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Fitting A Cartridge - Absolute Beginner Advice

Discussion in 'audio' started by Big Tabs, Jun 10, 2021.

  1. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    An introduction:

    I have never put a cartridge on a head shell, or set one up from scratch.

    Setting bias and cartridge weight I can do, and have no problems with those processes.

    My ‘B’ deck is a Heybrook TT2, with a Linn LV X tone arm. For a few years it has had an old Audio Technica 95 cart/stylus on it (the green one) - I use this deck for records that are tired, but very playable.

    When I had the cartridge swapped the cartridge on my ‘A’ deck (now a Ortofon 2m Black) I had the old cartridge removed, a Goldring 2100 and kept the 3 styli & cart. safe.

    The Goldring 2100 cartridge is now on the Linn LV X arm after about 4 hours of gentle swearing and doubt.

    I tried to print a template thing off of Vinyl Engine web site, but I have never used one and couldn’t understand how to use it. Gave up with that.
    Had a go with the Tony L recommended Azimuth/vertical tracking height perspex thing, but again, couldn’t get on with it. (I do understand the principle of setting azimuth and v.t.a.)

    So I have done it all by eye (the one that works not too bad).

    Question - What should I listen for in terms of set-up issues/mistakes?

    The music sounds balanced in terms of Left/Right speakers.
    I am on the third album to test the sound - no skipping, bass is present. Cymbals present.

    The tone arm lowering lever doesn’t work (I don’t use them anyways) and the rubber internal weight sleeve thing has perished, so I stuck a bit of blu-tac where the sleeve would be - works okay :)
    I set the weight at 1.7 g. for starters, in the middle of what is recommended for the 2100 cart.

    The tone arm looks parallel with the record when playing.

    I didn’t over tighten any bolts

    It sounds a lot better than the (probably) knackered A.T. cart.

    Anything obvious I should have done?

    No idea what overhang is, is that the stylus past the spindle?

    Please note that I find it difficult to understand technical terminology, and I tried watching youtube videos on the subject, but struggled to get it.

    Keep advice simple please, my brain doesn’t work properly.

    Note: the phono stage is an old Arkless, pre-turbo version, and sounds grand.
    Miss Ariel and naimplayer like this.
  2. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    Yes, overhang is a measure of how far the stylus tip need be past the exact centre of the platter spindle. For a presumed to be correctly mounted LV-X this should be 18mm.

    You could simply directly measure this by swinging the arm all the way over the spindle. Easiest way is to measure from the nearest side of the spindle to stylus tip, discounting 1/2 of the spindle diameter.

    Spindle radius is circa 3.5mm, so you'll want the tip circa 14.5mm past the side of the spindle that is nearest to the tip. A mm out either way isn't going to amount to anything audible.

    More importantly, make sure that the cartridge body is nice and square in the headshell.
  3. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    Thanks. Just measured that, looks about 18mm.

    The cart.body, headshell do not lend themselves to checking whether they are square-on. Odd shapes.
  4. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    Yes, those Nagaokarings must be like trying to align Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers series into a Mini (car, not skirt). :D
  5. ciderglider

    ciderglider pfm Member

    I have a mirrored template, bought in the 80s. It fits over the spindle, and gives two points where you should try and get the cartridge square with the template.
    Big Tabs likes this.
  6. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

    And I have never seen Austin Powers, I am aware that it is a film.
  7. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    That would be hard to use as the deck is on a shelf just over 4ft. I can’t get my head vertically over the deck to look down, and standing on a chair is a no-no.
    I get the idea though, if I could easily move the deck about, then that makes sense.
  8. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    No worries, it was a poor attempt at humour anyway.

    Enjoy the music!
  9. Jason P

    Jason P pfm Member

    I've aligned a cart before like this. If it sounds OK, and you're not hearing a gross difference between the beginning and end of a side (either way - i.e beginning good/end bad or vice-versa) then I would say relax and enjoy. There are various different alignment methods - all of which are a compromise in some area - so it might be that you've just hit the sweet spot.
    Big Tabs likes this.
  10. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    Good point.
    I haven’t heard any excessive distortion at the end of a record side, but I will have a specific listen tomorrow with a record that I know sounds fine on deck ‘A,’ especially the last tune.

    The stylus in the Goldring 2100 is fairly old, I have some newer ones, but thought I would start with the oldest/most used one first.
  11. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    Is there is nothing else I should be doing ???

    For those who are a bit nervous of having a go at changing a cartridge over, then it isn’t too bad.

    It would have been a lot harder if the headshell wasn’t detachable. And I would have had to have the deck moved to a flat table.

    If I can manage it, then it can’t be mission impossible.

    I might have a go at my daughters deck next, I have a spare cartridge to play with.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
  12. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    There’s a nice DVD on set up by Michael Fremer, if it’s still available. It helped me enormously.
  13. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    It amazes me that in the days when ignorance was bliss and you just bought a cart. and stuck it on, the resulting s.q. was accepted as fine. I wonder now if protractors and all the set-up procedures now accepted as de rigeur were used then, what resulting improvements could have been wrought.

    Having a detachable head-shell simply makes affixing the cart. easier and less risky. Once replaced on the arm, set-up procedures are the same. To my mind, overhang (esp. on a 9" arm?) is crucial. Aligning the canti/cart. body to be at 90 degrees of the grooves is also important. For these two, a protractor is, i.m.o., essential. Bias is by ear and VTF by scales or built-in device. VTA needs only a ruler or somesuch. Most important is a steady hand, reasonable eyesight and a loupe/magnifier (the latter mainly for inspecting/cleaning).
    Miss Ariel and Vinny like this.
  14. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    I think that I'd add - ideally - a logical process/sequence, a bit of patience (which I seldom have myself), and a total lack of haste (something else in short supply here).

    Oh, and a stylus guard, although totally weirdly, some cart's don't have one and some do not easily allow the mount bolts to be fitted with them on.
  15. Goldenmouse

    Goldenmouse pfm Member

    While installing a cartridge I find one must wear a baggy sleeved mohair jumper for a real adrenaline rush.
    Big Tabs, Mynamemynaim and Vinny like this.
  16. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    I must have failed then, because I don’t have a protractor.

    No stylus guard, or to be honest, I forgot to look if there was one.
    Certainly not one of those constantly attached flip up/down things.

    Goldring 2100 cartridge/stylus.
  17. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    I am unable to wear mohair. T-Shirt as per usual. (no branded wear)

    As for adrenaline rush, I was jolly nervous (sheeting me sen youth) and 90% expected to completely funk it up.
    It took hours.
    I couldn’t get the wire bits off of the four prongs that stick out the back of the cartridge for at least 15 minutes. I thought I was going to rip it apart, get a huff on and throw it at the wall.
    The following two hours 45 minutes were similar.

    My technique was not regular, but for whatever reason it doesn’t sound bad.

    The test will be when The Daughter has some time to come over and tell me it sounds sheet.
    Or, it is okay, which I think it is.
  18. zeon

    zeon pfm Member

    Yeah, they always put the kybosh on it Tabs
  19. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    Blunt tweezers for connectings/disconnecting the tags and only when the cart' is attached to the headshell. Perhaps the least hassle bit...

    It pays to brace the heel of your hand on something when removing them so that the movement when the tags come away is limited to as far as your fingers will move (not far).
  20. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    I used a combination of small pliers, a scalpel and my fingers, whilst it was in-situ on the tonearm. I don’t think the connections had been touched for 25 years+.

    Tweezers would have been a good idea.

    I do have some nice medical forceps, they would have worked even better.

    They didn’t move/come off easily, had to twist them a bit to loosen them. When they started moving I was very cautious to not yank them as the wires look fragile.

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