Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

the thin end of the wedge
SchillerM
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Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by SchillerM » 07 Jul 2019 20:19

*Disclaimer* I am new to all of this, so please forgive any ignorant comments...

As part of my SP-25 system it has a Stanton 681 on it, they stylus has a circle on it where some would say EEE or have an oval. A month or so ago when I was researching I believe I determined it was an EE.

Anyways, I borrowed an Ortofon Concorde Club just for fun and was blown away with how much better sounding it is. I usually have a hard time doing A/B comparisons but this was drastic. The 681 sounds, for lack of knowing proper terms, compressed. It has detail, but lacks range.

I believe the 681 is, essentially, NOS or very very little use if not, I am guessing from early-mid 80s. I don't have a microscope to look at it in detail, but visual inspection and phone shots it doesn't look messed up. I did buy a cheapie scale and set the weight, even played with more and less pressure, noticed no difference. Is there something I can do to see if it's healthy or not?

So I will be needing to return the Concorde and buying something. I am hesitant to just get a new stylus for the 681 unless I can find an issue with the one I have, but since it seems to be a well loved cartridge I am open to it. Not necessarily a fan of the Concorde look so wouldn't likely buy one for my setup.

Budget would be in the $150ish range. Most of our listening is Classic Rock, Punk, etc. Ortofon 2M Red Plug and Play, Grado Prestige (few color options), or ???


*Disclaimer 2* Sorry, not a well structured post, written while watching World Cup with little sleep.

Solist
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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by Solist » 08 Jul 2019 12:12

Old cartridges, even NOS can suffer from the cantilever suspension getting hard. If you hear no distortion, that means the needle is probably still fine. If you are using the brush you need to add another 1g of vtf to compensate.

You could try and give it some time to open up. There is a lot written about the 681 and most users are really happy with it. The prices for this cartridge went up drastically in the last couple of years.

You could also try and clean the tip or inspect it with a good magnifying glass. There are also a lot of affordable electronic microscopes floating around the internet, for the same price of a good magnifying glass.

There was also a thread this week here on VE, about an affordable replacement needle which got a great review.

By sp25 you mean the Garrard turntable? It could also be that the 681 is not a good match for that tonearm/cables/phono stage.

But it might just be that you prefer the sound of the concorde. There will never be a clear winner when it comes to cartridges.

AudioFeline
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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by AudioFeline » 08 Jul 2019 14:26

Solist wrote:
08 Jul 2019 12:12
...There was also a thread this week here on VE, about an affordable replacement needle which got a great review...
I believe this would be the thread you are referring to:
https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 9&t=112823

Solist
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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by Solist » 08 Jul 2019 14:36

AudioFeline wrote:
08 Jul 2019 14:26
Solist wrote:
08 Jul 2019 12:12
...There was also a thread this week here on VE, about an affordable replacement needle which got a great review...
I believe this would be the thread you are referring to:
https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 9&t=112823
Yep, that is the one :)

I was on my phone, so I had trouble linking the thread.

BMRR
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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by BMRR » 08 Jul 2019 15:45

SchillerM wrote:
07 Jul 2019 20:19
...they stylus has a circle on it where some would say EEE or have an oval. A month or so ago when I was researching I believe I determined it was an EE.
Can you please post pictures of the stylus?

If it has a circle on it, that would traditionally indicate a spherical diamond, and therefore not an EE or EEE. Stanton's spherical styli for the 680 series typically require a higher VTF than their EE or EEE styli.

mamakasou
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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by mamakasou » 08 Jul 2019 21:37

Correct.
As BMRR points out, ellipse for ellipticals, sphere for sphericals.

Usually, those spherical needs around 3 grams (or more) to sing.
Less VTF could mean poor tracking=distortion!

62vauxhall
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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by 62vauxhall » 09 Jul 2019 01:19

Agreed it's a spherical (aka conical) if a circle is depicted. Nothing wrong with that but it must track heavier than an eliptical EE or EEE.

I believe that stylus / cartridge combo would be considered DJ or broadcast worthy.

It does likely need 3 to 5 grams. I track my Stanton 500 D5 stylus at 3 and it's happy there.

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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by BMRR » 09 Jul 2019 01:39

One of the variations on the 680 series was the 681A. This was one of their professional cartridges primarily marketed to studios and record labels. The accompanying stylus, model number D6807A, had a .7mil spherical diamond and was designed to track between 1.5g and 3g.

The D6807A stylus has a circle on it where the ellipse (oval) would normally be.

If you had one of those styli today, it would likely be a bit stiff from age and would probably need to be set at the high end of the range, 3g, in order to track properly.

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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by KentT » 09 Jul 2019 03:56

In the SP-25, you need a 680 AL, heavy duty. The arm can't handle better styli for this. 2.5-3 grams the realistic lightest this will track at.

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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by psemeraro » 09 Jul 2019 05:44

The Stanton 681 "A" stylus (silver circle) is an outstanding stylus - unfussy, sounds extremely "even handed" and plays everything well. Vocals in particular seem to "pop" just a bit and its easy to see how it was a great stylus for radio or record labels. That Stanton family really needs the right system environment to sound its best and has a particular sound in the midrange that other cartridges cannot duplicate. At its worst, it can sound slow, stuffy, and dull. We know nothing about the condition of your particular example. The Ortofon Concorde is a very different beast and its "tone" is much brighter and more lit up than the Stanton 680. If the Ortofon Concorde sounds much "better" on your system then that's the answer of which way you should go. An Ortofon "Omega" is available new for the price of a few pizzas and will give you that sound you like. The "Arkiv" stylus (if you need a heavier tracker) cost about $35, is available on Amazon, and tracking around 3.5 grams gives a very wide and clear sound field along with being nearly indestructible. Investing your time, money and emotions in a decades old Stanton moving iron cartridge, shopping for deteriorated, unobtanium original (or even worse hit or miss aftermarket) styli is a commitment that might not make sense for you.

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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by mamakasou » 09 Jul 2019 08:44

What BMRR, KenT anb Pat say!

SchillerM
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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by SchillerM » 10 Jul 2019 03:15

Thanks everyone!
It does appear to be the 681A, pic attached, not sure how I missed that in my research. I had read that the EEE and EE were serialized and got stuck on that. Were others serialized as well or was stylus replaced?

Last night I played with the VTF, ran between 1.5-4.5 and never found a sweet spot.
I think I will go with a different cart for now. If the bug continues I am sure I will get back to the 681 with a new stylus.

I had not realized there was more than one SP25. Mine is a Technics version from a radio station, it appears either unused or minimal use. Definitely not used by a DJ, seen what they can do to these and this one is nearly mint still.

Thanks again for the replies. I am surprised at the variables in all of this so far. Comparing a Schiit Mani and Bellari VP549 and, while not as drastic as the cartridge difference, the sound between the two is noticeable, I prefer the Bellari BTW.

Matt
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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by AudioFeline » 10 Jul 2019 06:06

The cart might not be suited to your arm (compliance matching, others here may be able to comment if you let us know what arm you're using). I believe the 681 is a good cart in the right system. I hope you find a cart that works for you.

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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by BMRR » 10 Jul 2019 16:35

In the case of the 681, a match or mismatch with the tonearm is entirely dependent on which stylus you're using. Styli for the 680 series range from very high compliance to very low compliance. The 681A stylus is medium-low and should be a good match for most broadcast tonearms typically used with the SP25 (such as SchillerM's ATP-12 tonearm, which he listed in his forum signature), but his particular stylus is probably either worn out, stiff from age, or both. The body is probably perfectly fine and would likely perform much better with a new/different stylus.

SchillerM, if you're still interested in experimenting with this cartridge (and btw all of the classic 681 bodies from the New York era had serial numbers, whether it was a 681A, 681EEE-S, etc; eventually Stanton stopped doing that at some point after they moved to Florida), I'd suggest trying one of the following JICO styli:

JICO D6807A — spherical diamond, tracks at 3g-5g (basically the same as the stylus you have now, except that it should work properly and sound very good):

https://www.jico-stylus.com/product_inf ... s3v3bhot05


JICO D6800EL — elliptical diamond, tracks at 3g-5g:

https://www.jico-stylus.com/product_inf ... s3v3bhot05


JICO D6800EE — elliptical diamond, tracks at 1.5g to 2.5g:

https://www.jico-stylus.com/product_inf ... s3v3bhot05


Or if you want to try an entirely new cartridge/stylus, here are some that would match well with your ATP-12 tonearm and are known for having great sound quality:

Audio-Technica AT-XP3:

https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-A ... way&sr=8-1


Audio-Technica AT-XP7:

https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-A ... way&sr=8-1


Stanton 750:

https://www.amazon.com/Stanton-750-DJ-T ... way&sr=8-1


Grado DJ200:

https://www.needledoctor.com/Grado-DJ200-Cartridge

jdjohn
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Re: Stanton 681EE (?) Disappointment & Recommendation help

Post by jdjohn » 10 Jul 2019 17:21

The SP-25 I recently picked up has the same base, ATP-12T arm, headshell, and also came with that same Stanton cartridge. The tt came from a studio that the seller had purchased. The stylus got damaged (by me) in moving it, so I tried a few other cartridges with it. That arm can handle higher compliance cartridges just fine IME, but without an anti-skate adjustment, a heavier tracker is probably better. Right now, I've mounted an AT-OC9/III set a 2g VTF.

Schiller, I don't know if this SP-25 is a starter turntable for you (since you said you're new to all this), but it's a nice one! I found a guy on eBay who makes cue lifters for the ATP-12T arm, but he only makes them in batches and doesn't have any currently available. I'm going to check back with him in about a month, so let me know if you're interested in getting one.

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