AntiSkate-crooked Cantilever correlation?

This has been something that has been on my mind for some time now. I note how many forumites here typically now use little, to no anti-skate.

And, I've often wondered is anti-skate, or a lack of, is a possible cause to cantilevers eventually becoming cockeyed over time?

Common sense tells me, if a Stylus is "fighting" to stay in the groove, while the Arm wishes to pull one way, or another, that this might not be good for Cantilever "health"?

I would like hearing others thoughts of this topic? Thanks, Mark
Personally, there is no way in hell that I would let that much force be exerted onto the cantilever. Secondly, tracking is not correctly being accomplished as the LP is playing. It is imperative that both sides of the groove are tracked correctly. Records are not made with allowances for tracking. Period. Correct anti-skating force is applied when you can visually see that as the LP is spinning, the cantilever is as straight as possible when looking at its alignment within the cartridge body. That is how one knows that the rotational forces acting upon the cantilever are equally countered in the opposite direction. This in correlation with the suggested tracking force will allow for best case scenario when attempting to setup a TT.
I endorse the most statements made by Aptquark. But there are many guys who don't use anti-skate at all. If the lack
of anti-skate causes 'cockeyed cantilevers' then,it seems to me,there will be no such persons (masochist not included). There are some 'deviation' that obviously the cantilever 'centering' can 'endure'. So my quess is that the cart is not made properly. Abuse of course excluded.
AntiSkate is only convenience for user to prevent sliding down and damaging the first track.
I don't use antiskate and place needle as close as possible to the first grove and slowly land.
I asked these questions, not because I'm having any issues, nor any friend I communicate with, but I'd like getting more input, and advice, to perhaps avoid any future problems, like cocked Cantilevers, due to taking some ill advice.

I myself personally try going to great lengths, both visually, and with test records, LPs, my ears, and perhaps as well, a 6th sense, to tell me, everything is as good as it csn be per given equipment.

My reasoning is, that yes, a Anti-skate device on a tonearm can never be correct, especially, at different points on a record, but I'd rather be somewhat reasonable close, rather than drastically off with such adjustments. mark
Hi Mark,

Interesting question. To attempt a meaningful answer we must think about the two forces in question, skating and anti-skating. Let's consider skating first.

Skating force is a function of headshell offset angle on a pivoting tonearm. Assuming the cartridge is properly aligned (i.e., cantilever tangent to the groove), friction from the (moving) groove pulls directly down the line of the cantilever. Aside from in-groove modulations, which presumably balance out L vs. R in the long run, groove friction alone puts no lateral pressure on the cantilever.

Skating force occurs because the cantilever is not aimed at the tonearm's pivot point. Since the cantilever is aimed inward relative to the arm, from the tonearm's POV any pull down the length of the cantilever will make the arm want to swing inward.

Example: Hold your right forearm out straight in front of you, index finger pointed straight ahead. Tug on your fingertip; which way does your arm want to swing? Answer: neither way, because this "tonearm" has no offset angle. Now angle your wrist so your hand and index finger are pointed off to the right. Tug on your fingertip; which way does your arm want to swing? Answer: to the right, because this "tonearm" now has an offset angle.

Followup question: comparing each of the above experiments, how much difference was there in the lateral force being applied to the FINGER. Answer: except to the extent your arm resisted being swung to the right in example #2, there was no difference. In both cases all the force was exerted directly down the line of the finger.

Therefore, except to the extent the tonearm bearings are "sticky", skating force does not exert ANY lateral pressure on the cantilever. Groove friction pulls straight down the line of the cantilever and the tonearm just follows along. The above is true on all pivoting tonearms with offset headshells.

Now let us consider anti-skating. All anti-skating devices currently in existence apply an outward bias or force to the ARMTUBE. Since the outer end of the cantilever is fixed in position in the groove (by the stylus), any outward force on the armtube MUST be mediated by the cantilever and its suspension inside the cartridge.

To use the previous example: point your right arm and index finger as before, offset to the right, but put your elbow on the desk and also touch the surface with your fingertip. Using your other hand, pull your forearm to the left WITHOUT allowing your elbow or finger to move. What happens? Your finger is being stressed laterally and its "suspension" absorbs that force by allowing the inward angle of the finger to increase.

That is how all anti-skating mechanisms work, therefore, all anti-skating mechanisms tend, over time, to cause the elastic suspension in the cartridge to take a set with the cantilever pointing inward. How much of a set and how long before it appears will obviously vary with the amount of AS force applied, the number of playing hours and the nature of the cartridge suspension. But the basic principle does not change.

This is why, IMO, we see more high hours cartridges with inward pointing cantilevers than outward pointing ones. There is no force in a properly set up turntable that will cause an outward set, but causing an inward set is possible.

This provides an obvious caution against using too much AS. OTOH we must use enough for clean tracking of our toughest LP's (music, not test records). Beyond that, every rig is different, every cartridge is different, every listener's ears and listening priorities are different. I use zero AS now because it sounds better to me and because my cartridge, after 750+ hours of loosening up, no longer needed it to track even the toughest passages. That was not true when the cartridge was newer, when more AS and more VTF were required. Due to the ever changing character of elastomers, these parameters will always be moving targets on any cartridge with a suspension. In the end, the only firm rule is to always pay attention to what your rig is telling you.
The skating force, or the antiskating force, is small compared with the vertical force. The same elastomeric stylus suspension resists both directions of force. VTF will affect the stylus before skating has an effect (if ever).
Very true.

Skating force is unlikely to affect the suspension at all, for the reasons I described. OTOH, ANTI-skating force is not necessarily small. Some tonearms allow you to apply quite a lot (though rarely more than ~10% of VTF).

Anti-skating and VTF can both effect the suspension, but I agree VTF necessarily has the greater effect. Cartridge suspensions collapse downward faster and and farther than they collapse sideward.

Of course some cartridges quote different compliance figures for vertical vs. lateral forces, so they may have different elastomers for the different planes. Another fly in the ointment!
Very interesting ideas about anti-skate Dougdeacon. I put anti-skate dial close to the same number as the tracking force. I then use my ear to dial it in, using the principle, "if the sound is better on the inside tracks, you have too much anti-skate". When I get real close to the correct amount of anti-skate, I throw out all rules. I then ask myself if I am more excited about listening or less, if I move the anti-skate incrementally. Sometimes, I sleep on it. The anti-skate is now set. Now, this does not apply to uni-pivots or cartridges that suggest less anti-skate. Markd51, have you had an experience where the cantilever has been canted over time?

You actually read all that?! Just to be clear, all that high-falutin' crap was just a longwinded "not likely" to Markd51's question regarding cantilever/suspension canting. Everyday playing is much simpler than that, thank goodness!

Like you I adjust AS (and VTF, VTA, and azimuth) by ear. No scale or dial can tell us what setting will produce the best performance from any particular arm/cartridge combo. Numbers get us in the ballpark or help us return to a setting we know was good, but that's about all.

The maker of a tonearm has no idea what cartridge might be used on it, so the numbers on the AS dial are pretty arbitrary. My tonearm doesn't even have such numbers and I'd ignore them if it did. IME starting where you do typically applies excessive AS, but you gotta start somewhere. I prefer to start at zero and add as much AS as the cartridge needs, but to each his own. It's where you end up that really matters.

I confess I don't understand your statement that "if the sound is better on the inside tracks, you have too much anti-skate". Where did you get that idea?
Thank you gentlemen for all your responses. To answer Mmakshak's question, no, I have no cantilever canting on any of my Cartridges, and of course would like keeping them that way, hence my interest, and my questions.

while I'm not a newcomer to vinyl, I would say I'm a relative newcomer to learning some of the technicalities of extracting uncompromising vinyl reproduction, and while I understand the media, or the hardware can never be a totally perfect proposition, I reckon we here, all strive to extract the very best our rigs-vinyl have to offer.

For years, I relied upon test records, years ago, it was the Shure, with its torture tracks, and commonly used the blank tracks at various points upon the record to at least get some "basis" for which I felt this was "better than nothing".

But, over recent years, I have come to understand that this is not correct? At least not for final fine tuning of AS, but perhaps is at least a good starting point?

I assume there are many forces at work as the tiny Stylus tries to do its job, and if one would notice breakup of test tones-torture tracks in one channel first, I would then again assume, that the Stylus is not seeing equal pressure load on one of the groove walls. Is this correct?

Are torture test tracks still a sufficient/sensible way to more quickly attain correct AS? Or do I need to take it even further? TIA, Mark
Doug, Thanks for your insightfull explanation. I really thought: no way one can fully understand this AS enigma without PhD in physics as well as in math. My experience is
in correspondance with your explanation. The most carts with 'cantilever deviation' were with the 'inside-direction' (not necessaryly my carts.sic). And then to think how proud I was with my 'achievement' with my (then)
Fr-64,Ortofon MC 30s combo: 90 micron without any 'buzz' from the As,I think,Lasker stated:'there are obvious limits to the human mind but human stupidity is without boundarys'.

Toss out those torture test records. They provide meaningless answers to your questions. After a very few passes of mistracking, the record is damaged and will never reveal if your cartridge is properly set up. Also, I have found that many anti-skating devices buzz, rattle, etc., and removal of these allow higher performance from the arm.
Dougdeacon, I agree with you much more than you might think. The part about "if it sounds better on the inside tracks, you have too much anti-skate" comes from my last attempt at anti-skate. Back in the day, Harry Pearson said the Koetsu Rosewood sounded better with less anti-skate than the tracking force number. I believe that was the first time that idea was mentioned. What I am really trying to do is to get people to listen to what anti-skate really does, and do this with some certainty. I believe that we get much more meaningful results from people this way, instead of a bunch of theories that confuse the mind while adjusting anti-skate. That statement that I quoted does not apply to uni-pivots. I believe that normally, with no anti-skate, the last song will sound the worst, and if it sounds the best, something is wrong-and it has to be too much anti-skate. I understand that there might be a sense of ease with no anti-skate, but for the average person, I was just trying to give them a starting point.