FAQ

For a list of questions on:  Before Buying AnalogMagik

  1. What is AnalogMagik?

  2.  How long did it take to develop AnalogMagik?

  3.  What is AnalogMagik's philosophy for cartridge setup?

  4.  What wrong with setting up with my EAR?

  5. How is AnalogMagik different from other tools on the market?

  6.  How does AnalogMagik achieve an optimal setup?

  7. Do I need an alignment tractor before using AnalogMagik?  Which alignment tractor do you recommend?

  8. What operating systems does AnalogMagik work with?

  9. Does it work with Apple or Android?

  10. What Laptop do you recommend?\

  11. My tonearm comes with its own paper, plastic or proprietary alignment jig.   Do I still need a SMARTractor?

  12. I have my own Test LPs, can I just buy the program?

  13. What is that USB Stick which comes with the software?

  14.  I lost my license Key, do you offer replacement keys?

  15. Why do you offer both a 33 1/3 rpm and a 45 rpm Test LP

  16.  I only want to purchase the VTA Function, can I make a partial purchase of individual functions?

  17. Can I purchase the TEST LPs only? 

  18. Can I plug the phono stage's output into the MIC input of the Laptop, eliminating an external sound card?

  19. How often will the product get updated?   

  20. I am having unexpected program shutdowns, what do I do?

  21. I cannot get Azimuth to show a crosstalk reading below 1 dB between channels, what should I do.

  22. Why do numbers trend UP (or down) as I play the track longer?

  23. Why do I have to register my product?

  24. Can I obtain a free sample?

  25. Are there any special deals, can I buy the product directly from you, skipping the distributor and dealer?

  26. Who are the engineers behind AnalogMagik?

  27. I have been doing setups for many years MY WAY, and I do not believe in your tool.   I would like to nitpick on the weakness of your product to prove that it doesn't work.

  28. My turntable has a very bad reading on certain parameters being measured.   What can you do?

  29. I have played with your software and I cannot get meaningful results, I do not think it works. 

  30. If there is a channel imbalance within the soundcard (Art Phono Plus), wouldn't it skew the data and cause inaccurate results.

  31. I have more questions to ask, what do I do?

 

1) What is AnalogMagik Version 2?

 

AnalogMagik is a Windows-based distortion analyzer designed to measure incremental changes when performing turntable cartridge setup.  It is designed by Richard H. Mak and a team of engineers.  It offers a scientific and repeatable method of calibrating every cartridge setup parameter, including:

Turntable Speed

Channel Balance
Azimuth L R channel, together in 1 single track (Exclusive to AnalogMagik)

Vertical Tracking Angle / Stylus Raking Angle togetther with Azimuth (Exclusive to AnalogMagik)
Anti-Skating (Not available with many tools)
Optimizing Phono Stage Loading (Not available with many tools)
Optimizing Phono Stage Gain Setting  (Not available with many tools)
Vertical Tracking Force (Exclusive to AnalogMagik)
Measuring Vibrations  (Exclusive to AnalogMagik)
Determining Resonance Frequencies
AES Wow & Flutter

6 of these parameters are not found with many tools on the market.   

 

 

 

2) How long did it take to develop AnalogMagik?

The project started in 2009, and a beta "no-cosmetic" version was completed in 2012.    We never released it to the public because it was mainly for my personal use.   After 4 years of further R&D, we decided to release it in 2017 to about 20 trial users.   The formal release was in March 2018.   Version 2 will be released on Aug 1, 2022.

We also made instructional videos all for free, for the benefit of the public:   

 

Free Cartridge Setup Tutorials

 

 

 

3) What is AnalogMagik's philosophy for cartridge setup?

AnalogMagik believes an accurate setup is one that delivers signals recorded on an LP as accurately as possible.   That is to say, your goal of cartridge adjustment should be to retrieve these signals with the lowest level of distortions.

AnalogMagik does not have a pre-commitment to visual methods of setup.    Unlike most setup methods which tend to have a different benchmark for different parameters, say a visual benchmark on setting VTA angle, then a different benchmark on setting Azimuth, AnalogMagik only has 1 benchmark, and that is the accurate retrieval of recorded information with the lowest possible distortion on a distortion analyzer. 

 

 

4) What is wrong with setting up with my EAR?  or setting up VTA with my eyes?

There is nothing wrong with using your ears, except it is not scientific and arguably not a repeatable method.  Also, our sensitivity to frequencies degrades over time, so a 70 yr old's response to high frequency will be different from a 15 yr old. 
  Using a person's ear as the benchmark is unquantifiable and purely subjective.  In other words, it is not a benchmark.

Using your eyes to gauge an approximation on a setup parameter, offers a good starting point.  We all begin with the visual alignment of the cantilever.   But beyond that, visual methods are only possible on a static immobile platter, and it bears almost zero correlation to a dynamic mobile platter.

 

Since the recorded signal can only be retrieved on the rotation of an LP, the static visual setup has almost zero value when the record spins.

 

Again, the benchmark should be the accurate retrieval of recorded information at the lowest possible distortion level on a distortion analyzer, not visual satisfaction.
 

 

 

5) How is AnalogMagik different from other tools on the market?

Nearly all available tools on the market will fine-tune only one or two specific parameters in isolation.  That is to say, a person may use a distortion analyzer to fine-tune one parameter but will resort to eyeballing or calibration by ear on others.

 

We believe in a unified approach to calibrating all parameters by measurements.

 

For example, there are many tools that will allow you to determine Azimuth, but they will leave out Anti-Skating, Vertical Tracking Angle, and Vertical Tracking Force.   Users will have to resort to inconsistent and non-scientific methods to set up the rest of the parameters, leading to a sub-optimal setup or inconsistent setup methods. 

 

 

 

6) How does AnalogMagik achieve an optimal setup?

We believe an optimal setup is one that allows for the accurate retrieval of recording signals.    This requires minimizing distortion levels in not just one, but ALL the setup parameters.  

 

Setup parameters such as VTA, VTF, Azimuth, Antiskating, etc........ They are all dependent and interrelated to each other, and no single parameter can be optimized in isolation.   A true optimal setup will find the optimal point which delivers low distortion numbers on not just one, but as many parameters as possible. 

For example, assuming you discovered that the optimal Azimuth angle requires you to tilt the cartridge by 2 degrees, but as a result, causes degradation to VTA/SRA, Anti-Skating, and VTF readings, AnalogMagik will not consider this as the optimal setup.    But say you tilt the cartridge back by only 1 degree which causes a slight degradation to azimuth readings, but if this will improve VTA/SRA, VTF, and Antiskating readings, this in our opinion, is a more optimal setup because it takes into account multiple setup parameters as a whole, without over-emphasizing on one specific parameter.

 

Only a tool that can perform scientific and repeatable methods on ALL parameters will allow you to do this. 

 

 

 

7) Do I need an alignment tractor before using AnalogMagik?  Which alignment tractor do you recommend?

AnalogMagik is a software that measures various incremental changes to distortion levels as you make adjustments to your cartridge.   The lower the baseline distortion level, the better the results.   To have a low baseline distortion, your cartridge should be properly aligned with an alignment tractor BEFORE using AnalogMagik.

 

We also believe the most accurate alignment tractor on the market is  The Acoustical System Professional Alignment Set or the SMARTractor.   The Acoustical System SMARTractor addresses a lot of the common problems found in common protractors, namely:

 

   1. Dual layer alignment grid lines preventing Parallax distortion or incorrect viewing angle

   2. Determination of proper Pivot to Spindle Distance using a Vernier Scale

   3. A null point smaller than a stylus tip that has no room for null point errors.

 

Please refer to our "Basic Cartridge Alignment Setup" video for further details.   If you do not use a proper alignment tractor, do not be surprised that it will take you a lot longer to achieve good numbers.   Also, pay close attention to the concepts introduces in our instruction video:

 

  1. Proper Viewing Angle, null point size, and accuracy

  2. Dynamic Cantilever Alignment (landing behavior) vs the usual static "drop and align" method

  3. Proper Torque using a Torque Wrench (You can purchase a Torque Wrench from us).  Email us to inquire.

 

If the initial alignment is bad, you will find that it will take much longer to achieve meaningful results with AnalogMagik.

 

 

 

8) What operating systems does AnalogMagik work with?

 

A Laptop with Windows XP, Windows 7, 8 or 10 installed.

 

 

 

9) Does it work with Apple or Android?

 

The program is not an APP and it is not compatible with Apple Notebooks or handheld devices such as iPhone, iPad, or Android phones.   It is a Windows-based program compatible with Win 7 , Windows 10, or Windows 11 installed on Laptops or Notebooks.  

 

10) What Laptop do you recommend?

 

We strongly recommend using a dedicated laptop such as the Lenovo Ideapad which is often on sale on Bestbuy or Amazon for only US$120-350.    We do not recommend using old laptops or laptops which may have their sound configuration altered by unknown programs which may interfere with standard windows sound configurations. 

Due to the complexity of the computations, and the intensiveness of CPU usage, you may encounter stalling or system hangups if you use a very old laptop for the task.    In our own setup, we use a dedicated Lenovo Ideapad with nothing else but AnalogMagik installed.    

11) My tonearm comes with its own paper, plastic or proprietary alignment jig.   Do I still need a SMARTractor?

 

A single layer alignment jig with one set of grid lines will never allow you to establish a proper viewing angle.    It just cannot be done.   If your viewing angle is arbitrary, your alignment will never be accurate.

 

Null points 5x the size of a stylus tip will simply result in inaccurate alignments.

 

There is no such thing as a "Proprietary" alignment jib, all alignment jig is based on either Baerwald, Lofgren, or other popular geometries.    We have looked at a fair number of alignment tools that come with tonearm and found the majority of them to be way less accurate than the SMARTractor, mainly because of point 1-3 mentioned in question 4.   

 

SMARTractor is the ONLY alignment protractor that addresses the problem associated with the point (1), (2), and (3) above.

 

 

12) I have my own Test LPs, can I just buy the program?

 

We do not recommend using any other test LPs with the program as there are special algorithms embedded in our programming designed with special filters and averaging functions.    The results may not be accurate with other 3rd party test LPs.   Also, most commercial test LPs do not have many of our proprietary test signals. 

 

 

13) What is that USB Stick that comes with the software?

The USB License Key is not a memory stick.  It is required for the installation and operation of the program.   We do not provide replacement license keys so please make sure you store the license key carefully, namely back to the lower corner of the LP box after each use. 

 

14) I lost my license Key, do you offer replacement keys?

 

We do not provide replacement license keys so please make sure you store the license key carefully, namely back to the lower corner of the LP box after each use. 

 

 

 

15) Why do you offer both a 33 1/3 rpm and a 45 rpm Test LP?

 

The forces experienced by a turntable cartridge's stylus are different under different turntable speeds.  For example, under 45 rpm, the dragging force is greater than when under 33 1/3 rpm, which will cause the VTA to change ever so slightly.     Faster speed will also increase Centripetal Force, which may require a slightly different Anti-skating as well as Azimuth setting.

 

For those with multiple tonearms and cartridges, a 45 rpm test LP will allow users to optimize a specific arm/cartridge combination to play 45 rpm records.  

 

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16) I only want to purchase the VTA Function, can I make a partial purchase of individual functions?

 

We do not believe an optimal setup can be achieved by optimizing a single stand-alone parameter.    For this reason, we do not sell a specific function individually.     We believe focusing solely on one specific parameter while ignoring others will likely result in a less optimal setup.    

While we do not guarantee meaningful results on all parameters and test functions, we believe an optimal setup must aim to achieve good results on as many setup parameters as possible.   

17) Can I purchase the TEST LPs only?   

 

We do not sell our Test LP Records separately, mainly because they will likely not work with other distortion analyzers.  We employed signals which have been altered and filtered specifically to work with our program.   Using other distortion analyzers on our test LP may result in meaningless numbers or incorrect distortion levels because they do not have the reverse filters in their algorithms to work with our test signals, and will likely render incorrect numbers. 

And at this point in time, we do not sell the TEST LPs separately.

Replacement TEST LPs can be purchased by existing registered users.

 

18) Can I plug the phono stage's output into the MIC input of the Laptop, eliminating an external sound card?

 

Most build-in soundcard has a very high noise level and it will not work with AnalogMagik.

The AnalogMagik Software has been designed to use with any Windows-compatible soundcard, but it is impossible for us to test all available soundcards and computer combinations on the market.    

We have designed the program to work specifically with the ART Phono Plus soundcard & A to D Converter which you can purchase from us or from Amazon.   The ART Phono Plus soundcard is a 3rd party equipment that we have no affiliation with, getting the sound card to talk to the computer is your responsibility.   We make no guarantees or support on soundcard/computer compatibility. 

We have tested the software on Lenovo Ideapad and the Art Phono Plus soundcards and it is a configuration which we are most comfortable with.    Remember to use the LINE INPUT of the sound card, and not use the built-in phono stage of the sound card.

Those who buy AnalogMagik have probably invested a lot of money into their turntable and cartridges, and considering a Lenovo Laptop is only US$150, and an Art Phono Plus is only US$75 from us, we strongly recommend users to consider this option. 

 

 

 

19) How often will the product get updated?   

 

We have been working on AnalogMagik for over 6 years, and it is still an ongoing project.   As we gain more feedback from users, we will continue to make improvements and updates to the program for FREE, unless of course if there is a major programming change then perhaps we will consider additional cost.    

 

 

 

20) The program shuts down automatically.   What do I do?

 

This happens if you do not install the right Soundcard driver.  Make sure you install the correct soundcard driver.    There are hundreds of soundcards on the market, it is impossible for us to test them all.  We have made our product to be used with the ART Phono Plus.

 

If you do not connect the Art Phono Plus Soundcloud and all wrings BEFORE turning on the program, you will run into problems as well.   This is a Windows Problem, not us.    You will have to shut down and reboot, with all the wiring and Soundcard connected before you run the program. 
 

 

21) I cannot get Azimuth to show a crosstalk reading below 2-3 dB between channels, what should I do.

 

If there is an inherent channel imbalance with the cartridge or zenith errors, the program CAN NOT fix that for you.  It is a cartridge problem.   Measuring Phase Angle will not fix this for you.  But there are things we can do to compensate.

 

When you are setting up Azimuth, sometimes you will notice no matter what you do, the crosstalk numbers between L and R will not come together.  Usually (but not always), we will also see:

 

  • Crosstalk between L vs R reading remains far apart

  • VTA (IMD% above 10%)

  • Channel Imbalance

 

This behavior is highly indicative of an incorrect zenith angle on the stylus diamond tip, and measuring phase angle will NOT solve this problem.   

 

An incorrect zenith angle will result in an incorrect alignment geometry even though the cantilever may be aligned correctly to the gridlines of your template.     Please see this section.

 

For example, I once mounted a cartridge with a crosstalk number of -20 vs -30 dB, and 3dB difference between channel and IMD% of 12%.    After adjusting for zenith angle error by changing alignment angle, the cross-talk may come together, -25 vs -25.7 (0.7 dB between channels), channel imbalance is now less than 0.5 dB, and IMD% lowered to 5%.

When numbers do not make sense, it takes patience. It will make sense when all inherent errors with the cartridge, Tonearm, have been accounted for. Visual methods can NEVER achieve this level of accuracy.

 

If the cartridge is good, you can achieve readings as good as less than 0.3dB between channels, on a very very good setup.   On an average setup, you should be able to achieve 0.5-1 dB between channels. 

 

Do not assume it is easy to get there, it involves many hours of very fine adjustments across many parameters to achieve such results. It may take 4-5 hours.

 

Also, an optimal setup optimizes readings across ALL parameters, it is a balancing act.    Do not be preoccupied with 1 bad reading.  Sometimes it is caused by equipment quality limitations and not your setup abilities.     
 

 

 

22) Why do numbers trend UP (or down) as I play the track longer?

 

Please keep in mind that distortion levels are not even across the LP surface.  Distortion levels will always trend UP or DOWN depending on which location you are on the LP, and how far you are away from the null points.

 

Even for tangential arms, the numbers will sometimes trend UP or DOWN, because the curvature of the LP tracks is not even, the Stylus experiences uneven groove pressure as the curvature changes or as the stylus moves towards the inner tracks.   

 

Imagine the data points are dots on a graph and connect to form a line.   The line does not have to be flat, what matters is for the line to shift UP or DOWN as you make adjustments.  That is to say, the overall TREND of the data (the line on the graph)  is more important than whether the data line tilts up or tilts down.    

 

 

23) Why do I have to register my product?

 

AnalogMagik supports our dealers.  Every copy of the software is serial coded, products not registered or purchased from Grey Market cannot be updated, and will not receive periodic product updates.

 

 

24) Can I obtain a free sample?

 

No.   We do not run a charity.

 


25) Are there any special deals, can I buy the product directly from you, skipping the distributor and dealer?

 

I simply cannot handle the entire world's orders.   I support my dealers and distributors, and they, in turn, provide customer service which I cannot provide to the entire world.   So I do not sell directly unless there is no dealer or distributor in your region.

 

 

26) Who are the engineers behind AnalogMagik?

 

Please see the About Us section of the website. 

 

 

 

27)  I have been doing setups for many years MY WAY, and I do not believe in your tool.   I would like to nitpick the weakness of your product to prove that it doesn't work.

 

AnalogMagik welcomes discussions with anyone with a friendly and genuine desire to improve setup accuracy for the betterment of the Analog world.    

 

We have no interest in talking to anyone with negative, combative, or inquisition-style attitudes.  That is to say, we only want to engage with those who want to build, not tear down.

 

 

28)   My turntable has a very bad reading on certain parameters being measured.   What can you do?

Please see this case study.

 

AnalogMagik is a distortion analyzer, it does not have solutions on how to solve bad numbers beyond that of the incremental change which the end user can adjust.    

If you email us, we will try to help you.  But please keep in mind that AnalogMagik is like a thermometer, if you detected a fever, the Thermometer cannot reduce your fever.   It only measures temperature.

 

29) I have played with your software and I cannot get meaningful results, I do not think it works. 

 

Please read this section of the website. 

 

 

30)  If there is a channel imbalance with the cartridge, or with the phono stage, or the soundcard (Art Phono Plus), wouldn't it skew the data and cause inaccurate results?

 

Please see the explanation HERE.

 

 

 

31) Further questions?

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We welcome questions, a friendly exchange of new ideas, and mutually respectful discussions.  We are friendly and are always here for you 9-5 am, EST

 

Thank you.