Adjusting SRA using macro lens vs microscope

I have ordered a USB microscope to adjust SRA after reading Fremer's article. Meanwhile, I took some pics of the stylus with non macro Canon L lens (handheld) and can visualize the sharp triangular shape of the stylus and the record surface. It is only reasonable to assume that with a tripod and macro lens, the image would be much better.

Since many audiogoners are expert photoghraphers as well, anyone tried this?
I have used a magnifying glass, and a comparison to an index card that has a vertical line and 92 degree line on it.

You have to "squint" for a hour, and have a micromiter head
height adjustment(like some VPI arms). But you can get close!

This gives a good starting point. Then follow through with very, very, small incremental adjustments, and a good "Ear".

You can hit the exact SRA in an afternoon.

A macro lens should work better!
May I respectfully direct you to my own article on the topic from which, I might add, Mr. Fremer borrowed (stole?) liberally over 4 years later!!

I never thought of that.
Turn the setup 90 degrees, one could "ballpark" their azimuth as well.
Read this article for setting SRA!
Thanks for the good read. With a 10x lupe and backlighting, still quite difficult. I will see when the scope gets here
Here we go again. You'd think people who advocate pre-setting SRA to some arbitrary number would explain why we should bother.

Before asking HOW to do something, ask WHY to do it. What is the goal? Does a recommended method meet that goal? In this case the answer is an unequivocal "no". Setting SRA by eye is a waste of time, so asking which tools to use is pointless.

1. The only correct SRA is the one that conforms the playback stylus to the grooves of the LP you're about to play. This is the only SRA that matters.

2. Each LP's groove SRA is different. Everyone knows groove SRA varies with record thickness. What the set-by-eye crowd forgets, if they ever knew it, is that groove SRA varies MUCH MORE by record label, cutting plant and the era in which the LP was made. The SRA of a 180g Decca is nowhere near the SRA of a 180g Mercury, or RCA, or Erato, or...

3. Since each LP's groove SRA is different, any pre-set SRA is arbitrary. It won't bear any relation to the SRA of the next LP we spin.

4. Spending time or money pre-setting some arbitrary number that we have to change anyway is pseudo-science for the naive.

So, make the cartridge roughly level by eyeballing. That's as good as any other arbitrary number, it's where most manufacturers design cartridges to play, it doesn't cost any money and it takes all of 10 seconds. Adjust by ear from there.


Last Saturday I joined some other audiophiles to play with some gear, including an Ortofon A90. The A90 has the hardest-to-see stylus I've ever met. We wasted an hour trying to set SRA by eye per the manufacturer's inadequate instructions. After giving up in frustration we came to our senses, levelled the damn cartridge and began spinning LP's.

As I do with any good cartridge I adjusted arm height for each LP by ear. Even though I was in a strange system using tonearms I don't own, it took no more than 30 seconds per LP and cost zero playing time, since the tonearms were adjustable on the fly. The A90 is extremely sensitive to SRA, yet I dialed it in easily. Presetting it to ninety-something degrees, even if we'd been able, would not have helped a bit and trying to do it was a waste of time. You'd think I'd have learned by now... ;-)

Thank you once again for being an informed voice of reason. This thread is a nice counterpoint to a thread in another forum entitled "Why Some Audiophiles Fear Measurements". It's not that some measurements aren't useful (they are), but it is human nature to attach a false sense of security to a measurement. An interesting take on this subject is "The Tyranny of Numbers" by David Boyle.

As Doug points out, does anyone think fixing SRA at 92.1 degrees really be any different than 92.0 degrees if you own a large record collection?
Doug, as you said Sat, you know that you can use the body of a Universe to start because you have looked at the stylus on a few samples and have concluded that the stylus does end up close to a starting SRA/VTA when you level the body.

I do agree with Doug that going to the effort to measure stylus angle with a microscope and some software is un-necessary. I also think a good 10x or 20x jeweler's loupe is sufficient along with good lighting.

I don't find Nsgarch's method that useful myself. This method assumes that the stylus is symmetrical, but almost none really are. There is usually an edge or facet that is the reference line and this would necessarily result in casting a non-symmetric image on the mirror. This method would never work on a stylus like the Replicant, but I would submit that few visual methods, if any, will work with the type of profile the the Replicant has.

We ended up leveling the body of the A90 because the stylus is shaped the way it is, and we had no other choice. I still want to know what reference point to use on that Replicant stylus to find the 90 degree angle referenced in the Ortophon directions and by Fremer. There is supposed to be some tiny, trailing edge facet that is the actual surface to consider, and maybe that does require a microscope to see. I would still not give up the step of actually looking at the stylus for most cartridges. I don't think I will count on a cart builder to set that angle with the body any more than I would expect the AZ to be perfect. I simply put the A90 in a category (almost by itself :-)) where usual methods may not apply.

All of my comments assume that the tonearm in use has the capability to make easy VTA adjustments.
So gentlemen, what did you think of the A90?
Richard, I didn't hear it committing any sins. The A90 is very respectable from my short time listening to it.
Agree with Dan. The system had few commonalities with ours, so whatever anomalies Paul and I noticed might have been attributable to many things.

FWIW, the A90 is one of a very few cartridges I've used that has as narrow a range for VTF, SRA and azimuth as a UNIverse. It is very easy to set up sub-optimally. As with a UNIverse, that results in sub-optimal performance and could cause one to mis-judge the A90's capabilities.

We found it easy to hear when SRA or VTF were "off" and easy to decide which way to go. That suggests a nicely linear design. A cartridge that's unclear about which direction is right may end up sonically flawed even when optimized. The A90 was admirably clear.

Apologies to Glai for the thread-jacking.
Doug and anyone else who might know, do you think it was ever thus with cartridges? I mean to ask whether it has long been a custom in the industry to set the cantilever/stylus angle such that by leveling the top surface of the cartridge body with respect to the platter, one is in the correct "ballpark" for SRA. I and many others have been messing about with vintage MM and MI cartridges, per Raul's endless thread, and many of us find that many of these cartridges sound best with more than a bit of "positive VTA", meaning that the tonearm pivot is raised with respect to the cartridge body, for best sonics. We are talking here about many cartridges that were very high end in their day. This phenomenon could in part be due to aging of the cantilever suspension, such that it has less flex than originally intended, but maybe not.
Thanks guys!

I don't have experience with enough MM's/MI's on rigs with adjustable arm height to generalize. I own one decent MM and tried a friend's MI for a spell, but that's about it.

Your speculation that stiffening of the suspension may explain why some of them prefer a "positive VTA/nose down" attitude makes perfect sense of course. From curiosity, how do these cartridges' sonics change when you play them this way vs. level?

The cutter head is consistently set at 92 degrees on almost ever record cut. The proper SRA will yield excellent play back on 80% of all records. Best results only will be obtained with an MC cartridge on Panels (Magnepan) or electrostatic speakers IMHO.
Don, with all due respect to Jon Risch, that write up works well for arms with no quick and easy VTA adjustment, because there is no other choice in that situation.

You should try an arm that does provide for such adjustments on the fly. You'll be able to get that 80% up to 99%.

As for your choice of speakers. Well, we all have opinions on that subject also.
Dear Glai and friends: I think that MF article was writed just to have some " fun " because I want to think that MF knows/knew what Doug point out on the SRA subject.

IMHO we can't have one answer for all circumstances, let me explain it: if you are experienced on music sound reproduction through a home audio system then your ears could be the best way to go but if you are not so experienced then the MF article makes more sense to me.

The John Rish article has sense and I agree with him if we take in count that what we want is to have the pleasure to hear music as more time we can, so taking an SRA average set up ( according with the kind of LPs we own: grs, years where were recorded and the like. ) could be enough for many of us. But for the ones that want to be " absolutely " sure that we have the precise/right SRA on each LP or the ones that are making especial tests where accuracy is the name of the game then we have to make the SRA/VTA set up with each LP.

Different needs different approaches.

Now, every time we made changes in SRA set up we are " moving " other cartridge set up parameters that in each time we have to reset all them in we want to be " there ": overhang, azymuth and even VTF or antiskating. This means a hard work each time but this is the price for accuracy, nothing comes free.

There are different " roads " to " attack " the subject, each road has its own trade-offs and we choose the road according the trade-offs we accept. As better quality performance has our audio system as lower trade-offs we have to accept.

Obviously that always our each one priorities are the ones that take the decisions.

Btw, Normally in all the Ortofon cartridges the manufacturer recomemdation ( to begin with. ) is that the top of the cartridge body be even to the LP. As Doug point out the Ortofon cartridge are extremely sensitive to SRA/VTA. I never read the A-90 operation manual on the subject but I already heard it in my system at least three times and I made the set-up with tiny positive VTA if not even.

Regards and enjoy the music,

Doug, The Ortofon M20FL Super and the Azden P50VL (or something like that) are much improved with a bit of positive VTA. Also, back in the day I recall that my Grado TLZ also seemed to prefer slight positive VTA. (Paradoxically the bass response is cleaner, AND the highs are more extended, as a general description. The Grado just "snapped in" to focus at exactly the right height.) And these are not among the very best MMs or MIs that have been touted on Raul's site. I own a few of those latter too (Acutex, Empire, B&O, Audio Technica) but have not had occasion to audition them as one of my monoblock amplifiers has been down for repair for the last month. (Since it is I who must repair it, I have only myself to blame.) Yes, I went a bit nuts with these purchases, but each individual one was so inexpensive... It was hard to resist Raul's superlatives.
Thanks for shining some light on the subject. I am quite inexperienced with VTA adjustments and hope to find a close approximate starting point with this method on one particular record. Hopefully, I can find a optimal point by making tiny adjustment by ear. Then I would learn what optimal VTA and suboptimal VTA sounds like.

I am not sure if I have ever experienced optimal VTA setting in my system. I suspect I frequently skip over the correct setting.

Any suggestion on a particular record to use?

You'll certainly see/learn something with the microscope. It should help you find a "close approximate starting point". Don_c55's statement that 80% of all LP's were cut at precisely 92 degrees is not consistent with my experience, but my collection extends from very early LP's from before 1955 to current releases, 4000 LP's on dozens of record labels. If a collection were limited to recent releases I'd agree with him.

Of course within reason it really doesn't much matter where you start. What matters is where you finish. :-)

First, please start thinking about SRA, not VTA. They are two different things. What you'll be viewing with your microscope is SRA. The changes you'll hear as your listening skills advance will be primarily due to changes in SRA, only secondarily to changes in VTA.

Skipping over the correct SRA setting is very easy because the window is very small. This is especially true with modern line contact or micro-ridge stylus profiles. Until you become practiced it's helpful to hunt in very tiny increments, no more than 5 points on the TriPlanar's 100 point dial for example. Our recorded height settings on about 1000 LP's are to the nearest 1/2 point on that dial (1/200th of a turn). If you crank the dial around in big moves you'll skip right by and not know it, especially if you're not attuned to what to listen for.

P.S. With the TP or any threaded adjuster, don't forget to always approach the desired setting from below, which takes up the backlash in the threads. Otherwise you'll just have chaos.

What to listen for?
Frank Schroeder describes it as "the integration of fundamental and harmonics across the time domain". What????? Actually that's a perfect description. (FWIW, in less resolving setups you'll hear a shift in perceived frequency balance, but that's due to system-induced mud. Your system appears to be more resolving than that.)

Every note from a real, acoustic instrument is composed of a fundamental plus higher order harmonics. If the arm base is too high, you'll hear the higher frequency harmonics BEFORE the fundamental. The ring and hiss off a cymbal begin before the actual tap. (In that less resolving system it'll just sound "bright".) If the arm base is too low, you'll hear the fundamental followed by an unnatural time lag before the harmonics. (In that less resolving system it'll just sound bass-heavy.) When SRA is just right, the tap and the resulting harmonics will be tight and properly integrated in the TIME domain, as Frank said. (I heard all this before I heard Frank offer that description, but I can't think of a better or more succinct one.)

Remember, all this change happens in that very narrow adjustment window, 1/2 a turn of the TP's dial or less. If you're outside the window you may not hear anything at all from a height change. Work patiently.

As to particular records, forget any amplified instruments or anything with added reverb. Both of those totally screw up time domain information. Acoustic instruments, well and naturally recorded, are the best for building listening skills. Notes with clear leading transients are easier than sustained tones (adjusting SRA using a sustained organ or flute note is almost impossible). Vocals are possible to use if they contain lots of voiced fricatives and explosives (S's, T's, D's, K's, hard G's, etc.). No one can set SRA from "la-la-la".

It's pointless being more specific because different ears react differently, though they should lead to the same result.

I hear SRA changes best in higher pitched instruments with quick transients and a good decay. Plucked string instruments of any type, cymbal taps, etc. My partner hears SRA best in low frequency instruments. Despite this difference in what we're most sensitive to, we invariably agree on the best setting. Not knowing how your ears work (even you don't, yet!) I suggest focusing on different sounds until they "get" it.

Now get to work! :-)
Thanks Doug. That is a very good summation. I will listen for that tonight, though my SME V makes adjusting for this stuff a bit tedious.
Dear Dougdeacon: I know that what you said you were listening is what you in true were listening, no question about.

Where I don't know for sure where you are really " stand up " is if you heard what you heard because you are right on SRA for that track/groove recording or because you have the right azymuth or the right overhang or right in two of these parameters or what!.

As I posted, when we change SRA we have to adjust at least overhang and azymuth and I don't read that you made the overhang/azymuth changes everytime you change SRA. Maybe I'm missing something there but I can't understand how you compensate the other parameters when SRA is changes.

Doug, I'm assuming that you/we want that the cartridge set-up with that track in the recording be " perfect ".

In any decent audio system you could hear tiny overhang set up differences, as tiny as 0.1mm, your system is pretty good so you can and in the other side both of you I know have good ears.
How do you know that that tiny SRA changes are the one concept ( SRA ) that in specific made the difference and not the overhang or azymuth or some kind of distortion because some of those parameters ar out of target?

IMHO the first step to tonearm cartridge set-up is to choose a tonearm geometry set up: Baerwald, Löfgren, Bauer, Stevenson or what you like. Why choose any of these geometry tonearm/cartridge set up equations/calculators?

Because in any one of them we have different distortion level in different parts ( inner grooves, outer grooves, between null points, etc. ) of the whole recorded LP surface, so we choose due to that average distortions we want, we choose here our trade-offs.

First target is that the cartridge/tonearm set up be " perfect on three parameters: TT spindle center to tonearm pivot center distance, overhang and offset angle.
If you have a tiny error/difference in overhang or offset angle in the cartridge set up then your/our distortions targets changes and what we choose at the begin it is not any more achieved.

SRA changes not only change the SRA but made that other critical parameters change too so we have to reset these parameters for be again right on target.

All these considerations make that we can't speak that SRA was the " one "/culprit for the " new " sound, IMHO it is more complex than that.
This complexity IMHO too made the whole set up for each one recording a nightmare if we want to do it precise and near " perfect ".
I'm not against to do it with each recording but the analog alternative is so imperfect that we can't make it " perfect ".
In your case what happen if you decide to change your cartridge for other different? what happen with all the work that both of you take it with those 1,000 LPs where you writed in each one the SRA set up?

You need to test again all those 1,000 LPs with the new cartridge, not an easy task and for the second time!

I think that before we take this or the other or other one approach in the SRA subject we have to choose our targets/priorities and " build " around those targets with out changing it because the SRA or other parameter changes.

The ears are the tool that almost all are using to the cartridge set up but our each one knowledge on music makes a difference too as makes a differences to understand what is happening in our home audio system at each audio link.

Through the time ( listening time. ) we learn when our system performance is near " perfection " as you already know with your system.

My post is only trying to clarify the whole concept and what surounded the cartridge/tonearm/LP set up.

Btw, you posted:

+++++ " please start thinking about SRA, not VTA. They are two different things. What you'll be viewing with your microscope is SRA. The changes you'll hear as your listening skills advance will be primarily due to changes in SRA, only secondarily to changes in VTA. " +++++

Doug, everytime you change SRA you change VTA too and everytime you change VTA you change SRA too. Sure are different and the meaning is different but both are IMHO " primarily ". When people change VTA to improve his system quality performance the improvement comes because that VTA change changed the SRA.

Anyway, the important subject is to have trained ears to be " there ".

Regards and enjoy the music,

I see your point about the three parameters all being minutely affected when one changes his VTA setting. I also agree that the settings Doug wrote down for his VTA for each of those 1,000 LPs is useful information and saves him time when he plays one of those LPs. Those settings will be different with a different cartridge and probably with a different arm, especially one that does not have the same calibration or markings on it for repeatability. He will contend with that how he will.

However, I was at the listening session last weekend when we auditioned the Ortofon A90 and Doug adjusted VTA/SRA for each LP. I know what I heard and the results were much better after Doug did his adjustments. I learned a lot from his expertise. I don't really care if the improvements were in fact SRA related, overhang related or spindle distance related. That is for arm designers to worry about IMHO. His adjustments were easy to make given his experience, ears and the fantastic arm. And they were well worth the effort on a cartridge like the A90. We all make trade offs in this analog hobby, I agree with you. I don't plan go to the effort of changing cartridge alignment for each LP. The "effect" of changing the VTA/SRA setting is enough for me once a good average alignment is achieved and if the arm is capable of easy VTA adjustments.

Something like Dave Wilson's Razzmattaz V. 1 is a good record for setting VTA. A better Heliotrope ;)

Here's a link to another discussion with a good pic illustrating the utility of the USB Scope.
Thanks for taking the time to post and detailing what to listen for. I certainly have some work ahead.

I did receive the scope today and it took only 15min including installation, taking a pic and measuring an angle.

It yielded an SRA of 89.3 degree which I previously set by setting the arm tube of Phantom parellel to record surface with just using a ruler (no fine tuning by ear).

As long as one can fine tune by ear for 2 degree, the usb microscope is really not that necessary.

However, I find it is actually more helpful in aligning cartridge using the mint LP. It is better than the 10 times lupe. My back and neck are much happier. I have multiple arms and very difficult to stick my head between the arms.

When record is spinning, it would apply small amount of force on the stylus. IS stationary/static SRA the same as the SRA with record in motion? All the more reson to do by ear.

"Of course within reason it really doesn't much matter where you start. What matters is where you finish. :-)"

That's deep.
Dear Glai: Good to know that now you are " there ".

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Peterayer: I don't try to dimish in anyway Doug/Paul approach. I know very well Paul and Doug and I consider them my friends along that they are very dedicated guys on the subject with wide experience and good ears.

What I tryed through my post is to point out how complex is our analog hobby and if we want to take the " perfect " road then we have to know that is a nightmare road for say the least.

Btw, Doug I'm , like Paul, more oriented to bass frequency range on the SRA set up. I mean more oriented because for me is more easy that way but that does not means that the other side in frequency spectrum is not important too.

+++++ " We all make trade offs in this analog hobby, I agree with you. I don't plan go to the effort of changing cartridge alignment for each LP. The "effect" of changing the VTA/SRA setting is enough for me once a good average alignment is achieved and if the arm is capable of easy VTA adjustments. " +++++

the trade-offs we choose to achieve our targets are the ones that could define each one approach in the cartridge set up subject.

Regards and enjoy the music,
What I find interesting is the focus on correct SRA whether set by sight or sound but the consistent dismissal of the anti-skate issue. We are so focused on SRA and setting it for each record but everything from disabling anti-skate to setting it to match VTF seems appropriate.
Dear Wntrmute2: As other cartridge/tonearm set up parameters the anti-skate is an important one that we don't have to dimish because it has a very precise role in the whole analog set up subject and not only because VTF.

As this parameter IMHO the Azymuth set up is extremely important and critical and many of us are not given that importance and I would like to say that many times if we " play " a little with Azymuth set up we could be surprised how tiny azymuth changes can make a high difference, I think we need to " work " a little on Azymuth set up too.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Hi Glai, which usb microscope did you buy?

The scope is good to see what your ears are telling you. SRA is more important with some stylus's than other's. Doug, it may be fun to see where your SRA is at with a few albums just to see.

Interesting read which I am sure some of you have already read.

As Raul said everthing changes when SRA is changed. Some tonearms moreso than others.

I have the Dino am413T with flex stand. It is one model up from the 313 used in Fremer's article. The magnification is the same but the camera has more pixels. The web site said measurements would be more precise because of this. It is only$40 -50 more.
Interesting video from Ortofon about the SLM process.

With all the talk about SRA and the A90 and getting to 92 degrees. It is interesting to see that in this video the A90 / tonearm is parallel.

It's not clear who you were referring to when you said people "dismiss" anti-skating, but as one who currently plays without it I thought I'd address your question.

Playing with zero A/S does not necessarily constitute dismissing it. That would be true if one played this way (or recommended that others do so) without actually investigating what level of A/S is optimal. I've never done that, nor do I know anyone who has. What I and others recommend is experimentation: train your ears to recognize what A/S value works best on any given rig.

I analyze and adjust A/S the same way I do VTF or SRA or azimuth - by listening. I tweak VTF and SRA for virtually every LP. With some cartridges I've had to do the same for A/S. With one cartridge I tweaked A/S on an individual LP basis for months and heard the difference that even the tiniest change makes. This is not "dismissing" A/S, it's just the opposite: developing a full understanding of it.

It's true the optimal A/S value for my present cartridge happens to be zero. Further, since the A/S device itself feeds noise into my tonearm I've removed it. But a different cartridge might well need some value greater than zero, in which case I'd reinstall the device. Not dismissing; listening, analyzing and adjusting.
Downunder, nice video - thanks for the link. As for the A90 mounted and shown in action on a tonearm parallel to the record surface - I can shine a light here.
Ortofon's own test records are cut with the highest cutting angle in all cutter heads - thus the tonearm has to be parallel with standard mount cartridge in standard headshell.

In general and in any case - I do not want to spoil any "search-for-perfect-SRA-party", but finally it is always about the position of the polished area of the stylus towards the groove walls.
And this position is a variable one - not fixed, unless you only play records all cut with the same angle (i.e. - one manufacturer and one time period).
Since there are a wide range of cutting angles in records past and present, we either settle on a good compromise (which in turn is optimal for only ONE specific cutting angle) or adjust the position of the stylus to each cutting angle.
Those discussions have been made before and the two schools will never settle nor unite, but it is at least pretty clear that there is no such thing as a universal perfect SRA nor VTA.
Not in this world of record cutting angles differing by up to 8 degrees.
The stylus have to be aligned "groove-compliant".
Dougdeacon, I wasn't really saying YOU were dismissing A/S. From reading your posts I cannot believe you would dismiss anything. However, everything from no anti-skate to setting it using blank LPs has been advocated as correct. I was just saying that there has recently been this tremendous focus on 1 aspect of cart set-up with you advocating that LP by LP adjustment is critical, while another aspect varies so much.
Dear Dougdeacon: The A/S by geometry /machanically is a must to have: that force vector exist and needs to take care about.

This A/S set up parameter is another nightmare subject that depend on many other factors to we can hear tiny " gradation " changes in its set up.

IMHO and in a scientific way does not exist: " the optimal A/S value for my present cartridge happens to be zero. ", this is waht you like it and I'm not questioning about but any cartridge/tonearm set up needs " some " A/S quantity. At random can we find a cartridge/tonearm set up to be cero?, could be but??????

through any LP exist different recorded velocities all over the LP recorded area that affects the A/S, all over the recorded LP area exist waves in the LP that affect too, even over the LP recorded area exist differences in the tickness of the lp that affect too and all we know that we need different A/S depending of the place ( outer grooves, midle or inner grooves. ) where the cartridge is playing a LP.

Not only that, different tonearm A/S mechanism makes that the A/S had differences in its " aplication " and in some cases like in your tonearm the " A/S device its self feeds noise into... ".

All these " factors " and some others make that's almost imposible to have the right A/S set up over all the LP recorded area.

Some of us are working with out A/S in the cartridge/tonearm/LP set up but this does not means we don't need it or means that sounds better with out A/S set up. That could be a misunderstood: we need A/S set up, it is not matters which cartridge we own.

Maybe if our cartridge has a 2cu on compliance and works with 5grs on VTF then we can't heard A/S differences but even here the A/S vector exist and be there for " fix ".

The main problem is that there is almost no tonearm with the precise A/S setting device mechanism, it is really complex to do it.

As I posted, we have an almost impossible target: to make an imperfect analog medium be " perfect ", IMHO we just can't do it at least not yet.

When we share our each ones experiences on the whole subject we are helping first to understand the complexity of the subject and second to improve our each one analog set up. We have to continue on this experiences sharing excercise.

The whole subject and our opinions about must be not who is right/wrong but how we can help each to other on the subject.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul i agree with your statement above

"The main problem is that there is almost no tonearm with the precise A/S setting device mechanism, it is really complex to do it."

For this reason i dont use any AS with my setup my ears like it that way. I log every time i play an lp and as of yet not using AS has caused no harm what so ever to any lp in my vinyl collection.

I believe that todays super high quality bearings used by Triplaner and others is the reason. Or as Doug says maybe some cartridges seem to sound better without AS.

One thing is for sure the setup parameters for vinyl playback are a web sites best friend for posting.
One thing is for sure the setup parameters for vinyl playback are a web sites best friend for posting.
LOL. They should charge us by the word. ;-)


Skating forces do indeed exist. I said so myself. But we are not logically compelled to compensate for them. If existing anti-skating devices cause more problems than they solve, we may logically choose not to use them. Better to live with an inaudible problem than create an audible one.

Like Stltrains my ears prefer zero A/S, for reasons I've explained and demonstrated many times. In my system the anti-skating solution is worse than the skating problem. If the opposite is true in some other system, so be it. There are no perfect setups, as you correctly said.
I have experimented lately with A/S on my SME V arm and AirTight PC-1 and found that it sounds better with about .6 or .7 grams on the dial. Without A/S, the sound was a bit thin and uninvolving. With a little A/S there was more body and weight and presence. So at least with my setup I prefer to use a limited amount. I have not noticed its effect changing during the length of one side. I'll play with it a bit more.
Thanks guys. I think I am getting the SRA, I can't make too much out of the strings but I think I can hear the harmonic integration varying with SRA with the piano. I adjusted VTF to be consistent but did not realign the cart..

The microscope does give a pretty close starting point but not neccesary. Very helpful on alignment though.

Onto antiskate, what is wrong with using Hifi News record to get both channel to mistrack at the same time. I did notice the soundstage to be more organized to the right side when dialing antiskate with this method.

Piano's excellent. It's percussive, which gives you a well defined leading edge, but it also has a complex harmonic trail. Choose something dynamic (Beethoven) rather than a soft legato (Debussy). Listen for the relative timing between hammer strike, string fundamental, string harmonics and body reverb. A piano-forte or harpsichord are even better than a modern piano because their sounds are crisper, clearer and tighter.

On Saturday we heard Emanuel Ax from the 5th row of Hartford's fairly intimate Belden Theater. He played Beethoven's 4th concerto and also a Mozart double concerto, with Mrs. Ax on the other piano. She's a technically strong and rhythmically solid pianist. He's... almost indescribably beyond that. His technique and sense of the music's internal rhythms are so solid you don't even hear him being solid. You tend to notice his gloriously complex tone and long, singing lines. Within an infallible rhythm Ax somehow caresses each single note: iron fist within a velvet glove. The audience was properly ravished.

... and of course they both played with perfect SRA. ;-)


What's wrong with the HFN record's anti-bias tracks is self-evident if you think about what they actually do. Those tracks bear no relation to the amplitudes and frequency mix of real music. They're not designed to emulate real music. They're designed to present progressively severe tracking challenges that will CAUSE your cartridge to mis-track. This ennables one to adjust A/S to balance lateral groove pressures for the absolute worst-case scenario.

If every record you play is that extreme, then by all means use the HFN tracks. If, OTOH, you play real music then adjusting A/S for the worst case scenario will result in too much A/S for all other records. Adjusting your car's suspension and tire pressures for 180-200mph laps on the track may not give you optimal performance or ride when tootling around town at 35.

It's more accurate and realistic to adjust using real records and it helps train your ears. If some amount of A/S makes your soundstage more organized to the right or, like Peterayer, it helps with body and presence, then by all means use that amount. That's the method I've always recommended based on real music, not intentionally unrealistic test tracks.

@Peter, your A/S description gave me some idea what to expect from your system when we visit. Now I'll have to apply some anti-bias of my own! ;-)

Dear Dougdeacon: I don't use A/S either but for different reason than you.

I don't have a Triplanar on hand and I'm curious of that tonearm A/S noise that you heard on it and for what I understand comes from the A/S mechanism and that's why you even removed it.

I test a lot of tonearms and never found out any with that kind of " trouble ".

Anyway I think that the A/S subject is clear.

Regards and enjoy the music,