how do you determine anti-skate settings?

my tt (Origin Live Illustrious) has no scale for anti-skate, which consists of a little weight hanging from a string, connected near the rear of the arm. Is there any good method, or tool, or test record to use, for determining optimum anti-skate settings?
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Isanchez, I misspoke. I spoke to a Clearaudio distributor, not a rep. Granted, not an engineer. As far as "he should not be speaking on behalf of a company that designs tonearms with an anti-skate adjustment," I think he addressed that fairly clearly, as I stated. "If we don't have anti-skate available, some will think the design is incomplete or defective." Another words, it's window dressing. I'm not arguing with you....the reason I contacted my dealer (who put me in touch with the distributor), was because at ANY anti-skate setting I used, when the tonearm was lifted with the riser mechanism, it would move back towards the periphery of the record. If you lift the tonearm, and it moves, that's too much anti-skate. And I already had it at the minimum setting. That's when I was told to get rid of it entirely. Perhaps an isolated case? Not what he said- he was very clear that anti-skate is deleterious to both record and stylus wear. Surprised me, just as it surprises you.

Jim, appreciate your input. I use a unipivot Unify tonearm. The anti-skate mechanism is a weight that attaches to a small arm on the back of the tonearm. The nylon thread the weight is attached to is placed through a keyhole support wand that is part of the tonearm base assembly. Unless I'm a total stooge (not out of the question), my Clearaudio Unify tonearm/Champion Limited package has no magnetic anti-skate adjustment on it. Am I missing it somewhere (I do actually read the instruction manuals, LOL)? From the manual- "feed the anti-skate weight through the anti-skate support wand and secure it to the threaded shaft at the top of the tonearm bell." The threaded shaft has grooves in it- anti-skate is adjusted by moving the weight thread closer or farther away from the pivot point. No magnetic adjustment that I can find. I even tried moving the wand to different positions- nearly parallel to the tonearm so that the anti-skate vector would be more linear than radial- so that the force vectors applied to the tonearm by the anti-skate weight would be lessened. It was useless. At any position, weight or wand, the tonearm floated back towards the periphery of the record when lifted with the riser mechanism. That is too much anti-skate. If it can move the entire tonearm assembly on its' pivot, it's gotta be too much.

Physics or no physics, all I know is that I get more bass and a cleaner sound without anti-skate. Like someone else said, trust your ears. Just because anti-skate is there doesn't mean it MUST be used. There's a ground screw on the bottom of the CMB bearing on my TT. It's there on all Clearaudio TT's, I think. Do I use it? No. Do I need it? No. But it's there.....

Not trying to create a stink. Just passing along what, for me, was in a practical sense pretty useful information.
I think that some useful data might result if those who have used zero anti-skating in combination with high vtf, and also if those who have adjusted anti-skating purely by ear, were to indicate if noticeable left or right cantilever deflection occurs when the stylus is playing a record (as viewed from the front), compared to the cantilever position when the stylus is raised above the record.

Obviously this should be checked when a soft (low volume) passage is being played, so that any deflection is not obscured by groove modulation.

-- Al
Hi Afc,

Yes, the Unify that you have does have the anti-skating mechanism that you describe and not the magnetic type. You are exactly correct. In practice the effect of the settings would be the same.

As I mentioned, for whatever reason the Benz cartridges in particular like little to no anti-skating force when used with Clearaudio pivoted tonearms. Benz cartridges seem to me to work best on the Ortofon AS Series tonearm that I mentioned at about one-fourth of the recommended anti-skating force. This seems to be something a little out of the ordinary in comparison to other cartridges.

My most recent practical experience is with Benz, Clearaudio, Ortofon, and a few brands that I don't carry. The Ortofon and the other brands seem to perform as expected in terms of anti-skating force required in the Clearaudio and Ortofon tonearms. The Clearaudio cartridges seem to require less than the Ortofon cartridges, but more than the Benz.

To answer you Al, yes, I did make it a point to check the deflection carefully when I first ran into this because my first thought was that the setting could not be correct.

All of this may be true with the VPI arms as well, but I do not have any recent comparable experience with them.

But apart from this, I have personally observed better performance by running VTF in the top half, or near the top of the recommended force range on a number of catridges regardless of the anti-skating force.

But that's just my experience. I have worked with a number of tonearms and phono cartridges in the past two years, but far from any majority of them. I can only speak with any kind of knowledge about the limited exposure that I have had during that time. I will mention that I have had a number of customers mention that they get the most satisfaction by running cartridges in their rigs near, or at the top of their recommended VTF ranges.

But that may just mean that I'm not only guy out there with a tin ear.

Jim Pendleton
Osage Audio Products, LLC
I recently installed a Benz Ruby 3H cartridge on my VPI Clsssic - the local Benz distributor was kind enough to come by and set it up for me. After two hours of tweaking, we determined the set up worked best without any anti-skating and with the tracking force set just a bit more than recommended, from 2g to 2.10g (the tracking range of the cartridge is 1.8-2.2g).

Similarly, before this, I had a Clearaudio Concerto cartridge on the Classic, set up with no AS and tracking a bit over the recommended force.
This was told to me years ago how to check anti-ska.Find a record that has a large blank lead out with no grooves at the end of the record.With the record moving cue down the tonearm and see if it moves towards the spindle,if it does then apply anti-ska .You can do a little at a time ,when it is correct the tonearm will not drift at all.