I purchased a USB microscope (one of the entry level range) with a software that enables measurements, photos and videos to be taken, along with an articulating arm mount. I guess I’m not finicky or obsessive enough yet setting up carts!
Then again, I’ve owned the Analog Magic software for 2 or 3 years and have yet to use it. It came with my turntable
The older I get, the harder it gets to land on the null points and set azimuth, forget about vta/sra. I know, I know, set it by ear…
Yup - went from the $300 to the $600 one, as the cheaper one doesn’t allow enough magnification. Really helps to actually watch what it is doing while on the record while it is PLAYING, which is not always the same as what it does sitting on the rest or sitting on a record not playing.
One invaluable hint: make a microscope picture to measure the angle between stylus contact line and cantilever. Then when you want to measure SRA when playing or whatever, just orientate on the cantilever. You then can take a picture from the side with a smartphone and measure the angle between record and cantilever from the side. It’s as accurate as possible and MUCH easier than measuring stylus azimuth directly with the needle on the record.
I’ve used one for years, and after all that time I’ve come to a couple of conclusions:
It’s a b!tch to set up even on an articulated arm because the focal length is so minuscule.
If the stylus to cantilever orientation and alignment look correct before you ever mount the cart, then using AM and fine tuning by ear works just as well, if not better.
I used AdjustPlus+ and for the last several years use AM (BTW, get v2 it’s better). What I do now is check the cart geometry with a USB before ever mounting it. It’ll tell me if the stylus mounting geometry relative to the cantilever is good. AM does a much more precise job of getting the whole thing lined up in all respects, and with some judicious listening adjustments and double checking on AM I’ve found it to be a lot easier than getting a USB capture of the stylus on a record (or equivalent) surface - especially with a tonearm finger lift in the way!
Ah, I see jazznut elaborated on a technique I’ve also found to work more easily.
It’s interesting to read this topic. In my backlog of stuff to work on “someday” I think it’s possible with a phone camera and a bit of AI running on a cloud service to analyze how the cantilever and stylus are moving through a groove and then provide setting adjustment recommendations near real-time.
I probably won’t have time to work on this until I retire.
I’ve heard of ppl having to remove the plastic shroud on the microscope to get close enough, my tone arm lift threads into the head shell (Kuzma 4pt) and is removable so that may help as well. Minor tweak to the tracking force to compensate
I remove the shroud. It’s still a b!tch to set up. Keep in mind that if you remove the tone arm lift and put it back, you run a small risk of throwing off something like azimuth or zenith, or even the overall stylus position. Easy enough to fix, if annoying.
I purchased via Amazon and they have a generic set of slides that state that the Dino-Lite model that I purchased had measurement capability, but it does not. So, make sure that you go to the Dino-Lite website and use their tool to make sure that you are getting the features that you want. The model that has the features that I want costs $799 vs the $329 that I paid. The more expensive is a 1.3Mpix, extended working distance, automatic magnification readings passed to the measurement software and a polarizing filter. Sure hard to look at the stylus with the LEDs on without a polarizing filter… anyway, getting pretty pricey.
Use the IOS app „Protractor“ in its transparent mode to take a picture of the picture you made from the cantilever related to the record surface. You can then measure the angle pictured with this tool (if you touch it, a line appears that measures it).
I usually make the initial picture of the stylus on the spinning record with my iPad and then take a screenshot with my iPhone of the transparent protractor picturing the previous picture shown on the iPad.
At the end you get something like that (this was just a rough first try, nothing’s properly parallel in this example):
Lots of information … I liked his stand with x,y and z movement and fine movement knobs, but I suspect that he combined a stand with an arm attachment. The simple stand is on the Dino-lite website, but not with three freedoms of movement and fine movement knobs.