Can you set up and align your own cartridge?

As technology marches on, some of the old audiophile ways become lost arts. Do you still have the skills needed to set up and align a cartridge on a tonearm and turntable?

Can you set up and align your own cartridge?
59% (89 votes)
With a little help
9% (13 votes)
No, I let the dealer do it
16% (24 votes)
No, I have a pal that does it for me
0% (0 votes)
I don't have a cartridge
16% (24 votes)
Total votes: 150

fred cristofori's picture

My Rega 5 with the Exact cartridge was a breeze to set up. With the three screw system you can`t go wrong.

John C's picture

Sure, can't you?

T McD.'s picture

It is best done after a couple cocktails to steady the hand.

wdodson's picture

It's like riding a bicycle.

Jon W's picture

I even have a Signet stereo cartridge analyzer tk6020 w/setup record, but my ears do just as well. Still have my Versadynamic from 1989! (though modified)

Joe Hartmann's picture

I have the equipment to setup a cartridge but I have not installed one in years.

Anonymous's picture

It's a royal pain, takes 2-3 hrs. and VTA is hopeless.

Jim Merrill's picture

I use Bob Graham's cartridge set up kit with his arms. Takes less than half an hour.

anna log's picture

I've installed many printer cartridges.

Mark Gdovin's picture

Skill and a few tools. I still have the same set-up guides and measuring devices since the seventies and they still work. I've set up maybe three turntable/cartridge combinations for friends over the last half a dozen years. Not so common these days.

Brian R.'s picture

I got a Rega P25 with an Exact cart—piece of cake! :)

Johnny Pantsonfire's picture

Practice makes perfect.

bernard le-forge's picture

shure. no problem at all. i'm doing this staff for many year. for myself and for my freinds.

Don Bilger's picture

Of course I still do cartridge installation and setup. It's the only way to ensure that the job is done right in the digital age.

Tuna's picture

Still have a turntable, but to be honest, I haven't put a new cartridge on it in a very long time. So much for the vinyl comeback. At least at my address.

G.C.  Van Winkle's picture

I no longer use LP. I gave my Linn to my son, but I'm "the pal that does it for" friends and relatives, still own alignment gauge, shure scale, etc.

J Schuster's picture

The Telarc Omnidisc is a great help, plus I kept my old stylus guage and other tools. However it is an old audiophile technique that some of the current analog suppliers need to address in their manuals. The assumption should be that the current buyer does not know nor understand how to set up an analog rig and needs very clear and explicit instructions. If this was done properly I don't think even the newbies would have difficulties in setup. This is especially true for individuals in remote areas not near a capable dealer. Not to mention the need for readjustments due to seasonal variations. I also have doubts as to how well a setup turntable would travel and hold it's setup, so it is imperative for the suppliers to ensure their customers can maintain and get the best out of their analog rig with clear and easy to understand manuals.

Joe Evans's picture

I use my trusty DB protractor and Shure SFG-2. I set SRA by ear.

carlos villarreal's picture

This is one of those things I want to learn very soon. I guess if some one put DVD tutorials with pros teaching you step by step, that would be exellent.

Daniel Emerson's picture

Yes, and I'm almost sure I've got it right... I think.

Ole G.'s picture

But of course!

Tim Bishop's picture

All the time!

Martin Hyland's picture

I must be getting old if I can answer yes to that.

Beto's picture

I am a loner in a third world country that seems to forget history too quickly, on its mindless infatuation with CDs and MP3s and its crappy sound. Since there's no one around to get my TT tweaked, I just began learning (with a little help from the web) to do it myself. To say I feel great about accomplishing this is an understatement.

Charlton, MA's picture

Setting the VTA is the tough part, because not all albums need the same setting! Life's full of compromises!

Jim Tavegia's picture

I'd better say YUP! I don't think MF has the time to come to Atlanta with his Wally Tools and do it for me.

Carlos E Bauza's picture

With the stationary coil models I ensure that capacitance across the shield and the hot leads agree with the designer's specs. Then tracking pressure is set with an external gauge towards the higher recommended value.Horizontal tracking angle is set next with a template, and the zenith is also verified here. Next, azimuth is verified using a mirror. Then VTA is set with the arm parallel to the LP, foregoing further experimantations preferred by advanced hobbyists. For moving coils I have the possibility of low, medium, and high resistance on the stepup device, to comply with the designer's specs. I also examine the stylus with a 10x lens, and clean the tip with a short-hard-bristle mini brush.

Mon Ami Mate's picture

Absolutely do it myself. Swap regularly between two cartridges, both set up in separate arms. Use trusty Audio Technica 6020 and test LP. C'mon, dealers slam bam thankyewmam, you're gone. Learn to do it yourself!

Norm Strong's picture

At my age (74) I've mounted and aligned literally 100s of arms and cartridges on an equal number of turntables. I hope never to have to do it again!

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

Okay, I haven't done it in a while. But with the right tools, decent instructions and patience all things are possible.