What are your favorite Cantilever materials & Diamond shapes?

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by OldADC, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. OldADC

    OldADC Member

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    At ADC, the design philosophy carried forward from Peter Pritchard was low effective mass, high compliance, low VTF. The basics of the design were exactly the same ranging across the whole product line from the $5 cartridge in a blister pack sold through Radio Shack up through the Astrion at $400 (in '82, inflation adj for today $1062). The injection molded plastic bodies and stylus holders were of different colors, the output pins identical. The magnetic circuits internally were physically the same parts but the windings of the coils were of different wire sizes and # of turns. So the bodies were substantially the same. If memory serves, there really were only two body configurations. The coil assembly used on the low end of the product line up to and including the QLM36, and the bodies used on all the high line product starting with the XLM. There may have been a slight change around the XLM II Improved, but it wasn't a big deal. Thus, if the stylus holder fits on the can of the body, ADC styli are interchangeable across bodies close to universally.

    Why bring this up? I've seen lots of questions on here where people have an ADC stylus and want to know if it will fit on another model's body. The biggest question is actually based on the mu-metal can of the body. If you look toward the bottom rear of the can on both sides, there is or is not an L-shaped bump on the can body. That bump was added to the ADC basic body design in 1979 by John Kuehn after some extensive testing and validation. The later bodies with the L bump and the styli that fit them, fit much tighter and much more stably. So now the matrix of compatibility is based on bump/no bump and high line/ low line.

    And now for the real reasons. The high line was really differentiated by cantilever and diamond selection. Within the bump/high end quadrant lies the most modern and interesting of the ADC product line. XLMII, XLMII Imp, XLMIII, ZLM, Astrion. And within that crowd you find tapered aluminum tube cantilevers on all but the Astrion which was the first sapphire rod cantilever ever used (after extensive testing of Boron rod, Beryllium rod, and the sapphire rod in engr tests and double blind listening tests). Diamond selection at the time included ellipticals, modified ellipticals, the Shibata cut, and some experimentals where the diamond vendors were trying a few things out, particularly different ratios between the bearing and scanning radii.

    Which cantilever materials and which diamonds do you like and why? I'd love to hear your opinions on these subjects.
     

     

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  2. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I like a hardened, tapered aluminum alloy. It’s tough as nails, fast, and to my ears pretty indistinguishable from the exotic materials, beryllium, boron, sapphire, maybe others. I find boron and sapphire to be excellent but sometimes they impart also a displeasing character, not really brightness, but a sort of subtle paperiness, flimsiness, maybe kind of wimpiness? It’s just seems like something is kind of shallow or surface about them.

    Not all the time, however. I have a Benz Micro Silver retipped with sapphire by Sound Smith and none of the above applies.

    My favorite diamond still is and probably will always be a nude Stereohedron. It does everything a line contact does but without the drawbacks. It’s never too harsh, very quiet in the groove, and tracks like a bloodhound.
     
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  3. lini

    lini just me...

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    I'd vote for diamond-coated, tubular, tapered beryllium with a nude stone with 0.06 x 0.06 mm square shank, "pierced-through mount" - so pretty much what Yamaha offered on their MC1000. However, I'd like the tip to be a tad sharper and maybe also to sport a slightly larger major radius (Yamaha "only" offered a line-contact version with 8 x 40 µm). Well, at least for best quality, that is.

    Whereas personally I could already live very well with anodised, tubular, tapered alu with a nude stone with reasonably small (max. 0.2 x 0.1 mm, better 0.14 x 0.07 mm), rectangluar shank and sharp, true elliptical tip, also "pierced-through" mount - as sported for example by the ADC RSX or the Audio Technica ATS13, ATN13 and ATN130E/132EP. To my ears the needles in that class already do well enough, that I don't really miss anything - provided the records still are in pretty good condition.

    Greetings from Munich!

    Manfred / lini
     
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  4. vincei

    vincei aka MasterControlMedia

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Hands down Microline stylus, this gives me the lowest tracking distortion. I also use a Boron cantilever and like it very much as well.
     
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  5. gusten

    gusten Addicted Member

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  6. c_dk

    c_dk Addicted Member

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    One of the finest, if not the finest cartridge I ever had the chance to setup and listen to was the prototype MCs made by Mr. Imamura (Mark Corporation) for Gordon Gow and McIntosh.

    He let me keep and resell #2,3,and 4 while #1 and 5 went to the factory for their evaluation.

    Opening up #3 of 5 with Gow was like Christmas with a youngster. Extremely small rectangular shank modified elliptical insured a extremely low tip mass. I believe the cantiler was a tapered aluminum tube.

    While exotic materials and technics showed off the technical muscles of the cartridge designers so often the smaller more important details were ignored.

    It was obvious that every attempt was made to minimize tip mass and still keep a scan radius that minimized wear.

    In examining the latest offerings from AT with my Wild scope the amount of excessive diamond shank extending thru the cantilever I have found questionable.

    As usual in most audiophile endeavors the small details being attended to often brings better results than high tech materials.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
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  7. revox-b77

    revox-b77 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I am very happy with the ADC XTIV. It does everything right. Sure would like to try an Astrion some day.
    The lighter stiffer cantilevers add an immediacy to the sound that I like.
     
  8. Mister Pig

    Mister Pig Pigamus Maximus

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    I see this line of thinking to be similar to what is the best DAC chip for a CD player, or what are the best output or circuit for an amplifier. I personally don't see how any end user can have an informed opinion of what diamond and cantilever contribution s to the final product that is the cartridge. Especially in the realm of moving coils, which is where I concentrate my interest. There are so many factors that effect the outcome as much as the cantilever material and diamond type. Johnathan Carr said in an interview that the dampening materials and techniques in a design made more difference than anything else to the final voicing of a design. I have owned cartridges that I thoroughly enjoyed with all types of cantilever materials, from gemstone to boron to aluminum(straight pipe and tapered), and diamonds from elliptical, shibata , fritz geiger, miroliine, microridge, Replicant 100, and so on and so forth. I prefer to decide if I like the cartridge as a whole or not.

    Perhaps the MM cartridge guys can have a more informed opinion due to their ability to fit multiple diamonds and cantilever assemblies from a cartridge line to the same body. But then there are the parasitic losses from having a friction fit stylus assembly. So there are some downsides also.

    I guess I just can't form a strong opinion on this as I own cartridges with boron, gemstone, and aluminum cantilevers. Diamonds would preferably be some variant of line contact, but I have owned elliptical fitted ones in the past that I thoroughly enjoyed.

    Regards
    Mister Pig
     
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  9. illinoisteve

    illinoisteve Super Member

    Messages:
    3,035
    Sicks munce ugo eye coont even spel cantuhleever.
    :)

    (Seriously, I'll be reading with interest trying to soak up info from folks who really know this stuff.)
     
  10. needlestein

    needlestein AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Some of us can put just about any tip we want onto moving coil cartridges, too, and an hear the differences. Mr Pig’s points are well taken and cartridges should definitely be evaluated as a whole, but, a few observations like the fact that an AT440-MLb stylus that replaced the hollow tube boron/elliptical on a 310MC quickly increased detail, delicacy, and perhaps even speed compared side by side A/B testing.

    Other materials, do of course, come into play. I don’t think someone could come up and pose the following question and expect a decent answer:
    Hey guys, what’s your favorite elastomer?

    Putting forth that question helps me see Mr Pig’s point better. Seems kind of out of context.

    As a designer, though, you don’t have a whole to consider at this stage, just component parts to ponder and I appreciate the question and I do have a favorite cantilever type and a favorite diamond profile, so I jumped right in.

    Favorite elastomer? Whatever Stanton/Pickering used. The elastomer is at least half the magic of how the Stereohedron sounds.
     
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  11. Brian Tambe

    Brian Tambe Active Member

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    292
    I just purchased one of Audio Technica's newest cartridges from their new VM line , the VM 740 ML ( micro line stylus ) Aluminum alloy cantilever and housing for less vibration. It's being mounted this Saturday the 17th and I can't wait to hear what this baby is going to sound like. It's replacing a dinosaur ADC Series 1 that has been on my Technics SL-D303 since I purchased it brand new form Pacific Stereo in 1981. My TT is worthy of this quality cartridge because it is in absolute Pristine condition and works perfect in all phases. I'm going to have the spindle lubricated when I have the cartridge mounted at the same time. I'm bringing the entire table so Scott can set the counter weight of the tone arm and set the anti skate to meet the recommended gram settings for this new cartridge. I have a question , since the elliptical stylus is so old and worn down and has probably widened the grooves in my LP'S , should I avoid playing my old albums with this new cartridge and purchase brand new vinyl to protect the styli? I'm worried that the new Micro line stylus is going to have too much room to move around in the record grooves due to the grooves being widened by the old worn and flattened styli. Won't this cause not only damage to the new styli but also sound like GARBAGE? It's going to set me back quite a bit of money to start my LP collection all over again with brand new vinyl at prices ranging from $15 to $25 each. I've been told that the new vinyl LP's being made today sound better than the vinyl from the 60's 70's and 80's , is this true?
     

     

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  12. c_dk

    c_dk Addicted Member

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    The new AT cartridge will ride lower in the record groove, have a longer narrower contact with the groove wall and therefore have a contact surface greater than most old school styli.

    You could pull up some extra crud from the bottom of the record groove so a good deep cleaning of your old records might be in order, depending how well you did this in the past.

    The last VM740 I installed was in a Sumiko FFT-3 arm, make sure your installer sets the VTA correctly and pays close attention to I believe is the Technics Stevenson arm alignment.
     
  13. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier

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    Cantilever? Lightest possible material.

    Stylus tips? Only a "line contact" type. I got tired of lesser styli tearing up my records.
     
  14. Brian Tambe

    Brian Tambe Active Member

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    292
    Thank you very much for the help regarding my question. Do you like the VM740ML?
     
  15. Brian Tambe

    Brian Tambe Active Member

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    c_dk , will the new Micro Line styli get damaged from being ran through grooves created by the very old Elliptical styli from my current ADC Series 1? I have ALWAYS kept my records clean by using the disc washer system with a styli brush. I'm a fanatic with all my gear and the records are in great physical condition , I'm just afraid the grooves in the records will damage the new styli on the VM740ML because that old styli , being worn down and possibly widening the record grooves and not allowing the Micro line to track properly and perhaps even move around in the record groove due to the groove being tore up by that old elliptical styli.
     
  16. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    The main problems would be accelerated wear from a dirty record or the stone being flicked off the cantilever by a flaw.
    Otherwise, the worst that can happen from a clean worn record is degraded sound.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018

     

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  17. c_dk

    c_dk Addicted Member

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    These AT questions should probably be in their own thread.....
     
  18. malden

    malden Addicted Member

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    That's really what it's all about.
     
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  19. JP

    JP 7480 74111110101115

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    My favorite are my most accurate, and all sport boron pipe.

    That's an awfully broad statement.
     
  20. Mister Pig

    Mister Pig Pigamus Maximus

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    Is there not? If not then why did some Signet cartridges have set screws to bolt the stylus assembly in?

    Now i am not a moving magnet cartridge guy, but didnt some hobbyists super glue stylus assemblies in place to minimize resonanc characteristics?

    Regards
    Mister Pig
     
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