around alignment protractors to
get the most out of my turntables' transcription ability.
A while ago (few years) I had been stumped by some other Protractor
that I didn't really get, so I did not pursue it.
I then revisited the idea after reading about Seb's Arc Protractors online.
I personally had no issues using the standard Technics tool
for aligning my cartridge to the headshell.
It's still not a bad choice. But what I learned recently
shows defining proof that the Protractor gives you the most
For one of the most helpful and free (you can donate via paypal)
resources for dialing your turntable into it's absolute best,
For most Turntables and for what I'm focusing on the TECHNICS SL-1200MKII series
you can find effective protractors under
"Seb's Arc Protractors"
*image above is an example..do not use this image
to print for your template. Go to the actual
vinyl engine site and download the PDF
with the proper dimensions.
Before I get into details about my test and the results, I have to say using this method
I do get a positive very clear enhancement in the reading of grooves by my 1200
and Cartridge of choice.
After setting up 3 different Carts, the proof was there with all 3.
The carts I used : audio technica AT150mlx, AT554sa and the Nagaoka MP50
I have read rhetoric like "amazing new details revealed when using protractor" or "HUGE increase in lower distortion" ect ect. I DO believe some amazing changes could occur, but if you took the time
initially to set your turntable up with the white technics overhang gauge and zero out your
balance points and tweak your arm height for your individual cartridge, you should experience
a SUBTLE benefit. This is also keeping in mind you also know how
to use Anti Skating, and have a noise free system from link to link .
There is nothing that will knock your socks off like some act. It's a welcome
benefit, but I stress, it's not a new dimension in the way you hear a record.
Ok, now to the test results.
The Cartridge I'm spotlighting here is the lowest end Cart of the 3 I own, but it's no
slouch. It's an older Audio Technica (1974) AT554sa with Shibata diamond cut.
CLICK ON PICTURE BELOW TO
SEE A HIGH QUALITY CLOSE UP
OF SONOGRAPH DATA -
EASY TO SEE THE SUBTLE CHANGES !
SONOGRAPH DATA :
taken from 'DAKOTA STATON sings
ballads and the blues'
*original Mono Capitol pressing
A-1 : this is the example with the technics overhang
A-2 : this is the example with the Baerwald Arc
SONOGRAPH DATA :
taken from 'Various artists play
ROCK HITS' mid 70's canadian
unknown studio band (this LP
has bad dynamic range and lots of
noise/tape hiss present)
B-1 : this is the example with the technics overhang
B-2 : this is the example with the Baerwald Arc
SONOGRAPH DATA :
taken from 'Chris Montez'
45rpm MONO single
"call me / go head on" 1966
A-3 : this is the example with the technics overhang
B-3 : this is the example with the Baerwald Arc
I see a clear difference when dialing in to the Arc Protractor.
What is visually seen in the Sonograph data, is some obvious higher end clarity and
data retrieval in all the examples, the most subtle being the first LP.
The 45, you can see very readily the extended frequency range retrieved with the
You can see I have inverted a small passage on each just for contrast purpose
and have the pink box at top to see another contrast of diffusion of higher frequency as
it rolls off above 33khz.
What is also apparent to me is what looks like 'smearing' of data with the
Technics overhang guage settings. It seems boosted in sections with strong
energy but it's a loss of detail. That makes sense especially when one can
see the fine details being traced with the Baerwald settings and some 'air'
between notes. The sound could be described as fuzzy or smeared with the
Technics settings. At times sounding aliased even.
I stress, this is MINOR, but it is apparent.
For instance, the 2nd LP is part of a disco track that had an analogue
drum machine mixed deep into the sound. On the first setting, it sounds more
digital like. With the Baerwald setting, it stands out a little more in space of
the staging, and sounds organic, without an aliased sound.
I gathered with my time, a very revealing and 'sound' test (excuse the pun)
This turns out to be one of the few, free, effective tweaks anyone can do.
I highly recommend it if you want the most out of your vinyl.
(oh and a cartridge that is at least Shibata or Micro-line)