Friday, December 24, 2010

Stylus gauge blues part 2

Well, my jousting with Music Direct resulted in a second purchased stylus gauge arriving (though no reimbursement of the original cost as yet but it's promised), this one, I am told, was checked before sending. Yes, it arrived and it works, calibrating spot-on 5g, despite reports elsewhere that this was a problem with others. Thank you Rocco at MD (where my complaining emails ended up) for stepping up.

Quick check of my set-by-ear-VTF revealed me within the 1.6-1.9g range recommended by Benz for my cartridge, leaning slightly to the light side. The drop counterweight on my JMW 10 only takes a little adjustment to increase force measurably but I decided to go the whole hog and reset everything, with pleasing results, but am still tweaking VTA within a small range.

The Audio Additives gauge has a peculiarity in that it registers slight positive weight (in the 100ths range) when my cartridge sits over but not touching the tray, presumably due to magnetic influence and the ever helpful Rocco  suggested taking the batteries out of the gauge and resintalling which I'll try, as well as running the demag function on my PPP to see if this changes anything. Not too worried, I take the 'precision' of these gauges with a pinch of salt, I just want to get to the nearest 10th and then be able to trust my ears from there. It does seem necessary with the JMW, and probably every arm, to measure at several points across the arc travelled by the stylus since VTF varies and one could become obsessive over these numbers ('could' being an understatement with vinyl afficianados). All told, I'll stick with this gauge but I can't say it inspires much confidence or pride of ownership. It's about good enough for me but one thinks there has to be a market there for something a bit better but not so costly as The Cartridge Man, but maybe not. I just wished companies would fess up that these are generic gauges, no matter what name is on the outside and I really doubt that the dealer on A'gon who claims to have these specially made to his standards is sourcing anything different than this product.

Of course, once you get into vinyl and want to set things up yourself (which sooner or later you will have to given the dealership network for tables), you will find you can spend a small fortune on tools related to setting up the basic gear: a gauge ($80), a cartridge alignment tool ($80-250), a test record ($30), an azimuth checker ($250), etc......and all this before you play a tune! There's a story waiting to be written here and I'm on it....

No comments: