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The Importance of Anti-skate, Do decks without it skew left?
Knowzy
post Oct 1 2008, 22:49
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In our last conversation, we came up with three increasingly strignent criterium for selecting a decent USB turntable:
  1. Ceramic cartridge never!
  2. Anti-skate
  3. Direct drive (remember, these are sub-$1,000 turntables)
I'm having particular trouble explaining the anti-skate requirement.

Here's what I'm hoping HA can answer:
  • Do turntables without anti-skate, such as the Audio-Technica LP2D-USB, truly have no compensation and ride the inner groove like a surfer catching a wave?
  • Someone at the Vinyl Engine suggested that the weight of the "high mass" tonearms found on such TT's essentially force the stylus into the middle of the groove. Thoughts on this?
I need some compelling reasons to choose a deck with anti-skate, especially for people who don't plan on replacing the cart.

There's already a good reason to choose a TT without anti-skate: Newbies don't need to learn how to balance their tonearm.

Thanks!
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Knowzy
post Oct 2 2008, 22:13
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My anti-skate questions are answered, so let me get right to the direct vs. belt drive requirement...

QUOTE (cliveb @ Oct 2 2008, 00:54) *
QUOTE (Knowzy @ Oct 1 2008, 22:49) *
[*]Direct drive (remember, these are sub-$1,000 turntables)
Where does that requirement come from?


I realize the direct drive requirement is up for debate and I am characterizing it as such in my upcoming comparison guide.

Certainly I'm not the expert here- you guys are. That said, here's how we got to this requirement:
  1. We're talking about USB turntables in particular. The best built turntables in this class are DJ turntables, which are almost exclusively direct drive.
  2. With the exception of the Pro-ject Debut, the wow and flutter specs on direct drive turntables are the best. Of couse, this says nothing about motor noise on badly implemented direct drive system. And none of the w&f specs even approach the legendary SL-1200.
  3. Direct drive USB TTs are the most expensive (again excluding the Debut) and generally don't come with a cart. The higher cost (hopefully) gives more room for better motors.
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Oct 2 2008, 03:48) *
There are two different approaches, and the question is: which one degrade most gracefully at the given price point? It depends, but generally, belt drive is preferred.


I think this is the nub of the debate- are the specific USB TT direct drive motors implemented better than belt drives? I can't answer that but I can give you names- Stanton, Numark and Kam make the DD USB TT's.

If you exclude the crap- USB TTs with ceramic carts and/or no anti-skate adjustment- you are left with few decks.

The belt drive turntables that remain (excepting Pro-ject) are either cheaper or have novelty features like recording directly to CD, iPod or Flash.

Based on the specs, the price and the fact that DJ's probably demand better fidelity than consumer vinyl archivists, we arrive at the debatable direct drive requirement.

But a poorly implemented DD system on any of these models could throw a monkeywrench in all of this.

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Oct 2 2008, 03:48) *
The OP implies there are "good" USB turntables - but are there? It might be a simple solution, but surely the "good" solution is a decent turntable, reasonable pre-amp, and reasonable sound card.


I didn't say "good," I said "decent." Decent < good in my mind! smile.gif

I am devoting considerable space to an "Are you sure you want to go this route?" section featuring a large, eyecatching SL-1200 photo. My readers will know that there is a much better turntable in this price range and offer tips on getting a non-USB TT connected to their computers.

I'm loving the conversation and challenging my statements and assumptions. I appreciate your help in getting my story straight before I publish.

This post has been edited by Knowzy: Oct 5 2008, 20:35
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botface
post Oct 3 2008, 07:10
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QUOTE (Knowzy @ Oct 2 2008, 22:13) *
My anti-skate questions are answered, so let me get right to the direct vs. belt drive requirement...

QUOTE (cliveb @ Oct 2 2008, 00:54) *
QUOTE (Knowzy @ Oct 1 2008, 22:49) *
[*]Direct drive (remember, these are sub-$1,000 turntables)
Where does that requirement come from?


Based on the specs, the price and the fact that DJ's probably demand better fidelity than consumer vinyl archivists, we arrive at the debatable direct drive requirement.



I think it's the other way round. Sitting comfortably in a quiet lounge listening to music - and especially archiving - demands a higher level of fidelity than belting out dance tunes in a noisy club. Surely what DJs want is a deck that will withstand regular manhandling and so I would guess a lot of money gets spent on making a DJ deck robust which a "consumer" deck just doesn't need, allowing the money to be spent where it matters to sound quality.
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Knowzy
post Oct 3 2008, 18:54
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QUOTE (botface @ Oct 2 2008, 23:10) *
QUOTE (Knowzy @ Oct 1 2008, 22:49) *
...the fact that DJ's probably demand better fidelity than consumer vinyl archivists, we arrive at the debatable direct drive requirement.


I think it's the other way round. Sitting comfortably in a quiet lounge listening to music - and especially archiving - demands a higher level of fidelity than belting out dance tunes in a noisy club. Surely what DJs want is a deck that will withstand regular manhandling and so I would guess a lot of money gets spent on making a DJ deck robust which a "consumer" deck just doesn't need, allowing the money to be spent where it matters to sound quality.

If you and I we're designing turntables, that would be the case. Unfortunately, the USB turntable market doesn't bear that out.

I think the main problem is, as Axon and WmAx suggested in our previous chat, consumer TT manufacturers are trying to meet a price point of $150 or less. And you just can't get a well-built deck at that price.

Of course (and I'm starting to feel like a broken record repeating this), the Pro-ject Debut stands out as a decent, non-DJ turntable. However, it's not very consumer friendy. There's no push-button switching between 33 and 45- you have to adjust the belt. The anti-skate adjustment is a "thread and weight" type (don't know the technical term).

Let's look at what's available to consumers. I won't waste everyone's time with TT's featuring ceramic carts.



Audio-Technica LP2D-USB, Street Price: $100


  • MM Cart
  • No anti-skate adjustment
  • Cart not replaceable (kinda goes without saying with no anti-skate adj.)
  • Plastic construction
  • 0.25% Wow and flutter


Sony PS-LX300USB, Street Price: $100


  • MM Cart
  • No anti-skate adjustment
  • Cart not replaceable
  • Plastic construction
  • 0.25% Wow and flutter


Ion TTUSB, Street Price: $125



Arguably the best consumer USB TT but still has serious drawabacks.
  • MM cart
  • Anti-skate adjustment
  • 1/2" Standard mount. However, numerous reviewers on Amazon report that replacing the cart with something decent, like the Shure M97xE, results in a background hum. It is reduced by placing aluminum foil under the mat in contact with the spindle!
  • Plastic construction
  • Specs not published
And guess what? Ion Audio is a division of Numark- a DJ TT manufacturer.

Compare these to the Numark TTXUSB, a DJ turntable...

Numark TTXUSB, Street Price: $375


  • Cart sold separately, 1/2" mount
  • Silicon rubber base
  • 0.15% Wow and flutter. Not great but compare to Pro-ject at 0.12%.
So there you have it, a quick snapshot of the USB TT market as it is today, where DJ TT's tend to come out on top.

I'm curious what the HA community thinks of Denon's current line-up of turntables. I ask because their sales and marketing guy recently said they are working on a USB TT at "mainstream pricing." Let's hope it's based on the DP-300F and not on the DP-29F.
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2Bdecided
post Oct 6 2008, 16:01
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QUOTE (Knowzy @ Oct 3 2008, 18:54) *
Let's look at what's available to consumers.
Please, no. Those horrible plasticky things you pictured will give me nightmares.


People have been making decent turntables for 30 years. Go on eBay and find one. Pay less, get more. Save the money for a decent cartridge and reasonable pre-amp and sound card. The latter two can also come from eBay!

Mind you, if you're publishing a widely read article, the problem is that whatever you says is great will shoot up in price on eBay. When everyone has forgotten your article, the price will plummet again!

Cheers,
David.
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Posts in this topic
- Knowzy   The Importance of Anti-skate   Oct 1 2008, 22:49
- - Axon   QUOTE (Knowzy @ Oct 1 2008, 16:49) Here...   Oct 1 2008, 23:12
|- - Knowzy   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 1 2008, 15:12) QUOTE (K...   Oct 1 2008, 23:34
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 1 2008, 23:12) The most...   Oct 2 2008, 11:48
|- - WmAx   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Oct 2 2008, 06:48) P.S...   Oct 2 2008, 16:19
- - cliveb   QUOTE (Knowzy @ Oct 1 2008, 22:49) In our...   Oct 2 2008, 08:54
|- - Soap   QUOTE (cliveb @ Oct 2 2008, 03:54) Indeed...   Oct 2 2008, 11:14
|- - cliveb   QUOTE (Soap @ Oct 2 2008, 11:14) This arg...   Oct 2 2008, 16:25
- - Axon   So, I haven't had a whole lot of experience in...   Oct 2 2008, 17:25
|- - WmAx   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 2 2008, 12:25) So, I ha...   Oct 2 2008, 17:55
|- - Axon   QUOTE (WmAx @ Oct 2 2008, 11:55) Time to ...   Oct 2 2008, 22:33
|- - WmAx   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 2 2008, 17:33) QUOTE (W...   Oct 2 2008, 22:49
|- - Axon   QUOTE (WmAx @ Oct 2 2008, 16:49) I looked...   Oct 3 2008, 07:24
|- - WmAx   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 3 2008, 02:24) Besides ...   Oct 3 2008, 07:37
|- - honestguv   QUOTE (Axon @ Oct 3 2008, 08:24) QUOTE (W...   Oct 3 2008, 10:40
- - Knowzy   My anti-skate questions are answered, so let me ge...   Oct 2 2008, 22:13
|- - botface   QUOTE (Knowzy @ Oct 2 2008, 22:13) My ant...   Oct 3 2008, 07:10
|- - Knowzy   QUOTE (botface @ Oct 2 2008, 23:10) QUOTE...   Oct 3 2008, 18:54
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (Knowzy @ Oct 3 2008, 18:54) Let...   Oct 6 2008, 16:01
- - Paul Sanders   I think anti-skate is very important. I made the ...   Oct 3 2008, 19:03
- - Knowzy   QUOTE (cliveb @ Oct 2 2008, 00:54) QUOTE ...   Oct 5 2008, 21:01
- - Knowzy   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Oct 6 2008, 08:01) Min...   Oct 6 2008, 20:45


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