Originally Posted by Keithpgdrb
I figured the pics wouldnt be as helpful, but I tried. if anything, the front is closer to the record. so, I suppose it could be evened out a bit by raising the record with a thicker mat. but then the tonearm might be slightly high, with a straight cart. if this setting wont make a difference because of the elliptical stylus, I wont bother with it. I'll experiment though with the mat maybe.
Is this the obsessive behavior people always make fun of vinyl people for? lol
I don't think it's obsessive. You just want to get it right. It's a problem only if you lie awake at night worrying about it.
The stylus rake is the angle that the needle tracks the groove. You're trying to duplicate the angle at which the groove was cut originally by the cutter head. Since it's impossible to align properly without a microscope, most cartridge manufacturers design so that if the cartridge body/headshell is parallel to the record and the correct VTF is used, then the angle will be correct +/- 5%.
This becomes more important the closer the stylus shape is to the cutter head, since these profiles come in contact with more of the groove. For example from least critical to most critcal:
hyper elliptical/line contact
You can also be fooled by the naked eye. All the Audio-Technica moving coils I've used always look to me the way your Denon looks to you, but they're aligned correctly. Let your cartridge burn in first. If after that it still seems shrill, bass light, or too bright then replace the mat with a thicker one. If the cartridge seems too bassy, then remove the balancing weight.
In the meantime, to quote those famous philosophers The Doobie Brothers, "Listen to the music".