Crazy good-sounding ceramic cartridge

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

  1. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I tried to download them onto my phone. I used Dropbox before and so it should work. But with all of your files I kept getting an error message "error downloading." I don't know if the issue is on my end or yours, though.
     
  2. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    So did I. Maybe because they're 40 to 70 megabytes??
     
  3. muovimies

    muovimies Super Member

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    Thanks a lot for taking the time. I listened to them, worked fine for me on my computer. I listened using my desktop speakers and they're not the most revealing, but it does sound pretty nice. To my ears there's a heavy peak in the treble region somewhere though and where it mistracks it really does so with vigor. I guess the treble peak could be just a loading thing, but my hunch is it's from cantilever resonance right in the audible region. On the upside there's a certain openess to the sound most moving magnets don't manage. It makes one wonder what could be achieved with the technology using more modern cantilevers and tips.
     
  4. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I really wish I could hear these files. I think you could be right about the loading, because I have minimal distortion--no more than with a top tracking MM. Tracking at 3g also helps. The sapphire stylus also really helps, although my diamond stylus is getting smoother and is losing its harsher etched quality rapidly as I approach probably only about 10 hours.

    YES! THIS!

    I've been looking at ceramic cartridges like a mad man since this discovery and I've gotten some leads on some ceramics besides Micro Acoustics products that may have been pretty close to something that could have been made today with more modern materials and tip shapes. Now, to track them down . . . haven't actually found any of them yet.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
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  5. ripblade

    ripblade Super Member

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    Finally got the proper chance to listen to these files.

    First of all, thanks to OnwardJames for taking the time to record and post them for us to hear....it's never easy the first time.

    I listened to them with the same setup I use for my own needle-drops...ESI Juli@ soundcard into an ancient Toshiba receiver I modded for improved fidelity, listening through AKG 240DF headphones. I listened to all 4 files first then did a quick spectral observation using the Izotope Rx spectrum analyzer.

    The files sound generally very good, with good stereo separation and response balance. I thought the bass was a little light at the very bottom but this didn't seem to impact the overall enjoyment of the sound. The 2nd Waylon file was the clearest of all, but suffered a bit of sibilance which could very easily have been the record. The Montaya became garbled during the heavy strumming but I can't say if this was owing to the alignment issue or just energy management in the cartridge. As muovimies noted, the overall sound character was very lively, a quality I like and search for in my own playback.

    Looking at the files in Rx it becomes evident that some of the 'liveliness' is due to some peakiness in the treble. Of the 4 files, all 4 have some peak in and around or approaching 15-20kHz; the last 3 had another near 7-10khz. This is obviously not a scientific observation without a proper response sweep, but a generality using visual averaging of all 4 files. Using the same visual averaging, all 4 files have a response peak in the bass at between 50 -70 Hz, dropping off sharply below that. This could be the preamp if it's not DC coupled but also would explain my impression that the low bass was a little tucked under.

    Altogether, a surprisingly good sound considering the age of the technology. I too have to wonder how much better it can get with advanced materials and stylus shapes. At the current asking price for these I think I'll pass, but if I came across one for little outlay I wouldn't hesitate to snap it up.

    The screen dump below is of the brief silent portion in the Montoya at 1:24. It's not definitive of the response of the cartridge but is fairly typical of the spectrum I see throughout the files. BTW, I really enjoyed the Montoya....I'll have to keep an eye out for that album. :)

    Montoya - Sontone 9TA HC.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  6. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    Thanks, gents.

    The 2nd Waylon file was when I got the cart aligned properly. Also, that record has sibilance on everything. It was mastered on an early JVC digital console that Nashville was crazy about. Never once have I heard it sibilance free.

    Also, the preamp is a simple Realistic 3 channel mixer from the early '80s. Nothing special.

    Finally, I'm tracking this stylus at 2.5 to 2.7. Have no idea what it actually should be, and I don't know if I'm using the diamond or the sapphire, one makes the cart rub the record (the one that Needlestein said should be numbered "1", which I suspect is the diamond) and the other is visibly longer. I can't really hear a difference. Not sure why it rides so low, and there's every chance I don't have this set up correctly.

    I know it shouldn't matter when I got the cart aligned, but I heard a noticeable difference.


    And as I stated, these aren't "mint" copies of anything, rather VG or so.

    Thanks for listening. I'm enjoying this old thing.
     
  7. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    Hey Needlestein, did you opt to download the files?? Worked for me.
     
  8. ripblade

    ripblade Super Member

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    I don't see any evidence of mistracking....even the vocal sibilance is relatively well behaved. I think you're good. :cool:

    That mixer could probably use bigger coupling caps, if you're handy....might improve the bass.
     
  9. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    Decided to throw a couple more on here for you guys. This is with tracking and anti-skate at 3, and properly aligned cart.

    First, a clip from War. This is the soundtrack to some movie called 'Youngbloods". Sorta blaxploitation, I dunno. NO deep cleaning on this or the next, just a brushing.

    War

    And what would a sampling be without some Steely Dan? This is from Katy Lied. Your Gold Teeth II

    Steely Dan

    I'm torn as to keep transferring my vinyl with this damned reliable cart, or go back to my M95EJ Shure or the venerable Stanton 720 with D71ee stylus. Right now, I'm really enjoying this little dandy.
     
  10. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    This old thing is ancient, and probably stifling the sound considerably.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. ripblade

    ripblade Super Member

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    Probably is. Are you using the phono pre or the line stage?

    Might as well enjoy it as long as you can. I've found that there's no one cartridge for all records or styles of music...that's how I wound up with over 40 carts in my collection lol.
     
  12. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Very interesting thread that I almost skipped. Thanks to Needlestein, onwardJames, and all other contributors. I had no idea hi-fi was possible with ceramic carts, and replaceable sapphire needles on plastic cantilevers. Pretty incredible!

    It would be my luck to see this after just getting an expensive London Decca Super Gold. ;) Not that I'm disappointed with the Decca - I'm thrilled. It's my best cartridge now.

    You guys had me looking for a 9TA on flea-bay. Found a 9TA-F, wonder what the models are and how the F compares to the HC?
     
  13. 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?
     
  14. 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!
     
  15. 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.
     
  16. 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
  17. 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...
     
  18. 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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  19. 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.
     
  20. 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.
     

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