Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

the thin end of the wedge
Post Reply
Cygnus Vismund
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 13
Joined: 13 Jun 2019 03:31

Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by Cygnus Vismund » 16 Jun 2019 07:47

Hello. New member here. I tried looking up the answers to my questions, but there were too many threads and messages to sift through. Thought I can ask you all directly. So here it goes...

I'm installing a Grado Prestige Black2, the specs say it has a tracking force of 1.5grams. After leveling the turntable, setting the VTA, and making sure of proper cart alignment, the cart fails the bias tests on the HiFi News test record.

When I increase the tracking force to 2grams, I can get it to pass the tests. Is that too much for this cart and will it damage records? Also, I needed to increase the anti-skate to 2.5. Is it ok to have more anti-skate then tracking force?

bra10n
long player
long player
Australia
Posts: 1038
Joined: 25 Oct 2013 01:38
Location: Sydney Australia

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by bra10n » 17 Jun 2019 06:20

A couple of things...

The HI Fi News test record is nothing more than an amusement to put it bluntly :shock:

What TT and arm are we dealing with here?

You mentioned that you've aligned the cart and set up VTA, so I politely ask how much experience you have at doing this?

Welcome to VE by the way...

Cygnus Vismund
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 13
Joined: 13 Jun 2019 03:31

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by Cygnus Vismund » 17 Jun 2019 06:45

Hi bra10n. Thank you for your reply.

The turntable is a Technics SL1200 MKII. Stock arm. I've had the turntable for a decade, but I guess my experience with setting up these things is still novice. It's the only table I've ever owned. Most of what I gathered on setup is self taught. For alignment, I used a mirrored protractor tool, and VTA/Azimuth ruler.

noisefreq
senior member
senior member
United States of America
Posts: 933
Joined: 20 Feb 2013 20:04
Location: Independence

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by noisefreq » 17 Jun 2019 14:55

It just takes some playing around with the HiFi News record to get a good feel for it.
If you're not passing the three bias tracks on side two (outer, mid, inner groove) at 1.5g, I'd go back and recheck the alignment.

Look at the Tools tab above for a printed arc protractor.
Sometimes going back and forth between a couple of different protractors can point out where your are having trouble.
Which channel are you getting the distortion on? Is it the same on all tracks?
It could be too far forward/back in the headshell or need to be slightly rotated towards the spindle.

Once you pass the three tracks on side two, go back and recheck the anti-skate. One and two should be easy to pass. Track three may have just the slightest intermittent buzz.
Track four...forget about it.

Cygnus Vismund
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 13
Joined: 13 Jun 2019 03:31

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by Cygnus Vismund » 17 Jun 2019 17:56

Hi Noisefreq, thanks for replying.

I'll recheck the alignment. Actually, did use 2 different protractors. The one that came with the test disc and another mirrored Baerwald. But I'll print the one from here and check it as well.

What happened with the test disc... The first test on side 2, both channels buzzed. I was able to reduce the right side by turning the dial all the way up to 3. Left side still buzzed. Test 2 and 3 pretty much gave the same results. This is with the manufacturers recommended tracking force of 1.5gms. Slowly increasing the weight and retesting at each .1gm interval until both channels passed the 3 tests on side 2. And the first 2 tests of side 1; test 3 was a bit spotty. The final anti-skate measured 2.5gms. Should the AS and TF be the same?

Spent some time testing the VTA as well. It made me feel uneasy knowing the tone arm was not parallel, so I stuck with adjusting the TF. These particular Grado carts have an angled body and stylus body which makes it unable to align from the cartridge body to record surface. Can you elaborate on "rotating towards the spindle". I used the Technics needle gauge to setup as well.

I played a few records to hear how it performed. No problems tracking music on the albums played and the sound was good. I'm reluctant to use it however.

PS. Is your avatar from TGOTA?

analogaudio
long player
long player
United States of America
Posts: 4743
Joined: 06 Feb 2007 22:58
Location: Monroe NY USA

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by analogaudio » 18 Jun 2019 01:10

I believe somewhere on the HFN disc sleeve(s) it describes the higher level anti-skating tracks as "torture tests" that most if not all carts will fail.

It is important to not exceed the maximum tracking force given by the cart maker.

There are definitely some test discs out there that should be described as "amusements" however the HFN2 disc is not one of them.

Sunwire
long player
long player
United States of America
Posts: 2081
Joined: 07 Oct 2004 21:54
Location: New York

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by Sunwire » 18 Jun 2019 02:45

Did you try the tonearm/cartridge resonance bands on the HiFi News LP?
If so, what frequency produced the greatest oscillation on the lateral test? And how severe was the oscillation? I wonder if the arm is too massive for the cartridge compliance. I don't have a lot of experience with Grados, but many comments in this forum refer to the fact that they are undamped, so they can really start oscillating on a medium to high mass arm when playing low frequencies or highly modulated tracks.

I agree that band 4 of the antiskate test is almost impossible. And band 3 can be tough for a lot of cartridges. Bands 1 and 2 shouldn't be a problem for most, however.

I would try it out with some real records that have really loud music, especially if there is some good deep bass and loud high frequency music at the same time. See if you hear anything that sounds like mistracking when playing that.

I noticed that when I used the Shure Type V test record, I had to increase the antiskating beyond the VTF to get a good result, but the modulation levels used are very high and probably unrealistic for nearly any recorded music. I also noticed a couple of reviews of cartridges in old Audio magazines where the reviewer used the same Shure test record and ended up setting antiskate higher than VTF.

I mostly think the test records are just a guide for antiskating setting, but the real test is to play a record with music on it. Set the antiskating just high enough to prevent mistracking on the loudest music record you have.

Cygnus Vismund
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 13
Joined: 13 Jun 2019 03:31

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by Cygnus Vismund » 18 Jun 2019 14:19

Hi analogaudio and Sunwire. Thanks for your replies.

Analogaudio, I called Grado and they told me the Prestige cartridge can be used up to 1.9g. I was mistaken it had a maximum of 1.5g.

Sunwire, the resonant frequency tested at 11Hz. I have to admit, I was testing this cartridge on a used turntable instead of the one I bought new. Thinking now the AS dial might not be accurate. Using the other turntable it's tracking at 1.8g without issue and 1.5 AS.

Another thing I did wrong was making adjustments to the cartridge after I had it setup with the Technics overhang gauge. Found out about that here: https://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php ... ol.462650/ Basically, undermining the alignment by using the other protractors and rulers after it. Thank you @noisefreq for suggesting I recheck the alignment. I had moved the stylus slightly too far forward.

noisefreq
senior member
senior member
United States of America
Posts: 933
Joined: 20 Feb 2013 20:04
Location: Independence

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by noisefreq » 18 Jun 2019 15:49

Cygnus Vismund,
You are certainly on the right track.
You are realizing adding tracking force will certainly decrease distortion on the test record BUT this is not a solution.
I would imagine the Grado is close to bottoming out on the vinyl surface with that much VTF.

Keep in mind the round protractor that comes in the HiFi News and those mirror protractors are basic, general purpose protractors and not specific for the SL 1200.
The Technics overhang gauge is a quick and easy to set your alignment (especially for DJ's in a pinch) but using the VE arc protractor or Conrad Hoffman printed out protractor will dial it in much more accurately.

If you don't trust the anti-skate dial, you can also watch the stylus from the front to see if it is pulling more to the left or right as it tracks in the groove.
This can indicate too much or too little anti-skate.
It should ride in the groove with equal movement left and right.

EDIT: I don't know what TGOTA is.
My avatar is the back of an album cover by the Texas experimental psych band Vas Deferens Organization & Christopher.

chiz
senior member
senior member
Great Britain
Posts: 918
Joined: 16 Oct 2009 23:05
Location: London

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by chiz » 18 Jun 2019 16:09

noisefreq wrote:
18 Jun 2019 15:49
Keep in mind the round protractor that comes in the HiFi News and those mirror protractors are basic, general purpose protractors and not specific for the SL 1200.
The Technics overhang gauge is a quick and easy to set your alignment (especially for DJ's in a pinch) but using the VE arc protractor or Conrad Hoffman printed out protractor will dial it in much more accurately.
Here's an arc protractor for the Technics factory specified geometry:

http://www.jkwynn.co.uk/Pics/Technics%2 ... ractor.pdf

Unlike most others this one can be used to double check the overhang gauge as it is based on the same geometry.

I agree that an arc protractor has the potential for more accurate results than the gauge but it is important to check it is printed exactly to scale.

Cygnus Vismund
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 13
Joined: 13 Jun 2019 03:31

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by Cygnus Vismund » 20 Jun 2019 09:24

noisefreq wrote:
18 Jun 2019 15:49
Cygnus Vismund,
You are certainly on the right track.
You are realizing adding tracking force will certainly decrease distortion on the test record BUT this is not a solution.
I would imagine the Grado is close to bottoming out on the vinyl surface with that much VTF.

Keep in mind the round protractor that comes in the HiFi News and those mirror protractors are basic, general purpose protractors and not specific for the SL 1200.
The Technics overhang gauge is a quick and easy to set your alignment (especially for DJ's in a pinch) but using the VE arc protractor or Conrad Hoffman printed out protractor will dial it in much more accurately.

If you don't trust the anti-skate dial, you can also watch the stylus from the front to see if it is pulling more to the left or right as it tracks in the groove.
This can indicate too much or too little anti-skate.
It should ride in the groove with equal movement left and right.

EDIT: I don't know what TGOTA is.
My avatar is the back of an album cover by the Texas experimental psych band Vas Deferens Organization & Christopher.
chiz wrote:
18 Jun 2019 16:09
noisefreq wrote:
18 Jun 2019 15:49
Keep in mind the round protractor that comes in the HiFi News and those mirror protractors are basic, general purpose protractors and not specific for the SL 1200.
The Technics overhang gauge is a quick and easy to set your alignment (especially for DJ's in a pinch) but using the VE arc protractor or Conrad Hoffman printed out protractor will dial it in much more accurately.
Here's an arc protractor for the Technics factory specified geometry:

http://www.jkwynn.co.uk/Pics/Technics%2 ... ractor.pdf

Unlike most others this one can be used to double check the overhang gauge as it is based on the same geometry.

I agree that an arc protractor has the potential for more accurate results than the gauge but it is important to check it is printed exactly to scale.
Hey guys, thanks for posting. I'll do some more testing with the AS. This is actually quite interesting and I think will be really helpful down the road. Someone posted a video that briefly explains some of the science behind it. Forgot the thread but this is the video: [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmwnN_T_wW8[/youtube]
Anyway, I will print out the protractor and mess around a bit when I have some more free time. Thanks again fellas!

Noisefreq, the album cover looks like the background for The Guild of Temporal Adventurers
https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http ... rs.jpg&f=1

noisefreq
senior member
senior member
United States of America
Posts: 933
Joined: 20 Feb 2013 20:04
Location: Independence

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by noisefreq » 20 Jun 2019 13:30

VDO probably stole it from them and superimposed the head over it.
TGOTA came out in 1992, and Suspension came out in 2001, so there you go.

I know Kendra Smith. Loved the Dream Syndicate and Opal.

I like the visual movement it creates when moved.

Cygnus Vismund
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 13
Joined: 13 Jun 2019 03:31

Re: Tracking Force and Anti-Skate Concerns

Post by Cygnus Vismund » 20 Jun 2019 20:37

Bought some tools and readjusted the VTA. The cart tracks wonderfully at 1.7g VTF and 1.5 AS. It is within spec and sounds great! For the record, it's the Grado Blue model, not the Black I initially posted. Really happy with this cart and its upgrade options. Next up will be using a USB microscope and learning to adjust SRA.

Post Reply