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What am I hearing in conicals?

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by DavidTT, Jun 1, 2018.

  1. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    The sophisticated tip profiles more accurately trace the groove as cut. Whether the quicker more accurate tip response causes resonance ringing upstream is up for discussion.
     
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  2. spark1

    spark1 Super Member

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    So you are suggesting that conicals are technically superior because finer cuts add distortion (that is, they produce an artificial signal)?

    It's certainly ok to have a subjective preference for a cut that is physically incapable of tracking as accurately as a finer cut, but do you have any objective evidence that finer cuts are less accurate?

    Why not just let it go with the fact that you prefer a conical cut, rather than argue that they are technically superior?
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
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  3. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I love the Denon DL-103 and its smooth, organic sound. However, there is no question that it misses some details available on some pressings, that are revealed with fine-line styli when properly aligned. I have no doubt that non-optimal alignment of fine-line styli (which is very easy to achieve, btw :( ) adds artifacts that are not present in the original signal. When it's right however, it's pretty hard to argue that the extra information is specious or bogus. IMHO.

    Myself, I'm beginning to think that ellipticals are the real stumble-bums of the cartridge world. :dunno:
     
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  4. gusten

    gusten Addicted Member

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    It´s perfectly fine to like any needle cut, of course. But to find technical reasons as to why a conical should be 'better', that is a straw man argument.
     
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  5. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    Only with records cut and EQed for a ballpoint is this true, Dynagroove being a prime example.
     
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  6. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I’m a big fan of conical tips. Complex shapes often, though not always, thin the overall presentation out. They may grab more details and track the inner groove better, but on my records, conicals don’t have any IGD problems—or I’m not sensitive to IGD. I’ve always wondered if IGD is more of an arm problem that is tasked to the cartridge to compensate for.

    I also think proper arm set up and a good suspension have much to do with the end result as well. I have retipped LOTS of cartridges now and many people ask me to put an elliptical stylus onto a worn cartridge that was originally supplied with a line contact of some kind. The results are always positive and I’ve had to rethink the value of line contacts, which I now see as a record wear and longevity of tip advantage mainly.

    There are some cases where a conical absolutely sounds best. My one example of that is my Technics P Mount with the original conical stylus and experiences with replacement styli for the original P23 cartridge. The elliptical brought more high end detail, but also a shift in voicing to less weighty. The hyperelliptical brought another level of sharp detail, but also a lot more surface noise and tics and pops became eventful. The same records had more than adequate highs, plus a full rich sound that was lost a little bit with every “upgrade” tip.

    But this is certainly not the case with every cartridge or every complex tip.
     

     

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  7. DavidTT

    DavidTT AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks all for the discussion. Your thoughts and experiences lend context for consideration. This is a great forum.
     
  8. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan AK Subscriber

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    Ok, ok, ok, you all have convinced me to give conicals a try:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Between this thread, this one and this one, how could I resist?

    I picked up the pair of Shure SC35C carts at a local Guitar Center while they still had them in stock at a reasonable price. The two Audio Technica AT-3600Ls came from eBay for about 25 bucks shipped - for the pair.

    Obviously, the packaging on the Shure is more impressive, but it was designed for retail sales. The AT-3600L is packaged for OEM use on inexpensive new turntables.

    My record collection consists of basically three types of albums. Those I bought new in the late 70s and early 80s, used thrift store finds and new vinyl made/purchased within the last three years.

    Thankfully, the ones I bought new back in the 70s and 80s were never mishandled or played on poor quality equipment. I started with a Bang & Olufsen Beogram 3400 my freshman year of college and the upper classmen taught me how to handle, store and clean my albums. Most are still in excellent, or better, condition. Although I few have seen a LOT of play and are likely destined to be replaced.

    I try to be picky with what I pick up at thrift stores. I have passed on many albums because of poor condition, but I have a few I just couldn't say no to (Rolling Stones 1960s London releases, etc.) even though they were in less than pristine condition.

    Until now, I've been using vintage Shure carts (M75 and M91) with JICO made EVG 0.3 x 0.7 mil ellipticals for the thrift store vinyl (I have a second turntable with a Signet TK10ML Microline cart for the new/pristine vinyl). However, after reading so many glowing reports about how well these conicals tend to mask surface noise, I thought I'd give them a try.

    Unfortunately, the tables they are going on (Realistic Elac Miracord 45 and Dual 1228) have other issues that need sorted before I put them into service. I'm looking forward to seeing how these new conicals compare to the the vintage Shures with the new inexpensive ellipitcals on my used thrift store vinyl.
     
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  9. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan AK Subscriber

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    Deleted duplicate post.
     
  10. likebike23

    likebike23 Super Member

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    I like conicals just fine and for changers they are my preference. I had an EVG N75EJ on my Elac Miracord 40A and could never get it to sound good, too much distortion. I put a Pfansteihl N75G conical tracking at 3.25gr on there and damn if it doesn't sound great. The distortion is all but gone and the soundstage really opened up. The EVG N75EJ was moved over to my Technics SL-1900 and it sounds great on that table. I think getting the alignment perfect on a changer is impossible and for that reason I like conicals on those tables.
     
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  11. Gary Francks

    Gary Francks Active Member

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    I definitely agree with Needlestein about Technics p - mounts.
    I currently have a couple of bodies and a selection of styli, the high cost elliptical whilst fetching more detail out of the grooves can also be a little bit sterile and matter of fact.
    The cheap conical plays everything the same, not full of top end treble but perfectly listenable whilst a old replacement elliptical 3rd party stylus sounds remarkably good because I'm sure by looking that it's a fat 4 x 7 elliptical at best!

    I also like the AT 91, fantastic value that makes me question some of the silly prices one can pay for line contact, shibata and other fancy profiles.

    Yes, I do have a ADC PSX40 with nude elliptical and very nice too.
    It just doesn't get as much play as a diet cheap Red Ed with another broad elliptical.
    Thinking back , I always preferred the Shure M75EJ to the M75ED!

    Haven't got any scientific basis for it all, and I may be deaf ears but that's the way I hear it.
     
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  12. beat_truck

    beat_truck Super Member

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    I also have a Technics P23, and even with a ~$10 EVG conical stylus on it, it sounds surprisingly good.
     
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  13. pdm4606

    pdm4606 Super Member

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    I have been using conicals all my audiophile life of 55 years. A friend mentioned that if I wanted to really hear what the LP sounds like to try an elliptical, just for the heck of it.
    I never felt that there was much difference between conical and ellipticals.
    Was I wrong. I have found new meaning of LP sound. The clarity and depth have gotten only better since I switched. Right now I am looking for deals on elliptical needles on the bay.
    So far I found 2 no-name needles that actually cost the same as or less than popular conicals. Maybe made by a sweat shop place but non the less an elliptical one was for an old ortofon TM cart and another for an older AT cart.
    The AT now sounds very much different as I hope the orto will sound. My progress of building my own TT setup with a DIV arm really shows differences in needles as I never knew about. The biggest difference is apparent with different shape diamonds. In the past I don't think I would be able to tell the difference.
    I have around 40 carts. in my stable but I really love the sound of ellipticals.
     
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  14. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    Most of my LP listening is in-depth critical/ pleasure listening, where detailing and across the disc consistency are priorities.
    I don't recall getting those from a ballpoint tip, but I don't use them for this. Only old mono and Dynagroove.
     
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  15. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I think the black background and lack of surface noise mostly is what draws me to conicals, but there is/was a complex shape that was just as good with black background and no surface noise, so I loved that too—also relaxed, no aggressive and no voicing shift. That is/was the Stanton/Pickering Stereohedron.

    There is another brand I’ve found that gives me similar presentation and perhaps even inkier background, and that is Goldring (perhaps not the E series). I have tried and was absolutely dumbfounded by the Eroica LX (LOMC) and the 1042 (MM, and some say the best sounding MM made today). They aren’t cheap, but I would say of expensive models, they deliver.
     
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  16. timmy.timmy

    timmy.timmy Active Member

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    Being a single turntable kind of guy, I have it fitted with a Denon DL-102 for seven years now. I am truly enjoying this humble (not high-end) MONO low-low compliant high output MC cartridge. I collect and play mainly vintage MONO 45's and these are not always the finest masterings and pressings. So a resilient cartridge, MC does help and fitted a large nude conical diamond made the completion of this quest. So I got me my first DL-102 and got it fitted on my SME 3009 'Improved' SII first as is prior to the tweaks and conversions into very heavy mass.

    Now thanks to my continuous tweaks and conversions done on my SME 3009, I go to discover the real and full potential of this DL-102 cartridge. At last I can attest that such MONO MC conical cartridge can sound BIG with enough depth, clarity and detail for these picky ears. But to achieve that, it needs a lot of lateral inertia on the tonearm bearing. The compliance specs of this DL-102 are not given by the manufacturer but it's 10 years old younger sister; the DL-103 has a low-low compliance at 5 ! So likely the same or even a lower compliance for the DL-102...

    Such achievement in sound completion is also due to the rest of the phono chain. My preamp is adjustable and it allows me to set the gains and loads by ear ! Very important I have discovered. My amp has the characteristic to be really clear, neutral and dynamic. And through the recap of my speakers, we tested every about combinations and ended up with having them set in line instead as originally in parallel. It's the gear combination and the tweaks done through the years that allowed my conical tipped cartridge to shine in performance as it does now.

    I can relate to those who want "finer" retrieval from the groove read and a more complex sound stage, but for me too much details imply dispersion and result in loss of musicality. This is why it took me a lot of time, trials and understanding to find what phono gear suits my old records and my ears at the same time. Not rich, it took me ages to end-up where I am now with my phono. It costed me much more than I intended, but alas I am no more in envy of something else nor am I contemplating upgrades at this stage. Plus I am proud of my phono achievements.
     
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  17. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

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    A large part of my record collection was acquired "pre-owned"--either thrift/yard/estate sales, or just donated collections that I "absorbed" from people ditching vinyl for digital back in the late 80's and 90s (loved those days). So pretty much unknown origin/condition. I always keep a "tester" table set up with a cheap cart/stylus to play them, and then decide whether they are worthy of moving onto my better gear (or even keep them at all). I give them a quick cleaning and then play grade them.

    I used to use a conical stylus on my tester table, but eventually went to some less expensive (but finer) ellipticals. What I noticed right off the bat was that the ellipticals revealed more surface noise, and were prone to accumulating clumps of crud from deep in the grooves that wasn't removed by the quick precursory cleaning. The ellipticals rode lower into the depths of the grooves and were "plowing" out the crud which was being deposited on the stylus. In most cases, more thorough cleaning resolved the issue, but not always. That is why I made the comment regarding the larger diameter conicals being more "forgiving" of less than perfect records.
     
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  18. gusten

    gusten Addicted Member

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    Yes, that is my experience also. A conical is more forgiving, usually. A sharp elliptical e.g. 0.2x0.7 is the least forgiving. A fine-line can be about the same as a conical.
     
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  19. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

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    If conicals give smoother sound and don't pick up noise like the other shapes, then some one is not experiencing whatI hear. Lower tracing distortion, lower wall noise fewer pops and clicks is what I hear from my Dynavectors. Yes my Stantons and V-15's were good and certainly better than the earlier ellipticals. Early SPU and SPE couldn't track a complex inner groove if their life depended on it. I know I owned then all for a While during the 60's and 70's. I gave up on LP's because of the poor quality from the pick ups. I kept a few direct to disc LP's everything else was given away. But today with Advanced shapes of styli like Grace and Dynavector I am able once more to return to listening to LP's. Not classical mind you, to much distracting noise during quiet passages, but pop records. For classical its Hi-rez digital for me, it's the only way to go. Unless you are looking for a particular interpretation or performer, and then the only choice maybe the LP . I will say DG lp's sound better than most of their ADD reissues.
     
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  20. SoundsAlike

    SoundsAlike Super Member

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    Conicals are excellent -- Denon's and Ortofon's and Shure and Audio Technica all sound fantastic. It's really humbling because now I don't believe .3 microns shaved off a needle justifies 5x the price.


    Companies love their customers that can pay $600 for their phono cartridges. But they also love the masses that buy the <$100 budget carts. Especially if both product sets share the same internal design.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
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