MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

the thin end of the wedge
vinylvark
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MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by vinylvark » 12 Apr 2019 14:19

Hello,

I've read:
https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 7&start=60

From what I gather the VM760SLC is an upgrade to the 150MLX. has anyone compared them back to back?

But, since my pre-amp has a really good phono stage I was hoping to get a nice MC upgrade to the 150MLX.

What would you suggest? I really like the 150MLX. I tried the Denon 106r but it sounds miserable compared ot the 150, like a blanket over the speakers, muffled and muddy, not nearly as open and airy as the 150MLX.

Love to hear some ideas, thanks!

Luicas
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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by Luicas » 12 Apr 2019 14:45

Honestly, the AT150MLX is practically as good as it gets. A nice and expensive MC *might* give you an edge, but, typically at the expense of a lower signal to noise ratio. 60db of gain is noisier than 40db gain.

I’d recommend, if going the MC route, to consider an appropriate SUT for the cart you choose. And then, you might have to fix hum issues. MC’s pick up hum from TT power supplies and motors, for instance. (Depending on your particular TT)

Again, your AT150MLX is in the top 5% of the food chain, any possible (if any) advantage going with an MC will cost a lot of money.

My $0.02...

Borrowing from someone else: “enjoy the music”.

Luis

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by raphaelmabo » 12 Apr 2019 14:55

Well, the easy answer is to continue with Audio-Technica if you like the sound of what you have but would want to try a MC. The
Audio-Technica AT-OC9/MLIII is one to try. If you are open to something different, then the Hana EL/EH or SL/SH line would offer a little bit more warmth and very musical but without overdoing it. Benz Micro has the Ace S and Micro Glider.

Roberto C2H3
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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by Roberto C2H3 » 12 Apr 2019 15:58

Hola vinylvark :)

I'm presently enjoying an AT 150 MLX myself on my Technics SL 1400 MK2 and have a spare ATN 150 MLX waiting for the one "at bat" to wear off (which I hope won't be for many more hours of delight =D> ).

Given the ridiculous prices asked for new old stock of these items these days, I would recommend looking at the present AT line up for the 150 MLX equivalent (I looked the other day out of curiosity at AT's site and found two options, one seemingly below the 150, and one above - the present top of the line MM for AT).

I'm not sure but its very probable that those two options are compatible with the excellent AT 150 MLX cartridge so you would only have to invest on the stylus.

This is the course I plan to take when my second 150 wears out: Simply get AT's newest and greatest pseudo equivalent and enjoy the music 8) IMO, it would be a better value than investing on a MC cartridge and SUT that would rival, or better, the 150 MLX.

Best from the Pampas,
roberto

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by rewfew » 12 Apr 2019 16:25

Most of us seem to go through a period of upgrade mania. Cartridges seem to be one of the top inducer's of this phenomena. I'm guilty as any. I have the AT MX150 and it's a fine cartridge. But I got the bug to try a bonafied LOMC cartridge. Opportunity came in the form of a great sale on the AT OC9II when their new OC9III came out. I did the SUT thing as well. In retrospect, yes it sounds fine, but the expense of and building the SUT seemed to really not push the boundary much further for what I had anticipated. I'd save yourself a lot of money really. The grass is just as green on the other side.

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by vinylvark » 12 Apr 2019 16:28

Thanks, that was quick!

One of the reasons for getting a new cartridge is because currently, the 150MLX is the only one I have. If it breaks by accident or something (got kids too), I won't have anything. Last night I sold the Denon.

So basically, if the VM760SLC really is a good upgrade, there is no point in getting an MC cartridge and I might as well get that one, use it and store the 150MLX?

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by patient_ot » 12 Apr 2019 16:42

The SLC and MLX are different. The SLC uses a fatter, older style of line contact stylus. AT calls it an "SLC" but this is really just a marketing term. I believe it's actually an Ogura PH profile. They use that on an aluminum cantilever. The MLX has a Namiki Microridge (ML is just a marketing term) mounted on a boron cantilever. It's a different, more advanced profile than the Ogura with a thinner side radius. You can look up the patents on Google patents for Namiki and Ogura and see the differences. In this case, the Ogura + aluminum would be a downgrade in technical terms.

MC is a whole different ball game. AT does make some MC carts with the boron + MR stylus. If you don't have an MC capable preamp system that is up to snuff or you aren't prepared to spend the money for that (usually more expensive than the cart) then I would not bother with MC.

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by rewfew » 12 Apr 2019 16:45

vinylvark wrote:
12 Apr 2019 16:28
So basically, if the VM760SLC really is a good upgrade,
I dunno. For that kind of money? I'd think you could expand your horizon's a little with something cheaper. There was a thread a while back on the Grado Gold II. A prominent member was taken on it being a giant killer. And someone with an extensive line of semi expensive cartridges. MM and MC. I tried a Grado Red, as the Prestige line of Grado's all have the same elliptical stylus. And it is a real good cartridge. I do wish Grado had an upgrade path like Audio Technica does with some of their budget cartridges. But it's still a fine performer for the modest amount spent. It's a moving iron principal cartridge. You really would be trying something different. Just a suggestion. It's your dough.

Luicas
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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by Luicas » 12 Apr 2019 16:46

I'll go out on a limb and say that the VM760SLC is just a money maker for AT. The price markup on this one is for sure very high.

The true performers are the VM740ML and the VM750SH. Soundwise, the VM740ML should be very similar to your MLX. Both being Microline tips. And the VM750SH will give you a slightly different flavor.

IME, nude AT Shibatas sound "fuller" and also track like monsters.

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by Agrippa » 12 Apr 2019 16:49

vinylvark wrote:
12 Apr 2019 14:19
From what I gather the VM760SLC is an upgrade to the 150MLX. has anyone compared them back to back?
I've heard both but I've not done a back-to-back comparison. As far as I'm concerned the 150MLX is pretty much as good as an MM gets (subject to personal preferences, as always) and while the VM760SLC is excellent, to my ears it's not an upgrade for anyone already owning an 150MLX. Personally I like the VM750SH better, just as the 150Sa is my preference from the old line.

As far as an upgrade to MC goes, it's going to cost you. Staying with Audio-Technica, I'd say the cheapest of their MCs which is an unquivocal upgrade to their top-of-the-line MMs is the AT33Sa. So ~$150-300 more than the cost of an 760SLC .

Other than Audio-Technicas offerings, there are a huge number of MCs which (in my opinion) leave the 150MLX in the dust (OK, slight exaggeration there) and of course the sky is the limit as far as price is concerned.

Given that you love the MLX, my suggestion would be to stay with Audio-Technica and pick up an AT33Sa from, for instance, 2juki's eBay shop where it sells for $750.

Alternatively you can get an VMN60SLC (stylus only) as a backup for your 150MLX stylus, but of course you'll be paying almost the same as the cost of a VM760SLC cartridge. A better bet (IMO) would be a VMN50SH for a lot less. Both will fit on the 150 body.

The possibilities are legion, very confusing, very expensive, in no way guaranteed to be to your taste and highly dependent on the quality of your phono stage.

vinylvark
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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by vinylvark » 12 Apr 2019 17:21

There really never is an easy answer is there? :lol:

If it matters, my pre amp is an Emotiva XSP-1 Gen2. I think its phono stage is as good as it gets. I've been able to compare it with much more expensive high end / audiophile pre amps from McIntosh for example. I have the XPA-2 power amp too from Emotiva, driving a pair of Infinity Kappa 7.1. TT is Technics SL-1210.

I might just take the 150MLX to a nice audio shop and do an evening of comparing without committing to anything.

Thanks for the ideas!

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by BMRR » 12 Apr 2019 17:24

The AT OC9ML/II seems like the logical choice here. The original MSRP was $699 but lately they've been selling for around $450-$500. You get the same gold-plated boron cantilever and MicroLine diamond as the 150MLX, but with a top tier MC generator. The VM760SLC is technically a downgrade from the 150MLX, and considering that it costs $200 more than the OC9ML/II, it doesn't seem like a compelling choice here, in my opinion.

TurntableNeedles currently has the OC9ML/II for $423, which is a steal:

https://www.turntableneedles.com/audio- ... _3805.html

Or you can order directly from AT:

https://www.audio-technica.com/cms/cart ... index.html

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by Agrippa » 12 Apr 2019 20:23

vinylvark wrote:
12 Apr 2019 17:21
If it matters, my pre amp is an Emotiva XSP-1 Gen2. I think its phono stage is as good as it gets.
A dangerous statement to make, about anything.
I might just take the 150MLX to a nice audio shop and do an evening of comparing without committing to anything.
If you have the opportunity to do so, I think that's the best possible option. If possible, bring your pre-amp as well.
BMRR wrote:
12 Apr 2019 17:24
The AT OC9ML/II seems like the logical choice here.
I would tend to disagree and consider it a sideways step, rather than a step up. At least I personally don't see any substantive advantages in the ML/II over the 150MLX.

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by patient_ot » 12 Apr 2019 22:05

Luicas wrote:
12 Apr 2019 16:46
I'll go out on a limb and say that the VM760SLC is just a money maker for AT. The price markup on this one is for sure very high.
https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/ ... er.825682/

According to AT the supplier charges more for the SLC and Shibata tips which then gets passed on to the customer. I don't think we'll ever know what the true markup is. In technical terms, they are not superior to the less expensive ML tips.

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Re: MC upgrade for AT 150MLX

Post by BMRR » 13 Apr 2019 15:52

Agrippa wrote:
12 Apr 2019 20:23
BMRR wrote:
12 Apr 2019 17:24
The AT OC9ML/II seems like the logical choice here.
I would tend to disagree and consider it a sideways step, rather than a step up. At least I personally don't see any substantive advantages in the ML/II over the 150MLX.
I'm sure everyone has their own criteria for what constitutes a substantive advantage, which is fine. :)

The two cartridges are nearly identical in terms of channel separation and channel balance — both are excellent. The OC9 has twice the frequency response of the MLX, which may or may not be important to some people. Anecdotal reports from listeners seem to suggest that the OC9 has more "air" and "spaciousness," as one would expect from an LOMC... but the MLX is definitely not lacking in air and spaciousness, so it's up to the individual listener to decide whether they need more of that and whether the OC9 gives them more of that, which depends on the individual's setup.
Agrippa wrote:
12 Apr 2019 16:49
...I'd say the cheapest of their MCs which is an unquivocal upgrade to their top-of-the-line MMs is the AT33Sa.
And yet if we compare the specs of the 33Sa to the OC9ML/II, they're nearly identical: same frequency response, same channel separation, same output. The only difference is that the channel balance is 0.5 dB better, which in all likelihood is imperceptible to most listeners. Is that a substantive difference? Again, it might be for some people, and it might not be for other people.

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