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Thread: How to correctly mount a cartridge and set up a tonearm

  1. #1
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    How to correctly mount a cartridge and set up a tonearm

    This got asked a bit on the old site and it's just been asked again, so I thought it was thread-worthy.

    Mounting the cartridge in the correct position: -

    If you've got Technics 1200s they may have come with an overhang gauge that works like this: -



    If so, you move the cart into a position where the needle tip matches up with the markings on the end of the gauge. For other turntables or if you don't have a gauge, you can Google for info or check the manual.

    My personal opinion is to always mount the cart straight. Some DJs will angle the cart if they're using a turntable that doesn't have an S-shaped tonearm, but I don't think there's any good reason to do that.

    Once the cart is in the correct position and you've made sure it's straight, do the screws/bolts up nice and tight so it won't move around.

    Setting the tonearm height: -

    Follow these steps to set the tonearm height: -

    1. Undo the little lever that locks the tonearm height.
    2. Place a record on your turntable and put the needle down on the record, but don't hit start (i.e. the record's not spinning).
    3. Turn the height adjustment ring so that the tonearm is horizontal (i.e. not leaning down towards the stylus end, or even worse, up towards the stylus end).
    4. Lock the tonearm height in place.

    Setting the tonearm weight: -

    Follow these steps to set the tonearm weight: -

    1. Adjust the weight on the tonearm so that it floats/balances.
    2. Turn the weight gauge ring so it's set to 0, but without turning the weight itself (the tonearm should still be floating/balancing at this point).
    3. Now turn the weight to add the required number of grammes.

    If you don't know how many grammes to add, check the documentation that came with your cart/stylus, or Google for info.

    Setting the anti-skate if your turntable has one: -

    There's 2 schools of thought on this: -

    1. Set it to 0.
    2. Set it to match the number of grammes of weight you added to the tonearm.

    Personally I always go for option 1 as that seems to minimise skipping when cueing or scratching.

    And that's basically it!

  2. #2
    Nice one Sigma

    Another way of setting the anti-skate is to put a blank sided record on the deck and lower the stylus onto it. With the platter spinning the tone arm will either move towards or away from the spindle. Then you adjust the anti-skate until the tone arm sits still.

    For setting the position of the cart on the headshell I use a stylus protractor from here.
    www.dnbradio.com

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  3. #3
    Supermod pea Manu's Avatar
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    If you don't know how many grammes to add

    Aim for 2 grams to start with, it's often 2.5g on average +/-, hifi cartridges require less. You can also find out by listening to the record. The harsher it sounds the further you're getting away from the optimum weight calibration.

    Don't freaking glue coins on your carts, you'll just increase the wear and tear for both needle and record

    :edit: I always leave my anti skate off. It pushes against the outer of the groove, that ain't too great for sound quality or wear. Thought debatable because the antiskate makes the end of the record sound better(the record tends to sound harsher when approaching the center). Yes I know I'm splitting hair at this point.
    Last edited by Manu; 02-24-2012 at 12:36 PM.

  4. #4
    The tonearm height adjustment only works with the overhang gauge right?
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  5. #5
    Member BuddyUK's Avatar
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    Put the counterweight on your tonearm backwards so it looks well banging innit


  6. #6
    Chubby Cox Hausgeist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyUK View Post
    Put the counterweight on your tonearm backwards so it looks well banging innit
    Sweet fuck, I have a friend who does this. He pushes the damn things all the way up against the gimbals too.

    Yeah, my records don't go on those decks.
    Everybody is going to have an opinion.
    Just do your thing to the best of your ability and have fun with it.

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  7. #7
    Deez Beats! KLH's Avatar
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    GREAT post Sigma. Saved my azz.

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  8. #8
    Member HarryK's Avatar
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    Soo, recently I started using a Mk2 and just bought a new cartridge, Ortofon OM Pro S. Though I've set it up just as this guide, ellaskins' videos, the Ortofon website and cartidge manual suggest, I believe the sound is distorted...

    While setting up, I tried using 4gr counterweight as per the manual, but it wouldn't reach that far, so I used 3,5gr. I noticed the sound was somewhat distorted in my headphones. I turned the counterweight to 3gramms and have left it there. Ortofon suggest 3-5gr of tracking weight, so i'm at the lowest limit. I still believe the sound is distorted. Also, on my mixer, when using the phono input, in order to achieve matching levels with the sound of my Traktor Audio 2, I have to turn up the phono gain pot much less than that of the TA2 input.

    The only vinyl I currently have tested this whole setup is Ron Jason/Kim Ann Foxman's The Dream Project.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  9. #9
    Supermod pea Manu's Avatar
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    I lost count of how many (regular and DJ) turntables I have setup by ear. I mean, you can hear the distortion creeping up to the point of being really obvious when going off bounds.

    If you're really worried about sound quality over tracking, get some shures, not ortofons that are more towards heavy tracking. Also remember to adjust your antiskate and vertical alignment before reaching a conclusion.

    I have to turn up the phono gain pot much less than that of the TA2 input.
    ortofons are louder. http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=202054

  10. #10
    Member HarryK's Avatar
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    Concerning height adjustment and anti-skating:
    Before I messed with any other setting, I adjusted the height and tried to bring the tonearm as parallel to the record (record on the platter, that is) as my eyes could tell.
    For anti-skating, I turned to the manual which suggested either the same number as tracking weight or half that number. I set it somewhere in the middle. I currently don't have a blank vinyl to set it properly.

    For sound quality:
    I don't care that much for very precise frequency response, but I would like to have clarity. However, my biggest concern right now is what my ears percieve as distorted audio, mostly at the middle frequencies.

    Do you think I should lower the tracking weight more? I don't scratch, only back-cue slightly.

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