Cart adjustment, that moment when you nail it!

Dang, after futzing with my analog system, and getting it “ok” but with some distortion here and there etc, FINALLY got the thing dialed. All I can say is WOW... Lot’s of trial and error, tiny adjustments, etc. and then ding! Nailed it. Finally! Just awesome. If you are in the tinker mode, keep trying, you WILL get there. It’s worth the time!
absolutely... when it is right there is no denying you have gotten to the sweet spot...

Just love it when you just nail it with that final adjustment and gives credence to that part of me that just can't accept it till you get there. Plus the fact once you achieve that level of setup with any given cart/arm then you know for the next time. Enjoy the music
Wait two days or two separate listening sessions, before rejoicing, is my motto.
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Try to remember what you did to get it dialed in. It won't be too long before you play a record that won't impress you and you'll be back to "futzing" again. But that's the fun of it!
Congratulations! Patience has its rewards.

Proper setup is definitely a “combing through” process.

Performed enough times will yield “set and forget” performance as far as I’m concerned once everything in in the window.
Mostly adjustment. I got super specific with the alignment it was just a tiny bit off. Made all the difference. 
Yes, and adjusting the cart alignment to the head shell. The SME V doesn’t have an azimuth adjustment per se, but it can be tweaked a tiny bit by making sure the arm is in perfect alignment when tightened after the VTA adjustment. I thought I was doing things in tiny increments, but turns out those “tiny” adjustments were still too big. It’s tedious, but it makes all the difference. Probably still more precision could be had with regard to azimuth, with shims etc, but I’m good for now.
I’ve had many of those moments. But it’s pretty routine now. I have 105 cartridges. 27 are in my favorite stands, waiting to be rotated in.

Once getting it “right” becomes routine, and you’ve chosen an exact, easy alignment protractor, only then do you have a level of TRUST. 

THEN, when you hear something that’s not quite right, you KNOW it’s not your setup. You immediately know you have a record with groove damage or a bad pressing. No wondering or second-guessing your alignment.’ve arrived!
I find that a deck of cards is useful in adjusting the vta. On my particular tonearm I have a cueing lever collar at base of tonearm. There is a gap there between the plinth and the collar. I take a base measurement of that space with numerous stacked cards and count the total amount of cards it took to "take up" that space. That’s my arbitrary starting point or reference, as that space will differ depending on where that collar was set at factory from table to table (in my case pro-ject). I then add or subtract cards to raise or lower the arm, upon loosening vta adjustment screws. I log the amount of cards used for each particular cartridge and use as reference. Been doing this for years with great success. In the end, it is your ears that are the final judge on the "sweet spot". However, That sweet spot won’t be optimal for all records. That is virtually impossible to achieve due to varying thickness of vinyl and quality of the pressing etc. You can only obtain a happy medium/average, unless you want to futz with it every time you play a record.
@geof3 you ain’t lying....
This past year I picked up 3 tools that made all the difference..
A Mint LP protractor made specifically for my TT and arm set up.
A USB microscope and a Fozgometer.

Sound stage, center imaging, bass response, all improved. Congratulations its a great feeling.
Yup, been there. Great feeling. Unfortunately my neuroses won’t let me enjoy for long. I always think there’s just one more tiny adjustment that can make it even better. And so the cycle continues...
Most of us forget that things change over time. You set your stylus angle to 92+ degrees. After a while it will settle to 91 degrees. You need to adjust or tweek your cart after it breaks in or set it to 93 degrees at the beginning. Winterfeld is coming or actually it’s here. In the northern states we get freezing temperatures that can cause frost heaving of your house foundation. This is why your house gets cracks. You need to level your turn table again for winter and summer. Or in Chicagoland area we call it winter or construction. This will affect your distortion and anti-skate or maybe your VTA depending on which way your house has shifted compared to the position of your table. Just something to keep in mind. If you are in the Chicagoland area and need your TT setup or to purchase a new one I use a local shop for all my hifi gear. Mainly VPI and Rega and the new Sutherland Little LOCO MK 2 that now works with Rega turn tables.
They will set up your TT or cart for free if you buy it from them. Plus they have an upgrade program so you don’t have buyers remorse. 
A USB microscope and fozgometer are two things I have yet to get into. I’m worried that would open an entirely new realm of crazy!!!
" In the northern states we get freezing temperatures that can cause frost heaving of your house foundation. This is why your house gets cracks"

This should never happen unless someone did something terribly wrong. Foundation footing depth codes are geographically determined in each state in order that the frost doesn't get under the foundation. Some expansion and contraction of building materials are normal during climate changes. 
Saw this post yesterday and so naturally I had to go fiddle this evening. It's amazing how a cartridge can wiggle over time and get out of alignment. SO much better after resetting the alignment. Thank you for the reminder to check your s!*÷.
Analog is definitely finicky but when you get it all dialed in you just sit back and relax because that is when the magic happens.
It's a lot of great listening when the setup is just right.  And it becomes obvious why vinyl popularity continues to grow.
Fooling and forever trying to improve your system is what keeps this a hobby and a forever enjoyable endeavor. Once it's right, the time will creep up on you when you will again be looking for further improvement because it can always get better. That's how most of us think about our systems and why we stay interested and searching. It we once got it right and thought no further improvement was possible it would likely become about as interesting as a chair.