Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

the thin end of the wedge
griffbabe
junior member
junior member
England
Posts: 11
Joined: 06 Dec 2019 09:39

Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by griffbabe » 06 Dec 2019 12:11

Hello Everyone, I was looking for a decent forum for a raft of questions I've built up returning to vinyl, bit of back story as to how I got here. By all means skip my intro if it is rather long! Look for the the questions header...

I remember my dad recieving these fascinating boxes full of weired shaped objects, I was probably about 4 or 5 years old and this was maybe 1976, over time these objects grew into a Garrard turntable, I am fairly certain this was the 86B with the waffle styled headcase and a JVC amp - not seen one since - a black unit with I think an 8 band graphic with toggles for pink and white noise that would frighten the bejeezus out of me if I accidently flicked it on. It may be that this unit was a self build project, I remember a fair bit of construction over simply pulling it out of a package. He had some MS speakers and later added a JVC tape deck. Music was a big deal to my dad, not sure how this Bristolian developed his music taste, a rather odd liking for Country Funk Rock - Little Feat, The Eagles, Average White Band and then Herbie Hancock, Parliament, Frank Zappa, Billy Cobham later Boz Scaggs and Christopher Cross. He also threw in some oddities such as Wayne County, Pere Ubu, MC5 and then unfathamoble albums such as the Residents Eskimo. Mostly though he seemed to choose his music based on the quality of the rhythm section and in particular had quite the obsession with hi hats, he would point these out to me 'Just listen to those hi hats!' he would say 'What are hi hats' I would wonder but otherwise joining in with his enthusiasm.

My stand out listens back then were Supertramps 'Crime of the Century' he would ask the young me how it was that the producer had come up with the idea of opening the album with this haunting reverbed out harmonica 'How does someone decide that' he would say perplexed at the creative process and perhaps hinting at his own frustrated creative desires. Jeff Waynes 'War of the Worlds' thrilled and terrified me it crystalised my love of this story and the included book was wonderfully horrifying, Herbies Thrust made plenty of appearances, but I sort of hated his favourite record 'cut the cake' it just made no sense to a kid who longed for him to instead play 'Ralph Mactells Childrens Songs' which he pretty much point blank refused to do.

He was a roadie for a number of small bands, one was called Wisper that nearly got somewhere and then in the 1980s he got his HGV and drove Europe wide for everyone from The Police to Elton John, consequently I got a lot of free t-shirts and promo records which would probably be worth a few bob today. He was though an inconsolable melancholic and developed all too predictably into a drunk, later in life to leap off his ferry out of the harbour in Stockholm, probably dying fairly instantly in its freezing waters, he had just turned 40. A quite dysfunctional human, but actually had many wonderful qualities - including a charismatic sense of humour, an infectious passion for things he cared about and he could kind of play the acoustic guitar and sing a bit- good enough for me to think he was some sort of bonefide musician. His legacy was to instill in me the great importance of music and also sound and to regard all art really as essential elements for feeding the soul, that perhaps we can strive for something more than just consumerism or working the 5 day week.

I became a musican, then trained as a sound engineer, then spent 20 something years producing music independantly and of course the pursuit of sound quality has accompanied me. I am more at home discussing the merits of microphones and mic pre amps over cartridges and stylus, but I recognise the same obssesive attention to details - however my home system had taken a massive back seat to my studio setup. My studio is equipped with thunderous full range monitoring, subs and high end components through out, but the system in my house was an awful come down, a modest Marantz amp, some hateful Warfedale freestanding speakers, a dusty Technics 1200 in desperate need of a service, but for the most part an iphone with a mini jack to aux. For me - life was very much digital and home hifi was just a way to feel a massive downer about mixes I'd completed in the studio. The system my dad had built and many of his records I sold a long time ago, I had half hoped that the turntable might still be in the attic where my brother lives, alas no. I so would have liked to know what stylus he was running!

I still kept alot of the records, the ones I knew I might play still and I've been digging these out and cleaning them up. I found myself recently hankering for a 70s rig - nostalgia perhaps but also a memory that listening to music was once a more sensual experience than it has become. I fell in love with some speakers I accidentally landed on while cruising Ebay - a pair of B&O S45s, very cool looking, they spoke to me and so shortly afterwards they were in my living room.

While these were a marked improvement over my Wharfdales, I was still wanting something else and decided then and there that the Marantz had to go, that I needed something from an era when components were over engineered and there was a real passion for crafting sound. The B&Os were joined quickly by the Sansui AU555 and immediately I was transported back. In my first evening with these new pieces, with the lights low - I was knocked out by just how wonderful an experience listening to music could be. Anything you put through the Sansui was pleasurable - the S45s working in tandem to deliver what I would call a very romantic sound. It might not be punchy and as articulate as modern offerings claim, but I think this might be overated - I think this might be why I have not been listening to music simply for pleasure. I can do all the articulate and punchy listening I want in the studio, but when I come home I want to hear music, I don't want to marvel at the detail as I might when engineering. I think that there is something in this and why it is we skip through CDs and MP3s, while you could metrically argue that digital is a superior format, so what? You need music to engage and stimulate parts of your brain not to do with analysis, you shouldn't be listening for the balance or if the bass is thoroughly realised, you should be taken on a journey and feel an emotional connection to what you are hearing.

I added the Pioneer PL12D a week later and found this to be yet another notch up, less sophisticated than the 1200 but charming and engaging, I'm not keen on its wobbly platter and its very basic, but you can't argue with the sound, nor the added depth it brings over the mp3 counter part. My ears have quickly identified how digital while sounding actually rather impressive in many ways, is not satisfying. There seems no length to the sounds, its so clean and precise and when you start really focusing on that its almost an unlistenable format to me, its fine for the car but its not the same when just listening and kicking back.

Listening to my system now has had a profound effect on how I work in the studio, I've become noticibly more preoccupied with dynamics and have put any concerns for volume firmly to one side. I think had I had such a decent system a long time ago, my productions would have benefitted much earlier on, music in my living room now is so much more about the song and the performance over sonic clarity, I have found myself working closer to the emotive drive of my artist than to any concern for musical fashions, ironically they sound fresher for it.

QUESTIONS!

After this probably over indulgent introduction, I just find myself rather baffled by the new options I am faced with for maximising the system I have. I have wondered about the Thorens 160, but the PL12D is such a lovely thing regardless of where it sits in the grade spectrum I am rather reluctant to consider improving on it, however I wouldn't mind knowing if there are much better experiences to have without getting too silly price wise. Is the Thorens better all round or does it trade this romantic sound for articulation and clarity?

The stylus in my Pioneer I am a little suspicious of and am tempted to change. It runs the Shure M75ED type 2 with an aftermarket needle, I don't think I am getting the best out of it but to truly honour the cart it looks expensive. I was wondering given my backstory and penchant for a more romantic perhaps less accurate sound what upgrade I should look at. Others have described these older carts as having a velvety quality, that quite accurately describes what I like about the current sound I am getting, however I'd go for a bit more bass and smoother top end if it was available without losing that vibe.

Many thanks!
G

johnnywalker
long player
long player
Posts: 1007
Joined: 17 Apr 2008 13:10
Location: Florida

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by johnnywalker » 06 Dec 2019 13:07

Wonderful story, griff! Thanks for sharing.

It is not difficult to find a good replacement stylus for that M-75. LPGear in the US has a JICO replacement (.3x.7), or you could order directly from JICO in Japan. Replacement styli from Switzerland are hit-or-miss. You can also come across a NOS stylus on the auction site from time to time, but they are not cheap. If it's the warm, romantic sound you are seeking, in a new cartridge you might consider the Nagaoka MP-110. But I would think twice (or more) before replacing that M-75.

Sorry, but I can't opine on the Thorens - never had one. I run an SL-1200M3D and an SL-1800 Mk II, both with tonearm damping. Both excellent.

Good luck, and welcome to the forum!

mamakasou
senior member
senior member
Greece
Posts: 672
Joined: 30 Dec 2014 15:04

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by mamakasou » 06 Dec 2019 15:02

If you want to get a glimpse of that type of sound, hunt down an original conical for it.

I have an N75C and an N75G typeII. Both are excellent, but the heavy tracker is the one with more character.

noisefreq
senior member
senior member
United States of America
Posts: 965
Joined: 20 Feb 2013 20:04
Location: Independence

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by noisefreq » 06 Dec 2019 16:20

Pretty much any Thorens is going to be an upgrade over the Pioneer but there's nothing wrong with starting out with what you have and working up to something better down the road.
The M75 is a find cart and I recommend JICO styli for all Shure carts. Get the best you can afford.

The "a bit more bass and smoother top end" may come down to stylus rake angle (aka vertical tracking angle).
If it's leaning too far forward it can sound tinny and brittle, lacking bass.
This can be overcome with shims or spacers between the cartridge body and the headshell or a thicker platter mat.
This will help drop the rear end of the cartridge body down and level out the plane.

One of the features of the Thorens is adjustable tonearm height, so there you go.

But your "dusty Technics 1200" may be the real gem.
If you're looking to spend money on a TT, I would spend it on updating the Technics.

griffbabe
junior member
junior member
England
Posts: 11
Joined: 06 Dec 2019 09:39

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by griffbabe » 06 Dec 2019 17:06

As is so often the way, I stumbled across a NOS Shure M75ED stylus just after posting this, for £50, hopefully money well spent. I think I'm keen first to have the cart and stylus as originally intended and go from there - I did try and get some advice from a hifi store that I would have thought might have grasped why I might want to do this, but he seemed very keen to tell me that the M75 was a nothing kind of cart/stylus and anything modern pretty much beats it. He might be right but my instinct says otherwise, I don't think I'm after a cleaner sound as such, I want the vibes.

griffbabe
junior member
junior member
England
Posts: 11
Joined: 06 Dec 2019 09:39

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by griffbabe » 06 Dec 2019 17:15

noisefreq wrote:
06 Dec 2019 16:20
But your "dusty Technics 1200" may be the real gem.
If you're looking to spend money on a TT, I would spend it on updating the Technics.
I actually have two Technics 1200s, one is in worse condition than the other, one has a Stanton 500 II cart on it, they seem to be reasonably decent. I wasn't as into it for a couple of reasons, I was after building a vintage system but aside from the looks, I found it to be too forward, a bit more aggressive...or it could be I can't help but associate them with house sets and DJs. I may well have to bring back in though and see if my theory still stands, that'll be fun to play with!

DeepEnd
long player
long player
Great Britain
Posts: 1297
Joined: 19 Dec 2014 10:21
Location: Lancashire

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by DeepEnd » 06 Dec 2019 18:19

It's strange how our memories can sometime be defined by certain music and in some cases the gear it's used on!!

The Pioneer PL12D was in vogue around 1977 when I purchased my first "Hi-Fi". Depends on how we define the levels but if we assume "budget" was the lowest cost with BSR's and some Garrards covering this area with their better models encroaching into the "entry level" (Excluding the studio types 301 and 401).

This "entry" level is where the PL12D sat along with the Trio/Kenwood KD1033 and my weapon of choice at the time the Sansui SR222 Mk2 with all three as the best of the level.

At this time the Shure M75EJ type 2 were commonly fitted as an upgrade to these decks over the supplied unit. The ED version being the higher spec, finer tip and higher compliance, were more common on midrange units.

Trouble is I personally think the Shures were "reasonable" and preferred the Ortofon FF15E MkII (and later the AKG P8ES I fitted) and the Sansui deck to the M75EJ/PL12D so wouldn't spend a huge amount on a stylus for them but if we all liked the same things life would be boring.

The Panasonic/Technics 1200 was definitely in the midrange sector along with Systemdek, Rega Planar 3, Thorens TD160/166, Lower Michell units etc. etc. so unless extremely tired the 1200 should outperform the PL12D. Typical cartridges used with these decks in the 70's would be Ortofon VMS20E, A&R P77, AKG P8ES, Linn K9, ADC XLM and M75ED and HE versions adn I can't remember the AT range around at the time.

By all means try the M75 in the Technics as the Stanton 500's performance rather depends on the stylus fitted and there was a huge range of option for them. You might be surprised by the results.

Again much as I admire the unbelievably solid performance of the 1200 my choice when I upgraded my deck around 1981/82 it was the Rega Planar 3 and A&R P77 which gave me more of the essence of the music even if it didn't have quite the lower registers of the 1200. I think Rega got to me as now I am still using one now.

griffbabe
junior member
junior member
England
Posts: 11
Joined: 06 Dec 2019 09:39

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by griffbabe » 09 Dec 2019 12:39

DeepEnd wrote:
06 Dec 2019 18:19
It's strange how our memories can sometime be defined by certain music and in some cases the gear it's used on!!

The Pioneer PL12D was in vogue around 1977 when I purchased my first "Hi-Fi". Depends on how we define the levels but if we assume "budget" was the lowest cost with BSR's and some Garrards covering this area with their better models encroaching into the "entry level" (Excluding the studio types 301 and 401).

This "entry" level is where the PL12D sat along with the Trio/Kenwood KD1033 and my weapon of choice at the time the Sansui SR222 Mk2 with all three as the best of the level.

At this time the Shure M75EJ type 2 were commonly fitted as an upgrade to these decks over the supplied unit. The ED version being the higher spec, finer tip and higher compliance, were more common on midrange units.

Trouble is I personally think the Shures were "reasonable" and preferred the Ortofon FF15E MkII (and later the AKG P8ES I fitted) and the Sansui deck to the M75EJ/PL12D so wouldn't spend a huge amount on a stylus for them but if we all liked the same things life would be boring.

The Panasonic/Technics 1200 was definitely in the midrange sector along with Systemdek, Rega Planar 3, Thorens TD160/166, Lower Michell units etc. etc. so unless extremely tired the 1200 should outperform the PL12D. Typical cartridges used with these decks in the 70's would be Ortofon VMS20E, A&R P77, AKG P8ES, Linn K9, ADC XLM and M75ED and HE versions adn I can't remember the AT range around at the time.

By all means try the M75 in the Technics as the Stanton 500's performance rather depends on the stylus fitted and there was a huge range of option for them. You might be surprised by the results.

Again much as I admire the unbelievably solid performance of the 1200 my choice when I upgraded my deck around 1981/82 it was the Rega Planar 3 and A&R P77 which gave me more of the essence of the music even if it didn't have quite the lower registers of the 1200. I think Rega got to me as now I am still using one now.
Many thanks for this - I'll be keen to see how far the restored M75 cart goes to satisfying what I'm after, curiosity will no doubt have me installing that 1200 for some a/bing tests, I'll be able to appreciate it differently now I think.

raphaelmabo
long player
long player
Sweden
Posts: 2079
Joined: 30 Aug 2010 21:01
Location: Askersund, Sweden
Contact:

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by raphaelmabo » 09 Dec 2019 13:32

Both the Pioneer 12D and Thorens 166 or 160 will give you the authentic and loveable analogue sound. My experience with the 1200 is that it's more dry sounding, less musical flow in comparision. But this is of course subjective. It all depends on the sound you want! I wouldn't say that the Thorens 160/166 trade analogue warmth for clarity. I would say that the Thorens plinth and construction means lower distorsion, a cleaner and richer sound that can bring out 3D imaging more than the 12D, overall a well balanced sound that is a good fundament to wide range of different cartridges. And with an analogue warmth if you keep the turntable away from CD sounding cartridges like the Goldring 2x00-serie. :)

As for cartridges with a romantic sound... I haven't heard the Shure M75, so don't know about it. I loved my Sumiko Pearl for it's romantic sound. Big bass, smooth treble, organic and open midband. It sounded closed and shut-in at first hours, but after 20-30 hours or so it really opened up and became very enjoyable. So this is my best advice. The lovely 3D imaging of the Sumiko (if it's on the records) will match well with Thorens abilities in this area.

There are those that really likes the Nagaoka MP-serie for it's warm sound, it's an interesting choice here. But they are getting a bit expensive. :)

griffbabe
junior member
junior member
England
Posts: 11
Joined: 06 Dec 2019 09:39

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by griffbabe » 10 Dec 2019 11:37

The M75ED stylus arrived today, I attempted to fit it to the cart and it fits very loosely, a very short attempt to play something confirmed it was not making good contact. Am currently contacting the seller for a refund, anyone had loose stylus issue like this before? Did you have any idea why - this stylus replacement does look like genuine NOS, just a bit baffled, the current stylus I use fits firmly.

noisefreq
senior member
senior member
United States of America
Posts: 965
Joined: 20 Feb 2013 20:04
Location: Independence

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by noisefreq » 10 Dec 2019 13:44

Pictures might help.
Finding NOS Shure anything is like finding hen's teeth.
Did you mention the seller and stylus type?

Erin1
senior member
senior member
Posts: 826
Joined: 18 Jul 2004 09:57

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by Erin1 » 11 Dec 2019 00:09

griffbabe wrote:
10 Dec 2019 11:37
The M75ED stylus arrived today, I attempted to fit it to the cart and it fits very loosely, a very short attempt to play something confirmed it was not making good contact. Am currently contacting the seller for a refund, anyone had loose stylus issue like this before? Did you have any idea why - this stylus replacement does look like genuine NOS, just a bit baffled, the current stylus I use fits firmly.
Unlike others here. I don't recommend any aftermarket stylus. Either find a new old stock original Shure, or buy a new Audio Technica cartridge.
I have a new old stock M75G (with the original conical stylus) and my AT3600L sounds to my ears better- more balanced, but equally dynamic.

I don't see the point mucking around with aftermarket stylus that don't perform especially when new genuine cartridges will out perform even an original Shure (in my opinion) (I know others will adamantly disagree with me)


https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre ... 2822030621

You can get them cheaper than this if you hunt around on eBay, but I've had two orders from this seller which arrived.
Packing was just a bubble pack bag with cartridge floating inside. But they survived.

griffbabe
junior member
junior member
England
Posts: 11
Joined: 06 Dec 2019 09:39

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by griffbabe » 11 Dec 2019 09:21

The seller has suggested that I could tease open the fixture so it fits the cartridge more snugly. I am a bit wary of this because if the distortion I experienced continues it pretty much invalidates any option to return, but perhaps I'll see what he says about this. My feeling is that the current stylus I use is not exactly right for the cart and has been squeezed in, expanding the channel, hence why this replacement is loose fitting.

@Erin1 - you may be right, just buy a new cart and stylus, but I'm keen to judge if the M7 and an original stylus has something to offer my ears first, its not stupidly expensive money to experiment with and I like the idea of getting it back to its original configuration.

mamakasou
senior member
senior member
Greece
Posts: 672
Joined: 30 Dec 2014 15:04

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by mamakasou » 11 Dec 2019 10:27

Send some photos for any more help.

The loose fit is an easy fix.
Slide it in and secure it with a small amount of blu-tack on each side.

griffbabe
junior member
junior member
England
Posts: 11
Joined: 06 Dec 2019 09:39

Re: Newbie Intro and couple of Qs about Carts/Stylus

Post by griffbabe » 12 Dec 2019 13:19

Heres a hard earned lesson, don’t try to tease open the guide arm on a stylus with a cocktail stick as my seller suggested. I should have known better - short story, the stylus is ruined and snapped off inside the guide, gutted because I lost £50 but also a real shame to lose an otherwise new Shure stylus. Mind you had some doubts about the stylus anyway, I temp fixed in place with blue tak as suggested here, and it was still distorting, I think it may have been broke internally anyway, will never know now!
I think my M7 cart might also be compromised by perhaps an oversized needle being used previously, so if I am going to upgrade it now, probably going to replace that also. Anyone some suggestions for the vintage velvet sound I’ve described, ideally under £100.00 cheers

Post Reply