Perform inspection of phono amplification system [RIAA] pre-preamp and determine suitability for selected cartridge/turntable. Advise client of findings.
Examine the TT base and placement of TT system; If acceptable for accurate use, continue with TT installation, if not, explain what needs to change at no charge and reschedule installation.
Level the TT using extremely sensitive and calibrated level set. Use hyper-spherical ball bearing and flat un-modulated LP disc to validate levelness.
Adjust and tune turntable suspension [if suspended] for maximum sonic isolation. Re-level if necessary.
Install tonearm [if necessary] using correct spindle to pivot length; Verify that installed TT has correct spindle to pivot distance. Correct if possible. If not possible to correct on-site, explain what is necessary to fix and reschedule. If tonearm/tonearm base requires extensive drilling and/or other manipulations, schedule appointment to remove TT to suitable rework facility.
Dress tonearm cables for minimum suspension interference.
If necessary [used cartridge with >500 or unknown hours] perform Microscopic Examination of cartridge stylus to determine wear. Based on findings, recommend continued usage or replacement.
Install cartridge in headshell.
Adjust VTA/SRA to match requirements
Adjust VTF to 0.01 grams accuracy
Adjust tonearm geometry to minimize tracking error -- discuss H. G. Baerwald versus Erik Löfgren versus "other" geometries. Assumes step 5 pivot to spindle length is correct.
Adjust anti-skating to correct level using Thorens analytical findings. Validate in next step.
Verify geometric adjustments and speed variations using test record frequencies and DVM and Oscilloscope that the above adjustments are accurate and correct for the most accurate playback possible.
Clean cartridge with 1KHz electronic stylus cleaner. Repeat with Ultrasonic (33KHz) cleaning tracks.
Verify cartridge impedance/capacitive loading for the specific cartridge is correct.
Examine record playing mat [ if applicable] for suitablity with table and tonearm/cratridge.
Capture TT data via laptop and repeat VTA adjustments via live auditions.
Complete documentation [web-based, with photos, HTML] of setup and measured findings.
Aural verification with customer using selected vinyl to verify adjustments.
Customer has provided TT make and model, as well as tonearm and cartridge type.
Environment has 110V-115V AC available.
User TT environment is suitably well lighted to work, and/or an adjacent table is available to help install TT/cartridge.
WAM Engineering Universal Alignment Protractor.
WAM Engineering Anti-skating tool.
Calibrated Digital VTF stylus pressure gauge, accurate to +/-0.01 grams.
$300.00 for complete install. Typical duration is three hours.
$100.00 non-refundable minimum.
If I break, you pay half policy:*Never used in over fifty installs.
"To err is human...." If, in the course of installing an expensive [>$500.00 USD] cartridge, and the cartridge is inadvertently damaged, customer will incur 50% of the costs to repair the cartridge, using my preferred vendor [Garrott Brothers of Australia]. In the case that repair is not feasible, customer will incur 50% of the costs to replace said cartridge, up to a limit of $2,000.00 USD. In other words, I will not pay more than 1/2 of $2,000.00 [$1,000.00] USD for a new cartridge. Under $500 cartridges will be replaced with a suitable MM equivalent, typically a AT-440ML or a AT-150MLX depending on make, model and vintage of customer cartridge.
A brief statement/quote as to why this might be an interesting service to you (emphasis in BOLD is mine):
Cartridge alignment system
The master for a stereo record is generally cut by a cutting stylus which is driven inwardly in a straight line along a radius of the record. Thus the cutting stylus executes a transverse movement to provide the spiral grooves and is driven in such a manner that with respect to the sides of the grooves made, the stylus simultaneously contacts both sides of the groove along a radius. It will therefore be appreciated that at any instant of time opposing sides of a groove are formed by motion of a stylus which simultaneously contacts opposing sides of the groove along the record radius. Note that the stylus is in effect drawn tangent to the groove.
In consequence, the inward lateral or transverse motion of the cutting stylus when the original lacquered master is made always takes place along a radius of the record, which is the line passing through the stylus tip and the turntable spindle. It will be appreciated that the only way to obtain an identical waveform out of the terminals of a playback cartridge as went into the terminals of the cutter head is to duplicate this lateral motion without any angular errors at the tip of the playback stylus. This duplication is impossible with conventional pivoted tone arms because they move in an arc as opposed to being moved laterally across the record.
If, as is the case in all pivoted tone arms, the lateral motion of the playback stylus is not exactly along a radius, the result is not only simple harmonic inter-modulation distortion, as has been popularly assumed, but also frequency inter-modulation and frequency cross-modulation distortion, which are time dispersive and therefore much more audible and disturbing.
If a reference signal, for instance coming from a phonograph record, is riddled with frequency inter-modulation and frequency cross-modulation distortion, a listener cannot tell how good or bad the components are that he is listening to. Therefore, all subjective evaluations of audio equipment where phonograph records are the program source must be considered highly suspect unless the cartridge has been aligned within 0.005 inches. It will be appreciated that one way to make virtually certain that the cartridge is misaligned is to mount it dead straight ahead and trued up in the head shell of a tone arm that in turn is mounted on the turntable. This is because almost all commercially available tone arms have head shells which are not aligned in the appropriate manner.
When the stylus is mounted so as to minimize the angular error at the tip of the playback stylus, there is an unexpected benefit especially in a large percentage of 12 inch LP records both old and new which will sound excellent when the information in their grooves is extracted unaltered by cartridge alignment error. In general, gross cartridge misalignment can result in up to 10% total harmonic distortion which is unacceptable.