Some things come to mind....is the turntable absolutely level....is the cartridge tracking at about 1.7 grms....is the arm free of drag as you move it to the spindle and back by hand....did you get the cartridge new...look at the stylus head on and see if its bent... I know Grados well, and this is not the Grado sound. Call Grado and hear what they say...
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Thanks Stringreen, Cartridge is mine, not much use - AAA grade albums. I'm a Grado fan, I have a Gold G2+ that tracks perfectly, kinda disappointed in this one. I'm tracking at 1.559 - digital force gauge. I've tried moving the anti skate to all 3 settings with no change. Table level as well. it's a mystery for sure!
Try this free arc protractor: http://conradhoffman.com/chsw.htm. All you need is the effective length of your tonearm, and the generator will make an arc protractor for Baerwald, Loefgren or Stephenson measurements. Be certain you print it without scaling and verify by using the reference lines printed on the protractor. If you like the outcome, you can always buy a Mint protractor which aren't too expensive.
The previously mentioned balanced turntable would be where I would begin. Buy a small level (bubbles drive me crazy) and set it on the platter and slowly move it around first to see where the bubble is moving. if it has a tripod setup like new units seem to have, you only need to adjust the two front feet. It has four feet, then the levelling is much more difficult.
There are different protractors that differ in the parameters they optimize, mainly how far to the LPs inside the tracking error is optimized. All geometrically "correct" protractors have in common that - independent of tonearm length - they cross the LP radius at two points with zero tracking angle. This leads to mainly two classes with either a ca. 63 or a ca. 66mm "zero point", the outer point is ca. 119mm vs. 120mm.
Protractors with only one zero point leave one in a bit of dubious state, one depends on a correct angle of the headshell (and ones manual abilities). So use at least a two point protractor and careful iterative setting and resetting of angle and overhang.
A 0.5mm or 0.7mm graphite refill tacked to the cartridge helps.
Actually such protractors have a third constant, which leads to protractors that are 1) aligned between platter and (horizontal) tonearm pivot points, and (platter fixed) zero crossing points that a have a fixed location on the platter! Such protractors make adjustment (in principle) much easier, it's then a 2) set the overhang - at a third point - 3) turn the protractor to one of the two "normal" points (fix it), and correct the cartridge angle to zero. If you want, I can send you a pdf of such a protractor.
More recently there is some sort of development of "evidence based" protractors market :-) because overhang in itself increases skating forces, and some try to reduce the overhang, leading to bigger errors with less overhang.
My experience is that with my three point protractor no tracing problem exist except by faulty cartridges, and the not so rare case of problematic second hand vinyl, caused by previous owners cartridges tracking at *too low* downforce. So check distortion with a pristine LP of known origin.
(Skating & anti-skating are not constant and a source of sonic problems)
I had a similar problem I have an otofon jubilee cartridge it wouldn't track properly it's on a sota cosmos table SME V tonearm and align with DBP 10 alignment protractor also using the SME protracted that comes with the arm and the hi-fi news analog test analog protractor . would not track properly no matter what I did. I sent the cartridge to sound Smith for evaluation, it needed a new tip they had retipped it when I got it back it wouldn't track at all in the groove the armiture was bent they corrected it and everything is fine now no tracking problems and sounds great again it may be worth trying a different cartridge if you have one or let someone check cartridge