You are right. I broke the anti skating lever on my Grace 747 tonearm and it sounded better without it. I think its because it stays centered in the groove better without any anti skating applied.
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I have a Pro-Ject 9.1 and I removed the anti-skate just experimenting around a bit. There were some good/bad trade-offs.
The sound did become fuller, more airy and open, and yes I did notice more bass. But there was less focus in the sound image - the instruments bled into each other more and they weren't as definitively located in the sound image. In the end, I went back to the anti-skate, probably because it is the sound presentation I have grown used to.
This is from a recent technical paper at Vinyl Engine."From discussions on web forums it becomes evident that some people think that skating force is zero when the tracking error is equal to zero, as it is the case in the
null points. This is true only for linear tracking arms, for pivoted arms this simply not correct. As long as the line connecting the stylus tip to the arm pivot is not
tangential to the groove at the contact point, which is always the case for pivoted arms, a skating force is generated. For that very reason tangential pivoted arms like the Garrard Zero and the Thales still have anti-skating mechanisms."
The poster wrote a quite detailed technical paper about this and I have no reason to disbelieve him.
Gradys, I like the Clearaudio. I can't comment on how it pairs with the 868, since this is the first TT I've had in over 25 years. But it is nicely made, and once you get past Germans trying to write instructions in English (there were some very odd things in the set up manual- the "there should now be no air in the bearing"- really threw me for a loop), the set up isn't as bad as advertised for Clearaudio rigs of the past. Very solidly built. The Innovation line is a big step up from what I have, and the 868 allows you the option of your choice of MM or MC. I think it would sound pretty sharp.
Stefan, I don't think the distributor was debating that there is some skating force. His contention was that anti-skate doesn't do much as far as letting the stylus sit properly in the groove and contributes to wobble. I do know that on my TT, the anti-skate was causing an issue. If you raise the tonearm with the arm riser, and it pivots back towards the periphery of the record, then there's clearly too much anti-skate force being applied, and I was using the absolute minimum the rig would allow.
Another interesting point he made was that tracking force guidelines- the standard 2.2-2.6 grams- is an absolute minimum. He stated that a tracking force of 3 grams is minimum for the cartridge I have (which is based on the Denon DL-103), and that something closer to 4-4.5 grams is optimal. Something about that if manufacturers used the latter numbers as the standard, they were getting too many calls about damaged cantilevers and styli. Just more food for thought.....
Yes,if an anti-skate mechanism does not do a good job it might sound better without and you might be saving some record wear.But Klaus Rampelmann in his paper points out that a stylus will not be properly centered in a groove technically until you correct for the anti-skate.Klaus states "Uncompensated skating force results
actually in the stylus mistracking the outer groove wall which results in distortion in the right channel." He goes on to say that you reduce record wear using anti-skate because trackability is improved by 20-25%.This would require an equivalent 50% increase in tracking force,thus affecting the sound generally and the record wear etc.From personal experience I know that VTF and anti-skate are inter-twined and that if you change one you have to change the other in a set-up and I think that if the anti-skate changes so audibly across a record by rights you would be forced to be changing VTF all the time as well.Now here is where the argument about the audible "badness" of using anti-skate might collapse.Klaus considered the arguments and was moved to write his excellent paper,I can only suggest you check it out in the members section at The Vinyl Engine.
It seems to me that it is necessary to always adjust VTF in relation to anti-skate firstly.Now a lot of people here seem to be the "set and forget" types.I found that I wanted to investigate anti-skate more after reaching the point a lot of you are at now,where the use of it was worse sounding than none at all.So aided by the use of the "on-the-fly" TWL weight mod and the ability of my "tweaked" Rega arm to be "voiced" with the plinth by adjusting the fixing nut tension (tonearm also bearing),I discovered the glories of correct anti-skate and weight for each single record I play.The VTA set correctly as well.Anti-Skate set right,is the correct parameter to adjust for everything to snap into focus.Pragmatically speaking, this is the route I had to go and I will not go back now,it is very good.Some of you may well be limited by how much and finely you can adjust your tonearm.It took me a lot of iteration to discover anti-skate.I can state that categorically that it is worse without correct anti-skate all other things being equal.
C'mon you guys,
We are in analogue domain here!!
Don't expect to just push a button of your remote and enjoy the analogue heaven. The antiskate force is a very easy & standard procedure that is as necessary as the VTA and even more so, because once you find the right value, you don't have the choise for experiment other settings.
It's so obviously THE RIGHT VALUE !!!
(of course for the given groovy track of the test record).
Don't say please that you don't have a test LP.
The sad truth is that only few arms can provide a gradualy increasing force across the LP.
In that situation I would choose to buy the arm that povides ALL the alignments. (and azimuth too!!!)
I run my anti-skate control at about 75%-80% of the recommended value. That is, I run my cartridge at 2.05 grams VTF so the anti-skate control is supposed to be set at 2 to match but I find that setting it at 1.5-1.6 gives me greater soundstaging and "freedom" of sound in terms of air around instruments etc.
Any less than this and I get strange sounds around the two null-points on the record and any more that the 1.5-1.6 starts to crush the soundstage.