Phono Cartridges

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by JK47, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    You cannot use consumer usb low pixel microscopes to evaluate stylus wear. It’s just not possible (but it is good for alignment and measuring SRA). Short of sending your stylus to someone like Ray Parkhurst or Wally Tools for evaluation, hours is about all you can go by. I suggest checking this thread out for photographic stylus wear and some methodical testing: https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=134294

    Ray also has some other threads at VE with other styluses he’s evaluated as well. Also note any posts by Cafe Latte (He’s an Aussie retipper) as he has the proper equipment as well and has evaluated hundreds of styluses.
     
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  2. Biodegraded

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    Agreed about the cheap USB microscopes, the resolution isn't good enough to reliably judge wear.

    You could however look for a cheap used optical scope with an appropriate ocular-objective lens mix to get you to the required magnification (100-200x is good), or a cheap mini optical scope in that range - see eg here:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/turntable-advice.194/page-33#post-310302

    The Shure stylus wear guide linked in that post is pretty good too.
     
  3. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Analogue Seduction in the UK will ship to the US IF they wouldn't be breaking a manufacturer's exclusive-local-agent deal. I've found them very good to Canada (Royal Mail, then handover to Canada Post). Try entering your address to see - VAT is removed for export, too:

    https://www.analogueseduction.net/sme/page/1/

    I see there's also a spacer/weight; dunno how heavy it is though.
     
  4. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Almost "Made"

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    Super interesting and informative thread! IF i do check this, it will be on a record for which I have dupes…

    The bigger challenge is it’s a PITA to switch; hours of setup… now if I could find a duplicate SME309 headshell for less than the ONLY one I’ve found (in the UK) which is near $350… that part would be easier.

    (Kicking myself way back when first acquired, I was thinking of getting a second one so that I could mount a duplicate cartridge in it, but wired out of absolute phase; yeah too much money and nervosa back then… but woulda, coulda, shoulda…)
     
  5. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Almost "Made"

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    Well, the seduction folks are the only ones I’ve seen and $350 seems steep. That said, IF they won’t ship to US, I do have coworkers in the UK who could buy it for me, but lose VAT deduction. I gotta decide is it worth it, to be able to more easily change cartridges?
     
  6. Polemarkos

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    Here you go. Looks like there's one left in stock.
     
  7. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Almost "Made"

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  8. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    I have that one, and like it. The VTA test (they call it 'tracking angle error') relies on the production of a 1kHz IMD tone that results from the summing of the track's 341 & 659 Hz tones that happens if the SRA error is 'too large'

    I haven't tried that test myself, but I wonder how precise it'd be or whether it's just a 'ballpark' test that wouldn't get you much further than a first-pass visual leveling of the tonearm by eye.
     
  9. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Almost "Made"

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    I guess I shall see; arrives next week. So based on that description, one “adjusts” for minimal total volume OF the IMD tone presumably? If so, elegant!
    I shall report
     
  10. Biodegraded

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    I just gave it a shot, for science. My tonearm doesn't have convenient VTA adjustment so instead I gave it different elevations at the bitey end: 4.5mm mat (currently in use), 2.5mm mat, and no mat.

    Result: didn't hear the 1 kHz tone in any trial. But my stylus is elliptical, and might be more forgiving than the Shibata on yours.
     
  11. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Almost "Made"

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    Good point! It’s arrived, but I’ve not yet had time to test it out. Just loaded 3gm more headshell weight via shims, and rebalanced. Initial Azimuth. But no time to break out the test records until Sunday earliest. Having a nervosa debate in the meantime: should I have put the shims ABOVE the headshell, or BETWEEN it and the cartridge. (Currently above as easiest). The debat is: what was the vertical distance from cartridge top to stylus tip under load. (I.e. could I have shifted VTA in the better - or worse - direction via shim addition had I done it UNDER.

    But, given my aged, and arthritic fingers, I’m going to optiimize with it above (easier to raise the tonearm and far less fraught…)

    Stay tuned, long weekend ahead. Perhaps time.
     
  12. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Almost "Made"

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    Been busy (time to plant our seedlings in our veg garden), but made progress. Got the SL fully balanced after adding 4gm of headshell shim/weights. This lowered my resonance point (using my test disk) to 8-9Hz from the previous 13. This then allowed me to finally nail the anti-skating on all the “torture” tracks.

    Listening is much improved and I’m liking what I’m hearing. Hopefully this next weekend I can use the VTA test disc to see if VTA is good enough/I care. The initial brightness and sibilance is now gone from the top end; I suspect improper anti-Skate coupled with sub-optimal compliance. The additional 4gm at the pointy end, really helped a lot. My digital stylus guage shows 1.96g downforce, my analog balance Shure scale shows 2 (approx).

    Holding off on 2nd headshell, etc. Decided I don’t want to risk re-trying the 34 year old AQ, given I *know* it had 800 +/.- hours on it… discretion being the better part of valor, and all that…

    So, then I can get ready to do the real test: A/B between same exact music on vinyl versus via Yggdrasil. Got quite a few old Mercury’s and RCA’s to compare/contrast. Stay tuned
     
  13. dBel84

    dBel84 Friend

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    Curious what AQ cart. I have the AQ404b and really liked it. I replaced it with the SoundSmith Zephyr - not sure it was a huge upgrade, more does different things more differently :)

    ..dB
     
  14. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Almost "Made"

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    The OG AudioQuest cartridge: AQ7000; $1500 in 1990 dollars. Loved it even more than the Koetsu Rosewood it replaced.

    Supposedly subsequent reviewers of following generations of “Scan Tech” cartridges/family said they sounded similar (Lyra’s are descendants from what I understand, as are Hana’s). From the sound, I would say so. Note well, that my hearing hasn’t gotten better in the last 30-35 years. But, it is definitely better than the Denon 301MkII it most immediately replaced.

    (On my test LP’s I can still hear quite well to the 14kHz range, then it drops off quickly. I should one of these days get professionally tested.)
     

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