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Crazy good-sounding ceramic cartridge

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

  1. 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.
     
  2. Russooll

    Russooll Active Member

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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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  3. Russooll

    Russooll Active Member

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  4. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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

    Russooll Active Member

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    Hope you like it.
     
  6. 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".
     
  7. Russooll

    Russooll Active Member

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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.
     
  8. 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.
     
  9. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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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
  10. Russooll

    Russooll Active Member

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  11. Russooll

    Russooll Active Member

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

    needlestein Super Member

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    4,842
    Location:
    West Hartford, CT
    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
  13. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    I replaced my 9TA with my old reliable Stanton 720, but that's only because it seemed the Stanton overall sounded smoother in the high end. Otherwise, I love the 9TA. If i could figure out how to tame that little sizzle it has, it'd be my daily driver, no doubt. It tracks the inner grooves like a beast, and keeps its composure throughout.
     
  14. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    4,842
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    Increase arm mass. I added the auxiliary weight to the rear of the arm and a 2 gram weight to the headshell. No sizzle at 2g VTF. It's my daily driver now.

    But if you don't want it, you know where to find me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
  15. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    Thanks, I'll try that. And don't forget, I have a second one in pristine shape.
     
  16. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    Oh, I know.
     
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  17. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    4,842
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    I made circuits for a couple more cartridges. The results are pretty surprising.

    image.jpeg

    image.jpeg
     
  18. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    Well don't keep us waiting! What results did you find?
     
  19. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    The 16T sounds every bit as good at the 9TA, but right now at least it needs 3g tracking force to track as well.

    The cheapo Chuo Denshi, the cartridge on the Crosleys, with a quality arm and stereo at just 2g it sounds surprisingly good. I found the problem with the bass--it was an internal thing. There was a problem with one of the rubber parts out of alignment and probably squeezing the ceramic rods too tight, so I sorted that out. Does it sound as good as the 9TA? I'm going to stop short of that because I really think that it sounds good enough that anyone who is any good with a soldering iron should try the Sonotone circuit into an mm stage. I haven't tried these with another circuit direct into the line in--could be just as nice, but I don't know.

    The only issue with the Chuo Denshi is that it's fragile and so might fall apart. Mine did. But it goes back together easily and there's nothing to it. There are no wires inside. Just two ceramics rods, a couple of rubber pieces and then the terminals that slide into a rubber grommet against the ceramic rods. The other end is the pin. It's really amazing what little there is to it and yet it makes great sound. LPGear even has an upgrade elliptical stylus (Cerapreme) for it, which I might try now.

    I don't expect anyone to give up their LOMC and SUT for one of these, but if the Sonotones in particular cause that thought to flash through one's mind for a nanosecond before being extinguished, then the point is made.

    Don't sell that SPU just yet. The other issue is that these ceramics don't track the bass as well as a magnetic. These all will pretty spectacularly jump out of the groove on the Shure Audio Obstacle Course Era III test record at Level 3. But on how many actual music records of mine do they mistrack on bass? None that I can tell--but I haven't played all of them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
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  20. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    That reminds me, Needlestein. Towards the conclusion of "Straighten up and fly right" by Nelson Riddle with Linda Ronstadt (HELLUVA good sounding recording on vinyl) my wd-40 improved Astatic MF-100 LEAPS out of the groove at the very last blast towards the end.

    Is this normal? I know this is off topic, but is this a matter of too much groove info for that stylus? Weight is at 1.25, the upper end of that nice cart. Never once had that happen before, tho I haven't played that record on anything else.

    Great writeup above, btw.
     

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