Analog Magik

Jan 10, 2018
66
3
8
Golden CO
#41
Those are bad news. If the program depends on custom drivers for USB it means that probably it will operate only with a specific version of Windows. Does it support Windows 10?

BTW, where is the company located?
Yes, it works fine with Windows 10.

If you are asking about AM, I believe they are located in Toronto....
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
11,906
1,600
113
London
#42
Yes, it works fine with Windows 10.

If you are asking about AM, I believe they are located in Toronto....
It's Richard Mak's company. Yes Toronto. I like the way he writes reviews - tenor phono, 4 box CH phono, burmester phono, and the shootout between the Artemis, Schroeder reference, Durand Talea, Da Vinci grandezza was nicely written. Whether accurate or not I have no idea. But I liked his compare style and the recordings he used. His room pics are fantastic... Though, unfortunately, not horns :(

Would like to visit sometime.
 
May 30, 2010
15,506
715
113
Portugal
#43
It's Richard Mak's company. Yes Toronto. I like the way he writes reviews (...)
He wrote very nice things about my ARC phono stage - surely an excellent reviewer! :D
 

Kcin

Active Member
Mar 27, 2016
188
88
28
Canada
#44
He wrote very nice things about my ARC phono stage - surely an excellent reviewer! :D
Sonic priorites aside,at the very least, he has a lot of practical experience with a lot of very high end equipment in the analog realm. I have spoken to him at some gatherings. He's got context.
 

bazelio

Active Member
Sep 27, 2016
889
242
43
California
#45
Quite honestly, this tool looks very useful. I don't see (or maybe I missed) any measurement technique for dialing in zenith angle though. I find this the most challenging with the Feickert tool and am tempted to buy the AM tool for this reason alone. But I feel like if zenith is off, we're likely to overcompensate for it with Azimuth (which is easy to measure with Fozgometer) and still end up with an improperly setup cart.
 

mountainjoe

Industry Expert
Mar 25, 2015
121
41
28
Bay Area, California
eigenaudio.com
#46
Quite honestly, this tool looks very useful. I don't see (or maybe I missed) any measurement technique for dialing in zenith angle though. I find this the most challenging with the Feickert tool and am tempted to buy the AM tool for this reason alone. But I feel like if zenith is off, we're likely to overcompensate for it with Azimuth (which is easy to measure with Fozgometer) and still end up with an improperly setup cart.
I have the AM system but it doesn't cover zenith angle - the Smartractor has a good set of lines for this - though of course you are lining up to the cartridge body and not the stylus. I will experiment with the AM tool and see if zenith can be measured indirectly by looking at the azimuth measurements.

Cheers, Joe
 
Jan 10, 2018
66
3
8
Golden CO
#47
Quite honestly, this tool looks very useful. I don't see (or maybe I missed) any measurement technique for dialing in zenith angle though. I find this the most challenging with the Feickert tool and am tempted to buy the AM tool for this reason alone. But I feel like if zenith is off, we're likely to overcompensate for it with Azimuth (which is easy to measure with Fozgometer) and still end up with an improperly setup cart.
In a round about way I think it does but please forgive me, I used the term "yaw" in this thread earlier to describe zenith angle. Here is what I found when attempting to get my cartridge to respond to really poor initial VTA readings. I had confined my adjustments to within the parameters of my jig set and nothing was working. VTA readings with a level arm were in the range of 20% IMD (intermodulation distortion) on both channels. Anything over 5% is considered poor. Cranking VTA up and down had virtually no effect. As a last resort, I decided to give the cartridge a slight twist clockwise in the headshell, perhaps 1-2 degrees. %IMD dropped to 8-12%. A little more twist and similar reductions until a point is reached where readings begin to climb again. I assumed that I was squaring up the stylus to the groove in what I was doing then going beyond ideal. Rotation in the opposite direction had no positive effects. I have no way to confirm but have considered taking the cartridge to my school for a little SEM time to see if the stylus is mounted correctly. However with what some here might term radical departures from the Graham parameters, the zenith angle is nearly back to being square with the headshell in the current alignment.

In short, I found that I could get my rough VTA numbers to below 3% simply by adjusting zenith angle and then use VTA height adjustment (in concert with azimuth) for my final tweaks. I was rather amazed at how a barely perceptible amount of twist could have profound effects on the VTA results.
 

bazelio

Active Member
Sep 27, 2016
889
242
43
California
#48
In a round about way I think it does but please forgive me, I used the term "yaw" in this thread earlier to describe zenith angle. Here is what I found when attempting to get my cartridge to respond to really poor initial VTA readings. I had confined my adjustments to within the parameters of my jig set and nothing was working. VTA readings with a level arm were in the range of 20% IMD (intermodulation distortion) on both channels. Anything over 5% is considered poor. Cranking VTA up and down had virtually no effect. As a last resort, I decided to give the cartridge a slight twist clockwise in the headshell, perhaps 1-2 degrees. %IMD dropped to 8-12%. A little more twist and similar reductions until a point is reached where readings begin to climb again. I assumed that I was squaring up the stylus to the groove in what I was doing then going beyond ideal. Rotation in the opposite direction had no positive effects. I have no way to confirm but have considered taking the cartridge to my school for a little SEM time to see if the stylus is mounted correctly. However with what some here might term radical departures from the Graham parameters, the zenith angle is nearly back to being square with the headshell in the current alignment.

In short, I found that I could get my rough VTA numbers to below 3% simply by adjusting zenith angle and then use VTA height adjustment (in concert with azimuth) for my final tweaks. I was rather amazed at how a barely perceptible amount of twist could have profound effects on the VTA results.
And this begs the question, what were your subjective listening notes at 20% IMD vs 3%? :)

Interesting though. I think it's a bit disappointing that they don't provide a systematic method of tweaking zenith vs VTA vs aziumth, but I suppose a round about method is better than none.

One other question: do they recommend dialing anti-skate before or after making final azimuth adjustments?

Thanks!

PS, Thanks Joe, also.
 
Jan 10, 2018
66
3
8
Golden CO
#49
And this begs the question, what were your subjective listening notes at 20% IMD vs 3%? :)

Interesting though. I think it's a bit disappointing that they don't provide a systematic method of tweaking zenith vs VTA vs aziumth, but I suppose a round about method is better than none.

One other question: do they recommend dialing anti-skate before or after making final azimuth adjustments?

Thanks!

PS, Thanks Joe, also.
Yes it does beg the question....20% was system prior to making changes and did not conduct listening tests with just a change to zenith. Before jumping in with AM, the system sounded pretty good but couldn't help but think something was off. The short answer: at 20% VTA, azimuth adjustment was inconsequential (from an AM data viewpoint), even with extreme settings, so I would go back to the jig settings then start anew. When I figured it out and finally got below 3%, the azimuth adjustment was possible and can say that the improvement was very much to the positive. Night and day.

I said in an earlier post that I felt that fixing azimuth had the largest effect overall for it seems logical that if crosstalk is minimized then soundstage definition and focus should improve. The problem was that with zenith off, AM simply wasn't able to *see* the data well enough to report what was happening with azimuth, if that makes sense.

Anti-skate was a minor player when all was said and done, in fact I left it at the Graham equivalent of zero...adding any sort of weight only served to cause the numbers to decline. I performed anti-skate as the last adjustment.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,633
498
83
North Shore of Boston
#50
In a round about way I think it does but please forgive me, I used the term "yaw" in this thread earlier to describe zenith angle. Here is what I found when attempting to get my cartridge to respond to really poor initial VTA readings. I had confined my adjustments to within the parameters of my jig set and nothing was working. VTA readings with a level arm were in the range of 20% IMD (intermodulation distortion) on both channels. Anything over 5% is considered poor. Cranking VTA up and down had virtually no effect. As a last resort, I decided to give the cartridge a slight twist clockwise in the headshell, perhaps 1-2 degrees. %IMD dropped to 8-12%. A little more twist and similar reductions until a point is reached where readings begin to climb again. I assumed that I was squaring up the stylus to the groove in what I was doing then going beyond ideal. Rotation in the opposite direction had no positive effects. I have no way to confirm but have considered taking the cartridge to my school for a little SEM time to see if the stylus is mounted correctly. However with what some here might term radical departures from the Graham parameters, the zenith angle is nearly back to being square with the headshell in the current alignment.

In short, I found that I could get my rough VTA numbers to below 3% simply by adjusting zenith angle and then use VTA height adjustment (in concert with azimuth) for my final tweaks. I was rather amazed at how a barely perceptible amount of twist could have profound effects on the VTA results.
Very interesting comment about zenith angle. Regarding the VTA, is this distortion figure based on playing the test records? If so, and one succeeds in getting the IM distortion below 3%, what happens when you play your own music on a different LP, particularly one of different thickness? Would the IM distortion results not change? Have you asked the designer of this product about SRA for different records?
 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
925
462
63
#51
Where you position the tonearm ie alignment determines the arc of travel for your cartridge across the record.

Ideally alignment is based on at least two predetermined calculated null points any deviation from those points will introduce tracking distortions. Null location is derived from arm’s geometry and and will change accordingly if not based on the known alignment curves.

david
Yes, I can see that if one is aligning with a two null-point curve, that curve is specific to a particular tonearm. Or at least all of those type protractors I've seen are 'arm specfic. For a long time I used Wally Tractor's and had to have one for each 'arm. Superior to the Mint, imo.

With a protractor such as the popular SmarTractor that uses a single point (or the Uni-PRO which I have) the device is set to the correct P2S distance, then you adjust the cartridge to an overhang that puts the stylus in its 'right spot' and adjust for cantilever alignment. You pick a particular alignment (Baerwald, Loefgren, etc.) to do this.

So using that approach I figured I could align any tonearm to a particular alignment and presuming skill and the headshell allowing enough variance to adjust the cartridge, that the aligned cartridge matches the alignment I chose. For any 'arm. So finally here's my question: Would such an alignment be different if a tonearm specific two null-point protractor was used?

Sidebar: I'll note that for Dietrich's Uni-PRO tractor he offers plug-in over-hang templates for specific tonearms as well as 'generic' templates for the standard set along with Uni-Din. These tonearm specific templates are not available for the SmarTractor.

He adds this note for his Uni-Pro: This includes also all tonearms with an odd geometry. Tonearms NOT possible to align to any good results with any standard protractor.
Including tonearms like many vintage SAEC, Fidelity Research, Grace, Toho and many more, which do not follow Loefgren A / Baerwald nor Loefgren B nor Stevenson.


Maybe I'm answering my own question here (apologies). I assumed that if a tonearm physically allowed me align its cartridge to say Loefgren B, that tonearm accepted use of Loefgren B. Is that an incorrect assumption?
 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
925
462
63
#52
In a round about way I think it does but please forgive me, I used the term "yaw" in this thread earlier to describe zenith angle. Here is what I found when attempting to get my cartridge to respond to really poor initial VTA readings. I had confined my adjustments to within the parameters of my jig set and nothing was working. VTA readings with a level arm were in the range of 20% IMD (intermodulation distortion) on both channels. Anything over 5% is considered poor. Cranking VTA up and down had virtually no effect. As a last resort, I decided to give the cartridge a slight twist clockwise in the headshell, perhaps 1-2 degrees. %IMD dropped to 8-12%. A little more twist and similar reductions until a point is reached where readings begin to climb again. I assumed that I was squaring up the stylus to the groove in what I was doing then going beyond ideal. Rotation in the opposite direction had no positive effects. I have no way to confirm but have considered taking the cartridge to my school for a little SEM time to see if the stylus is mounted correctly. However with what some here might term radical departures from the Graham parameters, the zenith angle is nearly back to being square with the headshell in the current alignment.

In short, I found that I could get my rough VTA numbers to below 3% simply by adjusting zenith angle and then use VTA height adjustment (in concert with azimuth) for my final tweaks. I was rather amazed at how a barely perceptible amount of twist could have profound effects on the VTA results.
Fwiw, this is where a decent alignment protractor really makes a positive difference vs. your paper tractor. It not only gives the overhang position but also provides lines for positioning the cantilever (under the assumption you're really adjusting the stylus.) You may still have to twist the cartridge, but you'll have the correct spot to aim for - it eliminates the trial and error you went through.
 
Jan 10, 2018
66
3
8
Golden CO
#53
Very interesting comment about zenith angle. Regarding the VTA, is this distortion figure based on playing the test records? If so, and one succeeds in getting the IM distortion below 3%, what happens when you play your own music on a different LP, particularly one of different thickness? Would the IM distortion results not change? Have you asked the designer of this product about SRA for different records?
Yes, the distortion figure is from test record output. Based on my observations thus far, I would say that compared to zenith, changes to VTA have very little effect on the readings. Raising and lowering VTA produced something on the order of a tenth to maybe 0.5% change in IMD, so my expectation would be minimal %IMD variation with record thickness change. In this instance, I can see where a 12" arm would hold an advantage over a 9" in that the geometry would calculate a much lesser effect on angles for longer arms thus even less change to %IMD.

In real world listening, the combination of zenith/azimuth had more positive effect on music quality for me than VTA and as expected, in different ways. All I did was lower (usually) the tail a bit to take some edge off of the highs and call it good. If it sounded a bit dull, then raise the tail...the differences in sound were subtle. However, the zenith/azimuth fix was eye opening...I can't say for sure if it was distortion caused by zenith or crosstalk from azimuth (probably both) but the improvement for me has been profound. I have heard the term smearing bandied about and perhaps it is the best way to describe the change. Before there was sort of vagueness to where voices and instruments were located and now they seem to be focused with more separation if that makes sense....
 
Jan 10, 2018
66
3
8
Golden CO
#54
Fwiw, this is where a decent alignment protractor really makes a positive difference vs. your paper tractor. It not only gives the overhang position but also provides lines for positioning the cantilever (under the assumption you're really adjusting the stylus.) You may still have to twist the cartridge, but you'll have the correct spot to aim for - it eliminates the trial and error you went through.
I would agree that I need to upgrade my alignment protractor....I used the paper out of desperation for I have nothing beyond the manufacturer's jig. So yes, a protractor is now on the list....my wife is gonna kill me yet, that or I have to relent and let her buy more shoes... ;)
 
May 30, 2010
15,506
715
113
Portugal
#55
I would agree that I need to upgrade my alignment protractor....I used the paper out of desperation for I have nothing beyond the manufacturer's jig. So yes, a protractor is now on the list....my wife is gonna kill me yet, that or I have to relent and let her buy more shoes... ;)
Just one detail - why not simply relying on the Graham excellent jig and stick with its geometry?
 
Jan 10, 2018
66
3
8
Golden CO
#56
Just one detail - why not simply relying on the Graham excellent jig and stick with its geometry?
Because it didn't give me acceptable results. As stated earlier, my current alignment is well outside the Graham parameters. I spent days trying to figure out why I could not get things right (according to AM data) and had been limiting myself to a fairly narrow window (although one could argue that as wiggly as the Graham jig is, it has a rather large window to work in). It wasn't until I said to heck with it, I am gonna try something, anything different that I randomly chose Stevenson which just happened to get me closer to a sweet spot. With it I made some inroads but am not confident that it was was the end all answer. Being able to instantly monitor action/reaction was the answer. I was never going to be able to make the same evaluations by ear alone that AM afforded me within seconds.

Sometimes I do reconsider whether or not my cartridge is defective. What I have learned from my work and discussions here is that fancy jigs and alignment protractors cannot account for zenith errors. Only a tool such as AM can. My new rational would say that I could use a jig or protractor to give me a preliminary setup then fine tune it with AM. In the event that AM leads me to a setup that is is in left field, then use of a protractor to evaluate where I ended up could be useful. I don't yet know for sure but assume that devices, such as SMARTractor, have the ability to measure such outcomes.
 
May 30, 2010
15,506
715
113
Portugal
#57
Because it didn't give me acceptable results. As stated earlier, my current alignment is well outside the Graham parameters. I spent days trying to figure out why I could not get things right (according to AM data) and had been limiting myself to a fairly narrow window (although one could argue that as wiggly as the Graham jig is, it has a rather large window to work in). It wasn't until I said to heck with it, I am gonna try something, anything different that I randomly chose Stevenson which just happened to get me closer to a sweet spot. With it I made some inroads but am not confident that it was was the end all answer. Being able to instantly monitor action/reaction was the answer. I was never going to be able to make the same evaluations by ear alone that AM afforded me within seconds.

Sometimes I do reconsider whether or not my cartridge is defective. What I have learned from my work and discussions here is that fancy jigs and alignment protractors cannot account for zenith errors. Only a tool such as AM can. My new rational would say that I could use a jig or protractor to give me a preliminary setup then fine tune it with AM. In the event that AM leads me to a setup that is is in left field, then use of a protractor to evaluate where I ended up could be useful. I don't yet know for sure but assume that devices, such as SMARTractor, have the ability to measure such outcomes.
If the stylus is incorrectly oriented in the cantilever you will have a big problem, as any optical observation is meaningless. It seems to me you are looking for electrical measurements that could help to compensate for such problems - am I correct? IMHO it is not the typical situation of most audiophiles or the objective of Analog Magik.

I would suggest measuring your cartridge using AM in a linear tracking tonearm, such as the Eminent Technology - the simplest geometry we can have. Usually after assembling the cartridge I take a photograph at high resolution of the set and measure it on the screen taking information from pixel coordinates - much more reliable than my eyes inspecting it!

I do not know the details about the AM LPs - do they repeat the same tests at several different LP radius?
 
Jan 10, 2018
66
3
8
Golden CO
#58
If the stylus is incorrectly oriented in the cantilever you will have a big problem, as any optical observation is meaningless. It seems to me you are looking for electrical measurements that could help to compensate for such problems - am I correct? IMHO it is not the typical situation of most audiophiles or the objective of Analog Magik.
Yes, exactly...any normal alignment would be meaningless but can be revealed through tools such as AM. I would also agree that incorrectly oriented stylus would not be a normal malady, or I would hope so. Regardless, I think that AM on top of what ever normal alignment is used in primary set up is valuable for fine tuning.

would suggest measuring your cartridge using AM in a linear tracking tonearm, such as the Eminent Technology - the simplest geometry we can have. Usually after assembling the cartridge I take a photograph at high resolution of the set and measure it on the screen taking information from pixel coordinates - much more reliable than my eyes inspecting it!
Using a liner tracker is a great idea...unfortunately I don't know anyone who has one. My dept at the local university does have a SEM and I need to figure out what type of persuasion it will take to entice the professor to run the cartridge through the machine for a few pics. I think this is key understanding the true nature of what has been observed.

do not know the details about the AM LPs - do they repeat the same tests at several different LP radius?
They don't in a strict sense but they do provide a 45 rpm version and the tracks are at slightly differing radii. I ran my cart on the 45 and got very similar results. I am not sure that means much however.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,633
498
83
North Shore of Boston
#59
If the stylus is incorrectly oriented in the cantilever you will have a big problem, as any optical observation is meaningless. It seems to me you are looking for electrical measurements that could help to compensate for such problems - am I correct? IMHO it is not the typical situation of most audiophiles or the objective of Analog Magik.

I would suggest measuring your cartridge using AM in a linear tracking tonearm, such as the Eminent Technology - the simplest geometry we can have. Usually after assembling the cartridge I take a photograph at high resolution of the set and measure it on the screen taking information from pixel coordinates - much more reliable than my eyes inspecting it!

I do not know the details about the AM LPs - do they repeat the same tests at several different LP radius?
We must assume that the cutting head, originally used to make the groove, is square relative to the radii and therefor has a zero zenith angle. The stylii in our cartridges need to match that cutting head zenith angle for lowest distortion. Of course, ideally, they only match at the two null points, and everywhere else, using a pivoted arm, there is error and some amount of distortion.

I have taken an extreme close up of the stylus mounting on my cantilever from below using a USB digital camera. Once this image is enlarged on my computer, I can then see if the stylus is mounted squarely on the tip of the cantilever. If it is slightly off, then one could, in theory, slightly adjust the cantilever angle by eye to compensate and get fairly close in practice. I believe Tirebiter when he writes that proper zenith angle can be critical for good sound.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,965
498
83
Utah
#60
We must assume that the cutting head, originally used to make the groove, is square relative to the radii and therefor has a zero zenith angle. The stylii in our cartridges need to match that cutting head zenith angle for lowest distortion. Of course, ideally, they only match at the two null points, and everywhere else, using a pivoted arm, there is error and some amount of distortion.

I have taken an extreme close up of the stylus mounting on my cantilever from below using a USB digital camera. Once this image is enlarged on my computer, I can then see if the stylus is mounted squarely on the tip of the cantilever. If it is slightly off, then one could, in theory, slightly adjust the cantilever angle by eye to compensate and get fairly close in practice. I believe Tirebiter when he writes that proper zenith angle can be critical for good sound.
Why are we discussing the zenith angle when OP is still struggling with tracking angle which is the first step of setup and honestly if you have to burrow this far down the gopher hole to worry about zenith angles and cutting heads you're never going to get the sound you want from your vinyl rig.

david
 

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