More on VPI Anti-Skate

I just moved to my new Arizona digs from NJ. I plunked down the stereo (sounded awful) and discovered I lost the Vandersteen owners' manual. I just found it on line and was able to position the speakers properly, and it sounds much better. I have been using the anti-skate on my VPI 10.5 on Superscoutmaster with rim drive and all the other upgrades. I noticed, that the anti-skate mechanism was not functioning seemed to be sluggish..damped in its travel if you will. I remembered it operating silky smoothe. In the meantime I had added some damping oil in the arm. Much to my satisfaction, it added tremendous layering, tightened up voice so that it was between the 2 speakers rather than spread across the 2 speakers, etc. I noticed however, when I removed the anti-skate to drop some WD-40 at the pivot (which returned it to its silky self) that the sound was even better. I reported on these pages that the sound improved WITH the device, but I discovered that it improved the UNDAMPED arm. With damping, the a/s is a bit of a detriment. I took the oil out and repeated the experiment to see if the now properly lubricated a/s device was a help. Indeed it was, however, when I put the damping back into the arm, I preferred the damped arm without the a/s. As with everything, there are variables.
Harry prefers the arm w/o the anti-skate as well, that's why he originally designed it that way. He caved to pressure from others to add the anti-skate in later models, not for his taste, but to satisfy the customer demand.
When I had the 10.5 I also thought the arm sounded much better damped, but w/o anti-skate.

How much damping fluid are you placing in the well? Is the well 50%, 60%, 70% or more full.
Can you describe the difference with/without a/s? I have the same setup as you and I'm wondering if we're hearing the same thing.
I have a Scoutmaster/JMW-9 and have not been using the A.S. Any chance I am messing up my cartridge? The cartridge was installed by VPI using their o-scope.
Regarding the fluid level... If I look into the well with the arm removed, my fluid level is about 1/2 way up the cone before the shape turns into the pin. Remember however, that all cartridges are different. I am using the Benz Ebony LP. Listen for yourself. The fluid is easily removed with a Q-tip.

Regarding Jamnperry's question. There are many differences. When I was playing an Aaron Neville album, and with A/S, his voice was huge, spreading the entire area between the 2 speakers. Without the anti-skate, his voice was centered in 3 dimensions exactly between the 2 speakers. I sensed a kind of blurring with A/S that was cleaning up without it. My wife who is not an audiophile, knew immediately that no a/s and damped had a much more "lifelike" sound (as she described it). I suspect that although the A/S gizmo does its job as intended, it also provides a bit of damping to the stylus which simply may be too much in my system. This would explain the improvement using it with the arm not damped.

If you are using A/S and prefer it, there is NO chance of screwing up your records with its use. (don't drop the stylus on the record, don't drop the record on the floor, etc.)
Did you return to using a twist of the tonearm wire for A/S?
I wonder if your new room had something to do with this.
New room theory may have played some part, however, I can still hear some differences for the better as is under the earphones... Sennheiser 650 with balanced Cardas cable into Headroom Blockhead all balanced.
No twist on the wires
I'm just commenting on the WD-40. I wouldn't use it. It works great at first but after a few days it tends to get sticky, and gum things up.
The Lyra cartridge I have has a specific A/S setup procedure I'm going to play around with this weekend.
Thanks Stringreen. I agree that without a/s it does sound slightly livelier.. almost as if it was recorded a bit hotter. On the damping, I have the level high enough to touch the base of the arm. Lifting it up, I can see the sheen and slight drip of oil. I think it has to be fairly high but I assumed it had to touch the base to effectively dampen the arm. I would call it slightly warmer, relaxed, and maybe more layered in the front to back depth. Neither one is better, and I go back and forth as to preference. I like using the a/s partly because I don't like the occasional abrupt skipping into the lead track.
A/S procedure from the Lyra Skala instructions:
"Carefully adjust anti-skating force by observing the stylus and cantilever directly (as seen from the front of the cartridge) when the stylus is lowered onto a record groove. Any pulling of the cantilever toward the left or right means setting is wrong. Readjust repeatedly until the antiskating force is right, and repeat at various positions across the LP, again until the antiskating force has been set properly. It is better to do this adjustment visually as described above, rather than relying on the number-scales built into your tonearm or blank-groove test records."
I did this without any antiskate applied and the cantilever bends because the arm is pulled toward the center of the record. By slowly lifting and lowering the cartridge on a non-moving record (repeatedly) with no antiskate applied I can actually "walk" the cartridge across the record toward the center.
With a minimun of antiskate applied using the VPI devise (not the wire twist) the cartridge will lift and lower in exactly the same groove and not bend or walk.
I did not try this with just the wire twist, I did not do any listening tests, I've been using the VPI devise at the minimum setting, I just wanted to make sure it was working.
I think the VPI devise set at minimum applies more antiskate than the wire twist method and probably does so more evenly across the record without wearing out or losing it's tension.
Dampening fluid levels, I think, are a seperate subject.
I posted this for your information and to give you one more tool to drive you nuts, in any other forum we would be locked up or out.

Good luck,
MJGLO, did you notice that the anti-skating device can be set a number of ways. When the mechanism is adjusted so that the weighted arm that provides the reactive force is at its outmost point, the force is at its maximum. Very little outward pressure is exerted when that arm is low or high in its travels, since the weight is carried by the pivot. This maximum can be adjusted so that it occurs at the beginning, middle, end, or anywhere in between...with lesser pull at the intermittent points.
I have the loop at the top of the upright arm for the most leverage and least movement. I have the line length set so at the start of the album the outboard arm is at the 8:00 position, at the end of the album it is at the 9:00 position. This is very little movement and very little change of force between start and end of the album, I'm not sure it's even measurable with any tools I have. Side note, I only use one o-ring to support the loop in the line from underneath and no o-rings on the outboard arm.


Great thread. Hope the new home is all you hoped.

Your results map closely to our experiences using a TriPlanar/UNIverse and Cello's Graham 2.2/UNIverse.

As SirSpeedy first reported and we heard, the Graham unipivots also benefit from very fine, cartridge-specific adjustment of damping fluid around the bearing. It makes perfect sense that a JMW would do the same.

Most TP owners who hang around here have followed my suggestion to ditch the supplied metal AS weight in favor of something much lighter, to apply a very small amount of AS. We use O-rings and I believe VPI started offering O-rings with their AS option shortly after I mentioned that trick here. I should have patented that! ;-)

Without the anti-skate, his voice was centered in 3 dimensions exactly between the 2 speakers. I sensed a kind of blurring with A/S that was cleaning up without it... I suspect that although the A/S gizmo does its job as intended, it also provides a bit of damping to the stylus which simply may be too much in my system. This would explain the improvement using it with the arm not damped.
Exactly right, and easy to understand when you think about it. Just as with VTF, AS applies a constant external force to the stylus/cantilever. This presses the cantilever against the elastic suspension within the cartridge, which of course dampens transient response, limits dynamic extensions and smothers HF's. Just as with VTF, excess AS smothers and dulls the sound. Imaging loses precision because you've lost HF's, which our ears are most sensitive too when determining the direction, size and shape of a sound source. Images restricted to the lower frequency sounds from a source will always sound larger and more diffuse than images which include the higher frequency components.

Great observation picking up the relationship between well damping on a unipivot and AS. I suspect a similar relationship might exist with VTF. Sharing stuff like this is what makes this forum so valuable.

Thanks Dougdeacon.. It is wonderful here in North Scottsdale...only one problem.. I have yet to get the acoustics fine tuned in my new sound room (15x24 ft with 12 ft ceilings). I'm working on it though and every day brings me closer.