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Non-Smoking Man

Can a 12" tonearm do without bias adjustment?

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Super Wammer

As a re-tipper, Peter Ledermann sees the results of incorrectly set bias every day...

https://www.sound-smith.com/faq/how-do-i-adjust-anti-skating-my-cartridge

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31 minutes ago, bigfool1956 said:

As a re-tipper, Peter Ledermann sees the results of incorrectly set bias every day...

https://www.sound-smith.com/faq/how-do-i-adjust-anti-skating-my-cartridge

Yes, but the damage he talks about is from too much anti skate caused mainly by using test records to set it.

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Super Wammer
1 minute ago, CliveG said:

Yes, but the damage he talks about is from too much anti skate caused mainly by using test records to set it.

That's because he sees that the most. Right under the title before the videos you will see the statement "Yes you do need anti-skating".

I find it interesting that every manufacturer that I've seen that states you don't need anti-skate are makers of unipivots. Could it be that the force of the anti-skate doesn't sit well with a simple unipivot design?

There are arm/cartridge combinations where you can "get away" with not using bias, but that's not the same as being correctly set up. None of your old style record players had anti-skate, such as a dansette or a BSR auto-changer, but they would also have a conical stylus, probably in a ceramic cartridge. Not what I'd call a role model for a decent system.

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and I agree, you do need anti skate in most situations. 

I not sure about Unipivots, the Graham Phantom certainly has anti skate which works quite well.

The article also implies that Moving Coils are less sensitive to it. My experience is only with Moving Coils. The last time I had a MM  I didn't even know what anti skate was.

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Some informative and authoritative contributions - thanks.

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Why is there less need for anti skate with a mono cartridge, Clive?

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Because incorrect A/S does not lead to any loss of information in a pure mono system. The horizontal modulations can be picked up from either wall of the groove.

These days most of us listen to mono on a stereo system. Back in the pre-stereo days with only one speaker the effect would have been impossible to detect. I stand to be corrected on this, but I think anti-skate mechanisms were only invented when stereo came in. Listening to mono on a stereo set up the effect of incorrect A/S is subtle, more of a perceived shift off centre of the image. 

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9 hours ago, CliveG said:

Because incorrect A/S does not lead to any loss of information in a pure mono system. The horizontal modulations can be picked up from either wall of the groove.

These days most of us listen to mono on a stereo system. Back in the pre-stereo days with only one speaker the effect would have been impossible to detect. I stand to be corrected on this, but I think anti-skate mechanisms were only invented when stereo came in. Listening to mono on a stereo set up the effect of incorrect A/S is subtle, more of a perceived shift off centre of the image. 

I’m sure you’re correct.  If we still had mono switches there wouldn’t be an issue with mono replay (as it avoids spurious channel imbalance and cancels any noise differential) and I expect higher tracking weights and conical styli also contributed to it being irrelevant.  However, having different information in each groove wall for stereo meant equal balance became important, and hence antiskate or bias adjustments. 

Edited by Nopiano

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The Cantus arm is a unipivot without an antiskate meschanism. Its made by Scheu Analog, a German turntable manufacturer based in Berlin. It was reviewed in Hifi World when mounted on their 'Timbre' model. (The late)Tony Bolton did the review and whilst he noted the lack of anti skate mechanism he didnt draw attention to any problems in playback that may be due to this. In fact he loved it. (To quote Tony he said that 'the design is unusual in having no antiskate mechanism. The manufacturers claim the design obviated the need for it.' But he leaves it at that.)

Interestingly given Clive's point about mono reproductiuon not being affected, 2 of the pieces that featured in the review were Oscar Peterson and Milt jackson's 'John Brown's Body', and the Colombia Symphony Orchestra's Firebird Suite - the latter's 'opening growling bass strings set the tone and the speed of the attack of the violins had an urgency to them that made the music sound very exciting.'

Tellingly, he continues,

'This is a MONO pressing in near mint condition and, on this deck, sounded like a showcase for the capabilities of MONO records' (My emphasis and quoted from HiFi World p91 June 2014. I wouldnt be surprised if the other track, John Brown's body was also mono. (It is indeed = .VLP 9002. The stereo version is SVLP. Added later.)

So was the Timbre/Cantus flattered unintentionally by an accidental choice of mono records?

What did you make of the 12" version of the Cantus in your September 2008 review, Adam? Did you think  that the lack of antiskate was an issue?

Jack NSM

Edited by Non-Smoking Man

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What did you make of the 12" version of the Cantus in your September 2008 review, Adam? Did you think  that the lack of antiskate was an issue?

Jack NSM

I can't even remember what I had for breakfast today, let alone what I thought of a review item from 10 years ago!!

I’ve still got my notes somewhere, though, so I’ll see if I can find them when I get a minute.

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On ‎27‎/‎01‎/‎2019 at 08:26, CliveG said:

Because incorrect A/S does not lead to any loss of information in a pure mono system. The horizontal modulations can be picked up from either wall of the groove.

These days most of us listen to mono on a stereo system. Back in the pre-stereo days with only one speaker the effect would have been impossible to detect. I stand to be corrected on this, but I think anti-skate mechanisms were only invented when stereo came in. Listening to mono on a stereo set up the effect of incorrect A/S is subtle, more of a perceived shift off centre of the image. 

Playing a mono record is actually quite a good check for optimised bias setting... if you have a mono button on your amp.

When you play a mono record and  push the mono button you'll sometimes   hear a subtle difference in the quality  of sound. [typically a slightly brighter or edgier sound when set to Stereo].

The closer to optimum the bias is set, the less of a difference will be audible on pushing the mono button...to the point, when everything is just right, that you'll struggle to hear any effect of pushing the  button.    [Yes , there are likely other variables at play as well , but they don't stop the bias effect being audible here].

I'd have to take some issue with folks who believe bias to be less critical  with lower static compliance cartridges. This assumes that the only issue with bias is cantilever deflection.    Unequal tracking force  on each wall of the groove will also result in different levels of deflection in the vinyl surface as the stylus tracks, compromising any centrally placed  images.  Uneven wear to both stylus & record will also result over time.

This stuff can be just as important sonically as a cantilever pointing in the wrong direction .;)

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I was never convinced when using a VPI JMW arm that twisting the cable was very effective,I think they did make at one time an add on bias arm and weight.

I was shown many year's ago a simple trick to set bias using the Shure audio obstacle course LP.Track 2 has a section where you can adjust the balance on your amp by using a test tone which alternates from the left speaker then the right,just adjust the bias to level match the volume and that's all it takes,I have used this method with Kiseki,Lyra and Koetsu cartridges and have never felt the need to deviate and the cantilever's have always remained straight.  

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For anybody with half way decent turntable  set up, the best way to fine tune bias is just to listen.

Most makers guide lines and calibration will get you in the right ball park .  After that just fine tune by ear.

When the bias is just right, everything drops quite suddenly into  focus with a stable and precise sound stage. The sound is also more tuneful .

The effect is not subtle, its almost like a clear on/off or  right/wrong ...  Doesn't require golden ears top pick it up..

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On 28/01/2019 at 12:52, Beobloke said:

I can't even remember what I had for breakfast today, let alone what I thought of a review item from 10 years ago!!

I’ve still got my notes somewhere, though, so I’ll see if I can find them when I get a minute.

It is still obtainable on the internet Adam, providing you tap in 2008 with the rest of the info. Without the year it doesnt come up. To do you and the arm credit Ive read it quite a few times and its been on my 'wanted' list for some time. (Like you I enjoy a unipivot!) However, it has to be said you pass over the potential issue of the lack of antiskating device on this arm..

Howcome you are tougher on lack of antiskate these days than you were then?

Edited by Non-Smoking Man

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