On-Site Setup, Mentoring & Coaching Session
Corona virus update – Fall, 2020:
We’re temporarily suspending all travel and customer visits. Additionally, we’re monitoring the “opening” of the country, and as of November, 2020, our showroom remains closed. Contact us for current status.
In response to this, we have refined our remote setup techniques. While this can never fully replace our on-site mentoring and setup service, we’ve had great success, depending on the tonearm. We documented one such setup in this blog post.
For those of you who are about to receive delivery of your Galibier, we’ll work with you to re-schedule your setup visit or alternatively discuss a remote setup/partial credit with you. Also, stay tuned for our YouTube channel which will further support your installation.
Thanks for working with us to limit the spread of this virus. We can do this if we work together!
Lastly, if you subscribe to our mailing list, we’ll send you a download link to a setup report we recently produced for a customer. This is an actual report we sent to a customer, complete with over 30 pages of setup tips, charts, microscope photos, and more. Click here to subscribe.
Refer to the “Pricing” tab for rates associated with other purchases:
- Galibiers purchased on the secondary market
- Bargain Bin items
- Certified Pre-Owned Galibiers
- Setting up turntables from other manufacturers
We pride ourselves in the “teach a person to fish” philosophy, and mentoring/coaching is a major component of the time we spend together. Learn by doing.
This is an analog focused session.
Our time together will be action-packed with analog setup activities. We’re not furniture movers and we won’t be moving speakers, although we may help with minor adjustments depending on individual circumstances (as time permits).
The following is an example of a two day, Friday/Saturday session (scheduling can be made for any day of the week).
Note that a one-day session does not include mentoring/coaching, although we’re happy explain the process to the extent that time permits. For one-day setups, we’ll arrive the night before to ensure a full, 7 hour session.
Arrive on Friday mid-day.
- Start with a general system assessment – listening to both your analog (if the turntable is currently operational) and digital setups to establish a baseline.
- Clean and condition all of your system’s contacts (cabling and connectors). We’ll recruit you to do this, while we inspect your cartridge.
- Inspect your cartridge(s). We’ll do some minimal cleaning, but in most cases, we’ve found too much baked on vinyl to restore cartridges to pristine condition. We’ll document your stylus and cantilever’s condition with microscopic photographs taken during the SRA/VTA phase of setup.
- For new installs, assemble and locate your turntable on its shelf.
- Perform first tonearm setup.
- Listen / tweak.
- Perform second setup (two tonearm system).
Saturday – morning through afternoon:
- Warm up the system and listen to yesterday’s results.
- Guide you through the key steps in the setup (hands-on learning).
- Critique your setup, listen & perform final system checks and adjustments as necessary.
- A setup report (PDF format), documenting the particulars of what we did to get your system singing.
- Microscopic photographs of your stylus and cantilever taken during SRA/VTA settings (included in Appendix of setup report). Photos are taken for the starting SRA setting which is fine-tuned during listening.
- Cleaned system contacts. We provide the tools and materials and you will do this while we perform the cartridge inspection.
- Your turntable set up with up to two tonearms and cartridges.
- A mentoring session (two day session only). Where we coach you through the key setup steps (hands on learning).
- A wow and flutter report for your turntable. This is done before shipping of new Galibier turntables (during the QC process), and is taken on-site for turntables not delivered by us (other manufacturers’ turntables, used Galibiers, etc.).
Note: we’ll have some of our cabling with us – primarily to help us better understand your system’s characteristics. It will be available for purchase at accommodation pricing if you find they work for you.
Planning Your Session
We’ll begin with phone/e-mail consultation and an exchange of photos of your listening room. We may make some general suggestions about your room layout and speaker positioning at this time.
Our target during these preliminary conversations is to help you prepare for our session so you can most benefit from our time together.
If you’re interested in building a complete analog tool set we’ll prepare a shopping list for you.
If we’re setting up a tonearm on another manufacturer’s turntable, we’ll begin planning for delivery of the armboard.
Site Preparation for Our Visit
- Ensure access to your electronics as we’ll be cleaning and and conditioning your contacts (either by removing them from the rack or by having enough space to access to the jacks).
- Provide a good source of lighting near your turntable (free-standing or built-in).
- Remove excess clutter from your room (no one’s perfect – we get that). We’re bringing quite a few tools and we’ll need to spread out. The more efficiently we can work, the more time we have to mentor you.
- Provide a small table that can support a laptop near your turntable so we can run our USB microscope.
If we’re installing a new turntable:
- Clear your turntable shelf from your previous turntable.
- Ensure you have the necessary “household” materials listed in the “Prepare Your Workspace” section of the owners’ manual: blanket, paper towels, rubbing alcohol.
The above may seem overly detailed, but our goal is for you to have a smooth-running session. The more efficiently we can work without surprises, the more time we have to mentor and coach you in the setup process.
While the following situation we encountered is an extreme case (our “clutter” comment above stems in part from this) this illustrates why our planning sessions are so detailed:
I appeared at a client’s house and found another vendor in the third day of a speaker installation project. Sawdust was everywhere, and the vendor requested my assistance.
The only chance of having working speakers was to roll up my sleeves and help. It was a calculated risk and I sacrificed other deliverables for the possibility of having his system up and running for fine-tuning the setup.
In spite of the added manpower, the speakers weren’t completed until the day after my departure.
Fine tuning by listening was not possible, and I was only able to dial in the setup “by the numbers”.
I vowed to never let this occur again.
Our Tool Set
USB Microscope and Precision Stand
Due to cartridge manufacturing variances, starting with a level headshell will not necessarily achieve the desired 92 degree SRA (stylus rake angle).
Inspecting and adjusting at 240 magnification enables us to set this angle precisely.
For the most precise (and audibly superior) alignment, nothing can achieve the results as repeatedly and reliably as an arc protractor.
There’s a bit of ambiguity in using an arc protractor when trying to distinguish between pivot-spindle distance and overhang however.
Using the Feickert’s trammel to precisely set the pivot-spindle distance speeds up the setup process by resolving this ambiguity.
Custom Arc Protractor
We produce these for your specific tonearm, with Baerwaald alignment parameters.
This serves to verify the results achieved with the Feickert as well as to introduce you to the tool.
As we mention elsewhere, the Best Tractor from Mint LP is better yet, but these card-stock protractors do an excellent job and will help you decide whether this is a tool you’re comfortable with.
The Mint protractor is a precision tool, to the point of specifying the spindle diameter of your turntable. Yip has our spindle dimensions on file but if there’s any question at all, we’ll work with Yip to ensure your Mint fits your Galibier record spindle.
Feickert Adjust+ Software
Part of our QC process involves taking wow and flutter readings after 72 hour burn-in of your turntable. For turntables not manufactured by us, we’ll take wow and flutter readings for you as well.
The second key function we use the software for is to set azimuth. Click the sample output to view results of one cartridge we set up.
- Contact Cleaning materials and supplies.
- All of the usual hex keys, screwdrivers, tweezers, etc.
- Cabling: we’ll be bringing along cables of our own fabrication. These help us obtain a baseline evaluation of your system.
- Headphone Amplifier: depending on your system, we may bring a headphone amplifier with us. Occasionally, it can help isolate system variables in an unfamiliar system by removing the power amp, speaker cables, speakers, and room interactions from the system equation. Headphones (while not necessary) are a great way to speed up the process of adjusting azimuth as well.
While there are no guarantees, we have yet to set up a system which has not resulted in improvements equivalent to (at a minimum) a cartridge upgrade.
Your “professionally set up analog rig” may be only hinting at its capabilities due to dealer incompetence or “inattentiveness” (to put it kindly) .
Click this link to read what one local customer had to say (opens in new window).
When working with other manufacturers’ products, we occasionally encounter a situation that requires shop time to correct a design or compatibility problem. This blog post describes one such situation.
As you’ll note, we can’t always work wonders on-site with duct tape and bailing wire when a machine shop might be indicated. To date however, major problems like this have been identifiable ahead of time.
Here are that customer’s comments about our fix for his tonearm mount:
I’m the unnamed customer who bought the table/arm combination from the unnamed manufacturer *, to whom I paid a very large and unnamed sum of money. Once I realized there was a problem, I took my table and arm to Thom. He spent hours designing and tweaking a new armboard for my rig. Now, it sounds like it should have sounded from the beginning and a whole lot better than it ever has.
Is there a big lesson in this? Maybe just “I should have kept my Galibier”.
Thanks a million Thom! You’re one of the most honorable and true people I’ve ever encountered in this audio thing of ours.
*If anyone wants to know particulars in strong language, drop me a line….
Here’s what another recent customer had to say:
When I got back into analog after a long digital, er, detour, I honestly didn’t know much (OK, hardly anything) about how to “properly” set up a high-quality turntable, arm, and cartridge. My little VPI Scout and its basic 9″ arm I could sorta manage on my own. But the Gavia 1.5, and later the Stelvio II, needed an entirely different level of expertise.
It isn’t so much that it takes many hours — it’s more that a whole series of small individual steps must each be performed with great precision, or else the end result simply won’t sound as good as it should. Having watched Thom set up my Gavia 1.5, and then heard what it sounded like (so long, VPI Scout!), I knew that I wanted him to install my Stelvio II as well.
We spent half a day on the Stelvio II, sharing a bit of the grunt work (hefting the base) and then Thom doing the real “heavy lifting” by assembling the ‘table, mounting the arm, and aligning the cartridge, each with a ridiculously high level of precision.
The sound quality immediately revealed what a huge upgrade the Stelvio II is from the Gavia 1.5 — wow! Even if I were strong enough, coordinated enough, and confident enough to attempt doing this by myself, there’s no way in the world I would have extracted the maximum sound quality on my own.
Why invest in a great turntable and then reap only “some” of the benefit?
Note: Michael had limited time and did not go through the mentoring process although he has subsequently begun to master many of the key steps.