SH Spotlight Newbies getting started playing vinyl, please avoid mistracking & resulting groove damage!!!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. Going to open myself to abuse here ...... I've never used the anti-skate on my current or last TT's (Project 1 Expression / Project Debut)
    If everything is set up right, what is the benefit ??
  2. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    The benefit is keeping the cantilever centered in its suspension. The skating force tends to force or bend the cantilever outward, toward the outside edge of the record. Most turntable enthusiasts take great care to set up the cartridge, and we make sure the stylus is tangent to the groove with minimal error, but skating force throws everything off. The degree of cantilever offset or lean to the outside depends on the compliance of the suspension. A high compliance cart will be highly sensitive to skating force vs. a low compliance which the cantilever would remain centered, despite any side forces.

    A high compliance cartridge makes anti-skate more important.

    My first turntable was the original AR. It has no anti-skate! However, the arm motion is dampened by light machine oil in a pedestal/well type bearing (sleeve bearing).. While this isn't ideal, and not as free as other precision bearing types, the slight "resistance" of the bearing mitigates some of the skating force. Also the wire loop at the pivot helps to counter skating forces. Both of these are not precise, and one could argue not intended by the designers, to be an anti-skate design. My original Shure M91-ED always sounded great, no problem with any mistracking nor inner groove distortion.

    When the tracking force is set near the middle of its range, the skate of the arm, the side force should not cause any mistracking. But again, the cantilever WILL respond by leaning off-center. What we should all be aware of.. the max skating force is at the outside of the record, but also an area least affected by tracking error. As the arm advances near the inner groove, skating forces decrease dramatically. The cantilever should remain centered, therefore the sound not affected (or not much) by the lack of anti-skate. I am attempting to explain why no antiskate does not seem to affect the sound (much if at all) since only the outer parts of the record are affected, but, the bend of the cantilever that causes tracking error will not be audible (or minimally) at the outer bands of the record. I hope I've not caused any confusion on these points.

    The result I had on the AR does not necessarily apply to other turntables of different design.
    Certainly anyone can choose not to use anti-skate. But it's important to understand its function, and that anti-skate does more than apply equal pressure on the groove wall. The centering of the cantilever is perhaps more relevant.
  3. bettsaj

    bettsaj “I'm in competition with myself and I'm losing.”

    I think I need a new turntable :cry: It's a standard Kenwood P-66 which you can't change the anti-skate, or the balancing of the arm.... All pre-set. I'm happy with the rest of the system (Kenwood M85), but the turntable lets it down to be honest... Cheap and nasty
  4. monkboughtlunch

    monkboughtlunch Senior Member

    Steve, was your bad experience with the Shure M44-E due to the elliptical profile — or was it due to the Garrard changer’s velocity trip lever requiring more tracking force than was optimum for the Shure, thereby causing mistracking as the arm struggled in vain to fluidly move the trip lever arm and friction pawl?

    The Shure ellipticals were their higher tier offerings of the mid to late 1960s aimed at audiophiles; so it seems odd that the elliptical profile just by itself would destroy records unless the Garrard changer was intended for a conical with a high VTF.

    I would think that an M44E in an Empire or Rek O Kut transcription table would deliver superb performance for the era and not destroy records.

    The fatal problem with a lot of changers from the 1960s was they would mistrack unless they had very high tracking forces to move the velocity trip lever to engage the change cycle.

    Also, the 1960s changers usually had fixed cartridge screw mount holes so overhang could not usually be fine tuned. This could also contribute to mistracking.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  5. monkboughtlunch

    monkboughtlunch Senior Member

    Steve is this what your Concord looked like? It appears that is a Garrard Model 30 changer.

    Did this come equipped originally with a Ceramic flip stylus that you removed -- or was the magnetic Shure M44-E installed at the factory?

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  6. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing

    My SONY HP-485 stereo turntable (circa 1970) was pretty great and quite an upgrade from my little transistor radio in 1971. It never destroyed a single record and I still have many of those 50 year old vinyl platters that still play like new some even look NM, and most are VG+ with very little surface scuffs)...even with that record changer dropping three or four platers atop one another. The changer stopped working in about 1990, and but the turntable actually played perfectly until about 4 years ago.

    It stopped playing my music after more than 40 years. And had some of the best tones I've heard on this kind of unit. It has the ubiquitous Garrad turntable and I never upgraded my Pickering stylus/cartridge. Never felt the need. (Mine had no integrated radio)

    Granted my new stereo unit upgrade now runs circle around it, but it sounded great and got me through decades of fantastic music. Great memories from my SONY HP!

    I still have the beautiful solid walnut speakers and they sound great!


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  7. nosliw

    nosliw Delivering parcels throughout Teyvat! Meow~!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    To summarize this topic, low-end players from the past (portable players, the vast majority of BSR changers and bulky wooden consoles) and present (suitcase players, players with a fake counterweight and anti-skate, to the plastic crap like the Audio Technica LP60) are to be avoided if you care about your records.
  8. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forever Changing

    For sure. But in 1970, I was a teenaged kid and my ol' SONY stereo was the bee's knees. Since before that it was a portable plastic "toy" two inch speaker mono player...the kind from which audiophile nightmares are born.
  9. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Los Angeles
    Wow, sorry I didn't see this before. Very close. Mine had a more upscale looking arm but other than that.... Man, hello 1972. Wow.
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  11. denesis

    denesis Forum Resident

    Arlington, WA
    Here is a link I found useful in reminding myself which shape stylus that I own:

    Can You Explain the Different Types of Styli? | Audio Solutions .

    I have the OC9/III cartridge/stylus assembly from Audio-Technica. I discovered its merits almost by accident, as I had incorrectly assumed that inner groove distortion was simply an inherent limitation of vinyl. It always sounded so vibrant and the beginning of the side and verged on fuzzy crap near the end.

    It was a revelation that the inner groove distortion was not merely reduced by this cartridge, but, as far as I could tell, absent entirely. Also, a relief that I hadn't previously played my records all that much with inferior styli so as to cause noticible and permanent damage to them.

    The only other detail I know of my carriage setup is that my tracking force is 1.7g, which is fairly light as I understand it. I don't know what azimuth adjustment I might have, if any. It's not my goal to be infinitely tinkering with my setup. I'd prefer to just set it and forget it, if such a thing is possible. One and done,and then just enjoy the music.
  12. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Some records will play with IGD regardless of the stylus, due to how they were cut. And while line contact and microline styli are usually superior to other types, it depends on the record. I was quite surprised recently when an old mono 45 played back with less noise and distortion with a conical stylus than with a microline stylus.
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  13. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    I suspect Steve's Garrard changer didn't cope well with that M 44-E. It needed heavier tracking forces for the automatic trip mechanism to work well with. It would have been happier with a M 44-C. My Shure M 55E is just fine (no mistracking problems in my Dual 1019).
  14. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    I have used Pfanstiehl replacement styli for my M97xE and these replacement styli actually work great, better than the original stylus.
    bhazen likes this.
  15. greasepaint

    greasepaint Loser's game.

    Lexington KY
    I have a vintage Beogram 2400 turntable with the original MMC 20EN cart. I'm looking to replace the cart (with integrated stylus) with the equivalent Soundsmith model soon. This will be a "plug and play" upgrade and there is no need to for agonizing adjustments. MAYBE that outweighs the inconvenience of having to replace the whole cart? (a Soundsmith rebuild of the original would cost about the same). I don't think this set up entails a "cheap" diamond per the OP from our host. Never noticed inner groove distortion or remarkable wear and tear -- perhaps because the arm is so light.
  16. BrentB

    BrentB Urban Angler

    Midwestern US
    I am pretty lucky overall from my youth. My original Police/Synchronicity got a lot of play on and old Garrard changer system and therefore "Synchronicity II" is unplayable on that copy anymore. I had a pretty fair amount of records and most did not get played to death and have survived to this day.
  17. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    True, sometimes it's just the dang record! .. More about this, the conical will work well on some records, and this is something we can just go with, and not question it. But just a word about IGD and the conical, just one cause of IGD, as there are many other causes (that could drive one crazy) The conical does not guarantee an IGD problem on some records. At least I have found this to be true in my experience. One of the benefits of the conical, it isn't fussy about perfect alignment in the groove. It is very forgiving of tracking offset errors, as its groove contact is small, and circular... and is itself, "circular". You could rotate any circle at any angle, and it's still a circle, and will make contact on tangent lines, such as a record groove still at one point on the lines and at the same linear point. In other words, the contact points in the groove line up directly across, no matter how badly the cartridge is lined up. The more complex shapes, such as an ellipse will be more fussy, as the contact points become askew with any misalignment of the cartridge. This is also aggravated by any tracking error within the arc the arm as it travels across the record surface.

    This is getting more technical than I intended, but moving forward...

    A line contact becomes more fussy in its alignment in the groove. Misalignment will cause IGD, in such case.

    But, on the other hand, how the record was cut will determine how conical friendly it is. The more highly modulated groove can be a problem. The conical has an inherent flaw in its tracking ability, known as "pinch effect". Pinch effect occurs as the narrower part of the groove, between its peaks, forces the stylus upward. This upward movement is not part of the music cut into the groove. The stylus can further mistrack during its forced upward movement, thus produces distortion. A well manufactured elliptical (0.2 x 0.7) or hyper-elliptical maintains a better relationship to the groove, closer to the cutting stylus, and so it isn't forced upward as much as a conical. A shibata and line contact do not exhibit pinch effect at all, therefore much better inner groove tracking, especially on difficult passages.

    So, why does a conical sometimes play with lower distortion, and cleaner sound at the inner groove vs a line contact? This is a good question to ponder on. One reason I mentioned previously, is the record itself. A less loud record will have lower groove pitch, or an easier obstacle course for the stylus. Groove pitch is the physical angle of the groove, that the stylus must negotiate. The greater the groove pitch, the greater the narrowing of the groove between peaks. This occurs most at the inner groove, where groove pitch is the greatest. Just to repeat, on a less loud record, or a quieter song, maybe an acoustic piece, the conical will not have as much upward pinch effect.

    Another possibility for lowered distortion with a conical, would be relative to groove wear. When a stylus does not "hit" the wear area in the groove, we have cleaner play, sometimes a complete lack of distortion and noise. This is especially the case with smaller conical styli, say at about 0.6 mil, as opposed to the usual 0.7 mil. The smaller stylus will always track deeper in the groove where wear isn't present. And, because of its small contact area, can easily miss the wear pattern in the groove. (a shibata or line contact will hit it every time) I have played 45's with visible wear within reason (not a totally blasted record) on a 0.6 conical and enjoyed a very clean play.... which otherwise would play horribly on a 0.7 conical or elliptical.

    Sometimes it's all about what works, and that's the bottom line.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2022
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  18. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Soundsmith does excellent B&O re-tips, etc. (I have purchased two.) Highly recommended.
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  19. marcfeld69

    marcfeld69 Forum Resident

    I'm not that knowledgeable but are you sure that the Special Elliptical is the same as a line contact? That's what I thought for a long time, but then I read somewhere here on anther thread that, in my case, the Denon-110, wasn't actually a line contact. I could be wrong. It's a great stylus, though.
  20. VisionThing

    VisionThing Forum Resident

    I was listening to The Smiths - The World Won't Listen on vinyl last night. All fine up until A6, "Shoplifters" (about my favourite Smiths track) where I started noticing some pretty blatant groove distortion. Next track was "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" where it was still there but noticeably less so. It's a very clean copy, so not much reason for excess groove wear on just one track unless it's something I can't see. Previous record was A Certain Ratio - To Each..., which played cleanly to the very end. But then that has maybe 4 tracks a side as opposed to 7.

    Just spent a while rebalancing and calibrating the tonearm on my player, just in case, and it still persists. I think its down to this particular (rather bizarrely sequenced) album having such a cymbal heavy track near the end of a side, and putting something as sparse as "Asleep" opening side 2...had I been in charge that particular sequencing would have gone much differently.

    Considering upgrading to the Jico SAS needle for my M75ED type II, as I hear they're very good at mitigating IGD, but I know next to nothing about compliance and other things which are no doubt relevant.
    The FRiNgE likes this.
  21. greasepaint

    greasepaint Loser's game.

    Lexington KY
    If you don't mind, how did you ship the original B and O cart? The guidance on the site recommends using screws to hold a cart sent for re-tip/rebuild. Not doable with a B and O cart. Thanks for the info. I'm sort of "waffling" between a retip and purchasing the Soundsmith MC 20EN equivalent model (allegedly a much brighter cart).
  22. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    I don't recall with absolute certainty, but my recollection is that I still had an original 1980s plastic box from my Beogram, and the cartridge fits very snuggly in that. I think that's how I shipped it back, but it's been a few years now! I know for a fact that no screws were involved.
    greasepaint likes this.
  23. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Yeah, the larger inner circle diameter makes a difference. If we could turn the clock back, the LP would have been better engineered as a 13 inch disc, with a larger diameter inner circle. Your Smith's LP on band 6 may contain stronger (louder) treble content or mix of instruments that increase its groove pitch, the lateral angle of the groove. Band 7 may be easier to track, given its mix of instruments and vocals. Band 6 distorts (I am guessing) because of a more severe groove pitch, harder to track despite not being at the inner groove. It is always treble content from about 2kHz to 8kHz that causes mistracking.... not as often the higher frequencies above apprx 10kHz, which are naturally at lower level in the mix.

    It is the loudness of the treble that increases groove pitch (groove angle) and difficulty in tracking it. Some music simply contains a lot of treble, loud treble, and complexity of instruments and sound. Pinch effect also comes into play with conical and lower quality, cheap elliptical stylus shapes. (quality ellipticals are good trackers) An increase in groove pitch causes an increase in pinch effect, the leading cause of IGD.

    So, the groove pitch is determined by three things: frequency, loudness, and the linear speed of the groove. The worst case happens to be at the inner groove (lowest linear speed.. not the rotational speed at 33 RPM) and the treble frequencies from about 2kHz to 8kHz. This is where we have stronger signal at this treble bandwidth, and thus more severe groove pitch. To repeat, the highest harmonics above 10kHz or so do not mistrack, typically, and do not cause IGD due that these are not loud in most musical content. A little upper air goes a long way, down usually 20dB to 30dB from the midrange level, and so the high frequency groove pitch (lateral angle) on a record, will be lessened despite being higher frequency.

    A Jico upgrade may resolve the IGD problem. If it doesn't then consider a line contact cartridge/stylus. These do not exhibit pinch effect.. which again is the leading cause of IGD. Other remedial attempts do not get rid of pinch effect, not perfect alignment, not an increase in tracking force. Pinch effect occurs by stylus shape only, and as it encounters more severe groove pitch that it can not track properly. Nothing gets rid of it on a problem track.... other than going with a hyper elliptical, a line contact or shibata stylus. The record could be suspect, but more often it's the stylus that meets a groove it can not track.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2022
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  24. dzjc

    dzjc Forum Resident

    And yet, those of us who grew up in the 60s had crappy turntables, and still enjoyed the greatest music ever recorded. Go figure.
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  25. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    End of 2022 bump for one of my favorite threads! :)

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