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  1. #1
    Forum Regular simmel's Avatar
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    Most confusing set up on turntables

    What is it? For me it's Anti skate.
    Tracking weight and cartridge line up etc are all simple (if you have the correct gauge), But anti skate, I know what its supposed to do and why but getting it right is a bugger. I have mine set up the same as my tracking weight, but is it optimum I really don't know for sure. I have a small knob on my RB 300 to set this, but how the hell do you know if its right or not. Is there a simple way to find out without buying one of these so called test records which I don't think would help me at all??

    Or am I getting paranoid.
    Onkyo P304 M504 pre/power combo.
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simmel
    What is it? For me it's Anti skate.
    Tracking weight and cartridge line up etc are all simple (if you have the correct gauge), But anti skate, I know what its supposed to do and why but getting it right is a bugger. I have mine set up the same as my tracking weight, but is it optimum I really don't know for sure. I have a small knob on my RB 300 to set this, but how the hell do you know if its right or not. Is there a simple way to find out without buying one of these so called test records which I don't think would help me at all??

    Or am I getting paranoid.


    My Rega RB 250, in my opinion, applies too much antiskate force at the marked values. I have a disc with no music on the second side and set antiskating using it. I adjust the antiskating until the tonearm moves neither to the center nor to the edge.

    There is a way to do it by ear. Start playing a record with the antiskate set at zero. Slowly increase the antiskate until the right channel sounds as solid as the left. If you go too far you lose the depth of the sound stage.

    Enjoying analog requires a fair amount of paranoia.
    JohnMichael
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  3. #3
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    Never use the markers on the antiskate dial. Get a test record with FIM distortion tracks. Really good carts will work o.k. in a wide range of skating when everything else is set up correctly, but I've found that the right amount coincides with my needle not going onto the loudest Hi Fi News track on its own. That's a spring-based system, though.

    In general, you set antiskate to max and add downforce just until the worst FIM distortion tests clear up on the right channel sufficiently. Don't expect perfection, but if the buzz is not overt and instead controlled and subtle you're fine. Then ease anti-skate down until the left channel buzz goes away and the right channel goes overt crazy-bad buzzing. Then add a bit more back to tame it back down on the right side. A little occational, very faint noise on the left is normal. If you overweight the cartridge, you might screw up the supension or at the very least rob yourself of the best high frequency transient response and stereo separation.

    The hardest thing for me to get right is VTA, which is usually slightly different from the arm at absolute level if you want it to be optimal. It depends on the actual mounting of the diamond, the stylus condition, the suspension condition, and just natural differences in manufacturing from tip to tip. To do it right you're supposed to use a high frequency test tone on a test record, and either a scope or a spectrum analyzer. As the tone plays, you adjust the tonearm base height dynamically to the spot you get the loudest high frequencies. I still need to find a test record with all the necessary tones and sweeps, though. Until then, I've just been leveling the arm

  4. #4
    nightflier
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    Or get a good CD player.

    Sorry, I just had to say it. I know it's a pain and I'm just as prone to the same self-flagellation every analog listener puts himself though, but sometimes it's just too much work for too little improvement. I'll admit it, my LP setup is so far out of adjustment that I'm probably not getting the best out of it, but there's a limit to my patience too.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular simmel's Avatar
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    Some good replies there. I have been looking through the net and have come across quite a lot of conflicting answers to setting up AS, but one of the best and simplest I found was this:

    Obvious the same has to happen in vertical direction ; proper adjustment of tracking force yields in similar sonic benefits as proper AS adjustment does.

    To give you a figure, actual skating force is almost constant over the tonearm's sweeping angle and it is about 8 to 10% of the tracking force.

    peranders, you ask why elliptic styli have different AS forces than conical ones. I have no comprehensive answer for that. IMO each stylus has a slightly different AS force/tracking force cocktail because friction differs. According to what i described below, i would not trust any AS scale printed on a tonearm. I would trust my ears only.
    7. Adjust the skating force to zero and prepare yourself for a mean experience. The right channel will not show dynamics at all; it will sit in the corner totally bored and ignoring you. The left channel will sit in its corner like an evil ghost, considering to attack you in the next moment. It will sound very dynamic in a way that numbs the left half of your body. However, the dynamics will be nightmare-like artificial.

    Now you increase the skating force to a quarter and then to a half of the expected value. You will sense that the right channel comes more-and-more alive and the left channel sounds less dynamic, intimidating and artificial. This reduction is less than the increase of dynamics in the right channel; the while system becomes more dynamic. You increase now the skating compensation by *very* small steps until you reach a point where left and right channel sound equally dynamic. Then you increase further very small steps; both channels will grow more dynamic. One step too far and both channels loose their dynamics completely and sound dead. So you go back to the position where dynamics and microdynamics were maximum.

    8. Note down *all* positions, scale readings, input impedances/capacitances and so on (you may want to mount another cartridge later and then find you loathe it) .

    Done.

    I never had the skating compensation's scale read above the
    tracking force scale, always below!
    Usually 60-70% of the value expected by the scale prinited on the tonear
    m.

    I think that puts it in the best context.
    Onkyo P304 M504 pre/power combo.
    Systemdek 2X2 turntable RB 300 Arm Origin live modified
    Denon CD player (to be upgraded as soon as I have more cash)
    Sonus Faber Minuetto Speakers Bi-wired on Sonus Faber stands (Brilliant)
    Kimber 4 TC speaker cable
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  6. #6
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    Using a test record is a lot less placebo prone than listening for "microdynamics", though. What sounds lively on a moderately hot pressing will sound distorted on a loud pressing with a lot of fast high frequency transients. I'm all for lively, but you have to set a cartridge up at its optimal capabilities for loud records without over-burdening the suspension on it. Assuming the cartridge is good enough to get acceptable results in the first place (i.e. low cantilever mass and nice overall construction/design) doing anything else either will ruin the stylus prematurely or ruin your records.

    FIM distortion is the sound of the diamond vibrating in the groove and therefore damaging it. That's why using terrible cartridges or incorrectly set-up carts for a while and then improving this and you'll see your older records appear significantly damaged even with the new set-up. They are damaged. All this stuff really is a bit complicated, but I certainly wouldn't go by subjective listening like is being suggested. What sounds good to you can change depending on if you've just woken up or it's late and had a little wine. Keep it empirical. Physical alignment and FIM distortion are not subjective. Neither is high frequency extension.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular simmel's Avatar
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    Yesterday I gave it a go using my ears, I don't have access to a test record, and who knows what abuse these have been put though if you bought or borrowed one second hand. New ones I've seen don't seem to have everything that you want on them and cost between 25 and 30 pounds sterling. I don't change my cartridge every day, in fact the one I have at the moment, a very good AT OC7 has been in there for a good few years, so for that price test records are OUT.

    I did my listening test using a variety and mixture of music from classic to jazz of which I am familiar, including:
    Wynton Marsalis, Trumpet concertos
    A lynn audiophile record of Carol Kidd
    Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins, Neck and Neck
    Oscar Peterson, A tribute to my friends
    And a few others.

    I checked my cartridge alignment and TW using a Shure gauge and kept the arm setting as per the AT recommendation (1.5gm).
    I used the neck and neck record for the initial test, starting with the AS at 0 and went up in small increments. It sounded terrible at these low settings all distorted left channel and nothing on the right, when I got to 1.5 which I thought would be the optimum it was a lot better on both channels but still sounding a bit flat, so I moved it up a bit more to around 1.8, at this setting the music started to really come into its own, not distorted or flat just nice and clear transients, the sound staging was perfect.
    Oscar Peterson's piano sounded like he was playing live in my living room, and the guitar of Joe Pass on the same record I've never heard it so clear before and I've played it hundreds of times. Stereo separation on the Paul Desmond-Gerry Mulligan "Two of a Mind" Lp, was excellent each sax coming out of its allotted speaker. The most surprising was "Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, when the alarm clock bells went off it made my hair stand on end.
    I went through all my test records just to make sure they were all the same, and they all sounded brilliant, I've never heard my Turntable sound so good, and that's no exaggeration.
    Last edited by simmel; 02-28-2009 at 12:37 AM.
    Onkyo P304 M504 pre/power combo.
    Systemdek 2X2 turntable RB 300 Arm Origin live modified
    Denon CD player (to be upgraded as soon as I have more cash)
    Sonus Faber Minuetto Speakers Bi-wired on Sonus Faber stands (Brilliant)
    Kimber 4 TC speaker cable
    Cord Cobra 3 Interconnects.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Glad to read you have had success.
    JohnMichael
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  9. #9
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    yup, it's a pain in the ass

    but at least most of you guys here have markings on the anti skate settings...

    with my luxman, the anti skate setting is 'just another weight' on the tonearm (3 in total)

    As John mentioned, enjoying analog requires a fair amount of paranoia. But it's definately worth it!

    Keep them spinning,
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  10. #10
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    My anti-skate options are just three notches where you hang the string that holds the weight. I've listened extensively to each notch, also to no weight at all by setting the weight on the deck. I find the differences to be very subtle on my turntable. The center of the image just moves a little in one direction or the other. Records in poor condition sometimes skip less with the weight removed from the hook, so that may continue to be an option. Otherwise, it'll be 2.

  11. #11
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    Hi Fi News test record is the best for checking antiskate and azimuth I've found. Supposedly the pink noise can be used for VTA, but I have yet to try that. I'll post back when I have success with it. There is another one that is not as good with the FIM distortion tests, but has lots of test tones. I'll probably pick that one up soon.

  12. #12
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    Correction: there's a new version of the Hi Fi News record called the "producer's cut" that is an even better pressing and has squeezed in a flat frequency sweep for checking VTA and frequency response. I'm still looking for a reasonably priced one with all this, plus the dedicated 10khz VTA tone.

  13. #13
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    I use a blank disc to test my Anti-skate. What I've found out is that RB-250 offers more responsive but less precise adjustment than the Technic's OEM arm.
    Both are great arms when adjusted properly.

    If you are applying the same "indicated number" of VTF and anti-skate read from your tonearm, you are most likely tracking your stylus with wrong force. Notches on your tonearm is just an indicator for your reference only. It never offers correct amount of forces in grams.

    I track @ 1.8g with stated 1.2g of anti-skate on my Rega arm, and 1.6g with anti-skate force read @ 2.65 on the Technics. I think being paranoid of your analogue setup is a great start. Getting a test-disk (or a blank) and a VTF scale will result to better music while prolonging your LP and stylus. One more thing, make sure your TT is as level as possible. You probably know this already but a Circular/Bull's Eye level will only confuse you. Get a normal spirit level from a harware store. I once borrowed a $900 precision level from work and almost went crazy....... I don't recommend that for anyone.

    JRA

  14. #14
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    I use a blank disc to test my Anti-skate. What I've found out is that RB-250 offers more responsive but less precise adjustment than the Technic's OEM arm.
    Both are great arms when adjusted properly.

    If you are applying the same "indicated number" of VTF and anti-skate read from your tonearm, you are most likely tracking your stylus with wrong force. Notches on your tonearm is just an indicator for your reference only. It never offers correct amount of forces in grams.

    I track @ 1.8g with stated 1.2g of anti-skate on my Rega arm, and 1.6g with anti-skate force read @ 2.65 on the Technics. I think being paranoid of your analogue setup is a great start. Getting a test-disk (or a blank) and a VTF scale will result to better music while prolonging your LP and stylus. One more thing, make sure your TT is as level as possible. You probably know this already but a Circular/Bull's Eye level will only confuse you. Get a normal spirit level from a harware store. I once borrowed a $900 precision level from work and almost went crazy....... I don't recommend that for anyone.

    JRA
    A blank LP is a good starting point for setting anti skating. However, friction from the stylus tracking the groove is not taken into account with a blank disc. The correct setting is almost always higher than for a blank LP. It's all about simple physics. The drag of the groove causes more skating.
    Set it by ear after the blank has got you in the ball park. If you have the test gear the HFNRR test LP is the best way. Basically, you adjust the skating for equal distortion in each channel. Before you go this far your VTA and SRA should be properly set.
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  15. #15
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    A blank side is also not always even effective at all with various forms of antiskate systems. Some produce more at the beginning of the record, others more at the end, and some (such as those Pro Jekts with the little pully weight) are continuous across the tonearm range. And as JoeE said, it's not necessarily correct when it's no longer moving.

    The only purpose of really having a manual VTF/downforce scale, is to duplicate your results later. I use one to match both my DJ decks to the same setup. But adding sufficient downforce using a test record does not require you to know the exact amount in use. You just add until FIM distortion clears up with full antiskate on the right channel, etc, etc.

    By the way, I have the Hi Fi News "producer's cut" edition afterall. The frequency sweep with the OM 5E came out looking very midrangey and hour glass-like. Hmm... The pink noise tests were also not particularly useful for VTA with Sound Forge's spectrum analysis. I really need to get a record with continuous high frequency tones.

  16. #16
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Joe, Reticuli,

    Very good information and I always appreciate experienced insights.
    We missed to you too much, Joe!! Also, it's nice seeing a new analog contributor!

    It seems once I get the tonearm to balance, I have about 0.2~0.3g of slack where tonearm doesn't move. I think it's about time I get a test LP, but for now I'll just keep playing by ear.

    Have Fun,
    JRA

  17. #17
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    A problem with your bearings?

  18. #18
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    It is possible, but I doubt it. I'm guessing the viscosity of the silicon fluid damper has something to do with it.

    Then again, it's a horrible DD with S-shaped arm. JK

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