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Welcome Licorice Pizza (LP) lovers! Setup guides and Vinyl FAQ.

Try a more vintage Pickering Stanton 380...+ some Pickering history...

...Without a doubt, it fits your desired sonics. You might have to add an auxiliary weight at the rear as these Stanton 380/Pickering U38 carts weigh 14 grams, require 5/16" to 3/8" tall spacers, track at 3 grams and are a pain to mount right. However, music sweet music awaits...

Concerning your report of the newish Stanton 500 and 400 entries, these are descendants of the Pickering V-15, intro'd in the mid '60s. No Stanton 500 sounds as sweet as the original V15s. You might want to hunt for a blue or tan body vintage V-15 or the later high output models P/AC or NP/AC. Those were the highest output versions, even with the lower output styli like EE or AL. Higher output yields better dynamics, instantly. The dynamic range has to increase because the volume control will be turned down causing crescendo and snap peaks to have noticeably more headroom. BTW, the older 380 has high output, too.

I am a huge Pickering/Stanton fan. I owned a 681EEE for many years, upgrading to the 681A stylus for my 45s. However, the output is still lowish, as it was with the sister cart, the Pickering XV-15, another sweet cart. Well, thanks to the radio station and now disco duty market, Stanton offers a D6800HP stylus with a high polish conical and very high output. WOW ! Does this wake up the 681 family. Do not confuse the 681 with the later 680 carts. The 681 is much smoother, just like a Pickering V15 is smoother than a 500 or 400. Also, keep in mind the break-in time for these new styli and carts. These will warm up after a few months. Disbelievers must try to really know. I have a 500DJ stylus that took two months to sound decent. It was very hard and cold sounding at first.

So, I must reiterate that the 380 will trounce all of these. It is punchy and sweet, yet detailed and very dynamic with the most amazing 3D holography, actually comparable to my world reference Ortofon SPU. Look for the "chicken head" stylus carts. The Pickering Stanton 380 is the most musical. The cheaper Pickering U38 is even punchier, slightly more rolled off up top, yet retains the magic of these heavyweight magnetic carts.

Now, for some more history commentary. After the 371 Stanton 45 x 45, the first stereo cart by Pickering, with a very neutral and extended sound, late 1961 saw the Pickering Stanton 380 intro, with a gold body and yellow or red "chicken head" stylus assembly. Later 380s were black bodied with the same great sweet sound. In '62, they offered to the public their Calibration Standard 381 with a brushed silver alloy body, which used higher resistance coils and the same styli as the 381. A low cost Pickering U38 filled out the line, also using the same styli. I wish I could confirm that a red or black stylus for automatic 3-7 gram arms, or yellow for manual 2-5 gram trackers is the norm, because thru the years these colors have been duplicated en masse by the aftermarket replacement styli producers. Look carefully and you may be lucky enough to find a nude mounted stylus; the best. Pickering offered a combo "outfit" with a black .7 mil, rare white 1 mil and blue 3 mil styli with a 381. Best of luck finding this combo...

The supposedly highest fi 381 has a flatter response and sounds leaner, definitely with more hi freq extension; but it definitely sounds leaner than the normal sweet 380. Soon after, mid-60s, they offered the very high resistance coiled 481 with similar leaner sounding calibration standard sonics, now offering a brown elliptical stylus(which the stereo LP lovers will undoubtedly cherish if they can find one). Next, comes the super rare 581, which looks like a silver body V-15, which was soon to be available. This 581 is one of my faves; a bit leaner sounding than the extra sweet 380, but today can use any of the styli that fit the V15 or 500 or 400 family. Don't even try to find one of these. It took me over 10 years to source a 581 and it was a surprise, simply looking like a V15 with a tiny 581 sticker up top. It does have the high resistance coils.

By 1970, with the Pickering V15 as probably the most available cart in the world, the Stanton 681EE and XV-15 take over as their high line offerings. In the early to mid '70s, they finally regularly offer nude mounted styli in the 681EEE and 681A, plus the Pickering XV-15/750E and XV-15/1200E. The lower line Stanton 500 became very popular, believed to be a bit leaner and sounds slightly more extended up top than it's prototype V-15. The disco era thru the '80s brought us the lower priced 680 series, considered a classic; but not to the hifi guys. I give up on historical notes after this, as reissue and disco duty stuff clouds the way...

The Seeburg jukeboxes specified Pickerings since post WWII offerings. The Pickering for Seeburg late '50s thru '60s stereo carts, known as the stereo blackhead and the slightly later stereo redhead had coils around 500 ohms per channel. Guess what ? These sound like the U38 and V15 family. But, there are later V15 carts that have 730 to 750 ohm coils, which have that slightly leaner and slightly more highs sound, as well as the rare 900 to 1200 plus ohm coils that can be found in this family. However, even a 500 ohm per coil Stanton 500 will not sound as sweet as a 500 ohmer V15. Yeah, this can be confusing. You cannot imagine how many of these I have procured thru the years. Speaking of the earlier Calibration Standard coils, they typically read 1200 ohms, except the 481 which can read over 3000 ohms per coil ! The 681 and 680 series usually read close to 1200 ohms, but, again, any 681 always seems to sound sweeter than any 680. Now, you would think the later, cheaper 680 should sound sweeter as the past would indicate, but it seems the disco derived carts, as well as the 500 family, have a more jagged freq response with those uptilted highs.

So, find what you can and try what you can find. Do keep in mind that moving coil carts are supreme...Enjoy your hifi searches...

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