Crazy good-sounding ceramic cartridge

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

  1. 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.
     

     

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  2. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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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
  3. 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.
     
  4. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Oh, I know.
     
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  5. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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

    image.jpeg

    image.jpeg
     
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  6. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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

     

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  7. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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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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  8. 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.
     
  9. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    It could be. I think that the bass section on the Shure test record gives a lot of cartridges a tough time, even magnetic ones. With magnetic cartridges that are going to fail, you'll get a fuzzy sound and maybe even a skip over to the next groove by Level 4 or 5. But the ceramics actually jump like a bunny at Level 4. They usually get through Level 1 and Level 2 though, and maybe a little trouble and break up at Level 3, but each level is twice as loud as the former level so it's a significant jump in modulation. Also, none of the ceramics have had trouble on actual records, and I've found that they categorically track the high end better than magnetic cartridges and with a lot more realism. Transients are phenomenal, so when you get a big bass transient, the thing goes "Bang!" Sorry, but I don't think these will track the Telarc 1812 Cannons, but they could possibly launch a BB placed on top of the headshell during the passage.
     
  10. ripblade

    ripblade Super Member

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    Trackability is the bane of the Decca cartridges as well. I suppose there's a limit to how much realism one can extract before problems start. Decca's own arm was a unipivot, which apparently helps by softening the cart''s grip on the groove.

    The alternative is a huge increase in arm mass, which would not be atypical of the conditions these cartridges were expected to run with.
     
  11. empirelvr

    empirelvr AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have been saying this for so long I hate bringing it up. :biggrin: I think it's a greatly overlooked direction to take. Imagine the 2 gram cart used in those Zenith changers updated in design using state of the art materials. I really wish someone would do that.

    They are supposedly good, but they are more MM-like in design than the direct coupled true ceramic carts. They are more of a hybrid from what I remember. They use a condenser element, but aren't really "real" ceramic carts. Not that they don't sound good. (as the file from Russooll proves.)

    I'm loving the files onwardjames uploaded. There is a real "snap" to the sound, not very refined, but very "direct" sounding and with some real unambiguous depth...something a ceramic cart isn't credited with doing *at all.* I notice what sounds like some mistracking to me here and there, but that can be from any number of things. From all I have read, it sounds like what people say a Decca cart sounds like, mistracking and all.
     

     

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  12. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to download Onwardjames's files because I am time and technologically challenged. But my set up doesn't have any mistracking, but I've added the auxiliary weight to the back of my arm as well has headshell weights and that removed any sizzle.
     
  13. empirelvr

    empirelvr AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yes, I suspect it's more setup/compatibility related than a defect though with examples so old, you really can't discount that either.
     
  14. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    I'd love to try the Sonotone with more mass, just haven't gotten around to it, and no experience doing so.

    Glad u like the clips. Yes, there is some mistracking, but the realism and snap of that cart astounded me.

    Apostrophe by Zappa sounded much better on it than I expected.
     
  15. cdk99

    cdk99 Well-Known Member

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    If you have some lead solder (and if not, the auto parts places carry it for body and fender work), take a length that weighs what you need and and hammer it flat into a ribbon (which is easy, go gently), then wrap it around the arm. It's soft and easily unwrapped.

    If that sounds too dicey, a product called Blu-tack is like soft silly putty with some grip, it has decent mass, and can be shaped to fit anywhere. I like adding mass right in front or in back of the pivot so I'm not adding swing inertia to the ends of the arm.
     
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  16. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    UPDATE!

    Actually, I must take this back. These track the Shure test record great! I forgot that the last time I tried the Shure test record, it was before I increased arm mass. Shame on me! I just tried them all and the best was the 9TA (not even the HC which was not part of the test, but the 9TAF-S). It tracked all five levels at just two grams with mild breakup at Level 5. The 16T needed 3g as well as the Chuo Denshi, but the Chuo Denshi exhibited breakup at about Level 3 and the 16T also at Level 3. I have moving magnet cartridges that don't do this well.

    The 16T was the worst and still jumped out of the groove at 3g. That's no surprise because the 16T has a hard nylon yoke while the other two have very soft rubber yokes, although the Chuo Denshi has a soft gushy yoke compared to the 9TA. The 9TA also has a much softer cantilever bushing which the Chuo Denshi does not.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
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  17. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    Looks like I need to get busy adding mass. Thanks everyone, and Needlestein especially for his enthusiasm on this forgotten tech.
     
  18. cdk99

    cdk99 Well-Known Member

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    He's got me wanting to hear one. I wonder if he found a warehouse full of them cheap somewhere and this it step 1. :^)
     
  19. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Heh, heh. I am not that crafty. In fact, I'm defeating my own purpose. If I decide to abandon magnetic cartridges, I'm sitting on a huge stash of them that I have just devalued. I maybe smart, but I'm not that smart.

    Also, being that this is an audiophile forum, I expect that when I admit to having tried the cheapo Chinese Chuo Denshi that people will immediately change the channel. I am not sitting on a pile of these, and I am cheap enough to be annoyed that the version with the 1/2" bracket costs at least $15 where I can find it when the cartridge alone can be found for under $2.

    http://www.thevoiceofmusic.com/cata...ameCartridges&MfgName=Chuo+Denshi&Categories=

    They do seem to come with the "upgrade" stylus these days, with the diamond tip and aluminum cantilever. Maybe the all plastic one with the sapphire tip is a thing of the past.

    Even these ones with the plastic styli are described as diamond, though I'm not so sure they are.

    http://www.thevoiceofmusic.com/cata...ameCartridges&MfgName=Chuo+Denshi&Categories=

    So, no one's making any money off these.

    I'm also NOT recommending these, necessarily. If I were recommending something, which I'm not, just sharing experiences, I'd say get a Sonotone 9TA.

    But the Chuo-Denshi do sound good--they're just fragile and kind of a pain to work with.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
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  20. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    There is a lot to be gained in the sound quality department simply by sidestepping the RIAA stage. Any great quality cartridge that can manage that trick will deliver both better dynamics and more 'immediacy'.
     
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