The Reliability of Tonearm+Cartridge Fundamental Resonance Charts/Calculators

Al Stewart

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May 14, 2017
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I'm hoping to learn from others on this topic. How reliable is the Tonearm+Cartridge fundamental resonance chart/calculators found at resfreq.com or vinyl engine? What is the actual "target" range for the resonance frequency? Is it 7-12Hz? 8-12Hz? 9-11Hz? And what is the underlying objective standard for these ranges?

Resfreq.com has the optimum range between 8-12Hz, but notes a 40+ year old white paper with a very different frequency range as follows: "It is interesting to note that Poul Ladegaard of 'Bruel og Kjaer' determined empirically that the 'best" resonance frequency would be much higher (15Hz to 18Hz) than what is normally considered desirable. See his excellent AES paper published here."

I'm asking because when you do the math on a 12g cartridge weight (e.g. Lyra Atlas Lambda SL) using the resfreq.com calculator (and including a 1.5X conversion rate for 100Hz/10Hz reported values--making the 12 reported by Lyra at 100Hz come out to 18 at 10Hz), you need to have a 10g effective mass tonearm to hit 8Hz.

According to Galen Carol's website a 10g effective mass tonearm is considered low mass--see below:
"A tonearm whose effective mass is rated at 10 grams or below is considered low mass (e.g. early SME’s, Grace 747 etc.). A tonearm whose effective mass is rated between 11 and 25 grams is considered moderate mass (e.g. SME 309, IV, IV-Vi, V, Triplanar, Graham). Arms above 25 grams of mass are high mass in nature (Eminent Technology, Dynavector)."

Yet, Lyra's website recommends the following for use with the Lyra Atlas Lambda SL cartridge (from Lyra website):
"Recommended tonearm: Medium to Medium-High mass arms recommended, which is bulk of tonearm market"

I'm interesting in others' actual experience on this subject. Are the calculators a reliable beginning point? A reliable ending point? One of many points to be considered?
 

Solypsa

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Jun 7, 2017
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As you likely know the guiding idea here is: resonant frequency too low and cart is vulnerable to excitation by 'environmental factors' like subway trains, earth tremors etc. and too high makes the cart unstable with lf musical content. In my experience what effective mass arm sounds best with a given cart sometimes can be a search of its own outside the academic calculations. For some years ( iirc ) J Carr of Lyra used an FR64S tonearm in his studio which is quite high mass. Are you matching a Lyra per your example?
 
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Al Stewart

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May 14, 2017
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@Solypsa Thanks for the reply.

Actually, I didn't know the guiding idea, so that's helpful. And to your question, yes the Lyra Atlas Lambda SL I used as an example is, in fact, my own. I currently have a 10.5" Reed 3P Cocobolo tonearm. I started using it with a VdH Crimson Strad cartridge. Very nice match. The VdH website doesn't provide the kind of information that allows resfreq.com calculations, it simple says, "use a tonearm that has an effective mass in the following range." I like that specific approach, frankly.

Thereafter, I bought the Atlas Lambda SL and switch b/w these cartridges on the Reed 3P. I'm now contemplating adding a tonearm to my TT rig--so I have two mounted tonearms. I'm currently doing "objective" research to determine an excellent tonearm match for the Lyra cartridge. That research has led to these seemingly contradictory statements noted in my first post.
 

Solypsa

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I don't have an Atlas SL to try so hopefully a few others will chime in. I have heard the previous Atlas sound fantastic in a Primary Control Gravity tonearm which I believe is around 17g leading some weight to the direction cited by Lyra for medium mass...pun intended :)
 

Al Stewart

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May 14, 2017
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The fact that folks have great outcomes "outside" the 7-12Hz?, 8-12Hz?, 9-11Hz? standards has me asking the question what is the "standard" upon which these noted "ranges" are based?
 

Solypsa

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Jun 7, 2017
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I think you may have answered your own queastion...the target range for resonant freq is important but not the only factor...
 

Al Stewart

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May 14, 2017
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Possibly, but one could also argue it isn't important at all. If it doesn't apply all the time, or most of the time, or a plurality of the time, then it really isn't meaningful is it? Hopefully someone can help identify what the source of the ranges are then that will help determine when they do and don't generally apply.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
5,835
3,149
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Utah
I'm hoping to learn from others on this topic. How reliable is the Tonearm+Cartridge fundamental resonance chart/calculators found at resfreq.com or vinyl engine? What is the actual "target" range for the resonance frequency? Is it 7-12Hz? 8-12Hz? 9-11Hz? And what is the underlying objective standard for these ranges?

Resfreq.com has the optimum range between 8-12Hz, but notes a 40+ year old white paper with a very different frequency range as follows: "It is interesting to note that Poul Ladegaard of 'Bruel og Kjaer' determined empirically that the 'best" resonance frequency would be much higher (15Hz to 18Hz) than what is normally considered desirable. See his excellent AES paper published here."

I'm asking because when you do the math on a 12g cartridge weight (e.g. Lyra Atlas Lambda SL) using the resfreq.com calculator (and including a 1.5X conversion rate for 100Hz/10Hz reported values--making the 12 reported by Lyra at 100Hz come out to 18 at 10Hz), you need to have a 10g effective mass tonearm to hit 8Hz.

According to Galen Carol's website a 10g effective mass tonearm is considered low mass--see below:
"A tonearm whose effective mass is rated at 10 grams or below is considered low mass (e.g. early SME’s, Grace 747 etc.). A tonearm whose effective mass is rated between 11 and 25 grams is considered moderate mass (e.g. SME 309, IV, IV-Vi, V, Triplanar, Graham). Arms above 25 grams of mass are high mass in nature (Eminent Technology, Dynavector)."

Yet, Lyra's website recommends the following for use with the Lyra Atlas Lambda SL cartridge (from Lyra website):
"Recommended tonearm: Medium to Medium-High mass arms recommended, which is bulk of tonearm market"

I'm interesting in others' actual experience on this subject. Are the calculators a reliable beginning point? A reliable ending point? One of many points to be considered?
This is all good and fine in theory, select cartridge a cartridge from column A and according to the chart any arm on column C should be a decent match, easy peasy! Unfortunately reality is very different, tonearm resonances aren't linear and most have shortcomings and coloration to boot. Let's not forget the turntable and armboard resonance that become part of the whole and throw a monkey wrench at these charts. I wouldn't put much or any stock in them, there's no substitute for experience.

david
 

Al Stewart

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May 14, 2017
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David,
Thank you for responding. Based on what I've seen from previous posts of what many folks say is a great match between cartridge and tonearm, I would suggest that in the majority of circumstances, the fundamental resonance charts/calculators would "discourage" the pairing. I'm not sure why folks would consult the charts if they aren't inherently reliable.

I'm not advocating for the charts. Frankly, I just learned about them recently. And once I started doing the "math", it seemed that the fundamental resonance charts weren't very "fundamental." I'm trying to figure out who is actually supporting their use or value and the underlying basis for considering them.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
5,835
3,149
870
Utah
David,
Thank you for responding. Based on what I've seen from previous posts of what many folks say is a great match between cartridge and tonearm, I would suggest that in the majority of circumstances, the fundamental resonance charts/calculators would "discourage" the pairing. I'm not sure why folks would consult the charts if they aren't inherently reliable.
Unfortunately high end sound is unrealized by majority of audiophiles who've bought into high end hype and spent tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars on gear. IMO there's way too much noise and bad advise surrounding this hobby including incomplete information like these charts. Setup is another problem where some are offering paint by numbers packages to unsuspecting audiophiles where measurements and some numerical values are supposedly replacing experience and knowledge. I'm not saying that measurements are worthless just that they're only a part and not the whole.
I'm not advocating for the charts. Frankly, I just learned about them recently. And once I started doing the "math", it seemed that the fundamental resonance charts weren't very "fundamental." I'm trying to figure out who is actually supporting their use or value and the underlying basis for considering them.

There are WBF members who find the charts valuable and go by them and there are some threads discussing them with more detail.

david
 

Al Stewart

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May 14, 2017
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David,
Again, thanks for your thoughts. Regarding the threads on WBF discussing resonance frequency, I think I've read all of them, or at least all I could find using the WBF search tools.
Al
 
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Yeti

Member
Dec 25, 2020
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The usual calculators don’t take into account damping and there are various places where damping can occur in a tonearm/cartridge/deck system even if there is no overt provision for it. using the calculator on Vinyl Engine gave a resonance for a SPU Royal N on my Schröder with an 18g EM gave a result somewhere around 10 or 11 but a test record initially failed to find any. Once I’d run a few setup iterations and had it sounding as best as I could get it the 7Hz track was triggering a wobble despite the masses being unchanged. 7Hz was also where the resonance showed up with a tuned in Transfiguration Prteus with the arm mass at 13g. On that occation it fitted the calculation if the compliance was quoted at 100Hz, I’d assumed it was 10 but that probably was wrong.

Korf audio have another take on a resonance calculator, I don’t know if it’s right either but so far I can’t disagree with the results.
 

miniguy

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Dec 18, 2013
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San Diego area
The standard charts are theoretically correct. However you cannot rely on them because most cartridge manufacturers’ compliance specs are not accurate and there is no universal agreement on standards for measurement references. The only reliable way to know where you are is to use the vertical and horizontal resonance tracks on the Hi-Fi News test record to visually and easily observe where the resonant peaks are.
 
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Al Stewart

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May 14, 2017
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@Yeti Thanks for the feedback. I find it helpful. I will check out the Korf audio calculator and see how the math plays out with it.
 

Al Stewart

Well-Known Member
May 14, 2017
72
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@miniguy Thanks for contributing. I will check out the Hi-Fi News test record.

With the significant prices for many tonearms and many cartridges you would think there would be a strong demand for a uniform measurement reference standard. Frankly, because the charts seem more theoretical than practical (based on the input on this thread), I don't know that it makes much sense to go through the exercise of consulting them. So far, no one has posted support for their actual relevance.
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
18,807
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The standard charts are theoretically correct. However you cannot rely on them because most cartridge manufacturers’ compliance specs are not accurate and there is no universal agreement on standards for measurement references. The only reliable way to know where you are is to use the vertical and horizontal resonance tracks on the Hi-Fi News test record to visually and easily observe where the resonant peaks are.

Yes, the first thing to ask is if they list dynamic or static compliance. For more details we can see https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?t=110426 and the included links.

I usually couple a sound card spectra analyzer to the phono preamp output to read the frequency. Then we can compute the dynamic compliance and compare with the listed result - provided that the tonearm effective mass data is accurate!
 

mtemur

Well-Known Member
Mar 26, 2019
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The usual calculators don’t take into account damping and there are various places where damping can occur in a tonearm/cartridge/deck system even if there is no overt provision for it. using the calculator on Vinyl Engine gave a resonance for a SPU Royal N on my Schröder with an 18g EM gave a result somewhere around 10 or 11 but a test record initially failed to find any. Once I’d run a few setup iterations and had it sounding as best as I could get it the 7Hz track was triggering a wobble despite the masses being unchanged. 7Hz was also where the resonance showed up with a tuned in Transfiguration Prteus with the arm mass at 13g. On that occation it fitted the calculation if the compliance was quoted at 100Hz, I’d assumed it was 10 but that probably was wrong.

Korf audio have another take on a resonance calculator, I don’t know if it’s right either but so far I can’t disagree with the results.
I’m checking resonance frequency with a test record and software. I installed a lot of cartridges and tonearms in the last couple of years and I can say vinylengine calculator is correct. if everything is ok you get a resonance frequency reading very close to calculated (if the published compliance is correct). but unfortunately most of the unipivot/unrigid tonearms unable to pass through 7-12Hz. only the race bearing, ball bearing/rigid tonearms (equipped with good bearings of any kind with tight tolerances) can sail through easily 7-12Hz. some good examples are almost all SME Vs and 312s, SAT CF-09, AS Axiom. SME 3012 and 3009 can not. one exception is J. Sikora 12” I recently installed (I’m sure there are other examples from various brands). it wasn’t perfect like a rigid arm but very good regarding it’s a unipivot. I know it will sound controversial but that’s the result.

another common problem is cartridge’s suspension. against common belief cartridge manufacturers rarely hit their published compliance numbers. unfortunately expensive cartridges are worse compared to cheaper ones. maybe I only encountered bad examples. I mean most of the cheap cartridges have less problems in this regard. that’s strange but that’s what I observed. if the compliance is not what it has to be due to deterioration or manufacturing defect then the resonance frequency can not be measured either.

I measured enough cartridges to understand only by looking while it’s sailing through resonance track if there is a problem or not. cause low frequency signal makes it shake like crazy. but it’s better not to rely only on your eyes.

it takes too much to explain but as a summary, there are mainly to culprits for resonance mismatch; tonearm’s bearings and cartridge’s suspension. there can be other factors like loose screws, main weight etc but they can be fixed.

so what happens if you measure a cartridge and can not find a resonance frequency? it depends how worse the situation is. I’ve seen both huge distortions, jumps and mistracking and just raising resonance frequency up to 30Hz. in both cases it is hard to understand anything by ear but especially in the latter it is almost impossible to detect anything by ear. cause lack of resonance frequency in between 7-12Hz adds distortion and coloration to huge portion of audible frequency band. this coloration (caused either by tonearm or cartridge) is not always conceived as bad and usually sounds like more decay, harmonics, air etc which are not inscribed to Lp originally. I have seen new cartridges with bad suspension which I opened the box.
I only shared my experience I don’t want to prove anything and I didn’t go into details. you may not agree with me that’s ok.
 
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Al Stewart

Well-Known Member
May 14, 2017
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@mtemur Thank you for the detailed information. I'm interested in knowing whether you have posted any of your results on the vinyl engine site? I note that it allows members to include information they have about both tonearms and cartridges.
 

mtemur

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Mar 26, 2019
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@mtemur Thank you for the detailed information. I'm interested in knowing whether you have posted any of your results on the vinyl engine site? I note that it allows members to include information they have about both tonearms and cartridges.
no I haven’t. there can be strong objections. I don’t wanna start arguments
 

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