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tone arm balancing, etc.

Posted by nome 
Registered: 1 year ago
Posts: 1
Status: New Jack
tone arm balancing, etc.
November 27, 2019 05:47AM
I just purchased and set up an AT-LP120XUSB turntable and I have a question. I work with far from virgin vinyl and I’m finding that if I balance the tone arm, I am getting skips, even with the tracking force increased. If I increase the weight, it helps but I’m wondering if that’s a wise move.

I also found that if I increase the anti-skating anywhere past zero, the arm wants to go back off the edge of the record.

Would a conical vs an elliptical stylus help?

Any ideas / suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you & Happy Thanksgiving!

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 1,222
Status: Moderator
avatar Re: tone arm balancing, etc.
December 26, 2019 06:39PM
Sorry I am just getting to answering this question now. The main causing of skips is improper setup. The best thing you can do is get a small digital scale to double check that you are setting your VTF correctly.

See here:


Re: Antiskate I recommend you search for Peter Lederman's videos (they are on Youtube) on the topic and set anti-skate that way.

The trouble with some of these budget turntables is that the anti-skate dial on them is not very accurate. You need to ignore the numbers and watch the behavior of the arm. If the arm is pulling too much away from the lead-in groove it probably means the tension on the spring underneath the dial is too tight. A proper setting with a too tight spring will involve a lower AS setting than VTF.

Also, the turntable needs to be placed on a level surface, on a sturdy table or rack of some sort. Get a good quality torpedo level and check the plinth and platter to make sure they are level (check in multiple places). If you need to adjust one or more of the feet, putting business cards or playing cards under the feet will help you level the turntable properly.

Speakers, subwoofers, etc. should be moved as far away from the turntable as possible and not sitting on the same surface.

After all this, if you are still getting skipping you can try a heavier tracking DJ/broadcast type cartridge with a conical stylus.

If you are playing a lot of old, heavily worn vinyl with scratches be aware that some of those will have skips in them caused by damage. A record that is damaged like that can sometimes be "fixed" by surgery using a wooden toothpick and a magnifying glass, or repetitive backcueing using a conical DJ grade cart ONLY.

Before you do "surgery" or anything else, make sure the record is clean. The cheapest real cleaning system for records that I can recommend is the Spin Clean.


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