Tracking force on Audio Technica 120Eb

How do you have your tracking force set with your AT120E cartridge?  
The tracking force range is 1.0-1.8, with a factory recommended setting
of 1.4.   For folks who own the AT120E, what setting are you using?


Ag insider logo xs@2xheadshrinker2
Personally, as a matter of fact, I'd void setting up any cartridge any lighter than 1.7g -- so here's my recommended setting. It also depends on your tonearm that you did not mention which is also part of VTF equation despite of manufacturer recommended setting.

Thanks for the reply and suggestions.  I've been experimenting with settings between 1.5 and 1.75 with good results so far.  Right now I am at 1.75 and I like what I am hearing. 

I am currently working with a used Pioneer PL 115D with it's stock arm.

Any other AT120E users out there?  What tracking force settings are you using?  

Yep. I confirm my statement. 
Your arm will benefit from even more weight I'd say over 1.8..
I'd recommend to try 1.8...2g range.

I will try and your suggestion and report back.  What advantage musically can I expect from using more weight?  I am new to analogue.

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First of all, your arm is medium mass which benefits more from cartriges with heavier tracking force than 1.4g. This can be compensated if the cartridge tracking force even slightly more increased from recommended settings. Try to increase to let's say 1.9 or 2g and see if there's difference.
I had similar deck set up with ADC type III cartridge that has 1.0...1.5g tracking weight that I had to set up to at least 1.8g to properly track record.
Tonearm is always part of equation.

I picked up a Sure tracking force gauge.  Can you recommend a strategy for choosing an optimal tracking force?  Lets say I try your suggested range of 1.8, 1.9 and 2.0.  What should I be listening for?  

Not only listening but also looking the way the cartridge tracks. You need to get that "button" where the traction isn't in exchange of sound.
I often may play warped record and see how stable it performs. Solo piano usually helps to hear various imperfections of playback. I test with inexpensive classical Denon series of recordings. I also use Super Analogue japanese pressings with piano music played by Ashkenazy, Cliburn... 
Just finished setting up Pioneer 117 similar to yours with AT120eb same cartridge. Found it tracks best at 1.75g.

Headshrinker and Czarivey,  I think you may have "possibly" solved my problem with the same cartridge; (however my AT  is 120E, not Eb which I assume is the newest version).  My table is a newly acquired vintage Thorens TD-145 which has been refurbished with some minor upgrades.  I have set tracking at the recommended optimal force of 1.4; I also tried 1.5g last week.

Today's session, tracking  at one 1.4g, the highs sound consistently tinny, and the bass and mids less full (though accurate) than  when I was running this cartridge with a Rega 3-24 (whose tone arm is better than the TP-60 on the Thorens)  I sold the Rega with the intention of getting out of analog. I guess there is sucker born every day, and I think I am one of them.

I am not a happy camper, but will try the czar's suggestions of tracking at 1.8 or 1.9 to see the difference in the sound, and also to see if 1.8 provides a noticeable improvement in the sound. I think the AT120E is a good cartridge, but considering Thorens reputation based on TD-145 model and other tables in the TD series, I probably should use a better cartridge like AT 440MLb  which I have read  that its frequency range is much wider. It also uses a "micro line' stylus, and the magnet structure supposedly will enhance the sound quality over earlier model of the 440ML.

The Thorens table  sounds great, and is remarkably quiet, but I would think twice about buying anything vintage refurbished, upgraded, or whatever  I am not trying to sound like sour grapes, but buyer's remorse is a bitter pill to swallow. 

Czar, if you have any other tips, or recommendations, let them fly.   Thanks, Jim


Hey sunnyjim,
How long have you had your AT120?  As my local dealer and several on the web have note, this cartridge benefits from a generous break in period.  How many hours do you have on it?

Headshrinker,  I have about 25-30 hours on the cartridge.   BTW, I took the Czar's advice and have set the tracking first at 2.00g, then backed it off to 1.75g.  Sounded better at least yesterday, but the highs are not smooth, also they are a bit tiny, and restricted. 

I am not sure this is best choice for a vintage Thorens TD-145 and its TP-60 tonearm. In addition the headshell is bigger than most current tonearms and the shell allows for very little back and forth movement to set azimith adjustments using a Geo Disc.   I need some advice and recommendation from owners or former owners of this table, as to the best and most compatible MM or highout put MC. at about $300-350, possibly lower

As a general rule it's advised to start at the highest recommended VTF setting (especially with a new cart or stylus), then try reducing VTF incrementally from there.  You won't be able to get a final setting until the cart is broken in or the suspension has settled down.

The idea here is to prevent what's called minor mistracking.  That's when the stylus loses contact with the groove momentarily, but does not skip or repeat.  It can damage the record.

Azimuth refers to having the cart parallel to the record surface when viewed from the front.  A Geo Disc is generally used for alignment. With a record player every adjustment effects all the others so it might be advisable to consider a particular situation rather than a general rule.  Different arms will have different mass, bearing friction, etc. and results will vary.  Don't forget to defeat antiskate when adjusting VTF.


Sounds more like VTA setting now needs to go higher according to your description. 
My best experience with budget HOMC was Goldring Eroica 2.5mV.
I was able to purchase it back 10 years ago $225 new in box, now OMFG, it's almost $1k. I've always been hunter of dollar per value and this cartridge at so lo price back than was equivalent to Mike Tyson who was able to easily KO substantially larger and bigger opponents in his prime :-).
Now price went sky-rocketing up -- no more Mr Nice guy, but still you may try to hunt for NOS one.