The Cardas Audio Frequency Sweep and Burn-In Record is a set of tools that audiophiles have requested over the years. The benefits and uses of the "Sweeper" vary because turn tables and systems differ, as does the knowledge and tools of the end user.
The most important tools on this record are the Side 1 Frequency Sweeps. These are the degaussing tracks 2a, 2b and 2c. Simply play one of these tracks through your system at a low, normal level and it will degauss the cartridge and the rest of the system, plus clean the stylus ultrasonically. When played, the tracks progress from low frequencies at a high relative amplitude, to high frequencies (35 k+ if played at 45 rpm) at a low level. This is a complete degaussing process and an ultrasonic cleaning of the stylus at the same time. You may hear clicks and pops in the high frequency section after use. This is caused by the accumulation of junk which has fallen off the stylus during ultrasonic cleaning. Clean the record to remove the debris. This is the most efficient and cheapest way I know to degauss your cartridge and system. Basically, it makes a flux buster obsolete.
How often you use the Frequency sweeps is something you have to determine for yourself. The build up of residual stress in a system, is system dependent. Some parts require more frequent degaussing than others. For instance, permeable parts require more frequent degaussing than non permeable parts. An iron core cartridge will need more attention than ruby cored cartridge. Speakers with cored inductors acquire more stress than those with air core inductors. There should be an audible difference after you play the Frequency Sweeps. I run the sweeper at least once a week, it really works!
The sweeps are also useful as room tuning tools for setting up wall and ceiling treatments. Room reflection points, as well as other anomalies in the system, cause the image to shift with rising frequency. Simply sit in the hot spot and play the sweep at a low level. The image should be centered and stable in a well focused room. You can ignore changes in volume which are caused by comb filtering. Hard reflection points in the room can cause a shifting in focus, so padding these points will help stabilize the image. Hold a piece of foam rubber at arms length and block the sound from suspected reflecting points. When you think you have located the trouble spots, cover them with suitable damping materials.
An interesting speaker set-up trick is to listen to the low frequency, out of phase tones while sitting in the listening position. The note should cancel completely if speakers are positioned symmetrically. Try both tones and pick the one that works best for your room. Playing this tone while in the null point, at the hot spot, may also allow you to pick out strange noises and rattles in the system. Sorting out the exact cause of these anomalies is up to you.
The right and left channel markers (Tracks 3b, 3c, 5b, 5c, 6b and 6c), along with the in phase and out of phase, low frequency tones (Tracks 4, 5a, 6a, 7a, 7b ,8a and 8b) are useful in determining the right and left channels are correct and the system is in phase (in phase tones should sound louder).
The higher frequency tones must be measured in order to be compared. You can use these if you have setup machines and other ways of measuring. They are good for crosstalk type azimuth adjustments. Start by listening to or measuring the channel opposite the one being played and adjust it to minimum level. Then use any other test that needs relatively even tones of different frequency, but of the same level. Actual levels are approximate, but very even with respect to one another. If you have an oscilloscope, a triangle wave should have straight sides if all is right.
The voice announcements (Tracks 1a, 1b, 1c and 1d at the beginning of Side 2) are, again, for determining proper channels and centering the sound. They were recorded in a small booth and can be compared with the spatial qualities of Tracks 1f and 1g.
The continuous pink noise grooves at the end of Side 2 (Tracks 2, 3 and 4) are unique. They are concentric groves, not normal spirals. The stylus will stay in the grove until lifted out. I use these continuous grooves with discretion, to break in a new cartridge, but only after it is properly set-up. Part of this break-in process is the adjustment of the final azimuth. I cant determine the length of break in time for your system, but I feel an hour would be close to the mark. Save your cartridge for music!
If all adjustments on the arm are correct and the table is perfectly level, the arm should track very slowly inward on the smooth sections of Side 2. This is an "after proper adjustment" test! It is not a way to adjust the tone arm.
If the system is out of relative phase, you will have to determine where one channel is reversed. It will often be one of the speaker connections or one of the cartridge connections. Usually the offending connection can be found by visual inspection. If the output of the out of phase, locked grooves (Side 2, Track 3) are combined, they should null. This can be used as an azimuth check.
The 1/2" wide, Unmodulated Plateaus on Side 2 are for checking cartridge alignment and tone arm bias. On level tables, properly adjusted arms will track slowly inward on the Plateau.
The Sync Label is used to determine the rotational speed of the platter. The label has four concentric rings of short, white lines to measure both 33.333 and 45 RPM. One set is for 60 cycle alternating current in the U.S. and the second set is for international, 50 cycle use. If you view the label under a standard incandescent or florescent lamp, the stroboscopic effect of the light will make the appropriate lines on the label appear to stand still when the speed is correct.
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