combination of the phono stage and cartridge response, but most decent phono stages have gain topologies and fine component tolerances to give an RIAA response typically better than 0.5dB which is better than most cartridges so the white noise output can reasonably be taken as being that of the cartridge.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 16, 2021 at 08:58:40
John Elison
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White noise has equal intensity at different frequencies. In other words, the energy of white noise in-between 10-Hz and 20-Hz is the same as the white noise energy in-between 1000-Hz and 1010-Hz. Because of this, a phono cartridge will have a 6-dB per octave increase in amplitude when reproducing white noise.

Pink noise, on the other hand, has equal energy per octave. This means that the pink noise energy between 10-Hz and 20-Hz is the same as the pink noise energy between 1000-Hz and 2000-Hz. Therefore, pink noise produces a flat frequency response when reproduced by a velocity sensitive phono cartridge.

RIAA equalization is different from either of these. The RIAA recording curve and the RIAA playback curve are pictured below.



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There are now more angles to adjust in setting up a cartridge than there are dimensions in space, posted on February 17, 2021 at 14:30:02
Brian H P
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Of course, if you want to get the very best out of that $30,000 cartridge, you have to obsess about all of them.

I'm not klutzy or anything. There's just a vast conspiracy of inanimate objects to frustrate and annoy me. But the thought of thumbling around with a tiny, delicate, fragile mechanism that costs several months' pay fills my heart with dread.

I've got a 1982 AR 'table with a Shure M44-E cartridge. The only possible adjustment is tracking weight, via the counterweight at the back of the arm. No VTA, SRA, azimuth, tangency, zenith angle, anti-skate, or any of the others I've forgotten. Those apparently weren't invented yet, or were not important to the AR engineers.

It plays records just fine, and gives me great enjoyment.

And BTW, Fremer's room DOES suck below 400 Hz or so. Look at JA's in-room measurements of any of the speakers he has evaluated in that room (Marten Oscar Duo shown above). Huge blump at 50 Hz, deep antiphase suckout an octave or so above. There is NO WAY to accurately evaluate the bass performance of ANY component in a room like that. For far less than the cost of an ultra-exotic cartridge, he could get some bass traps and largely fix the problem. Until then, I have to take ALL his reviews with a large chunk of rock salt.

 

RE: Fremer's ZENITH ANGLE CORRECTION or have we all gone crazy., posted on February 18, 2021 at 00:37:58
flood2
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Joined: January 11, 2011



I thought my reply to your question was very clear, but I will repeat the key sentence but this time with capitalised words of importance in case you missed them the first time around...

"In the case of the Ortofon test disc, the test signal IS PRE-EMPHASISED FOR RIAA therefore the output of a phono stage would be a flat signal within the tolerancing of the phono stage EQ."

Secondly, as I pointed out, the test discs in question assume that a conventional phono stage is being used, therefore pre-emphasis is typically applied to the signal whilst proper test discs made to the DIN standard are linear cuts without pre-emphasis at a reference amplitude of 11.25um for 0dB.
Pink noise is typically used for testing loudspeaker sensitivity and subjective response balance because the 1/f spectral noise power is closer to that found in natural systems to which the human auditory system is attuned to. Hence, sound engineers use pink noise to evaluate room response.
White noise is an equal amplitude signal and is therefore ideal for analytical measurements not involving the subjectivity of the auditory nerve centre. Pink noise is derived by filtering white noise with a 10dB/decade attenuation characteristic.

Your statement that a pink noise test tone will give a flat response with a magnetic phono cartridge is incorrect for the commonly available consumer test discs such as the HFNRR and AP Ultimate Analogue Test LP which assume that the user will play back through a standard phono stage.
Using the pink test signal from the AP Ultimate Analogue Test LP, the spectrum on the left is with flat gain and the spectrum on the right is the RIAA equalised signal with the frequency range zoomed into just below 1kHz to just above 10kHz. You will note that with flat gain the response is up ~4dB at 10kHz with respect to 1kHz. When RIAA EQ is applied, the response drops by the expected 10dB/decade and the cartridge tested shows a fairly linear response of the Pink Noise test signal

The RIAA emphasised white noise test signal yields a flat response as expected from the "equal amplitude" characteristic of white noise.


Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

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