Get More Out of Your Turntable With VTA

Today, we want to take some time to cover one of the major Drop-exclusive improvements on our Audio Technica turntable—so important that we included it in the product name. That feature is known as Vertical Tracking Angle, or “VTA” for short.  While there were many great features in the original version of the turntable (no surprise, given Audio Technica’s prowess in the industry), we felt strongly about including VTA to allow listeners to fully explore the wonderful world of cartridges. The importance of the cartridge on a turntable cannot be overstated. Since it’s the part which actually generates the electrical signal that gets amplified into the sound you hear, it has a major impact on the sound. While the Carbon VTA is designed to work out of the box with the pre-installed cartridge, we also wanted it to be usable with a broad range of cartridges. Enter VTA. VTA allows the tonearm height to be adjusted to compensate for differences in the height between different cartridges. Generally, you want the headshell and tonearm to be parallel with the surface of the record while it's playing. VTA becomes more important when using a cartridge that has one of the more precise Mircoline or Shibata needle profiles. These finely cut stylus profiles can offer a higher resolution of playback and sit deeper in the groove of the vinyl, but require a more precise setup to sound their best.  VTA also comes in handy when trying out different platter mats. Some might choose to replace the stock platter mat with one made of leather or cork. In doing so, you’ll be changing the height of the record surface and will want to recalibrate the height or the tonearm to compensate for these changes. In order to achieve VTA on our turntable, we developed an entirely new tonearm base made from solid metal. This creates a solid foundation for the tonearm to be slid up and down several millimeters to achieve the correct height. In total, the VTA allows for up to 6.88mm of vertical adjustment.  To adjust the height on our Carbon VTA, all you need to do is loosen the set screw in the arm base near the tonearm lift. Simply remove the spacer from the tonearm and set it aside. (Note: The spacer is important to reset the tonearm to the factory-calibrated height, so be sure to keep it in a safe location.) Next, gently raise or lower the tonearm by a few millimeters and tighten the set screw to lock the arm in place. Check the height by lowering the needle onto the surface of a record to see if the alignment is correct. You can easily make additional adjustments until you achieve the correct height. It’s that simple!


Dec 12, 2020
So, how do you know if the VTA needs to be adjusted? With the aforementioned stylus cuts, the stylus is able to sit lower in the groove and is influenced by undulations in the groove that would not affect a larger stylus. When deeper in the groove, the stylus will be moved a lot more than it would if it was nearer to the surface. The stylus is going to move left-and-right and up-and-down. The initial idea that the top surface of the headshell should be parallel to the disk's surface is a good one, but it doesn't guarantee that the angle of the stylus relative the disk surface is exactly where it should be. So, you would need to adjust the VTA initially to ensure that the headshell is parallel to the surface and then fine tune it from there. It's been suggested that initial angle of the stylus center is 92 degrees from the surface, towards the tonearm mount, for this is the angle of the cutting stylus when the lacquer was made. But what are we looking for?
  1. The stereo sound stage should snap into focus
  2. The bass should transform from an undefined boom to a more precise location
  3. Higher frequency harshness should be replaced by sweetness, where the instruments may sing more than shrill.
Basically, the correct VTA allows the stylus to get the info out of the deepest part of the groove, because if you don't get down far, then you're missing a lot of the info imbedded in there. I've chosen a more expensive solution that I'm sure is probably not welcome to most on this site, but my tonearms allow for adjusting the VTA while the record is playing. I have a Triplaner MK VII U2 and a Reed 2A mounted on a 1986 Luxman PD-444
Aug 27, 2020
Hey! why the hidden comments!? VTA has always been a nuisance but a necessary one when using line-contact stylus profiles such as Shibata. If using extended frequency response cartridges and/or 4-channel 'quadrophonic' rigs it is vital to get it right... Is this a product project? The UK Rega single hole fitting had a number of aftermarket devices which allowed varying degrees of movement and integrity....
Mar 4, 2020
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Mar 31, 2020
I think you have identified the flaw when using expensive extremely fine stylus the TT is sensitive to vta. So here's the problem vta should, be set/measured with the vinyl playing and the absolute best way to tweak it is by ear. You cannot do that with this setup. The best scenario with this type of VTA adjustment is to have multiple shims for different vinyl weighrs/thicknesses and good luck figuring out the exact thickness of the shims. Whereas the adjustable system your referring to is an on the fly adjuster.
May 8, 2020
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Feb 25, 2020
Since "The spacer is important to reset the tonearm to the factory-calibrated height" then there should be a place within the unit to store / secure the spacer.
Mar 3, 2020
the spacer is in a tiny plastic zip bag taped to the underside of my unit’s base. Done.