There are so many terms and jargon for turntables, it is easy to get quickly confused. What is anti-skating? Well it has nothing to do with delightful winter sports. Calibrating and adjusting your turntable requires an understanding of anti-skating and the impact of the setting on your sound quality. Not only does it help your playback but it also works to protect your records.
What is Anti-Skating?
Anti-skating on a turntable refers to a specific feature. The feature prevents your tonearm from ‘skating’ across your vinyl records and causing an unpleasant sound quality when you play the record. During playback there is a force that pulls your tonearm toward the center of the platter that can cause skipping or scratching of your records.
How Anti-Skating Impacts Your Sound
Anti-skating impacts your sound quality by preventing the tonearm from skating over the surface of your records. By calibrating the anti-skating feature correctly, you reduce the risk of skipping and tonearm skating across your record. When you have too much anti-skate on your turntable, it puts excess pressure on your record and may damage the record. It also prevents the record from moving properly, which causes distortions in the sound. When the anti-skate is too low, the stylus ends up jumping and may cause distortions or skipping when you play the record.
When perfectly calibrated your stylus rests perfectly in the groove of your records ensuring that you have the proper channel balance for your left and right channels. You also minimize uneven stylus wear because it is not pushing to one side of the record groove. You should have dynamic sound without distortions, skips or oddities during playback. It should also track properly when you play a record rather than moving slowly or scratching the record.
Balancing Anti-Skating and Tracking Force
Anti-skating and tracking force work together for the optimal sound quality on your record. The tracking force applies pressure to the record to play the sound. You want to set the tracking force according to the instructions on the cartridge for your turntable, since exact recommendations may vary slightly.
Your anti-skate settings play an essential role in the sound of your records. When you set it properly, it balances your tracking force and prevents your record from skating over the surface of your record, putting excess pressure on your records or otherwise changing the quality of your sound. Fortunately, the settings are easy when you recognize that it counter-balances your tracking force and uses the same settings for the proper balance of pressure on your records.