Need help - Set up Helikon using test LP

Over the weekend, I was setting up my Helikon on a Vpi JMW 10.5 arm using the Hifi News test LP and I ran into some problems. The table was a Vpi Aries.

There are four tracks (6 to 9) on the test LP to help setting up the anti-skate. They are 300Hz pure tones. Each track is a few db louder than the one before.

I played the lowest level track (track 6) and it was fine. The 300Hz tone was beautifully reproduced on both channels with equal loudness.

I than played the next louder track (track 7). The right channel immediately buzzed, indicating the need for anti-skate adjustments. I tried twisting the arm leads both clockwise and counterclockwise, one turn at a time, up to 3 turns; but the right channel buzz still persisted.

I also played the track 8, which is a few db louder than track 7. This time the right channel buzzed loudly for a couple of seconds and it jumped track.

The Aries has been perfectly leveled. I checked it with a bubble level and a 10” carpenter level.

The tracking force was set at between 1.75g and 1.80g; it is difficult to be exact due to the limited resolution of the Shure gauge. But in any case, it is at the maximum recommended value so I doubt that was the cause.

The arm was running dry, no damping oil added.

Has anyone tried this? Any help/comments will be greatly appreciated.
I just set up a TNT Mk.V and JMW 12.5 using a van den hul Black Beauty this weekend. I used the same test record and tracks to adjust anti-skate. I had no buzzing at all until the fourth and last anti-skate track. The VDH BB actually did slightly better in the TNT/JMW combo that it did in my LP12/Ekos combo. So, I think the arm is a good tracker.

Leveling the set-up is VERY important, but it sounds as if you are OK on that score. The only thing I can think of is to make certain the arm is resting freely and properly on the pointed bearing. I actually set it wrong once. Other than that, if it is aligned properly in the healshell, I can't think of anything other than a problem with the cartridge. Good luck.
Keep in mind that Harry W. doesn't believe in anti-skating and the cable twisting technique is only a remedy so it wasn't done by design when he conceive the arm. I had 2 years of experience dealing with Helikon/TNT5/JMW 12 that was exactly identiacal with yours. At one time, I twisted the cable so much that the azimuth was visually off and I still couldn't get rid of the unbalanced buzz. I tried just giving up and just listen to the music. However, I felt so uncomfortable just thinking about my less-than-perfect anti-skating tweak. Every time I heard something that I believed that didn't belong to the vinyl I just got up and tweak it for 30 minutes until I had the urge to break the damn arm.

I now live in peace with my Basis Debut and Graham 2.2. Although I still couldn't get rid off that unbalanced buzz completely, at least I have a knob to play with rather than that flimsy wire.

When you can't adjust the anti-skate with a particular arm, then you shouldn't be surprised when it has anti-skating problems. You might as well just get a different arm right away, because now you're going to have the same psychological reaction as the guy above. The arm is always going to be suspected, every time something doesn't sound right. It will drive you nuts.
How does the Helikon sound despite your problem?
How does the Helikon sound despite your problem?
consider investing in some setup tools from Wally. it is hard to guess at it, you need to take it a step at a time..cartridge alignmebt, vtf, vta, anti-skate...
Why not get a straight tracking arm like the old Souther or one from the Clearaudio folks and forget about antiskating? Much easier to set up too and you're listening to the LP the way it was cut. Just an idea....
I had an antiskate problem and it turned out the spindle hole my HFN test record was off center. Look straight down on the record and see if the arm is moving back and forth.
Excellent suggestion, Isbail! Happened to me as well once, should have thought of that!
Thanks for all the suggestions.

I am going to check the spindle hole of my copy of the test LP. I hope it is that simple.
One more suggestion. Call VPI (732-946-8606). I have found them to be extremely friendly and responsive.
Well, my copy of the test LP is off centered only slightly. I doubt it will cause the kind of buzzing I experienced. I am going to give VPI a call and will post a follow-up here if I find out anything.

BTW, despite the setup problem, the Helikon sounds very detailed and musical. I just love its layered soundstage and mid-range. My records from the 70's have never sounded so good. It is a little bright but I hope it will go away after break-in. I only have about 10 hours on it.
Sid...give the Helikon some time to break in.....It's going to get better!!!! And, yes, keep us posted!
The brightness of your Helikon will not go away. Helikon is a very revealing cartridge. Analytical and detail but I would not use warm and musical to describe it. Shouldn't use it with gears like Wilson or German Physics. Sonus Faber or Vienna may be better choices.
The brightness WILL get less and finally be gone. It takes time...about fifty and more hours was my experience. (Goldmund Ref, heavily mod. Souther lin.tracking arm, XLO limited edition cabling, Aethetics IO, Jadis 200,Jadis 500, Gryphon, Spectral amps to Quads, Sound Lab, Stax F1 and Plasma tweeters)
I just tested my Helikon using the HiFi News LP. I have a JMW-10 arm that has a 10.5 arm tube and bearing.

My results were similar -- except I also got buzzing on track 6.

Regardless, the cartridge sounds incredible. I have had mine for about two months.
Hummmmmm.....does this mean that I have to do the same??? I guess I'll get the Hi-Fi record and do the same and report back....I have the Helikon/10.5.Aries also.
I really don't know much about these things but it sounds to me that this might be more an issue with the tracking capabilities of the cartridge than the absence of a traditional anti-skating mechanism on the JMW. My Van Den Hul Black Beauty, which has a reputation as a good tracker, doesn't begin to buzz until track 9, the last track. (I have a JMW 12.5) Does the Helikon track the Hifi test record better in other arms? How much so?
Ok. I got in touch with Mike at Vpi. He told me to set the tracking force at 1.9 g for the Helikon, the manufacturer recommended maximum of 1.75g is not enough.

My arm wire may have too much glue on it and I need to loosen it up using a hair dryer. Right now if I twist the arm wire more than one full turn counterclockwise, it forms an "S" shape. It should form a smooth arc in order to function properly as a spring.

Mike also told me a procedure that involves using a dime to setup the anti-skate.

I am going to try all these tonight and will report back what I found.
Jackcob, the 12.5 has more mass and superior geometry over the 10.5, so it should be a better tracker. The reason that these Helikon owners are having problems, is that the Helikon is really too stiff in the compliance department for these unipivot arms. I try to tell people this, but nobody listens. It is a marginal match up, and that is why the tracking force needs increasing, and it buzzes on track 6 or 7. The JMW is a good arm, but it needs a medium to high compliance cartridge, not a medium to low compliance one. I have said time and again on these pages that unipivots are not good matches with low compliance, and I stand by that statement.

Thank you for pointing this out. I wish I had read your post so I would not have made the costly mistake. Despite the tracking problem, I do love how it sounds.
P.S. I just ordered the HR record yesterday. I will try it on my VPI Aries/10.5/Helikon and then switch to my Benz m2.......I should report back in a week!
I just want to report back what I did.

I spent the past weekend readjusting everything of the JMW 10.5. I increased the tracking to 1.85g. I also tried 1.9g as suggested by VPI but I found the piano lost some of its resonance. I like it better at 1.85g. VTA was adjusted using the tube level method I described in another post. I twisted the arm wire counterclockwise two turns and warmed it with a hair dryer until it formed a nice smooth arc. I lowered the arm base so that the arm bearing barely touched the damping oil. To adjust the azimuth, I lowered the Helikon onto the back (glassy) side of a one-sided 45-rpm record, looked thought a 10x magnifying glass, and adjusted the azimuth ring until the reflection of the stylus and the stylus lined up.

So what was the result? Well, track 6 was as beautiful as before, very stable, pure tone, absolutely no problem. There was improvement on track 7. The right channel still buzz a little but the buzz faded in and out. It sounded like it was at the edge, almost sail through but not quite. It still jump track on 8, no change. I don’t know what else I can do to improve it. I am afraid this might be the tracking limit of the Helikon with the JMW.

Anyone got better results?
Twl: I hear you! You're coming through loud and clear!
Cp, sorry if I overdid it. Sometimes it seems like I'm not getting through to everyone.
Sid, I just received my Hi-Fi teat record yesterday. I will test it on my Aries/VPI 10.5/Benz M2 and then my Helikon. I will report back.
TWL...your advice clearly seems as though you have great experience in this area. We all (vinyl lovers) thank you for your candid and straight forward remarks (although we sometimes don't want to hear the truth).
Let me check my cartridges out and get back to all.