If you’re a vinyl enthusiast, you know that maintaining your turntable is crucial to getting the best sound possible.
One important feature that often gets overlooked is the anti-skate control. But what exactly does it do, and how can you tell if it’s working properly?
In this article, we’ll dive into the world of anti-skate and give you some tips on how to ensure your turntable is performing at its best.
So grab your favorite record and let’s get started!
How To Tell If Anti-Skate Is Working
The anti-skate feature on your turntable is designed to counteract the tendency of the tonearm to move inward (skate) toward the center of the record as it approaches the end. This is important for maintaining good channel balance, minimizing distortion, and reducing stylus and record wear.
But how can you tell if your anti-skate is working properly? One way is to 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”). If you notice that the distortion is louder on one channel, either the left or right, then your anti-skate may need adjusting.
Another way to test your anti-skate is to use a record with very wide lead-out grooves (closest to the record label). Place the stylus in between the grooves and observe the movement of the tonearm. You want the tonearm to move very slowly toward the spindle. If it moves too quickly or too slowly, then your anti-skate may need adjusting.
You can also use a pair of headphones to test your anti-skate. Listen for any distortion ssssss-sound (from vocals) to be inside your head, perfectly in the middle of the sound stage and not to the left or right. If it’s not centered, then your anti-skate may need adjusting.
What Is Anti-Skate And Why Is It Important?
Anti-skate is a feature on many turntables that applies a small outward force to the tonearm, counteracting the tendency of the arm to move inward (skate) toward the center of the record as it approaches the end. This helps to maintain good channel balance, minimize distortion, and reduce stylus and record wear.
When the stylus is pulled out of the groove and toward the center of the record during playback, tracking force and anti-skate problems can occur. Anti-skate stops this from happening by applying a countering force to the tonearm when it is in motion. This helps reduce wear and tear on the needle, which can prolong its life and prevent playback issues such as skipping or pops in audio during playback. It also prolongs the life of your records by reducing the risk of damaging them with tracking issues.
Additionally, anti-skate can help reduce distortion and improve sound quality by maintaining an audio balance between the left and right channels. This is important for getting the most out of your vinyl setup and enjoying your music to the fullest. Overall, anti-skate is an essential feature for any turntable owner who wants to ensure optimal performance and longevity of their equipment and records.
How Does Anti-Skate Work?
The anti-skate feature on a turntable applies a small outward force to the tonearm, counteracting the tendency of the arm to move inward (skate) toward the center of the record as it approaches the end. This force is necessary to maintain good channel balance, minimize distortion, and reduce stylus and record wear.
On many turntables, there is an adjustable anti-skate control in the form of a pre-calibrated knob. However, some turntables may not have this manual adjustment, as it may be handled internally and preset at a fixed value by the manufacturer. This is especially common on turntables that utilize an integrated cartridge.
To set the anti-skate on a turntable with a user-adjustable control, start by adjusting it to the same value as the vertical tracking force (VTF) used. This will get you in the ballpark. Listen carefully to the last few minutes of a record to determine if more or less anti-skate is needed. Inner groove distortion in particular can be quite noticeable, so pay close attention to this area.
Adjust the anti-skate value until the distortion is minimized. Listen carefully at two or three different points across the record, particularly at alignment points if you used an alignment protractor to align your cartridge. If there are differences in tone, dynamics, or soundstage at these points, some tweaking of the anti-skate adjustment may be needed.
It’s important to note that adjusting the anti-skate may not clear up all problems. If you’re still experiencing issues, there may be another reason for it. In this case, it’s best to contact an audio solutions department for further advice.
Signs That Your Anti-Skate Isn’t Working Properly
If you notice any of the following signs, it may be an indication that your anti-skate isn’t working properly:
1. Uneven channel balance: If you hear more sound coming from one channel than the other, then it could be a sign that your anti-skate is not set correctly. This is because unchecked record skate can pull the stylus towards the center of the record, which can place greater emphasis on one channel and result in an imbalanced sound.
2. Excessive stylus and record wear: If your anti-skate isn’t set right or isn’t applied at all, it can cause excessive pressure on the inside of the record groove, leading to rapid wear and deterioration of both the record and the stylus.
3. Skipping: If your anti-skate is off or not set properly, it can cause the stylus to pull, resulting in the record skipping.
4. Distortion: As mentioned earlier, if you hear distortion, particularly in the form of sibilance, then your anti-skate may need adjusting.
5. Tonearm movement: If you observe that the tonearm moves too quickly or too slowly towards the spindle when using a record with wide lead-out grooves, then it could be a sign that your anti-skate needs adjusting.
It’s important to note that setting your anti-skate correctly can be a delicate process and requires careful attention to detail. If you’re unsure about how to adjust your anti-skate, it’s best to consult the manual for your specific turntable or seek advice from a professional.
How To Adjust Anti-Skate On Your Turntable
Adjusting the anti-skate on your turntable is a crucial step in ensuring that your records sound their best. Here’s how to do it:
1. Start by setting your counterweight and tracking force correctly. Make sure your tonearm is balanced by adjusting the counterweight until the tonearm floats freely. Then, adjust the tracking force by rotating the knob on the counterweight until it reaches your cartridge manufacturer’s recommended weight.
2. Set your anti-skate to zero. The antiskate dial will be on the flat surface of the turntable somewhere near your tonearm pivot point.
3. Remove the tonearm from its resting position and move it out to a position above where the platter was. What you are aiming to do is have the tonearm ‘float’. From a balance perspective, the counterweight at the back end of the tonearm will negate the weight of the cartridge exactly, allowing it to rest at a parallel position without being supported.
4. Observe the movement of the tonearm as it approaches the end of a record. If it moves inward (skates) towards the center of the record, then you need to adjust your anti-skate.
5. Adjust your anti-skate control to match your tracking force. Begin by adjusting it to the same value as the vertical tracking force (VTF) used – this will get you in the ballpark.
6. 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, and determine if it appears to be louder on one channel, either left or right.
7. Adjust your anti-skate value until distortion is minimized and channel balance is achieved.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your anti-skate is working properly and that you’re getting optimal sound quality from your turntable. Remember, if you’re having trouble adjusting your anti-skate or experiencing other issues with your turntable, don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert for advice.
Tips For Maintaining Your Turntable And Anti-Skate Control
Maintaining your turntable and anti-skate control is crucial for optimal performance and longevity of your equipment. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Keep your turntable clean: Regularly dust off your turntable with a soft cloth to prevent dust and debris from affecting the performance of your stylus and record. Avoid using harsh chemicals or water, as this can damage the turntable.
2. Check your stylus regularly: The stylus is the most important component of your turntable, as it comes in direct contact with the record. Inspect it regularly for any signs of wear, such as a bent or broken needle, and replace it if necessary.
3. Balance your tonearm: A properly balanced tonearm is essential for accurate tracking and minimizing wear on your stylus and record. Use the counterweight at the end of the tonearm to balance it out, starting with 0 grams and adjusting until it floats freely.
4. Set your tracking force: The tracking force is the amount of weight applied to the stylus as it tracks the record groove. Set it to the manufacturer’s recommended weight, usually between 2-3 grams, to prevent excessive wear on your record.
5. Adjust your anti-skate: As mentioned earlier, anti-skate is important for maintaining channel balance and minimizing distortion. Adjust it to match the tracking force, using a knob or slider if available. Test it regularly using the methods mentioned above.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your turntable and anti-skate control are working properly, providing you with optimal sound quality and preventing unnecessary wear on your equipment.