Vertical tracking force

snap, crackle and pop
Solist
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Vertical tracking force

Post by Solist » 15 Jan 2019 11:44

I have recently started to experiment a bit with different tracking force values.

Mainly because Jico does not say exactly at what force to set their styluses (I presume they make them in a way to get close to the original specs).

While we often recommend to set the tracking force close to the maximum value specified from the manufacturer (if a range is specified), I started to notice the lower the tracking force, the more open and full the sound was.
It was like that instead of mumbling the cartridge actually started to speak in a more loud and clear way, for the lack of better words.

I want to hear other opinions about this, I think that the only problem with setting a low value is the risk of skipping, so some caution is necessary.

Spinner45
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by Spinner45 » 15 Jan 2019 17:12

People will come up with all sorts of conclusions to various tracking forces.

However, the "difference" in sound resulting from going from heavy-to-lighter forces is simple.
Allow me to spell it out for you.....
The heavier the tracking force, the farther away from the coils of the cartridge will be the cantilever's magnet.
This naturally will "soften" the sound, as will the added suspension flexing.
With lighter forces, the magnet is closer to the coils, the elastic suspension is also inhibiting movements less, resulting in a "brighter" sound.

When a manufacturer recommends a certain stylus pressure, it's up to you to follow it, or not.

jdjohn
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by jdjohn » 15 Jan 2019 20:45

I start in the middle of the suggested range, and the only change I might make is to increase if I'm having an issue with skipping or sibilance.
Solist wrote:
15 Jan 2019 11:44
I want to hear other opinions about this, I think that the only problem with setting a low value is the risk of skipping, so some caution is necessary.
Related to skipping, there is a risk of the stylus not settling properly into the groove (even if it doesn't actually skip), so it may jump around and cause groove damage. This is especially true when dealing with a warp, as the stylus rides over a crest, potentially lifting from the groove, and then (sort of) crashing back down into the groove. It would better if the stylus never leaves the groove at all.

lenjack
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by lenjack » 15 Jan 2019 22:10

I believe in setting to the lowest force that allows proper tracking of the loudest passages at the inner grooves. This will minimize stylus wear, while at the same time preserve groove life. Too light will result in mistracking which accelerates groove and stylus wear, and sounds bad, and may cause skipping. Too heavy may sound OK, but will increase both record and stylus wear.

analogaudio
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by analogaudio » 16 Jan 2019 01:09

I agree with lenjack.

Regarding changes in sound quality I am skeptical about changes to sound quality with VTF changes. I believe it unlikely a manufacturer would send a product out into the world that changed its sound with changes in stylus pressure because that is not how a cartridge works, it responds to vibrations in the audio range and is insensitive to vertical displacement. Changes in sound quality with stylus pressure would apply to all magnetic carts from all brands, it would be widely acknowledged and be noted in the user instructions included with carts. None of these actually applies.

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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by lenjack » 16 Jan 2019 02:19

:D Right on. Just enough force to successfully ride the groove wo rattling around.

Spinner45
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by Spinner45 » 16 Jan 2019 05:06

analogaudio wrote:
16 Jan 2019 01:09
I agree with lenjack.

Regarding changes in sound quality I am skeptical about changes to sound quality with VTF changes. I believe it unlikely a manufacturer would send a product out into the world that changed its sound with changes in stylus pressure because that is not how a cartridge works, it responds to vibrations in the audio range and is insensitive to vertical displacement. Changes in sound quality with stylus pressure would apply to all magnetic carts from all brands, it would be widely acknowledged and be noted in the user instructions included with carts. None of these actually applies.
And of course you have the right to be "skeptical".
It's part of human nature.

Solist
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by Solist » 16 Jan 2019 12:40

Should I add a tin hat to my profile picture? :)

I know how my first post sounded, thats why I decided to ask.

It could be I at first overshoot the vtf, then when I started lowering I moved into the sweet spot. As already mentioned I can only assume Jico vtf is similar to the original Shure.

Was thinking it could be the suspension just moving more "freely" compared to setting to the max vtf where its more pressed into the groove, no idea. The other being the coils in relation to the magnet, as already pointed out.

KentT
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by KentT » 16 Jan 2019 14:27

On Jico's Shure styli. They are specific to the same application as the Shure originals (not lowest common denominator heavy duty assumed), they work at the same tracking forces as the Shure originals.

BrianovichIV
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by BrianovichIV » 16 Jan 2019 16:45

This is something I'm struggling with right now. I got a new turntable with an ATP-2 cartridge, which has a recommended force of 3-5 grams. I'm going to get a lighter-tracking cartridge in about a month when I have the funds, but in the meantime I have it set at 3 and I'm worried to go higher. I know I should probably try 4, but is that too much? And a number of other forum users here and at other forums have recommended 2.5.

I'm not sure how what to do.

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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by lenjack » 16 Jan 2019 16:57

Try it and listen for mistracking.

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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by Spinner45 » 16 Jan 2019 17:42

BrianovichIV wrote:
16 Jan 2019 16:45
This is something I'm struggling with right now. I got a new turntable with an ATP-2 cartridge, which has a recommended force of 3-5 grams. I'm going to get a lighter-tracking cartridge in about a month when I have the funds, but in the meantime I have it set at 3 and I'm worried to go higher. I know I should probably try 4, but is that too much? And a number of other forum users here and at other forums have recommended 2.5.

I'm not sure how what to do.
The often brought up and equally annoying mention of "heavy record-ruining tracking forces" seems to have made everyone who reads it that anything over 2 grams is disgustingly dangerous.
And that's just more audiophile propoganda of course.

Five grams is not going to ruin records.
Records played decades ago with that tracking force and heavier still play fine today.
Yes, somewhat lighter is an advantage, 2,3, grams is also fine.
But don't fuss over what others may insist, because it's just hyper talk.

BrianovichIV
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by BrianovichIV » 16 Jan 2019 17:56

Spinner45 wrote:
16 Jan 2019 17:42
BrianovichIV wrote:
16 Jan 2019 16:45
This is something I'm struggling with right now. I got a new turntable with an ATP-2 cartridge, which has a recommended force of 3-5 grams. I'm going to get a lighter-tracking cartridge in about a month when I have the funds, but in the meantime I have it set at 3 and I'm worried to go higher. I know I should probably try 4, but is that too much? And a number of other forum users here and at other forums have recommended 2.5.

I'm not sure how what to do.
The often brought up and equally annoying mention of "heavy record-ruining tracking forces" seems to have made everyone who reads it that anything over 2 grams is disgustingly dangerous.
And that's just more audiophile propoganda of course.

Five grams is not going to ruin records.
Records played decades ago with that tracking force and heavier still play fine today.
Yes, somewhat lighter is an advantage, 2,3, grams is also fine.
But don't fuss over what others may insist, because it's just hyper talk.
That's reassuring. I think I will up the force to 4 to be right in the middle and give it a try.

lenjack
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by lenjack » 16 Jan 2019 18:53

Excessively high forces will slowly wear away treble information.

BrianovichIV
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Re: Vertical tracking force

Post by BrianovichIV » 16 Jan 2019 20:10

lenjack wrote:
16 Jan 2019 18:53
Excessively high forces will slowly wear away treble information.
See, this is where I run into confusion. If Audio Technica, a respected maker of audio equipment, says to track the cartridge at 3-5 grams, is that really "excessively high?" That term makes me think of what a $60 Crosley suitcase turntable would do to the vinyl, not a $100+ cartridge. I have my doubts that they would recommend something that would damage your records. But at the same time, enough folks in the trenches say it's bad that it lends credence to the point they're trying to make.

Like I said before, I'm just trying to bridge that gap for a month or so until I get the cartridge I want (the LPGear Vessel), which tracks at 2 grams.

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