Crazy good-sounding ceramic cartridge

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

  1. vwestlife

    vwestlife Well-Known Member

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    Here is my first test of the LP Gear/LP Tunes "Cerapreme Blue" .3x.7 mil elliptical stylus on a 1986 Soundesign turntable with an all-plastic BSR mechanism and the CZ800 cartridge. But it is a genuine Japanese-made Chuo Denshi CZ800, and even with a regular conical stylus it sounds far superior to the $2 Chinese knockoffs that are ubiquitous these days. I used the ceramic phono input of my Realistic SA-155 amplifier to get the correct impedance match.

     
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  2. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks for that video. It's hard to tell the sound quality though. Nice to find another person taking these cartridges seriously. Was that an ambient recording into the cell phone mic or a direct line hookup?
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
  3. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    That's probably true. I don't bypass the RIAA stage though because my TT Is too far from my amp. The ideal ceramic cable capacitance from materials I've read is 100pF either to the amp or the phono stage, or about two feet of average cable. Twice that is supposed to be okay. More than that and who knows? I've got ten to twelve feet.

    I keep saying I might move my TT closer to the amp just for the sake of experimentation though. Too much going on right now though.
     
  4. vwestlife

    vwestlife Well-Known Member

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    It's a direct audio recording. You can download an uncompressed WAV of the audio here:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_oqlENevINHUXFEWENKT2RiUW8
     
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  5. james73_2010

    james73_2010 Active Member

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    Did you ever get the Chuo-Denshi to sound better in terms of the bass? And, have you tried it with the blue Cerapreme stylus?



    James H
     
  6. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    No, unfortunately. I haven’t really had the time with the holidays. I haven’t even researched how I should alter the adapter circuit to get more bass, if that’s even possible.

    I got a little unexpected break in the schedule today and the first (only) thing I did was fix a DL-103. But now it’s back to regular stuff—my daughter just woke up from her nap.
     
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  7. pdm4606

    pdm4606 Super Member

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    You would use a high level input that would not have equalization in it's circuit so no EQ. Maybe a tuner or aux. in.
    Keeping the signal non equalized has its' benefits.
    These ceramic cart's. sound very musical.
     
  8. james73_2010

    james73_2010 Active Member

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    The Chuo-Denshi is a real bottom-feeder of a cartridge. It was precisely the sort of cartridge that persuaded millions upon millions of people to abandon vinyl as a format and buy all the same albums again on CD, cos it first appeared when CD was just about to break i.e. the early-mid 1980s. This was all by design. The music industry came in it's pants at the very thought of the same suckers paying even more money for albums they had already bought in their 100s of millions. You cant just blame the Chuo-Denshi's crap sound entirely on lack of proper amplification.

    Ergo, I find it very hard to accept the same Chuo-Denshi cartridge can sound good. Even with the LPGear elliptical stylus. I'd love to be proved wrong, but I'm 99% sure I won't be.


    If ceramics offer such good sound/value, surely someone would've designed a ceramic-stage that lets you select various loadings - something that will vary with ceramic cartridge to ceramic cartridge? (Before anyone says it, the KAB CerMag DOES NOT do this - it just reduces the ceramic cartridge output down to MM level).



    James H
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  9. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks, James. But the Chuo Denshi is not revolutionary, even revolutionarily bad. There are plenty of cartridges that are worse, including magnetic cartridges. Also, so many ceramic cartridges that are better and sound excellent.

    I don’t think Chuo Denshi ceramic cartridges and it’s ilk are responsible for the sudden collapse of the vinyl record industry in the 1980s. That’s kind of ludicrous. The impetus to my experimentation with any ceramic cartridge was memories precisely of how good my first turntable with a ceramic cartridge sounded.

    I would say that it was more the cost of being in the vinyl club that brought vinyl down. Cartridges are expensive. Even good cartridges require good equipment and we all praise ourselves here on our esoteric knowledge, scientific observations and obsessive attention to detail. And that’s just cartridges.

    Then there are styli, preamps, pre-preamps, phonostages, (is that the same thing?), amps, speakers, woofers, tweeters, crossovers, etc. It’s a labyrinth. Turntables, bewildering: which arm? Automatic? Manual? Semi-Automatic? Unipivot? Knife edge? Linear tracking? P Mount? P Mount and linear tracking?

    You gotta be kidding me that Chuo Denshi ruined all that bliss.

    Vinyl went away for the same reasons manual film cameras did—the pain in the ass factor and expense. I love my 1950s era Contax, but no one who I want to photograph does.

    I’m still amazed vinyl came back at all.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  10. vwestlife

    vwestlife Well-Known Member

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    I think this TEAC system proves that the CZ-800 can sound good, even with a sapphire stylus, when 1.) you use the genuine Japanese made Chuo Denshi cartridge and not a $1 Chinese knockoff, and 2.) when you properly match its impedance (TEAC uses 2.1 megohm resistors to do so):



    And FYI... vinyl sales had already been declining for years by the time the CZ800 arrived on the scene, circa 1986. Its arrival was a reaction to the trend of turntable sales moving to the low end of the market, not the cause of it. In the USA, cassettes began outselling LPs in 1983, and CDs didn't begin outselling cassettes until 1992 -- long after LPs were dead.
     
  11. beat_truck

    beat_truck Super Member

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  12. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Even with a sapphire stylus?

    Sapphire sounds better than diamond. That’s what I found out. Diamond styli were original marketed for the attributes of longevity and the associated convenience or, perhaps, lack of inconvenience that short-lived sapphire styli required.

    But at $2 a pop vs. $9 a pop for diamond, and having to change much more frequently, the cost to the user of sapphire styli was higher—but if you were really listening, the cost and inconvenience are worth it. Sapphire cools faster and more evenly than diamond and takes a polish better. All this adds up to better sound.

    When I go to my ceramic stylus stockist, I’m sure to remember to say, “Make mine sapphire!”

    PS: your videos are hilarious! I like the Muppet that appears as you address the likely commentary. Made me laugh out loud.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
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  13. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    This point was covered in the video. You still would need an amp, speakers, maybe a phono stage, cassette player/recorder, tuner and CD player to match this feature set, hopefully all items that would work nicely together and compliment each other as well as wires (interconnects) and a place to put it all. Oh, and more than one outlet, probably.

    This thing probably has a remote and USB capability too. And it’s not an ugly pile like my system. You know how long it took me to find a little cassette player like that?

    AE560397-01B7-4F16-940C-F2DA01C4EA9A.jpeg

    Oh wait, my amp’s not even in there...though I can also run all my sound in mono through the Tivoli Model One.

    The amp’s on the opposite wall.

    7409D8EA-39D3-420A-832F-49D7573FA96B.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
  14. vwestlife

    vwestlife Well-Known Member

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    What model is it? It looks even narrower than my Realistic SCT-86.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    AudioLogic TCD-34. I should probably try one of those Realistics.
     
  16. james73_2010

    james73_2010 Active Member

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    No, it's not the entire fault of the Chuo Denshi, but the fact remains that it was the cartridge that was bundled on almost all midi "hifi" systems from the late 1980s onwards. These systems would let you do direct comparison of vinyl to tape and FM (and later CD) and vinyl sounded terrible on these things, probably a complete lack of proper amplification I admit. I think that definitely swayed a lot of the publics attitude to vinyl.

    A mate of mine had one of those systems and he wrote off vinyl as vastly inferior. He couldn't believe the sound from my turntable the first time he heard it. He genuinely thought I was fooling him in some way!



    James H
     

     

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  17. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Well, that’s too bad. But the same can be said for cheap cassettes, cheap cassette heads, cheap reel tape, and even low production value factory CD’s which sound like crap compared to what someone with a decent turntable, free software and a CD writer can make in their own.

    Vinyl is complicated. We here happen to like that about vinyl, but the buying public does not. Kodak tried often to appeal to the consumer by dumbing down camera function and all that really led to was even worse snapshots and lower customer satisfaction.

    However, that cartridge itself alone is not actually so bad. In fact, it is surprisingly good. Not the best, but I think that if you heard how it does in my system with a proper arm with proper mass and good amplification, you’d be kind of shocked. I know I was.

    Right now, I’m listening to a cartridge that sells new for anywhere between $650 and $1250 depending on from where you source it. Yes, it’s definitely better than the Chuo Denshi, but I know a good cartridge when I hear one and the Chuo Denshi has a lot of positive attributes and relatively few negatives.
     
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  18. vwestlife

    vwestlife Well-Known Member

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    Too late. By the mid to late 1980s, vinyl album sales were plummeting, so clearly the public had already been swayed even before they got a chance to replace their 1970s BSR record changers with the late '80s integrated stereo systems -- not all of which used the CZ-800, mind you. Panasonic (and their sub-brand Quasar) had their own ceramic cartridge that they used in all their stereo systems from the early '80s through mid '90s, and they always properly matched its impedance, so it could sound surprisingly good:

     
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  19. onwardjames

    onwardjames Hoardimus Maximus Subscriber

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    Needlestein, I am quoting and answering my own question, because I think you'll be amused.

    The more I used the Astatic MF-100 (wd-40 improved, lol) the better it got. It no longer jumps out of that bombastic groove.

    What I'm telling you is that the wd-40 first hardened and firmed that rubber up, and now it has adjusted, with no loss of height during play.

    Simply blows my mind, and yes, those Astatic MF-100 carts you might have heard about?? Yeah, they're pretty much astounding.

    Sir, I can attest that my Sonotone, without the benefit of additional, proper mass, sounded FAR better than I expected, and was temporarily my go-to cart for digital transfers. The albums I did transfer it with, well, there is a crisp liveliness to the recordings, they sound......fast?

    It is a tech I feel should have been pursued a bit farther than it was. I think today I'll slap that Sonotone on an old beater table I have (Technics SL3200) and load that arm down somehow.
     
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  20. james73_2010

    james73_2010 Active Member

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    I admire those championing the cause of these cheapo ceramic cartridges and that really intrigues me, so let me enquire a few more things.

    The Chuo Denshi - this thing looks light as a feather, so what weight is it? And how could I attach it to either of my two tonearms, a Rega RB250 & RB300? What height is it? My current cartridge is an Audio Technica AT450E (an AT150E with a lesser stylus) which weighs in at 8gm. The plastic-topped versions (the AT120/AT440ML) are 6.5gm.

    I know nothing about electronics, so how would I best amplify the Chuo Denshi properly? Buying the KAB CerMag and feeding that into my MM Phono pre-amp (a Creek OBH-8 MM)? Or somehow loading the leads out of my tonearm and into a line input? Rega arms have next to no space at the headshell end, so needlesteins solution of sticking resistors and whatnot at the back of the cartridge would be a non-starter.


    Cheers in advance.



    James H
     

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