Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

the thin end of the wedge
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dagfinn
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Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by dagfinn » 21 Sep 2019 10:28

I thought maybe it better to have a separate thread for this cart. I've had the VM95SH a few days now, and it is again a joyful meeting with a very musical and competent cart. Very true to life rendition of acoustic instruments like grand piano, standup bass, acoustic guitars and horns found in albums from artist like Tom Waits, Ry Cooder and Joni Mitchell in the 1970s.

Done some tests, and initial setup passes 80um/315v tracking ok, so I'm content with that. Others may achieve 90um, it is borderline here.

I've just had a few weeks listening to other carts and styli, so I feel I quickly recognize the qualities of this stylus. Compared to a AT-VM540ML, the 95SH is a little softer in the highs, allowing space for mid and bass, so it sounds a little warmer for me. This gives it a very fine treble level when listening through headset (DT770-Pro), where highs get more intense than though my speakers. Surface noise is low, but the ML is a little better with my vinyl which has been used with a DL-103 most of the time.
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80um
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On my TD160 and Hitachi arm
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HS10BK headshell
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On a journey through some of the stuff neglected for some time :lol: . Next up is Nantucket Sleighride

dagfinn
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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by dagfinn » 21 Sep 2019 10:48

Mountain: Nantucket sleighride.
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They did put more effort into covers during the 70s. Two glossy 20x25cm photos on what looks like photographic paper and a 14page booklet with lyrics and illustrations. Better production than the Flowers of evil. Genrewise I guess Deep Purple and maybe Zeppelin comes to mind. The 95SH rocks and seems to need few hours to settle down. It feels balanced and smooth, and I feel I get a glimpse into 1970 rock music production styles. It is true to the material, you might say.

dagfinn
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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by dagfinn » 21 Sep 2019 11:44

More 1970s rock Spooky Tooth: You broke my heart, so I busted your jaw, reminescent of CSN, and maybe mostly Stephen Stills. Unfortunately not in mint condition anymore.
The title is more palatable with the cover art present :lol:
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Just found that someone has used/spilled some liquid, so I terminated the session. Inner track was horrid, and I don't like tracking through unknown stuff. So next is Witness from 1973.
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Much better production, but also a little worn. Bought from closing sale of a Norwegian vinyl distributor (Polygram?), this was showroom copies. VM95 does a good job turning this into music. Good detail and nice balances, but some surface noise here and there, unavoidable I guess.

dagfinn
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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by dagfinn » 21 Sep 2019 19:55

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:lol:
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Moved to Dual, stacked some neoprene and cork/rubber to get VTA improved. Forget to listen, just one long singalong :lol:

felixbo
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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by felixbo » 21 Sep 2019 20:20

Hi dagfinn,
think you would like the At-VM95ML as well...

Cheers Felix

dagfinn
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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by dagfinn » 22 Sep 2019 09:17

Hi Felix - I think you're right :). The sonic qualities of the body is great, and my experience with AT MicroLine recently is very good. Since I now have the shibata, the other versions are all cheaper. There is an odd price difference between shibata and ML, which I don't quite understand. It'll be very interesting to compare to the 540ML at some point in the future!

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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by dagfinn » 22 Sep 2019 18:33

Here are four measurements taken with the AT-VM95SH mounted on a Dual 510.

It's 315Hz lateral tone from Ortofon test record, trackingtests.
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70um
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80um
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90um
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100um

Pretty good :). 2,2g VTF, antiskating 3. 7mm extra on top of rubber platter - 3mm neoprene and 4 mm rubber/cork to achieve better VTA.

billshurv
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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by billshurv » 22 Sep 2019 22:43

dagfinn wrote:
22 Sep 2019 09:17
There is an odd price difference between shibata and ML, which I don't quite understand. It'll be very interesting to compare to the 540ML at some point in the future!
I don't either. The Shibata is an older design that was superceded by the ML/MR designs, so how it's become one better now is beyond me. Complicating the matter there are two shibata cuts, small and large. So I suspect the shibata is the small and special line contact is large. but short of sending them to Ray or Dmitry to image not a lot we can tell.

I do know that what they used to call 'LC' is the large shibata. Whilst some of it may be due to Namiki stoppping MR production (or threatening it) I will blame ortofon who suddenly made Shibata top stylus in their cheaper models instead of the FG70/80, and in consumers minds the almost forgotten shibata has made a comeback.

The great news is that you can buy a NEW microline stylus for £129. That is amazing value in this day and age, even it is a 30 year old generator design in a new body kit.

Oh and I don't doubt many will prefer shibata to ML. The first cartridge I tried with a shibata stayed on for 8 months. It plays music without drama.

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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by oztayls » 23 Sep 2019 08:04

I bought the AT-VM95SH as well a few months ago just to see what the fuss was about. I was very disappointed with it as it seems lifeless compared with the AT95. I've seen quite a few posts of similar experiences around the various forums. I've had a couple of AT95Ps (Paratrace) and have a lot of hours under the belt with them over the past few years, so I'm quite used to its signature by now. I think if they were not so familiar with the AT95 people might be more easily pleased with the VM95. Luckily the SH stylus still fits the AT95 so it's not an entirely wasted purchase so the VM95 cart can stay in the drawer while the SH get some playtime. All the graphs and spec comparisons in the world do nothing to convince me that the VM95 is an improvement on the AT95.

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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by dagfinn » 23 Sep 2019 08:54

Very interesting, oztayls, thank you for sharing your experience. I don't have the AT95 body, so I can't compare. I didn't know the styli were interchangeable either. Fortunately an AT95 body can be had for relatively small money, so I may have to get one :). Neither did I study any specs before buying, it was all about what "people say" and desire to hear shibata cut. My measurements speak only of tracking/distortion, which is all about stylus and suspension combined with tt arm and suspension. So AT95 would track exactly the same with this stylus.

No doubt the shibata has qualities, I like it a lot. Personal preferences as far as sonic profile and perhaps type of music could make people chose shibata over ML, I'm sure. I don't have brightness issues, and I find that the ML tracks a less worn area of my vinyl. I did some careful listening and comparisons, I'm not in doubt. ML renders better, cleaner tone. It also separates voices better, like in vocal harmonies. Percussive details are more pronounced. I'm not sure how much the current ML cut resembles the old modified shibata LC?

Not having the AT95, I can't comment on "lifeless"-ness, not even sure how to listen for it. I feel the sound is comfortable and well balanced, sufficiently detailed for most purposes with a rich body of bass and mid.

I assume AT95P Paratrace should also fit the VM95 body?

About Ortofon - has there been much development of their VMS series, other that repacking? Looking at the FF, VMS, OM, Concorde and 2M, they are very similar in basic design, aren't they? Different wrappings, casings, but the generator seems pretty much the same?

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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by dagfinn » 23 Sep 2019 09:17

billshurv wrote:
22 Sep 2019 22:43
dagfinn wrote:
22 Sep 2019 09:17
There is an odd price difference between shibata and ML, which I don't quite understand. It'll be very interesting to compare to the 540ML at some point in the future!
I don't either. The Shibata is an older design that was superceded by the ML/MR designs, so how it's become one better now is beyond me. Complicating the matter there are two shibata cuts, small and large. So I suspect the shibata is the small and special line contact is large. but short of sending them to Ray or Dmitry to image not a lot we can tell.

I do know that what they used to call 'LC' is the large shibata.
Hm, yes, not quite easy to get the full picture. So what about the VMN 60 SLC, is it worth all that cash?
I feel more attracted to the 150MLx, to be honest...

billshurv
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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by billshurv » 23 Sep 2019 09:35

Ref Ortofon, there have been a couple of changes over the years, the most notable being the dropping of compliance and removal of the tie wire on the suspension in the 80s and the development of the split pin generator in the 500 series. Other than that its just been adjusting the number of turns and little tweaks here and there. The most development recently has been in their DJ series such as the S-120 with a trick asymmetric suspension and the new concorde Mk2 range.

Personally I can't see the value in the SLC. I think my ATOC9/III has the same diamond. I need to find someone with a very good microscope to take a look.

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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by oztayls » 23 Sep 2019 10:21

dagfinn wrote: [/url]69225242 user_id=823922]

I assume AT95P Paratrace should also fit the VM95 body?
A slight bit of plastic surgery to the VM95 is needed to fit an ATN95 stylus. Nothing major, just a hobby knife will do it.

It would be an interesting exercise for you to try the AT95 cart after listening to the VM95, and I'd be interested in what you think. It's not easy finding an AT95 these days as they are no longer in production, although they are apparently still plentiful in China where they are still made. Maybe try AliExpress if all else fails. I have a couple of spares put away in case the day arrives and they are unobtainable.

By the way, the Soundsmith site has some good info on stylus shapes. https://www.sound-smith.com/articles/st ... nformation

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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by billshurv » 23 Sep 2019 10:35

PLenty of AT95 on the well known online auction site.

dagfinn
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Re: Audio Technica AT-VM95SH first impressions

Post by dagfinn » 23 Sep 2019 16:30

Available from Thakker as well. €36,95 for the AT95E :). And I'm up for a bit of surgery!

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