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SO WHICH CARTRIDGE ALIGNMENT METHOD DO YOU USE? BAERWALD, LOEFGREN OR STEVENSON

WHICH CARTRIDGE ALIGNMENT METHOD DO YOU USE, BAERWALD, LOEFGREN, STEVENSON OR NONE OF THESE ?  

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Hi All,

 

I am curious, which cartridge alignment method do you use  BAERWALD, LOEFGREN OR STEVENSON or something else and why?

 

Please include:

 

1. Cartridge type, including brand and model;

 

2. Turntable;

 

3. Tonearm;

 

4. Phono stage;

 

5. Type of music you listen to;

 

6. If you have photos, please include;

 

7. Reason you use a particular method over another and why?

 

I’m grateful for your contribution.

 

Kind Regards 

 

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Baerwald (Lofgren A) - various carts and arms (see signature below).

 

Reason why? Simple answer - it sounds better on the vast majority of my records, over the greatest amount of time. 

Most of my records don't run close to the label, and although Stevenson calculated his alignment for reduced inner groove distortion (more apparent on classical music with crescendos at the end of the side) I rarely encounter this scenario.

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Stevenson - because of IGD especially at the end of classical records.  However, with newer styluses, like microline, I find Baerwald is basically OK as well, still no IGD.      All we are talking about is choices of where the null points are.  There is a spreadsheet around the net I have seen that let's you arbitrarily choose your own and see what percent errors that results in.  However, it more important to get the error lowest where a record needs it,  and that's usually where the surface to stylus velocity is lowest, i.e. the end of the record.

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Hello folks, I selected the 'None Of These' option above, because I use the UNI-DIN alignment curve. All the information you need can be found here.:thumb:

 

Edit: The article I copied above for your perusal is quite lengthy, but Herr Brakemeier does list a synopsis of the sonic results below.

 

"UNI-DIN offers more headroom in critical passages.

Towards the inner grooves especially there is much cleaner sound with more stable

soundstage.

Sibilants in female voices are much easier to handle and feature notably fewer tendencies to

break up or become harsh and unnatural.

Soundstage dimensions and depth are increased and more stable over the entire record.

The sound in general is more relaxed and seems to have more headroom – the more the

record is cut towards the label, the more apparent to the ear."

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

Edited by cheekyboy

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1 hour ago, cheekyboy said:

Hello folks, I selected the 'None Of These' option above, because I use the UNI-DIN alignment curve. All the information you need can be found here.:thumb:...

Keith, how much difference do you hear with the UNI-DIN alignment - is it significant? 

 

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5 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

Keith, how much difference do you hear with the UNI-DIN alignment - is it significant? 

 

Like many things in this obsession [hobby]xD of ours, it comes down to personal taste, but I do enjoy the UNI-DIN alignment over the others and I have tried them all, mainly because it does significantly lower the level of distortion across the groove range, but particularly in the region of the inner grooves, where it is most needed. I also enjoy a fair amount of female vocal on LP and I prefer the playback using the UNI-DIN alignment for female vocal.

 

Deitrich Brakemeier does go into a fair amount of explanation regarding Loefgren, Baewald and UNI-DIN and how he arrived at this alignment in the article I included above.

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

 

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I don't understand how a particular alignment can improve female vocals. I thought it was just about choosing trade-offs with respect to linearity/non-linearity at various points across the record?

 

I use Stevenson, but just because it seems to be a bit of a 'standard' for the Japanese turntables I've owned. I haven't experimented with it.

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22 minutes ago, Monty said:

I don't understand how a particular alignment can improve female vocals. I thought it was just about choosing trade-offs with respect to linearity/non-linearity at various points across the record?

 

I use Stevenson, but just because it seems to be a bit of a 'standard' for the Japanese turntables I've owned. I haven't experimented with it.

I'm sorry Monty that you can't understand how that can happen, but I would encourage you to give it a try and let your own ears be your guide. Failing that, I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.:winky: I assume you read the article I posted, so you will have read Herr Brakemeier's reasoning as to why this is happening. How many different alignment curves, besides the Stevenson aligment have you experimented with?

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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I always use the alignment that was designed by the tonearm manufacturer.   Graham and VPI are classic examples of their tonearms designed using none of the big 3 - they are their own alignment.   I have used Baer and Stevenson with these, but keep going back to their own alignments as they sound best imo.

  

  My two Japanese tonearms use Stevenson type alignment and they sound best using Stevenson and that includes Uni-Din from Dietrich.

 

My Thales has its own alignment as does the my Naim ARO.

Edited by metal beat

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3 hours ago, cheekyboy said:

Hello folks, I selected the 'None Of These' option above, because I use the UNI-DIN alignment curve. All the information you need can be found here.:thumb:

 

Edit: The article I copied above for your perusal is quite lengthy, but Herr Brakemeier does list a synopsis of the sonic results below.

 

"UNI-DIN offers more headroom in critical passages.

Towards the inner grooves especially there is much cleaner sound with more stable

soundstage.

Sibilants in female voices are much easier to handle and feature notably fewer tendencies to

break up or become harsh and unnatural.

Soundstage dimensions and depth are increased and more stable over the entire record.

The sound in general is more relaxed and seems to have more headroom – the more the

record is cut towards the label, the more apparent to the ear."

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

Hi Keith.

 

First I've heard of the UNI-DIN alignment - but it sure sounds interesting!  :thumb:

 

Where do I get a protractor with the UNI-DIN alignment points?

 

 

Thanks,

Andy

 

13 hours ago, Citroen said:

 

Baerwald (Lofgren A) - various carts and arms (see signature below).

 

 

I notice you have a DV505, Cliff.  When I bought one with my LP12 in 1979, I remember Graeme Rodwell (of The Soundcraftsman) telling me they (DV) had set it up for the Stevenson alignment - which would seem to tie up with @metal beat's comment that his 2 Japanese arms use Stevenson.

 

Andy

 

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1 minute ago, andyr said:

 

Hi Keith.

 

First I've heard of the UNI-DIN alignment - but it sure sounds interesting!  :thumb:

 

Where do I get a protractor with the UNI-DIN alignment points?

 

 

Thanks,

Andy

 

 

I notice you have a DV505, Cliff.  When I bought one with my LP12 in 1979, I remember Graeme Rodwell (of The Soundcraftsman) telling me they (DV) had set it up for the Stevenson alignment - which would seem to tie up with @metal beat's comment that his 2 Japanese arms use Stevenson.

 

Andy

 

Hello Andy, the UNI-DIN is one of the alignment curves on the Acoustical Systems SmarTractor and I can help you with that, or you could contact Stuart and Harry at SGR down there.

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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24 minutes ago, andyr said:

I notice you have a DV505, Cliff.  When I bought one with my LP12 in 1979, I remember Graeme Rodwell (of The Soundcraftsman) telling me they (DV) had set it up for the Stevenson alignment - which would seem to tie up with @metal beat's comment that his 2 Japanese arms use Stevenson.

 

Andy

 

The DV505 alignment gauge gives null points  at 60.1mm and 116.5mm (basically Stevenson  - 60.3 and 117.4mm) while Baerwald's are at 66mm and 120.9mm.

 

I see UNI-DIN has them at 63.3 and 112.5mm, giving a higher THD but less where it matters in the inner grooves?

 

95% of my vinyl is non-classical, so I'll stick to Baerwald.

Hadn't thought about it before but maybe I should set up one arm with UNI-DIN dedicated to playing classical LPs...

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My old turntable , a Thorens TD 125 with a modified Acos  Hi-Light pickup arm has been virtually  in storage for about 20 years. That information is just to conform with the request by Jake123. In the past I used the BJ  alignment protractor supplied by  Burne-Jones & Co. Ltd.  This innovative device allows the tracking error to be measured anywhere on a disc ( in inches only ) and this means you can set up  an arm accurately  when you do not have the manufacturer's  pivot to spindle, overhang and offset information to start with and you do not have to decide on of whose formula is the flavour of the month.  Keeping inner groove distortion to the barest minimum  requires precision in adjusting the arm and cartridge and  the fine line styli (  Shibata, microline etc ) are  certainly better in this regard ; however inner groove distortion still occurs with linear tracking arms and is an inherent weakness in  LP microgroove  recordings.

Edited by VanArn
addition

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I voted none of these. Potentially opening myself up to serious mocking here......but I use my EYES. All my carts sound wonderful.....

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13 minutes ago, stevoz said:

I voted none of these. Potentially opening myself up to serious mocking here......but I use my EYES. All my carts sound wonderful.....

 

Sorry, Steve but how do you use your eyes to decide where your cart bolts should be located in your headshell slots?

 

Or doesn't your headshell have slots - only 2 holes for the bolts?  :o

 

Andy

 

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23 minutes ago, andyr said:

 

Sorry, Steve but how do you use your eyes to decide where your cart bolts should be located in your headshell slots?

 

Or doesn't your headshell have slots - only 2 holes for the bolts?  :o

 

Andy

 

Slots. I do use an overhang gauge.....there's that settled. As for alignment.....I trust my eyes.....then my ears. I know it sounds cocky but I'm a bit lazy......and a bit cocky.😄

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Just now, stevoz said:

.I trust my eyes

Seriously, you can use the grooves on any record to set alignment.  It's easier if there are lots of tracks on the LP,  then you can get an approx. alignment of the body against the track spacing.   If you look very close, and are good at judging when the cantilever is tangential to the groove circle, you might actually get it fairly close.

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3 hours ago, stevoz said:

Slots. I do use an overhang gauge.....there's that settled. As for alignment.....I trust my eyes.....then my ears. I know it sounds cocky but I'm a bit lazy......and a bit cocky.😄

 

You and av seem to have a slightly different definition of 'alignment' to me.  :)

 

An overhang guage is one way of getting the stylus in the correct position (an arc protractor, like I use, is another); the other part of 'alignment', to me is getting the cartridge offset angle correct.  I take your word for it that you can use record grooves to do this - I've only ever used the crosshatch areas on cart protractors.

 

But sure, these 2 things only get you to approximately the right place; it would be perfect if the cantilever was set truly in the cart body and the stylus was set correctly in the cantilever.  But generally they're not 100% accurate - hence, yes, ears are required.

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr

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10 hours ago, andyr said:

 

You and av seem to have a slightly different definition of 'alignment' to me.  :)

 

An overhang guage is one way of getting the stylus in the correct position (an arc protractor, like I use, is another); the other part of 'alignment', to me is getting the cartridge offset angle correct.  I take your word for it that you can use record grooves to do this - I've only ever used the crosshatch areas on cart protractors.

 

But sure, these 2 things only get you to approximately the right place; it would be perfect if the cantilever was set truly in the cart body and the stylus was set correctly in the cantilever.  But generally they're not 100% accurate - hence, yes, ears are required.

 

Andy

 

 

Over the years, Andy, I've visited many setups that were aligned, with or without a protractor, to an approximation of those parameters you've mentioned and it was always enjoyable to see their jaw drop when the cartridge was actually aligned correctly and dialed in 100%. My sight is not that great these days anyway, so for me a good magnifying glass is a prerequisite and I always align the cantilever using said magnifying glass...................the next step is to listen, for sure.:thumb:

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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@andyr is so correct, in that cantilever and stylus are not always set perfectly in their respective positions.

 

ALL of the alignments are flawed. Its a matter of which one has less flaws for your set up/software.

 

Of course, you could eliminate this "uncertainty" with a linear tracking arm ;)

340619688_Terminatorb.jpg.db2abd36391b4a17319f9bc08bcac200.jpg

 

 

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1 hour ago, Citroen said:

@andyr is so correct, in that cantilever and stylus are not always set perfectly in their respective positions.

 

ALL of the alignments are flawed. Its a matter of which one has less flaws for your set up/software.

 

Of course, you could eliminate this "uncertainty" with a linear tracking arm ;)

 

 

340619688_Terminatorb.jpg.db2abd36391b4a17319f9bc08bcac200.jpg

 

 

 

I don't see how a tangential arm eliminates all  the 'uncertainty' in cart setup, Cliff?  Or does the 'little arm' which the cart is attached to ... only have holes - not slots?  If so, then yes, the cart body is certainly tangential to the grooves (if the arm has been positioned correctly) but:

  • if the cantilever is not 'true' wrt the cart body ... how do you adjust for this?
  • and if the stylus is not set absolutely vertically on the cantilever ... how do you adjust azimuth?

 

And I would've thought (given a high compliance cart sounds its best when it is matched with an arm which has a very low eff mass - like my Magnepan 'Unitrac'. at 7gm) that a linear tracking arm is not suitable for a high compliance cart ... given sideways movement is constrained.

 

Andy

 

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Yes, of course linear tracking arms aren't perfect. 

 

But I think that they at least lessen the tracking error problem.

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I use the protractor that comes with the arm I'm using at the time.

The SME's work fine and are easy to use.

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An AP test record and Fozgometer certainly help correct the error caused by human eyesight.

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A  lot of people are overthinking this.  It isn't hard to do an alignment accurate to the point of no audible improvement being possible. I set my microlines and other line contacts up in a few minutes using a normal 2 point protractor.  I have fiddled about seeing if the basic alignment can be improved and it is rare that any improvement can be achieved. I think this is because the difference between Lofgren Baerwald and Stevenson is not great, and most times, aligning by eye, you'll be somewhere in the range between the three, closest to the one you targeted, and all will perform well.

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