What am I hearing in conicals?

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

  1. WE6C

    WE6C Well-Known Member

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    My first experience with a conical was just a few weeks ago. Played one of my favorite recordings (Persuasive Percussion on Command records) and noticed less noise. At first I thought it was my imagination but after a few plays I realized it was not my imagination. This record was my Dad's from the 60's which has about a million plays so parts of it are noisy. At first I noticed right away on the lead in.

    One thing however it was comparing a different cartridge on a different table so....variables.

    After reading some opinions here, maybe I'll keep the conical on the one table???
     
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  2. DavidTT

    DavidTT AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    So this morning after my last post above, I inserted a N97xe into the paradox pulse sc35c and set VTF at 1.75 with brush down. As I suspected, it added what some would consider to be beautiful extension, shimmer, almost delicacy to the sound. However, drums and cymbals were now too forward in the mix, guitars a little too precious, the overall mix shinier but less realistic to my ear.

    I'm not even going to try the 97HE. I'm going back to the OEM conical at 4.5g and am going to leave well enough alone. I believe that soon I'll be liquidating my "better" carts and styli because I just like the sound I get from plain jane heavy tracking conicals. Go figure. Here's hoping that I won't wake up to wrecked records in ten years from tracking at 4.5g! I'll take my chances.
     
  3. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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  4. jrtrent

    jrtrent AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I had found my perfect, use-it-til-I-die cartridge in the M97xE, now, sadly, discontinued. With Shure out of the phonograph cartridge business, will you be looking for a different cartridge, or do you think after-market styli either exist or will show up for your SC35C that will give you the same satisfaction?
     
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  5. DavidTT

    DavidTT AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I'm hopeful that for at least the next few years I'll be able to find OEM and quality aftermarket tips for the sc35c. At some point I'll likely be forced to go another route JR, but until then I think I'll enjoy these. Perhaps the Denon 103, which has a similar reputation, but costs more and will require an SUT or new phono pre. I keep on thinking that I should like the better carts and styli more, but in every case I install them but wish for something different soon thereafter. The only cart that hasn't made me want for different has been the lowly sc35c with OEM tip. Weird.
     
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  6. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    I have several original "Made in USA" as well as the "Made in Mexico" Shure SS35C needles, but the best quality stylus for the SC35C cartridge that is currently available is the JICO SS35C. It's as good as the original and better than the Made in Mexico version. Like the original, the JICO has a .6 mil tip.

    https://www.jico-stylus.com/product_info.php?cPath=18&products_id=1040
     
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  7. DavidTT

    DavidTT AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks for that link! Very informative and several posters there who appeared to be industry professionals discussed some of the topics touched on in this thread, but certainly in more knowledgeable ways than I have.

    I especially appreciated one poster discussing a finger snap that had been recorded and then played back with equipment that offered frequency response up to 50kh. Another engineer said that with this extended frequency response capability, the finger snap sounded different, but they disagreed on whether that difference was an accurate recreation of the finger snap or not. That led me to the idea of "extracting more from the grooves", something we hear often as testament to the more exotic tips. It raises the question in my mind whether that extraction of more is including lathe rumble, additive harmonics, potentially other artifacts from the recording chain that weren't part of the music itself. Do we WANT to extract information with tips that weren't part of the engineering specifications at the time the discs were cut?

    As a non-engineer, I can only read, discuss (without depth of personal knowledge) and subjectively hear what I hear. It's certainly fun to talk about with other hobbyists.

     
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  8. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    Discussion actually starts here.
    https://www.lencoheaven.net/forum/index.php?topic=1840.0
     
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  9. TobascoKid

    TobascoKid Active Member

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    You are hearing fewer distortions.

    Records are engineered to play conical styluses. What happens when we use substitutes? Which wears more? Is it conical or elliptical/bi-radial styluses?

    Luckily, the tests were done long ago. We get much less wear using conical styluses.

    This comes from HiFi/Stereo Review; October, 1968; “Record-Groove Wear;” J. G. Woodward; page 88. The article and conclusions come from RCA laboratories.

    record groove wear 50 plays.jpg

    Photos 5-C and 5-D are the most important. 5-D shows the least wear using conical styluses.

    Italics are mine.

    “The four photos in Figure 5 permit a side -by -side comparison of the wear patterns following fifty plays by four different pickups. At A we see the wear produced by the 0.7 -mil spherical -tipped stylus in the ceramic cartridge with a 5 -gram tracking force; photo B shows wear caused by a high -quality pickup with a 0.2 x 0.9 - mil elliptical stylus and a tracking force of 1.5 grams; C shows the results of using another high -quality cartridge with the 0.2 x 0.7 -mil elliptical stylus and a tracking force of 1.5 grams; and D is the wear pattern for this same pickup, but with the elliptical stylus replaced by a 0.7 -mil spherical -tipped stylus and with the tracking force still at 1.5 grams. The almost complete absence of wear following fifty plays in this last case is remarkable.”

    “These SEM [Scanning Electron Microscope] studies show that an elliptical stylus produces more visible wear than a spherical stylus with a 0.7 -mil tip radius in the same cartridge and with the same tracking force. This result should come as no surprise to anyone, for it is in accord with what is known about the behavior of plastics and other materials when a mechanical indenting element is pressed against the surface of the material. Indeed, the manufacturers of some of the better elliptical -styli cartridges have been aware of this fact and have devoted considerable effort to designing their cartridges to work with very low tracking forces, partly to minimize record wear, although other important benefits also accrue from these advanced designs.”

    “The reason for the observed differences in wear for the two types of styli is quite simple. The applied tracking force presses the stylus tip against the record -groove walls, thereby deforming the wall surfaces at the areas of contact. Because of its larger tip radius, the 0.7 -mil spherical -tipped stylus has a larger area of contact than the elliptical stylus. Since the tracking force is the same in both cases, there is less force per unit area (pressure) for the spherical than for the elliptical stylus. As long as the force per unit area is below a certain threshold value (which depends on the material being deformed), the surface deformation is elastic. This means that when the stylus is removed, the surface returns to its initial condition. However, when the force per unit area exceeds the threshold, the plastic material at and just below the surface suffers some degree of permanent-as well as elastic-deformation. The permanent part of the deformation is what we observe in the photomicrographs. Evidently, the elliptical stylus exceeds the threshold at a 1.5 -gram tracking force, but the spherical stylus does not. However, the results for the 0.7 -mil stylus in the ceramic cartridge demonstrate that the permanent - deformation threshold is exceeded by a considerable amount when the tracking force is increased to 5 grams even for the larger spherical tip.”

    Less damage could mean less distortions therefore cleaner sounding records.
     
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  10. TobascoKid

    TobascoKid Active Member

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    BONUS PICTURE

    How much damage will styluses do after 50 plays at 5 grams? Even using gentle conical tips, it is scary. Using elliptical/bi-radial styluses, I imagine much more damage.

    record groove wear 1, 10, 50 plays at 5 gms.jpg
     
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  11. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    Thanks for the informative post, @TobascoKid . The only problem I have with this theory is that a "bi-radial" will wear a record faster than a conical. Aren't "bi-radials" simply conicals with the front and rear ground off?. It seems the only difference between the two types is the lower mass of the "bi-radial' Contact radius is still the same.
     
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  12. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    Afaik, yes.
     
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  13. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    Not all records are created equally. You really need to tailor the stylus to the record. This 30 plus year old .6 mil conical sounds better than a "nude" hyper-elliptical of the same vintage, same cartridge, on some of the older recordings I've been listening to today...


    IMG_0104.JPG
     

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    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  14. jrtrent

    jrtrent AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    And yet Shure reports that their .2 X .7 mil Bi-Radial Elliptical maintains much better tangency to the groove, reduces pinch effect, and has significantly lower 2nd harmonic distortion. They attribute these benefits to its having a smaller side contact radius compared with the .7 mil spherical.
     
  15. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    o.k., so you believe them?
     
  16. jrtrent

    jrtrent AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    At present I have no reason not to. Their engineers carried out some seemingly well-controlled tests to come up with the numbers they give for spherical, bi-radial, and hyperelliptical stylus shapes. Have you seen other research results that contradict their findings?
     

     

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  17. DavidTT

    DavidTT AK Subscriber Subscriber

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  18. timmy.timmy

    timmy.timmy Active Member

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    Word & Beauty !
     
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  19. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    There is some confusion about biradial tips vs elliptical tips.
    A true elliptical should have a smaller radius curve at the groove wall side than that of the breadth of the tip, equivalent to a much smaller tip but riding higher in the groove.

    A simple biradial has the same effective scanning radius as a spherical of similar breadth, but shortened front-to-back.
     
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  20. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    I'm just going by what I see which is hardly conclusive. When I look at a standard elliptical under 80x magnification, I see a cone with the front and rear ground flat. Hyper-elliptical is a different story, they are shaped more like ellipses, no flat spots. Again, nothing conclusive but I'm just not convinced that a "bi-radial" is a unique shape.
     

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