Concerns About The Unconventional Design of
The VTAF mounting system is unconventional. It is the unconventional design of
the VTAF mounting system which provides the remarkable VTAF benefits:
1) Quick and easy adjustment of VTA while
the record is playing. The user hears the effects as VTA changes.
2) Easily heard improvements in sound stage,
imaging, inner detail, nuance, air, bass clarity, and musicality are provided by isolation of the tonearm from the armboard.
3) Easy removal of the tonearm from the armboard allows easy access for work on the turntable, the tonearm system,
the cartridge, phono cables, and phono plugs. Out in a minute, back in a minute.
4) The possibility of easily exchanging
tonearms between tables.
The differences between the VTAF mounting system and prior art sometimes conflict with
traditional expectations. This can raise unnecessary concern for a first time VTAF user. We recommend an open mind.
Mounting instructions from various manufacturers range from fully tight (Rega for example), to loose as practical (Origin
Live for example).
The VTAF mounts the arm in a completely loose but stable manner. The tonearm is held down to
the armboard by gravity alone. There are no fasteners involved. The tonearm weight is balanced over the center of the VTAF
Adjuster Wheel and carried by the VTAF Adjuster Wheel resting freely on the top of the VTAF Bronze Bushing flange. This loose
but stable mounting has alarmed some users until getting used to the idea.
This stable free floating arrangement,
with the VTAF Adjuster Wheel loosly supported by the VTAF Bronze Bushing is possible because tonearms that use the VTAF have
their weight centered over the VTAF mounting post.
The VTAF Guide Assembly prevents rotation of the tone arm
pedestal about its vertical axis. Leave a touch of play between the guide posts and the projection of the tone arm which mounts
the lift/lower mechanism and the arm rest.
If forcefully tipped and then released, the VTAF automatically returns
to a stable level condition (provided the phono cables are properly dressed under the tonearm). The freedom to tip does
not degrade sonic performance (to the contrary), nor does it cause problems with tonearm handling or playback. Also, it is
of no significance that the possible degree of forced tipping increases as the tonearm pedestal assembly is raised by
the VTAF Adjuster Wheel.
The VTAF self restoring tendency can be checked by locking the arm wand in the
arm rest and lifting up or pressing down on the finger lift. When the finger lift is released, the VTAF Adjuster Wheel will
restore itself with a quiet little thunk. In normal handling and record play, the tonearm assembly will remain properly seated in
its stable configuration
One learns to work the lift/lower mechanism without tipping the VTAF Adjuster Wheel. The
trick is to avoid moving the lift/lower lever abruptly, or forcing the lever at end of travel, either up or down. Easy
does it. Also, it is desirable to have a minimum of slack in the VTAF Guide Assembly, while at the same time not snugging
the guide tight.
Freedom to forcefully tip the tonearm assembly in the VTAF Bronze Bushing may give the impression
that the clearance between the Adjuster Screw and the Bronze Bushing is excessive, and therefore just plain wrong. Actually
the Adjuster Screw is reasonably close fitting with the bore of the Bronze Bushing. The radial clearance of
.003 inches is about the same as the thickness of a sheet of writing paper. This radial clearance translates to a tracking
error contribution of .019 degrees, negligible when compared to the unavoidable tracking error of about 1.9 degrees with Rega
length pivoted tonearms.
Concerns Regarding Use of the Supplied Cartrdige Shims:
Correct coarse VTA adjustment is achieved when the rear of the cartridge is a little below level when
the VTA Adjuster Wheel is turned to the lowest possible elevation of the tonearm pedestal. The VTAF Adjuster Wheel then
has sufficient travel to sweep the cartridge through all VTA values of interest.
For non-Rega arms with a smooth
mounting post, the VTAF Adjuster Screw is held to the tonearm mounting post with a wave spring, allowing the Adjuster
Screw to be moved up or down the mounting post against friction to achieve correct coarse adjustment.
Rega style tonearms, correct coarse VTA adjustment can be achieved by a) raising or lowering the armboard relative to
the top of the record mat, b) using a thicker or thinner record mat, as limited by the height of the turntable spindle, c)
shimming to lower the entire cartridge relative to the headshell, or d) using one of the thin precision brass shims supplied
with the VTAF to lower the cartridge in the rear. Armboard height can be difficult to change. Record mats have a significant
sonic signature, sometimes better, sometimes worse. Lowering the cartridge relative to the headshell is practical (we
will provide a simple wood spacer at no cost if requested). Where needed to lower coarse VTA adjustment, we
recommend the precision brass shims provided with the VTAF because they are easy to use and have no sonic signature.
Five precision brass shims are provided with the VTAF. Shim thicknesses are .01, .02, .03, .04, and .05 inches. For
a cartridge with a large top surface, each .01 inches of shim thickness will have about the same effect as lowering the armboard
by about 1/8 inch. The rear of the cartridge can be made lower by using one of these shims. For the rare cartridge
with a short mounting surface (such as a Shure cartridge), the user will probably use the .01 inch thick shim.
needed, place the shim between the rear of the cartridge and the headshell, with the shim axis perpendicular to the axis of
the cartridge axis. The cartridge mounting screws should be tightened just enough to keep the cartridge from losing alignment.
The VTAF adds a height of .225 inches (5.7 mm) to post mounted Rega tonearms, or .325 inches (8.3 mm) to three
point mount Rega tonearms. The added height can be disconcerting to a new user, particularly if the armboard is already
too high. In most cases, the height added by the VTAF, and more, can be easily compensated by the use of one of the precision
brass shims provided with the VTAF.
There may be reluctance to use a cartridge shim of any kind,, possibly because
of dogma suggested by a cartridge manufacturer, possibly because the tonearm wand may end up being not quite level (which
has no associated sonic penalty).
answer to concerns about the unconventional aspects of the VTAF mounting system is this: the user will benefit greatly by
setting convention aside, and exploring the performance of the VTAF to find through direct experience the sonic benefits the
VTAF provides. Using the VTAF, even with a precision cartridge shim, and even with the tonearm wand not quite level,
the vinyl rig will wound remarkably better than without the VTAF. Thank you for keeping an open mind.