Over the past few years I have become aware of some tools and products that are offered for the LP listener that are not very well publicized, if at all. In fact, it almost seems like the small niche companies that make these products do their best to keep themselves out of the public eye! Well, perhaps not. Since, a few of these items have become indispensable to me just simply for every day listening and to assure proper set-up and maintenance of my cartridge, stylus, and LP’s I figure it was time to share! I recognize that I might be an extreme case. Over the past couple of years I’ve had cartridges, turntables, and tonearms to review. So perhaps I’m not the average Joe in that respect. However, there are also plenty of us out there that DIY their turntable and tonearm set-up and having the right tools to accomplish these tasks is essential. Therefore, it’s time to share what I have found along the way and even revisit those that are still around but time seems to have forgotten.
For cartridge and turntable set-up, I think that the extreme high-end (aka imported and pricey) tools are very well known. However I have found that despite the fact that phono cartridges and turntables are largely from outside of US borders, there are many accessory products that are made in the USA in support of proper set-up and maintenance of these devices as well as the software.
Nerve Audio Cartridge Alignment Protractor
The guys at Nerve Audio make a few nifty items, but this is one of the ones that I have found to be indispensable. It is basically a high precision cartridge protractor that is made of machined aircraft aluminum. The unit itself is a clone of the famous original protractor designed and marketed by Frank Dennessen over 30 years ago. I have cross-checked this thing against my very pricey Feickert tool, the equally pricey Clearaudio tool, my custom made protractor from the late Garth Philippe at Incognito Audio, and even the protractor made by Tri Planar that is supplied with the fabulous tonearm. The result is that the Nerve Audio is dead-on accurate.
At an MSRP of $179.99 (only $29.99 more expensive than the 1980’s price of the aluminum Dennessen!), I think it’s a no-brainer.
You may be questioning the “practical aspect of a $180 tool. However, think about the investment you have in LP’s and record playback gear. If you are going to set-up your cartridges yourself and not pay a professional to do it, the least you could do is assure that the job is done right. It’ll save your ears and your records.
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