Non-Adjustable Headshells? Pros and cons?

ICTWoody

Junior Member
Hey there folks... I was wondering what everyone though of non-adjustable headshells?

I've been looking at a lot of used ones on ebay lately, and I've noticed that many higher end vintage headshells... from Ortofon, SME and others, don't have adjustable "slots" in them. SMEs with a fixed set of mounting holes etc... Some have multiple sets of holes to adjust overhang, but a lot don't allow for any twist. This got me wondering, is this good? Bad?

My Well Tempered has no adjustment... you just screw on the cartridge. I know this is kinda controversial... but I find it kinda refreshing that I don't have to mess with it. Ha!

I'm needing to buy a couple of carts for my current TT projects, an SL-1200 which is getting modded (it's got a fixed headshell on the Sumiko Premier FT-3 I'm putting on it,) and my Fairchild which will have the modded 12" Schick tonearm I bought from @Tsingtao_1903. I am going to get one of these beautiful new Denon DL-A110 cartridges in it's fancy headshell... and it too, is non-adjustable. I think it's super cool and I can get a great price on one since my girlfriend's sister works for a dealer and hooks me up (Shhhhhh).


Pro's and cons of non-adjustable headshells? How crucial is alignment? Just curious who has thoughts.

- Woody
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
My gut feeling is that I wouldn't buy into that belief system. The whole reason for headshells with slots or sliding bases (SME) is that tolerances may stack up. The P to S distance may be a mm off, the actual arm-tube may be off a mm as well. The stylus to mounting distance could also be off a smidge. What about the ruler you bought for $3? Maybe off by a 1/2mm. Don't fool yourself into thinking all are perfect. The adjustment is there for a reason. Rega, I believe, thinks you don't need clean records. Not in my house.
 

ICTWoody

Junior Member
Remember that most if not all SME arms are adjusted at the pivot with their sliding base.
Yeah... and that would just adjust P-t-S distance. I've never really had any issues with IGD on my Well Tempered and so it makes me wonder.

I'll likely pickup a couple headshells to play with, with all the adjustments... but the Denon is just cool being LTD edition and stuff and I wonder why they went that route? It says the headshell is a copy of an old design... were the arms they went on that matched for broadcast? Did they just not care about perfection?

- Woody
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
I keep trying to find some info of that Denon but all the links seem to dead-end. Got any love there Woody?
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
Found a working link. Again, my "gut" impression is that is caters to the newly vinyl adopting crowd. No need to adjust anything, just plug and play. Again, not sure if it is bad but there is a reason for adjustment slots!
 
All my headshells have slots to adjust the cart - I have no idea what you are referring to. Not sure how you would align a cart w/o slots. Now many don't offer azimuth adjustment - only a few do - ex Sumiko HS12.

I wouldn't buy one w/o the slots - it really is no biggy. My VPI arms have slots and my handful of 7 or so headshells all have slots.
 

ICTWoody

Junior Member
Here's a few examples... I would say that catering to the "plug and play crowd" is a consideration... but these are big brands and it's some of their TOTL stuff that is non-adjustable for rotation... there has to be SOME reasoning to omit it on this stuff. Besides Audio-Technica, Yamamoto is another one that sells some pretty high-end ones with just pairs of holes.

- Woody





 

ICTWoody

Junior Member
Found a working link. Again, my "gut" impression is that is caters to the newly vinyl adopting crowd. No need to adjust anything, just plug and play. Again, not sure if it is bad but there is a reason for adjustment slots!

Again... MAYBE. But it's a $600 MSRP. Doesn't seem like the right target market for something like that.

- Woody
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
All my headshells have slots to adjust the cart - I have no idea what you are referring to. Not sure how you would align a cart w/o slots. Now many don't offer azimuth adjustment - only a few do - ex Sumiko HS12.

I wouldn't buy one w/o the slots - it really is no biggy. My VPI arms have slots and my handful of 7 or so headshells all have slots.
I would agree. My TNT MK-6 pivot to stylus distance is off 1.5mm when measured repeatedly with a steel ruler that is supposedly calibrated against some standard. I discussed this with Thom from Galibier TT at length and he said that is what the slots were for! He really is one of the experts in this field.
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
Well, the first one has adjustable overhang. The others seem to have multiple holes so overhang is adjustable in some form. Do what you want but overhang and zenith will NOT be optimized without adjustable headshell slots. You are trading coolness for accuracy IMHO.
 

ICTWoody

Junior Member
I would agree. My TNT MK-6 pivot to stylus distance is off 1.5mm when measured repeatedly with a steel ruler that is supposedly calibrated against some standard. I discussed this with Thom from Galibier TT at length and he said that is what the slots were for! He really is one of the experts in this field.

When talking pivot to spindle distance, is 1.5mm even something we should be concerned about? On my current projects everything is being done hyper-precise cause that's my nature. CNC, laser, waterjet cut etc... but if the ARM is mounted correctly... should it be aligned at those null points?

I guess I'm just wondering why a company like Yamamoto would make a titanium headshell that isn't cheap, and choose to put 4+ sets of holes instead of just machining the slots?

- Woody
 

ICTWoody

Junior Member
Well, the first one has adjustable overhang. The others seem to have multiple holes so overhang is adjustable in some form. Do what you want but overhang and zenith will NOT be optimized without adjustable headshell slots. You are trading coolness for accuracy IMHO.
I'm not sold on non-adjustable at all. In fact, I've never had a fixed headshell outside of my Well Tempered and it is my best sounding deck and seems to align well with my Dynavector 20X2L on it... so it's the only thing making an argument for a fixed position. It does have easily adjustable azimuth and reasonable easy adjustment for VTA. VTF is a given. So all I've really lost there is overhang (which can kinda be adjusted cause of the weird design)... and rotation.

It sounds great, so it's nice that I can't really fiddle with it too much.

- Woody
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
Yes. 0.5mm accuracy is the usual standard for cartridge alignment. Maybe 4 holes will give a mm accuracy or better? You seem to have your mind made up and you seem to have both a great sense of style AND a great sense of sound so don't let my opinion get in the way of your decision!
 

ICTWoody

Junior Member
Since when was price a determining factor when looking at precision vs appearance?

I'm not sure I am making price a factor, other than it makes me wonder why a company like A/T with their reasonably high-end offerings would choose to make their TOTL headshells, the ones arguably marketed to the top enthusiasts, have multiple fixed positions instead of the slots of their lower end offerings. It just seems counter-intuative.

- Woody
 

ICTWoody

Junior Member
Yes. 0.5mm accuracy is the usual standard for cartridge alignment. Maybe 4 holes will give a mm accuracy or better? You seem to have your mind made up and you seem to have both a great sense of style AND a great sense of sound so don't let my opinion get in the way of your decision!

This thread isn't really to inform my decision. My intention was for a discussion to ask WHY so many offerings seem to have made this choice?

Until I purged them all, I had 3 Sumiko HS-12 headshells and one LP Gear Zupreme which was an HS-12 knockoff. I think they are the best bang for the buck out there and likely I'll wind up with at least one of them.

- Woody
 

ICTWoody

Junior Member
I will say, in the past. I've been surprised how well a lot of cartridges align to protractor null points when I start out with them just square to the end of the headshell as a starting point. There is very often, when I mount the cart square to start, and then on my mirrored protractor they line up perfectly and I don't move them. Perhaps when an arm is precisely mounted the margin for error is less and stuff drops into place better? I'm not sure...

- Woody
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
When talking pivot to spindle distance, is 1.5mm even something we should be concerned about? On my current projects everything is being done hyper-precise cause that's my nature. CNC, laser, waterjet cut etc... but if the ARM is mounted correctly... should it be aligned at those null points?

I guess I'm just wondering why a company like Yamamoto would make a titanium headshell that isn't cheap, and choose to put 4+ sets of holes instead of just machining the slots?

- Woody
In re-reading your conjecture regarding accuracy, then you are correct. If the P-S distance is perfect, the arm-tube length is perfect, the head-shell junction is perfect, the cartridge stylus to mounting holes are perfect and the head-shell holes are prefect, the tracking force is perfect, then perhaps no adjustment is needed. Oh, the compliance of the cartridge is exactly as specified too. But what are you gaining in assuming all these parameters are perfect. Less than a mm off in overhang or zenith will differentiate good sound from great so what exactly are you trying to accomplish?
Yes, the headshells look way cool but at what cost? Good alignment costs NOTHING.
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
OK Woody, I'll stop trying to convince you that adjustable alignment is worth it. You seem to have great sounding systems and your style is not to be faulted. Awaiting your results!
 
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