AT-VM95ML Skipping / Possible Anti-Skate Issue

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by WithinYourReach, Mar 7, 2021.

  1. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I'm totally stumped and figured I'd turn here for a little help on what I can do to fix this. I took in the delivery of a new AT-VM95ML cartridge yesterday and a AT-HS10 BK headshell from LP Gear to install on my Technics SL-1610 MK I.

    The turntable and platter is level. I zero the tonearm, set the tracking force to the standard 2 grams as stated in the manual and use my stylus alignment protractor to make sure the outer and inner point is perpendicular. Azimuth looks correct and I set the anti-skate to 2. I take a record to test everything is setup correctly and the stylus skips inward as soon as it lands on the lead-in groove.

    Surprised, I setup the Nagaoka MP-110 cartridge the AT-VM95ML is replacing, do the above procedure and it tracks perfectly. No anti-skating issues. I repeat the procedure with the AT cartridge and the stylus skips inward again. I haven't had any issues up until now with this turntable and am surprised that this is happening with what appeared to be fairly easy installation. Does anybody have any tips to figure out what I could be doing wrong or what I'm missing as far as setting up this new cartridge? Thank you.

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    Last edited: Mar 7, 2021
  2. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy, TX
    What is perpendicular? It's true the null points are perpendicular to the spindle. Is this what you're referring to? What protractor did you use? ML styli have to be precisely set. And from your description, you aren't precise enough. In my experience you should recheck the overhang. Use an arc protractor. This will set the null points exactly to where they need to be. Then make sure the cantilever is parallel to the hatch lines on the target. Use magnification if necessary. Magnification is very helpful because it removes parallax. You'll like still get some parallax as the lens will distort the hatch lines. Just make sure what you are seeing is mirrored. Do this at both targets and trace the arc to make sure you haven't altered the overhang. Installing an ML cartridge is not an easy installation, I can assure you of this.
     
  3. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    Location:
    SW Washington, USA
    I’ve had my ML and other AT’s do that when they’re new. Try lowering the stylus as gently & slowly as you can into the lead in groove. Try to avoid that outer raised lip area of the lead in groove. This gets better after a few hours of use if it’s the same issue that I’ve experienced.
     
    knotscott likes this.
  4. Guildx500

    Guildx500 Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    Is the tonearm cue rest dropping completely out of the way when you lower the arm? Sometimes you have to adjust it for different carts.
     
  5. AKA-Chuck G

    AKA-Chuck G Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington NC
    So you checked the VTA I suppose? You want the tail end slightly up giving you close to a 93% downward slope.
     
  6. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I apologize. I meant to say it is squared when the stylus is resting on the bullseye. It's a Hudson Hi-Fi protractor. I don't have magnification, but it is parallel to the lines for the overhang as best as I can see. I think I'm just beginning to learn how sensitive micronline styli are compared to elliptical.
     
  7. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I tried that and it seems to work a bit better easing in with the cue lever, but it still skips quite a bit on various records I tested because of what seems to be the anti-skate pulling it inward.

    Yes it does. I'll look at adjusting it up a bit tomorrow and see if that helps.

    Yes, the VTA is correct as close as can tell with my protractor.
     
  8. deniall83

    deniall83 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Australia
    I'd say this is anti-skate related. The dials can be tricky to work out. I once had to set the dial to 4.5 to achieve correct anti-skate with a cart tracking at 2g.

    I'd set using the Soundsmith method and ignore the numbers.

    https://www.sound-smith.com/faq/how-do-i-adjust-anti-skating-my-cartridge

    I can't stress enough how much better this method is than anything else I've tried. It eliminated so many issues for me and it made listening to records a much more enjoyable experience.
     
  9. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I really appreciate it and bookmarked the link above. I'll take a look at it and work on this when I get home tonight.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
  10. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Fish tacos.

    Location:
    San Diego
    Is it only on the lead in groove or other parts of the LP? My vm95ml (also using a HS10 headshell) takes a little ride on the lead in groove occasionally. It's certain LPs with a pronounced raised lip. Another poster mentioned break in time for the suspension which makes sense. It's only a medium compliance cart..a little stiff??
     
    Coltrane811 likes this.
  11. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    It does both when it lands on the lead-in and then skips every few seconds while playing.
     
  12. woodpigeon

    woodpigeon Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Zealand
    If it’s skipping, the tracking force might be too light. It could be worth verifying it with a scale.
     
    Big Blue and patient_ot like this.
  13. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Fish tacos.

    Location:
    San Diego
    OK. Yes it's another issue. Anti skate probably not the issue IMO. Perhaps you can try the Technics alignment tool (52mm from headshell rubber washer to stylus distance) and re-confirm VTF with an electronic scale.
     
    rcsrich likes this.
  14. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    If you replace the stylus guard and then balance the arm, does it show any hesitation or anything deviating from smoothness, when you tap the arm left/right?

    Try this first with the anti-skating set to zero.

    Then set the cartridge towards the spindle, and slowly increase the anti-skating and see if the cartridge is pull back towards the arm rest.

    It could be a bad stylus, the fins are pretty durable but they can break. But I think you'd be able to hear a lot of distortion when the thing isn't skipping.
     
  15. deniall83

    deniall83 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Australia
    To elaborate on my reasoning for thinking this is anti-skate related, a couple of years ago I went through several turntables and cartridges before I really started taking anti-skate seriously. One of the issues was similar to the OP where I was getting aggressive skipping when lowering the needle and intolerable levels of sibilance. Using the Soundsmith method to set anti-skate completely eliminated these issues on even cheap carts like the AT95e. It may or may not be the issue here but I would still suggest spending the time to get anti-skate set correctly to atleast rule it out as a culprit.
     
    33na3rd likes this.
  16. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I did dial up the tracking force to max suggested 2.2 g, but unfortunately didn't make much of difference. Still skips, just not as often.

    I did confirm this and the arm works as it should with anti-skate at zero and then moving back towards the rest when dialing up.

    I examined the stylus under the pocket microscope I have and it looks pristine as best as I can tell. I'm chalking it up at this point that the cartridge just isn't working well with my turntable.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2021
  17. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    After fiddling around with trying to get the cart to work for an hour or so last night, I'm just going to reinstall the MP-110 that still has more than half of it's life left and just save the VM95ML for the SL-1210 GR I plan on purchasing this summer. I really appreciate all the help folks.
     
    Big Blue likes this.
  18. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Sweden
    I just need to read this part to say, you probably just need more Anti Skate. My SL1210GR needs to max out at 3 Anti Skate with 2 grams of VTF to be in a good spot.
    Ive confirmed it with the Deadwax method, sometimes the Anti Skate mechanisms are weaker than the numbers suggest.
     
    WithinYourReach and 33na3rd like this.
  19. woodpigeon

    woodpigeon Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Zealand
    Did you rebalance the tonearm before setting the tracking force for the VM95ML?

    The MP-110 weighs 6.5G, and the VM95ML weighs 6.1g. Without rebalancing, the gauge on the counterweight could be reading incorrectly, resulting in tracking force that’s too light, causing the skip.

    One of these cheap scales will save you a few grey hairs: https://www.amazon.com/Musou-Turntable-Backlight-Tracking-Cartridge/dp/B071P9VZ5Q
     
    WithinYourReach likes this.
  20. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    When I push it up to the max 3 anti-skate it still skips, just not as much. :sigh:

    I did. I always rebalance whenever I switch out a cartridge. No problems as I've said previously with the MP-110, but when I rebalance with the VM95ML it gives me the issues stated. I actually use that same gauge. :)
     
    woodpigeon likes this.
  21. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Sweden
    Then maybe the whole Anti Skate function needs re calibration. Have you tested the blank disc method?
     
  22. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I have. With the VM95ML installed, and the anti-skate and tracking weight set to 2 & 2, it drifts inward quickly. Bumping it up to the max 3 for the anti-skate with the tracking force still at 2g it still drifts towards the center, but a bit slower. With the MP-110 it tracks perfectly at 2 & 2 so I'm a bit flummoxed. Also, when I adjust the anti-skate to 0 it drifts inward, and up to 3 it drifts outward as it should.

    I'll probably take the turntable apart when I have some free time later this week and check the anti-skate spring under tonearm assembly to see that everything is working correctly inside. It doesn't take too long, and maybe I'll find something I'm not seeing outside.
     
  23. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Fish tacos.

    Location:
    San Diego
    How about this- Are you sure the stylus is seated correctly in the 95 body? Removed it and re-seated it? I figure you have inspected the cantilever as well for any crooked/twisted issues. Anti skate doesn't make carts skip across the record, especially if the Nag 110 is working properly on the same table.
     
    WithinYourReach likes this.
  24. rcsrich

    rcsrich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    Hope you figure it out- the VM95ML is a great sounding cart! It's really disheartening when you have something like this happen...gah!
     
    WithinYourReach likes this.
  25. WithinYourReach

    WithinYourReach Resident Millennial Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I did when I was first having problems. I removed the cartridge from the headshell and re-inspected the cantilever to make sure it's going straight down the middle and put them back together. Attached it back to the tonearm and checked to make sure both the azumith and alignment are proper.

    Me too! Especially after hearing lots of praise and positive stories of how good it is. I'm definitely not holding these issues against it, because I'm pretty sure it's the not the cartridge causing the problems. I'm sure I'll get it working one way or another whether it's this table or the GR down the line. Just gotta keep getting at it when I get the time later.
     

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