How often do you check vtf and anti skate on your turntable?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Glfrancis2, Sep 16, 2020.

  1. Tullman

    Tullman Senior Member

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I just checked and adjusted my setup because I switched carts not too long ago. I will leave it alone for now because my TT is tracking and sounding great.
     
  2. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    Location:
    south florida, usa
  3. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    I haven't checked mine in 25 years !:D
     
    Roycer likes this.
  4. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    I don’t do a check of anti-skating at all, anymore. I push the slider in to the mark per the instructions for the turntable. If another method is better, it seems it would be recommended by turntable manufacturers.
     
  5. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    Given my set up, once I've dialed it in, I rarely have a need to recheck it. The main table is on a Minus K, so level isn't an issue- the table and platform it rests on "float" on the Minus K and you can see visually how it lines up and is balanced. (There is also a small gauge on the front of the Minus K that shows "float level'). Since I use a linear tracker on that set up, I do keep an eye on how the record runs out- there is no "anti skate" adjustment as such, but you do have to set up the arm so that it behaves in a certain way as it tracks different parts of the LP.
    I used to be more neurotic and would get differing results with cheap-ish digital gauges. I finally bought myself the Japanese market version of the Ortofon gauge, and it is very stable in its readings. Occasionally, I'll readjust VTA for a particular record, but there are several measurement devices on the arm that allow me to mark and reset the rear arm height very precisely. So, knock wood, rarely these days, unless I'm switching out cartridges.
     
  6. formbypc

    formbypc Forum Resident

    If the TT and arm are well-engineered, the only time to check these should be at initial setup and if cartridge is changed.
     
  7. Nathan Z

    Nathan Z Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    It's things like that which convinced me to pay for a turntable with all the adjustments I would need. I'd be too scared to change cartridges without knowing I could set it up properly, not sure why.
     
    rcsrich likes this.
  8. billy1

    billy1 Forum Resident

    I always thought the right channel was on the inside of the record groove. Any cartridge I've had certainly suggest that - the back is always marked left on the left and right on the right - surely that puts the right channel on the inside.
     
  9. ggergm

    ggergm   If you want to   sing out, sing out

    Location:
    Minnesota
    Nope.

    Vinyl groove wall... which side is left & which is right channel?
     
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  10. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    3 decks running. Every few months. As a matter of fact did this yesterday and also checked azimuth. All spot on.
     
  11. billy1

    billy1 Forum Resident

  12. CCrider92

    CCrider92 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cape Cod, MA
    Not very often though I should check in more.
     
  13. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I have a raw wood wand arm, so I need to adjust VTF to accommodate changes in humidity.

    I mostly adjust anti-skate via test albums and watching for cantilever deflection for initial anti-skating and then tweak by ear.

    I've been using Ortofon 30's mostly lately and they're fairly compliant and also have a little sight for the stylus, so it is easy to observe deflection.

    I've noticed that the formulas derived for anti-skating that appear in published articles from the 50s thru the 70s call for a lot more anti-skating than I derive via my test/tweak method.

    The other methods (test records, ungrooved vinyl, cantilever deflection) provide lower values that all approximate one another.

    And the anti-skating required can really vary substantially by stylus brand.

    For example, the rule of thumb from years ago is that anti-skating should be 20% of VTF. So in my Ortofon 10 at 1.5g, that would be .3g times the pivot to stylus of 9.18", so I should hang a 2.75g weight 1" back from the pivot.

    But in the real world I need about 1.25g, so quite a difference.

    Otoh, an Audio Technica nude elliptical may need 2g or even 2.5g.

    Anyways, that is my story.
     
  14. jaddie

    jaddie Forum Resident

    Location:
    DeKalb, IL
    I'm impressed that someone has tried this! Yes, that's the correct method, except....
    Precisely. You have to set for a slow inward drift of you end up with too much anti-skating force.
    Obviously, you've never tried it! There were several test records published many decades ago that had a groove-less side or area. Yes, there's plenty of skating with no groove! Turn of anti-skate, and watch the arm make a bee-line for the center. Its why there were test records made this way.

    The real effect of anti-skating is to counteract the skating force that exists when a pivoted arm mounted stylus is in contact with a rotating surface. The presence of abscence of a groove makes minimal difference. What IS different is the contact velocity at the stylus tip. That changes the skating force everywhere on the record, so anti-skating force should correctly vary with position. Many methods use a simple weight system, which results in optimal anti-skating at only one point in the disc. There are other systems that provide a means to vary anti-skating force with position. However, it's all a bit obsessive too. The compromised systems are still very good, and just getting to the point where stylus force is equal on both groove walls anywhere is the main point. If it's a little unequal on the outer and inner grooves, its not a big deal. Still way better than not having it at all.

    Adjust for a slow drift, mid disc, to the center on the grooveless area, and you're good to go.

    In answer to the OP's question, I spend a LOT of time setting up at turntable, cart, and preamp. I calibrate geometry, forces, and RIAA curve tracking at the preamp output (possibly the biggest sonic influence, and nobody checks it). Once it's right, unless I change something, like swap in the head shell with cart and stylus for 78rpm, I don't change or check it again.
     
  15. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    . . . none of which explains why other successful methods (and test/setup LPs) exist. Of course I have tried a variety of anti-skate setup methods, including deadwax 'tracking'. I've found it to be inaccurate. It makes no sense for you to conclude, presumably, that because I prefer a different method I've never tried yours.

    If you are getting good results, that's the main thing.
     
    Phil Thien and TheVinylAddict like this.
  16. jaddie

    jaddie Forum Resident

    Location:
    DeKalb, IL
    I don't believe I made any statement about other methods at all.
    If you had, you wouldn't say this:
    Sorry, it made perfect sense to me.
    A groove-less surface, if anything, graphically illustrates skating force.
    Based on what form of confirmation?
     
  17. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I am not claiming that your method is wrong, rather only that I prefer a different method. The reason I prefer a different method, as I posted earlier, is that I've found I had to do too many subsequent touchups to the resulting anti-skate once I (or the person for whom I set up a turntable) began playing something other than deadwax.

    I use electrical output measurements of the cartridge, while playing a test track suitable for the purpose, the simple results providing sufficient data to make an anti-skate setting that works extremely well for most of the playable surface. I have found that there is less guesswork, more setup and measurement time, but fewer (or no need at all for) subsequent touchup adjustments once actual grooves are being tracked in order to play music.
     
    Phil Thien and TheVinylAddict like this.
  18. regore beltomes

    regore beltomes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Helenville, WI
    No matter how you adjust a/s it will only be correct at one point on the record unless you have a compensating anti skate.
    My Sansui FR-D25 has such a device. When properly set the arm can be placed anywhere on a grooveless record and will remain stationary.
    I only check VTF when swapping catridges. The SME type connectors are great for quick cartridge comparisons. I own about 15 different cartridges
    and each has its own head shell preset for correct vertical tracking angle on my preferred turntable. One of my favorites is the AT-92ecd.
    On my other turntables I set the a/s for the last two bands on the record. That seems to be the most critical area. Writing speed is also much slower.
    It's amazing vinyl sounds as good as it does despite all of its mechanical drawbacks !
     
  19. 1David

    1David Forum Resident

    Location:
    Collegeville, Pa
    I check mine once in a blue moon, or when I read a post about How often do you check vtf and anti skate on your turntable :). Just checked my Rega P8. All is good and I use the methode of setting anti skate as ~1/2 tracking force.
     
    Glfrancis2 likes this.
  20. jaddie

    jaddie Forum Resident

    Location:
    DeKalb, IL
    It would be extremely helpful to everyone here if you would clearly describe the procedure you use.
     
  21. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Hanging weight systems actually allow for compensating for radius.

    The hanger is typically arranged such that the string is perpendicular to the arm at the beginning of an album. As the stylus crosses the record, the angle decreases such that the pull is reduced. As the stylus approaches the center of the album, the wiring on many better arms start to apply some offsetting force.

    Not perfect but about as good as it gets, short of linear tracking.
     
  22. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    After leveling, alignment, VTF, VTA and azimuth have been set and checked, I connect clip leads from my Hantek 'scope to the phono cables. Using a now-aging HiFi News test record that has a stereo tone that ramps up in level, and with the turntable's anti-skate at zero or disconnected (depending on the mechanism) I watch for skating to begin causing distortion in the right channel. Apply anti-skate and rerun the ramping tone. Typically, the final anti-skate setting ends up being as little as 10% of what some of the TT and cartridge makers suggest. The audible results are excellent.
     
    Phil Thien likes this.
  23. jaddie

    jaddie Forum Resident

    Location:
    DeKalb, IL
    Very good. Have you ever actually measured the distortion levels? Distortion has to be pretty bad to be clearly visible on a scope.
     
  24. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I think that ‘scoping anti-skate doesn’t work very well when inexpensive tonearms with their average quality bearings, etc., etc., are being used. The main reason is that it takes a lot of energy, relative to whatever bearing friction is present and the relatively loose tolerances of such bearing assemblies, to have an effect on skating. Such tonearm bearings, to some extent compensated for when a higher quality cartridge is used, tend to store energy as anti-skate pressure is increased and then release it in the form of a sudden shift. Accurate anti-skate adjustment attempts using a ‘scope with such tonearm bearings mounted with even some well-designed mid-price cartridges can be an exercise in frustration. I’ve tried deadwax anti-skate adjustments on the lower-priced tonearm/cart with a similar lack of success quite often. Every method has its limits and proper applications.

    The ‘scope method is highly accurate when used with high quality tonearms and cartridges on high-quality turntables that are mechanically and electrically quiet. Because the tonearm pivot bearing tolerances are very fine and because the bearings have much lower friction and because the cartridge cantilever and stylus can then operate with less constraint imposed the pivot bearing, distortion shows up much more readily on the ‘scope. Every method has its limits and proper applications.
     
    Phil Thien likes this.
  25. jaddie

    jaddie Forum Resident

    Location:
    DeKalb, IL
    This is what I truly love about forums, on a personal level. They force me to confirm my understanding rather than to totally trust it.

    There are several means of compensating for radius, some hanging weight systems do it, others didn't. Then, there's an entire discussion if radius is even a factor at all.

    Information published by Shure says "radius has no measurable effect". And why? A letter published by the AES (no date, but likely early 1960s) by George Alexandrovich shows that radius-related skating force change is related directly to stylus force, with a graph showing that with forces below 3 grams groove radius effects nearly vanish. 3 grams? Yeah, this was the early 1960s.

    Other published papers seem to indicate that friction is the primary source of skating force, with groove modulation possibly contributing 10-20% of the total friction (depending on stylus force), record material formulation being a minor factor (softer vinyl offers more friction due to deformation), and groove velocity not contributing significantly at all. One reference claims that 78rpm shellac records have no skating issues, though that statement could be the result of the equipment and materials of the time.

    It's highly likely that the wide variation on opinion as to the contribution of radius is due to the progressively lower stylus forces made possible as time moved forward.

    Stylus tip shape has been cited as both a contributor and a non-factor, depending on what paper you read. In fact, there are many other "factors" that have been cited over the years as contributing to skating force. Most of them have also been called non-factors at some point by other authors.

    I haven't done an exhaustive study, but based on the information that floats to the top quickly, there are no two in-depth papers or articles that agree on the relative importance of all of the various factors, nor the best way to counter-act any of them.

    So the only real answer is that the entire process of antiskating is an attempt to compensate for a force, the magnitude of which is not specifically known, by a mechanism that achieves only a rough approximation of the exact anti-force needed.

    This is why it makes more sense to analyze the result, but also only to a point. What @Agitator suggested seems quite reasonable, monitoring a test record for distortion, but would be far more valid if actual distortion artifacts were observed on a high resolution FFT spectrum analyzer. However, it's still quite a bit of tail-chasing, because minimizing distortion with antiskating using a test record is valid only for that test record with that specific friction and groove modulation. So you think you're getting it spot on, then you put on a softer vinyl record with higher modulation and the friction goes up, skating goes up, and it's all off again.

    I strongly suspect that the effects of skating and antiskating calibration beyond the general will be below the point where listening for slight differences would reveal them clearly. Adjusting antiskating by ear would be fairly pointless. Which is why I've always adjusted for stylus drift to center on a non-grooved disc, and gotten close enough. Sure, grooves offer more friction, and surface friction differs by material with modulation contributing a little, but I do know that setting antiskating for zero drift at all on a grooveless surface is completely wrong, and adjusting for significant inward drift is much closer.
     
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