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Thread: The SmartTractor precision alignment tool

  1. #1
    Join Date: Dec 2015

    Location: Alicante. Spain.

    Posts: 892
    I'm Adrian.

    Default The SmartTractor precision alignment tool

    Before I give my opinion on this fantastic bit of German engineering I'd just like to thank fellow member Hugo of Ammonite Audio. I recently bought a Miyajima Shilabe from Hugo but it developed a fault and Hugo immediately sent me a new one AND a Kansui to play with and evaluate (will post my findings when I've listened equally to both). But I also bought another toy - the SMARTractor.

    I've had the Feickert but didn't rate it to be honest and have been using a mirrored Avid protractor as well as the freebie given with a certain test record. Results have always been a little less than perfect even with the mirror, required further tweaking after listening.

    Enter the Germans...

    This is a serious bit of kit and oozes accuracy - more accurate than the Feickert - I discovered my pivot to spindle distance was off by a few hundredths of a mm and indeed my Allaerts cart was too far forward in the headshell.

    You can choose from every alignment arc, Lofgren etc, but Hugo recommended the single point Uni Din setting, unique to the SMARTractor.

    The mirrored base, and more importantly the etched lines are superior to anything I've seen - using the supplied (camera lens grade optical loupe, with its own perfectly aligned housing) lining up the cantilever with absolute precision is simple even for me.

    It took about 15 minutes all told.

    The result.... From the first track (Krall) I knew I'd got it right - no sibilance, no out of focus soundstage - just Kralls voice perfectly positioned centrally and beautiful. No tweaking!

    Ok so it's expensive £399 but I know Hugo thinks kindly of fellow members and may offer a little discount. I's it worth it - YES.

    Here's some pics, and no that's not me! I have less hair!




    Technics SP10 mk2
    Jan Allaerts MC 1 Boron mk1 cart
    Miyajima Shilabe cart
    Hashimoto HM-X SUT
    Siggwan (gimballed not unipivot) Cocobola 12"
    Aurorasound Vida LCR Phonostage
    The Truth linestage
    Dave Slagle Autoformer Volume Controller
    Cary 805c SET amps
    Audio Note ANe-SPX speakers
    Townshend Isolda speaker cables
    Cardas Golden Presence interconnects

  2. #2
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 33,008
    I'm Grant.

    Default

    Certainly looks a bit of kit. A bit too much like micro operations for my liking but it doesnt look too much work for the avid user. Trust the germans. Trouble is its dearer than my tonearm and cart. Ive got a Mobile Fidelity Geo-Disc That does it quickly and close enough for me
    Regards,
    Grant ....
    Sometimes incompetence is useful. It helps you keep an open mind.
    .... ..... ...... ...... ................... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
    IMUTO TAURUS X4 BATTERY SUPPLY. - RPI2B & AUDIOPHONICS DAC running MOODE 3.6- TONBRUX BATTERY SUPPLY & CHROMECAST2 AUDIO DONGLE no1 - JBE SERIES 3 SLATEDECK & EMOTIVA XPS-1 PHONO - DENON DV2900 & HEAVILY MODDED MF X10v3. BERESFORD SWITCHBOX. - TWIN PRO MONOBLOCK AMPLIFIERS. - XIANG SHENG DAC\PRE\HEADPHONE AMP. -AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-MSR7 HEADPHONES - WIN10 JRIVER22, SPOTIFY PREMIUM- OPPO PM-3 PLANAR HEADPHONES, KINPS CABLES, SMSL M6 MINIDAC, CHROMECAST2 AUDIO DONGLE no2 POWERED BY ANKER BATTERY PSU - FULL RANGE TWIN & SINGLE TELEFUNKEN's - TANDBERG TCD310 - CARTS.. AT95 Shibata, SHURE M55E original, JVC MD1029. - RCA CABLES BY BRIAN SPKR CABLES BY MOI HAIR BY MARCO FEET BY ELECTRICBEACH - MAINS REGENERATED BY POWERINSPIRED AND FILTERED BY BELKIN PUREAV.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Essex

    Posts: 15,282
    I'm openingabottleofwine.

    Default

    What is the advantage of the 'single point Uni-DIN' geometry? Is the tracking error zero at only one radial point?

    I wouldn't have thought an error of a few hundredths of mm (i.e. a few tens of microns) would make any difference at all.
    Have you listened to this month's choice in the Album Club?

    Barry

  4. #4
    Join Date: Dec 2015

    Location: Alicante. Spain.

    Posts: 892
    I'm Adrian.

    Default

    The few hundredths was the distance of stylus to pivot. But without being right it's impossible to get the offset angle correct. It's the way the lines have been etched and the inbuilt magnification that means it's a doddle to then accurately set the offset angle using the cantilever.

    The Uni Din method sets it so distortion is low across the entire disc - Hugo can probably explain that better.

    Whatever, it works.
    Technics SP10 mk2
    Jan Allaerts MC 1 Boron mk1 cart
    Miyajima Shilabe cart
    Hashimoto HM-X SUT
    Siggwan (gimballed not unipivot) Cocobola 12"
    Aurorasound Vida LCR Phonostage
    The Truth linestage
    Dave Slagle Autoformer Volume Controller
    Cary 805c SET amps
    Audio Note ANe-SPX speakers
    Townshend Isolda speaker cables
    Cardas Golden Presence interconnects

  5. #5
    Join Date: May 2012

    Location: Dagenham Essex

    Posts: 6,798
    I'm I'mteachingmarcotheartofpishanto.

    Default

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXQcdFF_Dro

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xef-1CzwjCg&t=2s

    How does it work out cartridge overhang

    OK think I can see it now in this video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXvxAsAL7OM



    I may get one of these
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sodial-R-B...wAAOSwxehXO~vA

    and use it with my Van den Hul Alignment gauge
    Last edited by Audio Al; 05-03-2017 at 03:57. Reason: more research
    Music , fills the gaps between silence !

    TAT Sale post Leader " Marcos Mentor "

    Also a pishanto specialist confirmed by Head Daftee

    Real name " Allen " or "Zoomer Nut”, “Numpty Napper”.

    ±± KEEP IT REEL

  6. #6
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Norwich

    Posts: 2,156
    I'm Hugo.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    What is the advantage of the 'single point Uni-DIN' geometry? Is the tracking error zero at only one radial point?

    I wouldn't have thought an error of a few hundredths of mm (i.e. a few tens of microns) would make any difference at all.
    No, of course there is not only one point at which tracing error is zero! I wrote a piece on this for my website at https://ammonite-audio.co.uk/tonearm...dge-alignment/ . UNI-DIN is designed to offer a subtly better balance of tracing error and distortion compromises across a disc, compared to other geometries. Having played around a bit, I am very happy to use UNI-DIN since, to my ears, it results in the best sound reproduction although someone obsessed with inner groove distortion might prefer to use Stevenson and trade lower end-of-side distortion for significantly higher average distortion across the rest of the LP.

    The main benefit of the SMARTractor is not that it does anything that you cannot do for yourself with other, cheaper tools and a great deal of patience. Its trick is to enable a cartridge to be set up, in moments, aligning using the cantilever as the reference, not the body, with no error due to the SMARTractor's sensible mirrored design that eliminates parallax effects - you can be sure that you're looking at things from the correct angle with the SMARTractor, which is not something that can be said of other tools, eg Feickert NG, Clearaudio, Project, or indeed the paper ones that you can print off for free. As Adey says, it took him just 15 minutes, but actually once you get used to sighting the tip and cantilever against the laser etched grid markings and their respective reflections in the mirrored base of the SMARTractor, it takes much less time - literally a few minutes at most. Yes, the SMARTractor is expensive, but it's a once-only cost that in my honest opinion brings you closer to optimum vinyl replay, with the minimum of hassle and time. If, like me, you use more than one tonearm (Jelco SA-750E and Fidelity Research FR64S), this time saving is quite significant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Audio Al View Post
    I may get one of these
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sodial-R-B...wAAOSwxehXO~vA

    and use it with my Van den Hul Alignment gauge
    I have one of those magnifiers and it's pretty good and definitely a useful tool for turntable setup, if not quite up to the optical quality of the one supplied with the SMARTractor.

    Out of interest, is the Van den Hul gauge specific to one particular tonearm?

  7. #7
    Join Date: May 2012

    Location: Dagenham Essex

    Posts: 6,798
    I'm I'mteachingmarcotheartofpishanto.

    Default

    Its nothing special , One of these

    http://www.analogueseduction.net/ali...rotractor.html

    Worked for me over the years
    Music , fills the gaps between silence !

    TAT Sale post Leader " Marcos Mentor "

    Also a pishanto specialist confirmed by Head Daftee

    Real name " Allen " or "Zoomer Nut”, “Numpty Napper”.

    ±± KEEP IT REEL

  8. #8
    Join Date: Apr 2011

    Location: London

    Posts: 2,535
    I'm Robert.

    Default

    Knowing the Germans It'll be good and accurate but too expensive and scientific for me.
    The right protractor, careful set up and setting aside time is pretty much all you really need for good replay in my experience

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Essex

    Posts: 15,282
    I'm openingabottleofwine.

    Default

    Hugo I am unable to connect to your website, so cannot comment on the UNI-DIN geometry. I would be interested to see a comparison of the distortion distribution across the disc radius between the UNI-DIN and Loefgren 'A' and 'B'.
    Have you listened to this month's choice in the Album Club?

    Barry

  10. #10
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Norwich

    Posts: 2,156
    I'm Hugo.

    Default

    My hosting provider is a little slow, but my website loads up fine for me. Take a look at Michael Fremer's article at http://www.analogplanet.com/content/...fPvdaFdZFqH.97 which shows the respective distortion plots. I'll disagree with his ultimate preference for Lofgren B over UNI-DIN - to my ears UNI-DIN gives a slightly preferable sound. UNI-DIN is only available using a SMARTractor, though, unless you care to reverse-engineer Acoustical Systems' calculations.

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