Rega 3-Point VTA Adjustment 55


VTA (vertical tracking angle, a term often used interchangeably with SRA) is a topic of controversy amongst audiophiles. VTA (vertical tracking angle) is a term used to describe the relative angle of the cantilever to the record groove, and SRA (Stylus Rake Angle) is the relative angle of the stylus contact point to the record groove. Conical or spherical styli do not require SRA adjustment. The SRA vs VTA debate is beyond the scope of this article; it has been extensively covered, see This Vinyl Asylum post from Jon Rich. For the purposes of this article, we’ll use the generic term VTA.

VTA adjustment is achieved by raising or lowering the back or bearing end of the tonearm. Neutral VTA is achieved when the arm is parallel to the record surface. Correct VTA is achieved when the angle of the playback stylus matches that of the cutting stylus used to cut the original master lacquer. In most instances, this angle is usually 20 degrees (plus or minus 5 degrees) hence the perceived need for VTA adjustment.

Some swear that VTA adjustment is critical to obtain the best sound, especially when advanced stylus shapes come into play. Some even go as far as to adjust VTA for each individual record, with a few high-end tonearms offering ‘on the fly’ VTA adjustment to allow the arm height to be tweaked while a record is playing.

Others, however, including Rega founder Roy Gandy, believe that VTA is of little to no importance. His fact sheet, available Here for your perusal, clearly outlines the math. In principle, the maximum degree of adjustment on a tonearm is about 12Mm, equalling 1 degree of VTA correction. VTA also differed between cartridges, and manufacturing tolerances will also result in VTA variations. The cutting angle of a record varies by at least 7 degrees. Taking all this into consideration, and discounting the differences in record thickness, to achieve ‘correct’ VTA, the back of the tonearm would need to be positioned well below the record, and the cartridge VTA would need to vary by at least 7 degrees during playback.

Naturally, Rega arms don’t offer any form of VTA adjustment as standard; and only when the physical height of the cartridge becomes a problem (I.E the rear of the cartridge body comes into contact with the record surface) should any VTA adjustment be necessary.

When adjustment is necessary, several devices exist to allow for VTA adjustment on any Rega arm. These devices are typically referred too as ‘spacers’. They are, as their name suggests, slim spacers which can be fitted beneath the bass of the tonearm to raise it up by a given height. Some of these spacers are of a threaded design, allowing for adjustment with the arm in place; others are fixed, requiring extra spacers be added to result in the required thickness and arm height; and others still are are all-in-1 devices, with multiple raised platforms of various heights on which the arm is situated.

Given their stance on VTA adjustment, many are surprised to learn that Rega do manufacture a couple of their own arm spacers. Their 3-point arm spacer falls into the latter category above. It’s made from a rigid glass-filled plastic, and offers 2, 4, 6 or 8 MM adjustment increments. And, while other manufacturers charge a premium for their spacers, Rega’s design is, as you would expect, sensibly priced; setting you back £12, shipping included.

Fitting the spacer is a breeze, and can be done in under 3 minutes. The cable retainer and tonearm must be removed from the plinth, at which point the arm cable can be pulled back through the hole in the plinth, threaded through the centre of the VTA adjuster, and dropped back into the plinth hole ready to be re-secured later.

Next, the spacer should be placed over the 3 mounting holes, with the correct height platforms lining up with the holes. At this point the arm can be placed atop the VTA adjuster and screwed into place. Rega provide 3 longer 30MM wood screws for use with 6MM and 8MM adjustment. It’s important to insure your arm is correctly aligned during reinstallation; though thanks to the 3-point arm mounting system this problem is virtually eliminated.

I noticed no sound quality difference with the spacer installed. It’s worth noting that if you use the dust cover on your turntable both when idle and during playback, there’s a strong possibility that the internal depth of the cover will not clear the counterweight with the VTA adjuster in place. In my case, I opted to use the 2MM setting; and so was able to raise the back of the cover by raising the hinge plates at the back of the turntable (using the play afforded by the holes in the hinge plates to save the need to drill new holes in the plinth). You could also opt for a low-profile counterweight which will set you back around £70.

In summary; Rega’s VTA adjuster is, by far, the best option for those Rega users who require VTA adjustment capabilities. You can purchase yours from any Rega dealer, and also via Amazon. We’ll close with a quote from Roy Gandy’s VTA fact sheet which, I think, accurately summarises the subject of VTA – and indeed, many things in the “audiophile” world. “VTA adjustment is actually a neurosis NOT a technical adjustment”…


About Ashley

I founded Audio Appraisal a few years ago and continue to regularly update it with fresh content. An avid vinyl collector and coffee addict, I can often be found at a workbench tinkering with a faulty electronic device, tweaking a turntable to extract the last bit of detail from those tiny grooves in the plastic stuff, or relaxing in front of the hi-fi with a good album. A musician, occasional producer and sound engineer, other hobbies include software programming, web development, long walks and occasional DIY. Follow @ashleycox2

Share Your Thoughts

55 thoughts on “Rega 3-Point VTA Adjustment

  • Kevin Saunders

    Hi
    Having recently bought a Planar 3 with an Ortofon 2M cartridge, I can confirm that a 2mm vta adjuster is the maximum that can be fixed without the lid touching the counterweight when closed. Using a height adjuster of 3mm or more will mean that the lid will not close properly. This does beg the question as to why rega do not make a taller lid available for use with their multi-spacer.

    • Ashley Post author

      It’s because Rega don’t consider VTA adjustment to be necessary on their own decks. In some cases, if you loosen the screws securing the lid hinges to the rear of the plinth you can raise them up a little and make the lid clear the weight.

      • Kevin Saunders

        Hi Ashley
        I have read that Rega don’t rate adjustment as necessary but this tends to contradict every other arm manufacturer and indeed the (rega) hi-fi dealers I have spoken to all state that an arm should be parallel when playing a record.

        • Ashley Post author

          I’m on the fence here really. I always set the arm to be parallel when playing a record, but I don’t believe VTA is as important as many suggest. Altering the tracking force by .1 of a gram will alter the VTA, and altering the VTA will alter the tracking force slightly. I personally think that many of the affects people here when they change VTA are in fact due to them inadvertently altering the downforce.

    • John Garnet

      Hi Kevin, I made use of four small square sticky-backed transparent pads, which are reasonably invisible when the lid is in the closed position, but raises it by 2mm thus just clearing the counterweight; the lid still locates without hinge adjustment. The pads will be easily removed should I decide to sell the deck. Regarding the taller lid, my vote would be for friction hinges that keep the lid in the open position whilst playing a record. Although purists say they hear a difference in sound with the lid completely removed, my view is this is a throwback to the reasoning of 1970’s Ivor Tiefenbrun disciples; following careful A-B testing, both then and now, I disagree.

  • John Garnet

    Hi Ashley;
    I thought I should keep you informed that I’ve now updated my system slightly by exchanging the front speakers for a pair of Q Acoustics 3010i, the centre speaker for a Q A 3090C and the subwoofer for a Q A 2070i. The stereo combination of the Q A 3010’s and the P1/Carbon/LP Gear has to heard to be believed, and I heartily recommend you get to test a pair of 3010’s (or 3020’s) for your column in the future. Incidentally if you are ever in the Lake District area by all means call in for a coffee and you can test them both here!
    I am also considering exchanging the Denon AVR-X2200W in the near future for (most probably) a Marantz SR6011, because the additional socketry will provide a more enveloping Atmos/DTS:X 7.1.2 surround system (instead of my current 5.1.2, which I admit sounds loads better now anyway following the speaker changes).
    Semper Sursum….

    • John Garnet

      …and I’m also considering a tonearm change; can you advise if the earlier one-hole Rega 300/302/303 arms, of which there seems to be quite a few of for sale at present, also slot into my 3 point Rega VTA spacer without modification?

      • Ashley Post author

        I can confirm that the aforementioned arms, as well as the new models (RB101, 202, 330, 808 and 2000) will all work with your VTA spacer. For this review, the VTA spacer was used with an RB303 from a Rega RP6. If you were considering changing the arm, your next upgrade would be a plinth replacement to get the best from the arm as the P1 plinth is the most basic of that offered by Rega. In the coming months I’ll be reviewing a couple of plinth systems for Rega turntables, stay tuned for those 🙂

      • John Garnet

        Hi Ashley;
        I am no longer considering a tonearm change, if as you say it could mean a plinth change too; after a few YouTube views I was impressed with, and bought and fitted, an Ortofon OM10, which although very good at digging out minutae, is not a patch on the Carbon/LP Gear for a well-integrated sound with solid rhythmic bass. Therefore I’m turning my attention to a higher-quality 9.2 channel receiver, most probably the Denon AVR-X6200, so I can experience complete surround sound in addition to excellent stereo. This machine also has a built-in phono stage, so I should have lots of fun comparing that with my current Pro-Ject MM/MC Phono Box.

        • Ashley Post author

          The last time I heard an Ortofon OM10, it was the OMP10 P mount cart designed for plug-in p-mount arms. Plenty of tracking distortion, very sibilant highs and all in all not a very good cartridge, much like the current 2M Red that many seem to love. . The OM20 was much better (essentially an OM10 body with the stylus20 stylus), as is the 2M blue (a 2M Red body with a 2M Blue stylus). I never got the 2M red or OM10 to track properly.

          • John Garnet

            I set up the OM10 quickly to 1.25mg tracking weight, and got intermittent harmonics on only the high band 3 track of the HFS75 test record, with no sibilance, distortion which proved to be inaudible during listening. However I did not have sufficient time to check every turntable parameter before my previous Denon AVR-X2200W and Q A 1010’s disappeared, having been sold. At the time I also tried an OM5 stylus from my previous Pro-Ject Debut, which to my ears did not sound appreciably different to the OM10, although I did not adjust the tracking weight to suit. I am now checking the turntable parameters whilst awaiting delivery of my new amp, a Denon AVR-X6200W with the built-in phono stage, ordered this morning. The next few days should prove interesting to say the least…

            • John Garnet

              Oops… harmonic distortion at 1.25g was due to my misreading the recommended tracking weight for an OM10 – the 1.25g was for the OMP10! Reset to 1.5g., the OM10 sailed through the tracking tests. Just a little midband detail loss and a touch less authoritative on bass noted compared with the Carbon/LP Gear, but a very creditable performance nontheless, much enjoyed.
              I also refitted my Japanese-sourced Audio Technica AT-F5 LC-OFC Moving Coil after thirty years in the drawer (it’s still not bedded-in) – it doesn’t appear to have deteriorated; bags more treble detail and nuance than either of the above, but it never gelled with any of the many cheap trebly amps I’ve owned, nor my current expensive AV receiver either unfortunately. It’s a bit too sparkly for my taste, so it’s currently for sale on eBay.

              • Ashley Post author

                The OMP10 tracked terribly at 1.25 grams, it was / is essentially an OM10 stylus and the inners of an OM10 cartridge in a p mount body. Whenever I installed them on P Mount tables back in the day I’d increase the tracking to 1.5 grams which as you say improved their tracking ability to a great extent. The Audio-Technica MC cartridges are very susceptible to cartridge loading, which would explain your treble issue. Does your MC phono stage offer any loading adjustments?

                • John Garnet

                  You are perfectly correct in your loading conclusion Ashley; unfortunately my £79 Pro-Ject Phono Box III has no facility for changing MC values, one needs to pay a lot more for that, but the MM phono input on the AVR-X6200 is currently doing a sterling job so I am not unduly worried about fitting any more MC’s at the moment. Perhaps in the future, who knows?
                  Luckily somebody has started the bidding on the AT-F5, so I should see some small return for my thirty-odd year saving it for a rainy day! I must say it still sounded very special, hearing past the brightness and concentrating on the rest of the presentation. It dragged out loads of detail not present with any of my past and present MM carts. I just hope the new owner can give it the equalization it deserves!

                  • Ashley Post author

                    Something like the AT440MLB or better the AT150SA would give you the detail in an MM cart. The 150SA is warmer with a slightly more forward midrange (more of a traditional analogue sound) whereas the 440 is slightly brighter, probably much like your MC. Now I have used an LP Gear carbon cart (full review very soon), I can say that it is better than a 2M red or an OM10/20, comparable to an AT120E which is significantly more expensive, but it is bettered by the AT440 and up. The 440 and 150 in particular offer far greater tracking ability on the inner grooves and they track much lighter with a nominal value of 1.4 grams (and optimal tracking around 1.5), as does the 120E.

                    • John Garnet

                      You already know my thoughts on diminishing returns Ashley – I realise the more you spend often (not always) brings additional benefits,but there is a point when you are spending more money for something of little or no extra benefit. Can I assume when you mention the AT120E you mean its replacement, the AT120Eb? The original 120E didn’t come out particularly well in a listening test conducted by that august publication Hi-Fi News, but apparently the 120Eb is a different kettle of fish – and you must be psychic, because I ordered a 120Eb to replace my AT-F5! I must confess to long deliberation about spending that amount on the 120Eb or just settling for the (much) cheaper 100E. Heart ruled head on that occasion! I just hope I won’t be sorry.

                    • Ashley Post author

                      Yes, sorry, I did mean the 120EB. It’s a great cartridge and slightly better than the LP Gear Carbon cartridge, not to mention kinder to your records. I do think that stepping up to at least the AT440MLB will get a better return, especially given that it can be had for about £125 now which is staggering value. The 120EB is however much better than the cheaper 100e so I certainly don’t think you’ll regret your choice.

                    • John Garnet

                      It’s strange how things work out sometimes Ashley. I felt unable to spend the cost of a new AT440MLb, although it was much desired, mainly because of the Festive Season looming and my inborn inability to spend a penny when a ha’-penny will ‘do’; however I spotted a 5-hour old 440 on eBay for £80 posted, £8 less than I was paying for my new 120. A quick visit to the Amazon Returns website approved a full refund on my unopened 120, the 440 was hurriedly purchased, and the 120 returned. I’m £8 better off, and have (at least) another £41 coming following the sale of my AT-F5E MC, thus reducing my investment in the 440 to no more than £31 net. Result.
                      A Happy Xmas guaranteed – Santa came early!

                    • Ashley Post author

                      I look forward to hearing how you get on with the 440. The review of the LP Gear CF3600LE cartridge will be up on Friday too.

    • Ashley Post author

      Great to hear you’re still enjoying the system John. I will do my best to get some of the q-acoustics range in next year as I’ve heard many great things about them from readers. Appreciate the offer to hear them in your system. I think the Marantz AV receiver would offer a very nice upgrade. Perhaps consider an external phono stage too.

  • John Garnet

    I did mention in an earlier comment (18/08/2016 at 6.50pm) that the reason for purchasing the Rega VTA spacer was because the longer cantilever had noticeably changed the VTA. I had previously also used the protractors several times exactly as you describe to achieve perfect alignment. The spacer fixed the VTA, the headshell weight fixed the VTF (combined with the use of an electronic scale), shims fixed the azimuth, and I am completely convinced listening to the result that the addition of the LP Gear elliptical stylus immeasurably improves the whole experience.

  • John Garnet

    …sorry, forgot to mention a 3mm Tonar white acrylic platter mat, which reduces the static evident with the Rega mat to negligible…

  • John Garnet

    Thanks for your comments Ashley; unfortunately, although I was unlucky to get a ‘Friday’ P1, with more than a few faults, the vendor did offer to take it back for a replacement. After Googling all afternoon I discovered poor quality control on modern Regas is more widespread than I ever imagined, and having enjoyed over fifty years experience as a typical hi-fi fanatic decided to correct most of the faults myself. I say most, because I understand the excessive bias correction can only be cured with the removal of the magnets and I’m not prepared to go that far. In addition the deck rotates at 3.67rpm and the addition of an Edwards Little Blue belt did not make any difference. The loose cartridge mounting bolts straight from the factory were tightened when I shimmed the cartridge to correct a poor azimuth angle, caused by the headshell being skewed and well out of level with the bearing housing. The incorrect placement of the counterweight collar, which only provides a maximum downforce of 1.87g using my digital scale when the counterweight is up tight as directed, is not adjustable. However, using side one on the Hi-Fi Sound test record HFS75 the second tracking band test easily passed muster, and there was only a very slight tizz harmonic on band three, confirmed by the Micro-Acoustics TT2002 Tracking and Transient ability test record producing no audible distortion. The possibility of record wear using a conical stylus was negated by the purchase of the LP Gear elliptical replacement. As regards the AT95E, I had one of these on my last turntable a month ago, a Pro-Ject Debut. I must confess my personal opinion is even the Carbon conical on the P1 sounded twice as good as the AT95E on the Debut. I found lots more rhythmic and bass detail. With the Carbon elliptical, it puts it in a totally different league and blows me away, with increased detail and width across the whole spectrum, even with the corrected azimuth on the bare phenolic platter – so much so I’m now eager to take delivery of the 3-point VTA, refit the acrylic platter mat, and finally hear the basic deck as it should have been delivered from the factory. Thus far, if my memory serves me correct, the £315 (total) deck already sounds a lot more detailed than some exotica I have owned, for instance my Oracle Delphi Mk1/Sumiko The Arm/Koetsu Black, my Sondek LP12, and my Roksan Xerxes. The only slight downside? It’s so revealing it’s become very obvious there are quite a few LP sound engineers who mix a lot better than others do…

    • Ashley Post author

      Wow, you really did receive a Friday deck! I can’t say I’m surprised though, I’ve had more than my fair share of Rega decks and cartridges and very few of them have been perfect out of the box. I’m disappointed to hear that hasn’t changed with the new P1. It’s a real shame, because a functioning Rega can sound exceptional as you’ve pointed out but you shouldn’t have to rebuild a brand new deck to fix its faults. I will in fairness to Rega point out that their after sales and repair service is exceptional, though that certainly doesn’t excuse poor quality control. Nevertheless I’m glad you’ve managed to resolve the issues with your deck and have a sound that you’re happy with, and I hope it offers you many years of enjoyment. What system are you running it into?

      • John Garnet

        Hi Ashley,
        My system history over the past 55 years is chequered to say the least, and would take a couple of pages to explain; I’m telling you this because following the Oracle combo purchase I realised expensive didn’t always mean better and the law of diminishing returns applied most alarmingly! Since those days, when that Oracle system cost more than I paid for my semi, I ‘came to my senses’ and gradually sought out ‘extra value’ components as they were released. So, bearing this philosophy in mind, my current AV system in my dedicated AV man-cave is as follows:-
        Rega P1 turntable
        LP Gear Carbon-cantilevered elliptical stylus/ Rega Carbon body (HUGE improvement…)
        Edwards Audio Little Belter (little or no measureable improvement)
        Pro-Ject MM/MC Mk3 Phono Box into the CD input on a…
        Denon AV2200W Atmos/DTS:X receiver (Pure Audio bypasses non-essential electronics)
        Panasonic DMR-BWT 700 Bluray/DVD Recorder/player
        Yamaha cassette deck (the revival has begun…)
        Sharp video-cassette recorder
        (to play a few precious videos inherited from Dad, which hold irreplaceable memories)
        TalkTalk YouView HD receiver
        Samsung curved 55″ 8500 UHD TV (wall hung)
        Q Acoustics 1010i Cinema speakers (seven), plus a Mordaunt Short subwoofer
        Onkyo Atmos-approved up-firing speakers (two)
        QED Silver Anniversary speaker cable throughout
        …and Sky Q is pencilled in for when my TalkTalk contract runs out…

        My current feeling is, having had numerous cartridges through my hands over the years, the carbon cantilever with its inherent stiffness, conical or elliptical tipped, is the single most important audible cartridge upgrade I have made, and I recommend a trial to your readers.
        Finally, I can honestly state my current ‘record playing system’ produces far more enjoyment, and therefore quiet satisfaction, than I can ever remember having with my esoterica, and hopefully the VTA spacer, which is on its way as I speak, will provide even more icing to add to the already sweet cake.

        • Ashley Post author

          Excellent system. you’re certainly right in that expensive doesn’t always mean better, there are some truly awful components being sold at high end prices. I think I’ll have to source a carbon cartridge and stylus for myself because curiosity is getting the better of me. My current Audio-Technica cartridges feature Aluminium and Boron cantilevers. Theoretically the Carbon should be superior to the aluminium, but it’ll be interesting to see how it compares to the Boron.

          • Ashley Post author

            Of course I should point out that the cartridge itself will make a difference so direct A/B testing isn’t possible, but a comparison would at least offer a general idea as to the sound differences.

          • John Garnet

            Hi Ashley, I’m sure you will be pleased with your carbon cantilever; I have of course had a boron cantilevered cartridge through my hands and found then that added stiffness over the aluminium meant relatively better sound; I don’t foresee any manufacturer beating carbon fibre as a cantilever, because of the relationship of the light weight combined with strength and rigidity…but some scientist may be creating that very product as we speak…
            My feeling is, now I’ve heard the Rega Carbon/elliptical combination, it will eventually prove unbeatable at its price point and above.

        • John Garnet

          …besides the Tonar White Acrylic platter mat, I also forgot to mention that the turntable rests on a 16mm thick, 16 inch square clear acrylic sheet supported by three adjustable alloy pin-point cones from sorbothane pads on the underside of the sheet, and resting on pin-point pads on top of a tall six-drawer chest. These cones ensure absolute levelling and provide decent isolation.

    • John Garnet

      Just a little update; I found online a Technics 3g weight which can be placed in between the headshell and the cartridge, and with counterweight correction will add the mass required to increase the tracking force to the recommended 2.5g. All for the paltry sum of £2.99p. Before discovering this item, I was seriously considering replacement counterweights costing £59 and over.
      The VTA spacer will then hopefully facilitate a perfectly level tonearm, and should finalise all the P1 fault corrections.
      I’m away on holiday all next week, but I’ll update this report soon with the final verdict on my modified P1’s resultant sound reproduction.

        • John Garnet

          Well, mixed emotions so far; the 3-point spacer is a brilliant idea, but unfortunately is still not absolutely ideal in achieving perfect VTA for every installation. If the height required for perfection is an uneven number, i.e. 1mm-3mm-5mm-7mm, a second spacer with these heights would solve the problem, but of course would lead to buyers having to either measure their requirement somehow or purchase the second spacer. The adjustable screw spacers by other manufacturers should be perfect for the job, but are far more expensive and in the main do not blend in with the Rega arm like the Rega spacer. I found my particular ideal height to be nearer 5mm. So far, with the addition of the Technics 3g headshell weight, which did enable a heavier tracking force, although my sound is still very detailed and authoritative across the full audio spectrum, I am suffering with much increased static even using the same replacement mats which previously reduced it to near zero. However I have not yet completed all adjustment options, I have four mat types to choose from, and will be tinkering with these plus the differing null point distances on different alignment protractors for some time yet in a concerted effort to achieve Nirvana.

          • John Garnet

            Addendum :- Static once again reduced to negligible by using the null points recommended by Baerwald and changing the mat back to a Tonar Pure Cork.

            • Ashley Post author

              Very interesting. I think providing your VTA is within 1MM, you could probably get away with adjusting the tracking force to compensate. I’m interested however to read that a cartridge re-alignment was sufficient to reduce the static issue, I’ve never encountered that before. What protractor are you using?

              • John Garnet

                Hi Ashley, I now have three alignment protractors left, all 1970’s or 80’s; an EEI Townshend, a Practical Hi-Fi, and a Heybrook. I did have four, but I gave away my Pro-Ject version five weeks ago when I sold my Debut. I have found over the years that the EEI is the most accurate because the full length is divided into single degrees, but unfortunately the usual parallel lines for checking cartridge orientation are non-existent, being replaced by graph lines because the protractor came as part of an arc plotting kit. The Practical Hi-Fi protractor is very close to the Baerwald ideal and also has the required parallels; I marked in pencil the true Baerwald measurements and used this. The Heybrook is the only one which has the long parallel lines for checking tonearm level. I’m tempted to acquire a dedicated Rega protractor, but at the moment I’m enjoying my music too much. You are right in thinking tracking force had something to do with the static reduction, I discovered my digital scale was giving erroneous readings for some reason I have yet to fathom; the 5g weight weighed in perfectly and I hit the tare button first, but when I checked with a mechanical scale it was weighing quite light. The combination of ensuring the tonearm was level, combined with the azimuth-correcting VTA spacer, corrected 2.5g downforce and the cork mat all contributed to virtual silence in between tracks on most albums played thus far, with just the odd pop on the lead-out groove and a total lack of IGD. Best of all, the whole now-widened soundstage is filled with easily-defined instrument placement. The LP Gear carbon elliptical stylus deserves icon status; besides hearing numerous bits on my albums I’ve not heard before with any previous system, I find myself enjoying different music genres I wouldn’t have entertained in the past. I am taking delivery this week of a second-generation Knosti Disco to clean the eight charity shop albums purchased over the last few days; I have already purchased the ingredients for my own 4:1 recipe, and will add a comment to your review of same in due course. Thanks for your interest, I have never before had the opportunity to converse with a knowledgeable hi-fi fan, so it’s a novelty for me; I hope you don’t find my diatribes too boring!

                • Ashley Post author

                  Not at all, your experience is very interesting to me and others and you’ve certainly assembled a very interesting turntable! Re alignment protractors, I generate my own using Conrad Hoffman’s arc template generator, found Here. It generates an arc protractor based on the exact pivot to spindle distance of your arm (which should be 222 MM in your case) and a given set of null points, IEC and DINN values are preset but you can provide your own. It can generate templates based on Lofgren A (bearwald), lofgren B and Stevenson. It might be worth a look, as the templates generated, have the advantage of allowing you to accurately and very precisely align the cantilever. That said enjoying the sound you’re getting is all that matters, so I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you left the table as is.

                  Re the digital scale, some of them are a real pain. I use a Pro-Ject measure-it too (reviewed on here some time ago). It’s expensive at £100, but it’s always been extremely accurate. I had a cheaper one before (£8 from eBay I believe) which failed after a few uses, displaying random numbers on the screen. The Pro-Ject has probably been used 50 times or more and it’s never been wrong yet, so I guess you get what you pay for. That said, providing you’re not tracking too light or too far beyond the recommended range of the cartridge, I tend to find it’s best to optimise the tracking by ear. It sounds as if you’ve got yours spot on.

                  Re the Knosti. It’s a great machine, depending on the fluid you’re using. If you have a large collection however, you’ll probably find a vacuum machine will be preferable, and they offer better results too. I used to own a Moth, but now use a Pro-Ject VC-S which I find does an exceptional job, equal to that of the more expensive machines on the market. i use the non alcoholic pro-ject cleaning fluid, but there are many fluids out there to experiment with.

                  • John Garnet

                    Thanks for the link Ashley, I have downloaded all three protractors and will experiment in the future following an extended appraisal of my current set-up. I haven’t properly checked yet, but at least one of them appears to have very similar null points to one of my in-house protractors. However not one of them conforms to the universal Baerwald points of inner 66mm and outer 120.9mm, which is where my table is set at the moment. Other esteemed writers advise all Rega arm requirements are nearly identical to the Stevenson points of 57.5mm and 115.5mm. I will attempt to locate a true Rega protractor to confirm, or at the very least locate their given distances, and it should make for interesting comparisons in the future!

                    • John Garnet

                      Hi again Ashley, I’m a little puzzled, but at the same time very pleased; with totally differing null points, the Hoffman Rega Stevenson download you kindly provided the link for proved my cartridge also fitted, with no adjustment, the Baerwald universal points I used originally! So, with the same geometry proved twice over, I’m now sitting back and enjoying all genres with what sounds like a million dollars for a bargain price. Now that’s what I call music!

                    • Ashley Post author

                      Interesting! I’m guessing the program has in fact generated a lofgren ! protractor with IEC standard null points as apposed to a Stevenson protractor, as to align to a stevenson geometry the overhang would decrease and the cartridge would twist slightly to be straight in the headshell. That said the protractor never lies, so providing all lines up there’s nothing to worry about.

                      In reality there is very little difference between the sound of the various alignments, it has more to do with optimising for various record sizes and the positions of the lead out groove than anything else. For example, Technics specify null points of 58.8 and 113.5MM which is designed as a best compromise to fit 7, 10 and 12″ records. While a Lofgren A alignment on the same arm results in a mathematically superior alignment (less RMS and maximum distortion), in reality the difference is so slight as to be, to my ears, inaudible. I forget the figures off the top of my head, but they’ll be published in a review coming very soon. All that matters, ultimately, is that you’re enjoying the music, and I’m glad you finally got that P1 up to the standard that IMO it should’ve been from the factory.

  • John Garnet

    Hi,
    The proud owner of a new P1 (2016), after careful consideration I decided to invest in the LP Gear elliptical replacement stylus for the supplied Carbon cartridge. I was expecting decent improvement, but after a brief 3-LP listen I concluded the sound had actually worsened slightly. A quick check all round revealed the carbon cantilever on the elliptical stylus was longer than the conical one supplied, and had thus altered the VTA, with the arm being down by approximately 1-2mm at the back. I removed the 3mm acrylic platter mat I had been using, and placed the next LP on the bare phenolic platter. Cue jaw drop, eyes wide, and angels singing. Roy Gandy is superb at designing turntables, but after this, my first VTA experience, my ears tell me his theory about what little difference in sound incorrect VTA can make is totally misguided. Night and Day springs to mind. However, somebody else at Rega may have perhaps experienced a similar eureka moment to mine, and finally persuaded Mr. Gandy to retail a VTA spacer…

    • Ashley Post author

      I agree. I certainly don’t think VTA is as important as many would have you believe (some adjust VTA for every record), but i do think it is important to fine-tune the VTA for any given cartridge, particularly when you enter the realms of line contact and microline styli. I usually set the VTA so that the arm is parallel with the record, and that works for me. Of course with a Rega cartridge on a Rega arm this is usually pretty much spot on.

      That said, adjusting the tracking force will also alter the VTA slightly. I haven’t seen the new P1, but I believe I’m right in thinking that like the RP1 before it, it also lacks a tracking force control and the force can only be altered by moving the weight at the back of the arm. It’s quite possible that in removing the mat, you’ve adjusted the tracking force to something more suitable for the cartridge. I’m not a fan of the Carbon cartridge, primarily due to its conical stylus and rather high tracking pressure. It’s a rebadged Audio-Technica AT91 fitted with a carbon cantilever. Personally I feel AT’s own AT95 offers much better value, and I’d rather see Rega simply include an AT95 with those turntables.

      It was one of my biggest issues with the official Queen turntable that Rega released in 2015 to coincide with the release of the studio collection box set. Lovely table, but fitted as standard with a Carbon cartridge that was not only incapable of showing off the records to any degree, but also would more than likely cause more wear than something with a more advanced stylus and less tracking pressure like the AT95. And the AT95 is cheaper too.

      Of course, by installing the aftermarket stylus you’ve effectively taken the Carbon up to AT95 level or better. I believe they recommend 2.5G as the recommended tracking pressure for that aftermarket stylus, it may be worth investing in a cheap digital scale (about £5 on eBay) to check and adjust if necessary. Too low a tracking force will cause more harm than good, but too high a tracking force will increase record wear.

      • John Garnet

        Final Analysis:-

        Audio Appraisal; a very exact and fitting description of my final analysis. Following lowering of the Rega arm on the VTA spacer to the 4mm stage and the installation of 2.5mm clear rubber mounts on the plinth so the lid cleared the raised counterweight, plus very intent listening to many of my recently-Knostied discs, I came to the conclusion that my initial thoughts on the system’s reproduction were incorrect, insofar as some minor detailing originally heard was now more subdued. My conclusion, prompted by your suggestion Ashley, was that my original decision to use Baerwald protractor null points was misguided. I therefore downloaded several paper protractors, and tried each and every one alongside my originals. The discovery that no less than three different protractors yielded exactly the same result proved you were correct in your assumption. These protractors were a Rega Lofgren B, to IEC standards, The Guru Protractor by VS GmbH, and an Enjoy the Music.com simple two-point protractor. When the cartridge was repositioned as indicated 1mm further forward, at the fullest extent of the headshell, the previously muted detail returned, along with an even more broader soundstage, instant instrument location, slightly forward vocals, lifelike transients and timbres, and well-defined deep bass. In fact, the bass ability of the little Q Acoustic speakers never ceases to amaze, and belies their diminutive size. With a downforce now set at 2.4g, which passed the highest third section tracking test on the Hi-Fi Sound test album without distortion, this turntable even provides aural transient shocks to the unsuspecting listener, when such are present on the record and played at louder than normal volume. I am finally satisfied I’m hearing everything the engineer was attempting to capture on the acetate. As mentioned in an earlier comment, the only downside is that the system is now so analytical it is eye-opening to find on each and every record that some engineers are not as successful as others at capturing the clarity of what is being performed, a phenomenon I have not come across before in fifty-five years. Compared to my previous turntable, a Pro-Ject Debut fitted with an Audio-Technica AT95E, a really well-recorded album, such as The Tarot Suite by Mike Batt, proved to be incredibly more exciting, immediate and involving, and in contrast an album mixed by another well-respected engineer, sounding averagely OK on the other turntable, proved to be actually congested, flat and uninvolving. I can thoroughly recommend the Rega VTA spacer, it does the job it was designed for. However, if the designer is reading this, I would suggest that a second spacer be manufactured utilising 0.5mm risers. The P1/cartridge/stylus combination has proved to be what I conclude is a huge turntable bargain.

        For those readers who may wish to attempt to replicate my findings, please see below details of my system.

        Equipment used in the final analysis:-
        Rega P1 turntable (2016).
        Rega Carbon body, with replacement LP Gear CFN3600LE Carbon elliptical stylus.
        2.4g. tracking force, determined by HFS0001 and Micro-Acoustics test records.
        Rega VTA spacer.
        Technics 3g. headshell weight.
        3 different alignment protractors, detailed above.
        Edwards Audio Little Belter.
        Tonar Cork mat, (dispels static and opens up the soundstage.)
        Denon AVR2200W receiver, (Pure Audio facility bypasses superfluous electronics.)
        Q Acoustics 1010i speakers.
        QED Silver Anniversary speaker cable.

        • Ashley Post author

          Wow, that’s quite a summary, thanks for sharing. It sounds as if your P1 has truly been tweaked to perfection. I look forward to testing a Carbon cartridge with a stylus upgrade myself, as based on what you are hearing it’s a real bargain. Sadly I very much doubt I’ll be testing on a P1 so won’t be able to replicate your setup exactly, but hopefully the 1210 should more than suffice.

          I am a little surprised that, during your cartridge alignment, 3 protractors designed to align to different standards and with different null points would all agree on where the cartridge should be placed. In general, a Lofgren A alignment places the cartridge further forward in the headshell, whereas a Stevenson alignment which is the closest common standard to the custom alignment that Rega use will place the cartridge further back, usually resulting in the mounting screws being almost central in the mounting slots. Ordinarily I’d use the custom arc template generator to generate a protractor based on the pivot to spindle distance of the arm (222MM in the case of the Rega), and either the alignment specified by the tonearm manufacturer (as in the case of my Technics) or a standard Lofgren A (Baerwald) alignment with IEC standard null points.

          With all that said, however, there is no better confirmation than the sound coming from the record. It’s difficult for a turntable to track those test records correctly, so to me the fact that you can do so with no distortion would confirm that whichever alignment you’re using is spot on.

          • John Garnet

            The Guru and Enjoy the Music protractors were simple two-pointers and had no given parameters; I can only assume they were also based on the Lofgren A. When checking out the Rega Stevenson, the cartridge appeared to align best with the mounting screws only approximately 1mm further towards the centre of the headshell. Taking note of your suggestion, but following further evaluation of the Lofgren A, I will try the Stevenson again but this time with a screws starting point in the centre of the headshell. Knowing that the headshell still remains misaligned with the arm tube from new, it could be the case I was misled with my first setting. I’ll let you know what effect this has on the sound I’m currently enjoying – I can always revert!

            • John Garnet

              Further to my previous comments, with the mounting screws in the middle of the headshell slots I tried every protractor in my possession (7), both simple and arc, but was unable to achieve a result with any of them. The 4 arc protractors in particular proved unable to get anywhere near a close match. I reverted to positioning the screws 1mm in from the slot ends, which matched three differing protractors including the Stevenson, and I am convinced following extended listening that I have now obtained optimum alignment for my cartridge.

              • Ashley Post author

                Interesting. it could of course be that the upgraded stylus you’re using has a cantilever of different length to that of the stock carbon cart, but I’d imagined that a stevenson arc protractor at least would put the cart more towards the middle of the headshell. That said if it sounds good, that’s all that matters. Usually I only ever use the slots as a general guide, as following the protractor is of greater importance. I.E the cartridge should be positioned such that the stylus tip will land on the arc anywhere along its length (without rotating the protractor) and then the cartridge body should be angled such that it aligns with the protractor grid. That said the protractor never lies, so if yours lines up you’re good to go..

          • John Garnet

            Hi Ashley;
            I am still thoroughly enjoying my P1/ Rega/LP/Spacer combination.
            May I ask if your LP Gear CFN3600LE stylus finally arrived, and if so did you try it against its competitors and feel underwhelmed? I, and perhaps a few more of your avid readers, would dearly love to hear your conclusions.

            • Ashley Post author

              Hi John, Glad you’re still enjoying the P1. The stylus did arrive, but I have yet to obtain a suitable body. Unfortunately time got in the way. It is on the list though and will appear hopefully in December but if not as one of the first posts of the new year.