Set-Up Tips

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Michael Fremer  |  Oct 02, 2012  |  7 comments
This is what a bearing ends up looking like if it's run without oil (assuming it requires oil—not all bearings do).
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 30, 2012  |  7 comments
To continue the discussion of whether or not using a USB microscope to set stylus rake angle is a good or bad idea, please look at the drawing accompanying this post.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 23, 2012  |  19 comments
Have we opened a digital can of worms recommending using a USB microscope to set SRA (Stylus Rake Angle)?
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 28, 2012  |  9 comments
When it seemed as if my Lyra Titan had at least 1000 hours on it I figured it was time for a re-tip. I took a USB digital microscope image and posted it on this site. I thought it showed some wear but before sending it back to Lyra, I sent it to my friend Wally who produced much better and more definitive images using an optical set-up.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 23, 2012  |  24 comments
I just spoke with Soundsmith's Peter Ledermann. He confirmed that the contact patch is as seen in the above photo. But note that this is with VTF of zero. He made a few observations about this discussion we're having here on

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 22, 2012  |  2 comments
Obviously those lucky enough to own a $6000 tonearm are few, but we don't discriminate here against the 1%. So if you own a 4 Point and over time as you've switched headshells to use different cartridges, perhaps you've accidentally pulled out from the arm tube opening the tonearm wire so you now have excess.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 14, 2012  |  12 comments
This was as close and sharp as I could get capturing a stylus image from the front with the Dyno-Lite 313.
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 25, 2012  |  20 comments
Vinyl fans tend to be obsessive (no news here!). So when you properly install a new cartridge and after the initial break-in, there's a period of calm and satisfaction knowing the stylus is fresh, the sound is spectacular and your records will be well cared for.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 19, 2012  |  26 comments
In Part 1 we explained the importance of proper azimuth setup. Now, on to how to achieve it! While using a digital oscilloscope is the most accurate method, it also requires you to spend hundreds of dollars to buy one and then you have to learn how to use it. That's not really necessary for most analog devotees, and so we're not going to go into the details here. If you insist, you'll have to buy one and figure it out using the methodology that will be described, which is generally applicable to whichever way you choose to go.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 18, 2012  |  4 comments
"Azimuth" is generally defined as the perpendicularity of the cantilever to the record surface. Some tonearms, including most (but not all) gimbaled tonearms (ones with fixed bearings like Rega and fixed head shell SME's don't allow you to adjust that parameter. You are at the mercy of the cartridge manufacturer, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check your cartridge's performance even if you can't adjust it.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 29, 2012  |  33 comments
The stylus rake angle is the angle the stylus’s “contact patch” makes to the record surface. If you have a relatively inexpensive cartridge with a spherical stylus you don’t have to worry about SRA because the contact area remains the same regardless of arm height. On the other hand, elliptical styli along with the more severe “line contact,” Shibata, Geiger, Ortofon and other long, narrow contact patch “cutting edge” (poor metaphor!) stylus profiles require careful SRA setting to perform as designed.