Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

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Quartz_Lock10729
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Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 19 Jan 2020 04:52

I have an AT-LP120 -- please, please...none of the criticisms of the loose tonearm bearings, horrible build quality or lack of anti-skate control; I know all about them -- and it's one of the models from before a couple of years ago when Audio-Technica supposedly fixed the quirky and, in most cases, non-functioning anti-skate dial. I never performed any of those so-called "tests" to check to see if the spring is actually working (placing a CD or laserdisc on the spindle and letting the arm rest on it to see if it "flies" towards the center or using one of those grooveless areas of vinyl/test disc) and instead just always relied on the whole "set the anti-skate dial to the value that matches the tracking force number," perhaps dialing in a little extra because I read that anti-skate can combat inner groove distortion/tracing problems (an issue for another time, completely)…

Now, I have dialed in my VTF using a digital gauge, not relying on the 120's counterweight alone (I tried the counterweight by itself initially and the gauge indicated it was pretty off), and have been running an AT95E at around 2.3/2.35 grams or so for quite awhile (the performance of this cart with its stock stylus is a problem on to itself which I have gone over ad nauseum in the Cartridges section of the forum). As such, I had been keeping the anti-skate dial a bit over this value, almost near the "3" mark -- recently, I upped that just a little bit to a full "3" to see if this would help with IGD. Unfortunately it didn't.

At any rate, in getting back to the original point of the thread, no matter where I had the anti-skate value of this turntable since owning it, I NEVER experienced severe jump-ins at the beginning of lead-in grooves (unless the vinyl had one of those "slanted lips" that cause the stylus to "slide down" a bit before hitting the first groove) and my tonearm NEVER swung wildly to the spindle in deadwax/at the ends of sides. In fact, when viewing the tonearm's behavior at the end of a side, the stylus glides GENTLY into the runout grooves and in an unhurried, calm manner.

I also do not experience any channel imbalance when listening to records on my system, which I understand is another sign that anti-skate is out of whack.

Can I assume that my LP120's anti-skating is at least working SOMEWHAT if the arm isn't skating erratically to the spindle after a side or isn't jumping in when the lead-in grooves are touched...or are these not indicators of a functioning anti-skate control?

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by plyscds » 19 Jan 2020 06:34

Your tracking force (weight) should be adjusted high enough to keep your stylus in a record groove. If your anti-skate is adjusted correctly you will have equal stylus pressure on both inner and outer groove walls. If you are then playing a monaural record all the sounds should appear to be placed at a virtual point which is centered between your speakers. If you are playing a stereo record there are usually one or more particular sounds, often vocals, which should appear at a virtual point centered between your speakers. If you are listening with headphones the known center sounds should appear to be centered in your head. And... all the preceding "ifs" assume that everything else in your system - components, cables, and connections - is in good working order.

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by lenjack » 19 Jan 2020 18:54

You may assume your anti skate is
not
working on an older model. Without antiskate, the arm and stylus will still stay in the groove and not jump violently towards the spindle. Lack of antiskate is not at all that violent.

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 19 Jan 2020 19:46

plyscds wrote:
19 Jan 2020 06:34
Your tracking force (weight) should be adjusted high enough to keep your stylus in a record groove.
Well, that it is, because aside from the occasional skip (only on known beat-up older records that have groove damage) the stylus stays in place...and I'm at 2.3 or so grams of VTF, not exactly a "light" tracking force...
If your anti-skate is adjusted correctly you will have equal stylus pressure on both inner and outer groove walls. If you are then playing a monaural record all the sounds should appear to be placed at a virtual point which is centered between your speakers. If you are playing a stereo record there are usually one or more particular sounds, often vocals, which should appear at a virtual point centered between your speakers. If you are listening with headphones the known center sounds should appear to be centered in your head. And... all the preceding "ifs" assume that everything else in your system - components, cables, and connections - is in good working order.
I don't have headphones to test that out, but from my perspective at the listening position, nothing seems "out of whack" in terms of balance or separation.

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 19 Jan 2020 19:48

lenjack wrote:
19 Jan 2020 18:54
You may assume your anti skate is
not
working on an older model. Without antiskate, the arm and stylus will still stay in the groove and not jump violently towards the spindle. Lack of antiskate is not at all that violent.
So then the fact that when I drop the stylus into the lead-in grooves and that the arm drifts SLOWLY towards the spindle at the ends of sides is ABSOLUTELY NO indication that the a/s is working?

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by lenjack » 19 Jan 2020 20:06

AT has admitted that the antiskate on pre 2017 units was completely ineffective.

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 19 Jan 2020 20:13

lenjack wrote:
19 Jan 2020 20:06
AT has admitted that the antiskate on pre 2017 units was completely ineffective.
Okay...

So then why is my stylus behaving the way it does...that is, stays in place at the beginning of an LP or single and doesn't swing quickly to the spindle at the end in the runout area?

Is this because my tracking force is keeping it in place more or less?

I, too, have been told by AT reps that the 120 was originally designed as a "DJ turntable" and as such was conceived initially without an anti-skating mechanism...but I had also read that there were some early owners who felt that the AS WAS working based on experience and testing.

Were the models of this turntable affected when they were carrying the white DJ cartridge on them...or was the A/S problem occurring even when the table shipped with the AT95E?

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by JoeE SP9 » 19 Jan 2020 20:28

The friction of the groove and the geometry of the arm are what causes skating.

If the antiskating is working properly a tone arm tracking a groove less LP should not move toward the spindle. An arm that's stays stationary doesn't take into account the skating caused by groove friction. However, the anti-skating for that arm is most likely working. If anything, it should very slowly move toward the beginning of the LP.

An arm that's either stationary or moves out is an indication the anti-skating is working.
Last edited by JoeE SP9 on 19 Jan 2020 21:00, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 19 Jan 2020 20:31

JoeE SP9 wrote:
19 Jan 2020 20:28
If the antiskating is working properly a tone arm tracking a groove less LP should not move toward the spindle.
I don't have a grooveless LP to conduct this test, which is why I was asking about the runout groove area.

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Alec124c41 » 19 Jan 2020 20:38

The defining factor in anti-skate is that you do not get unbalanced mistracking. If you hear more distortion on one channel in loud passages, the antiskate is not correct.
The purpose is to balance the pressure on both sides of the groove, not to track blank records.
Distortion on the right - more anti-skate needed. Distortion on the left - less antiskate needed.
If an arm has no antiskate, balancing the arm with 0 VTF will allow it to hover over the record with no movement. Any antiskate will cause it to drift slowly toward the rest.
BTW the runout groove is locked. It turns from a spiral to a circle.


Cheers,
Alec

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 19 Jan 2020 20:55

Alec124c41 wrote:
19 Jan 2020 20:38
The defining factor in anti-skate is that you do not get unbalanced mistracking. If you hear more distortion on one channel in loud passages, the antiskate is not correct.
The purpose is to balance the pressure on both sides of the groove, not to track blank records.
Distortion on the right - more anti-skate needed. Distortion on the left - less antiskate needed.
If an arm has no antiskate, balancing the arm with 0 VTF will allow it to hover over the record with no movement. Any antiskate will cause it to drift slowly toward the rest.
I don't hear any distortion on one particular channel -- I GET IGD and some sibilance with the 95E, but it seems to be equal from both channels (though I'm not using headphones).
BTW the runout groove is locked. It turns from a spiral to a circle.
So what does this mean with relation to the A/S setting?

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by JoeE SP9 » 19 Jan 2020 21:05

It means that trying to use the runout area to set antiskating is very difficult if not impossible. You need to have the stylus tracking an area with no groove. The runout area doesn't give you much to work with.

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Alec124c41 » 19 Jan 2020 21:06

The locked groove means that the stylus follows the groove toward the center of the record, then stops moving as it is in the circle part. It has absolutely nothing to do with antiskate.
You hear no imbalance in your IGD. Don't worry about the antiskate. It's good.
The only way to get improvement is with a better cartridge.

Cheers,
Alec

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 19 Jan 2020 21:23

JoeE SP9 wrote:
19 Jan 2020 21:05
It means that trying to use the runout area to set antiskating is very difficult if not impossible. You need to have the stylus tracking an area with no groove. The runout area doesn't give you much to work with.
That makes sense, but there are a plethora of sites/forums out there that claim the best way to set anti-skate is to drop the stylus -- as quickly as possible, because, as you said, there isn't much room to work with -- right between the runout groove areas where there's just "blank vinyl"...so I figured I'd ask about it.

At any rate, my tonearm isn't skating quickly towards the spindle when it reaches the ends of sides (and, as you know, this is a manual turntable model so there's no auto pickup), so I just assumed things were working at least "somewhat right" as far as the A/S goes...

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Re: Can I Assume Anti-Skate is Working...at Least Somewhat Properly?

Post by Quartz_Lock10729 » 19 Jan 2020 21:25

Alec124c41 wrote:
19 Jan 2020 21:06
The locked groove means that the stylus follows the groove toward the center of the record, then stops moving as it is in the circle part. It has absolutely nothing to do with antiskate.
Please see what I said to the member above; I asked because there are a ton of forums out there with folks who suggest using this runout area of an LP or single to adjust the anti-skate...
The only way to get improvement is with a better cartridge.
Thank you.

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