Posted on Tue, 02 Jan, 2018
Posted by Bob

Dr Feickert cartridge alignment tools make setting up the geometry of your phono cartridge accurate, perfect and simple.

One of the most crucial areas in which the vinyl enthusiast can extract the very best from their system is by paying close attention to their cartridge alignment and setup. An improperly aligned pickup cartridge will introduce distortion and, at worse, damage your prized records.

German analogue specialists, Dr Feickert, offer a superb solution with their improved Universal Alignment Protractor…

Dr Feickert Alignment Protractor

What is cartridge alignment, and why is it important?

The vinyl record as we have come to know it, is a 20th-century triumph of micro-engineering, which was made possible by some of the greatest minds of the era. The typical stylus tip is only .7 of a millimetre across and yet is asked to perform some extraordinary tasks.

The stylus must track the groove of the record with extreme precision, in order to carefully retrieve the information stored within the grooves. Any tracking deviation in the stylus, caused by poor tonearm geometry or improper setup, will result in distortion, or even record damage.

Tracking Geometry

To understand why cartridge alignment is so important, we must first understand the way in which a record was manufactured. The master stamping dies, from which each record is pressed, are a negative of the original master disc, which was cut with a precision lathe.

Record cutting lathes cut the groove perfectly parallel to the master disc, and so, in theory, the ultimate way in which to retrieve that information would be to use a tonearm which follows the cutting stylus perfectly. In practice, this involves some very clever mathematics and geometry…

Optimising the cartridge geometry

The vast majority of tonearms are based upon the principle of an arm which pivots from a fixed point, and tracks the groove from the outside to the inside. This is what we think of when we picture a turntable and tonearm; a setup which has been in existence for over 100 years.

The downside of a single pivot point tonearm is that, due to geometry, the stylus rarely sits perfectly perpendicular to the record groove. This introduces a degree of distortion which varies in intensity depending upon where the stylus happens to be on the record at any given time.

Tracking distortion

Tracking distortion based on different geometries – courtesy ammonite audio

Thanks to some very clever calculations, however, the degree of distortion can be reduced to being under 2% at worst. This is thanks to some extremely clever calculations by Baerwald, Lofgren and Stevenson in the first and mid part of the 20th Century.

Each method of alignment offers various benefits in reducing tracking distortion. Stevenson’s, for example, has the largest overall degree of distortion, but was optimised to reduce distortion at the centre of a record; typically where classical music features ending crescendos.

Dr Feickert Universal Protractor

To enjoy the benefits of correct cartridge alignment, and the pure analogue beauty of vinyl at its best, a cartridge alignment tool is an absolute must. German analogue specialists, Dr Feickert, offer a newly updated version of their universal alignment protractor.

The Dr Feickert Universal Alignment Protractor allows the user to easily and accurately align their cartridge to Baerwald, Lofgren or Stevenson geometries. Simply screw the protractor’s gauge tower on the disc, place the Protractor on the platter, and position the gauge’s pin exactly over the pivot point of the tonearm.

Dr Feickert Cartridge Alignment

Simply position the stylus on the alignment cross lines of your chosen geometry, and then use your tonearm’s headshell and tonearm adjustments to align the cartridge perfectly. Overhang, offset and other adjustments are made easy and repeatable with the Dr Feickert Universal Alignment Protractor.

Take a moment to think how much your precious vinyl collection is worth (you may wish to sit down!) and then consider what a relatively small outlay the Dr Feickert protractor represents. Protect your records, and ensure the lowest possible distortion, with the Dr Feickert Universal Alignment Protractor.

One thought on “Dr Feickert and making sure your turntables phono cartridge is properly aligned”

  1. peter chapman says:

    What are the inner groove distortion levels for the different options for say the last inch of a 12inch standard LP stereo disc. Graphs are not my strong point but keeping inner groove distortion as low as possible on most types of 9inch tonearms is.

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