MC: better or just more expensive?

the thin end of the wedge
modmalve
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MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by modmalve » 17 Sep 2019 15:22

Hi,

Do MC carts really sound better than MM/MI designs or are they just more expensive/profitable?

My impression, reading about the history of vinyl playback, is that two distinct paths were emerged:
1) from 1950s until 1970s, direction of travel for audio industry R&D was towards lighter and lighter arms for use with increasingly compliant MM carts [eventually tracking as low as 1 gram] with the goal of improved tracking/fidelity_to_the_master_recording as well as low vinyl record wear,
then, somewhere around 1980,
2) the favoured direction switched to [more expensive,] low compliance MC carts on stiffer, heavier arms, with higher tracking weights, i.e. about 2 grams.

[My observation is there appears to be greater availability of sophisticated profile stylii options on MM carts these days, but I wonder if most are medium to low compliance. Also a side question: has anyone ever published quantified evidence that any increase in record wear at 2 grams VTF is insignificant when compared to 1gram VTF?]

Returning to my initial question, perhaps another way of phrasing it could be:
can a [modestly expensive] MM replay system designed around low mass/high compliance kit sound as good as a [usually] more expensive MC system based on high mass / low compliance kit?

Perhaps there is no simple [yes/no] answer but I'd be interested to hear the views of VE contributors, especially any who have experience of both system types.

Many thanks.

billshurv
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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by billshurv » 17 Sep 2019 16:04

I would stock up on popcorn. This question gets raised regularly (as a search will show) and rarely ends well.

However I can comment on record wear. It's negligable as long as the effective tip mass is under a gram and tracking weight under 3g. This was measured in the 60s. Shure tried to make wear due to VTF a bogeyman in the 70s and did a pretty good job of it :).

Roberto C2H3
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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by Roberto C2H3 » 17 Sep 2019 16:09

There is a Moving Iron & Fixed Coil design out there that Soundsmith purchased the patent for from B&O that I'm very curious about. They claim the moving mass in the cartridge is a fraction of the moving coil design, which tend to have less mass than the moving magnet design. They make a good case associated with that being a critical aspect of keeping the styus in contact with the groove greatly minimizing distortion from the stylus banging about the groove wall as the energy from the moving part makes its way back down to the stylus.

No, this is not a plug for Soundsmith. No, I do not make a profit out of Soundsmith sales.

Having typed all of the above, and in answer to your question, IMO the additional cash that needs to be shelled out for a MC to noticeably outperform a good MM cartridge is not worth it. Again, its just an opinion.

I have a similar opinion regarding tube versus solid state pre and or power amps.

Best from the Pampas,
roberto

billshurv
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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by billshurv » 17 Sep 2019 16:19

I was going to say that the effective mass strawman would be hoisted. Didn't expect it so soon. Lowest effective mass cartridge ever was an MC. Current lowest in production also appears to be an MC, but hard to confirm as no one publishes the data anymore.

Does it actually matter? No not really.

But agree with your other points Roberto.

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by raphaelmabo » 17 Sep 2019 16:21

As you may have noticed, MC cartridges are more expensive than MM because of their design. You get more stylus for the money with MM’s, but the stylus is only one of many parameters. The generator that translates the stylus into sound is very important. A good generator with an average stylus can sound better than an average generator with a good stylus.

I find this test quite interesting, it vivers Sumiko’s new MM and MC cartridges. All but one with an elliptical stylus, and different sonical qualities. The MC’s having a broader frequency range and faster transient response, but the MM’s being warmer.

https://www.lowbeats.de/alle-6-neuen-su ... r-im-test/

(In german).

But there are of course warm sounding MC’s too, like Denon DL-103. And there are fast and energetic MM’s with a bit of brightness, like Ortofon 2M Black.

So, it’s not so easy to say that MM or MC’s sounds best. It really depends. Personal preferences. But the high-end cartridges are MC’s and not MM’s. It’s easier to make MM’s on a tight budget.

Also note that there are both medium compliance MM and MC’s, and most modern tonearms today are medium compliance.

And low output MC’s needs quality MC phono stages. So they are more demanding. But high output MC’s works well in standard MM inputs.

I have the Benz Micro MC Silver (high output MC) on now and I like it for it’s presence, soundstage and details.

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by raphaelmabo » 17 Sep 2019 16:31

Roberto C2H3 wrote:
17 Sep 2019 16:09

There is a Moving Iron & Fixed Coil design out there that Soundsmith purchased the patent for from B&O that I'm very curious about. They claim the moving mass in the cartridge is a fraction of the moving coil design, which tend to have less mass than the moving magnet design. They make a good case associated with that being a critical aspect of keeping the styus in contact with the groove greatly minimizing distortion from the stylus banging about the groove wall as the energy from the moving part makes its way back down to the stylus.
Many are striving for low moving mass. The new Oyster MM serie from Sumiko achieves low moving mass by reducing size and weight of the magnet. This lowers the output, but the advantage is lower moving mass. The effect on sound is a faster, more responsive and dynamic sound with more even frequency response. This is a difference that one can hear.

Sumiko Rainier - Olympia - Moonstone, all has the same elliptical stylus. But Olympia has a smaller magnet (and lower output) than Rainier, and Moonstone has an even smaller magnet (and even lower output) than the Olympia. And a smaller magnet means a lower moving mass.

So the theory of low moving mass actually works, it has an effect on the sound.

All MI-designs has low moving mass, not just Soundsmiths. Grado, Goldring (the 2x00-serie) and Nagaoka (but they uses permalloy instead of iron so the are called MP) are all MI designs with low moving mass. But they all sound quite different from each other.

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by billshurv » 17 Sep 2019 16:34

Oddly sumiko don't quote the moving mass. Funny that...

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by raphaelmabo » 17 Sep 2019 16:49

billshurv wrote:
17 Sep 2019 16:34
Oddly sumiko don't quote the moving mass. Funny that...
Sumiko publishes only a brief list of technical specifications, compared to some other cartridge makers. But I don’t mind that.

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by Roberto C2H3 » 17 Sep 2019 17:09

raphaelmabo wrote:
17 Sep 2019 16:31
Roberto C2H3 wrote:
17 Sep 2019 16:09

There is a Moving Iron & Fixed Coil design out there that Soundsmith purchased the patent for from B&O that I'm very curious about. They claim the moving mass in the cartridge is a fraction of the moving coil design, which tend to have less mass than the moving magnet design. They make a good case associated with that being a critical aspect of keeping the styus in contact with the groove greatly minimizing distortion from the stylus banging about the groove wall as the energy from the moving part makes its way back down to the stylus.
Many are striving for low moving mass. The new Oyster MM serie from Sumiko achieves low moving mass by reducing size and weight of the magnet. This lowers the output, but the advantage is lower moving mass. The effect on sound is a faster, more responsive and dynamic sound with more even frequency response. This is a difference that one can hear.

Sumiko Rainier - Olympia - Moonstone, all has the same elliptical stylus. But Olympia has a smaller magnet (and lower output) than Rainier, and Moonstone has an even smaller magnet (and even lower output) than the Olympia. And a smaller magnet means a lower moving mass.

So the theory of low moving mass actually works, it has an effect on the sound.

All MI-designs has low moving mass, not just Soundsmiths. Grado, Goldring (the 2x00-serie) and Nagaoka (but they uses permalloy instead of iron so the are called MP) are all MI designs with low moving mass. But they all sound quite different from each other.
Thank you for taking the time to post this. 8)

I will have to turn my gaze to the Sumikos low MM mass designs as well as the other MI designs out there.

This will allow me to have more potential candidates for my next cartridges. 8)

Thanks again. :D

Best from the Pampas,
roberto

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by modmalve » 17 Sep 2019 17:34

Thanks.
billshurv wrote:
17 Sep 2019 16:04
on record wear. It's negligable as long as the effective tip mass is under a gram and tracking weight under 3g.
tip mass is another factor I overlooked in my question. So perhaps tip mass is more important than arm/cart effective mass and compliance?

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by Mr Pig » 17 Sep 2019 18:54

Just tuning in to see where this goes. My deck is in flux just now as I consider cartridge options and I reckon this thread might be instructive.

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by Tonybro » 17 Sep 2019 19:31

I have a mix of the two - MC (high and low output) and MM/MP and they have sonic differences.

I have the Ortofon Cadenza Red (LOMC) on my LP12/AudioMods combo and it sounds great. Fast, smooth and clear with a great soundstage. I also have a Denon DL-103R (LOMC) currently on my Technics SL1200 MkII and it sounds great, just different, smoother for one. I have the Denon DL-110 (HOMC) on my Linn Axis and that works well too (similar in tone to the 103R unsurprisingly).

Then I have a Roksan Corus Black with a Goldring GX1042 stylus and that sings, I also rotate my Nagaoka MP500 and AT150MLx on my SL1200, in my setup, the MP500 beats the AT150 which sounds a tad bright and piercing. I also have a Shure V15 III on my STD 305S and I don't like it.

I also have a few other MMs - Ortofon 2M Red (raw and unrefined) on my Systemdek IIX, AT110E, Linn K5 with AT95E stylus, another Goldring GX - with both 1012 and 1042 styli. I also have an ATN-7v stylus unused.

I have listened to an Ortofon Anna when owned by a fellow VE member, Satanfriendly. It was STUNNING on classical music but AWFUL on pop/rock and cost significant money. It separated things too much so each member of the band was playing in isolation but for orchestras was brilliant.

Bottom line is, it depends on your kit, what you listen to and the acoustics of the room.

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by wart » 17 Sep 2019 19:41

I do have 2 sides of moon at home.

B&O 6002 with MMC2 --> VTF 1,2g
Garrard 301 Saec 308 SXL with SPU Reference Gold --> VTF 3,3 g (+ Step up FR XF-1)
Same system, same speakers.

tested for a while. I don't want to say what it's night and day. Maybe on classical music it's more evident that SPU is much better. Just B&O makes a lot of details but there is no fluency and tone. Only one + in favor of MMC2 - it definitely tracks better on test record.

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by modmalve » 17 Sep 2019 21:04

billshurv wrote:
17 Sep 2019 16:19
Lowest effective mass cartridge ever was an MC. Current lowest in production also appears to be an MC
Interesting. which models did you have in mind?

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Re: MC: better or just more expensive?

Post by Legrace » 17 Sep 2019 21:49

With advent of sophisticated replaceable stylus/cantilever designs select MM's/MI's perform very aptly, and IME hold up well against mid tier LOMC's costing even into 1-2K range. Why this tends to be a divisive discussion often enjoined with a refrain along the lines...why bother with LOMC, they cost more but dont sound any better. Until one exceeds a certain threshold that is...

Sadly that threshold has drifted ever higher, to what some might describe as silly prices. But those that can afford these lofty exemplars tend to be less concerned with economics. The conclusion I've arrived at is that the majority of my playback needs moving forward can be be met via a good MM. Preferably one fitted with a nice boron or ruby cantilever design. In fact 2 of my 3 tables now sport MM's. Having said that though I will always maintain one top end LOMC along the lines of my current Kiseki, as nothing else I've found conveys music in as captivating a manner as it does.

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