If you’re a vinyl enthusiast, you know that maintaining your turntable is crucial for optimal sound quality.
One important feature to keep in mind is anti-skating. This feature helps prevent tracking issues and distortion during playback.
But how do you adjust it?
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of adjusting anti-skating on your turntable, so you can enjoy your vinyl collection to the fullest.
So, grab your favorite record and let’s get started!
How To Adjust Anti-Skating On Turntable
Firstly, it’s important to understand what anti-skating does. As your turntable spins, the centripetal force pulls the tonearm and cartridge towards the center of the record. This can cause the stylus to have more pressure on the inner walls of grooves, resulting in distortions.
Anti-skating applies a counteracting centrifugal force to the tonearm, so that the stylus has equal pressure on both side walls of the groove. This helps maintain an audio balance between the left and right channels, reduces wear and tear on the needle, and prolongs the life of your records.
To adjust anti-skating on your turntable, you’ll need to locate the anti-skate control. On some turntables, this will be an adjustable knob, while on others it may be preset at a fixed value by the manufacturer.
If your turntable has an adjustable anti-skate control, begin by adjusting it to the same value as the vertical tracking force (VTF) used. This will get you in the ballpark.
Next, listen carefully to the last few minutes of a record to determine if more or less anti-skate is needed. Listen for distortion, particularly in the form of sibilance (that annoying hissing sound produced when pronouncing certain letters or combinations of letters such as “s” and “sh”), and determine if it appears to be louder on one channel, the left or the right.
Adjust the anti-skate value until the distortion is minimized. Now listen carefully at two or three different points across the record. If you used an alignment protractor to align your cartridge, listen at the alignment points. Listen for any differences in tone, dynamics and soundstage at these points. If there are differences, some tweaking of the anti-skate adjustment may be needed.
It’s important to note that not all tonearms provide for an anti-skating adjustment. On a 12″ tonearm, anti-skating is usually not required in some cases, but on a 9″ arm some anti-skating force is usually needed.
Anti-skating is an important feature on turntables that prevents tracking issues during playback. When a record is played, a force is produced that pulls the tonearm towards the center of the record. This force is called skating force and can cause the stylus to skip or scratch the record, resulting in poor sound quality. Anti-skating applies a countering force to the tonearm, which helps maintain an audio balance between the left and right channels, reduces wear and tear on the needle, and prolongs the life of your records.
Anti-skating is achieved through an adjustable control on some turntables. This control may be in the form of a pre-calibrated knob that allows you to adjust the anti-skate force manually. It’s important to adjust the anti-skate control to the same value as the vertical tracking force (VTF) used, as this will help you get started with your adjustments.
To determine whether more or less anti-skate is needed, listen carefully to the last few minutes of a record. Look out for distortion, particularly in the form of sibilance, and determine if it appears to be louder on one channel, either left or right. Adjust the anti-skate value until the distortion is minimized.
It’s important to note that not all tonearms provide for an anti-skating adjustment. On a 12″ tonearm, anti-skating is usually not required in some cases, but on a 9″ arm some anti-skating force is usually needed. By understanding how anti-skating works and how to adjust it properly, you can improve your turntable’s performance and enjoy high-quality audio playback from your vinyl collection.
Why Adjusting Anti-Skating Is Important
Adjusting anti-skating is important because it helps to maintain a balanced sound between the left and right channels of your records. Without proper anti-skating adjustment, the stylus may have more pressure on one side of the groove than the other, resulting in distortion and uneven sound quality.
In addition, adjusting anti-skating can help to minimize wear and tear on your records and stylus. By keeping the stylus centered in the groove, you reduce the likelihood of skipping or jumping, which can cause damage to your records over time.
Furthermore, adjusting anti-skating can help to optimize the sound quality of your records. By carefully listening for distortion and making adjustments as needed, you can achieve a clearer, more dynamic sound that brings out the nuances of your favorite albums.
Tools Needed For Adjusting Anti-Skating
To adjust anti-skating on your turntable, you will need a few tools. Firstly, you will need to have access to the anti-skate control on your turntable. This may be an adjustable knob or a fixed value preset by the manufacturer.
You will also need a test record to use as a reference for adjusting the anti-skate. The “Esther” LP is a commonly used test record for this purpose. Additionally, you may want to use an alignment protractor to ensure that your cartridge is properly aligned with the grooves of the record.
Finally, you will need a good pair of headphones or speakers to listen for distortion and other audio imbalances while making adjustments to the anti-skate control. It’s important to listen carefully at different points across the record to ensure that the anti-skate is properly balanced and optimized for the best possible audio quality.
Testing Your Anti-Skating Adjustment
Once you have adjusted the anti-skating on your turntable, it’s important to test it to ensure that it’s working correctly. One way to do this is to play the anti-skating test track on the AnalogMagik Test LP and use the Anti-Skating function on the AnalogMagik software.
Repeat the measurements with increased or decreased anti-skating force. The anti-skating force is optimized when the distortion figures between the left and right channels are balanced or as close together as possible. Meaningful results are highly dependent upon the VTF, the cartridge quality, as well as the design of the tonearm.
On good setups, AnalogMagik has observed a distortion percentage difference of approximately 0.05% between channels, while the net number should be below 1% on good setups. On 12″ tonearms tracking at 2g or above, you may notice a number where the left and right channel distortion is already very close, this is because the anti-skating force is not required.
Some tonearm designs have inherent imbalances and will register numbers which will be skewed towards one channel. In such cases, nothing can be done. Some tonearms have too much anti-skating force even at the lowest setting, so the results are highly dependent upon equipment quality.
It’s important to realize that the centripetal force exerted on the stylus is not linear, therefore the amount of anti-skating force required will be different depending on the relative location of the cartridge towards the record spindle. Usually, more force is required towards the center.
Some tonearm designs have a mechanism that will increase anti-skating force gradually to counteract the non-linear nature of the centripetal force. The alignment geometry of your choice produces the lowest tracking error at the null points, then the tracking error gradually increasing as the stylus moves away from the null point.
Antiskating works the same way where the optimized anti-skating force is only optimized on that specific point on the LP. Anti-skating affects Azimuth. We have observed that when anti-skating is set incorrectly, the imbalance will cause crosstalk readings to be skewed so that an optimal number can never be achieved.
Therefore it’s important to go back and forth between Anti-skating and Azimuth, as well as VTF and VTA to achieve an optimal set of numbers. No setup parameter can be optimized in isolation. One must try to achieve optimal settings in as many setup parameters as possible.
For example, when meaningful numbers cannot be achieved under the Anti-Skating test, it could be caused by an incorrect VTF, Azimuth or even alignment. You may have to go back and forth between different parameters to achieve meaningful results and optimal settings.
Common Anti-Skating Problems And Solutions
While adjusting the anti-skate on your turntable, you may encounter some common problems. Here are some of those problems and their solutions:
1. Distortion on one channel: If you notice distortion on one channel, it may mean that the anti-skate is not properly adjusted. Try adjusting the anti-skate value until the distortion is minimized.
2. Inner groove distortion: This occurs when the stylus has more pressure on the inner walls of grooves. If you notice this, try increasing the anti-skate value until the distortion is minimized.
3. Stylus skipping: If your stylus is skipping or jumping all over, it may mean that the tracking force is too light. Make sure to adjust both the tracking force and anti-skate to the recommended values provided by the cartridge manufacturer.
4. Uneven channel balance: If you notice that one channel is louder than the other, it may mean that the anti-skate is not properly adjusted. Try adjusting the anti-skate value until both channels have equal volume.
5. No anti-skate adjustment: Some turntables do not have an adjustable anti-skate control. In this case, the anti-skate force may be preset at a fixed value by the manufacturer. If you encounter any problems with your turntable, contact the manufacturer or an audio solutions department for further advice.
By properly adjusting the anti-skate on your turntable, you can improve audio balance, minimize distortion and wear on your records and stylus, and enjoy high-quality sound from your vinyl collection.