A customer purchased an Ikeda 345 tonearm and Ikeda Kai cartridge.
Because of COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing, we got creative and set his arm and cartridge up remotely.
The goal was to perform the setup chez Galibier and provide as near of a plug and play installation for the customer as possible – while being 2,000 miles from the customer’s listening room.
Some tonearms lend themselves to this target than better than others, and the Ikeda is one of them. We’d never recommend a tonearm based on these criteria, but it so happens that several of our favorite tonearms qualify.
Two key factors are a removable headshell and a means of setting and retaining the azimuth. A “nice to have” is a means of replicating the VTA/SRA (tonearm height), but we have a solution for arms (like the Ikeda) which are lacking this feature.
Of the eight tonearms we carry, the following five meet both key criteria:
- Jelco (yes, we still have some in stock)
The Schröder CB and Tri-Planar tonearms allow for retaining the azimuth (some Durands as well), although all three have fixed headshells. We’re working on a packing method to ship these arms with the cartridge installed, so stay tuned.
The main shipping issue is the robustness of the stylus guard in order to protect the cantilever. A removable headshell simplifies shipping a mounted cartridge.
The takeaway from this, is that the above attributes, combined with our precision machined armboards provide a near-plug and play experience. The only settings the customer has to revisit are tracking force, anti-skate, and VTA/SRA.
The VTA/SRA (height) setting on the Ikeda is a simple sliding post, fixed in place by two, nylon-tipped set screws. After establishing the VTA/SRA with our USB microscope (and fine-tuning during listening), we record the arm height via shims which we “stack” (fine tune to exact height by adding business cards and/or sheets of paper).
Using the same shim thickness, this setting can be replicated at the customer’s house. It’s a technique we’ve been using for quite some time when performing in-person installs as well (ah … the good ol’ days).
The precision machining of our armboards means the VTA/SRA setting will translate consistently across two turntables.
It also means that the pivot to spindle setting on our micro-adjustable armboards will replicate successfully across two different Galibier turntables.
Azimuth is set using the Feickert software and also fine-tuned during listening, and the setting is maintained during removal and reinstallation at the customer’s site.
No setup is worthy of the Galibier name without extensive listening, fine-tuning (we have some tricks), and coaching. Those of you whom we’ve visited know this first-hand.
This customer received a 28-page setup report which documented the installation, as well as containing hints and tips as to how we arrived at the setup, and how the customer can fine-tune it as his cartridge breaks in.
We’re working out a methodology for a remote setup of an arm and cartridge for installation on a non-Galibier turntable, so stay tuned …