Just my .02.
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I think the proof is in the playback. I've come to learn that the less AS, the better. And, what I find to work for me is much less than what the tonearm manufacturer supplies for a AS weight. Too much AS is just as detrimental as too much VTF. It creates an over-damped situation that suppresses dynamics and speed. That said, you really have to apply AS if you get that tell-tale buzz in the right channel because then you do have a problem. If you don't hear it, then don't increase AS. I have many records that I can play with no AS at all. But I will no longer buy an arm that doesn't have AS.
Just my .02.
I think the concept of anti-skating makes sense, but in practice I leave the hanging weight contraption off my SME IIIs arm because it sounds better that way. This reinforces Harry Weisfield's (VPI President) contention that conventional anti-skating devices tend to slightly muddy or veil the sound. I'm running the SME with four interchangeable armtubes (ADC, Grace, Ortofon and Pickering cartridges) at approx. 1g and hear no inner-groove distortion with any of them. In general, I believe the less AS, the better, subject to any audible inner-groove problems, which tend to reflect arm deficiencies, IMHO.
I believe that some antiskate is absolutely necessary to really lock in top quality sound. The question is: how much?
I think AJ Vandenhul is probably on the right track with his recommendations, which vary as to stylus profile:
There has been a trend lately among audiophiles toward generalizing & recommending less and less (or no) antiskate which I think may not be good advice for everyone. While I don't think my spherical/conical Denon 103R is used in a "cheap" system as per Mr. Vandenhul's faq, I do think it definitely sounds better with antiskate adjusted to approximate tracking force. Line contacts or FG stylus profiles may benefit from considerably less AS (approx. 1/3 of VTF according to Vandenhul) with ellipticals perhaps running somewhere in the middle?
I think you just have to experiment and do it by ear. That being said, I don't think you will damage records by not using AS or using very little. Not sure if you'll damage them by using too much (beyond VTF may be considered too much I guess). The damage will come from tracking the cartridge too low, but that is a different matter altogether.