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Restoration phono cartridges - Strain Gauge, Dynavector, Ortofon, Denon, etc
Old 29th April 2019
  #1
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Restoration phono cartridges - Strain Gauge, Dynavector, Ortofon, Denon, etc

This may be a fork off of 'What are you using for a phono preamp for restoration work?'

Have you tried the SoundSmith Strain Gauge? Have you tried it against the Dynavector XV-1s/t, the ClearAudio Statement, the AT ART-1000, various Ortofons, etc? Or, have you found something less expensive that's even better?

I'm looking for the ultimate punchy, neutral cart, with flat frequency response and a wide sound stage--nothing "warm", etc.

Thanks.

Last edited by breakinrecords; 29th April 2019 at 08:17 PM..
Old 29th April 2019
  #2
Deleted e999d8e
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A punchy-but-neutral cartridge? Good luck with that. For the most part, I use Stanton 500's or their Pickering equivalents. Dave Lau at Brookwood Studios I believe also uses Stanton cartridges for transfer and restoration work.
Old 29th April 2019
  #3
DAH
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At vm540ml here, transformerless tube phono preamp. BTW, unless we talk shellacs or something equally old, what is the point of restoration? Finding a better copy at discogs looks like a more reasonable solution. Imo, vinyl with its limited DR and surface noise is the "ultimate" medium, that is, it does not tolerate postprocessing as well as digital does.
I have discovered that styli with different profiles have contact with different areas of the groove wall so one might not only find a finest profile stylus, but also have several styli that glide in different groove wall areas to use the best fitting on a per-case basis. Might add some microscope pics if it is suposed to be topic-related.

Last edited by DAH; 29th April 2019 at 09:25 PM..
Old 29th April 2019
  #4
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Paul Gold's Avatar
A Shure V-15 Type whatever or a Stanton 681EEE were the most common reference cartridges in the USA. Neither are made anymore.

If you want to make a good guess as to what was heard at the time as a reference one of those would be a good guess.

I use a Denon 103 regular version as my daily driver. Its an excellent sounding cartridge. I prefer a conical stylus to an elliptical or fine line so the Denon suits me. It's also robust enough to keep on the lathe.

My favorite is an Ortofon SPU. Also an MC with a conical stylus. They are pricey and delicate so I only use it when I think it will help and not gt damaged.
Old 29th April 2019
  #5
DAH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold View Post
A Shure V-15 Type whatever or a Stanton 681EEE were the most common reference cartridges in the USA. Neither are made anymore.

If you want to make a good guess as to what was heard at the time as a reference one of those would be a good guess.

I use a Denon 103 regular version as my daily driver. Its an excellent sounding cartridge. I prefer a conical stylus to an elliptical or fine line so the Denon suits me. It's also robust enough to keep on the lathe.

My favorite is an Ortofon SPU. Also an MC with a conical stylus. They are pricey and delicate so I only use it when I think it will help and not gt damaged.
I am sorry, but I do not see any sense in "faster" / lesser effective moving mass MC carts with inferior in terms of detail retrieval stylus. Granted, the conicals are "pal, do not need any fuss to align me".
And no, it is not a preference thing when archiving/restoring records. Conicals rob you of inforamtion contained in the groove.
Old 29th April 2019
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
I am sorry, but I do not see any sense in "faster" / lesser effective moving mass MC carts with inferior in terms of detail retrieval stylus. Granted, the conicals are "pal, do not need any fuss to align me".
And no, it is not a preference thing when archiving/restoring records. Conicals rob you of inforamtion contained in the groove.
I use my ears. My ears like it better. It sounds closer to lathe input to me than a V15. Does your preference sound more like the source audio? Do you have source audio to compare it to?

It is impossible to recover all the information contained in the groove under any circumstances. You have to choose what is the best compromise.
Old 29th April 2019
  #7
DAH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold View Post
I use my ears. My ears like it better. It sounds closer to lathe input to me than a V15. Does your preference sound more like the source audio? Do you have source audio to compare it to?

It is impossible to recover all the information contained in the groove under any circumstances. You have to choose what is the best compromise.
The lathe, I have not had it nor used it, my bad.
Probably, the fine profile styli just color the reverb tails and make the record sound bigger and deeper.
Old 29th April 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
Probably, the fine profile styli just color the reverb tails and make the record sound bigger and deeper.
I find they add unwanted tracing distortion unless tuned to the specific record. And even then...I much prefer the distortion characteristics of a conical stylus.
Old 29th April 2019
  #9
DAH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold View Post
I find they add unwanted tracing distortion unless tuned to the specific record. And even then...I much prefer the distortion characteristics of a conical stylus.
That may be a point. They are a bi... to align. I basically do not believe carts paint what's not already there, in the grooves, was just saying.
Do you use Loefgren, Baerwald, or Stevenson alignment?
What about the IGD then, with the conicals? Granted the top ones are not that bad.
Old 29th April 2019
  #10
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I'd especially appreciate to hear if someone has tried the SS Strain Gauge and could contrast it against various carts, please.
Old 30th April 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by breakinrecords View Post
I'd especially appreciate to hear if someone has tried the SS Strain Gauge and could contrast it against various carts, please.

I have Panasonic Strain Guage SE 405 setup. It’s a CD4 model. When I auditioned it I didn’t really like it. It was quite bright. Had a unique quality to the sound though. I should really sell that thing.

I’ve never heard a Sound Smith.
Old 30th April 2019
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
Do you use Loefgren, Baerwald, or Stevenson alignment?
I don’t know. I adjust for best lateral geometry at the inner diameter. VTA is adjusted by ear.

Quote:
What about the IGD then, with the conicals? Granted the top ones are not that bad.
What’s an IGD?
Old 30th April 2019
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold View Post
I have Panasonic Strain Guage SE 405 setup. It’s a CD4 model. When I auditioned it I didn’t really like it. It was quite bright. Had a unique quality to the sound though. I should really sell that thing.

I’ve never heard a Sound Smith.
The Panasonics were known to be bright. Strain gauge designs don’t require RIAA equalization. So, their curves may not follow a records’ pre-equalized frequency response.

After the first version of the SoundSmith SG systems, an EQ compensation network was built into their converter boxes to compensate for most records, which typically follow RIAA curves.

Last edited by breakinrecords; 1st May 2019 at 02:16 PM..
Old 30th April 2019
  #14
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The strain guage is a crystal cartridge. Crystal cartridges exhibit a constant amplitude response naturally which is what the RIAA curve does above the turnover frequency.

It’s been a while since I looked at that so I may have some details wrong. The response of the crystal isn’t perfect so could probably be tailored.

The strain gauge biases the cart so it has a direct voltage output. A regular crystal cart has a current output and needs a voltage to current conversion.
Old 30th April 2019
  #15
tkr
Gear Addict
Sorry, never heard a strain gauge.

But if you are looking for something less expensive, put the Audio Technica AT 33 EV on your list. Punches way above its weight class, IMO.
Old 30th April 2019
  #16
Deleted 691ca21
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I love my AT-150 MLX microline stylus/cart, felt no need to upgrade since I got that about five years ago.
Old 30th April 2019
  #17
DAH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold View Post
I don’t know. I adjust for best lateral geometry at the inner diameter. VTA is adjusted by ear.



What’s an IGD?
inner groove distortion
Old 30th April 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
inner groove distortion
With regards to IGD, I've been looking into linear tracking turntable arms--specifically, the Trans-Fi Terminator T3Pro.
Old 30th April 2019
  #19
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Al Rogers's Avatar
 

I tried a Soundsmith cartridge a while back and didn't keep it. Sorry I can't remember which model it was due to a senior moment. I wasn't happy with the build quality or the sound.

Presently I have a Dynavector 20XL2 low output moving coil and an Audio Technica VM740ML moving magnet cartridge. The Audio Technica gets the most play although the Dynavector is my preference for symphonies. For everything else the AT just gets it right. It's an excellent cartridge. I bought it as a backup for my Dynavector cart and wound up finding that I sometimes prefer listening to the AT. I have a feeling I may try looking farther up the Audio Technica line for my next cartridge.

My phono preamp is a Parasound Halo JC3 designed by John Curl. It's been reviewed a lot and is considered one of the good high end phono preamps. IMHO it's a keeper and that's my highest recomendation. You won't hear what a cartridge is capable of without a quality phono pre.

Last edited by Al Rogers; 4th May 2019 at 05:10 PM..
Old 4th May 2019
  #20
I use five different cartridges depending on the condition of the record and the genre of the music. My cartridges are from AT, Shure, Stanton and two from Ortofon.

I just did a transfer of a cracked record and told the client that if I ruined my stylus he would be charged for it if I attempted the transfer. He agreed with my terms. My stylus was destroyed and he had to pay $95 for its replacement.

FWIW
Old 4th May 2019
  #21
DAH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I use five different cartridges depending on the condition of the record and the genre of the music. My cartridges are from AT, Shure, Stanton and two from Ortofon.

I just did a transfer of a cracked record and told the client that if I ruined my stylus he would be charged for it if I attempted the transfer. He agreed with my terms. My stylus was destroyed and he had to pay $95 for its replacement.

FWIW
Was that some ultra-rare record?
Old 4th May 2019
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
Was that some ultra-rare record?
It was for the client. It was a vinyl record of his high school marching band and there were no other copies that he could find.

Literally one of a kind.

FWIW
Old 4th May 2019
  #23
Gear Head
 

shure v15 with the micro ridge tip (vn35mr) best mm cartridge I've personally had, I know people whose opinion I trust who've had cartridges re tipped by sound smith and they rave about the improvements. Anyone had experience with the expensive nagaokas?
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