For VPI Unipivot Owners, do you use antiskating?

I have a Scout 1.1 with Ortofon 2M Black. Have always read that unipivot arms do not require antiskating. I don't use mine. Any opinions?
VPI doesn't believe in anti skating. They do give you a small amount of adjustment by winding the tonearm cable. They go over it in the owners manual.
VPI arms apparently don't need it, according to VPI, but other unipivot arms such as Graham and Basis do need it.
My VPI table and most of the newer ones come with an anti-skating device that they used to offer as an option. Maybe they've decided to give in to popular demand.
I use the twist the cable method on my Scout,seems to work ok.
Mine is a VPI Sound, a custom hybrid of the Classic 2 and Classic 3. Although it shipped with the anti-skating device it has never been installed. I also use the tonearm cable to achieve what I think is a proper amount of anti-skate.
This topic has been covered many times over in other threads. But FWIW, I can't hear the difference with or without, but use a smidge of AS anyway.

Reason: when I asked Peter Ledermann to check my Zephyr stylus (former primary cartridge), he reported uneven wear and suggested using just a little AS to even out wear.

Word to the wise: check your cartridge stylus from time to time to check wear patterns. Retipping can be expensive.
It is incorrect to state that VPI doesn't believe in anti-skating. Harry has stated that he greatly prefers the sound of his unipivot arms with the inherent anti-skating force that the tonearm wire loop provides, compared to a mechanical anti-skate device. He started including one only due to some customer demand, but does not really recommend using it for the best sonic performance. Of course YMMV, and in some specific setups the adjustable anti-skating may provide some benefit.
"03-06-15: Bill_k
It is incorrect to state that VPI doesn't believe in anti-skating. Harry has stated that he greatly prefers the sound of his unipivot arms with the inherent anti-skating force that the tonearm wire loop provides, compared to a mechanical anti-skate device. He started including one only due to some customer demand, but does not really recommend using it for the best sonic performance. Of course YMMV, and in some specific setups the adjustable anti-skating may provide some benefit."

You're right. I didn't realize they started using them. I thought they were all like my Scout.
Post removed 
I have the VPI anti-skate device, but I do not use it. I find the tonearm loop twist works just fine for my applications.
I have a JMW-12. It doesn't have anti-skate and I do not attempt to put any torque into the leads to create anti-skate.
I have tried with and without, and without is better. Putting pressure on one side of the groove, is like damping the cartridge. Not for me.
FWIW, I have a Wilson Benesch (also a Unipivot) and use anti-skate. My setting is calibrated using the HIFI News test record--there are 300hz test tracks with increasing amounts of gain. These induce distortion and you can hear if it favors one channel or the other. I find this to be a really effective way to properly set anti-skate, and the truest measure of stylus contact evenly against both sides of the groove.
Correct anti-skating adjustment is essential to any type of tonearm used.
Get yourself a one sided record which is blank with no grooves on one side. I use a Donna Summer Disco Casablanca label that you can get on Ebay for less than ten bucks.
When you lower the arm on the records blank side when playing it should stay stationary if correct. If it moves towards the out or inner groove you can then adjust until there is no movement at all.
When anti-skating is correct it will amaze you what a difference it makes.
You will find records quieter and more focused!
Yogiboy - I have read that using the grooveless record setup in the way you describe is not truly accurate, since the skating force is different when the stylus is actually in a groove. Anti-skating force is more accurately set by optimizing sound quality when tracking a record, or when you lower the stylus in the runout groove of a record. It should be stationary for a moment and then slowly move inward. This results in a slightly different setting than if it just remained stationary. This is the recommended procedure from tonearm manufacturer Origin Live and I find it to work very well.
Bill-Peter Ledermann of Soundsmith fame ,had an article about anti-skating. He said that almost every re-tip he would do ,the cartridge would be worn real bad on one side due to wrong anti-skating. He used the blank portion on the LP. He said you have to be quick before it would hit the lead out groove. Like I said I find blank records work great for me.
I didn't used to, and then I picked up a copy of the excellent Telarc OmniDisc turntable setup record. There is a test track specifically designed to help you dial in anti skate and without it, my Classic 1 with the 10.5 arm didn't fare that well (the AS force of the twisted wire is negligible). Once setup and dialed in though, I was able to play this track with both channels showing signs of distress at the same time.

A retip on your favorite MC is not cheap. Use anti skating. VPI sells turntables, not cartridges.

YogiBoy...absolutely wrong. Skating force happens and is variable upon frequency, signal level, where the sylus is on the record (beginning, end, middle,where in the middle, etc.). Blank discs tell you very little about skating.
Test records? Once the stylus chatters in the groove, the test record is gouged and worthless. PEOPLE>..Just LISTEN. The placement of instruments, the ease of the sound, the ambiance,....all better w/o antiskate.
Stringreen--- What can I say? Soundsmith the cartridge retipper
is not correct? It works for me with my SME arm.Maybe the VPI
is different!
Stringreen. Peter Lederman has been a expert cartridge maker for decades, and a fine one at that. Don't you think he knows what he's talking about? Your response is arrogant. You are not the analog guru you think you are.
That Telarc Omnidisc is great. I have a couple in various conditions.
Riffer: Telarc Omnidiscs seem to be as rare as hen's teeth these days. It looks like an outstanding tool for many cartridge setup needs. Do you know a current source?
I am simply relaying the information as I know it...I don't profess to be a guru...I certainly don't retip cartridges. I just listen to what a/s does and doesn't do for my cartridges. Clearly when I listen, I hear a stability ..a definition of instrument outline, etc., that I don't hear with a/s. I don't care if anyone uses a/s or not. These pages are for audiophile interest. As for the wearing of the stylus, I don't care. I'm after the best performance I can get from my system. If I wanted the tires of my cars to wear less, I would flatbed the cars from place to place.
Stringreen - If you're still using a VPI tonearm as in your system listing, you seem to be ignoring the fact that it has some inherent anti-skating force that the wire loop provides. So it appears that you are in agreement with HW from VPI that it sounds better with just that a/s, rather than using the mechanical a/s mechanism that he now provides. So you're in good company, enjoy the tunes!
Bill_K If indeed my 3D printed arm has a built in a/s mechanism in it, then so be it. I don't twist the wires at all (Discovery, not the Nordost...Discovery sounds better to me)..and don't use the provided A/S mechanism that is for the arm, although I've used it to compare with and without A/S. ..just a comment about the VPI A/S mechanism. I think its the best of its type, because the greater force of the weight can be manipulated to occur at the beginning, med., or end of the playing LP. I don't know of any arm with A/S that can do that.
@Stan (Stringreen), is the AS devise you described above different that the stock AS gizmo that comes with the Classic 3 tone arm base and wand. Phrased differently, is there another AS system peculiar to the 3-D arm?
The 3D arm and the classic arm uses the same basic gizmo, however the 3D device is slightly different from the Classic. When setting up the gizmo, the most pressure against the arm is when the outrigger is fully extended. When it is not, the weight of the outrigger is supported by the attachment. By manipulating (rotating) the gizmo itself, you can get the fully extended position wherever you want it...some say the most beneficial position is near the end of the record.
FWIW I'm with Stringreen regarding the use (or non-use) of AS. I have a JMW 10.5i arm with 3 armtubes, one with the VPI AS wire attached, the others without. While I certainly respect Peter Ledermann's positions and opinions, I've never heard the arm sound as good with AS as it does without. Cartridge wear is not an issue with me -- too many carts to worry about it, and Peter is there to save me from myself when a retip IS needed, mostly because I've managed to lunch another cantilever :-)

For some reason I seem to be particularly fond of destroying Denon 103 carts. Peter has told me I'm something of a legend at SoundSmith.
Mcbuddah: Keep an eye on ebay, $50US+ depending on condition.
If a tonearm of fixed length (1) pivots around a fixed point and (2) has an offset headshell, then it will generate skating forces whenever the stylus is riding a moving surface. Whether the tonearm uses a unipivot bearing or some other style of bearing is irrelevant. This is non-controversial, as it's based on irrefutable laws of physics.

Whether such skating forces should be countered by some gizmo that applies a (roughly) counteracting force is a matter of debate. The factors to be considered have been mentioned:
- risk of uneven stylus wear
- risk of uneven record groove wear
- effect on sonics

My own experience is that anti-skating devices have a deleterious effect on sonics. This is a personal judgement based on my system, using my ears. If you have a different (or even opposite) experience we have no disagreement, just different systems or sensibilities.

Those like Stringreen, Dopogue and I who hear negative sonic effects from A/S gizmos must make a decision. We don't question the risk of uneven stylus or record wear. We do have to weigh those risks against the increased sonic/musical enjoyment we experience from accepting them. My choice, like theirs, has been to increase the enjoyment and accept the risks. In my case, I've gone so far as to remove the A/S gizmo from my tonearm altogether. Doing so provided additional sonic benefits, since it removed one more source of stray vibration storage/feedback from the system.

You may make a different choice based on different sensibilities and/or different priorities. Your choice will be as valid for you as mine is for me.

If one does choose to use an A/S gizmo, the method which makes the most sense is to adjust it while listening to the music you typically play. As noted above, skating forces generated by a blank side or by some test track bear little relation to the skating forces generated by musical signals on real LPs. Blank vinyl or test tracks only optimize A/S for blank vinyl or the test track. The moment you cue up a real record, an artificially calibrated optimization goes out the window.

Appeals to Peter Lederman's recommended blank disk method based only on his status as an equipment designer/rebuilder, amount to the logical fallacy known as an "appeal to authority". Appeals to authority fail to address the substance of the question and therefore neither prove nor dis-prove the position. In logic, an appeal to authority is irrelevant.

One could just as easily point to Harry Weisfeld's preference NOT to include an A/S gizmo. HW has designed, built and rebuilt at least as many audio toys as PL, so his authority is no less. By itself, this would also amount to an appeal to authority and would be no more valid.

What distinguishes HW's recommendation from the PL recommendation stated above is that we know HW's reasons: he prefers the sonics of his tonearms with no A/S gizmo (rather like Stringreen, Dopogue and I). That's a valid argument because it addresses the core questions of risk vs. reward. It's also a personal value judgement, as valid as mine or yours, but neither more nor less.

For PL's reported bland disk recommendation to be relevant, we would need to know his reasons for believing it to be correct or useful. Lacking that, we know nothing of value.

On supposition, one suspects PL has had anecdotal success using the blank disc method as an approximation. It's unlikely to be more, as there is little correlation between the friction between a stylus tip and a flat surface and the friction of the stylus sides with a highly modulated groove.

Doug...beautifully put. I just wonder if those who don't use anti-skate have found that one side of the groove is noisier, than the other. I have records that are 40 years or more older, and play beautifully. I too have removed the a/s gizmo from my arm, and others, and too have found that the gizmo itself is deleterious.
To all posters: Thanks for all the very interesting responses. Think I'll stick with HW and the no AS crowd. At least for the time being. I am looking for the Telarc Omnidisc and might re-evaluate then.

Doug (and Adeep42),

Whatever the rights and wrongs, it is not helpful to state that the method Lederman uses somehow negates the fact of what he says about cartridge wear. The "appeal to authority" would concern the fact, if it is true, that:
every re-tip he would do ,the cartridge would be worn real bad on one side due to wrong anti-skating.
not whether, in contrast to the VPI designer, who, as you say,
prefers the sonics of his tonearms with no A/S gizmo (rather like Stringreen, Dopogue and I).

One is a matter of fact, like the existence of skating forces and their consequences; the other a matter of preference.



My point #4 was intended as a response to PL's (reported) use of a blank disk to adjust A/S. As no reason was cited in support of this (supposed) preference, invoking PL's name in support of it is purely an appeal to authority.

However, the second and third paragraphs of #4 unnecessarily muddied the waters and do suggest the error you noted. Please consider them withdrawn, and thanks for keeping me honest!

I read PL's short treatise on AS, and it was unclear to me just what part of the LP he wants his disciples to use for setting AS. If you read his text carefully, he seems to be talking about the very short in duration end of play area, just before the cartridge swings toward the spindle. At least that's the way I read it. I probably need to read it again. If he's really just talking about a blank LP, then I am a bit troubled, as I think it makes sense to set AS based on how the stylus behaves in a groove. After all, groove friction is the genesis of the skating force in the first place. I nowadays take the numb nuts approach of just setting every tonearm at its most minimal amount of AS. If the LPs sound well balanced with that setting, I leave bad enough alone. I do also know that in my hands, my Triplanar sounded bad in the R channel when I tried "no AS"; I had to invoke at least some AS to get rid of obvious distortion in the R channel. This I know is contrary to Doug's experience with the Triplanar, but there it is. Maybe the stylus shape is responsible for the difference in the way Doug and I hear the Triplanar vis a vis AS. Or maybe cartridge compliance plays a role too. What's very important to keep in mind is that there IS no one correct AS setting, because the skating force is very inconstant, as someone else pointed out above.
03-09-15: Adeep42
To all posters: Thanks for all the very interesting responses. Think I'll stick with HW and the no AS crowd. At least for the time being. I am looking for the Telarc Omnidisc and might re-evaluate then.
Adeep, I note that you are using a moving magnet cartridge, while most of those who have been participating in this discussion are using LOMC's which presumably have significantly lower compliance. Given that in particular, I would suggest that if you have not already done so you make a point of looking at your cartridge from the front while the stylus is in the groove of a ROTATING record, and determining if the cantilever is deflecting perceptibly to the left or the right, relative to its position (nominally straight ahead) when it is lifted off of the record.

Quoting from myself in this thread:
My vinyl experience over the years has not included LOMC's or other cartridges having relatively low compliance, such as I presume most of those participating in this discussion are using. FWIW, though, using MM's and MI's having relatively high compliance (primarily Grace F9-E variants, including non-Ruby, Ruby, and Soundsmith re-tipped Ruby versions), primarily on a Magnepan Unitrac unipivot arm, with VTF generally set in the upper part of the recommended range for the particular cartridge, I have over the years consistently found that:

1)Left or right deflection of the cantilever, as viewed from the front of the cartridge when playing a record, will closely match the corresponding angle (nominally straight ahead) that is assumed by the cantilever when the stylus is raised above the record if anti-skating is set to approximately 50 to 65% of the amount recommended for the particular tonearm at the particular VTF.

2)A setting can be found in that range which will result in imperceptible left or right cantilever deflection at ALL points on the record.

3)Modest deviations from that amount of anti-skating force (either higher or lower) will ALWAYS (IME, as described) produce clearly perceivable sideways deflection of the cantilever while playing a record, which will NOT vary perceptibly as a function of what part of the record is being played.

4)I have never tried an anti-skating setting approaching zero, because given the foregoing it would seem absurd to do so in these particular circumstances.
If you do not see significant sideways deflection, I suspect that your tonearm is applying significant anti-skating force even if none is intentionally being introduced. And if you do see significant deflection, my opinion is as stated in item 4 of the quote. In part because it seems pretty much inconceivable to me that the result would not be significant misalignment within the cartridge of the moving magnet relative to the coils, and in part because of the obvious issues involving the stylus-to-groove interface.

-- Al
I'm with Al. Plus, "listen" for distortion that is worse in one channel vs the other. I sometimes get this wrong, but R channel distortion indicates maybe too little AS. L channel distortion the opposite. In my experience, listening is an even more sensitive test than looking. Nowadays I am using high compliance cartridges, even a high-ish compliance LOMC (Ortofon MC2000). There is no perceptible cantilever deflection; nor do I hear L vs R distortions, using my no-brainer formula of "the lowest amount of AS that the tonearm provides for". Doug et al took the low limit down lower with the TP tonearm by substituting its AS weight with a few rubber grommets, at one point in this odyssey. I follow this policy also with the L07J tonearm on my Kenwood L07D, a Reed 2A, and the Dynavector DV505 tonearm.
Thanks, Lew. FWIW, the procedure I use is:

1)I increase anti-skating until deflection to the left (toward the center of the record) becomes just barely perceptible. This is done with the stylus positioned approximately in the middle of the rotating record. I note the setting. In the case of my arm, the "setting" is the number of tiny metal pellets that are placed in a bucket.

2)I decrease anti-skating until deflection to the right becomes just barely perceptible, with the stylus positioned at approximately the same location on the record. I note the setting.

3)I set anti-skating to the mid-point between those two values.

4)I verify that no perceivable deflection occurs at other points on the record.

5)I declare victory :-)

As a rough ballpark, I have found that raising or lowering the resulting number of pellets by something like 15% will result in easily perceivable deflection, symmetrically in the two directions.

Best regards,
-- Al
Dear Adeep,
You should try AS. It seems an obvious thing to say but before tinkering with AS try to get the platter as 100% level as possible in all axes.
With some suspended tables this is easier said than done. I've seen suspended tables visibly tilt/oscillate under the influence of belt pull (either due to poor weight distribution/balance of the platter and its add-ons or forces acting on the sprung assembly or poor levelling of the plinth or all 3).
An unsuspended mass damped T/T is much easier in this respect.

Eyeballing cantilevers is not my preference, although I usually do a cursory check on the attitude of the cartridge during queuing at the run-in groove. Old advice was that the cantilever should remain stationary and wait to be picked up or it should drift slightly outwards? (Either on the innermost blank area or the outermost - they used to cite 5mm/sec outward drift). This is no longer the case as that would be considered to be over-compensation.
Listening is easily the best way to confirm this. My tonearm doesn't lend itself to active adjustment during play so I do it in stages.

Important to remember that strong bass signals tend to be encoded equally in both L-R channels. If AS is wrong then the cart will tend to ride up the slope of either channel. This is tantamount to a sort of channel-specific incorrect VTF, even if it is not blatantly mistracking.
You will hear L-R frequency balance changes as you alter AS.
To illustrate this to non-believers in the past I've actually done digital needledrops showing the effect of different settings.
Hope this helps.
Moonglum...surely the sound will change with an increase or decrease of a/'re dragging the stylus closer/farther to the magnet or coil. No one can control the a/s that's needed or preferred because the force is constantly changing. Why don't you listen to your cartridge without a/s and let it breathe. If you don't like it, put your a/s in play again.
03-12-15: Stringreen
No one can control the a/s that's needed or preferred because the force is constantly changing.
In my experience (as described earlier), all of it involving MM and MI cartridges, as I had mentioned a change in anti-skating force of about 15% from the value arrived at per the procedure I described will result in EASILY perceivable deflection of the cantilever from its normally straight-ahead position. Yet at the same time, as I said earlier, once I have adjusted anti-skating force per that procedure there is NO perceivable deflection at ANY point on the record (apart from deflections that may be caused by large groove modulations, of course).

That would seem to say something about the DEGREE to which skating force varies during the course of the record.

-- Al
Dear Stringreen,
You must have missed this bit :

"If AS is wrong then the cart will tend to ride up the slope of either channel. This is tantamount to a sort of channel-specific incorrect VTF, even if it is not blatantly mistracking.
You will hear L-R frequency balance changes as you alter AS."

It is generally accepted that neutral A/S is a compromise to the individual's ears but not having any at all could be as catastrophically bad for the diamond as having too much. (Not too sure about the effect on the lateral suspension either, to be honest).
Asymmetric wear is an option that many folk don't want to risk when they've shelled out real $$$$ and sadly this wear pattern is documented by Studies and confirmed by cartridge builders. So it is an inescapable fact :(

I appreciate that you feel you've found something good and that you want everyone else to share it but the practicalities are that there is danger of damaging both diamond and media - a risk which you have accepted.
Kind regards,
... the practicalities are that there is danger of damaging both diamond and media - a risk which you have accepted.
Exactly so, per point #2 in my 3/9/15 post above.

Enthusiasm for good sonics should not cause anyone to ignore the risks, which are real. If Moonglum chooses not to accept those risks for possible sonic benefits, that choice is valid.
My wife says the same thing about me Yogiboy. Actually, all I urge people to do is try it. ,,You can always put it back.... Zei Gazundt.
Sringreen, Maybe some day the anti anti-skaters and the anti-skaters will live in harmony together and the world will be a better place!
Just Try It Both Ways!


I use the JMW arm, and have NO twist in the cable, and no "Dangling" weight type anti skate that vibrates.

I hear no inner grove distortion in any of my 2,000 Lp's, through my speakers, or STAX SR-009 headphones.

There are many more important adjustments that screw up the sound.

Start with those first, and listen closely, when making any adjustment.

It takes a lot of listening time, and very, very fine adjustments, for best results.

Most people do not have the patience, or ear, for accurate sound evaluation!

As far as Peter Lederman's advice on anti skate, remember he sells a cartridge with a cactus needle cantilever!

Thank's Doug. ;^)

Kind regards,
A much more beneficial adjustment is making sure the azimuth is as close to perfection as can be made. Poor azimuth adjustment will give the listen no indication anything is wrong...but the magic happen with it is done correctly.
I prefer to use AS on my VPI JMW-10 arms since it provides consistent sound from both channels in heavily modulated sections, especially the last tracks of a side. I find I need much more corrective weight than provided by the light rubber donuts.
That said, it's hard to argue with physics.  The force vector which causes the arm to slide inward on a blank area and to reduce pressure on the outside groove wall is manifested at the tip. Static analysis means that the imbalance only exists at the tip. Unfortunately, the corrective force is applied at the arm which is projected through the arm, cartridge, and then cantilever bearing or pivot, as an outward force balancing the force vector at the stylus tip. The result is a nominally neutral force at the tip but an imbalance at the cantilever pivot point.  This force may be sufficient to deflect the cantilever relative to the cartridge. 
The ultimate solution is to use a linear or tangential arm for which anti-skating isn't an issue since they have no perpendicular force vector generated by an offset angle.