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Re: What to listen for in fine tuning tracking force and antiskate

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Hello JoshT,

TF in fact is a vertical bias of the cartridge's softly suspended moving component; antiskating is the same for lateral direction.
If the moving component is properly aligned/biased to coils or magnets and the suspending rubber has the *same* spring behaviour to any direction, the result will be the best macrodynamics and microdynamics you can yield from this cartridge/tonearm combo.

This summer at the Triode Audition Festival in Aarhus, I demonstrated in my cartridge aligning workshop for what you ask here:

Let's presume overhang and offset angle are already correctly aligned, tracking force and skating compensation already adjusted to expected value:

1. Adjust correct azimuth by slightly turning your headshell and listen to a stereo recording how soundstage changes its size, perspective and balance or:
measure the crosstalk between left and right channel: adjust so that
crosstalk L=>R is *EQUAL* to R=>L crosstalk. If you find the Ortofon Test Record 0002, you can do this by ear.

2. select a mono recording with female voice (dynamic!!) and a lot happening around. Relax and concentrate.

3. Wrong VTA lets her voice go wider and wider as she sings louder. Real wrong VTA lets her voice go cinemascope from left to right speaker.

Adjust vertical tracking angle so that the voice has the maximum focus
(minimum size and maximum shape of virtual sound sources). The louder she sings/screams the smaller her mouth has to appear; this is clearly audible at the right VTA position. This optimum is very narrow: within 2/100 of a millimetre of vertical tonearm position.

4.Find the tracking force with best dynamics and micro dynamics and most believable sound colours. This optimum also is very narrow.

5. Have a rest. You may have to repeat steps 3 and 4 :you need the maximum resolution for the following.

6. After this, have a rest. Select a premium stereo recording. Relax and concentrate again.

7. Adjust the skating force to zero and prepare yourself for a mean
experience.

The right channel will not show dynamics at all; it will sit in the corner totally bored and ignoring you. The left channel will sit in its corner like an evil ghost, considering to attack you in the next moment. It will sound very dynamic in a way that numbs the left half of your body. However, the dynamics will be nightmare-like artificial.

Now you increase the skating force to a quarter and then to a half of the expected value.
You will sense that the right channel comes more-and-more alive and the left channel sounds less dynamic, intimidating and artificial. This reduction is less than the increase of dynamics in the right channel; the while system becomes more dynamic.

You increase now the skating compensation by *very* small steps until you reach a point where left and right channel sound equally dynamic. Then you increase further in very small steps; both channels will grow more dynamic. One step too far and both channels loose their dynamics completely and sound dead. So you go back to the position where dymics and microdynamics were maximum.

8. Note down *all* positions, scale readings, input impedances/capacitances and so on (you may want to mount another cartridge later and find you loathe it) .

Done.

I never had the skating compensation's scale read above the tracking force scale, always below!

Please consider that following to this procedure step-by-step ensures that you finally have the resolution needed for the antiskating adjustment by ear.

Greets,
Bernhard



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