Crazy good-sounding ceramic cartridge

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by needlestein, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. SSaxdude

    SSaxdude Super Member

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    Any comment on currently manufactured ceramic carts and their quality?

    Or, do the high quality ceramic carts still have styli being manufactured?
     

     

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  2. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    I'm using the dedicated "ceramic" phono stage. On this battered Nazareth I'm transferring right now, the sound is tight, highs are controlled, just wonderful.

    And I just spinned Yngwie Malmsteen's first album in its entirety on my big rig, with Astatic MF-100 cart.

    Just as good, in its own peculiar way.

    I got something like 7 or 8 carts at the moment. Shure M3, Shure M7N21D, Empire 888-TE, 2 9TA Sonotones, and two Stanton 720 with D71ee stylus (my fave, I believe). Oh, and my Shure V-15 type 2 with SAS. That one is probably the best overall. There's also an Ortofon banging around here somewher, and Grado Black with 8mz. I was once enamored of that pairing, but I believe somethings off, not sounding as good as I thought.

    And welcome to the party slqsavior!
     
  3. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The "1" and the "2" are both diamond 0.7 conicals since the stylus plastic is gold. Even if one is longer than the other, they are the same.

    Still haven't had a chance. I'll probably have to hot spot my laptop since I don't have wifi. Lots of bigger fish to fry right now, though.
     
  4. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have a 9TAF-S and a 9TAF-SD too. In fact I'm running the 9TAF-S now and I can't tell any difference between it and the HC. Of course, the S and the SD simply designate the stylus included, so once you put a sapphire/diamond stylus in a 9TAF-S, you've converted it to a 9TAF-SD.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  5. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Well, there are a few, but they are old designs. Stay tuned, though. I've got two on the way...
     
  6. cdk99

    cdk99 Well-Known Member

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    Listened to Weather Report since I'm familiar. Thank you James. Now I have an idea, and now I'm in the camp that's interested in a hi-def ceramic. Never got to hear an MA, now I'd be interested. Thank you also Needlestein for rolling this idea out in the first place.
     
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  7. SaSi

    SaSi Seriously Illogical Subscriber

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    I downloaded the files and listened them on my computer, through the amplifier and a pair of KEF floorstanding speakers (Carlton 3).
    They all sound incredibly good once you know they are from a ceramic cart (because of prejudice) but in absolute terms, only the waylon 2 file from the first batch is very good. The first three suffer from a dullness in the high frequency. However, the Montoya clip had a very nice presence on the guitar strings.

    Checked them in Audition and it shows that the frequency response is very balanced. The Waylon 2 is the only track that does justice to the experiment. The content is extremely narrow above 10kHz, but what is there is nice and adds to the ambience and tone of the voice and instruments.

    the low frequency extension is also very balanced and controlled. Certainly there's no RIAA compensation missing or grossly wrong here.

    Extremely entertaining experiment and enlightening results.

    I admit I still prefer my Ortofon MC20MkII, which I prefer against every other cart I've listened to.
     
  8. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    So, no luck so far downloading these files, but perusing the comments above I just want to ask @onwardjames what arm-matching have you done at all? I'm sensing that there could be some treble boost and sibilance and other distortion that might be traced to your arm being too light. This is a cartridge from the old days and I'm getting excellent results, but I've got my arm set up like I do when running my Denon DL-103 now--running 2g weight on the headshell (not shown in photos) and the auxiliary on the back. I know the HC stands for high compliance, but it's ceramic high compliance I think, and not a MM idea of high compliance. I can't find anything in the literature or online to point me in any direction about arm mass, but my hunch is that it should be pretty high.
     
  9. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    As I highly respect your opinion, it is appreciated that you gave it here, and in such an informative way. Honestly, I just grabbed what was laying around me, as for the material.

    P.S. Sasi, did you also download the Steely Dan and the War cuts? They're a few posts back.

    Arm matching?? lmao, none whatsoever. It went on my stock Pioneer PL-600. That's all I've done, other than properly aligning it.
     
  10. Russooll

    Russooll AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Now look what you made me do! I have a Micro-Acoustic 2002e that I got cheap a while ago, but I hadn't set it up. Well after reading this thread I decided to set it up, and , and, well this thing is crazy good. I was suppose to be selling down on carts not finding reasons to keepum.:crazy:
     
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  11. Russooll

    Russooll AK Subscriber Subscriber

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  12. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    Welcome, Russooll, and thanks for your needle drop. I'm off to check that out.
     
  13. Russooll

    Russooll AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Hope you like it.
     
  14. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    Breathing some life into this thread. I think after I finish transferring "Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy" by The Who with the Sonotone, I'm going back to my Stanton.

    Let's see if I miss it. Right now it is sounding freaking awesome on "Pinball Wizard".
     
  15. Russooll

    Russooll AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    What did you think of the needle drop. I was just checking out to see if it would sound ok, and I thought that it sounded ok even though it was kind of a weird cut.
     
  16. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    I tried to download it, but it was at 192 kps. My machine wouldn't play it. Just not capable.
     

     

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  17. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    So on another forum, I was persuaded to try a BSR SC5M. I'm using the circuit I made for the Sonotone and I may experiment more with different values and some other circuits I've seen on the net. But, this is tracking at 2.5g with my arm set up with the auxiliary weight and a 2g headshell weight--same set up I use when running a DL-103. The SC5M sounded harsh at first and rolled off, but after only two or three sides it settled right in and while it is not as fast as the Sonotone 9TA, it is a fantastic sounding cartridge. Reminds me a lot of my DL-103 in fact. Mellow, but detailed and the high end clarity is very MC like. Whoever said these aren't hi fidelity or audiophile wasn't listening to them.

    This is fun.

    image.jpeg

    image.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
  18. Russooll

    Russooll AK Subscriber Subscriber

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  19. Russooll

    Russooll AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Also added a program to play the original file.(for windows only, mac & linux users are on your own).
     
  20. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    So, I ordered a bunch of 10k ohm and 68k om resistors as well as 560pF capacitors and I now have enough semiconductors to make fifteen headshell circuits, all for a couple of bucks. I wired together another one last night. I'm getting good at this, so it only took about five minutes. I wanted to try this Sony VX-23P.

    image.jpeg

    It's not as "crazy good" sounding as the 9TA, which is quickly becoming my favorite cartridge, period, but it still sounds surprisingly good. Really good, in fact. So good you wouldn't know it wasn't moving magnet. I actually think the only way it could sound better is if it had a sapphire stylus option, but it doesn't as far as I can tell. This one is diamond only.

    This one is a later design, and the stylus is a lot more like a moving magnet stylus in that it doesn't flip and has a much more precise axis. I would feel comfortable, actually, sending this stylus off to get a fancy tip. I'd probably be one of the few people to have a ceramic cartridge with a Paratrace diamond. Of course, I don't know if that would be a good idea or not--could be like putting bias ply tires on a modern car and end up destroying the front end (or do I have that backwards and putting radial tires on an antique car will destroy the front end?). I'll have to call some experts in the retipping business for advice. A new stylus for this cartridge is readily available and costs only between $5 and $8.

    This has been a really useful and insightful experiment for me. Ceramic cartridges, despite the myths, actually sound pretty awesome and don't wear your records as the ones I have track very lightly, well within conservative acceptable limits. At 2g, these conical styli with high contact area cause little wear. They also seem to handle the high end very well over many moving magnet cartridges and tracking is more than adequate. There's more space and less confusion in the high end--moving magnet cartridges, even moving coils seem to get confused. Must be because of the increased voltage at the high end perhaps becoming overwhelming. Smoother cartridges, like the M97xE must be damped at the high end as one strategy to overcome this--well, this is a thought I had, anyway. I tried some of my sibilance test records that require moving magnet cartridges with line contact tips for the most part to navigate well (Elton John's Greatest Hits, for example) and this cartridge performed mightily I have to say. That was very surprising. No fizzing, sputtering, or cymbals that sound like wax paper and tin cans. I know how challenging that album is and I was surprised that such a low tech cartridge did so well with it. I could leave this cartridge on my turntable and be happy. But I'll go back to the 9TA again soon. I miss it.

    I think I'm pretty satisfied with my ceramic cartridge exploration. I might try some other types of preamps and maybe even some circuits that would allow me to hook the ceramic cartridge directly into my line in, but for now my interconnects are simply too long for that, I think. But I might try it in the future anyway just for the heck of it. But being able to hook each ceramic cartridge up separately in its own headshell provides a lot of advantages when cartridge swapping, so I'm not really motivated to mess around much with something that works so well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017

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