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How Phono Cartridges Work

watchnerd

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Standard arm on PLX-1000 with Jelco headshell. Alignment is currently Baerwald but have tried Lofgren and Stevenson as well with no improvement. Arm on VPI was standard 10 inch JMW aligned using VPI gauge. Anti-skate is standard mechanism.

As I said previously, this is only on certain records. Other sound great which indicates to me this is record and cart specific as I haven’t had these issue with more expensive carts on the same records. I always use these records when testing a cart as I have experienced this sibilance with cheap MM carts before. I’m mainly just looking for a new cart at this point.
Jelco headshells have adjustable azimuth.

How are you setting azimuth?
 

watchnerd

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I
As time goes by this forum draws closer to those forums it was set up to differentiate itself from. View attachment 18507
I don't understand this point.

There is plenty of (interesting) science and engineering in how phono cartridges work, and it's often not discussed elsewhere, let alone measured.

The fact that digital is less fussy and empirically superior to vinyl doesn't mean vinyl discussions are somehow anti science.
 

DonH56

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I agree with Sal, could be a cartridge loading problem...
 

watchnerd

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I agree with Sal, could be a cartridge loading problem...
Yep.

Check loading, check azimuth.

I've had sibilance issues caused by both.

Nagaoka's are not known to be bright or sibilant, and an elliptical stylus shouldn't be getting a lot of IGD / groove pinch issues.
 

watchnerd

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FWIW, my Nagaoka MP-500 is one of the best, perhaps even #1, tracking cartridge I own. Although it has a totally different stylus and cant.
 

sergeauckland

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I don't understand this point.

There is plenty of (interesting) science and engineering in how phono cartridges work, and it's often not discussed elsewhere, let alone measured.

The fact that digital is less fussy and empirically superior to vinyl doesn't mean vinyl discussions are somehow anti science.
I wold even argue that there is more practical engineering in a turntable system than in digital. Digital is almost completely electronic, and mostly in the hands of the silicon manufacturers. Of course implementations can vary, but good implementations are much of a muchness to the user, as evidenced by the measurements.
Turntable systems, however, include considerable mechanical engineering, servo electronics in some turntables, low noise analogue electronics in the phono stage, precision mechanicals in the arm and bearings, and magnetic engineering in the cartridge, as well as precision diamond grinding, coil winding and materials science in the cantilever and elastomer suspension.

All in all, much more complex and difficult to get right, if it can ever be got right. The whole operation of cutting and pressing records is yet another very complex operation involving chemistry as well as the mechanical and electronic equipment design.

Lots to discuss technically, without having to resort to subjective stuff.

S
 
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Jelco headshells have adjustable azimuth.

How are you setting azimuth?
Using a small level and by eye. Not perfect but I don't know a better way to do it that doesn't involve expensive equipment.

Yep.

Check loading, check azimuth.

I've had sibilance issues caused by both.

Nagaoka's are not known to be bright or sibilant, and an elliptical stylus shouldn't be getting a lot of IGD / groove pinch issues.
The capacitive load of my phono is 150pF and add around 35pF for the cable. It's an MM stage so 47k. I will re-check alignment and settings tonight.

FWIW, my Nagaoka MP-500 is one of the best, perhaps even #1, tracking cartridge I own. Although it has a totally different stylus and cant.
I have always wanted to try one of these.
 

Wombat

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I would say the engineering of a digital drive far surpasses that of a turntable for vinyl in terms of precision, complexity and performance.

It doesn't readily lend itself to being an audio toy, though. :rolleyes:

There is much info on sibilance and vinyl on the internet. Here is a MP-110 thread from a more specialised forum:
https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?t=100751
 

restorer-john

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...There is plenty of (interesting) science and engineering in how phono cartridges work, and it's often not discussed elsewhere, let alone measured...
Probably because it was completely understood 60 years ago. Every parameter of every part of the entire vinyl record and replay chain was discussed ad nauseum, measured and refined to the point where no improvements of significance were being made. Every major HiFi magazine ran multiple, multipart articles on everything from types of bobbin winding in cartridges to the physics and mathematics of every force in each component-part of a TT, record and cart. I frequently search my Dad's Gramophone collection back into the 1950s for key articles.

Nobody tests and publishes cartridge parameters the way they did in the 1970s. When did you last see a published tracking, distortion, channel balance, frequency response test? And tell me, what currently published magazine actually tests turntables properly? When did you last see a measured rumble figure?
 

restorer-john

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I would say the engineering of a digital drive far surpasses that of a turntable for vinyl in terms of precision, complexity and performance.
Absolutely correct. There is no comparison. We have optical blocks with levels of precision that are leagues more advanced.

I do think Sergeauckland was talking more about a solid state delivery of digital audio perhaps?
 

Wombat

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I think a turntable system is the rotating platter, its mounting structure and its driving mechanism plus the arm, its mount and the cartridge/headshell(if any). Add isolation from real world mechanical influences if the product is lacking in this regard.

The engineering in high performance products of one generation is usually surpassed by that of later products. Science and engineering keep developing and advancing.

I have an interest in the history of technology but could never argue that my once owned old 1275 Cooper S was better engineered than the modern iteration. Nostalgia, yes, reality, no.
 

sergeauckland

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Absolutely correct. There is no comparison. We have optical blocks with levels of precision that are leagues more advanced.

I do think Sergeauckland was talking more about a solid state delivery of digital audio perhaps?
Yes, I was mainly looking at Digital from a SS / streaming perspective. However, turntables were essentially hand-made, bearings turned on lathes, cartridge coils turned by hand on a coil winding machine,,that sort of thing. I know that now it's all CNC machines that can do a far better and more consistent job than could be done by hand, but nevertheless, the standard of performance achieved by some of these vintage turntables is still as good as it can be for the medium. CD optical drives were always made by machine using similar technology to silicon fabrication. Nobody ever assembled a laser diode by hand.

I agree that turntable systems were well understood 60 years ago, but that also suggests that much of that knowledge is now lost or ignored for marketing reasons, as evidenced by some of the OTT designs at 'high-end' shows, or at the other end, the appalling rubbish of the Crossley and its ilk.

S
 

Soniclife

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I just bought a MFSL pressing of a Pixies album and the sibilance in unbearable.
Which album? I have the original UK pressings of all, mostly bought new on day of release to compare to. The pixies are one of the few bands that don't sound right on CD, I automatically play the vinyl versions.
 

restorer-john

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...Nobody ever assembled a laser diode by hand...
Grating optical adjustments after laser diode replacement on 1st generation CD players was bad enough, I don't miss that. The entire optical head block was assembled by hand BTW until late 2nd generation. (not my hands, some white gloved dudes in a clean room- I just had to fix them) :)
 

sergeauckland

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Using a small level and by eye. Not perfect but I don't know a better way to do it that doesn't involve expensive equipment.



The capacitive load of my phono is 150pF and add around 35pF for the cable. It's an MM stage so 47k. I will re-check alignment and settings tonight.



I have always wanted to try one of these.
I set azimuth using a small mirror. My alignment protractor has a mirrored surface, or a small 'handbag' type mirror is fine. Just align the cartridge azimuth to be visually perfectly lined up with the reflection.

The correct capacitative load varies greatly by cartridge, and your 185pF could be a bit low, some cartridges have a rising HF response which can be tamed by increasing the capacitance, although that then might cause a presence droop. Unless your phone stage offers switchable or adjustable capacitative loading, the only way I know of, short of using measuring instruments. is to make up a double phono adapter and fit some capacitors into a set of phono plugs and try which one sounds best. Tedious in the extreme!

There's one video on-line for the Shure V15VMR which suggests that the best load for a flat response involves changing the 47k standard load for 33k, plus some extra capacitance. Fussiness about loading is the one reason I've gone over to Moving Coil cartridges which are pretty unfussy about loading, resistive or capacitative. As long as the load is over 10x their DC resistance, they're happy.

S.
 

Frank Dernie

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Nobody tests and publishes cartridge parameters the way they did in the 1970s. When did you last see a published tracking, distortion, channel balance, frequency response test? And tell me, what currently published magazine actually tests turntables properly? When did you last see a measured rumble figure?
HiFi News still tests cartridges and turntables and measures rumble.
 
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Which album? I have the original UK pressings of all, mostly bought new on day of release to compare to. The pixies are one of the few bands that don't sound right on CD, I automatically play the vinyl versions.
Bossanova. I also have Doolittle which sounds great but Bossanova is awful. Side A has 3 tracks with unbearable sibilance. I also own the MFSL CD and original CD though.
 
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I set azimuth using a small mirror. My alignment protractor has a mirrored surface, or a small 'handbag' type mirror is fine. Just align the cartridge azimuth to be visually perfectly lined up with the reflection.

The correct capacitative load varies greatly by cartridge, and your 185pF could be a bit low, some cartridges have a rising HF response which can be tamed by increasing the capacitance, although that then might cause a presence droop. Unless your phone stage offers switchable or adjustable capacitative loading, the only way I know of, short of using measuring instruments. is to make up a double phono adapter and fit some capacitors into a set of phono plugs and try which one sounds best. Tedious in the extreme!

There's one video on-line for the Shure V15VMR which suggests that the best load for a flat response involves changing the 47k standard load for 33k, plus some extra capacitance. Fussiness about loading is the one reason I've gone over to Moving Coil cartridges which are pretty unfussy about loading, resistive or capacitative. As long as the load is over 10x their DC resistance, they're happy.

S.
I may go MC again in the future. When looking at the Benz Ace S, I noticed it comes in LOMC, MOMC, HOMC variants. Is there any advantage in going low output over high output? I like the idea of running through my MM stage.
 

sergeauckland

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I may go MC again in the future. When looking at the Benz Ace S, I noticed it comes in LOMC, MOMC, HOMC variants. Is there any advantage in going low output over high output? I like the idea of running through my MM stage.
The difference between LOMC, MOMC and HOMC is usually the number of turns in the coil, which brings about an increase in output, but also an increase in the DC resistance, inductance and moving mass of the coils, so in general, a LOMC is preferable to MO or HO. However, MO or HO MC could achieve the higher outputs by stronger magnets, in which case this wouldn't apply,but I can't think offhand of any that do.

Nevertheless, any MC, even those with HO, still have radically lower impedance than a MM, perhaps 50ohms compared with 500 or more, with correspondingly lower inductance that they are fairly immune to loading considerations. I run my EMT TSD15 cartridge, which is a MOMC (1mV [email protected]/sec) into a standard 47k MM input with no issues, as the noise is satisfactorily low enough.

S
 
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