Tracking force and Unipivot tonearms

I have a Benz Glider and the "recommended" tracking force is 1.8 to 2.2 grams. I am tracking at about 2.4 or 2.5 just to keep it in the grooves during hot peaks on some records. A audiophile friend told me it is not uncommon especially with unipivots to set tracking force at 10 percent or higher than the recommended tracking force. The cart sounds much more full, less sibilant and a more solid sound at the sacrifice of a less air at this heavier tracking force.

Has anyone else found it absolutely necessary to set tracking forces much higher than the recommended force? My friend said it will not damage the cartridge or records at 2.4 or 2.5 grams. He said I should not get hung up on recommended tracking force as all tonearms are different and that it is just the "recommneded" tracking force
That's pure BS. Provided you have a cartridge that has the correct compliance for use with unipivots, you should be using the manufacturer's recommended VTF. Higher forces will force misalignment of coil and magnet structures within the cartridge.
I am tracking at about 2.4 or 2.5 just to keep it in the grooves during hot peaks on some records

Probably you should think about a better Playback System when this way is the only one which works well for you.
I use Graham Arms for more than 10 years now and I am always at the lower end. But I don't use rattling turntables ... :-)
Is this true? I would not think 2 to 3 tenths of a gram would have this affect. I could see if I was tracking a full gram over the recommended weight may be a little too heavy. I noticed some of the other Benz carts go as high as 2.5 grams. The compliance is fine for my arm
Probably depends on the cartridge. I know that the Lyra Delos was designed to be tracked at 1.75 grams for the optimal SRA with the tonearm parallel to the record, but other cartridges might be designed differently and less prone to misalignment due to changes in VTF. I'd suggest to ask Benz and see what their opinion is.
I own a Benz Glider (on my Rega P5)
And I have owned unipivots in the past, and have one now on my Kuzma Stogi S arm.
If the downward force is a little high no problem.
You are well within a reasonable tracking force.
So do not worry about it.
As long as the cantilever of the Glider is not being pushed up too much when playing no problem (too much is just being able to see it really IS moving ( a millimeter) up when the stylus touches the Lp surface.)
You DO want the stylus to stay kind of centered in the cart body...
I would have to think something is wrong somewhere. I would want my setup to allow me to tweek the VTF up or down to fine tune the sound. I would start with your gauge. Are you certain it is acurate?
On many arms tracking force will change with changes in vta. If your scale is not measuring at EXACTLY the same height as a record then you may not be getting an accurate reading of tracking force anyways. Changes of a few tenths of a gram can easily happen within a few millimeters of difference between a scale platform and actual record height. If the cart sounds better and is tracking better my experience would suggest you are may be at a more ideal tracking force than previously. If you were saying it sounded less dynamic and kind of thick/muffled/bass heavy I might be more worried. Scales seem simple, but they can be tricky. It's worth investigating...
Your tonearm as mentioned dozens of times in dozens of threads, well, it sucks.
How old is your Benz? If it is new, it might just need some break in time.
The motto for VPI owners :-)

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"
True, much has been written about the shortcomings of the JMW9. The thing is that I never play my music loud, so I doubt that vibration is really a major issue.

I was intrigued on a more current thread where Jcarr eluded to the fact that many carts may not be designed with recommended tracking force and actual trackabilty at this tracking force. He mentioned that for many cartridge makers, the variance in recommended tracking force range is so great ex 1.7 to 2.2 grams as opposed to 1.7 to 1.8 grams. Why such a wide range of values?

Also, in this case Benz says the recommended tracking force is 1.7 to 2.2 grams. They do not say Caution: any tracking over this recommended range will damage the cartridge. At least I do not see it anywhere.

It is true that the Graham arm is a more expensive arm than the JMW 9 and probably much better. However I have a Denon 103 Cartridge which tracks perfectly through each track, no inner groove distortion and this cartridge is not a match for my tonearm as far as resonance is concerned. Tracks great though. Why?

Maybe my expectations are a little high for a table that cost 1800.00 I would think that I may not get the detail and quality of sound that is possible with a "better" arm but I would certainly expect it to track a record at this price point. This tonearm has been used on their more expensive platforms. Could it just be a cartridge issue? Maybe some just do not track as well as others? I have read threads with people having tracking issues even with the great Phantom tonearm. Maybe the recommended tracking force will according to the manufacturer "sound best" within this recommended range but may not track as well in this range? Is this possible?

my benz is older, but hardly used. That may be part on it
Syntax, that is a good point with regards to isolation and lower tracking force. I am sure better isolation does make a huge difference. I had an HRS stand for a while and it did make a huge difference with tracking as I remember. That may be a big part of it. Never thought of isolation being that important because I do notr play my music that loud, but i guess their are always some airborne vibrations and maybe the sensitive nature of better cartridges exploits this especially at the inner grooves. Interesting observation.
Tzh21y: I, too, had very infuriating tracking issues with VPI arm and Dyna cart; split-second crackle during "hot" piano and vocal outbursts. I'm currently enjoying flawless tracking and negligible inner groove distortion using a vintage AT130e cart on an extremely humble Technics DL 202 from early '80's.

So you say the Denon cart tracks with the VPI arm? That's fascinating. I'm obviously going to upgrade to a "real" TT again, but don't want to lose tracking ability again. I hope tracking is all about the cart.
Monty Python. lol
Difficult to be sure without being on site but change in VTF will change SRA at the same VTA setting. It may be worth while to adjust for a lower VTA setting and try 2.2g again.

You may have set the VTA too high and required a increased VTF to maintain proper SRA. This is done at the expense of misaligning the coil.

If your VTF gauge is thicker than the record, it will also measure a slightly higher VTF than actual VTF at the record surface.
I have done VTA adjustments until I was blue in the face. The comment by Jdaniel is interesting. After thinking about it, I am not sure if their is much difference in tracking when comparing what I remember in my first turntable, remember the old MCS JCPenney direct drive table and the Scout JMW 9. Maybe their is more detail and a lower noise floor with the Scout but I certainly expected a better result considering I paid $1,800.00 for it. It seems because of the antiskate that VPI does not believe in, it causes considerable wear on the stylus thus hampering performance. I mean if you spend a grand on a cartridge, you would want it to perform well beyond a month.
The denon does indeed track well on this table. However, after about a half hour, my ears feel like they are about to bleed
That's unfortunate about the Denon cart's sound. I, too, miss the lower noise floor and greater dynamics of my Scoutmaster/Dyna compared to my thrift Technics but that's about it. The AT cart throws a warm, detailed and "big" sound in which I revel daily, hooked up to Vandersteen 3a sigs, LOL. The ability to just play any record with complete confidence is priceless. I wish though I had tried the AT120 cart or 150mlx on the Scoutmaster before selling the whole thing. It just seemed so counter-intuitive.
I think the issue with the Denon is resonance. It sounds great. I just get listening fatigue with it. Maybe a higher mass arm would be perfect. That would be interesting to try one of those carts on my scout.
So what now, the manufacturer knows squat about what's the correct VTF for the products they design and make? C'mon, really?

Monty Python indeed.

I have to stir the pot just a lil' bit.
Great news! I do not know what I did but the JMW 9 is tracking perfectly now. No more sibilance, tracking distortion or anything. I am a very happy camper. I am tracking at 1.9 with a Glider. My VTA is lower than before(not parallel with record) but what I think happened is I must have hit the azimuth pretty close to perfect. I do not have a Fozgometer. I think I need to get one. I also used the Mint lp to align the cartridge. i tried to be as perfect with alignment as I could. I am finally enjoying my records.
Yes to the Fozgometer! I have one for my Super Scoutmaster with rimdrive and it has ensured that azimuth is properly adjusted for optimal performance. No more rocking of the tonearm- it plays rocksteady thru the entire LP. Fozgometer is easy to use with the test record recommended for it.
I have the test record, just need the fozgometer
Audiofiel....only by you...
Another "yes" for the Fozgometer, if you don't have access to an O-scope. I've never understood folks who claim they can adjust azimuth visually, they must have far better eyesight than I do! Even when aided by a small magnifier. It is chancy to rely on the cartridge body being perpendicular to the record surface since there is no assurance the stylus was mounted EXACTLY in the vertical plane.
Sorry stringbean, at the end of the day it's a pos arm.
Tzh21y: congrats, but keep us informed, in the end I had good days and bad days, ultimately infuriating.
Stringreen, I think we both own the VPI classic with the 10.5i wand. I upgraded my want to the Classic 3 wand.

Sorry to be argumentative, but Audiofiel is correct. When playing vinyl, I can only listen for 5 or 6 hours straight while working on my computer. I'm sure if we had a better arm, I might be able to listen 24/7. Thanks Audiofiel for the helpful comments!
I am not saying it is the best arm, but I have finally got the JMW 9 sounding very good with a Benz Glider. I will invest in a Fozgometer. I am sure that azimuth had a lot to do with it, not everything though. I still think it is a very touchy arm and I will not touch it no matter how tempted I get until I need a new cartridge or upgrade. I am still not getting the distortions I am used to. I am very happy right now. It is possible to get great sound with a Scout and with a JMW 9. It only took me 3 years. lol. Gosh, I hope all arms are not this difficult to set up. I have it set parallel to the record for medium weight vinyl. So for the 180 to 200 gram, it is a little higher at the cartridge end of the arm. I hope this continues.
3 years?

I guess if you throw enough darts, a bullseye is inevitable.
Hey guys, my last post was fascitious (sp?). Yes, it's true that the JMW wand is a challenge to set up properly. And oftentimes, carty compatibility may be an issue, as per my older threads. But right now, I am running my Classic with a VPI Zephyr carty and the system sings.

Bill (Audiofeil), I sincerely appreciate that you have a lot of experience with a lot of differemnt tables and arms. But maybe I'm just lucky because my Zephyr is set up perfectly using the VPI jig (Baerwald gemetry) and an old protractor alignment kit that has a tiny bubble level tube. The bubble level tube enables me to set azimuth and VTA perfectly!

So yes, the JMW wand is a bit of a PITA, but once set up correctly with the right carty -- it sings. IMHO.
If you have the standard 9" tonearm, I would suggest getting Soundsmith's Counter “Intuitive” as this will decouple the azimuth and VTF adjustments.

The 9" signature tonearm has a set screw in the end of the armwand to allow you to fine tune the VTF without affecting azimuth. For this reason, I moved to the signature tonearm shortly after purchasing the standard tonearm. I will never again purchase another tonearm not having discrete adjustments.
lol. I guess a bullseye is inevitable. Yes and a lot of aggravation to say the least. I will keep everyone posted as time goes on. Right now, it is working well. Does it sound like my friends Zeta, no but considering what I paid for the table and arm, I cannot expect that. It does appear as though this arm is very sensitive to the cartridge used. For future reference, I would like to know who is having success with this arm and what cartridge are you using? I am sure Dynavector has to be one that will work as it is endorsed by VPI. Other's? Benz wood, Lyra, Etc. I friend told me that Lyra would not be a good choice for this arm. Any comments?
If you know how to set up the VPI, it is a top level arm. It is NOT a pain if you know what you are doing. You DON'T need the Counterintuitive if you know what you're doing. I have my 10.5i tracking a Benz Ebony LPS with NO difficulties what so ever. I never hear buzzing, distortion from one or either channel, hum etc..... nothing. If anyone has difficulty with their VPI arm, please write to me with your problem and I will answer....or get in touch with Harry and he will guide you.
I had the JMW9 sig but now the JMW10 which is very similar sounding. Very good luck with my Benz Ruby 3, Lyra Helicon and Sumiko Blackbird. Not so much Shelter cartridges.
I was using a Lyra Skala in my JMW-9 on my super scoutmaster before upgrading to the 10.5i tonearm. Tracked very well on the 9" arm, sounded very good, no problems whatsoever.
Markpao....If indeed you have a Shelter, you will need a weight for the headshell, and it will be fine. The weight is VPI
>>If you know how to set up the VPI, it is a top level arm<<

Top level?

I don't think so.

Actually, having compared a number of them to other "top level" arms side by side, I know so.
Great news TZ, but honestly, for tracking ability and lack of inner groove "thinning" I prefer an old '80's Technics S arm and AT 130e to the VPI 9" w/Dyna cart, even the XX2. No, not as dynamic, not the same ultra-"black" backgrounds but otherwise, insultingly adequate.
Audiofiel...there you go again.....
Yup, right again stringbean.

Experience rules.

Thanks for your support.
>>If you know how to set up the VPI, it is a top level arm<<

Top level?

I don't think so.

Actually, having compared a number of them to other "top level" arms side by side, I know so.

Well, I think, we should be honest to ourselves. We all know, that everything out there is outstanding. There is no exception. We should be happy that we can afford it. And Fun counts. It is no secret among Audiophiles, when Son of God will return and he will listen to a modern Stereo System it will be LP12, Raven, Koetsu, Denon 103, of course with natural wood Tonearms for 12k or similar.
When an experienced Dealer like Audiofeil trys to snip and writes "ahem, there is maybe a difference..." we should be thankful to find an exception is this Hardware jungle. Yeah, I know, Life is good and can't be better. But, maybe a bit different... :-)
From my experience, there is a big difference in optimization ease between the 9” standard and signature tonearms regardless of whether “you know what you are doing” or are still learning. The non-signature tonearm does not have the set screw in the rear of the tonearm wand. The throwing darts analogy is how I felt after finally getting the standard arm configured. If the drill press wasn’t buried behind some boxes at the time, I would have tapped a screw into the counter weight in order to decouple VTF and azimuth adjustments. When talking with VPI, I was told the signature arm has a screw in the rear of the tonearm wand. Within the week, I upgraded to the signature tonearm. Not sure why they (continue to?) make the 9” standard arm without the set screw.

Stringreen: Remove the counter weight from the tonearm wand. Replace the weight and optimize the settings WITHOUT using the set screw in the rear of the tonearm wand. This is what is would be like setting up the 9” standard tonearm. If you try this, please post your results as I would be interested knowing how many darts you threw before hitting a bull’s-eye.
I will not touch the counterweight on the JMW 9 Standard at this point. I even frown when I want to change the VTA. Yes, there is a difference in a Zeta quality arm and the JMW 9 Standard. It is not even close. The Zeta is great. The soundstage, images and bass are so solid and dynamics are killer. Sounds more like real music to these ears for sure. Sometimes I wonder if the sound is inherently more solid with a gimbal arm vs. a unipivot. Not sure about this as I have not heard enough arms but I know the Phantom is a unipivot and I am told the images are very solid with this arm. Two things I do not like with the JMW 9 standard design is the set screw to adjust VTA. It seems like there is too much play in the threads and I do not like the antiskate. I do not use it at all.

JDainiel, that is pretty sobering but I do not doubt it.

I think I will get a Fozgometer. I think it is a necessity for me.
Actually the arm I was referring to is a Mission Mechanic