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Turntable Resuscitation - Part 2


Forum Donor
Dec 5, 2023
I recently retired and we downsized. One of the benefits is that I could now upgrade my audio system which I did. I was well on my way to creating a great 5.1.4 system. I told myself I am not necessarily going to let my budget be the deciding factor (not a point shared by the wife) but I was going to get what I wanted. And I did until the wife asked how much more I was going to buy and added up what I spent to that point. Hard brake from her at that point! All I really had left to buy was a turntable and cartridge. That will be on hold for a while.
So, I am in the process of resuscitating my 40 yr. old Systemdek IIx with a Profile II tonearm and AT95E which I bought in 1985 and love. It has been in storage, off and on, for the last 25 years but set up and operating fine for the last 5 years. When I initially hooked it up, I leveled it and adjusted the VTF. It sounded great for a little while when I started hearing a noise when I turned it on. I cleaned and lubricated the bearing, which was kind of a pain, but took care of the noise. And then I realized there were issues with the platter and tone arm height

Part 2
Continued from Part 1

Another challenge is setting the tone arm height correctly. I discovered the tone arm was completely loose which explained why when I queued the TA to play the record, I could tell it partially engaged and was too close to the record before I let the tone arm down. It still sounded pretty good on some records but not others. TA height is controlled by loosening a very small hex nut and moving the TA up or down. The spec for the tone arm height is 20mm for my current cartridge. I’m assuming that is from the top of the platter (or record?) to the bottom of the tone arm. Is that correct? How important do you think setting the VTA is? Most of what I read was tone arm should just be set parallel to the platter and not worry about the actual angle. I did buy an inexpensive VTA gauge but there were no instructions, and I am not sure how it is used. Thoughts? Anybody know any tricks there?

Sorry for the long post and thanks for sharing your wisdom.

System: Denon X3800H, Philharmonic HT towers, Philharmonic HT Center Channel, Philharmonic True Mini Monitors (rear), Klipsch R-40-SA (height), SVS SB2000 (subwoofer), Systemdek IIx with Profile II tone arm and AT95E cart, 77" LG C3.
VTA is important, but you can get it "close enough" by eye. With the stylus in the lead-in groove of an LP, sight it from the front right of your turntable down at the level of the plinth and get the top edge of the cartridge as close to parallel to the record surface as you can. VTA and cartridge alignment can be an iterative process as adjusting one sometimes throws off the other. Just take your time about it.
Thank you. I'm retired so I have all the time in the world! Am I correct in my assumption of how to measure the TA height (The spec for the tone arm height is 20mm for my current cartridge. I’m assuming that is from the top of the platter (or record?) to the bottom of the tone arm. )? Set the height first and then the VTA?
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