Quality equality

the thin end of the wedge
cats squirrel
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Quality equality

Post by cats squirrel » 08 Nov 2019 19:14

I have often seen recommendations for cartridges to be used in arms, on this forum and others. It is not seldom that the cartridge recommendations are way in excess (value) of the arm stipulated. So a $250 cartridge is recommended for a $100 arm/turntable.

Is this sensible? Surely an expensive (relative term) cartridge is not going to give of its best in a so-so arm! Or do people really believe that an expensive cartridge will transform a so-so turntable/arm from an 'ugly duckling' into a 'beautiful swan' , in sonic terms?

What price range (in US$) would people suggest is sensible for putting in a $200 turntable? [This is regardless of make, etc. And think second hand TT, not new, difficult I know, but...]

wolfie62
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Re: Quality equality

Post by wolfie62 » 08 Nov 2019 22:40

I have a $35 table. 1977 Hitachi HT-463. I only run vintage carts, but some of the good ones. So it depends on whether you overpaid or underpaid for your $200 used table. Lots of very fine used tables that will make a cart shine, or fizzle. So depends on the cartridge too.

A blanket statement based on the price of a used table may not mean much.

lenjack
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Re: Quality equality

Post by lenjack » 09 Nov 2019 00:11

Very difficult to say. You may have a table you stole, or is way undervalued, but is an absolute gem.

BMRR
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Re: Quality equality

Post by BMRR » 09 Nov 2019 14:49

It also depends on the manufacturer. Technics, for example, used very high quality tonearms and tonearm bearings in all of their turntables, even the entry-level models, and some of those entry-level models can be found today virtually for free... e.g. a Technics SL-D1 (original retail price $125 in 1979) can be found at a thrift store for $10 and has a tonearm just as good/capable as a new $1000 SL-1200 Mk7.

lenjack
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Re: Quality equality

Post by lenjack » 09 Nov 2019 15:24

Applies to SLd2 & D3 as well.

nat
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Re: Quality equality

Post by nat » 09 Nov 2019 18:09

Hmmm... To the naked eye the arms may look similar, but it would be surprising if they were actually equivalent.
On the other hand, they very well might sound equivalent since it is possible to overstate the differences in sound between arms. Unless the system used with them is highly resolving, and the listener quite careful, the difference might not be audible or noticed.
There is a lot going on in the interaction of cartridges and arms, and the assumption that a more expensive arm must suit all cartridges better than a less expensive arm is not necessarily correct. And the assumption that the listener cares is not necessarily correct, either.

cats squirrel
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Re: Quality equality

Post by cats squirrel » 09 Nov 2019 21:41

OK, I take the points, but I didn't want to get specific, but if that is the only way:

The Rega P1 is an entry level turntable package in anybody's book. It sells for £250 in the UK ($320) and for $475 in the US. It comes with a Rega Carbon cartridge (AT91) and costs £27 ($34.50) in the UK and $45 in the US. Even though it has many followers, it is still near the bottom of the pile as regards hifi. So Rega is putting a cheap cartridge in a cheap deck (all new prices), and allocating 10 - 12% for the cartridge for their package.

Now, a purchaser of this turntable might want to upgrade his cartridge at some point. What would people suggest. [Please don't get carried away with budget.]

paddypaws
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Re: Quality equality

Post by paddypaws » 09 Nov 2019 22:21

I’d be going further up the Audio Technica tree they have a cartridge for all budgets probably wouldn’t go more than £100 for a £250 deck myself. I’m very happy with my AT120eb but that’s on a Technics SL-1700mk2.

wolfie62
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Re: Quality equality

Post by wolfie62 » 09 Nov 2019 22:41

cats squirrel wrote:
09 Nov 2019 21:41
OK, I take the points, but I didn't want to get specific, but if that is the only way:

The Rega P1 is an entry level turntable package in anybody's book.
Yea, that really is the only way. Your first attempt was an open ended question. There are too many variables, even more options.
I’d be going further up the Audio Technica tree they have a cartridge for all budgets probably wouldn’t go more than £100 for a £250 deck myself. I’m very happy with my AT120eb but that’s on a Technics SL-1700mk2.
Go up the AT food chain? Where is your spirit of adventure?

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Re: Quality equality

Post by Collux » 09 Nov 2019 23:27

My thoughts:

Upgrade the Carbon stylus https://www.lpgear.com/product/LPGATN3600DLXSE.html
OR
Maybe look at a conical/elliptical cartridge from the audio-technica VM95 series.
https://audio-technica.com.au/vm95-movi ... ge-series/

wolfie62
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Re: Quality equality

Post by wolfie62 » 09 Nov 2019 23:39

Replace the cartridge, venture forth, outside of Ortofon and Audio Technica.

cats squirrel
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Re: Quality equality

Post by cats squirrel » 10 Nov 2019 15:21

paddypaws wrote:
09 Nov 2019 22:21
I’d be going further up the Audio Technica tree they have a cartridge for all budgets probably wouldn’t go more than £100 for a £250 deck myself. I’m very happy with my AT120eb but that’s on a Technics SL-1700mk2.
thanks, paddypaws, that's more like the answer I was looking for. So a cart about 40% of TT, sounds about right to me, at least at this level.
wolfie62 wrote:
09 Nov 2019 22:41
cats squirrel wrote:
09 Nov 2019 21:41
OK, I take the points, but I didn't want to get specific, but if that is the only way:

The Rega P1 is an entry level turntable package in anybody's book.
Yea, that really is the only way. Your first attempt was an open ended question. There are too many variables, even more options.
I’d be going further up the Audio Technica tree they have a cartridge for all budgets probably wouldn’t go more than £100 for a £250 deck myself. I’m very happy with my AT120eb but that’s on a Technics SL-1700mk2.
Go up the AT food chain? Where is your spirit of adventure?
An open question is by far the best in most circumstances, unless the answer is yes or no. But it needs thinking about! As regards a spirit of adventure, all your carts are of US manufacture, are they not? Where is your spirit of adventure? There is life (and cart manufacturers) outside of the US. :) And on a personal note, apart from the ADC high compliance models, I can't say I get on with the others. But I am happy with all the AT carts/styli that I have (about 18 of them), not so the Ortofons.

But no-one has mentioned about replacing the inner platter of the Rega (a known cause for concern) or another arm. Just because someone wants to put an expensive cart on a cheap (relative) TT, doesn't mean it will turn out better. A better arm or other change (even a plinth which is fit for purpose, most aren't) would bring about a change for the better, IMHO.

wolfie62
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Re: Quality equality

Post by wolfie62 » 10 Nov 2019 16:07

No, not all made in the USA! I take my own advice!

I have 7 Audio Technica carts, 3 AcuTex carts, 4 Nagatron carts, 3 Azden carts, 3 Pioneer carts, 1 Technics cart, 1 remaining Ortofon cart. All Japanese other than the Ortofon.

The important part is that I venture out, and consider many other possibilities. And just because carts may have been made in the same country, doesn’t mean they are all the same. That is definitely what you are implying. That’s a very shallow point of view.

The US is a big country, full of innovators! In contrast, Audio Technica is but 1 maker in 1 country!

So, you’re saying Shure, Empire, ADC, Stanton, are all the same? And AT carts are all different?

cats squirrel
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Re: Quality equality

Post by cats squirrel » 10 Nov 2019 16:45

ha, no I'm not saying that at all. But apart from ADC, I haven't got on with US made carts. Maybe they are not suitable for listening to classical music with. The Stanton I have (a 500 admittedly) was the worse sounding (and bouncing) cart I have. But a Denon DL110 and Dynvector 10X5 are loverly, as are all the AT carts, quality depending on price (and some are hybrids, for example a VMN20EB on a Signet 3Ea body)

AT is but one cart company, but its output is bigger than all the US cart ones combined (yes I know some of the US ones are dead!).

But to get back on track, my point is/was that putting more expensive carts on a so-so arm/TT is not going to get the best out of any of it.

And my experience has been that replacing a counterweight and stub for stainless steel equivalents on a Rega 250 transformed the sound much more than changing carts (was using a Goldring 1042 for that assessment).

Sometimes, the road less traveled by (with apologies to Robert Frost for misquoting the title of his poem) produces a better result. Has for me.

wolfie62
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Re: Quality equality

Post by wolfie62 » 10 Nov 2019 18:11

The road less traveled? How can you say that when you haven’t ventured forth to know what other roads are out there? How would you begin to know you’re on a road “less traveled?”


Well, you made my point. You really don’t venture out much. I have more carts representing more different manufacturers and different design philosophies than you have carts.

And a good cart, properly matched of course, will always bring out the very best of any given arm/table’s capabilities. When you get to that level with your arm/table, only then will you know that upgrading that arm/table is worth it. You can’t know that by putting a lesser cart on any given arm/table. If I’m wrong, show me how I’m wrong.

The Stanton 500 is a poor example of what Stanton carts can do. That would be like saying an AT95E is as good as AT/Signet carts get.

If I put an AT95E cart on a very well built and designed turntable that costs $100,000, I will likely get everything out of that AT cart that I can get. But I won’t get everything out of that arm/table that it’s capable of. So bottom line, to me, is to put the best cart you can afford on a given table/arm. Only then will you be at the limit of what you have, and know it.

But in doing that, don’t limit oneself to one maker of carts. That is a self-limiting, and self-defeating philosophy.

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