Some days ago i bought a second-hand Deutsche Grammophon recording of Holst's "The Planets". When played by my N97xE-stylus equipped Shure, at the typical 1.25g VTF setup (which sounds pretty neat with records in good shape), it sounded noticeably distorted on the loud passages, which clearly indicated this record was damaged by a previous cartridge (mistracking cartridge and/or worn needle.) Needless to say, this despite repeated cleaning.
I was about to throw the record to the trash until i suddenly had an idea. I installed my Audio-Technica AT11 cartridge, equipped with a conical that tracks at 3-5gr tracking force. The theory says that this VTF would indent (or flex) the stylus with more force, thus increasing the contact surface and thus lessening the influence of the damaged areas of the vinyl groove. I set the cartridge at 4g VTF which is supposed to be still within safe limits for a 0.7mil conical.
And yes, it worked!!
The record suddendly sounded good again; no bothersome distortion, not even on the inner grooves, if i recall correctly!! Thus i could enjoy the record. I attached a post it note that read "Use 4g VTF" on the record.
I tried other 4 or 5 records that were about to be thrown away because of groove damage, and, while most of them still played bad, one of them also started to sound pretty fine when played with the 4g VTF cartridge. So 2 records were rescued from death!
Moreover, the AT11 cartridge exhibited very good overall sound quality, particularly the bass. The bass was strong, clean and well defined, and i can't help but think that the very low compliance / high VTF combination has helped a lot. Arm was my modded L75 arm. I still haven't examined the resonance freq of the system with the AT11.Bottom line?
I really recommend having a heavy-tracking cartridge in stock! The AT11
(with the 'red' AT stylus), or the Shure SC35C
(4-5g VTF) would fit the bill perfectly. Also some good DJ cartridges such as the ATP-2XN
. Those three cartridges always get very good reviews sound quality wise.
I wouldn't recommend the M44 series because the cantilever is way too massive compared to the one on the SC35C. Another interesting fact is that the SC35C has 425mH inductance, lower than any other Shure cartridge in production, and an identical inductance figure to the V15-VxMR !!