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I'm about to plunk down for an SPU Classic, and am still trying to decide whether to get the spherical or the elliptical stylus. Any opinions welcome, especially from those with first hand experience. BTW, 'table is Garrard 301 with grease bearing (ca. 1957), arm is SME 3012 (ca. 1966). Phono stage is RCA circuit with 5691's. MC step up trans is currently Altec 4722, but I may get something new for the SPU (suggestions welcome on that topic, too). Thanks
Here's a batch of hearsay .... The Conical seems to be kind of the Stylus-Profile equivalent of, say, an idler-drive versus a present-day beltdrive (or similar 'outmoded' versus 'widely-accepted' comparison).... Moreso in the EU and Japan than here, the Conical stylus, whether in an older Denon, Ortofon, Decca or whatever context, seems to be coming to be regarded as another kind of flavor rather than piece of history...
Contacts I've got in EU pretty much confirm the posts below, ie, conicals unbeatable in middle ranges of freq response whereas ellipticals extend the extremes. Wish I had more on this personally, but I don't. When my fractured finances recover from recent acquisitions, I'll be, well, I'll be in your position, wanting to go SPU but needing to know more on this exact issue.....
Let us know what you go with and how it works out...
I related that my subject research suggested spherical/conical stylus tips are subject to greater tracing distortion. However, John Ellison replied that was not consistent with his own testing comparisons. Neither of us could explain why.
In addition, you may want to consider the records you intend to play. Mono LPs prior to 1958 and certainly those before micro groove may be better served by a spherical stylus. From what I could find out, any mono LP from '58 on, plus all stereo LPs will sound better with a wide profile elliptical. Go to the Lyra site and check out their mono cartridge info for tip guidance.
I think the conicals available today have a tip radius to suit the modern microgroove ie I don't think they will be necessarily any better for pre 1958 mono records. Lyra use a line contact for their mono cartridge.
JE's distortion measurements of the spherical tipped 103R are interesting though. The superiority of elyptical/line contact stylii is often touted - and explained with little diagrams showing why conicals don't work very well (see notes accompanying the HFNRR test record).....funny how they seem to sound and test ok???
All things being equal as far as the quality of the respective diamonds, stylus alignment/mounting with the grain, care and expertise involved in polishing, etc. the elliptical would at least theoretically yield greater service life, lessened groove wear and would track the HF better.
Many folks prefer conical styli for older and or the more worn recordings.
There seems to be a real consensus amongst people I know that the magic of these vintage cartridges has much to do with the older stylus profile. I personally would go with the spherical/conical.
I have one of each. An older (read vintage) GM, and a recent GME. All else being equal, the GM is a bit more smooth sounding in the mids and upper mids, and the GME tracks the HF a bit better. I've been using the the GME for the past couple of years, and did some tube swapping in my preamp, and I'm pretty happy with the results.
All else being equal about stylus wear, these beasties track at 4 grams, so either stylus will have the same life. As the diamonds appear to be excellent, I've had no wear on my GME in the last 4 years, but I don't use it heavily; maybe 5 hours per week.
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