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MintLP arc protractor

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stevieboy

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#1
Been away for the forum for a while. Caught a few topics but I see a ton more to catch up on.

A quick note on a cart set up tool since it might be helpful to someone here. Had the MintLP tractor lying with me for about two months, due to personal reasons did not set it up. Did so last Sunday. Superb change. Have spent only half an hour on it cos I wanted to see if it worked or not. Short answer, it does.

There are two basic approaches to cart setup. Two point protractors and the arc variety. A lot of people believe that arc protractors are superior to two point ones. I won't go into that arguments cos that will be another never ending one similar to a cable discussion perhaps. But its a good point to read up on and see which side of the line you come down on. Most people I've read about who have tried a good arc protractor after aligning with the two point one, surprise themselves.

The MintLP is an extremely highly regarded one with users on many international forums, and also Thom, the Galibier guy. For reviews, discussions etc there are tons of links on Mint LP Solution - cleaning LPs with VPI, Loricraft, Nitty Gritty machines, Mint Tractor with links to A'gon, galibier's own discussion forum and others. There are tons of people who have used both the Feickert (a highly regarded tractor) and the MintLP and found superior results with the Mint, thereafter using the Feickert only to set pivot to spindle distance and then do cart aligning with the Mint.

Simply put, the MintLP is custom made for each tonearm's specifications, taking into account that tonearm's pivot to spindle distance, resulting in a specific effective length arc that one aligns on. What makes the Mint accurate and also demanding is the fineness of the actual lines. I've seen pictures of a cart, I think it was a Dynavector xx2 on a Feickert on a forum where a guy put them up and the lines looked like a broad 8 lane expressway! The null points looked like a huge football field. The stylus could land on the null point and still have plenty of other points to land on within that huge null point itself. Make the stylus ballpark on the mark. In comparison, the null points and effective length arc of the Mint are hairline. Either your stylus tip is on it or off it. No grey areas.

Use of a 10x magnifier is mandatory to get anywhere with the Mintlp but it yields fantastic results once you get it right. Considering how fine the grooves are, the finer the alignment lines are, the more chances you have of getting things right. Parallax sighting with the mirrored surface ensures that you're eyeballing the cart from dead straight on while aligning offset angle, a potentially big pitfall otherwise. Yip at MintLp also makes the spindle hole custom to your table's spindle diameter.

Soundstage just blossomed, proportion of instruments became more correct, I could hear more details and things just sounded more 'correct'. I'm still not done, I have to do a proper session on it to get things perfect but even with a half hour set up, it sounds wonderful.

The biggest surprise for me was how much the alignment changed compared to the free two point protractor I had used earlier. Or rather how much it did not. I could not make out any difference in the place of the cart in the headshell (forward/backward) or offset angle. Changes I'm guesstimating must be in the fractions of an mm. I used to scoff at posts earlier which suggested changed based on these kind of measurements but I've seen it happen. I think I also managed to get the azimuth dialed in a little more correctly which must be contributing to the changed sound. The Fosgate would be a good option for azimuth, but it does its thing with a test tone at 1khz which differs in reality from the normal full music groove so I'm not too sure how good that would be. Thom of Galibier has measured with the Fosgate with different test frequencies and found differing results. I guess by ear is still the best, though toughest...

I have two other arms and one more I intend buying later on, and I'm so convinced about the effectiveness of this tool that instead of buying a universal two pointer, I'm going to order individual MintLPs for each of my arms. Yip at MintLp is a superb guy to deal with. Prompt replies to emails. A great experience.

It will take effort, patience, lots of light and time to get it right, but its worth it since it all starts with the cart reading the groove.

All the above is my personal opinion and lots of people might still love their two point. At about $100, its not a casual purchase, but I'd definitely consider it an essential one and the one you should spend on first! I picked up the 10x Peak Loupe option for 10$ additional.

Regards
 
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Hiten

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#2
Good to have you back stevie. And even better to read your review. Thanks.
I have two other arms and one more I intend buying later on
I have two arms which I use to put vinyls on turntable. :lol:
Seriously why two arms Bro? Planning to add extra tonearm on same table or for different tables ? I know you have two turntables, are you buying one more ?
Regds.
 

stevieboy

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Hi Hiten,

Thanks for the welcome :)

Already have two SME arms, the 3012 and the 3009, the series II, which I consider to be the better out of the three versions, so was very happy indeed to get them! The SME 3012 will have the Zu Denon DL 103, the SME 3009, might work with a damping trough and a London Decca Super Gold and I have parked in my mental garage a Hadcock 242 with the Cartridgman MusicMaker cart. The SMEs and the Hadcock would do duty on the Garrard along with the 3009 or the Hadcock, or the 3009/Hadcock would move to a Thorens TD 124 which is parked besides the Hadcock.

So I have a decent high output MC elliptical cart (Sumiko Blue Point no 2), a low output MC spherical cart (the Zu Denon) a cantilever-less cart (Decca) and a contact line high output variable reluctance mm (Musicmaker). A gimbal tonearm, a knife edge tonearm and a unipivot. All the flavours of vinyl :)

My phono is already optimized with a stepup transformer suited to the Denon, so the Decca and Musicmaker which are high output can run into the MM input, same as the Sumiko Blue Point. No adjusting needed, though I could for any other low output MC.

My vinyl path has been planned and set. All I have to do is keep saving to buy the stuff now! :eek:

Regards
steve
 

Hiten

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#4
3012, 3009, Zu Denon DL 103, Thorens TD 124, Garrard
You are in vinyl heaven. :)
So I have a decent high output MC elliptical cart
I have technics elliptical MM stylus but am reluctant to use it fearing that my TT is not setup properly will damage the records. With MC I think elliptical stylus is great.
 

mahiruha

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#5
Hi Steven,
it is good to hear that MintLP tractor yielding good results for you. It definitely has good reviews and best hing is it is custom made for each arm so makes a lot of sense. Your latest collection of carts and tonearms are also very interesting. Will look forward hearing your impression on them. I want to play around with cart set up but bit hesitant to disturb the current factory set up I have. Hence I am looking for another tonearm for my table where I can put a cartridge of different flavour. I will definitely try this Mint thing for sure when opportunity arises.:)
Thanks.
 

stevieboy

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Update: am back to square bloody one. :sad:

More notes on my journey so you don't repeat the same dumb mistakes.

Tried adjusting the azimuth further and lost the depth and separation that I had first found. Now the vocals sound recessed and bass overpowering. Good thing I played around however cos I realized late Saturday night that I started at the wrong place itself. One has to start aligning with a middle range tracking force and I mistook my cart's tracking range for some absent minded reason and ended up starting the alignment with a lower tracking force whereas it should have been two points higher. The higher tracking force results in the cantilever being more extended and it ended up a full mm in front of the effective line arc.

So basically the good news is you can get it somewhat right with something still off and the bad news is, it won't be perfect and that's a good indication to go back and check everything.

On the positive side, I can now hear differences in antiskating, which I could not before and it was a surprise to hear what adjusting azimuth could do. Getting this right is going to be a royal pain.

As of now I have adjusted the cart on the line and at the null points, but just as I was going to listen and then start adjusting VTA (I have to raise my arm a bit), the amp fuse blew. So hopefully its only a blown fuse and tonight I see what my further adjustments have brought.

One things for sure, doing this yourself results in a superb learning curve that no amount of reading can match. It raises very pertinent questions of what exactly to adjust to tackle what you're hearing. Eg conventional wisdom says if too much bass, raise VTA, here I adjusted azimuth and got the same effect from a previous setting of good soundstage but little anaemic bass! So basically its a steep learning curve cos there are two scenarios. The azimuth was right and I should have adjusted VTA or a combi of azimuth and VTA will yield the perfect result in this particular case.

Also tracking force is now yielding changes that are more easily audible. As confirmed by Arj who had come over. We both could clearly hear small changes in tracking force and anti skating.

I guess when done I will have a fuller, hands on understanding of just how each setting impacts the sound, right now its all learning...

The Durand (I think) tonearm website has good advice it says go ahead experiment, go beyond just to see what lies there, otherwise how else will you know? Right now I feel like Captain Kirk going where no vinyl lover should be forced to go. Hopefully I end this saga sooner rather than later! :rolleyes:

Edit: Please ignore my prior comments on position of cart changing/not changing so much vis a vis aligning with the free two point. They use different alignment standards I think so the position of cart is irrelevant.
 
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stevieboy

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#7
I have technics elliptical MM stylus but am reluctant to use it fearing that my TT is not setup properly will damage the records. With MC I think elliptical stylus is great.
Hi Hiten,

Go ahead play around. That's half the fun of this hobby :) Use only LPs you get easily when playing around and you should be safe. Right now I am alternating between intense frustration and exhilaration at the improvements I'm making with my own hands! The idea is to have a good knowledge base when the next cart comes around, ummm at least theoretically :D

Regards
 

jls001

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#8
Hi Stevie,
A bit OT: what plinths do you have on the 301 and 124?
Joshua
 

Hiten

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#9
Stevie, I have couple of lps which I can sacrifice (to explore the strange new worlds of the final frontier :D). In few days will setup that stylus.
I guess Hifi News test record will be a good thing to have to setup the turntable. I have the Shure test record but I think Hifi News test record is more detailed.
Hi-Fi News Test Record
 

santhosh

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#10
Already have two SME arms, the 3012 and the 3009, the series II, which I consider to be the better out of the three versions, so was very happy indeed to get them! The SME 3012 will have the Zu Denon DL 103, the SME 3009, might work with a damping trough and a London Decca Super Gold and I have parked in my mental garage a Hadcock 242 with the Cartridgman MusicMaker cart...........
..... A gimbal tonearm, a knife edge tonearm and a unipivot. All the flavours of vinyl :)
My head is spinning at 78RPM listening to all those different carts, arms and TTs and there is an entire museum of tubes too:eek:hyeah:.
 

stevieboy

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Hi Stevie,
A bit OT: what plinths do you have on the 301 and 124?
Joshua
Hi Joshua,

Haven't yet set up the 301. The 124 is parked in my mental garage, the tense was future in my post :) My ideal plinth would be one from layersofbeauty, the website. mmmmmmmmmmmm gorgeous one time affairs. Check em out! layers-of-beauty - Home

Still have to decide on a temp one though... Will be the board on squash balls enclosed in some box types. Or maybe some local slate plinth... Once I nail the project I'll start looking at the Garrard in earnest.

regards
 

stevieboy

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Stevie, I have couple of lps which I can sacrifice (to explore the strange new worlds of the final frontier :D). In few days will setup that stylus.
I guess Hifi News test record will be a good thing to have to setup the turntable. I have the Shure test record but I think Hifi News test record is more detailed.
Hi-Fi News Test Record
Hi Hiten,

Yup that's supposed to be a good record. Thinking of getting it myself! I have a record to demo one's system with commentary by guess who? Michael Jackson!!! :D

The good part is raising the VTA solved quite a bit, the sound is more relaxed now, more balance between bass and the rest of the range, have to finetune it. Still have to tackle scratchy noise on the vocals in the last tracks though...Will be re examining the alignment to see if changing the VTA has changed anything. Need a stylus force gauge!!! Man circles circles circles!

Regards
 

jls001

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#14
My vinyl fantasy for the 124 is Oswalds Mill Audio

And do ogle at the Schick 12" tonearm while you're on that page:)

Anyone has any idea if there's any way of getting a slate plinth done locally? The first challenge is of course getting the CAD drawing. I think one should be able to get slate slabs from marble-wallas. CNC or water jet shops also should be available if we have the requisite drawing.

In the interim, has anyone done a decent CLD for Garrard 301/401 or Thorens TD 124 or Lenco L75?

Joshua
 

stevieboy

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Hi Joshua,

The slatedeck plinths used to be my first choice, but they seem to have disappeared from the scene. Used to drool at the Schick arm, very nicely made and supposed to sound good too, now my attention has moved elsewhere :)

I think maybe magma here should get into making slate plinths. With his expertise I'm sure he'd do a good job and find many takers also.

Regards
 

jls001

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#16
Hi Joshua,

The slatedeck plinths used to be my first choice, but they seem to have disappeared from the scene. Used to drool at the Schick arm, very nicely made and supposed to sound good too, now my attention has moved elsewhere :)

I think maybe magma here should get into making slate plinths. With his expertise I'm sure he'd do a good job and find many takers also.

Regards
I wrote to Layers Of Beauty yesterday after reading your post to enquire about their TD 124 plinth which is listed at 240 pounds, indicative. Shipping to India is 170 pounds! That's 70% of the cost of the actual plinth. A Panzerholz version of the same plinth can be made and would be about 860 pounds. I don't know if I should just close my eyes and take the plunge for the standard version, or try a DIY CLD to learn the ropes before I can attempt a slate number.

For arm, I am almost convinced that the Origin Live OL1 fully modded with standard external cabling (and not the costlier special external cabling) could be the ticket for me. Of course this can wait as I do have a 3009 (non-improved version). I will have to fashion the missing anti-skating weight, though.

Joshua
 

stevieboy

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#17
Hi Joshua,

Yes shipping itself is a big amount. I'm thinking I'll get a working skeletal plinth done first to see how things sound, maybe put it in a simple box with squash balls. The missing antiskate should be available on ebay. I too have the second half of the tracking weight missing, but its available on ebay. If you're comfortable doing some DIY or not too lazy like me :D you could definitely do a DIY CLD plinth. Contact Rajiv, he had done one, but prefers the board on squash balls as it adds more air and sounds better he says. The Origin Live sounds good!


Regards
 

arj

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#18
I wrote to Layers Of Beauty yesterday after reading your post to enquire about their TD 124 plinth which is listed at 240 pounds, indicative. Shipping to India is 170 pounds! That's 70% of the cost of the actual plinth. A Panzerholz version of the same plinth can be made and would be about 860 pounds. I don't know if I should just close my eyes and take the plunge for the standard version, or try a DIY CLD to learn the ropes before I can attempt a slate number.

For arm, I am almost convinced that the Origin Live OL1 fully modded with standard external cabling (and not the costlier special external cabling) could be the ticket for me. Of course this can wait as I do have a 3009 (non-improved version). I will have to fashion the missing anti-skating weight, though.

Joshua
Joshua, get it done here. even if you promise the carpenter double the amount if he finishes it time it will be much cheaper..you can always get it lacquered to get that professional look.
i am not sure if Slate is available here..any clues ?
this guy ships Birch Wood plinths..buy a Non Veneered one from him and get it lacquered shipping will be around 100USD. he used to have TD124plinths as well.
 

Rajiv

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#19
Hi,


I wrote to Layers Of Beauty yesterday after reading your post to enquire about their TD 124 plinth which is listed at 240 pounds, indicative. Shipping to India is 170 pounds! That's 70% of the cost of the actual plinth. A Panzerholz version of the same plinth can be made and would be about 860 pounds. I don't know if I should just close my eyes and take the plunge for the standard version, or try a DIY CLD to learn the ropes before I can attempt a slate number.
I agree with Arj.Get the plinth done here. You can use layers of marine ply or hardwood like Viren has done.

Use veneer of your choice and you will have a plinth as good as any.

Contact Rajiv, he had done one, but prefers the board on squash balls as it adds more air and sounds better he says.
I prefer a unipivot arm(had a Syrinx) on the Garrard 301. The Garrard has a vice like grip on the music and can get a little relentless.(to my ears at least) I prefered the sound of the 301 on a one and half inch soild ply board resting on squash balls.

i am not sure if Slate is available here..any clues ?
Contact a billiards/snooker table maker .I found a source in Madras J.W.Roberts and Co.one of the oldest billiards table makers.They have good imported and Indian slate. Not very expensive.I was quoted Rs.500 for 2'x2' and one inch thick piece. They will give it from their broken/damaged stuff.

Cutting/polishing can be done at a granite/marble cutter.

Regards
Rajiv
 
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