Anti-skating pet peeves of Clearaudio Clarify owners

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by rajapaarvai, May 2, 2020.

  1. rajapaarvai

    rajapaarvai Member Thread Starter

    Hi, thought I’d share my experience with issues that I faced with my Performance DC which I hope may help those with a similar deck, especially with the ‘’infamous’’ Clarify tonearm.
    The Performance DC first; it took me a good 3 years to sort out a high freq buzzing noise. Tried every possible advice from forums ranging from swapping components, ferrite beads and turning off my refrigerator and everything in between.
    Spoke to Clearaudio via email; though Stefan was helpful and gave some advice, it did not help.
    Finally, the solution came from, guess where; the very Clearaudio Performance manual. It appears there is an additional grounding option at the bottom of the deck; below the motor. Majority of owners would not be needing this. I tried my luck by stripping ends of a cheap lamp cord and connected one end to the ground and the other to a wall outlet (only the earth prong).
    The buzzing totally vanished. Put a real big smile on my face, given the fact that I was living with a buzz while playing my record for 3 years. It was not annoyingly loud but it was there and audible. Now it was nothing but me and the music from my records. Bliss.
    Next the Clarify tonearm. I called it infamous due to Clarify owners’ main gripe; the magnetic tonearm and its sensitivity to footfalls. The bigger peeve would the anti-skating.
    Fortunately, I did not encounter such problems. I had mine mounted on a ¾ inch granite slab. Since the get go. However, I learnt a thing or two about how to dial in the anti-skating accurately.
    Btw, I use a Ortofon 2M bronze which requires a recommended 1.5g tracking force.
    The sequence may deviate from the norm but it worked for me.
    Assuming the tracking force is all set. Btw, I figured another thing here. The reading from a digital scale and my Shure SFG-2 greatly vary. When my dealer came over to my house to set the tracking force using his digital scale, the reading showed 1.5g which is the recommended TF. But subsequently when I used my Shure gauge (set to 1.5g mass) to check, the see-saw was not level. I had to increase the mass to 2.5g for it to be level. Then on, I used this as my reference for my Shure gauge. (I believe there is some write up regarding this aspect). So do note the variance between a digital scale and a manual gauge such as Shure SFG2.
    Back to anti-skating. I use a one-sided blank record. Mine is Donna Summer’s 12’’ of I Feel Love (Casablanca promo); btw this is a great sounding 12”.
    • Place the record on the platter with the blank side facing up.
    • Switch to 33RPM. Place the tonearm gently at the lead-in (Note there’s no groove)
    • See whether the tonearm slides inwards or outwards (You would ideally want the tonearm to glide inwards, slowly towards the spindle)
    • If it goes outwards (less antiskating force), turn the dial situated on the underside, below the tonearm. Turn clockwise (from a top view perspective) to increase the antiskating.
    • Place tonearm again on the lead in. See the difference. Soon you will realize which way to turn the antiskating dial in order to get the tonearm to glide inwards and towards the turntable spindle.
    • Adjust and readjust until the tonearm glides just slowly across the blank record towards the spindle.
    You are set.

    Mine has been just glorious sounding using this method for anti skating, esp for a magnetic arm bearing tonearm.

    Despite common complaints that the anti-skating always drifts, it need not. Mine doesn’t and remains that way. It only drifts when I make other changes such as arm height or change of cartridge.
    Think Peter Lederman of Soundsmith has mentioned a similar approach but using the inner lead-out groove of normal record.
    I found that for optimum results, use a 12’’ single sided record. There are plenty on the cheap. Village People, Lipps Inc 12 inchers just to name a few. And start from the lead-in.
    So for you Clarify owners, before you discount your tonearm, try the above method wrt anti-skating. It’s quite a good arm actually. The magnetic arm can be a boon instead of a bane.
    Do share your experience as well including your own tips and tricks. Would greatly appreciate it.
    TimWare and Larry Loves LPs like this.
  2. TimWare

    TimWare Curious Cat

    Oakland CA
    How do you define "slowly" when you say "glides just slowly across the blank record towards the spindle." Slowly & steadily, w/in 4 or 5 seconds. Thanks.
  3. Davey

    Davey NP: Merope ~ Salos

    SF Bay Area, USA
    Strange about the Shure force gauge, mine reads same as the digital, there was a thread here on it not long ago ... Mechanical vs Digital Stylus Pressure Gauge: What is More Accurate?

    I made a youtube video a while back showing how fast it moves when I use this method with a blank record, in my case usually the flip side of the great Melanie De Biasio Blackened Cities EP ... some people like to make it stationary, and there is an argument you can make for increasing the anti-skate that high (or even high enough so it drifts toward outside) to avoid mistracking on hotter cut recordings, but I tend to keep it set about here for the less extreme recordings ... with a drift speed roughly halfway between no anti-skate and stationary ...

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
    TimWare likes this.
  4. TimWare

    TimWare Curious Cat

    Oakland CA
    Yup, that's pretty much the speed that I settled with. A smooth glide across the LP, not too fast, but steady...
  5. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Im one of those that prefer stationary most of the time. Too much is better than too little in my book, as mistracking is no good.
  6. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Milwaukee, WI
    I have a hanging weight, so I have to compute the weight's size based on what I know about anti-skating. Then I use my test albums (some are just challenging music, others are actual test albums) to confirm they play without distortion.

    When I'm done, the stylus on ungrooved vinyl tends to be stationary and doesn't float in.
    Leonthepro likes this.
  7. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    I would expect that if challenging records and test albums are used.
    Phil Thien likes this.
  8. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Milwaukee, WI
    I guess. Although the very first time I tried the ungrooved vinyl method I actually expected the stylus to drift outwards, towards the lead-in groove.

    I was kind of surprised to see it float mostly in one spot.
  9. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Yes one would expect that, but since skating forces vary throughout the playing surface there can be some variation in the results depending on where one tests.
    Phil Thien likes this.
  10. Leroyd

    Leroyd Forum Resident

    I have recently taken delivery of Clearaudio performance DC with Clarify arm. It was set up by the dealer before I collected it.
    It sounds bang on but I notice the tone arm is not exactly parallel to the plinth. Is this normal?

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