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Cartridge alignment - the Mint LP Best Tractor

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tg View Drop Down
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    Posted: 22 Sep 2008 at 11:43am

Recently on another forum I came across discussion of the Mint LP Best Tractor and upon further investigation of this product decided that I liked the principle and ordered one for myself.

The tractor is custom made for a particular arm/table combination and allows very precise alignment of the cantilever and setting of the correct overhang which by locking the effective length to the design parameter then allows correct cantilever alignment at the designed null points.

It is supplied with a magnifying glass, which is most definitely needed and a very comprehensive set of instructions.

It is extremely important to have good lighting as the alignment process utilises parallax to ensure correct viewing angle when aligning.

Ensuring that I had sufficient time to complete the process, reading the instructions carefully beforehand and setting everything up to enable ease of working all contributed to a most satisfying result.

Whilst my original setup was quite close, the alignment of any stylus profile other than conical (and even that will suffer from incorrect alignment of the cantilever) is microscopically critical and the closer it can be to correct the better the audible result should be.

Having taken some couple of hours making adjustment I settled back to enjoy the results and they were certainly audible, sufficiently so that a day later, knowing that I had "near enoughed" one or two steps, I repeated the process with a little more diligence - getting the stylus right on the line rather than next to it sort of thing.

On the second run through I found the whole procedure much quicker (found most of the wrong things to do the first time through Wink) and the improvement, whilst not as great as initially, was still audible.

The most difficult part I found was setting the overhang, due to my cartridge having a rather low body and having to be well down to see it while still seeing the line, OTOH, it has a nice line down the front to check verticality and a good gap through the front to view the critical cantilever alignment.

The improvements I noted were what one would expect from improved alignment, in a nutshell, more focused, cleaner and more detailed, with better separation of channels, instruments and vocals and increased sense of the recording venue.

I have used a number of different protractors in the past and this one has provided by the far the best results.

I would have been happy with the results had they been due to a cartridge upgrade and knowing that they are from releasing the potential of my current one sweetens the deal greatly.

www.mintlp.com/best.htm#impt - for more information - browse the systems and comments.

I found Mr Yip to be most helpful and obliging, his communication first rate and his packaging very good - a very satisfying experience all round.



Edited by tg - 22 Sep 2008 at 11:43am
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Bluewolf View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bluewolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2009 at 10:14am
I have been in audio 37 years and am always on the lookout for a good cartridge alignment tool.  All the ones I have used to date have disappointed 
me in some way. So I nearly orgasamed when I came across Wally Malewicz’s site. I wanted to order his complete setup suite of tools. But what is it
with specialist alignment protractor makers? I sent several emails to Wally and got no response. I then sent him an email noting what a pity and how
frustrating it was that he had designed such innovative equipment and yet I could not get them. I got an immediate response explaining that now that he
was retired he has more time for audiophiles and asked for photos of my arm and speakers (the latter presumably for interest) with a promise to get back
to me immediately. I am still waiting despite two follow-up emails. The man must have some issues and as I stated in my last email to him it cannot simply
be demand exceeding supply and I gave him an example. A few years ago I was interested in a clock which is hand made in the UK. The maker told me upfront
that it would take 12 months to make after receiving my order thus managing expectations and you know where you stand.

So I gave up on Wally and then started searching the web for another solution and came across Best Tractor by mintlp. Great write ups from this site and
other sites as to results and with good service for US customers all the way from Hong Kong. Hey wait, I live in Hong Kong so I should have no problems
right? Wrong. I sent a total of 6 emails with all my details and did not even get the courtesy of a reply. I offered to meet, buy the guy a drink and
provide any details he needed for my arm and table. I can only guess that he does not want to do one for the arm I have which is a circa 1998 SpJ. But who
knows? Certainly not me.

What is required to get these guys, who evidently are gifted, to supply me with something that they advertise that they want to sell? It is so
frustrating sending email after email and being ignored, and since everything I have tried to date has some failing to my mind and their pieces look very
promising.


Edited by Bluewolf - 12 Apr 2009 at 10:17am
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tg View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Apr 2009 at 11:47pm

Hi Bluewolf,

you certainly seem to be having communication difficulties.

I cannot answer for either of these people, but I do recall that my first attempt to contact Mr Yip was unsuccessful, IIRC due to overdiligence of his email provider in filtering incoming mail.

I was ultimately successful by using the same provider.  

Have you attempted contact with either using an alternative email address yourself ?

Since you are HK resident, perhaps you frequent R33 ? - Mr Yip was personally known to JC of R33, a former HK resident now living in Sydney.  

Perhaps Mr Yip might be reachable via R33 ?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bluewolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2009 at 2:52pm
Hi tg,

Many thanks for your response.  I thought that my home email address could be treated as spam so I also sent 3 emails from my work email address.  Sorry but I do not know what R33 is.  The only R33 I know of was a Nissan.  Could you give me more details please?

Thanks
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tg View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Apr 2009 at 5:06pm

I assumed with you being in HK that you were a chinese speaker, if that is not so then R33 (http://www.review33.com/) will not help you much.

Otherwise give me your email address by PM and I will forward it if possible, with a request for contact re sale.

BTW it will be necessary for him to have or be able to obtain, both the spindle to pivot centre distance of your arm and the effective length or the nominal overhang.

It is not possible to construct the arc without.  

If these are not known then perhaps the Feickert tool might suit you - it is more expensive than the Mint protractor but universal (so I am led to believe) in application.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bluewolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Apr 2009 at 12:18am
Thanks tg for all your help.  PM with details just sent.  I have thought of the Feickert but have discounted it as it does not look good for my application. The SpJ's arm pivot point cannot be accurately guaged without removing the arm from the inverted pivot which it simply rests on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chivas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jan 2010 at 2:12pm
I can second Tony's (tg) post.
 
I found the customer service and communication from Mr Yip first rate. I got a response to my inquiry almost immediately, order was placed and payment settled on the same day. He only ships about twice a month and ships form Hong Kong, so it can take more than a couple of weeks to about a month, but is well worth the wait.
 
Since I've upgraded my arm from the standard, it was very hard to find a protractor for my arm/table combination. I've tried numerous, but never got it quite right which led to so much frustration that I nearly replaced the standard arm. This tailor made protractor for my arm/table combimation was perfect!! Obviously I will have to order a new one if I change this combination, which is a disadvantage.
 
I've experienced the same improvements as Tony, i.e. better channel and instrument seperation, clearer images and needless to say, much less (practically zero) distortion. What a relief to finally being able to enjoy the investment made in my vinyl playback system and upgrades to it.!!
 
Definitely recommended!
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