Hopefully, some folk have trod this path before and can offer some advice based on their experience(s).
My vinyl rig is a Michell Orbe with SME V5 arm and Dynavector 17DX cart into a Dynavector P75Mk2 (PE setting).
I just acquired the Ortofon Test Record and yesterday spent the morning playing with it. The interesting tracks (for this discussion) are the tracking tests (9-14) which create increasingly taxing conditions for the rig.
Having checked the tonearm/cartridge alignment/VTA etc. and being satisfied with the set up I tried the first/easiest track. All seemed fine. However, on the next track some distortion crept in on the right channel and the cartridge couldn’t track the following track(s) at all.
Given the distortion was in the right channel, I increased the anti-skate a little from setting ‘2.0’ (representing my chosen 2g tracking force…the top end of Dynavector recommendations) and replayed the first two tracks. This time the distortion was much reduced but still there. By the time I had finished fettling the anti-skate I could track all of the first three tracks (9-11) without any distortion but the fourth (and remaining) tracks are still completely unplayable.
Playing a very familiar record (Born to Run), everything sounds great and I’m very happy with the sound but I’m concerned that I may have an underlying problem somewhere which could come back to bite me at some point in the future.
So the questions:
1: I now have a tracking force of 2g with anti-skate set to ‘2.6’ which seems well out of line with SME guidance. Might this indicate a problem with the tonearm?
2: Could I be damaging my vinyl with this level of disparity?
3: I get that the final arbiter of performance are the ears, but how does the enthusiast work out what s/he can expect from their rig with respect to such test tracks? That is, am I at the theoretical limit for my rig or is it possible to squeeze more performance from it (ie able to play more of the test tracks)?
Grateful for any thoughts on this conundrum…