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Bang & Olufsen SP12/SP14 MI Cartridges

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Bang & Olufsen SP12/SP14 MI Cartridges

Postby Blue Angel » 25 Jan 2009 14:38

Hello

Back in the 70's, I used a Beogram 1000 turntable with cloth strap suspension and its own B&O arm which took those cool looking moving iron 'bullet' plug-in carts.

This little 'table soon made space for something else and I sold it recently but kept the cartridge which I had bought new, together with its SP12 and SP14 needles as it looked cool and well-made.

I vaguely remember I bought the SP14 needle from the local agents as I needed something to play my 78's and this was which was recommended.

I recently bought a Garrard cream turnover headshell from which the ceramic cart had been removed and had an earlier 4-pin B&O 'bullet' cartridge very professionally fitted inside on two brass risers.

The cart itself had a metal bracket fitted over the pins, in order to make it suitable for fitting inside the Garrard 'shell and as mentioned, wired very professionally for mono.

So, tantalisingly, I came close to hearing another take on someone else's mono 78rpm sound, except the needle, suspension and 'moving micro cross' armature was missing.

A further problem was discovered in that one channel was o/c. So that put paid to my idea of replacing the Shure SC35C cart with the B&O getup.

All the same, I scratched-around in my odds 'n ends bin and amazingly found the little black part which fits inside over the four magnet poles, plus a m/i armature to go with it. A sturdy piece of suspension rubber was found to punch for the armature and this I fitted with a needle suitable for 78rpm. So, the whole caboodle has been rebuilt except for the o/c channel.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to fix this immediately and I'm leaving it for now.

Since I have not heard my more modern B&O 'bullet' cartridge for almost 30 years , my attention was drawn to the B&O metal mounting bracket fitted to the older cartridge.

So, while I'm thinking of how to repair the older cart, I decided to remove the mounting bracket from that and fit it to the newer 'bullet'.

This pin configuration was the opposite to the older cart and I had to re-mill two extra holes in order to turn the cart the right way down.

The older cart's stylus holder had a chamfered section ground away to make it fit the bracket and I also had to do this with the newer cart's front section and decided to do it on the one marked SP14.

It is evident that the bloke at the sound shop who recommended the SP14 for 78rpm thirty years ago either didn't know much or otherwise saw me for the inexperienced wannabe hifi sucker I was, at the time.

Since I don't have the specs for both the SP12 and SP14 needles any more and it looks to me the suspension on the SP14 is far too compliant for 78rpm, will anyone here have any experience of playing with these and what you thought of them?

At best, I have some pieces of B&O retro-cool and I will soon fix it to a headshell for trying out some mono lps.

blue
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Postby delcam1n0 » 25 Jan 2009 16:33

Blue,

You can find a great deal of info re B&O carts
at: http://www.beoworld.org/prod_details.asp?pid=710

That side illustrates the first SP 1/2 cart: SP1 was supplied
with bracket for 1/4inch mounting, the SP2 one went
straight into the ST/L arm which was fitted to the B'gram
1000 TT. "For either replacement 12, 17, 25 and 75
micron styli could be bought to play 78's" (beoworld info)

BTW: The later SP10,12,14 were _not_ recommended
for that old ST/L arm, as their compliance was far too high for
use in that earlier arm (See SP10/12 info in VE library)

The TD124 our family/me owned was first fitted with an ST/L
arm and some SP2 carts with 33/78 tips, only to be replaced by
a 3012/V15II once the original B&O cart had a major accident....

If the bracket now fitted to your Garrard arm has the B&O logo
embossed on it it probably was the genuine article: An SP2
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Postby Blue Angel » 25 Jan 2009 18:56

Hello Jos

Thks for the useful info. Yes, the bracket was the real thing with the B&O logo. Chromeplated steel and nicely made, too except the actual contact area to h/shell is very small. I really would have liked to hear the one you id'ed as I'm sure it could only have been an SP2. It looks the same as my SP12A/14 versions but the finish is rougher.

I've got it installed in a Micro h/shell on my BL-51 and listened to some Nat King Cole monos earlier. As the SP14 seems to be radial, there was more surface noise on an otherwise dead-silent record playing at 1.3g. The sound is dated but still pleasant.

I've taken some pics before the transplant from the Garrard 'shell and the reinstall on the Micro arm which I will send later. Gotta wash my dirty car before dark.

I don't know what happened :oops: Suddenly I'm all for retro 50's/60's :?

Cheers

blue
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Postby stiften » 25 Jan 2009 20:21

Hi.

I use (among other carts) B&O SP cartridges for mono/shellac.

They are mostly fitted with retipped styli from Expert Stylus England.

I have 15µ, 25µ 65µ, 75µ, 90µ and 110µ spherical truncated most of them.

Very nice indeed - a bit more neutral to my ear than Stanton. The turntable are mostly TD-124 and Ortofon tonearm. I started out with G42 and Beogram 1000 and found the ½" carts for my styli later.

http://home6.inet.tele.dk/pedipsen/Audio/soeges1.JPG

Yours Henrik.
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Bang & Olufsen SP12/SP14 MI Cartridges

Postby Blue Angel » 25 Jan 2009 21:38

Hello Henrik

That's exactly what I have. I'm using the carts on my BL-51 and Micro arm for now but will probably transfer it later to one of my 301's. I may even take out my sme 3012 from the mothballs as these carts look too cool and I rather like their sound as a change from the customary mc sound.

Thanks for your pics.

Regards

Andre
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Postby fantasia » 26 Jan 2009 00:46

well blue angel,

you continue to amaze with your inginuity!!!!!!!!

i get the B and O you are talking about now!!!!!!!
the height of my stylii surgery has been taking whole assemplies for one of the same type and refitting them to another.

i have a project which i will do soon transplanting an AT8008 line contact that has shattered ( UV sun damaged) the platic holder and grafting it into a cheap at 3472 c conical holder it will give me line contact stylus which is nude!!!!

Great Work Blue Angel
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Postby Ken Arroyo » 01 Aug 2009 04:24

I just got a B&O SP2. How does one change the stylus on this thing?
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Postby Blue Angel » 01 Aug 2009 10:53

Hi

There should be a domed, slotted screw underneath. If you loosen it by 1/2 turn, the stylus part pulls off.

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Postby LPfan » 01 Aug 2009 11:20

Hi all!

A few months ago I picked up a SP6 from the flea market. As I was not sure about the condition of the stylus, ordered a new (generic) stylus for this. Since the past few weeks I have been wondering about devising some sort of bracket to fix this cart in ½ inch mount headshells. Thanks to this post I am now sure about the type of bracket that has to be made.

Also, can I test this cart with a digital multimeter? I regularly check my other MM carts, but not sure if it is OK to check MI.

Greetings from Mumbai,

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Postby Blue Angel » 01 Aug 2009 15:30

Hi LPFan

Yes, you can! You will get a high reading due to the large coils. I think you should try and get one of those test records - perhaps off the bay. These will tell you far more about your cart's health.

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Postby Paladin » 03 Aug 2009 01:22

Saying the word Bang & Olufsen on other forums and it will generate many negative opinions. I can't help but think that some of the B&O bashers do it because they are a lot braver when hiding behind a few opinionated. I don’t know about the general quality of the rest of B&O equipment but I truly believe their moving-iron cartridges went in a different direction making them unique, easy on the soul, and perhaps best of the best at the time. I hope no one minds if I throw in a picture of what they looked like.

Image

You know what they sound like. They are rather rare to find now. I got my first one in the late ‘60s and was so happy with it that I bought a second one 10 years later. You can see there are two models- the standard mount and one just for B&O turntables. The stylus fits either model and that is what I want. Unfortunately the SP15 has a permanent stylus.


Image

The SP12 has the elliptical tip and the SP14 is spherical. They introduced to the world the 15-degree stylus angle, which became a standard for decades. The unique late ‘50s design has an interesting feature not share by others. Internally are four arms of the micro-cross beam close to the four coils. The movement in the plane of either 45'/45' groove modulation will induce twin opposing signals, a push-pull configuration. Like Isobaric loudspeakers, the configuration helps to reduce distortion. The stylus-can tapers to a thick transparent cover protecting the beam and allows the user to see the stylus as it is placed on a record.

I see replacement styluses have leapt to the $230 mark now. Sigh.

I just tested the coil resistance. One the standard mount it is 1556 & 1568-ohms. The proprietary mount is 1499 & 1504-ohms.


I’d say they are full range cartridges. Many cartridges are biased in the bass or the treble but this one sits on the neutral fence. They are quite capable of giving minimum accent to the sound. Looking at the information given and the square wave test, they are very high compliance cartridges with strong low frequency. The push-pull damping gives deep yet controlled bass. They perform strongly in the midrange vocals yet has a smooth highs that won’t get crushed on the ceiling. It is a charming cartridge with lots of detail.

I impressions I get is they sound deep and clear. With CD sound ingrained, these might not be the popular flavored teas. The bass is clean and full-bodied. Transient attacks are sharp. Separation is good and there is no tendency for the stereo image to wander. Without an accent on the highs noisy records are quiet. It has never had a problem with vertical or horizontal tracking as long as a lightweight tonearm is used.


I hope I can figure out how to get the specs. If I don’t then you will get two longer ones.
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Postby daveobieone » 03 Aug 2009 02:40

Wow Paladin...thanks for the beautiful photo!

I'd agree, the cartridges were a cut above their turntables.

I have an SP12 with an extra SP14 stylus that are both in very good shape...but I didn't save the pretty packing. I did (thankfully) save the little clear bullet shaped covers for them however.

I should probably mount the B&O up, and see how it compairs with what I'm listening to these days (mostly the 881S mkII).

As I recall, it gave very nice detail...and sounded smooth and even across the spectrum. I do recall that it took pushing the VTF up to 1.5g or so to get it clean on hotly modulated HF material. But on stuff that wasn't over-cut at the high-end, it was a pleasure to listen to.

I remember it sounding clearer (to my ears at least) at high frequencies than the 681eee that it replaced on my table...but the 681 was pretty worn out when I retired it.

Thanks again for the memories,
Dave O.
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Postby Paladin » 03 Aug 2009 06:08

I’m glad you like the picture. It looked better but the JPEG compression squeezed out the life of the picture like CDs do to music. You need to hook up the cartridge and have fun! I’m doing Abraxas at 1.0 gram right now. You have me curious- I should pop on my 681EE tomorrow and compare.

Too bad the public never really found these cartridges as they really are worth running. But the replacement tip prices…yuck! The SP12 was only $70 in 1971! Hmm…reminds me of the prices of Shure V15 III and their tips. Might have a classic here.

Image

The shape of the nose makes it hard to get a frontal view but this picture shows how nicely shaped the tips are.

Want specs? Got ‘em I think.

Image

Image
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Postby Blue Angel » 03 Aug 2009 09:41

Thanks for the nice pics and data Paladin.

I bought two of those cartridges somewhere in the early 70's and still have their original packaging and data sheets somewhere. I bought them from a place in central Cape Town called Radio TV Holscher (umlaut on the "o"). They were very expensive at the time and were intended for a little B&O Beogram 1000 turntable which had an ingeneous cloth strap suspension. I still have the needles which I seldomly used as my first Garrard 301 came along shortly afterwards.

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Postby fantasia » 03 Aug 2009 16:18

Hi Paladin,

I have sent you a "PM" about Band O please have a Look!!!!!!!

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