WAM Engineering's New, Improved WallySkater V2.1

Skating, a pivoted tonearm’s tendency to “skate” towards the record center is real, is not created by “centripetal force” and is not best ignored because compensating for it somehow worsens sonic performance.

If you do not apply some kind of skating counterforce, the stylus will ride the inner groove throughout the record side, producing uneven record and stylus wear. And it can’t possibly improve record playback sound.

The cause of skating is friction produced as the stylus courses through the grooves. The amount of friction depends to some degree upon the stylus profile and even the record’s particular vinyl formulation but VTF (vertical tracking force) is the greatest skating amount determinant.

As for why the groove friction causes the inward force, I’m afraid my mentor Wally was incorrect when he stated (and I repeated around the world) that the cause is the arm’s offset angle wherein a line drawn directly behind the cantilever points to a “phantom pivot” and not the actual pivot located off to the left. That sounds reasonable but it’s simply not true as will be shown in an upcoming post.

The implication of this correction is that longer arms, while reducing the offset angle due to geometry, do not reduce skating force by any measurable degree and arms produced with zero offset angles do not eliminate skating! (Though longer arms do exhibit slightly less skating).

For more than a decade now, I’ve used the original WallySkater created by the late mechanical engineer Wally Malewicz to set anti-skating on tone arms that don’t have measurable anti-skating adjustability and to test the accuracy of those that do.

And though Wally’s reasoning for the cause of skating was incorrect the device worked effectively and still does, though it could be cumbersome and somewhat difficult to use.

Now, J.R. Boisclair, working with Wally’s son Andrzej, whose “day job” is as a mechanical engineer in the medical field, has released a much improved WallySkater v2.1. WAM Engineering's original 2.0 improved WallySkater was quickly superseded with version 2.1 and all 2.0 customers received free of charge the upgrade.

The new device, along with being a more physically “finished” product (the original’s lower rod had marking lines drawn on with a “Magic Marker”), lets you more accurately set anti-skating depending upon arm length and it allows you to accurately measure at two points, one near the outer groove area where skating is greater and one closer to the record’s center where skating diminishes. Properly designed systems apply less anti-skating as the stylus approaches the inner groove area.

Close up showing embossed, not drawn markings. (Photo: MF)

Baseplate showing various, arm-length dependent post locations. (Photo: MF)

I’m not going to go into set up and use details here other than to say that the goal is to produce a deflection of the loop holding up the arm at the fingerlift from the plumb bob, depending upon arm length, of between 9 and 11 markings, which represents between 9 and 11 percent.

You can download the instruction manual yourself from the website and see how it’s done. There’s definitely a learning curve involved, and it’s definitely not for “klutzes” (though, for that matter, neither is setting up your own cartridge). It’s best to experiment with the stylus guard on until you get “the hang” of it (pun intended). The WallySkater is also useful to check vertical bearing quality (vertical bearing being what produces horizontal arm movement) and the effect of tonearm wire on free arm movement.

WallySkater 2.1 costs $260 and can be ordered directly from the WAM Engineering LLC> Website.

If your arm has a built in anti-skating gauge like what Rega or Pro-Ject offers, I’ve found those to be accurate using the original WallySkater so you really don’t need to own one, but for most arms, even some with notches on lever arms, you’ll get far greater accuracy using the WallySkater AND DO NOT USE A BLANK RECORD! It’s a very useful device for an audio club to own so it can be borrowed and passed around as needed if you don’t want to invest in one for your own use.

Quick story: once traveling in Europe with my set up tools, I forgot to pack them in my checked luggage. I got through the first security check at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport no problem. But when I got the gate check the security guard saw it on the X-ray and pulled it out of the bag.

I’m thinking “good luck explaining that thing to an airport security agent!”, when it suddenly came to me! She pulled out the disassembled WallySkater and said with some skepticism and caution, “What is the purpose of this?” I looked her directly in the eye and said “This is used for skating”. And being from Amsterdam and not wanting to look ignorant she said “Oh! Right! Okay. Pack up and go!”

Coming up shortly, a detailed explanation of why skating occurs even when an arm has no offset angle.

WAM Engineering LLC
(707) 210-6345

Mijostyn's picture

I just came from Wally Skater's web site and thoroughly reviewed their thinking.
Anyone out there who does not believe in anti skate devices just keep an eye on your cantilever as the stylus falls into the groove. It will deflect toward the rim of the record, with a high compliance cartridge alarmingly so. Never mind the left channel groove wear. The geometry of the coils within the magnetic gap or field have now changed upsetting channel balance. The suspension is no longer linear but stiffer in one direction than the other (left channel greater than right channel.) This will affect resonance frequencies and most notably bass performance in an asymmetrical fashion. Symmetry is critical for imaging.
A tonearm without anti skating is like a helicopter without a tail rotor. Do the twist:)
As for the cause of skating the "water skiing" (self centering) and applied torque (due to offset) are both at play. Both are right. Saying one of them is wrong I believe is incorrect. Yes, a dead straight tonearm will skate if it is not exactly tangent to the record or the record surface is not level. If a stylus is exactly tangent to the groove in a line from the stylus through the horizontal pivot it will still skate depending on the overhang. Skating always decreases toward the center of the record. This is accounted for by correctly set up pivoting, magnetic and pendant anti skate devices.
Wally Tools believes that test records with anti skate tracks are useless because they are over modulated. I have used the Hi Fi News Analog Test Record for years and it always gets me in the ball park. How do I know? When I drop the stylus into the groove the cantilever angle does not change. Perfect anti skate is impossible. Trying to prove one method is better than another is like trying to herd 20 chipmunks into the same trap at once.
I have never used a Wallyskater. Mr Fremer obviously likes it so I would have to assume it also gets you into the ball park. I am not about to buy it for $260.00. The $40 Hi Fi News record gets me where I need to go. If I were to use one and decide that it gets me into a smaller ball park I might consider it. But this will not last long as I am lusting for the Schroeder LT tonearm which requires only a blank record to set up and Frank supplies it with the arm. Put the Lt on either Dohmann Helix turntable and you most definitely have a final destination record playing device. Anti skating need not apply.

Eskisi's picture

Isn’t the easiest and most foolproof way of setting anti-skate by just looking at the stylus while playing a “good” record (no off-center hole, no warp) and setting the force such that the stylus is not being yanked right or left but sits straight, just as before it hit the record surface? After all that is what we are trying to achieve.

It seems to me that beats using a complicated gadget by the medical tech son of someone who misunderstood what anti-skate was about in the first place.

Here is a related circle of forces riddle — when entering a curve, for best “corner hugging,” you should accelerate in the case of a front wheel drive car but not with rear wheel drive. Why?

Mantro's picture

So many people online have recommended a blank record for anti-skate setup, I bought one for this purpose. Your ALL CAPS emphasis is concerning. What is the mistake everyone is making if the idea is that bad?

Wouldn't a blank record approximate the drag of the stylus and the variation due to tracking force changes, producing the friction you say causes skating? Logically, the difference in contact area would make this imperfect, but the reasoning feels like a sound approximation.

Wally tools says this method results in far too much force being applied, but I found I actually lowered my anti-skate dramatically compared to how I received the setup from Needle Doctor, where it appears they adjusted it to "medium" (whatever that actually is) like Clearaudio seems to recommend. I have the Satisy arm with the unmarked magnetic anti-skate and I'm using an Ortofon Quintet Red right now, so Clearaudio's instructions, even as minimal as they are, don't seem to apply.

Is spending $260 plus shipping the only way set the anti-skate on my Clearaudio Concept? I can't see spending that on a single-purpose tool I'd use once every several years if/when I spring for a new cartridge.

I'm fairly new to vinyl playback, so I appreciate any input. It's been an adventure to learn.

Michael Fremer's picture
Since skating is caused by friction in the record groove, right off the bat it should be obvious that a grooveless record will produce far less friction than you'll even encounter in an actual record groove, while the Hi-Fi News test record referred to by a reader in the comment above yours is stupidly over modulated for the suggested purpose and is located at the wrong place on the disc surface. So, using a blank record and setting anti-skating to where the arm doesn't move will always result in the wrong setting. Yes, setting to "medium" strikes me as an overly coarse and not particularly useful setting. I've used the original WallySkater to confirm settings on Pro-Ject and Rega turntables where they suggest setting at "notch one" for 1 gram tracking and "notch two" for 2 gram tracking and the WallySkater confirmed the accuracy of their anti-skating systems—one spring-based and one thread-and-weight based. Clearly there's no point to spending $260 when your cartridge costs $100! That's also true of the digital microscope...
mcrushing's picture

Michael, have you read Peter Ledermann and Frank Schroder's anti-skating advice? I'd be curious what you think.

Peter puts a lot of emphasis on the relationship between skating and groove modulation, too. He says test records can have 80-90% modulation and that after some calculations, Frank arrived at 30-40% as a good "average" modulation for real-world records. Schroeder reverse-engineered a "right" amount of AS force based on that, and discovered a method for anyone to apply this "right" amount without tools... and it actually does involve a blank record (or rather, the blank area between the runout grooves.) Peter argues the amount of friction on deadwax is "similar enough" for Frank's method to work. He goes deep on it here:


I'd be interested in your take, Mike. But I'll say for my part that using this method (and tweaking azimuth AFTER) produced a very different setting than I'd used previously...and a frankly stunning sonic improvement. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone for whom a $260 skating tool doesn't make sense.

It can be a little frustrating the first time, but I found a way to make it more idiot-proof. I can post that here if anyone's interested.

WallyTools - WAM Engineering LTD's picture

I have a great deal of respect for Frank and Peter. As for this method, I can only say that I've done the calculations on skating forces inside of 60mm radius (getting close to the label) and they are quite a bit higher there than over the playing surface (60.325mm - 146.05mm IEC standard). The forces at these tight radii are also increasing VERY RAPIDLY as the stylus moves inward. As a result, I have difficulty seeing how this method could be easily reproducible or accurate, but I am always open to more information.

I also know - based upon practical tests - that the stylus profile will play a pretty big role in skating force on a blank record - and particularly so when you are inside of the 60mm radius. If you have a spherical stylus, it won't matter at all. If you have a line contact, Shibata, Geiger or other fine profiled stylus then it acts as a skating blade (yes, ice skating) would act if you tried to drag it across the ice on a line not parallel to the blade, but diagonally to it.

When I started creating the videos that Michael will soon share, I was disheartened that my practical experiments in skating were not working out entirely as we had calculated they would; until, that is, we switched to a spherical stylus and removed the variable of the stylus profile interfering with direction of travel of the stylus across the record surface.

mcrushing's picture

Thanks, I’m always open to new information too. Your comments (and Michael’s post) are interesting because they contrast with my current understanding of the skating force (I assume degree of pivot to be the reason for skating) so I look forward to the videos. I’m not an engineer nor do I excel at math, so I’m not sure what information I can provide you other than my own observations.

My understanding of Ledermann’s philosophy is that it stipulates stylus-to-spindle distance, stylus offset to the groove, and groove modulation (along with stylus profile, which I’d not considered til now) are constantly variable and therefore the best you can hope for is an amount of AS that represents the best compromise across the entire surface and spectrum of modulation of the record you’re listening to. As Peter puts it, you want equal pressure on each groove wall MOST of the time. This means AS will be too low when you hit a very dynamic passage (when hopefully you have enough VTF to compensate), and AS will be too high in quiet passages (where hopefully the modulation is low enough that you won’t mistrack).

I might misunderstand, but I think that Schroeder isn’t trying to optimize AS performance within 60mm of the spindle, so much as he’s stating that the stylus’s behavior within 60mm is indicative of whether your AVERAGE anti skating force (assuming an average 30-40% modulation) is in the ballpark. (It’s important to note that the method is NOT trying to achieve a stylus that stands still on the runout area, but one that moves toward the spindle MORE SLOWLY on the deadwax than it would if it were actually in the runout groove. I also agree that eyeballing the speed your tonearm drifts is a very imprecise measurement. I used a record with a short B side and a lot of deadwax between the spirals of the runout groove and aimed for a speed at which the arm moved slowly enough that the groove “caught up” with it from behind.)

Anyway as I said, I’m not an engineer but I do enjoy talking with them on occasion. Peter Ledermann made me a believer in the effect anti skate has on sonics, and I’m looking forward to your videos. I think my cartridge setup is about as dialed as it’s ever been. But no question, your gauge would provide a much better way to measure and repeat the setup. Wishing you lots of success with the new product!

mtemur's picture

I tried that method and I can not say that it’s accurate.more importantly there are matrix engravings between runout grooves and if you try to lower your needle there it’s a high possibility to land it on those engravings. then it is a possible risk to damage your stylus. not to mention causing wrong skating effect.
I found out that computer based anti-skating alignments are more accurate. at least it works for me better than the others.
the problem with anti-skating is that if it’s not properly set it changes the zenith angle. or should I say skating changes the zenith angle cause it bends the cantilever towards the outside of the record and anti-skating needs to straighten it back to the initial alignment which you set up with a protractor. as far as I know there is no special tool to set up zenith angle other than aligning cantilever to the straight line on the protractor. some protractors do a better job than the others but it’s a basic optical method, not precise.
even if there is no dedicated tool or software for zenith alignment (as far as I know of) I set it up using computer software’s other alignments such as vta, azimuth and anti-skating. it is very hard to do it that way and computer software can give more harm than good if you really don’t know what you’re doing.

jazz's picture

but the missing information AT WHICH POSITION within the runout groove the setting has to be applied leaves much room for different settings. Done within the last half inch before the label gives very different results than doing it near the beginning of the runout groove.

Doing it not directly but quite near the label results in just slightly undercompensated distortion tests within the inner half of the record grooves, which so far was what I thought is meaningful to achieve, as Symphony recording’s fortissimos in my experience come close to the 80mu and sometimes even 100mu tracking results from tests (some of them, not the Hi-Fi News).

I understood the Wally method would compensate much less than that, meaning, my left channel would then still distort over 100Mu at some distance from the label and my right Channel probably at 60.

All in all, it seems measuring the whole thing at a meaningful position would be most promising if feasible.

Mantro's picture

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply.

My cartridge is the Quintet so it's a bit better than the $99 2m, but your point is taken. It was an entry level MC since I blew my budget on the table and upgrade arm. It's probably the next upgrade.

Too bad Clearaudio can't provide a tool, or at least some more direction. I'm very happy with the table, but it's frustrating to be told that I'm going to damage my records and my cartridges if I don't buy such a specialized 3rd party tool (or a different table, I guess...??).

Bogester's picture

Hi Michael, have you used the WallySkater to check the accuracy of the anti-skate system on Rega's newer tonearms (e.g. RB303), which I believe use magnets rather than springs?

mtemur's picture

skating force basically occurs because of overhang of pivoted tonearms. in order to eliminate skating, tonearm should be tangential to all the groves form the beginning to the end of a record. you may think that tonearm is tangential at null points but it's not. on the other hand cantilever is tangential at null points because of offset angle but it doesn't help zeroing skating force. you may think that why do we need offset angle. we need it to reduce tracking error.

Michael Fremer's picture
Is correct. I will shortly publish WallyTool videos that explain all of this really well...
PeterPani's picture

a tangential tonearm also gets (at least theoretically) skating forces. The outer groove is longer than the inner groove. Means that the groove outer side wall velocity is higher than on the other side of the needle. That must produce a spinning force on the needle. I have no idea how small that force is and whether it has a noticeable effect.

WallyTools - WAM Engineering LTD's picture

...that is not the case. There is no centripetal or centrifugal forces at play here. Further, groove velocity has nearly zero impact on the coefficient of friction, so no impact on skating.

mtemur's picture

all pivoted tonearms need an anti-skating mechanism including tangential tonearms such as Thales. only linear tracking tonearms do not need anti-skating.

miniguy's picture

Not quite correct. Some pivoted arms, such as the Reed 5T, do not require anti-skate device since its design incorporates a moving pivot which prevents skating force from occurring.

mtemur's picture

Reed 5T is moving it's pivot point in Thales circle just like a linear tracking arm moves it's pivot point over a straight line. so it's operating more like a linear tracking than pivoted.

WallyTools - WAM Engineering LTD's picture

ALL pivoted tonearms have skating. Look for Michael’s upcoming article.

Mijostyn's picture

Michael, I am going to agree with Wally Tools on this one. The degree of friction is higher playing a blank record then a modulated one. Under normal circumstances the VTF is distributed along both sides of the stylus and the PSI is lower. When you play a blank record the full VTF is forced onto the very tip (point) of the stylus and the PSI increases by an order of magnitude. The stylus actually digs into the vinyl leaving a spiral scratch. The effect as Wally says is to overestimate the amount of anti skating required. Friction is higher. It is like dragging the tip of a knife over ice vs the side of a spoon. What slides more easily?

jazz's picture

setting antiskating so that critical tracks (or test tracks) in the inner area of the record begin to distort in both channels simultaneously and not in one only?

PeterPani's picture

using the bad for the good

jazz's picture

that the scale on those tone arms mentioned represent matching values. As far as I read in the past, those scales were told to overcompensate as much as the blank surface methods undercompensate.

Jim Tavegia's picture

I had pulled out my Shure test records a few months back and decided to test all the carts I had here to see which ones navigated which velocity bands the best. I was surprised that I had some that could not get to band 3 at 2 grams of tracking force. My Ortofon OM 30 and Shure M97 could. The ability to have a lightweight/compliant stylus/cantilever assembly and a properly mounted stylus shape is critical. I have often thought that a better move would be to have a much better cartridge and less spent on the turntable than the other way around. An example might be a Project Debut or Rega P1 with an Ortofon Black. The better the traceability of the stylus assembly the longer your records will last and sound better.

I think back to my radio station days and it didn't take long for the back-cueing of 45's with Shure M44s or Stanton 500E's to wear out the more popular records. The cantilever on those was extremely stiff. I haven't seen a cartridge test of frequency response or trackability for a cartridge since the Stereo Review days. We sure test digital to death.

I also wonder if time has been spent on looking at the formulations of vinyl and the hardness after pressing that could make the vinyl less prone to damage/record wear? This may be part of the heavier pressing of 180 gram vinyl, but I wonder if just thicker makes it better?

When one thinks of all that goes on within this mechanical medium it is a miracle of science that it can sound as great as it does.

sandyu's picture

While you might be physically able, theoretically, to mount a 2M Black to the Pro-Ject Debut, it would be dangerous. Due to the unique shape of the Black stylus within the 2M series, and the fact that the standard 8.6” Pro-Ject arm lacks VTA adjustment, the best you can do would be the Bronze in the 2M series.

However, it would be possible to mount a Black cartridge with a Bronze stylus, in the same way that you can mount a Bronze stylus to a Red cartridge.

You could add VTA to the Clearaudio Concept arm, but that costs $600+. Then again, any Clearaudio arm fits any Clearaudio turntable, so, again theoretically, you could instead add their linearly-tracking arm.

Moral: When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to recall your original intention was to drain the swamp.

Jim Tavegia's picture

You spend time adjusting VTA? I would begin to wonder if every TT that comes with a pre-fitted cartridge that they are all the right VTA? I fail to worry about perfection in the medium of greatest imperfections. Too many hands in the soup. If TT manufacturers really cared about achieving perfection would not most TT come with a 12" arm? That would at least be a better start.

sandyu's picture

The subject here was changing (in this case, upgrading) to other cartridges from the preinstalled ones in the same range.

So, yes — when I’m told by Ortofon that the shape of a particular stylus on a model they sell will ruin my vinyl if I install it on an arm I own, I will pay attention. You should too.

(Actually, I have no idea what you’re talking about, since your comment doesn’t relate In any way to this conversation.)

Jim Tavegia's picture

I didn't. So you are not capable of understanding yourself.

I am out. Having a discussion with some "audiophiles" is pointless.

sandyu's picture

I wasn’t the one who suggested swapping out a 2M Blue for a 2M Black on a Pro-Ject Debut. (The Debut ships with a Blue.)

That, sir, would be you. In your own words:

“An example might be a Project Debut ... with an Ortofon Black. The better the traceability of the stylus assembly the longer your records will last and sound better.”

My point was, ”Not necessarily.” Because An example might be a Project Debut or Rega P1 with an Ortofon Black. The better the traceability of the stylus assembly the longer your records will last and sound better.

In fact, vinyl wear depends on other factors as well, including stylus shape, which you neglected to consider. And this was well-explained by Ortofon, the manufacturer of both the Blue and Black cartridges.

sandyu's picture

Above should read: “ My point was, ”Not necessarily.” In fact, vinyl wear depends on other factors as well, including stylus shape, which you neglected to consider. And this was well-explained by Ortofon, the manufacturer of both the Blue and Black cartridges.”

Apologies, but my iPad shut down in the middle of composing that sentence.

infohou's picture

Glad Jim brought this up. Folks tend to spend too little on the cartridge. I see this in all forums.

Not just from a tracking ability standpoint, but from a sound standpoint as well. I read even magazine reviewers using low end carts on mid to high end tables. The vinyl reviewers on YouTube are especially guilty of having low end carts and tables.

Of course one should also make sure that the cartridge is a proper match for the intended tonearm.

Y'all take care,

Mijostyn's picture

The Wally Skater is a gauge that measures the anti skating force as a percentage of VTF and it will do that anywhere on the record giving you an idea of how well you anti skating mechanism was designed as the percentage should drop a little as the Skater is moved towards the center of the record. It may also tell you if the tonearms calibration (if it has any)is correct. The problem is correct to what?
The friction the stylus sees depends of VTF which the Wally skater accounts for, the stylus shape which the Wally Skater can not account for, the groove velocity which again the wally skater can not account for and finally the position on the record which the Wally Skater also accounts for. Anti skating is a ball park measurement. It is not an exact measurement. There is a range between the lowest and the highest required on any record given any stylus shape. No system of measurement can account for all of it. Mr Fremer likes the Wally Skater. I(who am a nothing in the world of Hi FI) do not. It is a passive test. I prefer an active one. He does not like The Hi Fi News Bias Tracks. I do. It gives you 4 different groove velocities from light to killer. Yes, it is at the end of the side. So What? As long as you understand that it will underestimate for the outside grooves you are OK. Putting the test at the outside of the record overestimates for the inner grooves. If you have a good tonearm the Anti Skate device should account for this. I feel more comfortable knowing how my stylus is tracking than looking at a scale. It would be fun however to use both the Wally Skater and the Test record to see if they agree with each other!

WallyTools - WAM Engineering LTD's picture

Thanks for your comments, Mijostyn.

Actually, we are right now fabricating parts to allow us to perform coefficient of friction tests using a number of variables such as stylus profile, musical genre, record treatments and more. This will allow us to update the WallySkater instructions to allow owners to really dial-in its accuracy given their stylus profile, arm length, preferred musical genre, etc. This new data won't change the WallySkater at all as it is already the most accurate tool on the market now to determine anti-skating and vertical bearing frictional forces. It will only improve instructions for its use depending upon individual gear and preferences of the owners.

How far off the use of the test record anti-skating results will be from the WallySkater results are dependent upon all of those things that influence the coefficient of friction PLUS arm length. That is usually in the 50% - 90% "too much" range but could exceed that range too.

jazz's picture

...at roughly which position of the record (e.g. how far from the spindle) does a tracking distortion test give symmetric distortion when antiskating is set correctly with the WallySkater?

The question bases on the experience that those tests usually just give exact symmetric distortion results just at one needle distance from spindle due to the varying skating effects on the disc in relation to the mostly constant antiskating force of the tonearm‘s mechanism.

WallyTools - WAM Engineering LTD's picture

...by "tracking distortion test" the test tracks on such records as HiFi News, etc. then I would say that I never want the distortion to be equal in both channels on such tests as the amplitude of those tracks is so far above the average amplitude level found in musical material that if I were to adjust to those levels I would have far too much pressure on the right channel's side of the groove almost all of the time I'm listening to my music and would cause wear on that side prematurely. The fact that the test tracks are not laid down on the record such that the track radii are sensitive to changing skating force across the record makes it even more inaccurate.

Depending upon what radius the stylus is at, the FRICTIONAL FORCE generated on the inner (left) channel from skating can vary between 40% to 50% of the FRICTIONAL FORCE of the stylus in the groove. I emphasize "frictional force" because it is NOT the same as the vertical tracking force. Just think of it this way: if there is X amount of friction generated on the groove EXCLUDING any friction generated by skating force, then there is around 1/2X ADDITIONAL force on the left channel as a result of skating force.

I hope that makes sense.

jazz's picture

I understand what you say. However my experience is, that tracking problems at inner radius’s where distortion on classical fortissimo symphony tracks is critical, start as soon as the cartridge is not able to go over 80Mu in one of the channels with distortion test tracks near the inner grooves. So to me those distortion test tracks seem not exaggerated (though there are differences between the test records)

As this inner groove section is where a correct anti skating setting is most important for proper tracking ... wouldn’t it be meaningful to adjust it for this purpose?

I’m aware there are dozens of theories around anti skating and the following I just found is just one of them as yours...but for me it bears some logic.


Mijostyn's picture

Thanx for joining in! Good idea giving a correction factor for stylus shape and arm length. After those corrections it would still be fun to see if various methods agree with one another or perhaps one of them is "Out To Lunch" as Eric Dolphy would say. There is a risk involved but reading a scale is more straight forward than listening to distortion or determining what a slow drift is. The only problem is the price. For people with many cartridges and reviewers who are always mounting cartridges it makes sense but most of us mount a cartridge perhaps every five years. What you might consider is a lease program where you charge full price for the tool then refund 90% of the cost on safe return. I would certainly do that. I could even do that run off for you:)

swimming1's picture

Do you guys ever actually listen to music? Engineering is so much fun! LOL

Mijostyn's picture

Just read your last post. Two things. First, I use the lowest velocity band to set antiskating and adjust so that there is no distortion in either channel. This coincides (sort of) with Frank Schroder's slow drift test depending on what your definition of slow is. This produces a negative cantilever drift test anywhere on the record. I put a line line with a very sharp awl on the front of every cartridge to use as a reference point. Using loops I watch the cantilever as the stylus is lowered into the grooves to see if it deflects from the reference point. Admittedly this is less accurate with cartridges of very low compliance.
Next, I'm not sure if it makes sense. The Wally Skater determines anti skating applied as a percentage of VTF. The higher the VTF the higher the frictional force the higher the compensation required. With no compensation the frictional forces are higher on the left channel. With perfect compensation the frictional force would be exactly equal on both channel regardless of stylus shape. Lets say the total frictional force = X. With perfect compensation each channel sees X/2. Are you saying that without any compensation the left channel sees X and the right channel sees X/2? I assume this figure would vary across the record. It also varies with groove velocity(modulation) and to some degree with tonearm geometry and overhang. There is no way to come up with an exact method of finding an inexact number. You can look for an average but an average for chamber music is going to be different than an average for Metal. Would a universal average suite any eventuality? I do not think anyone knows the answer to that question. I can use that glass of Lagavulin now.

WallyTools - WAM Engineering LTD's picture

Good scotch and some music will cure many things that ail you. I love the comment above by the writer that asked whether us geeks get any time in for listening. EXCELLENT QUESTION, THAT!

To your points: groove velocity has virtually no impact on frictional force and therefore no impact on skating forces, so take speed out of the equation. At least, that is what the mathematics say. I will soon be able to MEASURE this for myself and will recant if I need to.

Next, your approximation of which groove sees how much frictional force when no anti-skating is present is reasonably correct. It is a VERY ROUGH explanation, but close enough for our purposes here.

Skating forces change with groove amplitude, groove radius, stylus profile, etc. With the use of the WallySkater, we are aiming at an average setting that would apply even pressure to both channels over MOST of the record surface. The setting the WallySkater provides is sensitive to VTF and arm length. Once we do our research, we'll be able to provide adjustments to that setting that allow sensitivity to other factors such as musical genre, record treatments, stylus profiles, etc. Since skating force is constantly changing, the only "perfect" response to it would be some sort of dynamic anti-skating adjustment. Not likely to be worth it, in my opinion.

I am not a fan of inspecting the angle of the cantilever when no anti-skating is applied when playing across a spinning record because the variability is too great depending upon horizontal compliance of the cartridge. What frictional force is required to deflect the cantilever by 1 degree for a given cartridge of X compliance? Y compliance? Z compliance? I could calculate this, but most cartridge manufacturers do not even share - or even measure - horizontal compliance. Further, identifying this cantilever skew is tough enough when the record is not moving and you have a mirrored surface to increase your accuracy by 2X (thank you, WallyTractor) but good luck identifying 1 degree off without a mirror. How will you know you aren't seeing parallax error without the mirror? If your eye is in the wrong location when viewing the horizontal alignment of the cantilever, you can "see" a perfectly aligned cantilever that is, in fact, WAY off from perfect.

Tom L's picture

...Robbie Fulks, "Never did care for music much, it’s the high fidelity".

(That's a joke, folks. He's all about the music.)

Michael Fremer's picture
Flanders and Swan!
Tom L's picture

I had a little gramophone,
I'd wind it round and round.
And with a sharpish needle,
It made a cheerful sound...

Mijostyn's picture

Hi Wally tools

I'm not looking for perfect alignment, just drift against a mark on the cartridge thinner than the cantilever. It is actually pretty easy. I have not tried it with a very low compliance cartridge. All mine are medium to match my tonearm. Just another ballpark measurement.

For all you Reed 5T lovers out there the Schroder Lt does exactly the same thing without motors, lasers and power supplies for 1/2 the price.

Macman007's picture

Measure the value of owing a Wallyskater against the value of your cartridge and your record collection. If you are someone who has a significant investment in your collection, spend a significant amount seeking better or new high quality (33 or 45 RPM) pressings, PLUS invest a significant amount in your cartridge AND value best possible sound quality on the entire album side, not just the last 25%, then a Wallyskater is valuable and worthwhile to own. Even if you don't swap cartridges on a regular basis, it more than pays for itself in reduced groove and stylus wear.

A decent re-tip might cost you 500$ for say a 2500$ cart. Saving / reducing wear, increasing the total number of hours between cart overhaul or replacement, the Wallyskater pays for itself.
Same applies to your record collection. If you have 1000 LP's, even with an estimated average (low) value of 10$ ea., you already have 10K$ invested in your vinyl alone, plus the 2.5K$ shelled out for the cart. See where this is going?

Getting skating set close as possible with current knowledge and technology is still a better alternative to doing nothing, and letting everything go to pot quickly.

As an alternative, one could always rent the Wallyskater to offset cost, with the price of a replacement as a refundable deposit as long as it returns in the same condition it leaves. The same can be said for all the special tools used to set up arms, carts and tables in general.

You can be your own audio club, offer the tools for rent offsetting cost, if you don't see the value in owing the right tool for each job. The increases (not often subtle) in sonics alone is worth the price of admission, if you are looking to wring every last bit of performance from your particular combo.

It is interesting that some people claim Antiskating isn't necessary. With the knowledge presented in this article, how can anyone take that position, knowing wear on the cart and groove that is caused by improper or no antiskating applied.

As far as test records, I keep hearing about the Hi-Fi News test LP. The only one I own is the Cardas Test Record by the late great Stan Ricker. Is this not a decent test record, or is it overlooked accidentally, perhaps for important reasons? I ask this question here b/c for all I do know about vinyl, I know I need to learn more, and want to add a good quality test record to my vinyl tool box. The Right Tool For The Job, as my old mentor used to preach.

In all my adult life, that small bit of advice has served me faithfully to this very day!!.

rharmeson's picture

I blame Michael and his great love for Wally! All kidding aside, I purchased the WallySkater and the WallyTractor. These are affordable and highly accurate. I don't believe setting anti-skating via software is correct. I learned a lot about the forces on my uni-pivot arm due to the sensitivity of the WallySkater. Highly recommended. No batteries required. ;)

sgewe22's picture

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