Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

the thin end of the wedge
The_Joker48
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Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by The_Joker48 » 28 Feb 2019 12:33

Hello everyone! I'm new to the forum and I'm getting more and more into the fantastic world of vinyl! :D

I recovered my grandpa's vintage Pioneer PL-640 Turntable, that works perfectly. On tonearm is installed the AKG P4 cartridge and stylus. According to my non-expert ear everything seems to sound good, but since the turntable is 1983 dated (and I really believe that cartridge and stylus too), I wanted to ask you experts if it would be appropriate to replace cartridge and stylus even if they work well. A 36 year old cartridge and stylus could ruin the vinyl?

The tracking force for the P4 is between 1 and 2, now is in 1 and work perfectly I do not hear any ''rustle'' or skate.

What do you think about it? Many thanks

Peter Smart
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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by Peter Smart » 28 Feb 2019 14:03

Set the stylus pressure to ca 1.8 grams, to secure best tracking. The AKG is very good for classical music, probably of the best among mm-carts, but not for rock IMO. If it works well you just keep it that way.

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by The_Joker48 » 28 Feb 2019 21:43

Thank you very much for your advices Peter Smart! So you advise me to keep it, even with 36 years old of (light) service?

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by Peter Smart » 01 Mar 2019 15:42

If you are happy with it, you should keep it. If you want a better player it probably will set you some 200$ back at least. If you listen to rock and/or jazz music you can just swap the cartridge to a more suitable one. The AT 91 will suit rythmic music, and is very good value for approximately 12$ on eBay.

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by nat » 05 Mar 2019 00:48

I loved AKGs back in the 70s/80s, but the ones I've come across in the decades since have not been good. The reason the AKGs were absolutely outstanding was directly related to why they didn't age well. The suspension was a piece of thin metal (bronze if memory serves) with a hole through which the cantilever fit and was flexibly sealed in place with a red rubber or elastomer. The thinness of the metal plate and the elastomer coating, and the exactness of the location of the center of motion of the cantilever meant that the imaging of the AKGs was spectacular, and the rest of the design was equally strong. But the thinness of that elastomer meant it aged quickly and got harder, which changed the behavior of the moving system. And not for the better. No.
It is possible that the P4 had a different damper, though I doubt it, but it may be that a heavier tracking cartridge would be less affected by suspension changes than the more delicate models.
If you like the sound, you may be lucky, and the suspension may be just fine. But you should look at the stylus for wear, since you don't know how many hours are on it, or what condition the records played were in.

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by The_Joker48 » 13 Mar 2019 20:10

Many thanks for your reply too! As soon as I can recover a microscope tried to take a look at the stylus.

If this old cartridge is ''worn and ruined'' as you say, Do you think this would only affect the sound quality or could it even ruin the LP?

Moreover, if I decided to take an at91 cartridge (to listen rock music), I could mount on the tonearm the new cartridge + new Headshell ? I'd like to keep the old cartridge and shell joined together...

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by Peter Smart » 14 Mar 2019 08:42

I would also get a new headshell for the AT 91. Then you can swap between different sound. A stylus that is worn out of shape can ruin your LP`s. Take care!

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by The_Joker48 » 14 Mar 2019 21:05

Thank you very much for your answers, I will buy a new cartridge + shell, something more suited to rock.

Do you recommend me all the AT 91 for this purpose? Obviously spending more would give better results, but for this price range does the AT91 remain the best choice?

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by Peter Smart » 15 Mar 2019 08:42

I recommend googling "AT 91 cartridge" and reading the different hifdiforums on the net about this. Some rate it very high, even experienced audiophiles, and you can buy one for approx 10 euros on the bay.

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by Peter Smart » 15 Mar 2019 11:55

The AT 3600 i about the same cartridge as the AT 91. More about it here: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=92203&start=15

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by The_Joker48 » 17 Mar 2019 21:06

Thanks Peter Smart! I have already read several positive opinions about the AT 91, now I will also inquire about the AT 3600, then I will decide.

Thanks again!

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by The_Joker48 » 17 Mar 2019 22:21

I just have another little question: I'm looking for the correct Protractor for my turntable in this page here

https://www.vinylengine.com/protractor-user-guide.shtml

But I admit I can't find it. Could you help me please?

Peter Smart
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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by Peter Smart » 18 Mar 2019 09:57

It is not very critical you use spherical stylus.

Othervise, here is a good option: https://www.thomannmusic.no/ortofon_car ... e9cf3aee86

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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by The_Joker48 » 18 Mar 2019 10:17

Peter Smart wrote:
18 Mar 2019 09:57
It is not very critical you use spherical stylus.

Thank you very much! You mean that with that spherical stylus don't you need to do that method? It would only be sufficient to mount the new headshell without making any adjustments?

Peter Smart
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Re: Vintage AKG P4 cartridge on Pioneer PL-640

Post by Peter Smart » 18 Mar 2019 11:01

You should always take care to get the cartridge in the right position, but with spherical styli you can count on margins. If you set the screws in the middle of the headshell you will be okay, with spherical styli. There is not much to gain in fiddling more with it.

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