Trust your instincts, they’re on the money with one exception…..
PLEASE NOTE: there is NO SUCH THING as a “perfect” or “consistent” antiskate setting. That has never existed on any tonearm or with any cartridge. It never will exist, so stop hoping for it. The skating forces we’re trying to counter VARY, constantly. They vary with groove dynamics, with the arm’s position across the record, with the formulation of vinyl from one LP to the next. We’re trying to hit a moving target with a fixed adjustment so a COMPROMISE setting is all we’ll ever achieve. You must accept that.
Some customers who have used the HFN&RR record say its antiskate tracks are cut far more dynamically than real music. If so, this will cause you to set antiskate too high. They’re also cut entirely on inner grooves, which ignores the fact that skating forces vary across the record. No test track cut entirely on inner grooves can emulate real playing conditions.
Simple and fun test. Choose a very dynamic LP. Make sure VTF is optimized just barely above the mistracking point. Set antiskate to zero. Play the record listening for mis-tracking in the R channel (HF fuzziness or, worse, the static-like bursts at dynamic peaks that indicate actual stylus/groove mis-contact). Increase antiskate in small increments until you can play the toughest passages cleanly. TA-DA! You’re done.
You should be able to play any less dynamic record at this setting. You could probably reduce antiskating a touch for those if you want to get super-critical. Just remember to bump it back up a notch for the toughest LP’s.
That’s what my real perfectionist friends do. Their arm lets them make tiny antiskate adustments quickly and repeatably (more O-rings!). They use one setting for 95% of our LP’s and another (slightly greater) setting for the toughest, most dynamic 5%. Once you find your “normal” and “high” settings you can probably use them forever, for your particular cartridge.
Excessive antiskating sounds almost exactly like excessive VTF, for exactly the same reason. The arm is applying pressure to the suspension/cantilever interface. This inhibits HF response, microdynamic speed and fine detail. Too much VTF or antiskate makes the music sound dull, lifeless, bland, flat, etc.