Technics 1200MK5 anti skate? Is this right?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by aphexacid, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. aphexacid

    aphexacid Member Thread Starter

    I was at a record shop here in Chicago yesterday, and was talking with one of the employees about a new cartridge for my 1200MK5.

    He started talking to me about anti skate, and since I bought my technics preowned he said I have to make sure it’s working properly.

    He told me to take a blank cd, and put it on the platter and drop the needle on the cd. Then adjust the anti skate knob until it doesn’t pull in either direction anymore. And that’s what it should be set to.

    So I previously came from an LP120, and going by what the manufacture suggested, I set the anti skate to match the tracking force of that particular cart.

    So the current cart I’m using wants 2 grams of tracking force, so I have the anti skate at 2.

    But according to this guy, it should be set to what the cd “method”. Which from my test, 3.5 ish anti skate knob.

    It sounds fine, but I feel like the kid was just BS’ing me into selling him my technics.

    Can anyone give me some insight? Everything I’ve read says to set it to match your cart
  2. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Dropping the stylus on the CD won’t simulate skating force that is created within the groove while playing a record. I don’t think he was necessarily BS-ing you, this is a commonly suggested method, I just don’t buy that it’s effective.

    I think the Technics anti-skate mechanism is generally known to be pretty reliable, but the verification that makes sense to me is to observe whether the stylus pulls to either side while a record is playing. If it stays perpendicular, you should be fine.
  3. Angry_Panda

    Angry_Panda Vacuum Tube Socks

    Ditto what @Big Blue said - you can set the anti-skate this way, but in my experience it seems like the further I get from a conical stylus into advanced stylus shapes, the less this method matches other methods of setting the anti-skate (usually requiring much higher settings than expected) - if I use this on my AT VM540ML, I wind up off scale on the anti-skate, which is just wrong (I run that at .5, based on trial and error over the past nine months or so). Best way I know to check is a combination of visually - making sure the stylus isn't being pulled to one side or the other when it drops in the groove - and audibly - centered stereo, and no pronounced distortion in only one channel on a known good hot cut record. Test records can get you in the ballpark by making sure distortion is centered on the tracks for anti-skate, though some of those can also result in odd settings because they're so much hotter than anything you'll normally play, so YMMV.

    When in doubt, I start with it matched to the tracking force and go from there - it almost always winds up down from there if it moves.
  4. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    All the CD method is going to tell you is if the anti-skate is working or not. It's not the best method to set your anti-skate by a longshot, though is a method that some people like to use.

    Any older TT with a dial type anti-skate function typically uses a spring under the dial to apply AS. Sometimes that spring gets stretched over the years and you need to crank up the AS a bit to get the same amount of actual AS. If it gets stretched real bad, you'd want a new spring in there. Odds are, it's probably okay, but it doesn't hurt to check to see if it's working.

    Look up Peter L's videos on anti-skate. It's the method I mainly use and recommend for most people. You can ignore the numbers on the dial and set accordingly.

    Just remember all anti-skate settings are a compromise as the skating force varies across the record.
  5. aphexacid

    aphexacid Member Thread Starter

    Wow so the needle can pull to the left or right while playing? As in skip across the record? I’ve never seen that happen thank goodness.
    I have the time arm weight set to 2 grams and the anti skate a bit over 3. Everything seems fine, if I keep it this way will it ruin anything?

    thank you all for the help, this is all very interesting.
  6. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Skipping across the record isn’t what we mean by pulling, but that would be the most extreme result of skating, if the stylus was to lift out of the groove for some reason. What we mean is whether the cantilever skews to either direction as opposed to being vertical when viewed head-on.
    patient_ot likes this.
  7. Angry_Panda

    Angry_Panda Vacuum Tube Socks

    If it actually skips, something's very wrong. However, if you can get good light and a bit of magnification, watch the stylus and cantilever tip relative to the cartridge body from the level of the record surface when you set down in a groove - the cart shouldn't be trying to pull the stylus tip across the record surface either direction, it should stay centered the same way it does when the arm's up. If it's pulling against the stylus and cantilever one way or the other, you'll want to adjust to cancel that out.

    3 grams seems a bit high if everything's working correctly, though as noted by @patient_ot , these springs can wear out, so it's possible that's a factor. I'm guessing from your information you're using your AT 95, but which stylus do you have on this?
  8. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    If a Technics SL-1200 has to be adjusted contrary to the manufacturer's instructions for some other method of setting anti-skating to work, I suspect this should cause doubt that the other method is valid.
    Shawn and rawmacias like this.
  9. aphexacid

    aphexacid Member Thread Starter

    Yes I’m using the headshell and cartridge from my LP120 until I figure out which new cart to buy.
    So it’s the factory cart and stylus that comes with the LP120. AT95e
  10. Timbo21

    Timbo21 Forum Resident

    If you are to use this 'CD method' of setting anti-skate isn't it best to set so the arm drifts to the outside a little, since when it's in the grooves it's being pulled inwards.
  11. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    As Patient ot says and i agree with this
    All it will prove is that the antiskate is working.
    Bear in mind what another member
    Said , that Soundsmith who rebuilds cartridgrs and is therefore in a better
    Position to advise, and what he finds is that many styluses are worn on one side ( left, as viewed from front)
    Indicating OVERBIASING.
    The cd method can be used BUT...
    Arm should slowly drift to spindle.
    He suggests the ungrooved section
    Of runout groove and some lps have
    Better runout grooves for this test.
    I tried it. Takes a while to master as you have to be quick to drop arm and see
    Which direction it pulls before stylus drops in run out groove.
    Maybr easier with a cd.
    When a stylus is in the groove due to the offset on arm its pulled towards spindle
    Hence the need for an opposing force
    Usually applied by a weight suspended
    On a piece of nylon cord.
    Sometimes by spring, or magnets.
    Bias varies due to arm position on record and high transients.
    Test records are useful use band 2.
    300 HZ L+R at 14db is industry standard.
    Band 3 may require higher downforce
    Or bias.
    Now here we have a worse case scenario.
    Do i set for band 3, which equates to 1 record in 100 and means remaining 99
    Are overbiased and causing premature stylus wear, or use cd test, or follow manufacturers advice?
    I set as manufacturer suggests

    I can check results with test record.
    Often both agree.
    Often you can reduce bias and still pass
    Band 2 (Hi Fi News)
    Ond test is to listen after setting as i suggest to sound stage and channel balance .
    SME 1V definately wont pass cd test and arm flies in to record spindle.
    Yet when set as per arm calibration
    Gives best sound quality i have heard.
    That is a £3,000 tonearm. They know what they are doing believe me.
    Technics also know a thing or two as i set up a SL1210 recently for someone and found arm Calibrations accurate.
    Irrespective of test records which are useful but do encourage higher than normal vtf/bias.
    Try manufacturers setting and listen to channel balance and for any mistracking

    I am sure it will be fine
    bru87tr and The FRiNgE like this.
  12. Buisfan

    Buisfan Active Member

    amstelveen holland
    Take care, every stylus shape needs a different bias setting. Best is using a testrecord.
    The CD method works only with conical styli. Result almost identical with blanc record.
    My Thorens TD160 has a bias scale for conical, elliptical, dry and wet playback.
    Most other pickups have one scale only I think for conical styli only. So.....
    Bias setting according to manufacturers seems not important these days.
  13. Angry_Panda

    Angry_Panda Vacuum Tube Socks

    Shouldn't be a problem running this at 3 with an elliptical, based on my (limited) experience - ellipticals tend to want a bit more anti-skate than conicals (and the majority of what I've read tends to back this up), whereas both my microline and shibata seem to want rather less. If you can get a good look at the stylus when it touches down just to be sure it's not wanting to lean one way or the other, that's the easiest way to double check (again, in my limited experience).
  14. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Ditto again on what @Big Blue said, and @patient_ot
    The anti-skate setting at its maximum or minimum usually does not cause the stylus to skip a groove. Yes, there will be side forces but this will almost never be enough side force to cause a skip. If an arm bearing should be faulty, and "want" to skip, then any side forces could send the stylus to the tipping point of skipping... of course in such case the problem would not be the anti-skate, but rather the faulty bearing. Arm resonance can cause skipping... but again rarely if ever the cause from a normally operating anti-skate.

    The CD method as stated, will tell you if the anti-skate is working. This method can be a rough setting for the anti-skate. In the case of the Technics SL-1200, or any other Technics direct drive, the anti-skate is well designed and accurate. Just set the anti-skate to the tracking force, and you should be just fine.

    There is a lot of misunderstanding about anti-skate. First of all, the skating force varies over the record side, and from record to record. A more highly modulated groove may exert more friction or "pull" on the stylus, thus need for more anti-skate. So, any setting we decide on will never be perfect all the time, on every record. The stylus shape also calls for a different anti-skate setting. And, finally even a well designed antiskate will vary a little from turntable to turntable.

    Anti-skate is a precise science, but an imprecise application in the real world.

    My recommendation is always the same. I've had very good results by visual setting. I simply observe the cantilever on which direction it deflects, to the right, or left, as the stylus just settles into the groove.

    On the second band of a 12 inch LP, looking head on from the observer's perspective:
    The cantilever deflects Right, apply more anti-skate
    The cantilever deflects Left, apply less antiskate
    The cantilever remains centered, Let's rock n roll.

    Finally, the anti-skate can be and will be usually a little off. This is real world. No harm will ever become of a record, or stylus from very light side forces. The tracking force compensates for this to a high degree, so the stylus should remain planted in the groove and track exactly as it should. Let's not get too crazy with it, but get it as close as you can. Some audiophiles do this by ear, perfectly ok. Some use the CD method, not the most accurate, but better than nothing. Some just dial in the anti-skate the same as the tracking force, that's fine!

    Happy listening,
    Steve VK
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
    bru87tr, Shawn, recstar24 and 3 others like this.
  15. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    If making the stylus stand still on a spinning CD has any validity at all, every turntable ever made is wrong. What are the odds of that?
  16. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Milwaukee, WI
    I found one of the HiFi News Test Records at a local resale shop, I think it was about $5.

    Worked pretty well for verifying the AS settings.
  17. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    The problem is not making the stylus stand still on a CD. The problem is that the smooth surface of the CD is not a record groove. The tip of the stylus contacts the CD. However very differently, the SIDES of the stylus contact the groove walls. The skating forces will be very different, and require different anti-skate settings.

    We do not play CD's on a turntable, so the anti-skate setting on the CD really doesn't count as much, as setting it on an actual LP groove.
    bru87tr likes this.
  18. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    Agreed. And watching the stylus land in the groove does not replicate the effect of the friction force caused by the groove pulling on the stylus.
  19. Angry_Panda

    Angry_Panda Vacuum Tube Socks

    It will if the record's spinning at the time.
    The FRiNgE likes this.
  20. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    I disagree. I’ve never seen any proof or explanation offered for that.
  21. Angry_Panda

    Angry_Panda Vacuum Tube Socks

    ...? A stylus in a groove on a spinning record is subject to skating force; one which is above the groove (or in the groove of a stationary record) is not. If anti-skate is set correctly, in theory there should be no noticeable change in torsion on the cantilever as you move between the two states. (Unless I'm missing something, which - on a Wednesday evening - could be the case, I suppose.)
  22. Litejazz53

    Litejazz53 Turkey & Crystal Clear Digital For Thanksgiving

    Lots of people have lots of opinions on this anti-skate adjustment issue. Matt at VPI does not put much emphasis on anti-skate, in his opinion, a little bit will do ya! I beginning to agree with him, but let me share my experience and then give a reasonable recommendation.

    First let me say, the CD on the platter test kinda works, however if your anti-skate is not adjusted correctly, you can lower the stylus on your shiny CD and the arm may fly to the right, go off the CD and destroy the stylus as it drags on the mat, so don't do that. You need a much larger surface if you are going to adjust this way. Some old heads at this do recommend this way of adjusting anti-skate. If you are going to adjust your anti-skate this way, spend just a few dollars and buy this product, it's the size of a record, and you have many more spots to lower your stylus to see exactly where the anti-skate will pull your arm. You will also be able to set your cartridge up, and on the other side of the disc it is completely smooth for this exact purpose.

    Now here is the very real problem, many anti-skate mechanisms are absolutely not linear, meaning, depending on where in the large disc you lower the stylus, the anti-skate is not predictable and reacts differently. You may have the arm set say in the middle of the disc, and it is completely stationary, however, when you pick the stylus up and move it towards the spindle or out towards the edge of the record, that arm will NOT stand still, and the differences can be substantial.

    I set my turntable per the instructions and it was TOTALLY WRONG, as mine uses a magnetic pull, and the magnetic pull is either less or greater at many places on the smooth surface disc, so while it may be perfect in one spot, it's way off on another spot, how is that for great engineering. I would imagine you would have the same problems with a spring mechanism as well. At any rate, I had an ace in the hole with an old Shure tracking test record. What I found was my anti-skate was set about 4 times too high when set as the factory recommends it be set. The tracking record indicated it was as perfect as I could get it when I used the big flat Hudson Hi-Fi disc with a blank side, and adjusted as I am going to describe.

    So, it's a bit of a challenge, but I found the sweet spot. The exact reaction you want is for the arm to very, very slowly move towards the spindle, just barely, I would say almost like a very slight drift, that is the perfect anti-skate setting or as close as you will probably get. So, once your purchase the dual purpose Hudson Hi-Fi record size disc, flip it over to the smooth side, always be very careful that the arm does not jerk to the right or left, when you lower the stylus, which will show you are way out of adjustment. Drop the stylus towards the middle of the record, and try to get the arm to be still at that point first. Now try many points on the record, near the beginning and closer to the end and make note of how the arm pulls, which way it pulls, etc. You are going to find that better results will happen when you "reduce" anti-skate, try for a compromise with ALL areas of the record checked, I would say, check 5 different spots on the record and get as close as you can to the stylus slowly, very slowly drifting towards the spindle. When I adjusted mine this way, the Shure tracking record was very kind to me, it showed my efforts had paid off, and I heard virtually no mistracking until it reach very high levels on the disc, which is acceptable.

    So, that is the very best advice I can offer. Hopefully you will have a turntable with super linear anti-skating, then your job will be very easy, otherwise, you have to compromise and take the best adjustment considering all points of the record surface!

    Good luck
  23. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    I never managed to do that with 0 or max anti skating though. Seems like it would have to be pretty extreme.
  24. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden
    I think the CD method isnt necassarily correct, it can be depending on your goal.
    But I do think it shows that your anti skate on the Technics is unusually weak. It tends to stay still on a CD if it matches the tracking force.
    But Im still unsure if skating forces vary depending on where the needle is dropped.
    I think it does but not too much, so it may or may not be only one slight factor in this abnormality.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  25. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Uppsala Sweden

    But I havnt ever observed the stylus deflectimg left or right at and skate setting. Maybe I havnt looked hard enough.

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