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The Mystery Of Azimuth

Azimuth is the angle of the cantilever of the cartridge, when viewed from the front. Its more accurately the angle of the stylus, but this point is purely academic given its microscopic size. This angle is to be exactly 90 degrees for best playback. The most obvious benefit of perfect azimuth is the focus of the sonic images created. Unfortunately most tonearms do not allow for this parameter to be easily adjustable. Those with unipivot arms are to be envied because azimuth adjustments on these arms are a breeze. I myself use a Morch UP4 unipivot arm. Initially, adjusting the azimuth was a hit and miss affair,using my ears to gauge the the correct azimuth. But recently I learned a objective and reliable method of getting this right.You do not have to squint at the cartridge to do this.   Its  possible to do it even if your stylus is not perfectly set in the cantilever and this may happen more often than we realised.

I f you are already using the OOPS method in your analog playback , this method is easy to effect. For those who do not know what the OOPS is , please read the earlier article. In OOPS ,one of the channels on the cartridge is connected out of phase compared with the other channel. You will need a Y-adapter to combine the two channels into a mono signal. This is best done on the output of the preamp. Feed this single mono signal to one channel of your amplifier. It doesn't matter which channel. Play a mono recording, and if the azimuth is correct,the output from the speaker should be minimal. There were be a little of the high frequencies component of the music coming through, but if you hear some mid range sound , you will have to adjust the azimuth until this is minimal. If your preamp has a mono switch, then you will not even need a Y-adapter. Just hit the mono switch and adjust the azimuth of the cartridge for least sound from your speakers.

If you do not use OOPS, then you will need to make a Y-adapter with one of channel's polarity reversed and connect this between the phono leads and your preamp. The rest will be the same.  Or you could just install OOPS in your analog  playback and be done with it.

For those whose tonearms  do not allow for azimuth adjustment , life will be tough. You may have to use shims under the arm.(That would be a real pain). Some tonearms that use detachable headshell, usually have some play in them. You may be able adjust the azimuth at this point. Or you could grit your teeth, shut your mind and forget that this problem ever exist. Ignorance is bliss.   

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