Originally Posted by Bogmonster
I'm living in Ireland and the Shure guage works out to be close to 50 euro (give or take) on Amazon UK. It's pricey enough but I will definitely purchase one if I feel it necessary. I ordered the test LP recommended by analogsurvivor so I will see how that goes first. Hopefully my TT is somewhere close to where it should be. Last thing I want to do is go messing around with it and damage it
It is (un)fortunate we are here on the global basis. Availability and pricing can vary wildly - what is in some place as common as muck, might be someplace else gold - and priced accordingly. Since you convienently live in Ireland, if scales really prove unavoidable, you can try to get one of the best : Transcriptors Stylus Scales, which was made in Carlow, Ireland. http://www.lencoheaven.net/forum/index.php?topic=10605.0
It is a superb piece of mechanical engineering, accurately measures down to 0.01 gram. Michell also had a variation on the theme, as did Supex and the same thing rebranded for Nakamichi.
These are Rolls Royce/Mercedes/BMV/Ferrari/Lamborghini/etc of stylus scales. One advantage they have over their current electronic counterparts is the fact that they are the thinnest thing mechanically possible - they are about exact thichness/height of a LP when still floating just above the surface of the record mat/platter, giving you a very precise reading exactly where needed - in some tonearm designs, the difference in "height" of the measurements of 0.1-0.2 mm means "day and night" difference for VTF setting. Conceived originally for the Transcriptors Vestigal arm, with which other scales just do not cut it. Additional advantage is that unipivot bearing of this scales has far lower friction than any tonearm which involves wiring (including air bearing arms ) in order to get the signals to the outside world - with the tonearm/stylus scales in balance, it should take the merest breath to displace the combo in either direction - if the arm bearing friction is low enough. Electronic stylus scales do not allow for this friction check.
I sincerely doubt you will need scales for Rega - its dialing system is more than enough good and compliance of Rega carts means they track at high enough VTF not to require so precise scales. But calipilot's remark it is better to track with too high VTF as opposed to too low is a correct one - the purpose of test record is to find minimum VTF which still allows for correct tracking without mistracking. Please note that the most difficult bands on the HFN test LP can be tracked with only a handful of equipment and if you menage to get clean results for the bands for tracking across the entire arc on the surface, you are well within the safe zone for record wear/preservation. It has always been possible to record more on the disc than it can be reproduced, but 99% of the actual music records should be playable without undue wear if you achieve clean tracking across the entire arc/surface of HFN.
@EVERYBODY : Please try to restrain yourself with getting the Transcriptors Stylus Scales or its counterparts - if you do not REALLY need it. They are rare, were costly back in the day (1/3 to 1/2 price of the SME 3009 Series 2 tonearm ! ) and are out of production for decades. Leave it to those who really need such a precise instrument, even if you have money to burn; measurements of stylus compliance involve tracking at below 0.1 g ( below 1 mN ) and basic accuracy of 0.01g means 10 % built in error of the measurement at 0.1 gram and worse still at lower VTF required to get the reading for very high compliance cartridges, using appropriate test records.
It was the first piece/component of audio gear I said to myself : This is something I will die with.
At an age of 17 or 18. 35 years on - still going strong. It proved to be indispensable on the day one and maintaining its accuracy ever since.