Anti-skating- test records vs. ears

I've been experimenting with anti skating recently. I know the conventional recommendation is to set the anti skate to the same setting as VTF. I track at 1.8 gr.

I hav several test records. I first had a Shure V15 type 3 then later owned a V15 type 5 ( still regret selling the type 3) so I have 2 Shure test records. I also own the HiFi News and Record Reviews test record. My test records tell be that my anti skating should be set at about 2, certainly not less. However, my ears tell me 1.5 is plenty and beyond that I loose something- call it sparkle, air, extension or whatever. I went with my ears

Anyone experience something similar?
I know the conventional recommendation is to set the anti skate to the same setting as VTF.
It has always amazed me that many turntable and tonearm manufacturers give that recommendation. In my experience, which is limited to moving magnet (and moving iron) cartridges such as Grace F9-E variants, that kind of setting will invariably result in severe deflection of the cantilever to the left (toward the center of the record), as viewed from the front of the cartridge while the stylus is in the groove of a rotating record. Which is completely ridiculous IMO.

The technique I use, prior to making SLIGHT final tweaks by ear, is to set anti-skating such that the angle of the cantilever, as viewed from the front of the cartridge while the stylus is in the groove of a ROTATING record, is the same as when the stylus is lifted off of the record (i.e., approximately straight ahead). To find that point precisely, I usually find it necessary to increase anti-skating until deflection to the left just begins to be perceptible, and then to decrease it until deflection to the right just begins to be perceptible. I then set a-s to the mid-point between those two settings, and perform slight final tweaks by listening (although those often don't make much if any difference).

I have consistently found over the years that the result of that methodology is a setting corresponding to 50 to 65% of VTF.

Regarding anti-skate settings for low compliance LOMC cartridges, for the viewpoints of some of our most experienced and knowledgeable members see this thread. Be sure to read it to the end. Their views conflict to some extent, as might be expected, but no one suggests setting anti-skating to a value as high as VTF.

-- Al
I agree with Al, (as usual). I have set-up hundreds and
hundreds and hundreds of turntables and I have almost always
found a setting of 60% of the VTF to be right on.

If you are tracking at 1.8 grams, I would set my anti
skating right around 1.
I've set the anti skate at about 1.25. Listening to Way Out West- zero complaints! Thanks folks-
I have a similar set-up as Stan (Stringreen) -- a VPI Classic 3 tone arm. My cartridge is a Lyra Kleos, which is a .5 mV MC cartridge.

I surmise that Stan is drinking the VPI Kool-Aid, which is no AS is best. IME, I can't really hear the difference of using AS. But having said that, replacing/exchanging cartridges is expensive. It has been my experience that a pinch of AS seems to promote even stylus wear .... I think.

So, I use a single donut placed about half-way down the weight bearing arm of my VPI AS gizmo. Is that optimal?? Haven't a clue. But stylus wear so far is even ... I think???
Bruce and Stan, in the other thread I linked to in my post above, Dover and John Gordon, who are both highly knowledgeable about such matters, indicated that in at least some of the VPI designs some amount of anti-skating force is being applied even when none is intentionally set.

Also, when I previously stated that:
In my experience, which is limited to moving magnet (and moving iron) cartridges such as Grace F9-E variants, that kind of setting [A-S = VTF] will invariably result in severe deflection of the cantilever to the left (toward the center of the record), as viewed from the front of the cartridge while the stylus is in the groove of a rotating record. Which is completely ridiculous IMO.
... I'll add that in my experience (as described), setting A-S = 0 results in similarly ridiculous deflection to the right.

Stan, I would therefore not extrapolate any universally applicable conclusions from your own VPI-related experience. Not to mention that any such extrapolation would be in conflict with knowledgeable and plausible arguments presented by Mr. Gordon and others in the other thread, as well as Mofi's exceptionally extensive experience with a multitude of tables and arms.

-- Al
Boys and Girls.....I have had a Bogen tonearm, a Grado Lab tonearm, an Ortofon, a Thorens, an SME V, a Helius, and a few more since my 3D arm I have today. I've listened intently to all those arms which incorporate A/S, with and without, and to MY ears, I like no a/s the best. I drink Scotch not koolaid, am a professional musician, I really don't care of the stylus wears funny - although I doubt that it does.....I care what it sounds like. I urge you guys to listen with and without and come to your own conclusion. If you like it fine, if you think that instruments are placed in the soundspace more accurately with more air around them and more depth (what I hear with no a/s) ....its your music...enjoy.
Here's a way I discovered by accident that should satisfy even the most OCD among us.

First, the story...

My brother-in-law wanted me to rip some albums for him. After seeing their condition, I knew that using my best equipment was out of the question. Luckily, I had a cheap Audio-Technica cartridge that I could afford to sacrifice. After I made the wave files by running the turntable through a preamp, and then into my computer's line input, I noticed the wave file graph showed what I describe as tizzy and ragged spikes on the high frequencies of one of the channels. This turned out to be the result of not enough antiskate, rather than his garbage vinyl. A quick antiskate adjustment in the right direction resulted in a perfect wave file.

You need a computer, of course. And, you need a way to get it close enough to your setup. The freeware Audacity is enough to do the rest. It works, and it is an easy enough test to perform.

Antiskate is used to counteract skating force which varies across the record surface from outside to inside in nonlinear fashion. Skating force is a function of groove friction, stylus shape, tracking error (impacted by alignment choice), record speed and many other factors. A proper approximate anti skate setting would allow one to achieve the lowest distortion in both channels across the record. In some tonearms, proper anti-skate works in conjunction with proper azimuth to minimize crosstalk.

I don't think there is a hard and fast rule of setting antiskate as a fixed fraction of VTF.

Use your ears. Proper anti skate allow for least distortion in both channels. Many things to listen for. Simplest is mistracking in vocals. In an orchestral recording, the violin section on the left and the mass strings on the right should play with equal alacrity. Too little anti skate and the violin section lose its luster. You can also listen for soundstage stability during dynamic passages. In low distortion playback, the acoustic space where the recording is made should be fairly apparent. Improper anti skate would produce tracking distortion which mask the subtle acoustic clues. too much anti skate and the soundstage to the right would collapse upon demanding passages.

Many leave anti skate setting as the last adjustment. I feel that it is worthwhile to re-optimize VTF,azimuth, VTA/SRA after dialing in anti skate. Frequently you can lower the VTF very slightly after proper anti skate is done. By lowering VTF, you may need a different VTA setting to achieve the same SRA.

There is a group of people on audiogon and even dealers who feel adamantly that no anti skate is best. They would congratulate you if you arrive at the same conclusion.

" Your setup must be right when you don't need anti skate"


" You need anti skate ? That's just a bandaid. Your setup must be off"

I don't doubt that their system sounds best without anti skate. I think of the following possibilities.

1. The anti skate mechanics of the tonearm is compromised. Using anti skate cause other distortions.

2. Some tonearms may have inherent antiskating force. This may be unintentional or intentional (e.g.. force of tonearm cable )

3. Certain cartridges require very little anti skate. The zyx I have tried require less anti skate than lyras.

4. Antiskate setting done as an after thought without re-optimizing other parameters. If you spent hours setting up striving for the best sound with zero anti skate. I trust you have done just that. Adding any anti skate will throw a wrench in there.

4. Poor alignment

I am no authority on the subject but this is a well discussed topic. Many knowledgeable people including Jonathon Carr and Frank Schroeder have contributed. I suggest you do a search for their take on the subject. Skating force is not a tooth fairy. Skating force is significant and produce significant distortion.

I was in the no anti skate camp until an experienced person in my listening group taught me what to listen for.

Regardless of their opinions on anti skate, I congratulate anyone who find happiness in their vinyl setup.
I have never assumed that anti skate was expressed in gram increments. It is a numerical value to use during setup. Making it correspond to tracking force simplifies things. Whether or not it is accurate is another thing, which as the above posters have indicated, should be addressed by the tonearm manufacturers if it is expected to be useful.

There is no real answer as to how to adjust anti skate...there are so many variables to loud the passage is, where in the record do you measure it, stylus profile, et al.....therefore the best that can be hoped for is an average setting....which means at any point, there is too much or too little. In any event, the outward pull of a/s acts as a damping factor to that side of the stylus. Mosin....I wonder if you increased the vtf by a bit, if you would come up with the same results. I always start my analysis of my setup with the VTF at the high range of the manufacturers suggestions. Listening is the best arbiter.
Stringreen said : "...I really don't care of the stylus wears funny - although I doubt that it does..."

Accelerated asymmetric wear on stylii due to either excessive or inadequate anti-skate is a documented fact.
Even if this were not true, many have taken their worn cartridges to specialists who've examined them under microscopes and commented to the effect that the styli were asymmetrically worn out. So if you didn't believe that skating exists it doesn't get any more graphic than this? Studies also indicate that increasing VTF accelerates asymmetric wear.

By implication, this means that the media will be similarly worn. With a £250 MM this may not be the end of the world. With expensive MCs I'd personally be concerned. If someone wishes to zero out A/S with their own MCs then that is entirely their choice and they should be allowed to go in peace.

I'm also concerned at the debating position of those who relegate skating force to an almost inconsequential level, insisting that everyone "do the same - or else!"???
True, cartridges vary in their response to this force (a Music Maker 3 is superb at tracking the HFN/RR tracking tests at as little as 1.55g with fairly random settings of A/S, unsurprisingly, since Len Gregory was responsible for both) but that doesn't mean that unilateral wear isn't occurring.
On balance, the average MC is generically less capable. This will not be an issue unless you get A/S wrong, but it won't make them "Test Disc Champions" and neither should it because the objective is to BALANCE the distortion at your "normal" VTF not to overcome it with brute force.
...I should have amplified this to read, "THOSE WHO USED ZERO ANTI-SKATE and took the carts to specialists for examination/replacement found they suffered pronounced asymmetric wear."
Moonglum.....My advice is for you to listen with and without a/s and decide which you like the best. As for me....I have done this test many times and invariably like the no a/s best. If my car needs new tires, I get them...if my cartridge needs a new stylus, I'll probably get a new cartridge. Its the cost of doing business. How can i take your pronouncement that these tests are valid... conducted scientifically, and meaningful.... If MY cartridge sounds better to me without a/s, that means that for some reason it is correct.
Get a good cart that will track at 2 grams and forget about
Try it.
Dear Stringreen,
After the cartridge is well run in, what you are proposing (to use a similar car analogy) is that my car can have a square tyre on one front wheel and a circular one on the other whilst expecting it to steer, handle and perform properly?

Do I need to fit a "square tyre" to my car to prove this or is common sense sufficient?

In my rig, if I were to play the 12db track with my current A/S setting, the R channel would be buzzing slightly. This is because I optimised by ear and used lower A/S. IMO, contrary to some suggestions, I don't consider that the ideal setting is a million miles away from the "balanced setting" on the 12db track so it is an acceptable starting point (as far as I'm concerned).

(BTW, I have actually tried low > zero A/S approx 1000 LPs ago on this Phantom II/Delos combination)
Dear's a fair point. Beats the hell out of arguing about it. Or you could use an MMIII which doesn't even need the 2g! ;^)

I get the strong feeling you could put that cartridge in the worst turntable/tonearm combination you could find and the cart would do all the work for you(!) :)

Just a shame I got strange resonance issues (reactions to pinchwarps) with it on 20% of pressings using a gimballed arm. Never tried the MMIII on the Phantom but I'd like to...
It only has about 100 hrs on the clock. :)
Moonglum... If on the 12th track, your cartridge is buzzing, it is set up wrong. I suspect all of the cuts would sound better with more vtf...but.... clearly you can't be talked to....all I said is to test your cartridge and see if it works better with or without. I have a Benz LPS....I can tell you that it works better without. I don't care if you or anyone else uses a/s...I can tell you that I don't. Perhaps another cartridge (I'm thinking of an Atlas) does require it...I'll let you know when I get it, after I compare.
Dear Stringreen,
I don't think you understand. If I adjust A/s for the test disc alone, at low-mid VTF (e.g. 1.759g) I can perfectly track the 12db band and (almost) perfectly track the 14db - and get a reasonably clean result on the 15db and 16db bands. ;^)
(Cartridge spec VTF range is 1.7-1.8g btw)

I don't see anything fundamentally wrong with this but it is completely irrelevant because I'm more interested in lower amplitude music signals?

Would you care to describe how your rig performs on those bands with or without A/S AT AVERAGE VTF? (Please tell us what the VTF setting is for your given cart and its max/min spec? It will give us an idea of your capability and show us how a really well set up rig performs?)
Many thanks...
There is no conflict here regarding anti skate. Stringreen doesn't use it, others do. If you use no antiskate you need more vtf, and you also compromise stylus and record wear. But if you prefer that, then fine.

Similarly you can always say you prefer tracking at half or twice the recommended VTF, or with your speakers pointing backwards. That will not change the fact that you are compromising something, while preferring something else.

I don't have a problem with those who don't use antiskate. Only those who deny the existence of the reasons for using it.

Stringreen said, "Mosin....I wonder if you increased the vtf by a bit, if you would come up with the same results."

No, I didn't. I tried that, but the only way to obtain a proper wave for each channel was by adjusting the antiskate.

One thing to consider is that when antiskate is off, it can not only affect tracking because of lateral pull, but when using a unipivot arm, it is possible for it to affect azimuth. My case may have been exasperated by that.
John Gordon....the reason I don't use anti-skate is because it sounds better with none...that and that alone is the reason. I don't deny the force is with you. Re VTF....every cartridge is built a bit differently, even with the most skilled hands...there are variables. Every cartridge has a tracking force that is optimum for that particular cartridge. By saying a cartridge is tracking at 2.135 grms makes no sense whatsoever. I don't know what my cartridge tracks at...I know its about 2 grams or so. What I do is listen. I adjust the vtf, and test it while moving the the back end of the arm up and arduous, torturous, days work. When I'm done, I am satisfied that that is the best I can get it. I have a VPI 3D arm, use a Mint protractor, a Fozgometer, and lots of concentration.
Stringreen ...I can tell you that it works better without. I don't care if you or anyone else uses a/s...I can tell you that I don't.

the reason I don't use anti-skate is because it sounds better with none...that and that alone is the reason

Your VPI tonearm generates antiskate.
I have owned two VPI tonearms in the past and they both applied AS through the wire design.
You don't need to take my word on it. Read your VPI tonearm manual.
Taken from the manual.

As mentioned earlier, the arm wire applies the anti-skating force. The degree of force applied
can be adjusted as explained below.
To increase or decrease the amount of anti-skating force applied, simply unplug the Lemo
connector and twist it in the direction you want the force applied.
For example, to increase anti-skating force give the connector a counterclockwise twist,
unwinding the coiled wire. Likewise, to decrease the force, give the connector a clockwise
twist. Remember, the Lemo connector can only be "adjusted" in increments of whole turns.
If it is not, its key will not line up with the groove in the receptacle.
That also made me suspicious, CT....but I'm sure he would be able to spot any "inadvertent" anti-skate when balanced at 0g with a reasonably frictionless bearing... ;^)

Spring loaded VTF and A/S can be quite useful features because you can balance the arm then use a tiny dose of A/S (readable on the dial) to sign the disc across the platter as a means of gauging any "stickiness" in the gimbal bearings without having to poke and prod. You can turn it up until inertia is overcome then watch the arm scan whilst looking for sudden hesitations.
It is possible to use a bit of Anti-Skate on a VPI tonearm by twisting rotating the arm wire at its connection (make sure you twist it properly...). It works best with the Valhalla wire which is stiffer to accommodate your goal. My arm uses Discovery wire with no twist. ...the end of the conversation from me.
It is possible to use a bit of Anti-Skate on a VPI tonearm by twisting rotating the arm wire at its connection

There is a bit of Antiskate with no twist. Even one twist results in significant AS.

The best results I got with the VPI tonearm was with no wire twist and platter / armboard as level as possible.
The wire setup as an upside down U fashion results in a push outward - its just physics.
I have seen setups where the wire was visibly twisted. Based on my experiences this indicates that something may be out of level and the person is compensating with more or less twist.

Zavato, although I haven't read all the responses, you are a very lucky man. You have the Linn Forum(and a few others), where they have put in a lot of work with your tonearm,cartridge, and table. I suggest that's the place to start. Although we might agree if we do certain things in order to get to heaven, it doesn't mean we will go to heaven, if we do those things.