Home  |  Audio Reviews  Show Reports   Partner Mags  News 

 

July 2000
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Setting Up Cartridge VTA
A Non-Technical Explanation
Article By Sedrik Harris

 

  This is an article on how to properly set the Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) of your cartridge by first looking and then listening. To adjust your VTA properly, you need to find the adjustment on the base (post where the arm is mounted to the turntable) of your pickup arm that allows you to raise or lower the back (the end opposite of where your cartridge is) of your tonearm. Look at your owners manual (if you still have it), go to the audio dealer from whom you purchased it or contact the manufacturer for help in finding out how to make this adjustment. Caution: On most tonearms, you will not be able to adjust the VTA while playing a record or with the stylus even resting on a record (without destroying the record and/or cartridge cantilever or stylus). You have been warned!

For initial setup of your VTA, place a medium thickness album (no 180 gram re-issues or flabby RCA Dyna-flex Red Seals) on the turntable and place the stylus on the record (do not have the turntable rotating for these adjustments). With the stylus resting on this medium thickness album, the bottom of the cartridge should be parallel to the album. By this, I mean the flat area near the front of the cartridge where the cantilever / stylus assembly protrudes from the bottom of the cartridge. Caution: Make all adjustments on the tonearm with it sitting on the tonearm rest. You now have a good starting point to find where the nominal VTA setting is located for your arm / cartridge combination. Select 3 records from your collection with which you are familiar. You will use them to find fine tune the nominal starting point for your VTA adjustment. One of them should be what I will call a normal thickness album (London CS 6xxx or STS 15xxx (orange - silver label), RCA Shaded Dog, non 180 gram Chesky, etc.). The next should be a thick album (Decca or EMI reissue, Mobile Fidelity 2-xxx series, etc.). The third album should be a thin album like an RCA Dyna-flab.

After setting the starting point of your VTA session using your eyesight, listen to a section of all three albums. What you want to listen for is the seniority of the strings, the "air" around the instruments and the width of the hall. If you set your VTA correctly for nominal thickness albums, you will hear the following:

1.The medium thickness album will have extended stage width, a hint of air or rich harmonics around the individual instruments and singing in the upper strings without any stridency.

 

2.The thin album will have good stage width but the strings will sound unnatural, edgy and irritating.

 

3.The thick album will sound slightly muffled, with a lack of high frequencies and air around the instruments.

 

If this is not what you hear in your comparison, your VTA is not set properly for medium thickness albums. If the thin album sounds correct, the back or base of your tonearm needs to be raised about 0.010" (0.4mm) (the thickness of a magazine cover) for medium thickness albums. If the thick album sounds correct, the base of your tonearm needs to be lowered about 0.010" (250 micrometers) for medium thickness albums. A few passes at this and you will learn what to listen for when you adjust your Vertical Tracking Angle.

To reiterate, once you have found the correct VTA setting for a medium thickness album, you can use this starting point when you want to adjust your VTA for best sonics. For very thin albums (flabby Red Seal), or Angel and late Columbia, you will have to lower the back of the tonearm by as much as 0.005". For very thick albums and many of the Decca, Classic or EMI reissues, you will have to raise the back of the tonearm by as much as 0.010" or 0.015". Also remember that during the course of the life of your cartridge, the nominal setting will change as the cantilever ages and flexes making it sound as if the back of the tonearm is too low. After a short period of time of focusing on the sound (and not the music), you will learn to identify when the VTA is adjusted properly. After this adjustment is correctly made, listen and enjoy the music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
Quick Links


Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews

Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Preamplifiers
Amplifiers
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc

Superior Audio Archives
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews

Videos
Musician Series
Enjoy the Music.TV

Music Reviews
Classical Music
Jazz, Bluegrass, Blues, Etc.
Rock, Pop, Techno, Metal, Etc.

Columns
Editorials By Tom Lyle
Editorials By Steven R. Rochlin
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Audiolics Anonymous
Nearfield By Steven Stone
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles


Partner Magazines
The Absolute Sound
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
NOVO (CANADA HiFi)
hi-fi+ Magazine
HIFICRITIC
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine

Show Reports
Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2017 CanMania
TAVES 2017 Toronto Show Report
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2017
CanJam 2017 Denver RMAF
LAAS 2017 Show Report
High End Munich 2017 Show Report
AXPONA 2017 Show Report
CanJam SoCal 2017 Show Report
Montreal Audio Fest 2017 Show Report
CanJam NYC 2017 Report
CES 2017 Show Report & Videos
T.H.E. Show Newport 2016
Audio Engineering Society 141 LA
CanJam London 2016 Show Report
Hong Kong AV Show Report 2016
Click here for previous shows.

Resources And Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions
High-End Audio Manufacture Links

 


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information

Internet Browser
Audiophile Internet Browser V12

Mobile Phone Apps
Android Audiophile App

Other
Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty
300B Tube Comparison

For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics

Contests & Join Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!

Our Social Media & Video Channel
     

 

 

     

Home  |  Sitemap  |  Industry News  |  Equipment / Music Reviews  |  Press Releases  |  About Us  |  Contact Us

 

All contents copyright  1995 - 2017  Enjoy the Music.com
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.