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?
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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.