Wild Fi

At Van's Place

He has a Sony SL1600 tonearm on a Micro Seiki turntable.

Bought a ZYX Airy 3 Silver and he let me perform alignment task for him. I would like to thank him for his trust in me, a real honor.

Van has done some preliminary work:

- install the Airy 3 on a headshell
- perform Lateral Balance on the tonearm
- make sure the Headshell is parallel to the LP, a good start for VTA
- set VTF to 2.1 grams
- and make sure the azimuth is correct at least to our human eyes via a 3X magnifier.

First finding on the Best Tractor is the effective length is off by around 0.5mm  Hence gave it a slight  push to the front.

What a lucky day, one forward move I found that the stylus tip rest on each and every point on the Effective Length Arc.

Then check over both Null Points, yes, it was a lucky afternoon, all in place.

First LP played and I found it abnormal.  OH, Master Van challenged me with a Left/Right Channel interchange listening test.  After confirming the mistake by a TEST LP we decided to swap the input cables at the phono.  We do not want to waste time to find out the source of error. 

For the Phono Impedance Loading Van has put in a 100 ohm as per the factory sheet.  I thought the resistance is low and we put that to 300 ohm as a start.

Well I was wrong, 100 Ohm is much better. 

Time for VTA fine tune, I lowered the tonearm 3 times, each time 0.2mm.  Stop as we had more bass definition.  We removed the 47 Lab Turntable Leather Mat as it dampens the sound too much.

For VTF, I settled on 2.03gram.

When you have bought a new cartridge, it is very important that you put into effort to set it up correctly and sound correct and normal.  Do not be tempted that you could do it after the run-in period. 
An incorrect setup cartridge will not mature or improve in sound no matter how much run-in time you give it.   It will only degrade in sound which is irreversible. Then comes more distortion and/or a bent cantilever as the damper worsen in condition.

Played two vocal LPs from beginning to end, there is no perceptible sound degradation to the very end of groove.  And we have a clean and sparkling diamond at stylus tip every time a LP has been played, no dust attracted.  

From this I would say a 'Tolerable' environment has been created for the Cartridge to run-in safely.  It may not be perfect or optimal but safe.  Another fine tune will be necessary after the cartridge has 20 to 30 hours of playing.  I always prefer to let the cartridge run on easy tracks to flex its muscle.  Test with more torture grooves after the first time run-in, NO hurry!

An afternoon with lots of fun and laughter! Thank YOU sir!

First impression:

Airy 3 gives the best Tracking for all Cartridges I have come across.  Run like a High Compliance MM cart we used in our old days.

Compared to the EMT cartridge played on the same set up the Airy 3 has a much wider sound stage.  Front and Back imaging is more apparent. 

[this may not be a fair comparison, the EMT is not setup with Best Tractor]

Very linear frequency top to bottom, which begets a problem, we found it too blank.

Airy 3 played the Supraphon Piano sound like coming from a DGG pressing, so you should know what I meant.

Well, this is the first 10 LP sides, too early to make conclusion.

Wait until Part 2.

Some LPs we played in the afternoon:

Part 1 - A

The alignment work was done Sunday.

Monday morning Van called me on a bad news.  He listened to two LPs and found that the music and vocal goes to the left side.  And he suggested (this is a very polite saying) that perhaps I used the wrong offset angle and caused the error.

I told him Alignment seldom give rise to such issue.  Imbalance of channels is often a result of incorrect azimuth and anti-skating force.

Please check other aspect of your system for the culprit.

Problem could not be solved, Van called Tuesday.

There was no choice but to make another visit.  We played a phase check track from a Hi-Fi News Analogue Test LP and sense something wrong.  So take a serious look at the headshell wire connection to the ZYX Cartridge.

OH my God, how can this happen!  The Right Channel is in-phase while the Left Channel is out-of-phase. The wires are correctly done at the Cartridge pins but wrongly connect to the headshell pins.

Correct the error by unplugging all small wires and connect them in the right order.  After this all parameters were off.  VTF dropped to 1.99 gram and I changed it back to 2.02. One hour of work to realign the cartridge, and after some listening I decided to raise the VTA by 0.3mm.

I admit this:  I was not aware of the problem on Sunday.  The only drawback I detect is the bass was not in the right mood.  So a good lesson learned on this job.

Van bought me a dinner, thank you sir.

This is the LP that Van listened to and found the Phase Error we have made, when the phase is not correct it seems there are two Chie singing, much louder on the left side which is out of phase

What went wrong :

The White and Blue Wire has the wrong position, causing Channel Phase Inconsistency

This is the correct schematic.  Picture is a direct link :

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