JICO rates stylus wear

the thin end of the wedge
Guest

Post by Guest » 09 Feb 2011 13:04

Based on what was posted here by way of suggestion as to what Jico's test might, be, here's a scale diagram that shows the extent of oblate curvature required on a 4um radius to obtain 5% distortion at 15kHz (-10dB ref 0dB@1Khz =5.6cm/s), 33rpm, 15cm radius) :

16412
click to enlarge

The principal radius here is 4um, oblate radius 6.5um, oblate arc +/-20 deg. You can see, this is quite a tiny oblate shape.

What seems obviously wrong here is that the supposed test condition to generate 5% harmonic distortion, 15KHz@-10dB, is an unrealistically high level. It is red hot, and would never occur in programme material. Not even at the end of Sgt Pepper ! It represents 12.6cm/s, 1717G acceleration, and 19 degrees of groove angle.

Even with this shape minor radius, a stylus would generate only c 0.6% distortion at 5kHz (-10dB, same conditions). Versus c 0.4% for a 4um radius, no oblate.

And at 5kHz, -10dB is a pretty hot level. Furthermore, at 0.6% versus 0.4% harmonic distortion after 500 hours, these are debatably inaudible differences. And likely swamped by other geometric effects like alignment tolerance.

There's also the issue of how accurate an original stylus lapped radius can ever be made...........

So I remain quite skeptical about accepting the Jico sentence at face value. Also other content posted on this thread as to wear performance of other stylii. There may be measurable changes, but how that maps on to audible performance in listening is at issue. What is still needed is the definition of Jico's, or any other, measurement method for wear versus distortion, IMO.

Bebé Tonto

Post by Bebé Tonto » 09 Feb 2011 18:02

ld wrote: What seems obviously wrong here is that the supposed test condition to generate 5% harmonic distortion, 15KHz@-10dB, is an unrealistically high level. It is red hot, and would never occur in programme material. Not even at the end of Sgt Pepper ! It represents 12.6cm/s, 1717G acceleration, and 19 degrees of groove angle.
Plus probably it can't be traced correctly by many cartridges due to the very low effective tip mass required to track >1700 G correctly.

Guest

Post by Guest » 09 Feb 2011 19:14

Perhaps this is a better diagram to illustrate how little wear is at issue to cause a shift in distortion from 3% to 5% in the test conditions as suggested. It shows, to scale, a full 18um dimension across the groove, as would be a section through a ML stylus of minor radius 4um, worn to a curvature of 6.5 um radius in a +/- 20 degree arc. The deviation from a 4um arc is sufficient to shift distortion from 3% to 5% in the conditions of the tests suggested.

16416

We are talking small ! This is still a very viable, low distortion stylus profile in my book. Surely there's some mistake !

desktop
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Post by desktop » 09 Feb 2011 22:04

Thank you ld. Given the very unusual profile of the SAS stylus (a very narrow diamond shaped profile from the top view, and this narrow diamond is turned with the long axis set perpendicular to the groove so the "sharpest" edges touch the groove, much like the Ortofon replicants), and JICO claims this design is the longest lasting high end stylus profile they could design, is it possible that they round the edges of this stylus to some degree so it remains a constant 0.4 mil, but the surface of that edge becomes abraded and this roughness is the cause of the distortion, or even the unbalanced wear that almost always occurs is the cause? In other words, in an effort to make a stylus that will meet spec for 500 hours, and would be useful for playback for hundreds of hours more for customers who might not be able to change their styli immediately, could the wear factor manifest itself as increased distortion on highly modulated passages?

I had never seen such a pessimistic usage rating like JICO's 500 hrs, for a cartridge stylus listed in the last 40 years, although worse ratings were common in the 50s and 60s until companies like Shure and Stanton started dominating the business with magnetic cartridges. Those companies were totally loathe to saying anything except "this stylus should last for 1000 hours in normal use". JICO sells allot of styli, the SAS stylus sounds good, and so I have to assume they know what they are doing. But the average consumer is going to see a 500 hour life vs $117 cost plus shipping and work the cost of usage out to $0.25 hour.

If this is really the absolute worst case scenario for the SAS stylus then JICO should say that, along with "your results may vary". There may be some consumers who will buy more styli when their 500 hour benchmark has been reached, but I don't know if that is worth discouraging many others from trying the stylus. I do know that JICO does claim that their SAS stylus design is much different from other high end styli like VdH1, Gyger1, ML etc. Unless there was a blueprint of the design, available to researchers, it will be difficult to determine why the JICO rating is so conservative.

As far as "hot" records are concerned, some less mentioned like London Record's version of Verdi's Requiem, the direct to disc Buddy Rich Band and some of the over modulated jazz pieces done on Sing records in Denmark are extreme tests of cartridge tracking. I sometimes think that the Ortofon cutters being used for many of the Sing discs were often going into the -10 to -3 range of level. A really well prepped and broken in cutter from Ortofon or Studer COULD cut some grooves over 0db level. When computer tape testing and cutter groove width automation became common using computer analysis, those kinds of cutting levels stopped happening, but some older discs could make the stylus jump right out of the groove.

Using a Rock turntable has made me forget that such things used to happen. The tonearm is held in place so well on a Rock TT that even if the stylus had tracking trouble, it would stay in that same groove instead of jumping into an adjacent groove, because skating force used to cause inward tonearm travel if the stylus lost contact with the groove. The Verdi Requiem is a very difficult test because some passages are so quiet that they have to be boosted to keep the performers from getting buried in the noise floor. Other passages included both a full blast 20 ft diameter drum AND multiple 3-4 foot diameter crashing cymbals close mic'd, PLUS a huge chorus (maybe 100+ strong) singing loud (almost screaming, because remember, this is a huge lamentation for the dead). I think the conductor was Georg Solti and the orchestra was the Chicago Symphony.

On really good loudspeakers, and having sufficient amplifier power to have smooth, non-clipping headroom, it was often painful to listen to 99% of the phono cartridges available trying to track this Requiem, until the 80s. Even Shures would not track this disc cleanly. Eventually the Dynavector 100D and 23R were able to do a decent job on this disc (it's a multiple disc set, but one side of one disc was an absolute terror). Boron cantilevers helped because of the low mass and I think I used a Nagaoka MP-50 to track this disc when I was on the road selling loudspeakers and store salespeople asked to use this disc as a demo during sales training. Even so, the disc could sometimes make the stylus jump out of the groove.

I have also wondered how JICO decided on exactly the design and profile they would have "cut" into the SAS stylus tip. The simplest way would have been to test a variety of other high end styli for various given time periods (like 20 hours, 50 hours, 100 hours, 200 hours etc.) using normal musical discs that were clean, but might have been played dozens or even hundreds of times previously (a broad sample of actual items in the market). Then the test results for all of these stylus using a high quality disc like the NHK test disc for radio stations, could be used to measure distortions. Using this data would then let JICO test their own SAS stylus design(s?) until their stylus kept within spec longer than most of the widely available competitors. This would imply that most of the other styli out in the market now perform WORSE than the SAS. That makes the SAS general usage rating of 500 hours much more of a statement than it would seem at first glance.

I do like the way JICO has been totally open about how they assemble every single stylus they make and sell (except for NO stock styli that they label as such in their descriptions). Considering how forthcoming they are about, the styli they make, their 500 hour rating of their best "wear-resistant" stylus carries even more weight. Obviously if they based their wear rating on a 1% distortion level, or the distortion at 25KHz, or some other unimportant concept, then a 500 hr rating would only be shooting themselves in the foot if it makes buyers unsure about buying.

On the other hand, I would appreciate it if the VE member who has access to a scanning electron microscope (or a shadow profile analyzer) or any other microscope capable of 1000x views with good depth of field, would look at his own styli after they have been used for specific periods of time and let us know what he sees. The problem with soon-to-arrive 500x stereo microscope is that it is difficult to make jpgs that are meaningful because they aren't reproducible in stereo.

Bebé Tonto

Post by Bebé Tonto » 09 Feb 2011 22:20

desktop wrote:I do know that JICO does claim that their SAS stylus design is much different from other high end styli like VdH1, Gyger1, ML etc.
The SAS is identical to the MicroLine, and i'm 99% sure it's identical to Shure's MicroRidge.

It is different to Van Den Hul I and II, which are similar to Fritz Gyger I.

It is more similar to the Fritz Gyger "S".
desktop wrote: Unless there was a blueprint of the design, available to researchers, it will be difficult to determine why the JICO rating is so conservative.
Well, there is a blueprint of the design. Any time someone asks about such stylus tip shapes, i refer them to my thread called "Advanced stylus shapes".

On that thread there is the US Patent number for the Namiki tip. (the SAS)

If you read the thread, you'll find it. You should read it, it will surely interest you.

The answer to all this thread is very simple:

1. JICO is very conservative on its stylus life ratings.
2. We don't know their test conditions in enough detail.

Bebé Tonto

Post by Bebé Tonto » 09 Feb 2011 22:25

So, in short, the SAS tip is no mysterious, closely guarded secret:

https://www.vinylengine.com/ve_download ... patent.pdf

No secret stylus tip shape. No conspiracy on stylus tip life.

Also, by the way, the stylus tip never gets hot.

desktop
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Post by desktop » 10 Feb 2011 17:07

Since JICO is conservative about their stylus tip lifespan, then they have some information about why this is their opinion, and they have some research showing that their SAS stylus does indeed wear enough to be out of spec after 500 hours in some circumstances due to conditions we don't know about at the moment. They wouldn't just pull a number out of the sky to rate the lifespan of their most expensive (flagship) stylus, when it could easily discourage some buyers due to uncertainty. It seems that JICO is logical and reasonable and so they do things for a reason.

Guest

Post by Guest » 11 Feb 2011 00:23

Who knows what is going on? There is precious little fact. In a scant and apparently unsupported statement, Jico imply, despite skinny figures, there is an advantage. Then again, Jico have an interest in selling stylii !

The whole thing is best ignored, IMO. In the absence of tangible fact such as measurement standards and definitions, it's otherwise prone to speculation and uncorroberatable (if interesting!) tidbits, as I see it.

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Nutso JICO

Post by Snead » 11 Feb 2011 01:26

Exactly, LD,

I can't quite understand all of the JICO admiration found here. To me they're a chronic disappointment as far as the construction of 'regular' styli, and for the way they closely guard information.

Consider this-

JICO claims to make styli, "just like the originals". Yet, they don't name the actual size of any of it's ellipticals. Are they .4, .3 or .2x7?

Is the cantilever tapered or telescoped when it should be? They don't say so.

How about effective mass? We're told nothing. Compliance? Nothing again.

If that's not enough, how about their bizarre prices? $17 for a conical, $19-87 for an elliptical, $97-122 for an SAS and $136 for a Stanton Shibata? I can understand price adjustments tied to inflation or currency fluctuation. Instead it looks like they routinely double the price of one stylus when it gets lots of mention on the boards. Are they smoking something?

As for their 'high quality', if you read various message forums you'll quickly find there are quite a few complaints about standard JICO styli, and a few about the SAS as well. One guy has a Youtube vid of his SAS doing badly.

And speaking of the SAS, go ahead, tap "SAS" into the JICO search box. Most of the results are for crazy obscure seldom-seen-outside-Japan cartridges. Yet their website states that they don't sell anything to the Japanese market. :-s

So pardon my skepticism, but I'm unconvinced that the owners of JICO are even rational, much less materially better than Pfanstiehl, Recoton, or the others in the aftermarket trade.

Bebé Tonto

Re: Nutso JICO

Post by Bebé Tonto » 11 Feb 2011 01:46

Snead wrote: If that's not enough, how about their bizarre prices? $17 for a conical, $19-87 for an elliptical, $97-122 for an SAS and $136 for a Stanton Shibata? I can understand price adjustments tied to inflation or currency fluctuation. Instead it looks like they routinely double the price of one stylus when it gets lots of mention on the boards. Are they smoking something?

And speaking of the SAS, go ahead, tap "SAS" into the JICO search box. Most of the results are for crazy obscure seldom-seen-outside-Japan cartridges. Yet their website states that they don't sell anything to the Japanese market. :-s
Let's not be so harsh on JICO please. First of all, their website says they don't sell to the japanese market... because for that JICO has a japanese store (with even more products).

Second, the SAS stylus at $100-130 is a total bargain; you have to spend about $400 or more to get a cartridge with a boron cantilever with a micro-ridge tip.

Third, i find nothing wrong that the price varies widely for a tip, (for example $19 to $87 to an elliptical), because many things change costs:

1. the quality of the construction itself. It is not the same to prepare an elliptical tip to be used in a low end Shure cartridge than to prepare the replacement elliptical for a Shure V15-III, if you want to make sure that your replacement matches the quality of the original.

2. the complexity of the stylus tip assembly; this is different from model to model of stylus

3. the rarity of the stylus. Obviously tips that do not sell so frequently will sport higher prices.

What they DO NEED to do is, for each model, to state clearly:

1. Stylus tip dimensions (radius)
2. Bonded or nude?
3. Cantilever material (and dimensions, if possible)
4. Any other special detail.

Fourth, JICO does make very good replacement styli. The vast majority of users are very satisfied. I've seen macro pictures of some of their stylus and the quality of assembly is very good. The same i cannot say of some Pfansteihl pics i've seen, although i need to see more pics.

Guest

Post by Guest » 11 Feb 2011 09:26

Yes, Jico/SAS has a strong reputation for quality aftermarket stylii. There are lots of very positive reports from satisfied customers here. This thread simply concerns one short Jico marketing sentence, and limitations as to its meaning and interpretation.

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Post by missan » 11 Feb 2011 13:00

Just a speculation, and probobly not even a good one, but let´s say they look at a freq. plot and the deviation new tip contra used tip. Could be referred to as distortion.

My understanding from my contact with Jico, is that all tips but SAS are bonded and that they are limited to, conical, elleptical and Shibata. No more information was given.
missan

Guest

Re: Nutso JICO

Post by Guest » 11 Feb 2011 15:46

Snead wrote:Exactly, LD,

I can't quite understand all of the JICO admiration found here. To me they're a chronic disappointment as far as the construction of 'regular' styli, and for the way they closely guard information.

Consider this-

JICO claims to make styli, "just like the originals". Yet, they don't name the actual size of any of it's ellipticals. Are they .4, .3 or .2x7?
Is the cantilever tapered or telescoped when it should be? They don't say so.

How about effective mass? We're told nothing. Compliance? Nothing again.

If that's not enough, how about their bizarre prices? $17 for a conical, $19-87 for an elliptical, $97-122 for an SAS and $136 for a Stanton Shibata? I can understand price adjustments tied to inflation or currency fluctuation. Instead it looks like they routinely double the price of one stylus when it gets lots of mention on the boards. Are they smoking something?

As for their 'high quality', if you read various message forums you'll quickly find there are quite a few complaints about standard JICO styli, and a few about the SAS as well. One guy has a Youtube vid of his SAS doing badly.

And speaking of the SAS, go ahead, tap "SAS" into the JICO search box. Most of the results are for crazy obscure seldom-seen-outside-Japan cartridges. Yet their website states that they don't sell anything to the Japanese market. :-s

So pardon my skepticism, but I'm unconvinced that the owners of JICO are even rational, much less materially better than Pfanstiehl, Recoton, or the others in the aftermarket trade.
Hi Snead,
I Emailed them asking what the rads were for the M75 ED2 replacement and they did not even bother to reply!!
I think that we should all be just a little cautious about being taken in by the "mystique" that seems to be building up regarding the SAS and the normal replacements.
Regards

dlaloum
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Post by dlaloum » 11 Feb 2011 22:50

I will also support that last comment...

I e-mailed them for information on some needles (styli specs), the only details I got back were for the SAS.

I specifically asked for information on other styli and got nothing back.

Still my N99e stylus performs quite well, and seem well made.
It is not fair to compare it to a SAS...

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Post by cafe latte » 31 Jul 2011 06:51

I revived this old thread as i felt David and i sort of hijacked another thread which I do not wish to do and as it is this topic my feeling was this is the best place for any further discussion. Basically I do not believe that an eliptical is past its best at 150-200 hours. Does anyone have there own pics of hours versus stylus wear?
Regards
CL