I use the same method as you - a blank disc. I have used 12-inch lacquer blanks, but I also have a couple of LPs with blank sides. For 78s, any single-faced shellac record with a completely blank side will do the trick (some have designs printed on the blank side, or a very coarse spiral toward the center - no good in either case). The nice thing about using a completely blank side is that you can check the arm at various points across the surface. I have a couple of test LPs that have a narrow, blank band, but that doesn't tell you what's happening anywhere else across the record surface.
I have found that some tonearms are pretty consistent across the surface of the record, while others are not. Victor Campos used to tell me that dynamic forces of the stylus in a modulated groove may not require the same setting as a blank disc, and that it will probably vary across the record surface. It’s going to be a compromise, just as cartridge alignment will be a compromise (correct only at two points across the surface of the record).
A few years ago, at an ARSC conference presentation, I asked a question about the Jelco tonearms not having an anti-skate that went higher than 3 grams. I got a very defensive rather than a helpful answer. When I replaced the arm on my archival turntable - an SME 3012R - with a Jelco SA-750L, I was able to answer my own question. At tracking forces higher than 3 grams, the maximum Jelco anti-skate setting of 3 is still sufficient. Even with a tracking force of 7 grams on my Stanton 500 AL, the arm stays stationary on a blank 78 side with the Jelco anti-skate set at 3.
These are my observations, for whatever they're worth.
Audio Engineer Emeritus
The Crane School of Music
SUNY at Potsdam, NY 13676
"Great art presupposes the alert mind of the educated listener."
"A true artist doesn't want to be admired, he wants to be believed."
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Sent: Tuesday, December 22, 2020 4:09 PM
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Subject: [EXTERNAL] [ARSCLIST] Adjusting Anti-Skate
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OK, I’m going to open up a can of worms here…………………
Most turntables have an anti-skate adjustment. Some do not & some have a counterweight suspended from a thread (which, is surprisingly accurate).
I learned years ago that the anti-skate (A-S) adjustment should be 9 to
11 % of the vertical tracking force (VTF).
Once the turntable is set up & with everything properly adjusted, my method has been to adjust the A-S by playing a blank disc (usually a
lacquer) & set the A-S so that the tonearm tracks steadily in the middle of the disc. A slight drift towards the center is desirable but generally difficult to achieve. When digital recording became the norm, I began visually & audibly checking the fades for all of the material being transferred from disc to make sure the modulation is equal (unless it is intended otherwise). When I purchased my 1^st set of AES Coarse Groove Calibration discs, (AES-S001-064) I was pleasantly surprised to find a generous band of no modulation in the center of the discs although there is no mention that it is to be used for A-S adjustment.
I recently read that an easy way to adjust A-S is to adjust it so that the tone arm stays steady in the dead wax area of the record to be played. I tried this & found that when the tone arm is placed in the center of a blank disc, the tone arm travels to the outside of the disc.
So, what’s the correct adjustment? I thought I’d ask the experts on this
forum: How do you adjust anti-skate? Do you use sophisticated measurement tools? Comments? Opinions?
Corey Bailey Audio Engineering