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Introducing the Phono Cartridge Measurement Library

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Well , 96% is the highest % that is possible to achieve with conventional distillation. Maybe I should re-tip it?

The only measurements I have seen of re-tipping are horrifying.

 
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Shure V15 Type RS (Radio Shack) with Turntable Needles VN5HE Replacement Stylus
Click to increase size
Shure V15 Type RS · TN VN5HE - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 2.png
Shure V15 Type RS · TN VN5HE - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 3.png

original_0c4aa28d-91cf-49fb-a731-1c97b6caf691_PXL_20230913_181944110.MP.jpg
original_f8079812-4c55-4f67-853a-22ff8f5374fa_PXL_20230913_175049540.MP.jpg
S20230912_0002.jpg
S20230912_0003.jpg

Notes
  • Like new replacement hyper-elliptical stylus
    • Original has beryllium cantilever, this one has aluminum alloy
      • Anyone have a VNSE3HE I can borrow?
    • Likely made by JICO and comparable to those sold elsewhere
  • Pretty good results
    • Dips to about -0.6 dB
    • High frequency resonance is nicely placed
      • Could help out toward outer groove of record as it is begins to roll off
    • My only real criticism is that I wish crosstalk was better
      • But remember that the original stylus is likely better
  • Supposedly a Shure V15 V-MR body in disguise (and for $80 retail in the early 90s)
    • Let's find out

Bonus: This is what a serious Shure suspension failure looks like. Severe "low-rider" effect. This one is worse than yours, @Balle Clorin. I would bet that the rubber compound used for the dampener had a manufacturing issue. I'd stay away from VN5HEs in particular or at least demand proof that it is functioning prior to purchase. When my schedule clears in a year or two, lol, I'll see if I can refurbish it and post the results.
Shure V15 Type RS · Shure VN5HEᴮ - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 2.png

S20230712_0003.jpg
S20230712_0002.jpg
 
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Shure V15 Type RS with Shure VN5MR Stylus
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Shure V15 Type RS · VN5MR - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 2.png
Shure V15 Type RS · VN5MR - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 3.png
original_757b2d43-48d2-4b8f-bd55-da2ab751e706_PXL_20230913_181544481.MP.jpg

Notes
  • Not as flat as Shure V15 V-MR at same capacitance loading
    • It wants around 250pF
  • Crosstalk seems to be lower at -25 dB
    • Note that I am finding the CA-TRS-1007 to be around -5 dB worse than my DIN 45 543 test record
      • So this could well be at around -30 dB
  • The RS cartridge body is clearly not the V15 V-MR cartridge body
    • Inductance is higher at 440mH compared to typical 330mH of latter
    • Output is a little lower too
  • Still, this is an excellent combo

What is interesting is that the channel balance is a little worse here than in the previous measurements. More, the right channel is now above left channel, showing more gain. (The VN5HE above also shows a little gain as well.) The stylus is compatible based on everything I have read. The results say the same thing. But my measurements of the cartridge show a 97% match favoring the left channel! So the stylus seems to also impact these results--as if we aren't juggling enough already!
 
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Sumiko Blue Point HOMC with Heavy Wear
Or, why you need measurements to buy second hand if you don't have a good microscope

Click to increase size

I recently purchased a used Sumiko Blue Point that was described to be in excellent condition even after numerous questions. I told the guy I can gauge wear with a microscope and even showed him a few examples. Not to worry he said, if I could "determine" any wear I was free to return.

Lo and behold: it's badly worn.

S20230914_0002.jpg


As the primary owner he must have known. This is hundreds and hundreds of hours of wear. People really will sell anything and see what sticks as most people will not know better. It's incredibly hard to prove wear without evidence. More, ask yourself, how much is acceptable before I request a return? Luckily I have a good microscope, but I also have measurements. I use a beater CBS record for these types of cartridges. This is a very good reason to get yourself an extra, cheaper test record. I may as well not completely waste my time despite my annoyance:
Sumiko Blue Point - Denon DP-35F - CBS²ᶜ - 2.png
Sumiko Blue Point - Denon DP-35F - CBS²ᶜ - 3.png

PXL_20230914_202827416.MP.jpg
S20230914_0003.jpg
ezgif-3-90df7da80a.gif


2017-4-Messwerte_Sumiko-Blue-Point_no2-1.png
Hi-Fi World 1993-03 Blue Point Measurements.jpg


Hi-Fi World, 1993-03, p-mount version review measurement

Notes
  • These were taken on a CBS STR-100 that I to adjusted to CA-TRS-100's FR
  • Sumiko recommends MM loading (47kΩ)
  • Obviously the pictures tell us this elliptical stylus is worn to hell
    • But the distortion measurements tell the same story
  • With new cartridges 2H gets down to -40 dB at 1kHz on the CBS STR-100, further on CA-TRS-1007
    • See the Shure V15 V-MR results to better see the differences between the test records
  • Here we see it lost around 10 dB at 1kHz --that's the effect of wear
  • Results worse than -20 dB between 5-10kHz set off my alarm
  • Clearly the results above 10kHz are the most conclusive evidence of wear
  • At this point I have not seen strong evidence that FR changes much with wear
    • The Lowbeats measurements of the Blue Point #2 show a similar rise
      • Generally, MC cartridges slope upwards
  • Note that crosstalk seems to improve with wear from what I have seen
    • But CBS STR-100 is limited so don't go by these results either way

So not a complete loss as I was able to measure it. If someone posts results for one in better condition we can compare. More importantly, it has satiated my curiosity regarding the cartridge!
 
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Realistic R47XT (Radio Shack) with Vivid Line R8X Stylus
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Realistic R47XT · Vivid Line R8X - Denon DP-30L II - CBS²ᶜ - 2.png
Realistic R47XT · Vivid Line R8X - Denon DP-30L II - CBS²ᶜ - 3.png

PXL_20221113_201705015.MP.jpg
S20230626_0001.jpg
S20230626_0004.jpg

Notes
  • This is an old measurement taken on a CBS STR-100 that I to adjusted to CA-TRS-100's FR
    • I'll update this in the future but I'd like to get some more measurements up now while I have a break
  • Like new stylus (hyperelliptical equivalent?)
  • This is one of my favorite third party replacement styli (likely JICO)
    • Compatible with many Realistic/Shure bodies
    • I've bought terrible replacement styli from this vendor but this one is good
  • Shure cartridge body equivalent (M95?)
  • This one wants ~250pF for a flat FR
    • It was set-up for CBS STR-100
  • Excellent distortion that is likely better on CA-TRS-1007
  • This is another case where channel matching is worse than what body measurements say it would be (99% match)
    • Is it the stylus? Thoughts?
  • If you are OK with 16kHz limit, I think this combination is a good value
    • Though prices have been increasing a lot
      • The stylus was $70 not so long ago
 
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Audio-Technica AT120Ea
This is the first of a triptych of posts
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Audio-Technica AT120Ea - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 2.png
Audio-Technica AT120Ea - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 3.png

PXL_20230917_222248660.MP.jpg
S20230913_0001.jpg
S20230913_0004.jpg

Notes
  • This is a Japan-exclusive version of the AT120 line of cartridges
    • What differentiates it from the US "E" version is the nude hyperelliptical-like stylus upgrade
  • The stylus has seen a little use but still has most of its life left
    • Perhaps you can see the very beginning of wear in the distortion at 20kHz --perhaps
  • FR results above 10kHz are closer than they may appear: follow the top of the left channel results
  • This FR curve --the quintessential Audio-Technica curve-- looks particularly familiar to me...
 
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Audio-Technica "AT150MLX" (AT120 Body + ATN150MLX Stylus)
This is the second of a triptych of posts
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Audio-Technica AT150MLX - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 2.png
Audio-Technica AT150MLX - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 3.png

150mlx_fr.JPG
ezgif-5-31d6f6e737.gif

PXL_20230917_222434960.MP.jpg
S20230922_0018.jpg
S20230922_0002.jpg
S20230922_0013.jpg


Notes
  • The AT120 body seems to match the AT150 body in every way from the looks to the specs (350mH inductance)
    • This should not be surprising: manufacturers continually refresh lines by either changing the looks, name, or stylus options
      • There has been very little cartridge development since the 1980s when R&D more or less stopped
      • Often times you are finding straight-up 1970s tech in modern releases
        • Audio-Technica is notorious for this
        • Original AT120 came out in 1979
  • Microline stylus on a gold-plated boron cantilever
    • Extremely high quality components
      • Yet same "family" FR results
        • Of course performance (tracking, FR stability across album, etc.) will be superior
  • There is a large following for this cartridge and a lot of "one of the greatest ever" acclaim
  • Once again, the stylus has biggest impact on channel balance
    • Could it have to do with stylus insertion and magnet alignment?
  • I'll post measurements of a complete AT150MLX in the future for comparison


Bonus: "AT150MLX" Measurements on DIN 45 543 Test Record
Audio-Technica AT150MLX - Denon DP-35F - DIN 45 543 - 2.png
Audio-Technica AT150MLX - Denon DP-35F - DIN 45 543 - 3.png

ezgif-5-f354573ee3.gif

Notes
  • This big thing here is that this test record offers better crosstalk results
    • I seem to get 5 dB better crosstalk with DIN 45 543 than with CA-TRS-1007
      • For now I would add it to the results of the latter
  • Also interesting is that the right channel FR is pretty much the same but the left channel dips down
    • Not sure what that means
 
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Audio-Technica AT120 with LP Gear ATN120E Replacement Stylus
This is the third in a triptych of posts
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Audio-Technica AT120E · LP Gear Stylus - Denon DP-30L II - 1.png
Audio-Technica AT120E · LP Gear Stylus - Denon DP-30L II - 2.png

LP-ATN120E-stylus-2.jpg

This is the first stylus I received:
S20221209_0001.jpg
S20221209_0002.jpg

Horrifying!!! I feel like I am in a slasher movie! I am so glad the first thing I do is take pictures.

The replacement:
S20221217_0002.jpg
S20221217_0003.jpg

Look at the glue sloppily put on. The diamond is a monster and feels wrong for the cantilever. FR makes total sense because of the needless added weight.

Notes
  • These are older results and were so bad that out of frustration I foolishly only saved these files
    • Quality control seems truly awful
  • Remember CBS STR-100 dips down 0.5 dB so resonance is a bit higher
  • More, most people cannot load at 120pF so real world performance is likely worse
  • Distortion is awful and again likely worse for most!
    • This is the worst part of all of this for me
      • There is always EQ for the FR
    • This stylus will wear out super fast as there is little distortion "room" to spare
  • I have no idea how this tracks
  • You rarely see bad reviews for these cheaper replacement offerings on vinyl forums
    • Everything sounds great in them
    • They are often sites of misinformation and terrible advice
    • Measurements are important to distinguish what is good or bad and what is an acceptable replacement
      • Third party styli manufacturers rarely give you specs or loading recommendations
        • For too long the vinyl market has intentionally obfuscated information
  • My honest recommendation is to stay away from cheap replacement styli unless measurements give you the OK
    • I've had bad luck with most $30 generic replacement styli I have tried
    • I'll take measurements of a well-regarded "Black Diamond" replacement stylus in the future
Have something cheap and popular that you are interested in learning more about? Send it to me for measurements!
 
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Thanks for the AT120Ea posts! You might add that another difference is the regular 120E body's higher inductance (490mH, I think).
 
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Thanks for the AT120Ea posts! You might add that another difference is the regular 120E body's higher inductance (490mH, I think).
The bodies measured similarly for me. Perhaps my AT120 is on the low side but I don't see it being off by 100+mH.

AT120: 362/373mH
AT150: 346/354mh
 
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Sorry, I meant the120Ea vs 120E. The 'regular E' is higher, as mentioned here for instance: https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?t=103140

EDIT: Seem to be conflicting info on the regular 120E, so should add more sources for definitive measurements/specs.
Interesting. But there seems to be conflicting numbers provided by A-T in different catalogs. The 2014 one definitely says 350mH.

Either way it is important to measure if possible if you want to play around and find good combinations. It's sort of a fun game. The higher the inductance the sharper the decline at the tail end as it acts like a low pass filter.

I posted this a while back when I was experimenting with bodies. The set-up is off, so don't trust the spike on this and go with my official measurement. But it does help show the effect. I'll add a proper re-do to my extremely long list of things to check...

ATN150MLX STYLUS COMPARISON.png

 
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Audio-Technica AT71E
Or, The World of Audio-Technica

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Audio-Technica AT71E - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 2.png
Audio-Technica AT71E - Denon DP-35F - CA¹ - 3.png

Audio-Technica AT71E - Denon DP-35F - 210pF - CA¹ - 2.png
Audio-Technica AT71E - Denon DP-35F - 210pF - CA¹ - 3.png

AT71 measurements.jpg
ezgif-4-695c99ed5d.gif

Official A-T measurements of the AT71 (conical version). Interesting that they recommend 100pF. Taken on a JVC TRS-1007.


rectangle_New-Out99991.jpg
rectangle_New-Out99993.jpg
rectangle_New-Out99995.jpg

original_bf28554b-fa75-4549-86e5-6bb3b7c23d88_PXL_20221108_172230999.MP.jpg

Notes
  • Iterations of the cartridge were available for 30+ years
    • Even Radio Shack sold a replacement stylus in the mid-1980s
  • NOS, bonded, "biradial" elliptical stylus
  • FR essentially ±1 dB
    • Results at 20Hz would be lower on a higher-mass tonearm
  • Middle of the road: but this is good for us!
    • A quintessential Audio-Technica cartridge
      • Both AT71 and AT95 bodies have 400mH inductance and 410Ω resistance specs
      • AT-VM95E would be today's equivalent
        • But it has a higher inductance (550mH) so I would expect it to taper off a bit at the end in comparison
      • You also see the same response in the ubiquitous and de facto standard AT3600L
        • My AT71E, AT95E, and AT3600L all have inductance of 435mH (!)
          • You will see the same FR on some Audio-Technica MC cartridges on this thread and site
    • OK, crosstalk and distortion are pretty good
      • And FR at 200pF seems familiar
      • The limit is the 0.4 x 0.7 diamond
  • Certain cartridges allow us to "hear" vernacular audio history, what many turntables sounded like
    • Assuming proper loading of course, which is not a given
    • 200pF measurements are included to show more real-world results
      • In a common set-up FR matches a finely-tuned AT120Ea and AT150MLX!
  • For all the criticism turntables get it is fascinating to see that cartridges generally stay within ±2 dB
    • At least at the outer groove and in the most audible regions
    • Here we see Audio-Technica's most modest offerings are generally ±1 dB
      • Many people on other forums wouldn't even expect this out of a DAC!
    • I think that reviews of phono preamps should should be tougher on RIAA curve discrepancies
      • 0.5 dB changes a cartridge tuning significantly respective of how they actually measure
  • Audio-Technica's tonal consistency across cartridge lines and during a 40+ year time period is truly impressive
    • This also speaks to our ability to measure cartridges, their ability to hold up, and the accuracy of our results
    • And to the fact that turntables, providing they function, do not affect FR to the degree that we collectively imagine
      • With same loading including cable capacitance and set-up of course!
 
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Thorens TPU 267 (Audio-Technica AT95E Special Edition Black) (Audio-Technica AT95E, lol)
Audio-Technica AT95E - Sony PS-X50 - CA¹ - 2.png
Audio-Technica AT95E - Sony PS-X50 - CA¹ - 3.png

Hi-Fi World 1993-03 AT95E Measurements.jpg
HiFi World 1991-11 - AT95E.jpg
PXL_20230919_201715961.MP.jpg

Hi-Fi World, 1993-03

rectangle_New-Out99989.jpg
S20231128_0050.jpg
rectangle_New-Out99980.jpg

Notes
  • This is the second set of AT95E measurements
    • The other is of a cartridge from the 1980s while this one is contemporary
  • New, 0.4 x 0.7, bonded, elliptical diamond
  • Advertised as a black "special edition" version supposedly hand-picked for tighter tolerances
    • But I was sent a Thorens TPU 267 instead
      • There are so many versions of A-T cartridges vendors don't bother to keep up
        • Their marketing stories are meaningless
        • But hey, it's the cheapest version out there
  • In the 1990s lower-end Thorens turntables were bundled with AT95Es
    • So there is an interesting link here in terms of the branding
  • UK magazine Hi-Fi World was an early champion of the cartridge and helped make it popular in the West
  • While the cartridge was around for decades it really only broke into the US market in the early 2000s
    • Then it became the low-priced it cartridge over here
      • It was included in Stereophile's year-end lists for almost two decades
  • Once again the Audio-Technica house FR curve
    • You can ignore Mikey Fremer
  • Same FR results as AT71E and AT3600L
    • Same inductance, resistance, and output: same internals?
    • It lies in between them in terms of required tracking force
 
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Bennyboyph

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Really interesting threads here, many thanks for all your hard work!

I'm looking at archiving all my old vinyls and doing it properly. The sort of stuff that was never released digitally, the originals DATs long disappeared etc! Dubplates, 10"/12" singles mainly.

Strain gauge carts seem a solution to the low mass cantilever issue, but don't appear to have been popular. Anyone here tested one?

I'm going to digitally EQ my recordings, so flat F/R isn't necessary. What I'm after is the lowest distortion to get the best possible transcription (after EQ). Which carts have the lowest distortion /harmonics so far?
 
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Really interesting threads here, many thanks for all your hard work!

I'm looking at archiving all my old vinyls and doing it properly. The sort of stuff that was never released digitally, the originals DATs long disappeared etc! Dubplates, 10"/12" singles mainly.

Strain gauge carts seem a solution to the low mass cantilever issue, but don't appear to have been popular. Anyone here tested one?

I'm going to digitally EQ my recordings, so flat F/R isn't necessary. What I'm after is the lowest distortion to get the best possible transcription (after EQ). Which carts have the lowest distortion /harmonics so far?
I don't have any specific cartridges recommendations but instead something to consider. If you aren't too focused on FR, then distortion is not as big of a deal as most good, new cartridges tend to have similar distortion. Compare results on this thread to see. Ideally you want something with at least -30 dB crosstalk for archival work if you want to say you did as good of a job as you could. I know a lot of people that use Audio-Technica MC cartridges for the types of records you want to record. But as you can see they are not that different from the MM cartridges as long as you have loading options. In fact you have more FR options with the latter.

Now to the point: I would advise on a cartridge with a microlinear or equivalent stylus. What you want is as much FR consistency across the whole record. FR drops a bit (and distortion rises) as it progresses toward the inner groove. (You also have things such as alignment to think about to deal with distortion.) But as JP shows, microlinear styli are less susceptible to this. This is especially important with 7"s. Of course, the cartridge would have to be compatible with your tonearm.

See: https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...tridge-measurement-library.46108/post-1679363

Important edit: if you are digitizing get a CBS STR-100 if you can so that you have a better basis for EQ and so that you can better set-up your system and confirm things are going OK as you progress.
 
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morillon

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if you can consider the distortion...you must consider "in principle" the use of a linear tonarm...
 
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morillon

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given to consider
various conditions of each:
for distortions subject
Optimized protraction with calculator for the physical areas of your tests on the discs can be a serious precaution to make your exchanges more relevant by trying limits the differences from the pivot arms, lengths-architectures, choice of protract... etc
(especially since it seems to me that few here use long arms)
already that there is.the delicate subject of antiskating which "contraries"...
 
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Bennyboyph

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Thanks folks, an At33ptg/ii has been on my list for a while. Will probably use it with a SUT.

Bit of a rare beast, but does anyone here have experience of strain-gauge carts such as the Win-Labs or Panasonic CD4 carts (EPC 451 onwards). These with a microline stylus would surely have very low cantelever mass?
 
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