Turntable Tracking Force

So I’ve had my Rega Planar 2 for a couple weeks now. Very happy with it. One thing odd I’ve noticed…
In the ‘quick start’ manual, they recommend setting up the tracking force for the Rega Carbon to 2grams.

But if you look at the actual manual online for the Rega Carbon it states a range of 2-3 grams for tracking…

And in the manual for the RB220 Tonearm itself… (Tonearm the turntable ships with) it states to set the tracking force to the upper limit of whatever the range is… which is actually 3grams for the Rega Carbon.

So shouldn’t the actual tracking force be set to something between 2.5-3 grams?
Maybe a question for @German_Power or anyone else that has turntable experience.

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It depends…
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about tracking force.

I alway read on some forums that less tracking force is always better because there is less wear on the record. WRONG! Not enough tracking force is more damaging to the record than less.
The stylus bounces around in the grove and damages it. The Cartridge needs proper tracking force to tightly follow along the grove and not damage it… If the stylus scratches through the grove you get distortion.

There is one more important thing to notice bevor setting your tracking force:
The RB 220, Technics or Jelco have a static tracking force.
Some Tonearms like my Rega RB 330 (P3) have dynamic tracking force which is generated by a spring. The Counterweight just balances the tonearm but does not apply any tracking force.
Dynamic tracing force workers great with uneven vinyl but the spring can create unwanted resonances with a wrong compliance cartridge.
In my experience a tonearm with dynamic tracking force needs slightly less tracking force to track properly (0,1g). They are fine at the upper tracing force limit of a cartridge because they don’t overshoot as much.
I like both designs and try to always keep both types of tonearms around.

I personally always start at the maximum tracing force and turn it down on a bass heavy record until I hear distortion. Turn it up about 0.2g from the point it distorts… I wouldn’t set it below the optimum recommended tracking force.

I always mention the Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) in relation with tracking force.
A different slipmat or a taller cartridge will change this.
A bad VTA will increase record wear, decrease resolution and makes it hard to set the tracking force correctly. Basically the headshell needs to be parallel to the record.

A look at the cantilever can sometimes help to verify if VTA and tracking force are in the right ballpark.
I exaggerated a bit lol …

About the Rega Carbon… I recently mounted one on my SL to figure out how good it actually is with a quality preamp. 2,5g seems to be perfect with a static weight. It doesn’t really like more than 2,6 and I got audible distortion from 2,2g and below. I actually liked it more than the popular 2M Red.

I personally preferred more lightweight cartridges with a final tracking force between 2 and 2,5g and tonearms with an effective mass between 11 and 14g.


Thank you for the in depth answer! It definitely clears up what ‘VTA’ is for me as well.

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