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MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?

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Posted on December 29, 2016 at 05:54:12
MannyE
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I guess I should start by saying I've never heard a MC cart and that the best MM cart I have is a Goldring 1012GX which I really like. The rest are low rent P mounts or low end AT carts that I find on thrift tables.

All my phono preamps have that tantalizing "MC" setting and I'm getting the itch to hear what all the hoopla is about. But it's quite the investment!

Can someone that made the transition tell me about the experience? With all the devotion I read about there must be something to it!

 

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RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 06:09:26
throwback
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Be careful. I kept getting seduced by the MC Sirens for decades. Worse, I kept buying MC, only to be disappointed after the initial wow factor went away and I went back to Grados or ATs. I have finally settled on a Miyajima Madake (MC),but I still find myself wondering if the latest Soundsmith cartridges wouldn't be just as good.

System considerations may be more important than component selection. Two of the very best systems I have ever heard have non-MC front-ends (a Stanton and a Panasonic strain gauge).

 

Depends...., posted on December 29, 2016 at 06:39:09
Marc Bratton
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How good is your turntable? How about the rest of your signal chain? One absurd extreme would be a Koetsu mounted on a $250 Music Hall. You're not going to hear half of what you paid for. You're probably better off keeping your Goldring, and upgrading it down the line to one of their higher end models.
Maybe it's just me, but I've got a pretty decent turntable, one that should be all rights at least have something like a Shelter 901 on it. But I always end up going back to a good MM. Better a really good MM than a mediocre MC.

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 06:53:03
John Elison
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You probably need to try a LOMC cartridge and decide for yourself. There are advocates on both sides of the fence.

Try one of the lower cost MC cartridges that have gained a good reputation such as Denon's DL-103, DL-103R, DL-301II and Audio Technica's AT33EV.

You might decide you like MM cartridges just as well or even better. Personally, I like LOMC cartridges better than all the MM cartridges I've tried, but that's just me.

From an objective point of view, I believe LOMC cartridges are better because of their lower inductance coils. In fact, over the years I've discovered that the best sounding cartridges always had the lowest induction coils, even among LOMC cartridges. These were the ultra low-output moving coil cartridges like the original Ortofon MC-2000 with a rated output of only 50-microvolts. Currently, I use an Audio Technica AT-ART7 with rated output of 0.12-mV and a Denon DL-S1 with rated output of 0.15-mV.

Good luck,
John Elison

 

RE: Depends...., posted on December 29, 2016 at 06:53:49
MannyE
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My turntables are middle of the range. A restored Sony PS-X5 and an old Music Hall MMF-5. Later this year I will be upgrading the Sony to a new table, either the VPI Prime or the Technics SL 1200 G. I like the idea of the Technics not needing any additional speed controls but I want to hear them both before I pull the trigger.

That's why I am interested in the MC vs MM subject.

You seem to come down on the MM side and actually, at the higher ranges, the prices are similar. So it comes down to sound. I also have no pets and children are 15 years old and girls so I don't have to worry about little hands or curious paws.

The downstream equipment varies from flea powers monoblocks and folded horns to ridiculously overpowered solid state. My system is always in flux that way. At the moment my favorite speakers are a pair of Thiel 04a powered by an old Denon PMA 750 that I recapped and cleaned up. Later in the new year I've got my eye on some TOTL Marantz gear that's sitting in a neighbor's house gathering dust as well as some classic Fisher tube amps I'm stalking like a hungry tiger.

 

There is a technological advantage to the LOMC, posted on December 29, 2016 at 07:03:13
EdAInWestOC
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The high inductance/impedance MM/MI cartridge forms a low pass filter when interfaced with a phono preamp. On most MM/MI cartridges the low pass filter has an effective frequency of approximately 20kHz.

The problem is that a low pass filter doesn't just operate on the frequencies above its effective frequency. At frequencies as low as 1/10 the effective frequency (2kHz for this example), the low pass filter introduces phase shift. This can impart the same sort of issues that tone controls do to the music.

Tone controls have been removed from most audiophile products due to the phase shift introduced to frequencies across the audio band. In other products tone controls are included but they also include a bypass switch to remove the tone controls from the signal path.

All of this works around the problems that a low pass filter can introduce. The same problem exists in the low pass filter that the MM/MI cartridge plus phono preamp interface creates. It cannot be eliminated unless you reduce the impedance and inductance of the MM/MI cartridge.

There are several manufacturers that have offered low output versions of their non-MC cartridges. SoundSmith, Grado, Stanton and Pickering come to mind as manufacturers of cartridges that worked around this issue with low output, low impedance, low inductance models.

The transparent open sound that a LOMC cartridge possesses is likely due to the lack of low pass filter issues in its interface with the phono preamp. Its not a free ride and the low output MC requires a stepup transformer or pre-preamp stage to boost the signal level.

This extra stage of amplification introduces another place for something to go wrong. That plus the fixed stylus assembly makes LOMC cartridges unacceptable to some people.

In practice a high quality, high output MM/MI cartridge can get very close to a LOMC cartridge. In the end, a high output cartridge drags around the low pass filter issue with it and that cannot be removed from the reproduction. Many people find a high output cartridge perfectly acceptable.

I did until I heard a LOMC through a top quality front end. That ended the argument for me. For others its not an issue. Maybe you need to try a LOMC so you can make up your own mind.

Ed

We don't shush around here!
Life is analog...digital is just samples thereof

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 07:18:44
dave slagle
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Interesting observation. Any idea why the DLS-1 has such a low output? The two ways I know to lower the inductance are fewer turns and a nonmagnetic former. Since the Z is 33 ohms it seems like the turns count is similar to the 103 unless it uses exceedingly fine wire and I couldn't find any info on the former.

dave



 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 07:48:46
ecl876
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Here's the most comprehensive discussion I've ever seen on the subject from the Audiogon website.

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 07:53:36
John Elison
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Hi Dave,

All of the ultra-low output cartridges I mentioned have non-permeable material in their coil formers. The coils of the DL-S1 are made from what appears under microscopic inspection to be gold plated copper wire. Anyway, here's what Denon has to say about it.

Happy New Year!

John Elison



.


 

We're locked into thinking the only choices should be LOMC and HOMM., posted on December 29, 2016 at 08:00:12
Bry
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There's already been a push to make MCs reach MM levels. But, If lower-output (and inductance) MM's were to become popular we could eliminate a lot of the problems they've had historically; especially now that quiet, high-gain amps are relatively common.

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 08:21:27
DaveV
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Having been through all that, "better" to me is the cartridge that sounds the best to me in my system.

I've had love affairs with both MC and MM and the choice at the time sometimes depended on other changes to my system.

If it was as simple as just trying another cartridge in your existing arm on your existing table with your existing preamp, there would be a real reference but that's not the case so your deeper into "synergy land" and the quest to make any given cartridge "sing."

Having tried three MC's that were all the rage, I liked one, thought one was just OK and couldn't imagine how anyone could listen to the third because it sounded so dull. Kind of like your tweeters were disconnected.

 

Once you have the..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 08:45:09
kootenay
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VPI TT then it's time for an upgrade to MC and rest of your ancillary TT component. In the meantime stick to what you have.

If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing well
(Proverb)

 

Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 09:06:18
Lew
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besides inductance, etc, that I find to affect my aural experience of LOMC cartridges is compliance. I have consistently tended to prefer the sound of higher compliance LOMCs. And of course none of them can be as high in compliance as a typical MM cartridge. Which I think is a critical advantage of the latter vs a typical LOMC that has not been mentioned in this discussion. And maybe this is why many of us find a lot to love with MM and MI cartridges. (Perhaps we should not be lumping MM and MI, either.)

 

Sage advice! (nt), posted on December 29, 2016 at 10:12:49
Marc Bratton
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nt

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 10:37:23
John Elison
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Why do you think that LOMC cartridges cannot be high-compliance cartridges? I'm pretty sure they can be made any compliance you desire.

My AT-ART7 has compliance in the neighborhood of 26-cu to 30-cu at its resonance frequency. I wish it had medium-compliance because both my tonearms are medium-mass tonearms, but I bought two AT-ART7's and they are both high-compliance cartridges just like the new AT-ART9 and AT-OC9/III, which both have dynamic compliance specified as 18-cu @ 100-Hz. I suspect that Audio Technica mistakenly installed ART9 suspension into both the ART7 cartridges I bought or else they changed the compliance of the ART7 to match the ART9. Whatever the case, all of these cartridges would be right at home in an Infinity Black Widow tonearm or an SME III.

Some years back I owned a Denon DL-301II and its compliance at resonance was about 26-cu. The original Ortofon MC-2000 that I owned was specified to have compliance of 20-cu, but it actually was more like 24-cu at resonance in my SME III tonearm.

My DL-S1 cartridges are both medium-compliance cartridges with dynamic compliance at resonance of about 17-cu. See the link below:

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 11:14:47
Lew
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I certainly did not mean to imply that LOMC cartridges cannot be made to be high in compliance. Perhaps my choice of words might lead you to think so, for which I apologize. But the fact is that most LOMC cartridges are low to very low in compliance. You and I agree on the ART7 and on the Ortofon MC2000, as exceptions to the rule, with relatively high compliance. I own one of each, and I like them both very much. I have no doubt that the Denon DLS1 also has its virtues. My point was that on average, MM cartridges are higher to much higher in compliance than the typical LOMC. Perhaps you don't agree. At any rate, I attribute the superior capability of the better MM and MI cartridges to reproduce accurately the sounds of a piano (attack, timbre, and decay) to their higher compliance. In so doing, perhaps I am committing the typical audiophile sin of confusing correlation with cause and effect. I admit that's possible.

 

RE: it's not just about the cartridge, posted on December 29, 2016 at 11:36:44
user510
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Just one more thing to keep in mind about MC cartridges, and in particular LOMC, is that they typically have a much stiffer suspension to deal with the motion of the cantilever which carries the coils. Perhaps this isn't mentioned often enough, but the stiffer sprung MC cartridge produces more vibration that travels through the cartridge body and on into the armtube.... then into the pivot bearings. A cheaply made tonearm will not handle this added vibration well, resulting in pivot bearing chatter and the signal degradation that goes with it.

You want a tonearm that is known to work well with LOMC cartridges. Otherwise you may never get to hear the true potential of these higher end cartridges. And that is just one of the other extra things you need when going from MM to LOMC.


-Steve

 

RE: it's not just about the cartridge, posted on December 29, 2016 at 12:10:20
MannyE
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That's good to know.

Maybe the best thing to do would be to finagle an in-home audition with either the Prime or the SL once I make the purchase. Although I don't even know if a cart is "auditionable" due to the nature of the beast. Maybe the store will have something set up I can try. I generally don't care for in-store demos though because they don't represent the reality of my own listening space.

My musical taste is no help at all because I listen to pretty much everything in almost equal measure. This week alone I've gone from Aida to Kraftwerk to Coltrain and Bing Crosby. :).

Regardless, this is a fun issue to deal with and I'm hoping to learn a bit about carts while I do this.

 

RE: Once you have the..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 12:28:50
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I hate to be a contrarian, but own both a VPI Prime (w/Pheonix Roadrunner and Eagle) and a Technics SL 1200 G and prefer the latter pretty much in every way. The VPI Prime is excellent in every way, so please don't take my comment the wrong way. These are both superb TTs. Anyway, back to Manny's question, I also own a long list of both MM and MC cartridges. At the moment I am smitten with an Ortofon Per Winfeld, which is a LOMC. I also have a Cadenza Black, a 2M Black, a 2M Mono SE, and AT 150ANV, and AT 33 Mono ANV. In another system, I have a Shure V15-Vmr on a VPI HW19/SME Series III. I love them all and use them all. If I had to choose just one for the dessert island, it would probably be a MM, probably the Shure, but maybe the 2M Black. Why? Well it is because they are easier to live with both amplification-wise and because of the user changeable stylus feature. Also, for every hour of critical listening that I do, there are perhaps 5x - 10x hours of music as back drop to other activities from cooking to reading. Finally, I listen to a lot of old jazz and the recordings generally do not benefit as much from the superiority of the best MC cartridges. Consider that guys like Doug Sax and Gordon Holt both favored MM cartridges (Stanton and Shure respectively) as being closer to the sound of the master tapes that spawned the LPs that they were lucky enough to be able to compare. With that said, there is no question that my MC cartridges sound magnificent so it is nice to have options.

Regards,

Bill

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 13:07:54
John Elison
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Is your AT-ART7 also high-compliance? Mine has a resonance frequency in-between 6 and 7-Hz in my 10.5-gram SME V. It is specified to have compliance of 10-cu at 100-Hz, which would be medium compliance, but both of the ones I bought were high-compliance cartridges.

On the other hand, the new AT-ART9 and the new AT-OC9/III are both specified as high-compliance cartridges with 18-cu at 100-Hz. The general rule-of-thumb is to double that for compliance at 10-Hz.

Maybe I should buy a MM cartridge. What would you recommend? I was thinking that an Audio Technica AT150MLX might be a good one. It is specified as medium-compliance with a rated output of 4.0-mV. What do you think? Is there a better one you would recommend?

Thanks,
John Elison

 

RE: it's not just about the cartridge, posted on December 29, 2016 at 13:16:56
John Elison
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You might have missed the discussion below. It seems that some of the new LOMC cartridges have quite high compliance. My Audio Technica AT-ART7 has compliance at resonance of at least 26-cu and possibly 30-cu. Its resonance frequency is between 6 and 7-Hz in my 10.5-gram SME V.

The new Audio Technica AT-ART9 and AT-OC9/III are also both high-compliance cartridges rated at 18-cu at 100-Hz. This means that compliance at 10-Hz might be in the neighborhood of 26-cu to 30-cu.

The Denon DL-301II I owned had compliance at resonance of 25-cu.

There seem to be a lot of high-compliance LOMC cartridges available today.

Best regards,
John Elison

 

RE: it's not just about the cartridge, posted on December 29, 2016 at 13:18:40
user510
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true enough John.
....and then there are those which have very stiff compliance. So this is a variable which the prospective buyer should consider before making a choice.
-Steve

 

RE: it's not just about the cartridge, posted on December 29, 2016 at 13:32:54
John Elison
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The phono stage is also a very important component in the sound of a vinyl system. I have a good friend with a VPI Prime turntable and an Allnic H-1201 Vacuum Tube Phonostage. I visit him for listening sessions about once a month and he is now using an Audio Technica AT-ART7 phono cartridge in his Prime. His vinyl front-end sounds awesome. He auditioned a Dynavector 20XL and a Denon DL-S1 before selecting the Audio Technica AT-ART7. I don't believe he tried any MM cartridges, though.

I have another friend with a VPI HR-X turntable with 12-inch 3D tonearm and an E.A.R. preamplifier. He also uses one of the new Audio Technica AT-ART7 cartridges and his vinyl front-end is one of the best sounding I've ever heard.

Good luck,
John Elison

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 13:54:11
flood2
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The 150MLX is not worth the current asking price. The specifications have shifted from the original and the current model doesn't have the same extended response as the original release from a few years ago -I have the latest version plus a few of the original styli so I have compared them.

Wait for the new VM540ML. The 740ML uses the same stylus assembly but in the gold coloured aluminium block of the current 150MLX. Not worth the extra IMO.

Alternatively go for the VM760SLC which has the same stylus as your ART7 if you want to compare. All the new MMs have a tapered aluminium cantilever - no exotic materials used anymore it would seem.

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 13:56:56
flood2
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The S1 (like the 304) has the coils wound on a non-permeable material. This has the advantage of reducing non-linearities due to the permeable material.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 14:30:35
John Elison
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Thanks, Anthony:

Who makes these other cartridges you are recommending? I have always liked tapered aluminum cantilevers. Can you provide a URL to any of these cartridges?

Thanks again!

John Elison

 

Compliance?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 14:39:30
MannyE
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So... high mass toenarm = low compliance cart and vice versa?

Can I assume the choice of tonearm/cart combos are a personal subjective preference or is there a definite "universal" advantage of one combination over the other?

Keeping in mind that I want to set it up and not fiddle. I want to listen to music not play with equipment. It's OK to maintain/check once a year or so, but I'm not willing to fiddle on a weekly basis. I play around with different amps and speakers, but that's a bi-annual or even longer rotation period.

 

RE: Compliance?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 14:52:35
Tre'
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"1s there a definite "universal" advantage of one combination over the other?"

Yes.

The compliance of the cartridge's cantilever suspension and the mass of the tonearm form a circuit.

The resonance frequency of that circuit needs to be as far away from the lowest frequency in the groove and at the same time as far away from the warp tones as possible.

Normally that is considered to be 10Hz.

The vinyl engine has a chart showing what the resonance frequency of different combinations will be.


Tre'
Have Fun and Enjoy the Music
"Still Working the Problem"

 

RE: Compliance., posted on December 29, 2016 at 14:54:01
user510
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Already covered below. As a rule of thumb the total arm/cartridge system needs to resonate within a range bewteen 8 hz to 12 hz. In general practice it does mean that high compliance = a soft spring. Low compliance = a stiffer spring. Typically high compliance cartridges are matched to low mass arms and low compliance cartridges are matched to high mass arms.

Yes, you need to consider this before spending any hard-earned cash on a new cartridge. Typically a Denon DL-103R is a low compliance cartridge that works better with higher mass tonearms.

That is one factor which must be met.

In my initial post to your thread I made note of the quality of mfr on lower cost tonearms. Regardless of their effective mass, their ability to handle spurious vibes traveling through the arm without chattering the pivot bearings is also a factor.

-Steve

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 15:18:44
flood2
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Hi John

These are the new AT MM range that Manfred was telling me about in another thread.
They appear to have standardised on one generator which now has a 460mH coil inductance and 800ohm DC resistance.
They also have a 78rpm model and a (internally strapped) mono cartridge.
You can move up and down the series simply by changing the stylus.

Here is the English page:
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 15:35:25
flood2
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I wouldn't get too hung up about the transducer principle. The differences between cartridges (whether MC or not) will largely come down to the usual issues of manufacturing tolerance and alignment accuracy in your system as well as loading.
It just so happens that with MCs being more expensive they tend to be partnered with better styli which also credits them with better sound.
The big advantage is the low inductance which shifts the electrical resonance well outside the audible range to nearly the MHz range depending on the system loading.

With MM, the FR flatness is the result of the electrical resonance and mechanical resonance interaction. It is often stated that MM has a limited FR range due to the high inductance. Whilst this is true to an extent if you simply look at the loading and cartridge inductance, Stanton was able to achieve a bandwidth of 50kHz into a standard 47k load with the 981HZS which has a specified cartridge inductance of 450mH.

The audibility of phase change due to the electrical loading is a contentious subject. However, by shifting the electrical resonance well outside the audible range due to the low inductance associated with a LO design, the only limitation to the FR range would be due to mechanical properties.

Although no longer available, the Stanton/Pickering low impedance bodies very successfully demonstrate that the transducer principle doesn't make an audible difference and give the advantage of a replaceable stylus assembly with a very low tip mass and wide frequency response to rival and beat similarly priced LO MC. At that point in time (late 70s/early 80s), MMs typically had the lowest effective tip mass and the low impedance design enabled a response to extend beyond 50kHz.

HOMC like the Denon DL110 achieve the high output by increasing the coil inductance. This is at the expense of effective tip mass which naturally goes up and reduces the HF tracking ability and can result in a coarseness on hot cuts.

MMs available now are not of the same standard that they were in the late 70s early 80s. So you may well get a better performing/sounding MC these days compared to what is on offer with MM.

AT MMs whilst on the one hand being superlative technically, tend to have a rather unpleasant brightness but that is an engineered peak around 10 to 12kHz. The AT MC cartridges tend to have a more neutral balance.

The degree to which you find MC sounding better than what you have will come down to how much you are prepared to spend to "scratch your itch"!

John's suggestions are good. I would just advise caution with a Denon DL301/II though. I have two and the second one simply doesn't meet specifications and was a terrible tracker. The first was fantastic. Take home message - beware of variability!
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 15:38:28
flood2
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Ooops sorry I replied to myself....

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

+1. I'd like to see those (post-Pickering) developments again. nt, posted on December 29, 2016 at 15:50:02
jusbe
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Big J

"... only a very few individuals understand as yet that personal salvation is a contradiction in terms."


 

Stanton/Pickering, posted on December 29, 2016 at 16:00:08
jusbe
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Would love to see that LOMM principle revived.


Big J

"... only a very few individuals understand as yet that personal salvation is a contradiction in terms."


 

RE: Once you have the..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 16:08:11
MannyE
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Thank you Bill!

Very informative and especially so because you actually own the tables in question.


 

Thanks all! , posted on December 29, 2016 at 16:18:43
MannyE
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Awesome and very informed responses from everyone! Also the links have kept me reading all day. I feel confident that once I have the new turntable, I'll also have enough information to at least whittle the choices down when shopping time comes.

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 16:46:15
mnawaz3@aol.com
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The big variable in mc...is the step up or head amp....unless it is compatible and of high quality... the music is going to damaged or sucked up..so it is much, much easier to get great sound with an mm than mc. I recommend grace ruby and music maker but there are others that are competitive. If you have a lot of money and time...you can try different step ups and head amps to match many mc till you get the right combination. My guess is about 25k and 5 years of experimenting till you get something more alluring (but plribably not better) than a good mm. In my experience. ...As a generaliZation...Mc have more refinement but usually are less well behaved ..and they tend to be both colorful and more colored. I tend to prefer mm for rock and blues...for classical I like mc. For jazz I usually go mm but not always. In Mc world , I like the Lyra titan a lot . But the cartridge I really want to try is the art9. That seems to be the one to beat now.

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 16:50:36
Lew
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My inclination would be to find a Grace F9E or Ruby in good physical condition, if for a reasonable price, and then have it re-tipped by Sound Smith with their top of the line OCL stylus/ruby cantilever. SS sort of specializes in the Grace Ruby re-tip, as well as in B&O cartridge restoration. (Which makes B&O top of the line models, MMC1, MMC2, MM20CL, also appealing.)

About 5 years ago, I got a Grace Ruby off eBay with no cantilever at all; it was totally missing, but the body was "like new". I sent that off to SS. At that point in time, I also owned a functional Grace Ruby with its original stylus, which I liked very much. I had hopes that the re-tip would sound as good, but in fact the re-tip is significantly better. It took about 20-30 hours to get there, but at that point it really bloomed. I keep thinking I should send my old Ruby to SS for the same treatment, while we are still lucky enough to have Peter Ledermann around. There's a bunch of other vintage MM and MI cartridges to love, but I realize that finding them in good condition is a crap shoot that not everyone wants to engage in.

All of my MM cartridges are vintage, so I don't know much about the current crop, except that Nagaoka, AT, Ortofon, and a few others get good reviews. I used to like my Grado TLZ quite a bit, but not all Grado's have the same "house sound" in my experience. I don't know which of their modern products would sound like a TLZ.

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 19:08:48
MannyE
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  Since:
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That is always part of the question. Diminishing returns.

I'm not going to spend much more than the cost of a good turntable, which I think we can all agree is in the 4k to 6k range (the world of Primes, SL1200G, Acoustic Signature Challenger 3...etc) and probably another 500 to 1k on a cart.

With that budget, I have to take pretty much whatever arm comes with the table and can't throw down another chunk for a fancy low mass arm. The more I read about moving coil carts, the more I am realizing that it may be too much for my budget.

It's not just the cart, it's the combination of cart, SUT and phono preamp then preamp that needs to be optimized. If I'm understanding the whole situation correctly, I would need the SUT between the cart and the phono preamp.

I already know how maddening it is to find a preamp/amp/speaker combination that plays well together. The thought of adding yet another layer of insanity to the mix isn't appealing considering my desire to just hear music rather than play with equipment.

Lately the only thing that kills that is when I can really hear a blatant issue, which can mean many different things to different people.

In my case, it's things like obviously worn out equipment (rubbbing VC on a speaker or failing or dirty electronics) and failings of "musicality" which is where it gets subjective but I mean when the guitar isn't "there" on a blues or folk song or I can't feel the slam of a kick drum if I'm in a metal mood... like that.

I don't do a lot of critical listening, but I do like to sit back with a glass of scotch and close my eyes and get lost in the music. I can't stand it when something causes me to drop out of the reverie. Lately that's been happening more often and I'm pretty sure it's because I'm outgrowing the equipment's ability to keep me engaged.

Which is why I'm suddenly interested in the MC world. Sigh...

After all this, I'm hoping a good MM cart will save me!

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 19:34:28
mnawaz3@aol.com
Audiophile

Posts: 157
Joined: March 28, 2002
You are on the right track. In my experience, preamp is independent of everything else...this means a good preamp will always be good ...no matter the rest of stuff. Unfortunately. ..preamp is hardest part to get right...because there are only a few good ones. Most of my preamp are custom units.

Cartridge mates with arm..but the dependence is over rated. I have not
Followed conventional guidelines but i and have not suffered

Speakers mate with amp..this is criticsl. fortunately. .many combos to choose from

Mc catridge mates with step up or headamp.. and this is a difficul vexing issue.

Some tables are sensitive to arm...but none of mine were.there are however mounting issues which limit arm table combination

 

RE: There is a technological advantage to the LOMC, posted on December 29, 2016 at 20:47:17
hahax@verizon.net
Audiophile

Posts: 3003
Location: New Jersey
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And yet there have been exceptions to this phenomena. The old Technics EPC 100 MK4 has a 1mv output, high enough for not needing a step up device and yet low enough inductance to resonate at 100kHz and to be flat to 80 kHz.

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on December 29, 2016 at 20:52:50
hahax@verizon.net
Audiophile

Posts: 3003
Location: New Jersey
Joined: March 22, 2006
To some degree this is an apples and oranges situation since most MM pickups are relatively low in price and also don't need an extra, often costly step up device. Many of the examples of an MC pickup receiving the highest praise are extremely costly and there are almost no MM pickups(some Grado and Soundsmiths perhaps) to compare these MCs to. Only if the costs are similar does the comparison make sense. So at this point you should only compare the lowest cost MCs to MMs and even then I'm not sure it's a balanced situation.

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 29, 2016 at 21:16:48
John Elison
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Posts: 20309
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Thanks, Anthony!

I wouldn't mind trying the Audio Technica VM760SLC. It appears to have an aluminum cantilever but I can't read Japanese. I wonder where I can buy one?

Best regards,
John Elison

 

RE: Thanks all! , posted on December 30, 2016 at 11:00:41
Posts: 213
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Joined: January 6, 2015
Manny,

When the time comes you are welcome to reach out to me. We both live in South Florida. I would be happy to help you with stuff to compare. My phonostage is one of the best available, a $7,700 cj tube unit that works with any cartridge that has been discussed here. If you buy a Prime, then my arm added to yours would facilitate comparisons. If you buy an SL 1200 G, I have head-shell mounted cartridges to try.

Bill

 

Yeah, it's an impossible comparison , posted on December 30, 2016 at 13:38:57
mr.bear
Audiophile

Posts: 3673
Joined: November 13, 2001
And its aggravated by the matching problem. In any sort of MM versus MC comparison, all things are NEVER EQUAL! That being said, when I had a lot of money (ahh, I yearn for those long-gone, halcyon days) and could experiment with a lot of different setups, I found I was able to obtain quite a significant improvement in what the golden-ears call "transparency" (I think) and image quality and stability using a good Denon DL-103D (shibata) MC, settling on an expensive (Quicksilver) step-up transformer. This combo versus a variety of pretty good MM's I'd been juggling. THe comparison is bogus, to such a huge degree, because when a Bear shells out $500 for an SUT, he's gonna' hear some damn improvement (the Extra-strength Placeboes! ) and somewhere beyond the point of diminishing returns, surely.

I was convinced enough to try a number of expensive MC's and a variety of step-ups through the ensuing years, you know- The Holy Grail thing. My most recent MC is a Dynavector XX-I and it sounds damn fine through my pretty little Pass Forte preamp- just the right gain. But I am listening exclusively now to an ADC XLM and just enjoying the music from it's juicy, lively little moving magnets!

If I had it to do over again I'd have spent all that moving-coil money on a records, drinkin' and carryin'-on instead of hi-fi gear and just kept my very first cart, an Acutex M-320 III STR (shibata) MM. It was , upon reflection, "GOOD ENOUGH."

 

+1 :-), posted on December 30, 2016 at 14:05:03
bare
Audiophile

Posts: 472
Joined: April 14, 2009
Long ago realised that MM carts were: Plenty Good enough.
Regardless of what Cart OR esoteric Gear.. One STILL plays the same 5$ LP (40$ if silly enough to buy one recently) subject to all the attendant foilbles/failings. Snaps, crackles, continually wearing out grooves etc.
Good enough is actually IMO close to the ragged edge of enjoyable.
One micron further in resolution lops of yet other sizable percentage of "listenable" recordings.
Kinda Borrrring when one is reduced to 6 ? enjoyably playable Lps :-)

 

RE: Yeah, it's an impossible comparison , posted on December 30, 2016 at 14:19:41
Kindablue
Audiophile

Posts: 875
Joined: August 7, 2003
I was told when I started with nice little 6v6 amps don't go crazy and try to find the set up that sounds like live music it will never happen. And he was and is right. But it is a good thing I am on the half broke side most of my life, I found that you can get a good sounding unit for a decent price nothing wrong with those that can afford all the expensive gear how else would I learn? I also was told that you can improve the sound of your set up but only by a small degree but a large out put of money one mans experience but a lot of truth in it all. I may not have expressed myself well but I have learned the truth of it all. That said it really is a lot of fun gettting the sound you love for the price you can afford. But what do I know.>>>? Just that I love the blues and anything on the fringes.
Kindablue

 

RE: Yeah, it's an impossible comparison , posted on December 30, 2016 at 14:48:39
MannyE
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Posts: 1675
Location: Miami Beach
Joined: March 4, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
September 22, 2014
Love that! More along the way I'm thinking. I figure if I spend 4k for a turntable and another 1k for the cart, I'm pretty much at my "lifetime limit" regardless of financial situation on vinyl equipment spending..

It's about having enough money for records and and the machinery to keep them clean.

 

prioritizeing effort, posted on December 30, 2016 at 15:17:54
mnawaz3@aol.com
Audiophile

Posts: 157
Joined: March 28, 2002
Audio priorities...in my experience...order of energy expenditure (not cost)

1. Speakers. 50%
2. Preamp 25%...note ..amp is more important. .but preamp is much harder to get right
3. Amp 10%
4. Turntable 7%
5. Step up 6%..much more important than Mc cartridge
6. Tonearm 3%
7. Cartridge 1%

So in my experience. .cartridge and tonearm.expenses re only done after everything else is right.

In my exp..not wise to put to energy in a cartridge unless rest of system is estabkished. ....In my experience. .I have go great sound with $25 cartrjdges.....

 

I prefer a Goldilocks approach, posted on December 30, 2016 at 17:33:42
E-Stat
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Posts: 23570
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April 5, 2002
For the past thirty years, I've used mid output (1 mV) MC cartridges with relatively high gain preamps that obviates the need for a third active stage or SUT.

Current setup is a VPI spec'd Dynavector DV20 into an Audio Research SP20. I greatly prefer their top end transparency and transient response to MM types.

 

Acute cartridge, posted on December 30, 2016 at 19:12:00
vinyl survivor
Audiophile

Posts: 1150
Location: Southeastern US
Joined: November 28, 2007
Ok, darn spell check! I should have double checked the subject line as it can not be changed in edit mode.

I never see much about these carts. My first real tt had an Acutex cartridge purchased about 1980. I enjoyed its dynamics and very good bass (tight and deep.) I remember my father saying I could go up the line for even better bass, but in my system I thought the cartridge was great. The speakers at the time were built by my father and went well down into the 30Hz range. Classical recordings with a good bass drum were awesome.

 

RE: it's not just about the cartridge, posted on December 30, 2016 at 21:31:45
Lew
Audiophile

Posts: 8652
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Joined: December 11, 2000
Realizing that there are several other variables, especially including the choice of SUT, did you find that you preferred the EAR to the Allnic?

 

RE: Once you have the..., posted on December 31, 2016 at 00:14:46
flood2
Audiophile

Posts: 1249
Joined: January 11, 2011
I agree. MCs are that much more demanding with the quality of the preamps - especially when it comes to noise. When it comes to MMs the higher end Stanton/Pickering models (especially the low impedance models) remain the most neutral and measurably flat responses of all my cartridges. I prefer them and the Shure V15VMR to any of my AT MMs.
It is such a shame that STanton let quality slip drastically in the last couple of decades before they finally closed down the cartridge business.
Using the Stanton/Pickering low impedance cartridges as a comparison to my MCs at a moderate price point, there is little too choose between them sonically (as long as the Stanton styli are properly made and aligned which was the problem in the latter years). The Stanton styli have the edge in terms of tracking ability in many cases - for example an XLZ3500E vs Denon DL301/II, the Pickering out tracks the Denon. My Denon DL304 has a low mass tip and is equivalent in tracking ability. Sonically, I wouldn't be able to tell which was an MM and which was an MC on a blind test.

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

They are not gone..., posted on December 31, 2016 at 01:30:27
EdAInWestOC
Audiophile

Posts: 5662
Location: Glen Burnie, MD USA
Joined: December 18, 2003
SoundSmith and Grado make low output MM/MI cartridges with very low moving mass and very good stylus choices. These cartridges make the choice between LOMC, LOMM and LOMI difficult.

All of these require the extra amplification stage that all types of low output cartridges require, and I believe all of them have fixed stylus assemblies. That makes choosing between them difficult.

In the end you have to listen to each cartridge, paired with the same tonearm and phono preamp you will be using, if possible. The issue of whether they are moving coil, moving magnet or moving iron (induced) cartridges is not an issue. How they sound is.

Ed

We don't shush around here!
Life is analog...digital is just samples thereof

 

And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on December 31, 2016 at 03:39:22
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8411
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
With a MM you can use more easily a top notch tube phono stage and that brings the MM performance up a whole lot. My Audio Technica AT-150MLX + Silvaweld setup outperforms a friend's Transfiguration Proteus with a Pass XP15 for a whole heck of a lot less money.

I had some nice LOMCs like a Lyra Dorian and then an upper model (name escapes just now). It was good but the Audio Technica has more energy and life with similar resolution and a bit less refinement.

I think it is no surprise that when Michael Fremer did a MM shootout the Audio Technica AT-150ANV got a higher blind rating than his Ortofon MC Anna!

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 31, 2016 at 03:43:55
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8411
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
You are talking about the replacement for the AT150MLX, right? The 150MLX is now discontinued.

I have one that I bought about 6 years ago that has the gold plated boron cantilever and microridge stylus. The current model has an aluminum pipe and a shibata stylus.

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on December 31, 2016 at 05:12:06
John Elison
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Posts: 20309
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
January 29, 2004
> I think it is no surprise that when Michael Fremer did a MM shootout the Audio Technica AT-150ANV got a higher blind rating than his Ortofon MC Anna!

The real expensive stuff is basically just a status symbol. You can nearly always do as well or better for a reasonable price. I quit buying mega-buck cartridges years ago after discovering a Denon DL-103R sounded better than my Dynavector XV-1. The DL-103R also measured better in all parameters except frequency response and channel balance. It had four times less distortion but its frequency response was not nearly as flat as the Dynavector XV-1, which had the flattest frequency response of any cartridge I've ever measured. However, one of my favorite cartridges to date is the Denon DL-S1.


.
.

.
.


 

RE: it's not just about the cartridge, posted on December 31, 2016 at 05:20:28
John Elison
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There is no way of knowing what I would prefer because the two phono stages were in different systems and I never heard the same LP played on both. The only constant was the cartridge. They both sounded exceptional to me. I would have to hear both preamps in my own system to determine which sounded better. I do like the AT-ART7 cartridge, though. It is my current reference and I use a Pass Labs XOno phono stage.

Best regards,
John Elison

 

RE: Another parameter,..., posted on December 31, 2016 at 13:47:25
flood2
Audiophile

Posts: 1249
Joined: January 11, 2011
"The current model has an aluminum pipe and a shibata stylus."

That's the 150Sa which is a different model to the 150MLX.

I have original 150MLX styli and a new 150MLX which was made sometime after the 150ANV was released. The ATN150MLX stylus is the official replacement for the ANV.
Have a look at the instruction manual on the vinylengine for the ANV and look at the frequency response curve (and the spec) and compare to your original manual. The original 150MLX is quoted to extend to 30kHz. The new one (which I have) matches the curve for the ANV (with the sharp rise to peak at 18kHz) and the spec is only to 23kHz (matching the ANV). The VTF range for the ANV sets the nominal at 1.5g (1.3 to 1.8g). My 150MLX still quotes the original range from 0.75 to 1.75g but requires 1.5g to track up to 70um whereas the originals track 80um at 1.2g. I therefore conclude that my 150MLX was made post 150ANV with a stylus that could be used in the ANV to match the new specifications.


Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Stanton/Pickering, posted on December 31, 2016 at 13:52:34
flood2
Audiophile

Posts: 1249
Joined: January 11, 2011
Hey there! Good to see you back here.
Have you managed to score an XLZ/LZS body?
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Stanton/Pickering, posted on December 31, 2016 at 21:55:53
jusbe
Audiophile

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Location: Brexitland
Joined: April 4, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
July 23, 2004
Hi - and Happy New Year!

No, sadly. I'm thinking of corresponding with Vickers in the UK, in case they can put me onto someone who may have a spare. Seems like a way forward.


Big J

"... only a very few individuals understand as yet that personal salvation is a contradiction in terms."


 

RE: Dave, I Have a Vague Memory that . . ., posted on December 31, 2016 at 22:01:37
goldenthal
Audiophile

Posts: 588
Location: Ontario
Joined: March 28, 2003
the DL-S1 was wound with gold wire. Might that have caused a comparatively reduced output?


Jeremy

 

RE: Stanton/Pickering, posted on December 31, 2016 at 22:16:56
flood2
Audiophile

Posts: 1249
Joined: January 11, 2011
Happy New Year to you too!
Vickers used to offer an "upgrade" service to convert an existing high impedance body. I don't know whether they simply swapped out the body or genuinely replaced the coils.
Good luck!
BTW how did your P-mount cartridges work out? Were the tips well aligned? If so, you are a very lucky chap! My success rate with eBay scored Stanton/Pickering has been VERY poor indeed. I'm astonished at how bad the alignment is in some cases and I understand why they are turning up as "NOS" as they were probably store returns from unhappy customers back in the day. I had one stylus that was skewed by about 3 degrees!!
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 3, 2017 at 11:55:21
Posts: 213
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Joined: January 6, 2015
I bought an AT150ANV on the basis of that shootout and have never really warmed up to it. I like the Ortofon 2M Black better, and I like the Cadenza Black better yet, and I like the Winfeld the best of all that I own. So that shootout is questionable to me. You might recall that Mikey forgot about balancing out the levels too. Methinks the AT150ANV must have been louder than the others.

 

RE: MM vs MC is MC THAT much better?, posted on January 3, 2017 at 12:20:59
oilmanmojo
Audiophile

Posts: 208
Location: Louisiana
Joined: August 31, 2007
i did just that last nite (getting lost in the music) with a nice scotch, playing Dr John's Gumbo album followed up with Allen Toussiant's American Tunes album (his last). I would get aggravated at the end of a side cause is was lost so deep.

I am running a ZYX UNIverseII on my Maplenoll Apollo table. The ZYX is probably too expensive, but when i dropped my UNIverseI and broke it 18 months ago, i bit the bullet and upgraded. It is a LOMC (.2MV).

However, my daughter has my old Gyrodec with an ortofon red that i listened too recently. Are they different, yes. But its not like night and day. The ortofon red is a very basic MM and it sounds pretty good. I can tell the difference as the sound stage, texture of the music etc are more refined, deeper, cleaner, etc with my highend rig. Is it just the cartridge, no, but the UNiverse is one of the cleanest (some call it neutral) cartridges i have every used.

oilmanmojo

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 4, 2017 at 11:01:03
John Elison
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Posts: 20309
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
January 29, 2004
If all it takes is playing your music a decibel or two louder, we can save ourselves a whole lot of money on cartridges. As for me, I don't think volume level should make any difference between a nine thousand dollar cartridge and a nine hundred dollar cartridge. I think this comparison is proof that ultra expensive high-end components are total bullshit. But, to each his own! YMMV, etc.

Best regards,
John Elison

 

VM760SLC, posted on January 4, 2017 at 11:09:37
rindolini
Audiophile

Posts: 478
Location: Munich, Bavaria
Joined: August 9, 2007
John: You'll probably still have to wait a little, as that "new" VM5x0/6x0/7x0 family is just being introduced. I'd expect AT to show these at the CES (provided they have a booth there, of course, but I'd assume 'em to...), but I'd guess actual availability might take a couple of weeks more...

I wonder, why you'd want to go for the VM760SLC, though - because personally I wouldn't feel inclined to grab what would seem an only moderately sharp Ogura Vital over the slightly sharper Shibata and way sharper MicroLine (with those two also sporting a way larger major radius), if that's the by far most expensive option. I.e., so far the VM760SLC would rather seem to be the least attractive of the top models in terms of price-performance, unless AT would come up with a yet unknown, but good technical point (like for example a significantly more miniaturised shank).

Oh, and what hasn't been mentioned yet: Seems like AT would want to save a little on the accessories - 'cause the depicted lead wires don't seem to be the usual AT6101 PC-OCC leads anymore... *sigh*

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 4, 2017 at 11:32:26
Posts: 213
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Joined: January 6, 2015
Hi John,

Within limits (that are subjective and not defined) I think your point is quite valid. We tend to judge components subjectively and our standard of comparison tends to be other components. Does A sound better, or B sound better? That type of thing. We ask ourselves questions like this rather than does A sound like the original, or does B sound more like the original? Of course we don't have access to the original in most cases. The two guys who actually compared the sound of cartridges to the sound of the masters that were made to cut the discs in the first place were Doug Sax and Gordon Holt. They both preferred MM cartridges. Sax liked the Stanton 681 series, and Holt liked the Shure V15 series. On the other hand, different cartridges do sound different from each other. But we should not delude ourselves by claiming too much for our choices. I still own and enjoy a V15-Vmr mounted on an SME Series III arm. But is it total bull shit to also own and enjoy newer more expensive cartridges? I dunno. Like you said, YRMV.

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 4, 2017 at 15:29:01
flood2
Audiophile

Posts: 1249
Joined: January 11, 2011
I'm not a fan of the voicing of the AT MMs. I have a recent 150MLX which shares the same specification as the ANV (but without the sapphire pipe) and have tried it many times but still finding myself going away from it. For high output MMs, I still prefer the V15VMR or the Stanton 881 or CS100.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: VM760SLC, posted on January 4, 2017 at 15:47:20
flood2
Audiophile

Posts: 1249
Joined: January 11, 2011
Yes, I don't get the model positioning vs tip cut either. The larger scanning radius of the SLC would give it the lowest bandwidth of all three LC designs especially on the inner grooves. From reading between the lines in the brochure, they sort of imply that the SLC has the lowest tip mass of the line contact offerings. I wonder if this is why the claimed bandwidth of the 760 extends to 30kHz vs 27kHz. Perhaps the HF tracking ability is better.

For me personally, you would probably have seen me write many times that the Shibata would be my least preferred option (I dislike the complication of the curved scanning line and the effect on IMD if the tip is not in perfect alignment) and the price premium is ridiculous over the ML tip. Given the technical performance and tip life, I would choose the ML over the others all day long. I was interested to note that the AT brochure published the tip dimension of the ML and puts the bearing radius at 56um which is at the lower end of the patent disclosure and noticeably shorter than the JICO SAS which is ostensibly the same design but with a 70 to 80um bearing radius which in theory should have a lower Indentation Factor (to borrow Shure's term!). The SLC tip is the same on the ART7 so I figure that if John's aim is to compare a "Top grade" MM with a similarly "Top grade" MC then the 760 would be a good option.
However, the voicing differences that AT have with their MMs and MCs are what I think spoil the experiment.

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 4, 2017 at 20:06:47
John Elison
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Posts: 20309
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
January 29, 2004
Well, I plan to buy another MM cartridge. I'm waiting for the new line of Audio Technica cartridge to become available. The last MM cartridge I owned was the Shure V15VxMR and I didn't like it as much as any of my low-output moving coils. I'm hoping the new line of AT cartridges will impress me.

With regard to comparisons, you're right that most of us don't have the master tape to allow cartridge comparisons and vinyl comparisons to the source from which they were cut. We can only make judgements as to whether this cartridge sounds better than that cartridge. Still, it's fun to compare.

Best regards,
John Elison

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 5, 2017 at 07:59:31
Posts: 213
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Joined: January 6, 2015
John,

I have that AT150ANV that I would be happy to loan to you for evaluation. Interestingly enough I never liked it all that much, but love my Shure V15VxMR. I also have a Stanton 881 that still impresses me. Another very highly regarded MM is the Goldring 1042 (and related 1012), which is still in production. I have not heard them, but a lot of ink has been spilled praising the Soundsmith line. I never really liked the B&O cartridges, though, and that is the design that inspired the Soundsmiths. On the other hand, you seem very satisfied with your AT MC and there is nothing wrong with them at all. I have a much less expensive AT33 Mono ANV and it is an extremely satisfactory cartridge. Let me know if you want me to send the AT150ANV to you.

Bill

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 5, 2017 at 08:08:40
Posts: 213
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Joined: January 6, 2015
Anthony,

Your tastes and mine are clearly similar. I ,too, have a V15Vxmr that I like a lot and a Stanton 881 that I like a lot. Haven't heard the CS100, though. And as I have already opined, the AT150ANV has been a disappointment.

Bill

 

RE: VM760SLC, posted on January 5, 2017 at 08:31:47
Posts: 213
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Joined: January 6, 2015
It is interesting that AT have such a disparity in the sonic characteristics of their MM vs. their MC lines isn't it? I have always liked the sound of their MC cartridges, even their least expensive ones. Their MM cartridges have always disappointed me. By contrast, Ortofon has a much more consistent sound signature. At the moment I own a 2M Black, A 2M Mono SE, a Cadenza Black and a recently acquired Winfeld. There is a definite family resemblance and all are quite satisfactory. Unfortunately they get better the higher up the line you go. Your comments about stylus alignment are also right on the money, the simpler ML is also my preference, although if care is taken with setup the Shibata, other than being more difficult to get right, is quite satisfactory. If the stylus is askew too much, though, irrespective of geometry I would rather have a conical. This follows a bias for the KISS Principle.

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 5, 2017 at 14:43:12
John Elison
Audiophile

Posts: 20309
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
January 29, 2004
Hi Bill,

I plan to buy one of the new Audio Technica MM cartridges as soon as I can find out where to buy them. I'm rather partial to aluminum cantilevers and it seems all the new ones have aluminum cantilevers. I think I might feel the same as you about the AT150ANV, but I appreciate the offer. If you intend to sell it, you should probably keep it as new as possible. Therefore, I'll pass on borrowing it.

Thanks again,
John Elison

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 6, 2017 at 07:09:14
Posts: 213
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Joined: January 6, 2015
I am with you on tapered aluminum cantilevers. Many of the cartridges that I prefer have them. No intention of selling the AT150ANV, hadn't given any thought to it. The only audio component I have sold in perhaps the past 35 years has been my KAB modified SL1200Mk2. The new SL 1200GAE is getting a lot of use and I may wind up deciding to sell my Prime too. VPI is promising a mod for the 3D arm and I would like to give that a try before deciding. Also, after all the effort invested in getting my Prime to sound it's best, it would be a shame to give it up. If you change your mind on trying the AT150ANV the offer is open.

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 6, 2017 at 16:42:34
flood2
Audiophile

Posts: 1249
Joined: January 11, 2011
Yes, it would appear so - I dare say we also share the same curiousity in hearing what different cartridges sound like hence we both seem to have quite a large selection!!
I would say that the 881 has a slightly "warmer" sound to it compared to the CS100. The CS100 on the other hand has a very "fast" and clear sound that borders on the slightly cool side of neutral, but it is nevertheless very transparent. It is not too different to the V15VMR with a JICO SAS tip. However, none of the high output MMs can touch the low impedance design for soundstage realism and neutrality to me. I think Walter Stanton must have been very frustrated that popular opinion in the Audio press focussed on a belief that MCs sounded good by virtue of the transducer principle rather than the engineering related aspects and this negatively impacted on sales and the LZS bodies disappeared too soon.

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: VM760SLC, posted on January 7, 2017 at 02:02:25
flood2
Audiophile

Posts: 1249
Joined: January 11, 2011
I think it is quite deliberate that AT have distinct voicings for the MM and MC ranges. All manufacturers know how to achieve flat response with an MM and given the consistent "hump" around 12 KHz irrespective of cartridge inductance, I'm sure that AT have done this very deliberately. The question is why?
Perhaps it is simply to draw a point of difference compared to other manufacturers. For example, Stanton 681 users may be looking for something that sounds "more exciting" with better clarity and so will be drawn to the AT. Certainly for the average user who has a phono stage with a fixed 47k load, the 681 would have a very recessed top end. I load mine at 68k which pulls up the response at 10 to 11kHz to give a ruler flat response. However, in the absence of load adjustment, a "disappointed" 681 user would get an instant "fix" by using an AT instead!
Whereas MC is targeted at the audiophile who is more focussed on neutrality and accuracy thus dictating the cartridge to be engineered to compete with other manufacturers using those metrics.
I don't know...maybe I'm way off!

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 7, 2017 at 06:22:23
A.Wayne
Audiophile

Posts: 2263
Location: Front row center
Joined: November 30, 2011
I do share your sentiments on his John , well until recently when i had the opportunity to listen to a really high dollar analog rig ( 150K +) the difference is in the refinement not in the bells and whistle, Much darker back ground from the CD silent needle to groove , no timbre change with increased volume and a level of refinement so easily noticeable its surreal....

Manny ,

my 2C take on this , TT/Arm / phonostage , with phono stage being the most important then Cartridge to match arm , TT combo . Arm quality and adjustability is everything with cartridges , the setup is everything in hearing Any cartridge , many high dollar analog rigs fail to impress due to poor tonearm setup..

Phono cartridges , all of them have their own house sound , very rare to find anyone involved in analog with one cartridge , some of us may have "settled " on a particular Brand after trying many others , mostly this settling comes from our maturing fixed system and not from one being better than the other , recessed sounding speakers will require a more forward or bright sounding cartridge for eg , selecting "your" one cartridge to purchase could turn out more difficult than you think , take up Bills offer , you will learn alot from the comparisons , take your table too if allowed ...


Regards

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 7, 2017 at 07:37:06
John Elison
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Posts: 20309
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
January 29, 2004
In my opinion, the ultra expensive high-end is all about ego and status. It has nothing to do with sound quality.

You say you've listened to a $150k+ analog front end. Well, so have I! I've listened to several in that price range and I even made hi-res digital recordings of a Rockport Sirius III with van den Hul Colibri cartridge and darTZeel phono preamp. I still have those recordings and I don't think they necessarily sound any better than my own $20,000 analog front-end.

Therefore, in my opinion, it all depends on what we want to believe we hear and how much value we place on the differences we want to believe we hear. As for me, there is no turntable, cartridge and phono stage worth more than $20,000 based on sound quality alone. But, that's just my opinion based on comparing my own equipment to other much more expensive playback systems. That's not to say I haven't heard a vinyl front-end that sounds better to me than my own. I have, but it didn't cost more than $20,000.

I've been making hi-res digital recordings of vinyl since I bought my first DAT recorder in 1991 and I fully understand and appreciate how accurate hi-res digital can be in capturing the sound of vinyl. Therefore, I have no doubt that Michael Fremer's needle drops in his comparison test of nine cartridges are accurate and representative of the actual sound quality of those cartridges including his own ultra expensive vinyl front-end. Of course, your opinion may differ from mine, but it's not because I don't have direct experience with other ultra expensive vinyl front-ends.

To each his own! YMMV, etc, etc.

Thanks,
John Elison

 

RE: Stanton/Pickering, posted on January 7, 2017 at 09:58:48
Laila
Audiophile

Posts: 44
Joined: September 28, 2010
flood2 wrote:
"Happy New Year to you too!
Vickers used to offer an "upgrade" service to convert an existing high impedance body. I don't know whether they simply swapped out the body or genuinely replaced the coils.
Good luck!" ......

In reality, you do not need a Pickering body. You simply buy a brand new(NOS) low output body for

 

RE: Stanton/Pickering, posted on January 7, 2017 at 23:05:35
flood2
Audiophile

Posts: 1249
Joined: January 11, 2011
Good to know about the body - that was very misleading of them indeed!
Actually the price they are charging is still a very good price compared to the prices on eBay of low impedance cartridges with busted styli.

Back in the 90s, I was talking with John Kuykendall (who in the latter years was the VP of engineering at Stanton) about the Pickering UK site. He said they knew nothing about them and hadn't authorised them to use the branding specifically. He reckoned they must have bought up a large amount of stock from somewhere and were working their way through the stock. I've bought from them and the Pickering product IS the real deal. However, with some of the items like the head amp, they must be making them new. The head amp is described as being Made in Britain!

I'm very suspicious about the LPGear replacements. I bought a couple of their D98S replacements and they were absolutely dreadful. None of those 3rd party replacements have the tie-wire suspension design of the originals and there was a tremendous amount of distortion combined with poor tracking ability.
I guess for anyone without ANY styli needing to get a body going then they wouldn't have much choice but to buy them. For myself, I would stick to retipping my originals while they still work well.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 8, 2017 at 21:01:26
John Elison
Audiophile

Posts: 20309
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
January 29, 2004
I wish you hadn't sold your KAB SL-1200 Mk2. It would have been interesting to compare the Mk2 to the GAE. I own a KAB SL-1200 Mk2 and I think it sounds very good.

Best regards,
John Elison

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 9, 2017 at 07:42:51
Posts: 213
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Joined: January 6, 2015
Oh I compared the two extensively. My MK2 had the following KAB modifications: Arm damping both internal and external, Cardas wiring, external PSU, record clamp. It sounded very good and I liked it a lot. The GAE simply sounds better. The difference I mostly attribute to the arm. A brighter more open sound. Better delineation of detail. More air, better bass definition - rosen on the bow stuff. All of this was noticeable, but certainly it was not a great difference. At the same time, the things that I admired in the MK2 were retained in the GAE. The ergonomics are superb, easy to set up, change cartridges, cue, all these things make both TTs a delight to use. In terms of the value factor the GAE cost $4k, the G costs something around $2700 (which has the magnesium arm), a clean MK2 with KAB mods something less than $1500 tops. Is it worth the difference? That is a tough call. I think the G version is for a person with audiophile sensibilities. But look at it another way. My Prime cost $4K but then I added an Eagle and Roadrunner (thanks to you and thanks again), a periphery ring, HRX pulley and extra belts, Counterintuitive, lots of futzing around because the pivot to spindle distance was out of spec etc. and lo and behold it is a $6k combination. The G or even the GAE is a no-brainer in this comparison.

Bill

 

RE: VM760SLC, posted on January 9, 2017 at 08:09:12
Posts: 213
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
Joined: January 6, 2015
I had to think about this before responding. Your's is a thought provoking post. First of all I don't think you are off base at all. I just hadn't thought about these issues before and certainly not in the same way as you. My phono stage is the very excellent Conrad Johnson TEA2MAX, which is set at 47K ohms. It can be changed, but after messing around with the dip switches for a while, I decided that 47k ohms works well for the majority of the cartridges I have tried. Way back in time I was going back and forth between 681EE and Shure V15-III. Speakers were Bozak Concert Grands and I do recall adding resistance for the 681EE. Preamp back then was an Audio Research SP3. Again you and I seem to be on parallel tracks. Interesting. Yesterday I was listening to Ella and Duke on the Cote D'Azure with my 2M Black and just for the hell of it threw in the AT150ANV mostly prompted by the musings here. Suddenly it sounded like Ella had a cold. I think your observations help explain why.

Thanks,

Bill

 

RE: Stanton/Pickering, posted on January 10, 2017 at 02:51:29
Laila
Audiophile

Posts: 44
Joined: September 28, 2010
Despite no tie-wire, this VividLine needle sounds just beautiful
at 1.5g(+1g for the brush) VTF. A friend of mine have one for the
Pickering XSV-3000 and likes it a lot, also this at 1.5g VTF(Nota Bene).
At 1.25g VTF none of the needles tracks and therefore sounds
terribly bad.

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 10, 2017 at 03:40:22
Victor7
Audiophile

Posts: 84
Joined: September 23, 2015
Regarding MF's 9-way shootout, one would have thought that if the mantra that "source is king" applies, regardless of the expense/cheapness of the downstream ancillaries used, then the Caliburn/Anna combination needledrop would have been an automatic winner, idiosyncracies of the respondents systems notwithstanding.
In other words, "quality will out". The fact that it didn't in this case is perplexing (for MF at least...) ;^)

Regarding the OP's question it's often been said that MM or MC, cheap or expensive, it matters little provided the cart is mounted on a first-class, well set up, platform, (admittedly with a commensurate phono stage) which is why you'll often see cheap classic Denon's etc performing in ridiculously expensive tonearms.

Interestingly, ultra high end MC carts are still available as med-high output (needless to say they've covered the bases by having low output variants of the same cartridge for hardy souls who enjoy the quest for 20K phono stages ;^)

 

RE: And let's not forget the phonostage, posted on January 10, 2017 at 22:00:32
A.Wayne
Audiophile

Posts: 2263
Location: Front row center
Joined: November 30, 2011
Where did Manny go ... ?

 

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