Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

the thin end of the wedge
rocky01
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Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by rocky01 » 30 Nov 2017 18:59

https://hometheaterhifi.com/reviews/vin ... ge-review/

Posted for your review and comment. The most interesting thing to me is AT finally managed to tame HF tilt. Suddenly, I'm interested.

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by billshurv » 30 Nov 2017 21:41

What HF tilt? Correctly set up and loaded ATs have always been flat as a pancake.

rocky01
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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by rocky01 » 01 Dec 2017 13:58

Most rigs don't have loading options of course

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by themisto462 » 01 Dec 2017 15:39

Hello rocky01,

thanks for sharing the link. The review is very detailed and informative. I only knew a test from a German website so far:

https://translate.google.de/translate?h ... vm540ml%2F

But, what has always irritated me with the new VM cartridges, is the relatively high tracking force of 2 grams for the LC needles. I remember the statement by Jico on the tracking force for the SAS needle, which is well known as the Microline needle:
"... to be sure to use the SAS stylus at the prescribed tracking force of 1.25 ± 0.25g.
Greater force may damage the stylus tip or the record groove, or distorted sound reproduction ...".

Regards.

rocky01
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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by rocky01 » 01 Dec 2017 16:54

AFAIK that has to do with the size of the contact patch. With larger contact patch area higher tracking force is evenly distributed by virtue of the advanced shape of the diamond. It stands to reason the SAS area of contact is smaller.

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by billshurv » 01 Dec 2017 22:30

rocky01 wrote:Most rigs don't have loading options of course
The fact that a large proportion of phono stage manufacturers don't actually understand what they are doing and couldn't even measure their input capacitance correctly isn't audio technica's fault or problem. It's just sad because in their range is possibly the best MMs currently being made and many people have not been able to hear what they can really do.

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by gregor » 02 Dec 2017 07:00

Loading is an issue for most cartridges I suppose, a within range is all well and good but a definitive guide would be great but I would think they would be to exhaustive, I use an AT100E with the 440MLB stylus,my phono stage is a Rega fono mini AD2, 100pf, within range of an AT cartridge, I have on my RP3 the low capaticence cable installed but I don't know the value, then there's the phono cable again I don't know the value,it's a QED £20.00 one but I would imagine it takes it over the 200pf rating but it sounds mighty fine, I think AT should be applauded for making such fine cartridges, I know the new VM range has crept up in price but still competitive with the other guys.

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by rocky01 » 03 Dec 2017 17:48

billshurv wrote: ... It's just sad because in their range is possibly the best MMs currently being made and many people have not been able to hear what they can really do.
Agreed and the author points out AT was capable of producing one of this caliber, accessible to the masses (without loading options) all along. I had a AT440MLa and you had to peel me off the ceiling every time I played it. Someone on eBay got a bargain, depending on their rig.

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by AlwaysAirborne » 03 Dec 2017 19:30

Great review. I'm glad Audio-Technica corrected the high frequency issues and improved compatibility across a wider range of consumer grade amps and turntables. Now that it's a more versatile cart I'm tempted to buy one.

billshurv
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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by billshurv » 03 Dec 2017 22:40

rocky01 wrote:Agreed and the author points out AT was capable of producing one of this caliber, accessible to the masses (without loading options) all along. I had a AT440MLa and you had to peel me off the ceiling every time I played it. Someone on eBay got a bargain, depending on their rig.
Something doesn't stack up. It's a shame they couldn't compare the cartridges on the same setup. They have tried hard with the analysis, but have missed the fact that the phono stage can have a capacitance of up to 500pF above the loading capacitor. I need to go look at the generator specs to see what might actually have changed between the series.

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by billshurv » 04 Dec 2017 00:18

Had a furtle about and the VM540ML IS a lower inductance generator, but not a lot. 460mH vs 490. I can't find data on the ML170 generator so hoping Lini will pop up as he seems to have most of the numbers.

As I am currently collecting MM phono designs to build I actually have 3 on the go and a 4th in planning that will work very nicely with any of the AT range. Once youngest sproglet actually starts sleeping through the night I should be able to start getting these completed and doing some testing. Interestingly you can get superb performance with very low input capacitance from a 1960s design with a few tweaks as used to be used by QUAD.

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by lini » 04 Dec 2017 09:10

Bill: Should be ~ 380 mH for the AT-ML140/150/70(/OCC), ~ 240 mH for the AT-ML180(/OCC).

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by billshurv » 04 Dec 2017 10:04

Thanks Lini. Ok that explains the review's comments on the ML170. Would be interesting to find out from AT what design decisions drove the impedance changes over the years. I still think it is up to the phono stage makes to be able to work with the cartridge but it is interesting that AT would have known that they would have had problems with the higher impedance generators but never said anything or changed back to the lower impedance engine.

TA

Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by TA » 04 Dec 2017 20:11

When it comes to IM distorsion it is dependent on the VTA for vertical IM. It needs to match the VTA used in the recording. Higher VTF means that VTA changes also. For lateral IM I guess it is the lateral tracking angle that needs to be matched. I don't know where on the record these tests are situated, null points?

Another thing, crosstalk differs between test records. I can get anything between -25 dB down to -38 dB depending on the record.

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Re: Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review

Post by patient_ot » 05 Dec 2017 20:37

rocky01 wrote:Most rigs don't have loading options of course
Pretty easy to make up a set of resistive loading plugs. It cost me $25 in parts from Amazon and I didn't even need a soldering iron to do it. Load some of these ATs at 32K or around there and the sound is quite different.

The high frequency brightness people complain about with ATs usually has to with poor system matching and/or too much capacitance. Lowering the capacitance can be a challenge but if you can get a phono pre with 100pf or less and some low capacitance cables you are halfway there. From there you can tune the resistive load with plugs.

I held off using plugs for awhile but was pleasantly surprised at the result.

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