Are you tired of listening to music on your turntable and feeling like something is just not quite right?
It could be that your azimuth is off.
But don’t worry, adjusting azimuth is easier than you might think.
In this article, we’ll break down the ideal setting for azimuth and why the most common methods for adjusting it are flawed.
We’ll also explore the benefits of getting your azimuth angle dialed in and how to optimize it for the widest, deepest, and tallest soundstage with pinpoint, stable imaging.
So grab your turntable and let’s get started!
How To Adjust Azimuth Turntable
The ideal azimuth angle of a particular cartridge is a function of two geometric relationships: the angular relationship of the stylus groove contact surfaces with the cantilever and the angular relationship of the vertical axis of the cantilever to the coils.
To achieve the widest, deepest, and tallest soundstage with the greatest separation of instruments in space and pinpoint, stable imaging, you’ll want to optimize your azimuth angle.
But how do you do that?
First, it’s important to note that the two most common methods for adjusting azimuth – visually leveling the cartridge and using a mono signal with one channel out of phase – are both flawed. The first approach assumes too much about the cartridge assembly, while the second has nothing directly to do with minimizing and balancing crosstalk.
Instead, you’ll want to use smarter tools like Dr. Feickert Adjust+, Fozgo-meter, or an oscilloscope to optimize your azimuth angle towards optimal channel separation/crosstalk/phase.
It’s important to note that an azimuth that is off by even a small amount can result in a significant difference in THD between channels at certain frequencies. For example, an azimuth that is off by 2.75° can result in about 2.5-3 dB difference in THD between channels at 3150 Hz.
To optimize your azimuth angle, start by using one of the smarter tools mentioned above. Then, adjust your turntable’s tonearm until you achieve the ideal azimuth angle based on the geometric relationships mentioned earlier.
By taking the time to adjust your azimuth angle properly, you’ll be able to enjoy music on your turntable with a wider soundstage, greater separation of instruments in space, and pinpoint imaging.
What Is Azimuth And Why Is It Important?
Azimuth refers to the horizontal balance of the cartridge when viewed from the front. This, in turn, determines at which angle the stylus sits on the record groove. The theoretical assumption is that when the cartridge body is perfectly perpendicular to the record groove, the stylus will sit perfectly in the record grooves.
However, all cartridges are made by hand, and therefore, the stylus may not actually be perfectly perpendicular to the cantilever, the coil assembly at the end of the cantilever, or the cartridge body. This means that visual methods can only provide an approximation. As soon as the record spins, whether your stylus is sitting at the optimal spot is unknown, so it is impossible to achieve an accurate setup by eyesight.
If azimuth is set incorrectly, signals recorded on the left channel will leak to the right channel (or vice versa). This leakage between channels is called crosstalk, and it is expressed as a negative decibel number. The higher the negative number, the lower the crosstalk, and the better the channel separation. Incorrect azimuth will also lead to degradation in other measurements such as %THD between L and R channels, as well as IMD% (Intermodulation Distortions).
While azimuth may not directly affect the quality of music reproduction, it does affect crosstalk and channel separation. Therefore, optimizing your azimuth angle is important for achieving a wider soundstage, greater separation of instruments in space, and pinpoint imaging.
The Ideal Setting For Azimuth
The ideal setting for azimuth is achieved when the left and right channel contact surfaces of the stylus groove are at a 45° angle (clockwise and counterclockwise) to the vertical axis of the cantilever. Additionally, the coils should be at a 45° (clockwise and counterclockwise) relationship to the cantilever.
To achieve this ideal setting, it’s important to use precise tools and take your time with adjustments. By doing so, you’ll be able to minimize crosstalk and achieve optimal channel separation, resulting in a more immersive and enjoyable listening experience. Remember that even a small difference in azimuth angle can have a significant impact on the sound quality, so it’s worth taking the time to get it just right.
Common Methods For Adjusting Azimuth And Their Flaws
When it comes to adjusting azimuth, there are a few common methods that people tend to use. Unfortunately, these methods are often flawed and may not result in optimal channel separation or crosstalk reduction.
One common method is visually leveling the cartridge. This approach assumes that the cartridge assembly is perfectly level, which is not always the case. In reality, the cantilever may be slightly tilted, resulting in an azimuth angle that is off.
Another method involves using a mono signal with one channel out of phase and listening for the lowest output. While this can help identify an azimuth angle that is significantly off, it doesn’t directly address the goal of minimizing crosstalk.
In order to achieve optimal channel separation and crosstalk reduction, it’s important to use smarter tools like Dr. Feickert Adjust+, Fozgo-meter, or an oscilloscope. These tools can help you accurately measure and adjust your azimuth angle for the best possible sound quality.
It’s worth noting that even small deviations in azimuth angle can have a significant impact on sound quality. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to properly adjust your turntable’s tonearm and achieve the ideal azimuth angle based on the geometric relationships mentioned earlier.
By avoiding common flawed methods and using smarter tools to optimize your azimuth angle, you’ll be able to enjoy music on your turntable with a wider soundstage, greater separation of instruments in space, and pinpoint imaging.
Benefits Of Optimizing Azimuth
Optimizing azimuth has several benefits that can greatly enhance your listening experience. First and foremost, it allows for optimal channel separation, which means that the left and right channels are balanced and free from crosstalk. This results in a wider soundstage with greater separation of instruments in space, making it easier to discern individual elements within a recording.
In addition to channel separation, optimizing azimuth also reduces geometric distortion or harmonic distortion caused by the pinch effect in elliptical and fine line stylii. This distortion can be particularly noticeable with more aggressive stylus shapes, so precise azimuth adjustment is especially important for those who prefer these types of stylii.
Finally, optimizing azimuth can also increase friction and reduce trackability, allowing your stylus to track the groove walls more evenly and reducing uneven stylus wear. This not only improves sound quality but also prolongs the life of your stylus.
How To Optimize Azimuth For The Best Sound Quality
To optimize the azimuth angle for the best sound quality, follow these steps:
1. Use a smarter tool like Dr. Feickert Adjust+, Fozgo-meter, or an oscilloscope to adjust your azimuth angle.
2. Adjust your turntable’s tonearm until you achieve the ideal azimuth angle based on the two geometric relationships mentioned earlier – the angular relationship of the stylus groove contact surfaces with the cantilever and the angular relationship of the vertical axis of the cantilever to the coils.
3. It’s important to note that even a small deviation in azimuth angle can result in a significant difference in Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) between channels at certain frequencies. Therefore, take your time and make sure that you achieve the ideal azimuth angle accurately.
By optimizing your azimuth angle, you’ll be able to enjoy music on your turntable with a wider soundstage, greater separation of instruments in space, and pinpoint imaging. So, take some time to adjust your azimuth angle properly and experience the best sound quality possible on your turntable.
Tools You’ll Need For Adjusting Azimuth
To adjust the azimuth angle of your turntable properly, you’ll need some specialized tools. Here are some of the tools that you’ll need:
1. Dr. Feickert Adjust+: This tool is designed to help you optimize your azimuth angle towards optimal channel separation/crosstalk/phase. It is easy to use and provides accurate results.
2. Fozgo-meter: This tool is used to measure the crosstalk between channels and helps you adjust the azimuth angle accordingly. It is a popular tool among audiophiles and is highly recommended for those who want to achieve the best possible sound quality.
3. Oscilloscope: An oscilloscope is a device that allows you to visualize the electrical signal coming from your turntable. By analyzing the waveform, you can determine if your azimuth angle is correct or not.
4. Test LP: To adjust your azimuth angle, you’ll need a suitable test LP that has bands with signal only in one and then only in the other channel. This will help you determine the amount of crosstalk between channels and adjust accordingly.
5. Bubble level: While not recommended as the primary tool for adjusting azimuth, a bubble level can be useful for visually leveling the cartridge before fine-tuning with smarter tools.
By using these tools, you’ll be able to achieve the best possible sound quality from your turntable by optimizing your azimuth angle towards optimal channel separation/crosstalk/phase.