Stylus/Cantilever Microscopic Analysis

The only way to know that your stylus is mounted properly is to inspect it under a microscope. Start with CERTAINTY when you install your cartridge: have it analyzed by WAM Engineering first. We use a custom designed optical microscope for the analysis of stylii with variable tracking force applied. 

Our analysis will:

  • Identify YOUR cartridge's native stylus rake angle (SRA) with instructions on how to align for dynamic conditions

  • Identify YOUR cartridge's ideal azimuth angle

  • Identify YOUR cartridge's zenith error and provide a very quick and easy way for you to align your STYLUS (rather than your cantilever) for ideal groove tracing accuracy at home

  • Inspect for even stylus wear

  • Upon return of your cartridge and armed with the data from the analysis, use the WallyReference to setup your cartridge at its ideal SRA and azimuth angles in less than five minutes

  • Once analyzed, you have the option to have a custom made ultra-rigid shim made specifically for your cartridge. Install between the headshell and the cartridge to achieve ideal azimuth and SRA under dynamic conditions. Entire setup process can take less than 15 minutes: vertical tracking force, overhang, stylus rake angle, azimuth, anti-skating and (an industry first) zenith error correction.


Our industrial microscope and setup jig allows us to get the photographs we need for analysis while confirming that the aspect angle is perfect for our requirements of absolutely minimal error.

We have found that even the most expensive cartridges can often have a poorly aligned stylus. Thankfully, most cartridge manufacturers will take back your cartridge for repair or replacement when such problems are found. In most cases, they can be corrected for by using the custom shims made from material that is slightly less dense than titanium.

Unless you inspect your stylus under a microscope using a very specific process it is not possible to know if it has been properly mounted to the cantilever. Have you ever listened to a cartridge that others raved about and when you listened to one in your own system you wondered what the fuss was about? We find the reason for this is often a stylus mount that either needs to be returned to the manufacturer for repair or the owner simply needs to know how to improve the setup of the cartridge to get the most from it.

$495; 7-10 days service time


Read more on the importance of learning about your stylus mount in the WallySchool blog and Analog


Tom F., Texas

The results of the  stylus/cantilever microscopic analysis have been flat out amazing.  I had upgraded my cartridge from a $2K to a $9K unit that had excellent reviews but it never sounded quite right.  Spent many hours dialing in VTA and it seemed either to tinny up high or too muddy down low. 


When I sent it in WallyTools found that the stylus angle was about 2.5 degrees off under dynamic conditions so they made a customized shim as my tonearm could not drop down far enough. I really didn’t think this would work, but the moment the needle hit the vinyl I was amazed.  All of a sudden it was “all there” - rich but precise tones across the spectrum.  Didn’t expect such a difference at all; hugely pleased!

Michael M., FL

It’s easy to hear the benefits of corrected zenith. The high frequencies become clearer. Soundstage is much better defined. It’s sound like everything is “in phase”.

With WAM-corrected SRA, azimuth and zenith my analog setup has never sounded this clean, well-defined and three dimensional.

Steve Z., WA

Earlier this year I contacted J.R. with some questions about his WallyTools which he very promptly answered and an informative dialog ensued that ended up with me making the decision to send the Grado to J.R.’s facility for the cartridge analysis...

...The Grado sounded very, very good before but now, it just sings. The sound is wider, deeper and more immersive than ever before, timbral balance is spot on, and there is a wealth of detail with no hint of stridency or tipped up frequencies, so in my opinion, the WallyTool cartridge analysis, custom alignment shims and suite of tools are an unqualified success.

Wonderful sound from a painless process!

WAM Engineering Instructional Webinar Materials

Stylus Rake Angle Webinar - March 20, 2021