What is anti-skating?
by Nick Seiflow
Most of our beloved ‘tables have an pivoting arm on the top right side; this holds the cartridge, and in the cartridge is the needle or stylus.
On most arms there is a little dial or knob, sometimes labelled ‘anti-skating’: it’s this little device that tries to provide an equal and opposite force and so keep the needle dead centre of every groove. Usually badly adjusted, this device is your protection against the dreaded Inner Groove Damage.
Have you ever noticed that the last track on your favourite records has a tendency to distort? Why the last track? Because this homing tendency for the needle increases radically as it gets closer to the centre. What you’re actually hearing is the left hand side of each groove that has been worn away by the needle in its attempt to escape its vinyl prison.* Once this happens there’s not much to be done, except find another record and fight back!
Properly set and adjusted, antiskating works very well to protect your records (and needle, and the shaft or cantilever that the needle is mounted on). It’s one of those things that should be taken seriously if you want your vinyl to last – and one of those things we’ve all neglected at one time in our listening careers.
Say yes to antiskating! Keep the Last Track alive!
*And isn’t it strange just how often the last track is your favorite? The vinyl gods have a strange sense of humor……
Some Anti-Skating Concepts on Turntable Tonearms:
And finally, just because it’s so cool, here’s another spring arrangement for anti-skating, this time set into a beautifully made gimbal. Dating from the mid 1970s this hails from the late and unlamented BIC 1000 table. A very well made unit from the US, this turntable bristled with innovative features (not the least being two motors, one for the drive, and one for the auto functions)
Anti-skating doesn’t get much prettier than this!