HiFi News Analogue Test LP
Arguably the best turntable setup record on the market, the HFN test LP has sold over 10,000 copies since 1996. In 2002 Len Gregory aka the cartridge man decided to update the original release and returned to the Exchange studio for a new recording s...
Arguably the best turntable setup record on the market, the HFN test LP has sold over 10,000 copies since 1996. In 2002 Len Gregory aka the cartridge man decided to update the original release and returned to the Exchange studio for a new recording session. The album was re-cut along with a new frequency sweep test and improved pink noise tracks and dubbed 'The Producers Cut'.
Packaging has been improved throughout with smart new graphics on the outer cover and a higher quality inner sleeve. Even the insert containing articles by John Crabbe has been reprinted on heavy-weight paper. Sleeve notes remain largely unchanged except for the addition of an advert for a subscription to Hi-Fi news!
One of the nicest additions is the new alignment protractor, a glossy card disc 12" in diameter containing 3 different alignment techniques, all accurately reproduced.
Standard Baerwald 2-point method suitable for 9" arms similar to the basic protractor included with the original issue.
Universal technique for aligning with published null points for your arm
Linear Offset technique where a base line is aligned with the vertical bearing of the tonearm and the cartridge is aligned at a single point.
Once you've aligned your cartridge with one of the protractors you are ready to run through the tests. If you are unfamiliar with test records the first thing you will notice are the widely spaced locked grooves; each 'band' contains a different test and you have to cue them individually.
Track 1: Channel Identification: Voice on Left channel then on Right channel
Reversing left and right channels is one of the most common mistakes in an analog rig. If the channels are reversed, imaging, depth and dynamic range suffer. This track ensures the most basic test for a high performance system is covered.
Track 2: Phasing: Voice alternately "in phase" and "out of phase"
Reversing the cartridge leads is the second most common mistake made in an analog rig. Miswiring the phase at the cartridge destroys imaging, space, depth, bass extension and overall system gain. This track offers easily audible cues to highlight phase inaccuracies.
Tracks 3, 4, 5: Channel Balance: -20db pink noise tests
These three tracks provide mid-range weighted random noise to ensure tonal balance is set correctly. When listening, neither the left nor the right speaker should be louder. Track 3 is pink noise in both channels, Track 4 is Left only and Track 5 is Right Only. Check these tracks before moving on to the Bias tracks. (NOTE: Test Cut 4 and 5 for use with the Fozgometer Azimuth Device)
Tracks 6, 7, 8: Bias setting: 300Hz tone, both channels at +12dB, +14dB, +16dB, respectively
These tracks are for setting anti-skate. If the 300Hz test tone is heard distorting or buzzing on either channel, then the anti-skate function needs to be adjusted. Each successive track is more difficult for the arm and cartridge; increasing tracking force towards the top of the cartridge's recommended range will assist in properly resolving these tracks.
Track 9: Bias setting: 300Hz tone, both channels +18dB
This track stands alone as perhaps the most difficult track for a cartridge to track cleanly. Although it's only 2dB higher than track 8, this track is perhaps the most famous of the four, as only the very best gear and alignments can pass it unscathed. For those with more modest gear, results from this track should be taken with a grain of salt.
Tracks 1, 4, 8: Tracking ability: 300Hz tone, both channels +15dB
These three tracks contain identical information, which enables testing of the consistency of the cartridge's track across the entire surface of the record. These tracks - outside, middle and center - are designed to be used together, making sure that the cartridge sounds the same in all three positions. These tracks are also great for checking anti-skate and tracking force settings. Consistency is the key with these three tracks, if all three are spot-on, then most records should sound great.
Tracks 2 & 3: Cartridge & Arm, Lateral & Vertical Resonance Test
These two tracks are used to test the resonant frequency or your tonearm and cartridge combination in both the vertical and horizontal domains. These tracks offer both a visual and auditory indication of the resonant frequency; the stylus will "wobble" and the test tone will warble. A resonant frequency between 8 - 15Hz is ideal.
Track 5: Cartridge alignment test: 300Hz, both channels +6dB
Ideal playback occurs when the stylus is exactly perpendicular to the record, this track tests the cartridge's azimuth adjustment. When this track is played back in stereo, there will be identical output from both speakers, however, when the output is switched to mono, both tracks should cancel each other out for, ideally, no output.
Track 6: Residual System Noise Test
There's nothing in this groove, this track is completely unmodulated. Played back at normal listening levels the stylus will highlight any noise created by the analog rig; a worn bearing, noisy motor or poor vibration control. Playback of this track should be completely silent.
Track 7: Full Range Frequency System Check: Both Channels, 20Hz -20KHz, Sweep
This track will give your system a real workout, as the deepest bass swells up to the highest of highs. Listen carefully for resonance within the system and in the room.