I Do Hate Cartridge Alignment!

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
What a total PITA. More then 60 years into stereo record playback, and this is the best we can come up with??? P Mount or Rega mount FTW!

(if I keep the Rega, the long term goal will be a Rega cartridge.)
 

Try1256

Very Special Member
It can be difficult. However, the rewards of a properly set up phono cart go a long way toward mitigating the pain.
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
I’m afraid yo ask how bad it is versus normal setups?
Great timing on this thread too. Embarrassed to admit, but I knew zero about setting up a cart properly. Ordered a stylus force gauge and printed a protractor (need to spend time with them today).
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I’m afraid yo ask how bad it is versus normal setups?
Great timing on this thread too. Embarrassed to admit, but I knew zero about setting up a cart properly. Ordered a stylus force gauge and printed a protractor (need to spend time with them today).
How bad the Kenwood is? Its just a standard mount. No worse then any other.

It's just that it is a horrible, clunky, outmoded design.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
It sucks and I hate it, even though I’m pretty good at it at this point. I’ve owned a few dozen turntables and a matching number of carts in the short span of maybe 15 years, all of which I set up myself with slowly progressing competence and quite a few expensive tools... and I still am not what I would call an expert at alignment. Which is a pretty sad comment on what turntable manufacturers and audiophiles have settled on. If you’re not annoyed and unhappy it’s not audiophile enough.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
It sucks and I hate it, even though I’m pretty good at it at this point. I’ve owned a few dozen turntables and a matching number of carts in the short span of maybe 15 years, all of which I set up myself with slowly progressing competence and quite a few expensive tools... and I still am not what I would call an expert at alignment. Which is a pretty sad comment on what turntable manufacturers and audiophiles have settled on. If you’re not annoyed and unhappy it’s not audiophile enough.
At last count, I've owned 48 turntables, and I'm pretty sure all of them had cartridges. I've played with a lot of them, And It's still a stupid system.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
There’s no reason an accepted setup left to the consumer should require me to own a fozgometer to get it right yet... there’s one here.

yet even p-mount and rega don’t adjust for what it’s for so some of this is just down to how turntables work.

also might be why I’m using a linear tracker right now.
 

S0und Dragon

Moderator and Circus Hand.
Staff member
Wanna hear a sacrilegious statement. I have both a Fozgometer and a Feikert Protractor. NIB! Never opened. I just couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to use them. A simple mirror protractor and my eyes and ears have set up every Cart here. I really need to learn how to use the tools though.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Wanna hear a sacrilegious statement. I have both a Fozgometer and a Feikert Protractor. NIB! Never opened. I just couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to use them. A simple mirror protractor and my eyes and ears have set up every Cart here. I really need to learn how to use the tools though.
I often don’t use the Fozgometer. It’s not that hard but it’s just one more thing. Whenever I get too audiophile I start to hate myself.
 
I don't mind it at all.
I do not like tone arms with out removable headshells though, much easier to mount up on a headshell first.
 
Your not kidding, the first time I mounted a new cartridge I was surprised how much time I spent getting it something close to correct.

I currently have an S shaped tonearm. It seems much easier to align, I basically set it square and pay some attention to the overhang. I'm also a fan of conical cartridges, I think they are less sensitive to alignment errors. Do I give up some fidelity? Probably, but I have also largely mitigated a major variable in my system.
 

BillWojo

Junior Member
If I don't align my cartridge properly, I can't get the pesky cartridge leads to get to the front of the headshell to connect them. Turn the cartridge around the other way and they fit ok.
On a serious note, I use either an overhang gauge when I can or one of those simple 2 point mirror protractor tools. If using the overhang gage, I do a quick sanity check with the protractor. If I mounted the tonearm in the correct location, alignment is spot on.

BillWojo
 

Tedrick

Junior Member
I don't mind aligning cartridges, in fact I kind of enjoy it. I have all the wonky tools, including a Fozgometer and a Feikert, and use them every time I install a cartridge. I've got one friend that doesn't trust anyone else to set up his carts. It's quite satisfying to know that each cartridge has gotten the best alignment that I can give it.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I don't mind aligning cartridges, in fact I kind of enjoy it. I have all the wonky tools, including a Fozgometer and a Feikert, and use them every time I install a cartridge. I've got one friend that doesn't trust anyone else to set up his carts. It's quite satisfying to know that each cartridge has gotten the best alignment that I can give it.
I admit to sometimes, very rarely, enjoying it. My kitchen table used to have a permanent collection of alignment tools and headshell bolts off to the side. I also tend to enjoy mounting on headshells more than arms without headshells. And I enjoy arms where I know the collar to stylus distance. My Dennessen (sp?) protractor helped things out. A digital scale really helped things out.

Even with all that stuff there’s a degree of mysterious art to it. Lacking a microscope to look at the SRA I dial in arm height by ear, so I like arms with accurate and subtle VTA adjustment.

It’s one of those things that isn’t too bad after you’ve done it a hundred times. Seeing as the average consumer will have done it in the ones or twos of times, it’s ridiculous. Especially given how different a cart can sound when just slightly off.
 
I probably don't know how to determine if my setup is correct, so yes, an odd process that also seems antiquated after all this time. Not sure there has ever been a product and industry that has allowed this level of potential user error and uncertainty to proliferate. PM you have identified your product/industry to re-invent and become mega rich in the process!
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Oh and my biggest annoyance of all is that the cartridge pins are all different sizes. I’ve broken so many leads trying to squeeze or widen the tags. That and that the bolts and nuts are all different threads and sizes. It’s almost comical.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I probably don't know how to determine if my setup is correct, so yes, an odd process that also seems antiquated after all this time. Not sure there has ever been a product and industry that has allowed this level of potential user error and uncertainty to proliferate. PM you have identified your product/industry to re-invent and become mega rich in the process!
If you invented a perfectly user-friendly way to do it, the audio world would poo-poo it as not being tweaky enough.
 
Top