Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

always listening
BMRR
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
United States of America
Posts: 5516
Joined: 23 Aug 2013 03:48
Location: Maine, USA

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by BMRR » 08 Apr 2018 21:32

Well... yes and no. To be honest, I'm not so sure. I've used turntables that lack any kind of mechanical antiskating device, such as the classic AR XA and the original version of the U-Turn Orbit, and neither of them had any problems or issues with the lead-in groove or the inner grooves. In both of those turntables, the tension in the tonearm wires is said to provide "some" antiskating force... but obviously it's not precise and not technically "correct" for every cartridge you might install or every tracking force you might choose to use. And yet both turntables are great performers. Because of that, I'm inclined to think that antiskating isn't quite as mission critical as we've all been taught. Scientifically there's no question that it's important... but when I read posts from people who say "I set my tracking force at 1.93g and my antiskating at 1.89" I have to wonder A) how they heck do they set their AS to within 1/100th of a gram, and B) wouldn't you need a HUGE antiskating knob to be able to do that accurately and repeatably? :roll: :lol:

Quartz_Lock10729
senior member
senior member
Posts: 293
Joined: 17 Aug 2015 22:57

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 09 Apr 2018 20:04

BMRR wrote:Well... yes and no. To be honest, I'm not so sure. I've used turntables that lack any kind of mechanical antiskating device, such as the classic AR XA and the original version of the U-Turn Orbit, and neither of them had any problems or issues with the lead-in groove or the inner grooves. In both of those turntables, the tension in the tonearm wires is said to provide "some" antiskating force... but obviously it's not precise and not technically "correct" for every cartridge you might install or every tracking force you might choose to use. And yet both turntables are great performers. Because of that, I'm inclined to think that antiskating isn't quite as mission critical as we've all been taught. Scientifically there's no question that it's important... but when I read posts from people who say "I set my tracking force at 1.93g and my antiskating at 1.89" I have to wonder A) how they heck do they set their AS to within 1/100th of a gram, and B) wouldn't you need a HUGE antiskating knob to be able to do that accurately and repeatably? :roll: :lol:
I totally know what you mean about the 1/100ths thing -- sometimes I wonder myself what the heck I am dialing in when I try to set the microscopic hash marks of my turntable's AS knob to a "2.35" reading or some such ridiculous value; I have heard, though, that these AT-LP120 turntables are best used with a bit MORE AS than the tracking force number. So, if we're running at 2 grams, the AS should be close to the "3" marker on the dial or so... #-o

Boltman92124
senior member
senior member
Posts: 895
Joined: 22 Jan 2016 23:18
Location: San Diego

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by Boltman92124 » 09 Apr 2018 21:49

Quartz_Lock10729 wrote:
BMRR wrote:Correct. :) But there's also a lot of variability from unit to unit, so you'll probably want to experiment with it. For example, if the tonearm wires were shorter/tighter/stiffer in your TT than in most others, you might require a lower AS setting than other LP120 users. Or if your tonearm wires were longer/softer/looser, you might require a higher setting. It is this variability/inconsistency from unit to unit that results in some LP120 users reporting an essentially perfect turntable while others are able to list 10 or 20 things that are wrong with theirs.
Is there ANY way to tell if AS is working okay without floating the arm and instead monitoring performance? In other words, if I'm not getting any abrupt jumping-in at the lead-in grooves and if the arm is moving rather slowly to the spindle in the runout grooves, can it be assumed AS is working at least decently?
Hey Quartz= It's not the anti skating. You mentioned you put a DJ cart on at 3g and things were better. You've narrowed it down to the AT95e I think. Have you tried replacing the stylus? The 95e normally works very well on a LP120 at 2G, even with the basic 52mm alignment. A new needle would run you $25 or so. Sounds like the culprit. I have damaged a couple of 95e stylus'. They are pretty fragile..especially the cantilever.

BMRR
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
United States of America
Posts: 5516
Joined: 23 Aug 2013 03:48
Location: Maine, USA

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by BMRR » 09 Apr 2018 22:39

I tend to agree. If Quartz's AT95E has been behaving badly since it was new, my strong suspicion is that it's defective. And it's quite possible that the defect isn't visible to the naked eye.

Quartz, if you aren't able to get an AT440MLb or VM540ML right away, I'd highly recommend either getting a new stylus for your AT95E, or getting an Ortofon Omega; either one will get you by until you can get a 440 or 540.

If you opt for a new stylus, try the ATN95EX. Theoretically the revised version of the ATN95E should have the same diamond as the ATN95EX, but there's more of a risk that you'd end up with the old version or, worse yet, end up with a counterfeit. If you buy an ATN95EX from a reputable dealer, you'll at least know exactly what you're getting:

https://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Tech ... ent-Stylus

https://www.needledoctor.com/Ortofon-Om ... -Cartridge

Boltman92124
senior member
senior member
Posts: 895
Joined: 22 Jan 2016 23:18
Location: San Diego

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by Boltman92124 » 09 Apr 2018 22:45

BMRR wrote:I tend to agree. If Quartz's AT95E has been behaving badly since it was new, my strong suspicion is that it's defective. And it's quite possible that the defect isn't visible to the naked eye.

Quartz, if you aren't able to get an AT440MLb or VM540ML right away, I'd highly recommend either getting a new stylus for your AT95E, or getting an Ortofon Omega; either one will get you by until you can get a 440 or 540.

If you opt for a new stylus, try the ATN95EX. Theoretically the revised version of the ATN95E should have the same diamond as the ATN95EX, but there's more of a risk that you'd end up with the old version or, worse yet, end up with a counterfeit. If you buy an ATN95EX from a reputable dealer, you'll at least know exactly what you're getting:

https://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Tech ... ent-Stylus

https://www.needledoctor.com/Ortofon-Om ... -Cartridge


Also, with the 95 body, make sure the stylus is fully seated. It's easy to put it part way back on. There should be no space at all between the stylus assembly and the body. It is tricky to pull those off the first times you do it. It's kind of a upward pull but moving back towards the connectors. I bet alot of new people have broken tons of them.

Quartz_Lock10729
senior member
senior member
Posts: 293
Joined: 17 Aug 2015 22:57

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 10 Apr 2018 18:53

Boltman92124 wrote:
Quartz_Lock10729 wrote:
BMRR wrote:Correct. :) But there's also a lot of variability from unit to unit, so you'll probably want to experiment with it. For example, if the tonearm wires were shorter/tighter/stiffer in your TT than in most others, you might require a lower AS setting than other LP120 users. Or if your tonearm wires were longer/softer/looser, you might require a higher setting. It is this variability/inconsistency from unit to unit that results in some LP120 users reporting an essentially perfect turntable while others are able to list 10 or 20 things that are wrong with theirs.
Is there ANY way to tell if AS is working okay without floating the arm and instead monitoring performance? In other words, if I'm not getting any abrupt jumping-in at the lead-in grooves and if the arm is moving rather slowly to the spindle in the runout grooves, can it be assumed AS is working at least decently?
Hey Quartz= It's not the anti skating. You mentioned you put a DJ cart on at 3g and things were better. You've narrowed it down to the AT95e I think. Have you tried replacing the stylus? The 95e normally works very well on a LP120 at 2G, even with the basic 52mm alignment. A new needle would run you $25 or so. Sounds like the culprit. I have damaged a couple of 95e stylus'. They are pretty fragile..especially the cantilever.
When did I say I put a DJ cart on my LP120? :?:

I never did that. I've been using the 95e since I got the turntable.

Also: What did you mean by "it's not the anti skating"?
Last edited by Quartz_Lock10729 on 10 Apr 2018 18:56, edited 1 time in total.

Quartz_Lock10729
senior member
senior member
Posts: 293
Joined: 17 Aug 2015 22:57

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 10 Apr 2018 18:54

BMRR wrote:I tend to agree. If Quartz's AT95E has been behaving badly since it was new, my strong suspicion is that it's defective. And it's quite possible that the defect isn't visible to the naked eye.

Quartz, if you aren't able to get an AT440MLb or VM540ML right away, I'd highly recommend either getting a new stylus for your AT95E, or getting an Ortofon Omega; either one will get you by until you can get a 440 or 540.

If you opt for a new stylus, try the ATN95EX. Theoretically the revised version of the ATN95E should have the same diamond as the ATN95EX, but there's more of a risk that you'd end up with the old version or, worse yet, end up with a counterfeit. If you buy an ATN95EX from a reputable dealer, you'll at least know exactly what you're getting:

https://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Tech ... ent-Stylus

https://www.needledoctor.com/Ortofon-Om ... -Cartridge
Appreciate the suggestions; could be that my 95 was not working right out of the box, but that doesn't account for the fact that I DO have many pieces of vinyl that I play that sound fine on my system, notably beginning tracks...it's when the arm begins to get towards the end of a side that horrendous IGD and sibilance pops up.

BMRR
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
United States of America
Posts: 5516
Joined: 23 Aug 2013 03:48
Location: Maine, USA

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by BMRR » 10 Apr 2018 19:01

That's not surprising. Even bad cartridges will often sound good on the first track, because the first track is the easiest / least-challenging. The closer you get to the label, the harder the cartridge's job gets.

Boltman92124
senior member
senior member
Posts: 895
Joined: 22 Jan 2016 23:18
Location: San Diego

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by Boltman92124 » 10 Apr 2018 21:28

[/quote]

When did I say I put a DJ cart on my LP120? :?:

I never did that. I've been using the 95e since I got the turntable.

Also: What did you mean by "it's not the anti skating"?[/quote]

Sorry, got a couple of threads mixed up. #-o Honestly, the anti=skate should not have a dramatic effect on the sound like you describe though. It is just a fine tune for channel balance. And the LP120's is so weak anyway (I have one), that I don't even mess with it. Either the tip is damaged or alignment is dramatically off....if there is so much distortion..is what I think you said?.. #-o

BMRR
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
United States of America
Posts: 5516
Joined: 23 Aug 2013 03:48
Location: Maine, USA

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by BMRR » 10 Apr 2018 22:13

It could also be that the compliance of the stylus was mis-set at the factory. If they accidentally made the suspension too stiff — either by using the incorrect rubber "donut" or by misadjusting the compliance set screw — you'd end up with problems similar to what Quartz described. Wrong donut or misadjusted compliance screw would both be invisible to the untrained eye.

Quartz_Lock10729
senior member
senior member
Posts: 293
Joined: 17 Aug 2015 22:57

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 10 Apr 2018 22:55

Sorry, got a couple of threads mixed up. #-o Honestly, the anti=skate should not have a dramatic effect on the sound like you describe though. It is just a fine tune for channel balance. And the LP120's is so weak anyway (I have one), that I don't even mess with it. Either the tip is damaged or alignment is dramatically off....if there is so much distortion..is what I think you said?.. #-o
No worries; indeed, thank you for putting my mind at ease about the AS. I guess I'll just leave it alone, as you do, because I'm not experiencing any jumping forward/skating to the inside of the record kind of issues...

Yes, I'm getting a ton of distortion towards the end of an LP or 12" single, regardless of whether the record is new or used; it's most likely my alignment, though I've heard from other AT95e owners that they could never eliminate sibilance or IGD with this cart.

Quartz_Lock10729
senior member
senior member
Posts: 293
Joined: 17 Aug 2015 22:57

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 10 Apr 2018 22:56

BMRR wrote:That's not surprising. Even bad cartridges will often sound good on the first track, because the first track is the easiest / least-challenging. The closer you get to the label, the harder the cartridge's job gets.
But this COULD also mean bad alignment, no, if the BEGINNING of records sound good but the ends don't?

Quartz_Lock10729
senior member
senior member
Posts: 293
Joined: 17 Aug 2015 22:57

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 10 Apr 2018 23:13

Let me ask you gentlemen this, while I'm here...

If I have the LP120 with the stock felt slip mat, would I HAVE to remove it to take stylus force readings with a digital scale? I always leave the mat ON the platter when taking these readings, as it seems to MY eye that the scale is about the height of an average LP when the mat is on; is this not accurate?

BMRR
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
United States of America
Posts: 5516
Joined: 23 Aug 2013 03:48
Location: Maine, USA

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by BMRR » 11 Apr 2018 15:26

Quartz_Lock10729 wrote:
BMRR wrote:That's not surprising. Even bad cartridges will often sound good on the first track, because the first track is the easiest / least-challenging. The closer you get to the label, the harder the cartridge's job gets.
But this COULD also mean bad alignment, no, if the BEGINNING of records sound good but the ends don't?
Not necessarily. I've been doing this for a very long time and I know how to align my cartridges correctly, but some of them will present terrible IGD on certain records. In those cases, it's a limitation of the cartridge (or more specifically the stylus) and not anything I did wrong. Some styli are just incapable of handling the inner grooves due to "pinch effect" and there is no alignment that can change that. Likewise, if a stylus is defective in some way (e.g. suspension too stiff), there's no way to align yourself out of that problem.

BMRR
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
United States of America
Posts: 5516
Joined: 23 Aug 2013 03:48
Location: Maine, USA

Re: Perfect setup for AT-LP120 USB Turntable

Post by BMRR » 11 Apr 2018 15:28

Quartz_Lock10729 wrote:Let me ask you gentlemen this, while I'm here...

If I have the LP120 with the stock felt slip mat, would I HAVE to remove it to take stylus force readings with a digital scale? I always leave the mat ON the platter when taking these readings, as it seems to MY eye that the scale is about the height of an average LP when the mat is on; is this not accurate?
Leave the mat in place. There's no reason to remove it. The only time you'd want to remove a mat or platter to take a VTF reading would be with a turntable that uses a spring to apply the correct tracking force. Your turntable uses a counterweight, not a spring, so there's no need to remove the mat.