Direct from JICO Pickering XV-15/D1200: F#$%^&g AWESOME!!!

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by needlestein, May 19, 2017.

  1. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    So, thanks to @malden, who swears that the Jico direct products are different than what you'd find in an EVG package, which are often described as "Jico," I finally spent my hard-earned cash for the benefit of AK and took delivery of Jico, direct from Jico, for the Pickering XV-15/D1200, the Shure M91E, ADC PSX-40 and the Shure M104E. I got the last two because they're only $22. What the heck? Shipping is $22 no matter how many styli you buy, so why not load up?

    I wish I still had time for the thorough and in-depth reviews I used to do, but I just don't right now. And, my phone right now is too full for photos, so this will just have to do until I can come back and edit that stuff in.

    Visual inspection: The EVG and the JICO look like they are made from the exact same parts from the grip to the cantilever, to the bonded .3 x .7 elliptical diamond tip under magnification. The cantilevers, in particular, are absolutely identical. I haven't disassembled the JICO to see if the suspension is the same translucent bubblegum colored ring that the EVG's is, but I'm just going to assume that it is. It is clear that the brush of the EVG and the Jico are the very same.

    Differences: Jico includes a tie wire. So, for about $35 to $40 more in retail price for the Jico, you get a tie wire.

    Big deal, right? Well, based on the limited listening I have done, it is a big deal. I don't have computer software and the ability to do graphic analysis (perhaps I can mail a cartridge and both styli to @gusten to conduct this research) but I "swear" that the bass is much tighter with the tie wire and the high end is also clearer/better defined compared to, for example, the best-bargain-in-town EVG PM4052DE/4606-DEX. That is not to say that the EVG is relegated to the scrap heap. It's a great stylus and for less than $20 it's a real winner. I don't want to overly exaggerate and show some restraint, but I've had very nice moving coil cartridges hooked up to my system, too, and this stylus in any XV-15 or Stanton 680/681 was pretty close to some and surpassed others.

    I have not compared to an original D1200 as of yet. I expect the nude .2 x .7 elliptical to still be a few notches ahead of the Jico, which really, is more like a D625 in spec. It's got a larger cantilever than the D1200 and the D625 is a .3 x .7 bonded elliptical as well.

    Construction compared to original Pickering: somewhat crude. You won't find the suspension crimps as on the originals and which some aftermarket manufacturers have duplicated. The brush is thin with the amount of bristles, but it works. I still think the cantilever is larger than it really needs to be and is certainly not anodized like an original. Even the solder joint where the tie wire is attached at the rear of the insert tube is a bit rough looking. But it sounds good and the price is fair, so who cares? Compared to an original D1200, of course, there's no nude mount.

    I'll update the comparison as I have time, but I actually do believe that the Jico D1200 is about the best you can get these days without blowing major bucks on a Shibata, or blowing major time waiting for originals or the better aftermarket replacement styli of yesteryear to show up at auction.

    While I didn't get any other Pickering styli, I assume that the D400, D625, D750 and D1200 Jico are all the same since the price $56 is the same for all four, and they're all "elliptical."

    Stay tuned for reviews of the other Jico styli I nabbed as time allows.

    This would be my recommended stylus for any XV-15 or Stanton 680/681 or even a V15 Phase/Micro. Given that the purchase of one at $56 plus $22 shipping comes so close to the price of an LPGear ViVidline ($79.95 + $8.88 shipping), though, you know, it's a tough recommendation one over the other. The ViVidline should have higher resolving power based on it's finer diamond tip, but the lack of tie wire in the ViVidline construction could hobble the resolving power of the ViVidline. The tie wire of the Jico audibly brings something to the ear over the EVG, but the EVG is also pretty awesome on its own. I haven't compared the ViVidline directly to the Jico, so look for that in an upcoming installment. The only real complaint I have about the LPGear product is that it's very sensitive to antiskate, perhaps due to the lack of a tie wire. Any antiskate at all pushes the cantilever off center. Some people--antiskate skeptics of which there are more than a few, however, may prefer this.

    Also, the Jico does NOT go both ways, which means that it is a true "moving iron" stylus, just like the EVG, but not the ViVidline, which seems to be equally at home in a moving magnet body for which it is sold, or a moving iron body--generating a nice, loud, clean and even signal in either type of motor. In fact, my ViVidline is for the XLZ-7500S, but you'll most commonly find it tracing the grooves in my Pickering/Lafayette Phase 44 LRE moving iron body.

    While it is clear to me now, that just like with the Shure styli, "Jico" and "EVG" as brand names should not be interchanged as synonymous or equal, it's also clear to me that most of the parts of the EVG are made by Jico. Perhaps Jico makes the EVG styli to a lower price point. Less likely I suppose, is that EVG and Jico buy from the same supplier and assemble their own. Based on what I see and hear, the Jico is like a "deluxe" EVG.

    However, I'm still curious about the differences between the Jico, Tonar and EVG styli for the M91E since the price points are so much more similar. In fact, the Tonar is more expensive than the Jico on most websites. Stay tuned . . .
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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  2. biscuithead

    biscuithead Me likes the eargasm retroplasm... Subscriber

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    Thanks!
    I am a 681EEE and XV-15 fan! I still have a couple NOS stys for the 681EEE but I'd like to get some spare primo needles for the XVs...
     
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  3. bobins08

    bobins08 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    @needlestein , looking forward to your full reviews in the future. I too have been given some sage advice from @malden on stylus selection.

    I ran a Shure V15-III with Jico SAS on a low mass MSE 3009 arm and loved it. Never understood the folks that said the $20 EVG sounded as good (or very close). I bought one and it is not in the same league IMO. I now have a real VN35E and I know first hand the Jico is the only thing out there close to it, and it may be superior in some ways.

    I also picked up a V15-II with a cheap but highly touted EVG and it just plain stinks. The stylus does not even fit properly, causing azimuth problems. I now have a real VN15E for it and it sounds lovely.

    I am happy to hear that you see and hear the difference between Jico and EVG. To me EVG is very good if you budget is very limited, if you have a starter set up, or if you want to use it for less than pristine records.
     
  4. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    Your points are well taken, but if someone said the $20 EVG was as good or very close to a Jico SAS, sorry but that's an opinion that is not to be trusted. I'm not saying the $20 EVG can't sound good, but an SAS is totally completely different.

    Stanton and Pickering are in a different situation regarding aftermarket styli. There is no SAS available for Stanton or Pickering and people seem to be generally happy with the more affordable aftermarket styli. For a long time, there was also Ed Saunders, but not anymore.

    Before I started posting a few years ago, the general advice regarding aftermarket styli for Stanton and Pickering was, "Don't bother; get a new cartridge because the aftermarket styli simply stink--even the expensive ones." So, I've gone to the trouble to find out for myself what's good and what isn't and share what I find. I've spent a boatload on this over the years. (Don't tell my wife.)

    I wish you could get an SAS for Stanton and Pickering. It could be done.

    The highest you can get in the off-the-shelf aftermarket world is the Jico Shibata. Next step down is the LPGear ViVidline, and after that there is a wide variety of styli from five or six vendors: Pfanstiehl, EVG, TEI, Tonar, Jico, Normarh (which might be TEI) and whoever makes brand styli for LPGear, TTN, and others, which could be all of them. Beyond that, you can try to find vintage aftermarket which is generally excellent quality for the higher end stuff: Walco, Empire, Astatic NMR. In between there are the seldom seen aftermarket brands (for these styli) like Transcriber, Fidelitone, Certron, Zafira, "Superb Needle" (Which I think is just Pfanstiehl), and a half dozen others that one stumbles upon from time to time on ebay.

    A possible higher end option that I haven't tried yet is the Tonar hyperelliptical series for the Stanton 680/681 and the Pickering XV-15. I've spotted a few of those on ebay, but haven't grabbed one yet.

    For custom (not-off-the-shelf) options, there are the retippers out there. Notions are lofty regarding retipping, though, and results are often, in my opinion, quite idealized. But I haven't worked with enough retippers to form a generalized opinion. It seems to be hit or miss. Getting a stylus retipped is expensive, though, and so it's going to be a long time before I can try all of them. I've got plenty of bad styli just waiting, however.

    I did recently try the elliptical Tonar for the D81S and it was disappointing. It sounds pretty good, but it's more of a DJ stylus than an audiophile stylus. I like DJ styli a lot, but this one certainly isn't going to upset the reigning budget audiophile champion, the Pfanstiehl 4822-DEE. When I get a chance, I'll talk about that one in a separate topic posting. I did this one first because I was excited about it.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  5. JFRACE

    JFRACE AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    You could always send the stylus for the picks and Stanton to get redone in a different cantilever and tip. I know you've done that with the 881 if I'm not mistaken. I did it with my xlz 7500 and it sounded better than an original 7500s stylus.

    Andy Kim did mine as well as several of my mc carts.
     
  6. vwestlife

    vwestlife Active Member

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    217
    So what's the big difference between the Jico D400, D625, D750, and D1200 styli? All have the same price and claim to be 0.3x0.7 mil. The only advertised difference is the tracking force ranges:

    D400: 1.0-2.0g
    D625: 0.75-1.5g
    D750: 0.5-1.5g
    D1200: 0.5-1.25g

    Just different stiffnesses of the cantilever?
     
  7. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    Jico doesn't publish specs. Those are OEM differences. The OEM styli are all different.
     
  8. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    Some photos I got around to grabbing today during a stolen moment from responsibility.

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  9. vwestlife

    vwestlife Active Member

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    I was going by the specs listed on the eBay listings from emjmusic. I guess they just copied the original Pickering specs?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/121710552937
     
  10. revox-b77

    revox-b77 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    needlestein, would you do a check on your Jico ADC PSX40 stylus? I would like to know if it has a tie wire. Peter Prichard was opposed to tie wires due to vibrations reflecting back down the wire or something of the sort. I would guess that the 40 would not have this if it is built as an original. The PSX40 is my daily driver in my SL-10 and a fantastic sounding cartridge. I would love your opinion on how the sound compares. The ADC PSX40 is a nude .2x.7 mounted on a tapered titanium cantilever.

    I purchased the Jico N91ed from EMJ Music a few months back. ( EMJ does not carry the N91e it seems ) I will report that it is the best of the N91 replacements. The sound is very detailed from low to high and there an immediacy to drums that is very nice. The soundstage is lush and large as well. I have never had a original N91ed but I am using my M91e with a genuine Shure NDC-ed which is a nude .2x.7 as Shure intended for the 91 bodies. I will admit that I really hear no difference between the NDC ed and the Jico N91ed.


    Edit...One more... I would swear that the cantilever on the Jico N91ed is thinner than that of the EVG N91ed. I would say it is about the same thickness as the Tonar though.

    Thanks for the write up!
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2017 at 9:21 AM
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  11. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    I would doubt very much that there's a tie wire with the ADC. I don't think the originals had tie wires. Those styli are so simply--pretty much a donut in a receiver. The rear end of the cantilever is very short and I don't see what a tie wire could attach to without an insert tube. But I'll have a look, for sure. I'll try to get to it later this week. I want to gather up all my ADC styli again.

    The comparison between the Jico and the EVG and even an original D1200 is tough. They all track so well. The thing with the Jico is, however, is that dynamics are amazing and the soundstage is huge. Even though original D1200 styli are nude .2 x .7 elliptical, I'm thinking the Jico is actually an upgrade to my ears. Could be a number for reasons for this: Any D1200 I've got, even if it's NOS, has got to be getting up on twenty years old, and I think some of the ones I have are probably double that age, so that could be a factor. Music literally explodes out of my speakers with the Jico. I keep putting the 4606-DEX back in to figure out what the difference is, and I just can't figure it out except that it's dull in comparison, but it does everything well. To be fair, though, even though the 4606-DEX (PM4052DE) is a great tracker, I've never really warmed up to it for these reasons and always preferred the Pfanstiehl 4822-DEE.
     
  12. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

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    Needlestein,

    Thanks for that review. While likely not ultimate compared to the high end original, this happy medium should cover my needs very well. I think this would work for me just fine at medium stylus forces.
     
  13. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    I would be very eager to hear your opinion of this stylus compared to the high end original. I could even mail you this and a D1200. If you're interested, just send me a PM.

    No, it is not as silky through the sibilance, that is for sure, but it's still breaking in. But, I wouldn't expect it to ever get to the level of the velvety D1200. The D1200's that I have are buttery smooth and silkier even than nude Stereohedrons I have. Not that the following is bad, simply an observation: D1200 styli are also a lot more laid back than this stylus. That's not a complaint: just a difference. I really am kind of taken by surprise at the fullness of the presentation this stylus brings. I can honestly say that I've never heard quite this energy before in a Stanton or Pickering cartridge (and by default, Stanton and Pickering cartridges pack a lot of energy which is what hooks me on them--so this is amazing)--it's almost like the perfect blend of DJ and audiophile cartridge. It hits the highs, but accentuates the dynamics, just the right oomph, and has excellent speed and detail as well. Detail is amazing for a .3 x .7 elliptical.

    I'm pretty surprised at how much I like this stylus. I went in thinking that there'd be just a slight improvement over the 4606-DEX (PM4052DE) but that it wouldn't compare to an original D1200 at all, and in many ways it doesn't. But it sounds so darned good anyway . . .

    So what could be an improvement over the 4606-DEX (PM4052DE) besides just the tie wire? I would guess that maybe the diamond of the PC1200 is better in some way--either just a nicer diamond or maybe it has a higher polish. Maybe the 4606-DEX isn't polished at all? Hard to say. Perhaps the PC1200 also has a lower extended tip mass. It's tough for the home hobbyist like me to actually investigate there differences and Jico doesn't give details, unfortunately.
     
  14. mr.jones

    mr.jones AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I wonder how it would stack up against the LP Gear Vivid Line?
     
  15. psemeraro

    psemeraro New Member

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    Awesome work as always!
     

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