Table Talk: How To Set Up a Turntable Page 4

6) Set the vertical tracking angle

Vertical tracking angle (VTA) is the angle of the tonearm relative to the record. Usually the top of the tonearm should be parallel (take a look at the image here) with the surface of the record when the stylus is on it. VTA has to be readjusted if you change to a different cartridge, because cartridges come in a variety of heights.

On tonearms that allow VTA adjustment, there’s usually a set screw somewhere near the bottom of the pivot that lets you raise and lower the back of the tonearm. If the top of the tonearm doesn’t sit parallel to the surface of the record, loosen the set screw, raise or lower the back of the arm to level it, then retighten the set screw.

7) Set the anti-skating force

Anti-skating keeps the stylus from pressing unevenly on the inside half of the groove. On many tonearms, this is nonadjustable, or the adjustment is primitive (sometimes consisting of a string, pulley, and weight as seen here). It’s not all that critical, but it should generally be about the same as the tracking force. Some test records include an anti-skating test tone that lets you verify this adjustment by ear.

8) Recheck the VTF

This one’s simple: Go back to Step 3, check to make sure your adjustments didn’t throw off the VTF, and readjust if necessary.

9) Play, tweak, repeat

Where you take your turntable setup from here is up to you. VTA is a great place to start: Raising the back of the tonearm slightly will tilt the tonal balance toward the treble, and lowering it will boost the bass. Or you can do what I usually do: Get the adjustment within safe and sane norms, pour yourself a glass of bourbon, and then get those records out.


MaxHedrm's picture

The Page links are all messed up in this article. It's great info, but I had to adjust the URL manually to read all 4 pages.

Bob Ankosko's picture
The links have been fixed. Thanks for pointing this out. When the Sound & Vision and Home Theater sites merged some links were lost.