Goldmund Studio/T3 with Helikon cartridge

I recently pur a Helikon on my Goldmund table and have been experiencing some curious issues. The manufacturer specifies a tracking force of 1.75 but in order to get reliable tracking I am forced to use something in the range of 1.9 to 2.0.

Even at that vtf I still occasionally get a record that, although it always played and tracked normally on my previous setup, that the Helikon doesn't like. It skips like crazy in some cases even though the disc isn't warped and/or worn excessively, etc. Very curious.

Anyone care to venture an opinion?
I recommend to check T3 set up completely, using cheaper cartridge and any LPs the you don't care of. It is most likely that T3 arm is not set up properly.

I had a similar incident with Goldmund Studio/T3 and ended up ruining a couple of my favorite albums(which will be very hard to replace) and one of the expensive cartridge.
How are you determining your tracking force?
I have checked as best I can that the arm is working properly. I have had no problems in the past with the previous cartridge and setup. The Helikon has been in use with the existing setup for several months and I detect no damage to records or cartridge from use at the higher than recommended tracking force. VTF was set using a Shure gage. I've been wondering if it is an issue of suspension breakin for the cartridge. Haven't tried going back to the recommended VTF now that the suspension has some hours on it. At the current VTF I only occasionally find a record that the cartridge doesn't like for some reason.
Aha!! A lot of folks don't know this but:

Shure tracking force gauges are made with stainless steel and cant't be used with MC cartridges! The large magnets in MC cartridges throw off the reading by a gram or more depending on the cartridge. (The magnets in MM cartridges are very small and do not affect the reading with the Shure gauge.)

Get a good digital gauge if your tonearm provides no method for determining the VTF.
I've found that going from a Shure gauge to digital scales made a tremendous improvement in reliabile readings, I don't know if I necessarily agree with the magnet theory, but the scale WILL be much more precise. I do agree there is as much as a gram difference between the two.

I'd try it if I were you. Sometimes Occam's Razor works!
Well, that's an interesting bit of info that I hadn't heard before. One of the reasons I have the Shure guage is that I don't change cartridges or setup often enough to justify a very expensive VTF guage. The digital guages that I am aware of cost around $500 or maybe it was $400.

Any recommendations for an inexpensive solution that improves on the Shure guage (which cost me $20)?
Willster: Even if it weren't for the magnetically induced error of the Shure gauge, it doesn't provide the kind of accuracy I think you will want with your arm/cartridge if you want to achieve the best results. I have two recommendations:

There are many lower-priced digital guages, some here on Agon, sometimes at auction. I bought an Audio One Digital Stylus Pressure Gauge here at auction from "audioparts" for $157 about 3 months ago. It measures out to .01 gram (1/100) which is what you need for a MC cartridge. It's nothing fancy, but it does the job -- and for less than a tenth the price of my cartridge.

My other suggestion, and I wish I could be more specific, is that there are a few simple balance scales out there(like the Shure) made of non-ferrous materials. You'll have to do some Googling.

Make no mistake, the magnets in MC cartridges are extremely powerful for their size. The minute you revealed you were using a Shure gauge, I knew what the problem was. I've been there!
Nsgarch: +++++ " Shure tracking force gauges are made with stainless steel and cant't be used with MC cartridges! " +++++

Well, a few minutes ago I check my old Shure gauge against a digital gauge with four differents MC cartridges: everything is Ok. The top plate where the stylus touch the Shure gauge is made from aluminum, no problem. But I remember that I read, somewhere, that Shure have the steel version and the aluminum version. I'm not really sure about. But that's for sure that if exist the steel version, this one had a problem with MC cartridges. Yes, I agree on that.

Regards and enjoy the music.
The Shure SFG has a one piece balance beam made of stainless steel, a sliding steel weight, and a plastic body. There are two engraved grooves at one end of the balance beam. The stylus is placed in one of these grooves depending on your measurment range. There is no aluminum top plate, nor is there aluminum elsewhere in its construction.
Dear Nsgarch: I don't want to disturb to you about, I only report what I test yesterday and today ( again ): leaving aside the test with the cartridges I test with a " rare earth " magnet, only two parts were attract by the magnet: the sliding steel weight and ( a little ) the below ( under ) plate, but the top plate where the stylus is placed, don't be attracted: at least I can't detected it.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Michael Pettersen
Applications Engineering
Shure Inc
Response 03/17/2005 01:44 PM

RE: Shure SFG-2 stylus force gauge

Can the SFG-2 be used with moving coil cartridges, or only with
moving magnet cartridges?
* We can only speak for Shure cartridges - all are moving magnet and work well with the SFG-2.

It is my understanding that the magnets in moving coil cartridges are powerful enough to attract the stainless steel balance beam of the SFG-2 and produce incorrect readings.
* This is possible, though we have never tested them. Some phono cartridges use Mumetal for the cartridge body that acts as a magnetic shield.

* FYI- Stainless steel has very slight magnetic properties.
My experience with the Shure SFG and Helikon is that the reading on the SFG was pretty darned close to what I expected, 1.75gm, when I set up my arm (SME 10) by following the manufacturers directions. The cart tracks wonderfully and sounds great.

The biggest problem that I found was that the SFG didn't have the resolution at 1.75gm that would allow me to draw any meaningful conclusions about the actuat VTF other than it was in the ballpark. The SFG certianly wasn't off by a drastic amount.

Could you have an arm/cart resonance issue?
Here's an update. I purchased a small digital scale recommended by an audiogoner and re-checked VTF. The digital scale reads slighly over 2.1 grams.

This takes us back to the original problem. Why am I having to track the Helikon at higher than recommended force to get proper tracking? My old cartridge had no such problem.
I am not familar with the turntable/arm so I may be totally off base here. Do you have an antiskate adjustment for the arm? This can cause mistracking often attributed to improper vtf. Just a wild guess on my part.
The T3 is a linear tracker, so no AS adjustment.

I've never used a T3 but I just read this in the manual:

IMPORTANT: With some cartridge, the arm may have a tendency to "dive" forward. If so, adjust the back and front rails by tipping the rail slightly forward so that the flap at the end of the tonearm remains in the photo-sensor of the pilot arm when the cartridge is down on the record and rises sufficiently when the arm is lifted up horizontal. The arm should be halfway across the record.

Adjust the 4 screws under the corner of the rail accurately so that it is perfectly horizontal between its front and back supports.

When the above operation is completed, tighten the 4 horizontal screws attaching the rail to the lateral sides.
I'm not sure what that means. Heck, I'm not even sure it's English! But it might help to check that mechanism.

Just a shot in the dark. Good luck!
thank you. Where, may I ask, did you find this manual? I don't have any of this information and thought I had done a fairly thorough search for documentation.

It may not be English to you but, to anyone familiar with the arm, it makes sense.