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Hana SL and Ortofon versus HiFi News Test Record.


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Thought I would share my experience with this.  Raises more questions than answers.

I was obviously bored when I ordered a 180gm Hifi News test record, to help reassure me that my TT is set up properly. ( Aro on an LP12. )  It contains quite a lot of different tests for your cartridge to tackle.

There are 4 tracks at the end of side 1, to test tracking ability and to help you set the correct amount of Bias. Each of the four tracks get increasingly challenging, with the last track very difficult to track for most carts. ( known as the torture track).  then there are 3 tracks on the other side, one at the beginning, one in the middle and one on the inside.

When the record turned up I had my old Cart on the TT, something I do very occasionally, which is an Ortofon Rondo Blue with a FG 70 stylus.  It sailed through all the tests but failed on the torture track, but not by much.  This Cart is not as open at the top end as my Hana SL but has more colour and more bottom end.  A very enjoyable listen.

On to the arm went the Hana SL and I made all the necessary adjustments.  To my dismay it failed on the second of the 4 tracking test tracks. So it only managed the first hurdle. I checked downforce, Azimuth and played with the bias. No improvement.  However, there is no sign of poor tracking when playing records even in the inside grooves.  In fact is sounds really good still, even though it has done towards 1000 hours. ( as has the ortofon).  I improved this noticeably by adding some mass to the headshell but it still couldn't do the second track.

I then read that the Hana SL, ( and the ML) have a tracking ability of 70um where as the Orto is quoted at 80um. ( higher is better).  

The Orto clearly has a better tracking ability but I wonder if the measurement used for tracking ability is misleading? Perhaps the test tracks are a little like testing a sports car over a bumpy field. 

I was wondering whether anyone else had some experience of their Cart tackling this record.   After my orto sailed trough most of it I was surprised by the Hana not being able to.  Perhaps it doesn't matter at all?

41RS5q07CLL._AC_SY355_.jpg

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Many years ago I had a Dynavector DX10x5 which started to destroy vinyl by leaving short sections of the groove damaged. I was devastated as I have always been meticulous on set up and checks on tracking force etc seemed fine so I put it down to age/wear but it wasn’t very old. I then bought the test record to give me more confidence in set up. I later had an Ortofon Quintet Black which like your Ronda tracks well and managed the third track. My current Cadenza Bronze tracks even better by ear (eg better on passages prone to sibilence). I have yet to actually test it. I’m not sure if the last track is very useful for most people other than to show you what a ‘fail’ sounds like. As long as you have looked after the Hana and have it tracking in the recommended range I wouldn’t worry about the test LP.

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Every time test LPs are mentioned they seem to be finding a problem that doesn't exist. How can you be sure there isn't a flaw in the pressing for starters. 

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Like any other tool, I think test LP’s have their place, but personally I set up a turntable/cart by ear, using records I’m familiar with.

I’d use them ( test LP’s) as a guide, but not be overly fixated on getting the turntable tracking/ anti skate to “pass the torture test” etc.

If it sounds good to you on regular music, then the set-up is probably is not that far out.

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Only time I would worry about set up was if I was getting any sibilance on “normal” vinyl .

A full 60s dance  orchestra with strings and horns is about as challenging as you can get

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I still use an earlier tracking test record than the (in)famous Hifi News one, but I well remember the disappointment if any of these tracks started to ‘buzz’.  It’s a bit of a rabbit hole if you don’t take your time, and some cartridges are inherently better at tracking than others.  (Your 70 and 80 figures are the familiar ones)

Ortofons seem to fare better than most, even though generally speaking MCs are invariably less secure than MMs on test records.  On music, the reverse is often the impression I had, though I’m going back a few decades to when I regularly swapped.  In bald facts, the distortion from most cartridges is huge - in the order of 10 to 25%!  It’s a miracle they work at all, and yet can sound so amazing.

Its possible the Hana is a bit below par, but you’ll probably be able to Google a review that measures tracking. Hifi News magazine for one still test this.  But if it’s satisfying on music I’d not lose any sleep over it.  And give the test LP a rest too, so the vinyl can recover.

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With a VMS20E years ago - it managed all the tracks for bias and weight .. moved to a Fidelity Research FR1 Mk2 and Ortofon M20e super (this did a deal for shop staff selling them cheap) .. the Ortofon managed all the FR just about managed track 3 for weight 

Then I got the Decca ... nuff said :)  well Ok - it manages track 2 fine and just about holds on for a lot of track 3 but not perfect .. 

Anyone with a Van Den Hull original (chisel shaped stylus not unlike the profile used to cut the original lacquer disc) if you have alignment, weight and bias off it will plough its own track :) 

Edited by uzzy
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I remember the Music Maker's stubborn refusal to track anything at all on this test record. Everything on it just buzzed.
A proper music record would play.. of sorts until the end of side when it all fell apart badly...
The arm/deck was an ex-demo Artemiz/Xerxes & had been at the dealer with an Ortofon Cadenza on it - which is a few mm taller than the Music Maker.
It's obvious in retrospect but I couldn't figure it out until that Eureka moment.. - the arm was raised up at the pivot -  lowering the arm to get the 
arm level fixed it.
The implications of a couple of mm height difference was a lesson in setting up a deck.. 
 



 

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Ortofon MC cutting heads cut most of the records ever made  ortofon MC have always been great trackers

 I then read that the Hana SL, ( and the ML) have a tracking ability of 70um where as the Orto is quoted at 80um. ( higher is better).  

Concorde Serato S-120 can track @ 120um they also made the TC3000 test record & computer for testing

(16) Tour Electric Mastering's Vintage Stereo Cutting System With Sean Davies - YouTube

Ortofon-1-Copy.jpg

Edited by triumph
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My Ortofon barely clears the second of the 4 tracks and seems to have a vertical resonance higher than ideal using the test record. And that was with two different carts and two arms.

Ultimately, the tracking tests are useful in balancing between the two channels but in the end I put it back in its sleeve, tried to stop worrying and got on with the music.

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 I looked up some recent cartridge reviews last night, including those by our own Adam @Beobloke in Hifi News.  The most recent Denon MC, the anniversary edition of famous model 103 (retailing at £499) had less distortion than a highly rated £4,000 model. 

Obviously, distortion is just one characteristic in a design, but it’s remarkable how much our ears can live with. 

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22 hours ago, Von Krolock said:

I remember the Music Maker's stubborn refusal to track anything at all on this test record. Everything on it just buzzed.
A proper music record would play.. of sorts until the end of side when it all fell apart badly...
The arm/deck was an ex-demo Artemiz/Xerxes & had been at the dealer with an Ortofon Cadenza on it - which is a few mm taller than the Music Maker.
It's obvious in retrospect but I couldn't figure it out until that Eureka moment.. - the arm was raised up at the pivot -  lowering the arm to get the 
arm level fixed it.
The implications of a couple of mm height difference was a lesson in setting up a deck.. 
 



 

According to the experts, a 2mm vta adjustment is a mile, they say microns make a difference. I have just raised the vta on my arm by 1mm and it has made a big improvement, but I am starting to wonder if I over did it, God this hobby will drive you nuts :nuts:

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46 minutes ago, greybeard said:

According to the experts, a 2mm vta adjustment is a mile, they say microns make a difference. I have just raised the vta on my arm by 1mm and it has made a big improvement, but I am starting to wonder if I over did it, God this hobby will drive you nuts :nuts:

On a 9.5" Rega geometry arm, 1mm either way at the arm pillar equates to 0.3° change in angle at the stylus. 

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15 hours ago, Lurch said:

On a 9.5" Rega geometry arm, 1mm either way at the arm pillar equates to 0.3° change in angle at the stylus. 

And given that many cartridges are set at 18, 24 degrees or even 30 degrees VTA, would you agree it’s not something to lose sleep over?  
Not that one might not prefer the sound with the arm raised or lowered slightly, but only the very few arms where that can be adjusted on the fly, or easily, are susceptible to that treatment.  

Edited by Nopiano
Added 18 degrees from a recent test report.
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Yep, also not many of us have microscopes with angular measuring software to get things spot bollock. So for me it's get the arm as level as I can and then tweak by ear (luckily I have on the fly vta). 

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