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Should I upgrade my Dual CS 5000 turntable with a MC cartridge or get a Rega P6 with same cartridge?

dlaloum

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That's sad - that dual is a lovely turntable - I used to sell them in the mid 80's....
 

raindance

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Not ideal - it is a mid compliance cartridge - it's predecessors of 10 years ago AT150, AT440 etc... are much more suitable....

Should aim for a recommended VTF of under 1.5g, 1.25g is good - 1.6g and up is not ideal
I have it in a low mass arm, the older Pro-Ject carbon fiber arm, and it tracks perfectly and sounds great, even though it is not ideal. It certainly works better than any MC cartridge would. I believe my arm effective mass is probably lighter than the Dual one.

If course the Rega would be better for the cartridges the OP is interested in, but the Rega has zero suspension/isolation and the Dual is well isolated, adding a new variable to the mix.

To get a high compliance cartridge with a decent stylus shape that can play records to the end without distortion will cost silly money unless a compromise is made.

Hence my suggestion. Plus the AT will work great on the Rega also.

PS: Back in the day, I used an Infinity Black Widow arm with the AT150 cartridge. It was a good match. I'd say this one sounds similar.
 

Elkerton

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All 3 of my turntables are more than 40 years old. The Ariston RD11 built in 1974. The Technics SL1100 maybe a year of two later. Th HK with Rabco arm is the baby in the group. IMO, your Dual is worth a little maintenance, but then, I'm frugal (read: cheap) too. That said, were I to replace or add a table at this time, it would likely be the Audio Technica AT LP120. I owned the original Rega P3 and would not buy another belt drive. DDs are so much easier to use. Again, IMHO.
 

LTig

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The OP may also think about a Pioneer PLX-1000 and a matching line contact stylus if he decides to get a New TT. Might deliver more SQ than the Rega with his current pickip.
 

anmpr1

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Not ideal - [AT 540ML] it is a mid compliance cartridge - it's predecessors of 10 years ago AT150, AT440 etc... are much more suitable....

Should aim for a recommended VTF of under 1.5g, 1.25g is good - 1.6g and up is not ideal
Compliance on the 440 and 540 are rated by A/T as essentially the same.

Audio-Technica VM540ML cartridge specifications
- Static compliance: 40 × 10-6 cm/dyne
- Dynamic compliance: 10 × 10-6 cm/dyne (100Hz)

Audio-Technica AT440MLa Phono Cartridge Specifications
- Static compliance (x10-6 cm/dyne): 40
- Dynamic compliance (x10-6 cm/dyne): 10

One thing-- lower tracking force is not always best. In many cases it is detrimental. Keep in mind that a Microline diamond tracking at 2.0g (540) vs 1.8 (higher end for the 440) will be negligible, and in fact the higher force is advised (see below). The important thing is to keep the diamond from mistracking, at whatever force is used.

David Rich, probably the only person doing in-depth phono cartridge analysis today, compared the 440 to the 540. It would be important for anyone interested in knowing the differences between these two cartridges to carefully read his review (linked below). A brief excerpt is highlighted:

The trade for the increased down force requirements of the VM540ML (1.8 grams – 2.2grams) from the AT440MLa (1.0 grams – 1.8 grams) was conjectured to be a higher resonance frequency (above record warp frequencies) and lower peak resonance in today’s higher mass arm. That does not appear to be the reason. The resonance frequency moved from only 7Hz to 7.5Hz. The Q of the resonance is a still high at 3. Fluid damping reduces this significantly.

When measuring harmonic and IM distortion the higher tracking force was found superior:

We did measurements of the VM540ML and the predecessor AT440MLa. The AT440MLa has a minimum tracking force of 1.3grams and it does well. Moving to 1.8grams is state of the art with the AT440MLa...

 
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dlaloum

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Compliance on the 440 and 540 are rated by A/T as essentially the same.

Audio-Technica VM540ML cartridge specifications
- Static compliance: 40 × 10-6 cm/dyne
- Dynamic compliance: 10 × 10-6 cm/dyne (100Hz)

Audio-Technica AT440MLa Phono Cartridge Specifications
- Static compliance (x10-6 cm/dyne): 40
- Dynamic compliance (x10-6 cm/dyne): 10
And yet the tracking force is substantially different - someone has made a mistake somewhere!! - and I am betting it was in the compliance spec that the mistake was made... that is geeksville and unlikely to be picked up - make a mistake in VTF and every customer will be complaining!

Also something to watch out for - AT's measurements for compliance have always been a bit "funky" - as they choose to measure it at 100Hz, where most US and European manufacturers measure it at 10Hz.... (rough rule of thumb is multiply the 100Hz compliance by 1.5 for an approximation of the compliance at 10Hz... but yes, very rough)

One thing-- lower tracking force is not always best. In many cases it is detrimental. Keep in mind that a Microline diamond tracking at 2.0g (540) vs 1.8 (higher end for the 440) will be negligible, and in fact the higher force is advised (see below). The important thing is to keep the diamond from mistracking, at whatever force is used.

Yes mistracking is the thing to watch for - absolutely! - but low tracking force, results in reduced friction and therefore increase life for both needle and vinyl.
Given both setups being compared are properly matched arm mass to cartridge compliance - so both can track optimally (as a mismatched arm mass to cartridge compliance combination causes issues relating to the resonance frequency of the LF motion of the arm - and if that rises too high - ie: too close to audio frequencies, can cause mistracking) - then a setup tracking at 1.25g (the old p-mount standard) should have a substantially reduced wear on needle and on vinyl. (all else being equal of course)

having said all that - mistracking will cause far more damage to needle and vinyl than lower/higher VTF will - so it is best to sort out mistracking FIRST.




David Rich, probably the only person doing in-depth phono cartridge analysis today, compared the 440 to the 540. It would be important for anyone interested in knowing the differences between these two cartridges to carefully read his review (linked below). A brief excerpt is highlighted:

The trade for the increased down force requirements of the VM540ML (1.8 grams – 2.2grams) from the AT440MLa (1.0 grams – 1.8 grams) was conjectured to be a higher resonance frequency (above record warp frequencies) and lower peak resonance in today’s higher mass arm. That does not appear to be the reason. The resonance frequency moved from only 7Hz to 7.5Hz. The Q of the resonance is a still high at 3. Fluid damping reduces this significantly.
Yes messing with the compliance / arm mass is messing with the record warp frequency level resonances - this is where much mistracking happens
How far that resonance moves, is dependent on the mass of the arm used, and the compliance of the cartridge....

With a typical S arm @ 12g, and the AT440/540 body at 6.5g = 18.8g

Resonant Frequency of 7.5Hz would indicate compliance of 25cu (measured @ 10Hz)
Resonant Frequency of 7Hz would indicate compliance of 28cu (mesured @ 10hz)

Things of scientific/academic interest - from a vintage thread where these topics were discussed....
https://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/vtf-and-compliance.416084/

  • Compliance at 100Hz is determined by the needed VTF to track an amplitude of 50um
  • trackability at 100Hz is determined by cartridge suspension mechanical impedance, which in turn is mostly defined by suspension damping. At 100Hz.
  • But at 10Hz, impedance is mostly determined by suspension spring. 100Hz mostly damping. They are related only because the same elastomer material provides both spring and damping. But the relationship varies significantly between specific cartridges. Hence why rules of thumb for compliance conversion between 100Hz and 10Hz often don't work well.
Fluid damping is an absolutely magical engineering "trick" which allows arms to have much much wider compatibility with differing compliance cartridges - it is unfortunately rare in the marketplace. There are electro-magnetic versions of it too... I have an electro-magnetically damped JVC QL-Y5F, where my Revox Linear tracking TT is very lightly fluid damped, by a dab of grease at the unipivot point.

When measuring harmonic and IM distortion the higher tracking force was found superior:

We did measurements of the VM540ML and the predecessor AT440MLa. The AT440MLa has a minimum tracking force of 1.3grams and it does well. Moving to 1.8grams is state of the art with the AT440MLa...


That is great - but only meaningful for that specific arm...
The same exercise on a different arm, and more specifically a different mass arm, is likely to show differing results!
 

Ken Tajalli

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It has been a few years since I played LPs.
I second @LTig on the notion of the stylus tip/geometry. The only thing that can control surface noise, pops clicks etc. is a good stylus tip. Also a slightly worn LP is mostly worn-out towards the top of the groove! So are the pops and clicks for that matter. a good quality line-contact stylus can dig deeper into the groove and read every LP better. I.e. less noise, less pops and clicks, less distortion . . .
One more component is the preamp or headamp. They are not all the same, you know.
MM cartridges require less electrical loading complexity, MC ones need exact loading, hence a better headamp makes big difference.
For $1200 , I would consider re-tipping and a pro. service and setup of my existing setup.
Good luck.
 
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dlaloum

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One more component is the preamp or headamp. They are not all the same, you know.
MM cartridges require less electrical loading complexity,
I disagree with that comment vehemently.

Yes MC's need correct loading - but incorrect loading of an MM makes a dramatic difference to its voicing.

The cicrcuit formed by the capacitance, inductance and resistance is effectively a customised equaliser, and it will depending on the settings, generate a boost at a certain frequency followed by a dramatic drop.... often used to balance out many of the lesser cartridges - giving them more midrange and low-highs, in exchange for almost total loss of extension.
In other cases parameters will balance out the cantilever resonance - on a premium or exotic stylus, allow for a very flat frequency response - something that many MC's struggle with, as the cantilever resonance can be quite harshly exposed.... (leading to the typical "detailed" voicing of MC's, due to a rising high end, where the influence of a resonance at 16khz to 20Khz pulls the frequency response up)
Many MC's just aren't neutral... and MM's that don't have their loading carefully adjusted, aren't either.

The thing we take for granted with digital - a basic flat frequency response - is only achieved with substantial effort on a turntable.

And getting the MM loading just right, requires balancing a lot more variables than your Typical MC.... when done right, an MM is, at its price point, the superior transducer.... by far!
 

Mr. Widget

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Last night I was reading the current Stereophile's review of the Technics SL-1200G. When the reviewer started flowing with the audio poetry (being polite here) I had to move on.

Transducers... microphones, phono cartridges, and speakers. Where acoustic energy becomes electricity, where mechanical vibration becomes electricity, and where electricity becomes acoustic energy (our own auditory system too, but we don't have many options there) these devices are where we should put the bulk of our investment. Compared to these devices everything else is child's play.

Any competent turntable should sound about as good as any other. Yes we need speed accuracy, isolation from rumble, and isolation from outside vibrations, but any decent modern day turntable will handle that. I use a vintage armless Luxman and I would be surprised if a mega dollar modern table was audibly superior.

That said, as has been discussed above, the arm's mass and resonance must work with the mass and compliance of your cartridge. If you properly match the arm and cartridge and you find a cartridge you like, in my opinion the battle is won.

It is true that phono preamps and especially those suitable for low output moving coil cartridges are also a bit tricky because of the extremely low noise required and the difficulty in accurately matching the RIAA curve in the analog domain, but at the end of the day it is mostly about transducers.
 

Ken Tajalli

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I disagree with that comment vehemently!
If you say that from the back of your throat, it can sound almost Arabic! :)
Such a strong word - not that the rest of your comments were wrong, it is just your enthusiasm that tickled me.
At any rate:
- MM loading impedance is not all that critical. But the capacitive loading can control the frequency response. And since it is a high impedance/high output source, cabling etc. won't affect it that much. Also, the input stage noise performance and gain is easier to accommodate.
- MC loading impedance is a little more critical, since it is in 10s of ohms usually, meaning cabling/termination can cut into it. Also it is low impedance/ low output source, so unlike MM, the input stage noise and gain is harder to provide. MC is not all that sensitive to capacitive loading. Also wrong impedance loading on a MC, can cause stylus compliance issues.
Take a look at this: https://www.leema-acoustics.com/product.html?prid=51 (NOT their top of the range)
This is a head-amp from one of my favourite companies, Leema Electronics. It should be placed very near to the turntable.
When I said, "they are not all the same", this is what I meant! see to what lengths they have gone for correct loading:

1668509527472.png

1668509571682.png

1668509602027.png



1668509666524.png
 
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anmpr1

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The same exercise on a different arm, and more specifically a different mass arm, is likely to show differing results!

When discussing cartridge measurements, there are a lot of variables, for sure. But from a practical matter, most of it can be ignored as long as you get close. Obviously OCD Fremer-types (who use a microscope in order to set VTA) will never be satisfied at the casual listening level. I don't know how deep the OP wants to go, so I'm just going to write in a general sense.

I think thatfrom a practical matter, a 540ML at 2.0g will be suitable in the Dual tonearm. If I am not mistaken, you mentioned several A/T cartridges that you said would be better, but they are discontinued. What good is that in helping our ASR member find something suitable? Of course one can find cartridges that track at 1.5g. So if that is the chief criterion, then that is that, and one can make any one of those the stop. Replacing the original Grado with a new stylus is a good suggestion, although I don't have any experience with Grados.

I have several of the Ortofon OM series (both stand alone and Concorde); those work well at 1.5g. At one time Dual was in bed with Ortofon--their ULM tonearm series. It could be worth checking out. Also, a lowly OM 10 can easily be upgraded to the latest and greatest Gyger stylus (the 40). All you need is money.

FWIW, and from my experience, a 740ML (pretty much the same thing as the 540, but with a more attractive metal body) works well in a wide variety of arms. I've used it in a G-707 and Technics SL-1200 Mk arm (the latter both with and without the KAB damping module--that is another issue altogether), a Dual 704 arm, and a Technics SL-1100a, and a Thorens TD-160 tonearm. Subjectively, I thought it sounded best in the low mass Grace. Maybe, like Les Paul once quipped, I was listening with my eyes. I have a Sonus Formula 4 fluid damped arm in the closet that I need to install, and try it with. Just to find out.

In fact, it is currently doing duty on a Garrard Z-100! (certainly an outlier :); that combo works best in manual mode as the changer mech is too clunky for the rather compliant and delicate A/T stylus and cantilever). But really, for an old changer, something like the stiffer Ortofon Nightclub E at 3g works better). Warped records never worked with its Rube Goldbergish and relatively massive arm. Flat records play fine. Note: I am not advising anyone to go out and buy a fifty year old record changer.

[FWIW, the best cartridge I've tried on the Garrard is the M97x, which has the clever brush/damper. But that is long discontinued, and I would be careful advising anyone to spend much money on something that old, NOS. The Shure damper was an excellent idea, but I've had three Shures that, over time, hardened and/or lost viscosity at either the damper brush or stylus elastomer. I suspect that would work in the Dual tonearm. However that is, the M97x elliptical diamond is not as sophisticated as the Adamant-Namiki Microline found on the A/T.]

Finally, a 540ML can be recommended over the 440ML because it doesn't require downstream EQ, which is necessary in order to tame a pronounced HF boost engineered into the cartridge. Some claim to have corrected that with loading, but few preamps offer that feature, anymore. At least at a low price point. Both my 440ML highs sizzle. David Rich said that people 'get used to it' but I never did. FWIW, the 440 stylus assembly fits in the 540 body, but I have not tried that. In fact, all VM series styli are interchangeable. I might do that, but probably not on the Garrard, which requires a higher tracking force. On the Technics it would likely work OK at 1.5g.
 

raindance

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I think thatfrom a practical matter, a 540ML at 2.0g will be suitable in the Dual tonearm. If I am not mistaken, you mentioned several A/T cartridges that you said would be better, but they are discontinued. What good is that in helping our ASR member find something suitable? Of course one can find cartridges that track at 1.5g. So if that is the chief criterion, then that is that, and one can make any one of those the stop. Replacing the original Grado with a new stylus is a good suggestion, although I don't have any experience with Grados.

Finally, a 540ML can be recommended over the 440ML because it doesn't require downstream EQ, which is necessary in order to tame a pronounced HF boost engineered into the cartridge. Some claim to have corrected that with loading, but few preamps offer that feature, anymore. At least at a low price point. Both my 440ML highs sizzle. David Rich said that people 'get used to it' but I never did. FWIW, the 440 stylus assembly fits in the 540 body, but I have not tried that. In fact, all VM series styli are interchangeable. I might do that, but probably not on the Garrard, which requires a higher tracking force. On the Technics it would likely work OK at 1.5g.

I actually purchased a U-Turn Pluto 2 and removed the 100pF capacitors loading the input because of reading about the hump that occurs with the 540 at loading above about 200pF. The difference is very slight.
 

dlaloum

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I think thatfrom a practical matter, a 540ML at 2.0g will be suitable in the Dual tonearm. If I am not mistaken, you mentioned several A/T cartridges that you said would be better, but they are discontinued. What good is that in helping our ASR member find something suitable?
I made sure that the models I mentioned were still available as NOS from either LPGear or Turntableneedles.... because yes, I agree... discontinued models can make things difficult

Of course one can find cartridges that track at 1.5g. So if that is the chief criterion, then that is that, and one can make any one of those the stop. Replacing the original Grado with a new stylus is a good suggestion, although I don't have any experience with Grados.

I have several of the Ortofon OM series (both stand alone and Concorde); those work well at 1.5g. At one time Dual was in bed with Ortofon--their ULM tonearm series. It could be worth checking out. Also, a lowly OM 10 can easily be upgraded to the latest and greatest Gyger stylus (the 40). All you need is money.
The TOTL Grado or Ortofon styli are both good options... and not unreasonable for the OP given one of his alternatives is to spend $1200 on an MC cartridge... the TOTL needles on Grado or Ortofon would provide performance competitive with any MC within that price bracket!! (IMO)

FWIW, and from my experience, a 740ML (pretty much the same thing as the 540, but with a more attractive metal body) works well in a wide variety of arms. I've used it in a G-707 and Technics SL-1200 Mk arm (the latter both with and without the KAB damping module--that is another issue altogether), a Dual 704 arm, and a Technics SL-1100a, and a Thorens TD-160 tonearm. Subjectively, I thought it sounded best in the low mass Grace. Maybe, like Les Paul once quipped, I was listening with my eyes. I have a Sonus Formula 4 fluid damped arm in the closet that I need to install, and try it with. Just to find out.
The damping on that arm may well be the thing that raises its performance!
In fact, it is currently doing duty on a Garrard Z-100! (certainly an outlier :); that combo works best in manual mode as the changer mech is too clunky for the rather compliant and delicate A/T stylus and cantilever). But really, for an old changer, something like the stiffer Ortofon Nightclub E at 3g works better). Warped records never worked with its Rube Goldbergish and relatively massive arm. Flat records play fine. Note: I am not advising anyone to go out and buy a fifty year old record changer.

[FWIW, the best cartridge I've tried on the Garrard is the M97x, which has the clever brush/damper. But that is long discontinued, and I would be careful advising anyone to spend much money on something that old, NOS. The Shure damper was an excellent idea, but I've had three Shures that, over time, hardened and/or lost viscosity at either the damper brush or stylus elastomer. I suspect that would work in the Dual tonearm. However that is, the M97x elliptical diamond is not as sophisticated as the Adamant-Namiki Microline found on the A/T.]
As an aside - the damper brush on the excellent Jico replacement stylus (even the SAS versions) - unfortunately has little or no damping effect - although some people have improved this with some DIY application of high viscosity grease/oil (in minute amounts!) in the hinge...
Finally, a 540ML can be recommended over the 440ML because it doesn't require downstream EQ, which is necessary in order to tame a pronounced HF boost engineered into the cartridge. Some claim to have corrected that with loading, but few preamps offer that feature, anymore. At least at a low price point. Both my 440ML highs sizzle. David Rich said that people 'get used to it' but I never did. FWIW, the 440 stylus assembly fits in the 540 body, but I have not tried that. In fact, all VM series styli are interchangeable. I might do that, but probably not on the Garrard, which requires a higher tracking force. On the Technics it would likely work OK at 1.5g.
The difficult bit with MM's is that there is no real standard for loading capacitance - and even the resistive loading standard of 47k is not so much of a standard as a "recommendation" (shure docs from the 70's and 80's state that R loading of up to 70k is recommended....)

hence we have wide variation in cartridge voicing, due to people trying the cartridges out at a fixed loading, and all the cartridges sound very different... given that they are all being played at loadings that are non-optimal - so some are showing dips or rises in frequency response...

When you adjust the loading on multiple different MM's so as to achieve a flat FR... then they start to all sound very very similar (as they should) - yes I did this experiment with a batch of about 10 different MM's - and when adjusted for loading (EQ) as well as amplitude - it becomes quite difficult to choose between them in a blind test.

Best option is to purchase a phono stage with RCA loading plugs and a very low internal capacitance - then both R and C can be adjusted as desired - C can only be raised from the base provided by the phono stage internal and the TT cabling (hence the importance of low C cabling) - and R can only be lowered - so with an RCA Y adapter, you can easily lower R loading on any phono stage (beware of the C imposed by the Y adapter!).

I would have to go back to my notes, but I have a vague recollection of the AT440MLa doing best at 27k... don't remember the C loading (although AT's almost always do best with low C loads ... typically 100pf to 200pf total.
 

anmpr1

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FWIW, and because it was easy to do, I inserted a 440a stylus assembly into the 740 body. In the rather clunky (but not yet junky) Garrard, and in manual mode, and with a very flat record, it tracked at 1.25g. Yet appears to be more stable and 'solid sounding' at 1.8g, which is A/T's high spec for that model. Again, I would not advise the use of an old record changer with such a cartridge. I'm only reporting that it works OK with a flat record. Its pantograph arm never worked well with warped records, and if you have those you'll have to significantly increase tracking force, using a suitable cartridge.

In fact, at 1.8g, the 440 stylus appears to be more stable (visually) than the 740ML (same as 540) stylus assembly, which is more 'wobbly' in that old tonearm! Go figure. Of course all this is from simple visual observation. I have some of the Shure test records for trackability et al., and should make some comparisons between the two.

When I bought my 440 (a and b versions--I have no idea what the differences are) they were heavily discounted. I think I paid about $100.00 for them, each. Those days are gone, for sure. Today, a 540ML is almost $279.00 at most stores. The 740 runs about $350.00. 740 has better cosmetics, but is supposed to be pretty much the same, internally, as the 540.

Given the wide variety of interchangeable A/T styli available, from ball point pen round, elliptical, to several line-contact shapes, A/T are probably the best value going today. One body, multiple choices. Of course you get the A/T 'house' sound, such as it is.

For those using older turntables for 'archive' or 'historical' purposes, an Ortofon Nightclub E at 3 grams works OK, and offers pretty good sound (you use it in an OM or Super OM body), but most folks would not consider something like that with standard 'hi-fi' oriented 'audiophile' records. I use it for 45rpm EPs and such. Plus old 'beat up' records that have some aesthetic value. I'd say it is a better sounding stylus than Ortofon's DJ oriented spherical stylus assemblies.

As far as tracking force goes, I personally don't have much of an issue with upwards of 3g, and have used more as occasion calls. And its not just slumming at the low-end, either. Ortofon's 'if you have to ask the price' SPU cartridges were always massive and tracked at higher pressures. I think especially for older monophonic recordings, and in Japan. Of note, one of Japan's 'legendary' audio practitioners and erstwhile restaurateurs held court using the old Grace oil damped arm (think pro-oriented Grey knockoff) with Denon DL102 tracking at 5g, with his collectable monophonic records. Altec horns and his homemade tube amps. Not ASR tier stuff, but that's audiophilia for you. (link follows)


However all that is, I've always found that things usually work best at whatever higher tracking levels the manufacturer recommended--the possible exception of V15 models with the brush. Those always did well for me in a variety of tonearms, at 1.0g. Sadly, no one is making super low mass tonearms anymore, and Shure left the building years ago. That was a very down-looking day for record lovers.

Finally, needless to say, everyone has an opinion and everyone has their own experiences to fall back on. And like anything else, YMMV

One thing I'd forgotten about: for a low mass effect, Ortofon OM series feature a small removable weight in the cartridge body. For the ultimate in low mass you remove it, and if your tonearm is able to balance such a lightweight cartridge, you have it right there. Too, OM styli are interchangeable, and run from the large PRO S (good for 45rpm and such) to the 40 Gyger. However, Ortofon styli are not inexpensive, compared to A/T. For example, their top tier 40 replacement runs about $500.00.
 

anmpr1

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The damping on that arm may well be the thing that raises its performance!
The KAB damper (perhaps like any fluid damper filled with silicone gunk) is hit or miss--at least from my experience. One thing--it is both temperature and medium dependent. That is to say, it is not a precision damping device. Its action depends upon how much fluid you squeeze into the trough. You can never know as it can't be calibrated. Plus, viscosity will change with ambient room temperature.

Next, the trough is open to the air, allowing room dust to mix in the oily gunk--for whatever (if any) effect that will have.

In my example, over the course of a year or two, the gunk 'hardened' (evaporation?) which was not helpful, at all. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to remove (or install) the device, so it's no simple job to take it off, clean it, and put it back on. Cleaning semi-hardened silicone from the trough was a messy job.

Like many 'upgrades' I've bought into, the device now hides in a drawer somewhere. Waiting for me to get the 'tweako' urge, again.

I'm not saying that the device is not worth it. KAB sells it relatively cheaply, it appears to be good quality machining, and probably is helpful in certain situations. As always, YMMV.

Sony/Denon/JVC had electro-mechanical damping (I think you mentioned that earlier). I owned two JVC decks (QLY55 and QLY66) that applied damping using a calibrated scale. Very easy and ergonomic. The downside was that these visually stunning record players were housed in a cheap particle board plinth, which wasn't the best material JVC could have used.

Because the patent has certainly expired, why doesn't A/T (or others) offer a damping brush, like the V15? Even if you didn't want to use it, you could flip it up and lock it out of action. IMO it was a great little invention for taming tonearms. JICO Shure replacement styli have the brush, but I've been told they are only hinged (like old Stanton/Pickering) and not shock damped. A simple hinge mech doesn't work like a shock absorber.
 

dlaloum

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FWIW, and because it was easy to do, I inserted a 440a stylus assembly into the 740 body. In the rather clunky (but not yet junky) Garrard, and in manual mode, and with a very flat record, it tracked at 1.25g. Yet appears to be more stable and 'solid sounding' at 1.8g, which is A/T's high spec for that model. Again, I would not advise the use of an old record changer with such a cartridge. I'm only reporting that it works OK with a flat record. Its pantograph arm never worked well with warped records, and if you have those you'll have to significantly increase tracking force, using a suitable cartridge.

In fact, at 1.8g, the 440 stylus appears to be more stable (visually) than the 740ML (same as 540) stylus assembly, which is more 'wobbly' in that old tonearm! Go figure. Of course all this is from simple visual observation. I have some of the Shure test records for trackability et al., and should make some comparisons between the two.

When I bought my 440 (a and b versions--I have no idea what the differences are) they were heavily discounted. I think I paid about $100.00 for them, each. Those days are gone, for sure. Today, a 540ML is almost $279.00 at most stores. The 740 runs about $350.00. 740 has better cosmetics, but is supposed to be pretty much the same, internally, as the 540.

Given the wide variety of interchangeable A/T styli available, from ball point pen round, elliptical, to several line-contact shapes, A/T are probably the best value going today. One body, multiple choices. Of course you get the A/T 'house' sound, such as it is.

For those using older turntables for 'archive' or 'historical' purposes, an Ortofon Nightclub E at 3 grams works OK, and offers pretty good sound (you use it in an OM or Super OM body), but most folks would not consider something like that with standard 'hi-fi' oriented 'audiophile' records. I use it for 45rpm EPs and such. Plus old 'beat up' records that have some aesthetic value. I'd say it is a better sounding stylus than Ortofon's DJ oriented spherical stylus assemblies.

As far as tracking force goes, I personally don't have much of an issue with upwards of 3g, and have used more as occasion calls. And its not just slumming at the low-end, either. Ortofon's 'if you have to ask the price' SPU cartridges were always massive and tracked at higher pressures. I think especially for older monophonic recordings, and in Japan. Of note, one of Japan's 'legendary' audio practitioners and erstwhile restaurateurs held court using the old Grace oil damped arm (think pro-oriented Grey knockoff) with Denon DL102 tracking at 5g, with his collectable monophonic records. Altec horns and his homemade tube amps. Not ASR tier stuff, but that's audiophilia for you. (link follows)


However all that is, I've always found that things usually work best at whatever higher tracking levels the manufacturer recommended--the possible exception of V15 models with the brush. Those always did well for me in a variety of tonearms, at 1.0g. Sadly, no one is making super low mass tonearms anymore, and Shure left the building years ago. That was a very down-looking day for record lovers.

Finally, needless to say, everyone has an opinion and everyone has their own experiences to fall back on. And like anything else, YMMV

One thing I'd forgotten about: for a low mass effect, Ortofon OM series feature a small removable weight in the cartridge body. For the ultimate in low mass you remove it, and if your tonearm is able to balance such a lightweight cartridge, you have it right there. Too, OM styli are interchangeable, and run from the large PRO S (good for 45rpm and such) to the 40 Gyger. However, Ortofon styli are not inexpensive, compared to A/T. For example, their top tier 40 replacement runs about $500.00.
I found the 440MLa stylus tracked very well (perhaps optimally?) at 1.4g - I have run it in various AT family bodies - including a p-mount version - and yes it tracks well at 1.25g... but I think it does better at a touch more downforce.

Ortofon bodies and removing the weight to adjust for a lower total mass - YES...

For those keen on the Concorde "banana" bodies (for S-arms) - the early Concorde/OM bodies, also had a removable weight in them, which made them a very low mass cartridge option for those arms - those early concordes can be a bit hard to find - and many of the later versions, targeted at the DJ users, didn't have a removable weight (and were/are heavier than the concorde with the removable weight when it's weight was onboard!) - they also take the OM family of styli.

For the Shure faithful - Jico and others still provide styli - although even the SAS is not a match for the original V15VMR stylus - and the Jico damping brush, is lacking the damping grease that Shure put into the brush hinge... (still has a marginal damping effect - measured it about 10 years ago...- but nothing like the original)
 

dlaloum

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The KAB damper (perhaps like any fluid damper filled with silicone gunk) is hit or miss--at least from my experience. One thing--it is both temperature and medium dependent. That is to say, it is not a precision damping device. Its action depends upon how much fluid you squeeze into the trough. You can never know as it can't be calibrated. Plus, viscosity will change with ambient room temperature.

Next, the trough is open to the air, allowing room dust to mix in the oily gunk--for whatever (if any) effect that will have.

In my example, over the course of a year or two, the gunk 'hardened' (evaporation?) which was not helpful, at all. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to remove (or install) the device, so it's no simple job to take it off, clean it, and put it back on. Cleaning semi-hardened silicone from the trough was a messy job.

Like many 'upgrades' I've bought into, the device now hides in a drawer somewhere. Waiting for me to get the 'tweako' urge, again.

I'm not saying that the device is not worth it. KAB sells it relatively cheaply, it appears to be good quality machining, and probably is helpful in certain situations. As always, YMMV.

Sony/Denon/JVC had electro-mechanical damping (I think you mentioned that earlier). I owned two JVC decks (QLY55 and QLY66) that applied damping using a calibrated scale. Very easy and ergonomic. The downside was that these visually stunning record players were housed in a cheap particle board plinth, which wasn't the best material JVC could have used.

Because the patent has certainly expired, why doesn't A/T (or others) offer a damping brush, like the V15? Even if you didn't want to use it, you could flip it up and lock it out of action. IMO it was a great little invention for taming tonearms. JICO Shure replacement styli have the brush, but I've been told they are only hinged (like old Stanton/Pickering) and not shock damped. A simple hinge mech doesn't work like a shock absorber.
That is a shame - I have an SL1600mk2 in storage, I was planning on experimenting with the KAB damper on...

Yes I have the earlier QLY5 predecessor to the two you owned.... fixing the cheap particle board plinth resonance took quite a bit of work - but was definitely worthwhile...

The patents for the electro mechanical damping on the JVC's (or sony biotracer, denon, etc...) have long expired - and the circuitry would be far cheaper to make today, in a world full of cheap digital control circuits! - as well as Shure's damping brush - which Jico could not have manufactured a replacement for, without the patent expiring - unfortunately, they have opted not to fully copy the original, and it provides very little damping effect (also minimal anti static effect... which was its other purpose)
 

anmpr1

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Yes I have the earlier QLY5 predecessor to the two you owned.... fixing the cheap particle board plinth resonance took quite a bit of work - but was definitely worthwhile...
I'll tell you a 'funny' story. I owned a Denon DP-75 (Quartz PLL with a magnetic strip inside the platter that was read by a tape head servo tachometer, the combo supposed to guarantee accurate speed stability). The DP-75 came in the optional factory cut out base, which I believe was said to be laminated or layered beechwood. Physically quite large, one could have probably affixed two tonearms to it, and definitely a long 12" if you wanted to do that.

Anyhow, the base was not particularly heavy given its size, and consisting of wood it was resonant if you tapped it. It came with four undamped flexy felt covered feet. Nothing very special. But the motor was first rate. I'll say that. The flying saucer shaped turntable just dropped into the base. I don't think it was fixed by anything other than gravity.

Looking for something new and inexpensive for a secondary system, my dealer sold me a DP-30, then one of the Denon's lower end models. As I recall, it had a servo system for speed stability, was not quartz locked, but might have used their magnetic tachometer system. I don't remember exactly as this was quite a few years ago.

The curved DP-30 tonearm looked like a low end OEM Jelco, but featured smooth and silent bearings. The 30 base was a solid and dense resin material. At the time my go to cartridge was a Denon DL-103D, which cost as much as the DP-30. The two made great music together, although few at the 30's price point would have used a 103D with it.

Anyhow, I thought the little Denon sounded better than the large DP-75, which I attributed to the former's resin-crete base. My idea was to ditch the 75's wood base and make something more massive, but I never got around to doing that, selling the item for what I considered to be a good price. I was in Central Florida at the time. The guy who bought it lived in a trailer or small cabin in the Ocala forest! At least that's what he told me. It's better not to ask too many questions in a cash sale.

End of story: A couple of years ago I noticed the 75 listed at the 'Bay. I could tell it was my former deck because I'd spray painted the blonde beechwood a gloss black, and had installed a Grace 747 tonearm, which it still had. The seller was in Chicago (I believe), and was asking a thousand dollars. I sent him a msg offering five-hundred, but he wouldn't consider that. I didn't need it, but would have liked it for a reunion. How it got from the Ocala Forest, to the midwest is something I'll never hope to understand. Who knows where it is now?
 
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anmpr1

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This is moving away from the OP question, but the idea of tonearm damping has an interesting history. The first time I encountered it was the old Gray oil damped arm from the '50s. Shinagawa Musen (Grace) essentially copied the device. I wonder if they had permission, or if it was just a knock off?

In the '70s the Ultracraft (Audiocraft) uni-pivot damped arms were popular (at least as popular as these things go). Grace made a similar version.

The Formula 4 low mass silicone damped unipivot arm made some inroads with high compliance cartridges. Those were some of the most difficult tonearms to set up. What were they thinking?

Dual (701/704/721) used a wobbly sub counterweight that was supposed to suppress arm resonance--the secondary weight suspended by a rubber damper. If that broke (many did) there was no user available fix. Probably, however, the DD electronics would go south about the same time, so it became a total loss. At least it was that way with mine. LOL

SME, Micro, Infinity and others used the tried and true paddle in a trough system.

Discwasher sold a tonearm add-on that mounted on the removable headshell. It was said to offer a 'Shure brush' type of damping effect. Those didn't last long in the marketplace!

The most sophisticated (compulsive?) moneyed solution might have been the Technics EPA 500/250 system, offering multiple arm wands of varying weights that hooked into a fixed base assembly. Marketed as an 'improvement' upon their earlier EPA 100 series, and all using an oil damped counterweight with magnetic spring system.

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anmpr1

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Concluding a brief history of attempting to match tonearm with cartridge in order to reduce resonance, perhaps one of the more interesting devices was the mid '60s Castagna tonearm (I don't know the name's reference). Castagna allowed for all variations of adjustments, but its most unusual feature was opposed magnets that suspended the arm tube in an essentially frictionless state, pivoting on jewel bearings. As the arm rose and fell due to warps, opposing magnets applied a relational damping force countering warp resonances.

The price was high ($125.00, or $1,100.00 in today's money), and not a commercial success; however, twenty years later, cottage manufacturer of interesting hi-fi related things, Sao Win, got hold of some NOS arms, rebranded them as the SDA-10 tonearm, and fitted them to his SDC-10 record player. I don't know if Dr. Win had anything to do with the design of the original tonearm (by the mid '80s his stock of Castagni had evidently run out, and as a replacement he had designed a zero tracking pantograph arm, but I have no information about that other than word of mouth).

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