Most turntables have an adjustable knob that you can use to set the anti-skating feature. You can either follow the manufacturer’s instructions for where to set this knob or make any changes as needed if you get a new cartridge.
I’m Donovan, and I’ve been a music lover all my life. I’ve worked in the music industry and write and record as often as possible. I’m also a vinyl enthusiast with an extensive record collection. I know through first-hand experience how to set anti-skating on a turntable.
This post will show you how to set anti-skating on a turntable. I’ll walk you through all the steps to dial in this feature and provide you with some other relevant details. My goal is to help you get the perfect turntable setup.
Let’s get rolling.
- Key Takeaways
- What is Anti-Skate on a Turntable?
- How to Set Anti-Skating on Turntable
- Final Thoughts
- You can set the anti-skating on most turntables by turning the built-in knob located near the base of the tonearm.
- Turning this knob adjusts the counterweight and balance of the tonearm, which creates more or less force on the stylus in the record.
- Many turntables are properly set up out of the box, but you should follow any manufacturer’s instructions for this if not.
- Some turntables don’t have adjustable anti-skate settings. This is rare, but if you don’t see a knob, you might not be able to make adjustments.
What is Anti-Skate on a Turntable?
The anti-skate feature on a turntable keeps the tonearm, cartridge, and needle at the proper weight and force to play your records correctly. It’s called anti-skate because this weight and balance prevent the needle from bouncing around.
Nearly all turntables come with anti-skating. It is an essential aspect that helps a turntable function properly. Without anti-skating, you might not be able to get the proper weight and balance, which would inhibit playback.
Anti-skate also helps get the ideal sound from the record. With the proper amount of force applied down into the grooves, you get a stereo audio signal as it was intended to be listened too. If this pressure is off, you won’t hear music as intended.
How to Set Anti-Skating on Turntable
Setting the anti-skating on a turntable is pretty simple and typically just involves making a few minor adjustments. Nearly every turntable comes with adjustable anti-skating, but there are some that don’t.
If you don’t have an adjustable anti-skate feature, you can really make any changes. The tonearm should be properly balanced by the manufacturer if the model doesn’t allow you to make any changes.
How to Adjust Anti-Skate on Turntable
Most turntables have an anti-skate knob located near the base of the tonearm. By turning this knob one way or the other, you can set the anti-skating on your turntable.
There isn’t one universal anti-skate setting, so you’ll need to be aware of the signs or when these settings aren’t correct. And if you change the cartridge on your turntable or buy a used one, it’s a good idea to set things up before playing a record.
A lot of turntables will have two knobs to make adjustments. These include the anti-skate knob and the counterweight. These allow you to change both the tracking force and anti-skate of the turntable.
If you aren’t sure what your current settings are or should be, you can check your user’s manual for tips on getting started. If that manual tells you what the settings should be, turn the knobs until they are in the correct position.
If you don’t have a user’s manual, you can make adjustments based on the sound of your record or how the tonearm is operating.
If you hear a lot of distortion coming from your records, especially near the end of one side, this indicates that the anti-skating is set too high or the weight is too heavy. The added weight digs into the grooves and causes distortion.
You can adjust this by backing off the anti-skate by turning the knob. You should only make minor adjustments at first so you don’t go too far in the other direction.
If you experience skipping or skating, like if the needle is not staying within the grooves of the record, your anti-skating it too low or too light. You need to adjust things to that more downward force occurs and holds the arm and cartridge in place.
This is also done by turning the knobs on your record player. Again, just take your time so you don’t go too far in the other direction.
Turntable Anti-Skate Weight
The counterweight knob and anti-skate knob are two different aspects of your turntable, and you’ll likely need to adjust both. Some turntables bundle these adjustments into one, but seeing them separated is more common.
An easy place to start with getting the counterweight and anti-skate knobs synced up is to turn their respective settings to the same thing. So if the counterweight is set to one gram, you’ll want to turn the anti-skate knob to one.
This should get you pretty close to the ideal setup, but you still might need to make minor adjustments from there. And if the two knobs are bundled into one, just turn the knob until you get the proper weight and anti-skate.
How to Tell if Anti-Skate is Working
The easiest way to tell if your turntable’s anti-skate feature is working is to play a record and see what happens. If you don’t have any issues and everything sounds and plays correctly, your anti-skating is probably working just fine.
But if you have any issues with the needle bouncing around or skipping or are hearing lots of distortion or other audio playback issues, anti-skating might not be working. You’ll need to make any necessary adjustments to get it properly set up.
If a turntable isn’t playing correctly and you can’t seem to adjust the anti-skating or tracking force properly, you might need to take it to a vinyl repair shop. There could be issues with the control arm or other aspects of the turntable that can’t be fixed with basic adjustments.
Anti-Skate Blank Vinyl Calibration Record
Some people like to use a blank vinyl calibration record to dial in anti-skate settings. This is an advanced way of doing it, and I don’t recommend it if you’re just getting into vinyl for the first time.
But it is a highly effective way to set up your anti-skate perfectly. It basically just involves using a record that doesn’t have music on it while watching how the arm and needle track through during playback.
You can then make any necessary adjustments using the blank calibration record as your guidepost. The video below gives you some good instructions on how to do this, and it’s not that difficult to do if you have the record on hand.
Keep in mind that your anti-skate adjustments might be slightly different than those shown in the video. It still serves as a good reference to show you how the blank record can be used to your advantage.
Here are a few short answers to some of the most frequently asked questions related to how to set anti-skating on a turntable.
Is anti-skating necessary?
The anti-skating feature on your turntable is necessary to get the proper balance from your tonearm and cartridge for ideal playback. The needle might not sit in the groove without this feature and can bounce or skate around.
How does anti-skate affect sound?
The anti-skate feature on your turntable affects sound by regulating the pressure of the needle on the record. If the arm is not balanced correctly, you might experience distortion or skipping, depending on if it’s too heavy or too light.
What should I set my turntable anti-skate?
There isn’t one exact setting that you should set your anti-skate feature to on your turntable. Many turntables will be properly set right out of the box, with the adjustment knob at zero. But you’ll need to make adjustments if it’s not set or when you change a cartridge.
How do I know if my anti-skate is correct?
If your turntable is functioning properly and you don’t notice any distortion or skipping, your anti-skate is probably set correctly. If you notice skating issues or distortion, you’ll need to adjust the anti-skate knob accordingly to resolve these issues.
How do I stop my tonearm from skating?
You need to adjust the anti-skating knob on your turntable to stop your tonearm from skating. You need to make the arm have more weight on the needle, and you can turn the knob until this happens.
Setting the anti-skate feature on your turntable is usually as easy as turning the anti-skate knob and counterweight. You’ll need to watch or listen to a record to know what adjustments are needed, but setting these is simple when you know how.
Using a blank calibration record is an advanced way of setting the anti-skating. This is a recommended way to go about things if you are a serious vinyl enthusiast or want to get the best possible settings for your turntable.
Have you ever adjusted the anti-skate settings on your turntable? Let me know in the comments below.