Reducing scratch impact with VTA???

I encountered an odd phenomenon last night. I was re-setting up my cartridge (AT OC9) and decided to lower the VTF to make the cartridge as parallel to the record as possible. On clean vinyl this did have the effect of smoothing out the highs and reducing brightness etc. Good all the way around.

The unexpected thing is what seems to be a reduction in the impact of scratches on playing. I have an old DG Bluenote that has a lot of scratches that were really noticeable on my old cartridge that seemed to be lessened with the new setup. I was actually expecting the scratches to be more pronounced because the cartridge is more sensitive and this definitely turned out not to be the case.

Anyone else ever experience anything like this, or am I imagining it?
Seriously, I just put on another record that had a lot of ticks and it is definately playing MUCH quieter. Any other explanations other than the VTA?
Lowering the VTA typically will roll off the highs as you move below the optimal setting for the LP. The rolled off highs will result in a softer sound with less high frequency energy. Much of the noise from a scratch comes from the leading edge transient, and with less high frequency information the transient will have a lower volume. If your VTA setting was higher than optimal to begin with, it would be accentuating the noise of the scratches. Otherwise, be aware you may be losing information and accurate reproduction by using the VTA as a tone control. In any event, glad you're finding a way to make some of you LPs more enjoyable.

For a good discussion of adjusting VTA and VTF, take a look at Lloyd Walker's recommendations for fine tuning your turntable.
Interesting. No, I don't think I'm losing anything - at least not that I've noticed. When I initially set this cartridge up the top sounded very bright and even a little harsh or distorted on loud passages. That went away with adjusting the VTA downward, but I don't feel like it came at the expense of losing the highs. In fact, I've been listening to things like 1970s Count Basie albums on Pablo, which are really well recorded and they sound stuning with this setup. The reduction in surface noise on some of my scungier records might just be an unintended bonus.

Who knows. I may have accidentally set the cartridge up right. In any event, I'm enjoying it.
Absolutely, you may well have moved your cartridge into a more optimal setting. Congratulations!
So, I got a couple of new 180 & 200g vinyl records the other day and they just weren't sounding as good as I expected them too. To thin in the highs, 'rolled-off' I guess is the common term. Although I didn't feel there was any muddying of the bass. I decided to try a little more VTA adjustment, raising the tonearm a little to compensate for the heavier vinyl. I only had to raise it a hair, but it made a big difference. Cymbals sound livlier and strings sounded more, I guess complete. I guess I didn't have it as perfect as I thought the other day. Seems better now though.

In some ways VTA actually seems like a more influential adjustment than tracking force. It was really noticible in my system.
Grimace, you are discovering the importance of VTA (or more accurately, stylus rake angle or "SRA") to good playback. Each different record thickness will have a different "best arm height" to keep the stylus rake angle constant relative to the groove. Sometimes this can vary even among same thickness records if a different cutting angle was used for the cutter head by the mastering engineer (there has not been a standard for this).

Keep in mind that tracking force and VTA/SRA are interrelated, but once you finetune your setup, the small VTA changes needed to adjust for different thickness records have virtually no additonal impact on the optimal tracking force so you can focus only on VTA adjustments from LP to LP. If you've not yet read the article by Lloyd Walker that I linked to in my first post, I think you'll find that informative.

Congratulations on your continuing explorations!
well, its not really feasible to adjust VTA for indivudual records. There is no manual fine-tune for it. You have to open the allen screw and manually raise and lower the arm. I think its going to be one of those things thats just set up close enough for everything that I play.
A friend shares the same challenge in owning an arm that doesn't allow for easy VTA adjustment. He copes by using an index card across which he's scribed a line for the optimal arm tube height for the various thickness LPs he plays. It's still a not quick and easy adjustment (set screw on the arm pillar), but he's gotten the process down to about 20 seconds and feels pretty comfortable doing it. Of course, this clearly falls into the category of "how much is the difference worth."

Grimace, have you tried lower than parallel? Many cartridges correct vta is lower in the back than level.
I had it about parallel (and perhaps a little lower on 200g)and that was too low. Cymbals and strings were badly rolled off. I raised it a very little bit using 180g record for the height and that seemed to do the trick, even for 200g vinyl. I'm very happy with the sound now.

I'm afraid that using the allen key to adjust for every record isn't feasible. If nothing else, the table sits too low on my cabinet. I'd have to crawl around on the floor to do it. Plus the light is bad so I'd have to use a flashlight. I'd rather just turn it on and listen and save my knees.
Agreed Gimace....The main thing is to listen and enjoy the record. Stop fussing with it after you are careful about setup, and just enjoy.