Name that no-name phono cartridge...

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by vwestlife, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. vwestlife

    vwestlife Active Member

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    Available only in bulk quantities directly from China, it's a cheap magnetic cartridge of a design I haven't seen before. It looks vaguely like a Shure, but the flip-up stylus guard is definitely not a Shure design. The given model number "M7B" is useless for attempting to identify its provenance.

    The description is amusing:
    "Excellent sound quality and strong tracking ability;
    Enables the low frequency to hit force
    Endow the mid frequency with soberness and clearness
    Exceptionally pure fine treble voice
    It recaptures even the context of sounds, clearly displaying players and instruments' positions in the sound-stage. An accurate and increased sense of spaciousness and localization - placing you directly in the recording session.
    In full surround sound;
    "

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/111213359875

    [​IMG]

    The notable thing is that they're selling these pre-mounted to cheap Crosley-style turntable mechanisms. So if Crosley ever wanted to upgrade their record players to a lighter-tracking magnetic cartridge, a pre-made solution already exists:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/121352975734

    [​IMG]
     
  2. N8Nagel

    N8Nagel AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I know nothing about those but that body Shure looks familiar.
     
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  3. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    That guy's got a lot of cool stuff, but he doesn't respond to emails. He offers big lots of things like sapphire tipped styli for popular AT cartridges and I would love to try one, but he's not interested in selling one or providing a sample and I'm not going to buy fifty of them. I believe he is also the source for some decent headshells that I've seen for sale on ebay and elsewhere. It's worth looking at his other auctions for stuff he's got. Some of it is pretty unusual and most of it is interesting. I don't think I'll be trying one of these cartridges, though.

    You can find them individually for about $25 from other sellers in case anyone is interested.
     
  4. Stanton681EEES

    Stanton681EEES Addicted Member

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    So if you buy a lot of 20 at the listed ebay price. It turns out to be 13 dollars a cartridge.
     
  5. ripblade

    ripblade Super Member

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    Sure does, but it Shure ain't.
     
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  6. Nat

    Nat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    What is the reason sapphire stylii are available again? The appeal of replacing the stylus every month? Not intending to be snotty, but is there any unusual virtue to a sapphire needle that would make the wear rate acceptable? (I'm clearly showing my age, since I remember when sapphire was a step up from osmium needles which wore out after a few sides, but it was universally known that sapphire wore out in much much less time than diamond did).
    Subnote: why osmium was ever used for stylii is mysterious to me. It is remarkably dense (I think its the densest element other than the transuranic ones) which you would think would suggest it's a terrible choice. It polishes very easily, but that's because it wears very easily. I look forward to it's reintroduction as a high end audio product...
     
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  7. ripblade

    ripblade Super Member

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    A polished needle was considered a good thing back when shellac records had abrasives in them. I suppose the idea was to reduce groove wear by making the groove more aggressive than the needle.

    With sapphire it's different. The sapphires are nude (and none too well polished), which must be cheaper than even a bonded diamond.
     
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  8. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    Well, I'd be interested in hearing a sapphire. I was recently surprised twice with old technology. First, when I hooked up an old NOS Sonotone 9TA. It sounds so amazing that it went right to the top of the favorite cartridges of all time for me. If I told you what rather expensive carts in my collection it sounds like to me, you'd laugh and doubt me, so I'll just leave it at that it sounds really good.

    Secondly, I took off the sapphire stylus that it came with and installed a diamond stylus and I noticed right away that I liked the sapphire stylus better. It was much smoother and more "audiophile." I'm sure that with time the diamond would break in and smooth out, but I had an epiphany which was: sapphire styli are much less expensive than diamond styli. I never understood why they would even be offered because they're not a ton less expensive than diamond styli. But once I heard one, it seemed to me that if you insisted on sapphire for the sound, you'd actually be paying a lot more for your styli since they wear so much faster.

    It was not difficult for me to then imagine some audiophile of yesteryear using a diamond stylus for the value and longevity, but keeping a stash of sapphire styli for close listening and special occasions.

    I'm still trying to figure out where in the 10-50 hours my sapphire stylus will fall. I track the 9TA at only 1 gram which was insanely light during the time of this technology, so I'm thinking closer to the 50, which is a lot of records. Sounds incredible.

    So, then I was curious to see that he offers sapphire for mm carts with even lighter tracking forces. But he won't send me a single so forget it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
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  9. tubewade

    tubewade Super Member

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    Purely speculation on my part, but I suppose the sapphire sound better not because they are sapphire, but because they are nude. The diamond ones are most likely to be bonded . In regular MM styli I can notice a significant difference between nude and bonded styli. I havent had opportunity to examine any styli for the Sonotone. I do have a convenient Euphonics ceramic cartridge and the needles on that one are nude sapphires.

    I know how handy you are with stylus repair. Did you ever consider grafting a sapphire stylus and cantilever from a ceramic cartridge onto the cantilever of a magnetic assembly? I know you could do it and it might be an inexpensive way to get a taste of a sapphire on a magnetic.
     
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  10. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    Thanks for the vote of confidence! It's the time to do it that I don't have. Most of the stuff I do get to do happens in in-between moments when I can slip away from the thrum of a busy household; my wife happens to be out, the kids are sleeping, there aren't any immediate household tasks and the phone isn't ringing kind of moments. These are hard to anticipate and even harder to plan for. This is why I still haven't gotten around to building that Leach MC head amp.

    In the meantime, I have read in another forum that even Ortofon kept sapphire-tipped moving coil cartridges in their catalog very late in the vintage era. The reasons given were compelling.

    Maybe one day I'll try a cantilever swap. Given the rather large diameter of the cantilevers I've seen for ceramic cartridge styli, I'd probably try the graft on a Shure SS35C or something.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  11. Nat

    Nat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Interesting. I certainly get that there are real surprises to be had in the old, outdated, inferior, or whatever word you want, closet of audio history. But I hadn't heard that sapphire sounded different from diamond. So I'll be very interested in your experiences when you report.
     
  12. ripblade

    ripblade Super Member

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    Don't keep us suspense. What were the reasons?
     
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  13. tubewade

    tubewade Super Member

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    I can relate. My household is similar as I also have small children, although not a baby, so most of my time for my projects are when no one else is home or everyone else is asleep, and often I am exhausted so those free times become rest periods.

    I have a bunch of new sapphires on relatively small cantilevers (small for a ceramic) and I can pass along a few in case you don't have any when the time comes to try the experiment.
     
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  14. Nite1922

    Nite1922 New Member

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    Cheap Chinese knock-off of a Shure M75 body, stylus cover is attached to body, and the stylus/ carrier looks like a cheap Chinese knock-off of an AT 3400
     
  15. KentTeffeteller

    KentTeffeteller Gimpus Stereophilus!

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    And with a diamond conical tip or elliptical tip, I'd love to get one just to experiment. It's interesting and I'd love to see and hear one.
     
  16. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    Sapphires are easier to polish and polish better than diamond, cool faster than diamond, something about the structure of s sapphire is better which may be why they cool faster and, well, critical listeners prefer them, perhaps because the crystal structure is less random than diamond?

    If they didn't wear so fast, people would probably still prefer them. When I look at old marketing for diamond tips competing against sapphire, it is interesting that no one says diamond sounds just as good or even better than sapphire. I never noticed that before. It's always about what a better value diamond is, and how it simplifies your life and gives you one less thing to worry about. Even consideration for the hi fi store employee for not making him examine your sapphire tip under the scope every week. "Give your Hi Fi man a break!" But they never say, "sounds better!" I'll have to see if I can find some sapphire ads to figure out if the sapphire industry fought back at all, like,
    Next time you need a stylus, say "Make mine a sapphire!" Every man about town agrees: discerning ears prefer sapphire. Save the diamonds for the ladies!
     
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  17. vwestlife

    vwestlife Active Member

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    148
    For you sapphire stylus fans, you can buy a lot of 50 of them for the AT95E here:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/121941107484
    At the asking price, the cost equals only $3.74 per stylus!

    The seller also has sapphire styli for other common phono cartridges including the AT3600, AT3482P, and MG-09 (a.k.a. Numark GrooveTool).
     
  18. eb2jim

    eb2jim Super Member

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    Yes. I'm guessing a Chinese factory is gluing copy Shure mounting "lids" onto AT copy cartridge bodies. End result: frankencarts cheap out the backdoor.
     
  19. ripblade

    ripblade Super Member

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    Critical listeners prefer sapphire? That's news to me...at least the modern listeners. I know they generally prefer nude to bonded, but they generally prefer exotic shapes and cantilever materials, neither of which come in the current (and maybe even past) crop of needles. Only exception I'm aware of is the Nagaoka JT-555 which is extended line (HE) on CF. The rest are crude in the extreme....hardly conducive to critical listening.

    Keep in mind that, apart from the above mentioned 555, I have no experience making fair comparisons of sapphire and diamond tips. The current crop of Chinese exemplars being exhibited here isn't going to change that.
     
  20. needlestein

    needlestein Super Member

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    I know, and thanks! But I only want one and don't want to go into the business of selling sapphire styli just to hear one.
     

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