Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

the thin end of the wedge
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PLPFUNK
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Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by PLPFUNK » 05 Mar 2018 21:29

Hi, I'm looking to upgrade the cartridge on my mid 70's PL-50. A friend of mine found it in a clients garage, and she gave it to him for free, my friend, not having any interest in records passed it along to me. Long story short after taking it apart and lubing everything, it works beautifully; I love it.
It still has the stock PC 35 cart, which tracks well, and sounds surprisingly good for what it is, but it definitely could be better at times, particularly at the higher end of the frequency range. I realigned the cart, and that helped but didn't eliminate the distortion at higher frequencies.
I listen to 70's funk and soul almost exclusively, so I'm looking for a warm natural sound. Right now I'm leaning towards the Shure M97xE but have some misgivings concerning reports of spotty quality control, I've also considered the Ortofon 2M Red but I don't want an overly bright sound.
I'm new to selecting carts, and I'm trying to learn as much as possible, any suggestions would be appreaciated.

PLPFUNK
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by PLPFUNK » 05 Mar 2018 23:39

Also curious about the Shure M44-7.

I've been reading, and trying to wrap, my head around capacitive loading, how important is this? I'm using the phono input of my Harman Kardon 3770 amplifier/receiver, so I don't have a way to alter the capacitance as far as I understand.

musicmn
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by musicmn » 06 Mar 2018 00:44

Hi, I just finished servicing and setting up two pioneer pl 50's and one pioneer pl 50A. The two pl 50's originally had old Empire carts on them and I installed brand new Shure M97xe cartridges on them. The Shure M97xe cartridges are very easy to install and set up. They sound great and track great with these tonearms. On the pl 50A turntable it originally had that same pc 35 cartridge and IMO even with a new stylus it sounds pretty bad. I installed a brand new Audio Technics AT 95E cartridge. Again it was easy to install and set up. It also sounds great, the AT cart was just a little bit brighter but it was also more detailed. The tracking was fine and I noticed no distortion with any of these carts. I hope this helps.

katana1100
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by katana1100 » 06 Mar 2018 01:26

The pl50 shipped with a pc35 cart, a pioneer labeled cart . If it sounds bad, you likely have a bad stylus . It is a very, very good sounding cartridge!
Also note that it isn’t your typical conical stylus on it; while most use a .7 diamond, the pc35 uses.5.
As it stands, the pl50 with pc35 will have ideal vta. Toss something else on and who knows?
The pc35 is a short squatty beast, you can try a mc like a dl110, but that’s s tall cart.
Along with my all stock pl50, I have five other tt’s hooked up to my system, got one tt with shure 97 with sas boron stylus and another with AT O9CII, all going through a 100w tube amp to my ESL speakers and that pc35 can hold its own!
Before tossing another cart on there :
1) get a new stylus. I think the pfanstiehls might be relabeled oem( I’d have to look) I have a few afternarkets in storage, along with some new oem ones.
2) it has a fairly high mass arm. I have tried dL 110, liked the pc35 better . Tried the older pioneer plc9 cartridge ,
Liked it a lot( got one in my pl41 along with like 8 oem styli and four aftermarkets)
The pc35 should have a very solid bass, warm sound , I like it with rock, jazz like chuck mangione and vocal rich stuff. It ( maybe because it’s a conical) is very quiet. I have vinyls that make more noise with my fancy fancy micro tips, but they are quiet as a road kill with the pc35.
3) experiment with the anti skating . The pl50 uses magnetic antiskate which is a little funky. Don’t trust the numbers on it, error on the side of not enough a/s and go from there.
Stuff with lots of synth gets a different tt.
I never tried any of my 97 carts on it, never saw the need and I don’t think it would be worthwhile.

PLPFUNK
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by PLPFUNK » 06 Mar 2018 02:02

musicmn,
thank you for your response, I was also considering the AT95E, that is helpful.

katana1100,
You've given me much to think about, I'm not one for spending money or changing things needlessly, and I really do enjoy the way it sounds. Maybe I'll play with the set up some more, thanks for the insight.
Sorry, what is VTA and TT?

katana1100
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by katana1100 » 06 Mar 2018 03:19

Tt- turntable
Vta- vertical tracking angle ( is tone arm end too high or too low?).
But a magic eraser and drop the needle into it to clean it.
Turn the tt upside down, remove the back. You’ll see a round cap on top of a cylinder- remove it. There is a little
plastic disc that is probably broken- that will affect the sound. Get new one off the bay for $12, refill with 30w oil.

katana1100
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by katana1100 » 06 Mar 2018 03:20

Tt- turntable
Vta- vertical tracking angle ( is tone arm end too high or too low?).
But a magic eraser and drop the needle into it to clean it.
Turn the tt upside down, remove the back. You’ll see a round cap on top of a cylinder- remove it. There is a little
plastic disc that is probably broken- that will affect the sound. Get new one off the bay for $12, refill with 30w oil.

PLPFUNK
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by PLPFUNK » 06 Mar 2018 22:19

Thanks for the clarification on those acronyms katana1100.
"There is a little plastic disc that is probably broken" Thanks, when I first got the tt, I took it apart and mine was not broken luckily, but did need oil.

I re-balanced the tone arm as per the manual and discovered that the lateral balance was off. I then adjusted the anti skate to a lower value (as suggested) and touched up the alignment of the cart. Happy to say these adjustments made a noticeable improvement in sound quality.
For now I'm very happy with the sound and I think I will focus on restoring it to function as it was intended to from the factory. That way I'll know what I really have and if I then still see a need for improvement, I'll cross that bridge. I did notice that LPGear caries a replacement stylus for the PC35 cart.
Thank you all for responding, I learned a lot.

katana1100
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by katana1100 » 07 Mar 2018 03:49

If you get a needle, get the EV made one for $18 on that auction site.

PLPFUNK
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by PLPFUNK » 07 Mar 2018 23:27

Strange, the EV made replacement for $18, and all of the other aftermarket replacements list a .7 mil diamond tip, as opposed to the original .5 millimeter diamond tip. Can the OEM stylus still be found anywhere?

katana1100
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by katana1100 » 08 Mar 2018 04:17

Ok, I just looked into my stash of needles. I don’t have an EV so can’t say. I have some pfanstiehel and they differ slightly in the cantalever, so there not repackaged oem. I have used them before and they sounded fine.
I have four brand new in the box oem, but I am a greedy rat and will hang onto them. Every now and then one comes up for sale on the auction site.
Oem comes in a cool little square box with silver metallic tape labeled “pioneer” on it. I think I paid around $20 each for them.
Get a pfanstiehel and keep your eyes open for an oem.
Again, the pfanstiehel sounds good and it’s hard to discern the difference between it and oem. Besides, $19 for a needle is pretty darn cheap.

PLPFUNK
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by PLPFUNK » 08 Mar 2018 20:16

True, for $19 you're not taking a very big chance.
I don't blame you for holding onto the OEM needles, I would do the same, were I in your position. I put a search notification for the OEM PN-35 into the auction site, eventually one will come up for sale I bet.
Thanks

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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by Ghaasl » 10 Mar 2018 03:04

If and when you do upgrade, don’t sleep on the Nagaoka MP-110. I recently installed one on my Pioneer PL-250 and I’m not disappointed in the least. It won’t win any beauty contests, but the sound is exactly what I was wanting.

PLPFUNK
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by PLPFUNK » 11 Mar 2018 19:28

Good to know, I'll keep that in mind.

PLPFUNK
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Re: Cart upgrade for Pioneer PL-50

Post by PLPFUNK » 13 Mar 2018 22:01

Ok, so digging deeper I've discovered that I don't have the stock pc-35 cart on my turntable, it's a Shure M91ED cart with a N-75C needle. Anybody know anything about this cartridge or stylus, how do they compare to the PC-35 cart and N-35 stylus?

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