Can't make up my mind on new MM

the thin end of the wedge
Boltman92124
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Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by Boltman92124 » 07 Jan 2020 18:57

So here's the deal, I don't want a VM95ML right now because I will fit a 540ml to my 120eb body when the time comes..or buy a 540ml. The 120 is my favorite cart right now but it can be a little strident on bright sounding LP's. My Denon 103 needs a new tip/replacing as well. Thus new cart time on a budget up to $175 or so.

So for a warmer yet detailed sound, the contenders are-

1.) Sumiko Pearl. Has interesting .2 x .8 stylus profile
2.) Sumiko Rainier. Looks like stock .4 x .7 elliptical although they don't specify.
3.) Nag MP110. Another .4 x .7. Some love it, others don't.
4.) Goldring E3. Is this really just an AT95 inside some extra housing?
5.) Ortofon OM20 stylus for my OM10 body. Not a big fan of the OM10.

Any others that are not AT? All opinions much appreciated!!!Happy listening!

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by patient_ot » 07 Jan 2020 19:05

What is the effective mass of your tonearm? Input capacitance of phono pre?

The VM95ML is different enough from the 120/440/540 lineage of carts to make it worth owning both. I ran a Signet with a 440 stylus for a long time (went through several 440 styli) and now use the 95ML as a daily driver.

None of those other carts are anything special IMHO. The Goldring E series are just rebodied AT95s with low-end styli no matter what anyone says. Someone took one apart, don't have the link, but it's a fact jack. The only MM/MI carts Goldring actually makes are the 1000 series. They are beyond your budget.

If you could swing an OM30 or 40 I would say go for it, but it is beyond your stated budget. It is also a risk if you did not like your OM10.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by BMRR » 07 Jan 2020 19:11

Regarding the OM, Stylus 20 is nice but not a huge upgrade over Stylus 10 in my experience. Not worth $150, in my opinion. Stylus 30 is where it really starts to get good, but that's $265 and I think you'd be better off spending that money on an ML stylus for your AT120.

The E3 is indeed an AT95 in a different housing. Some people swear it sounds different (better) than the AT95, and they may be right; the outer housing can definitely have an impact on the sound. But is it worth $170? I'm not convinced. You could put an AT95E or VM95E in a DIY aluminum or wood housing and probably get very similar results for a lot less money.

The price of the Sumiko Pearl is a lot more reasonable than the E3, and if you like warm sound you'll like the Pearl.

Ditto for the MP-110. And the MP-110 has an upgrade path which the Pearl and E3 both lack.

Last but not least, consider having your DL-103 retipped. There are retippers out there that can do all sorts of cool things with a DL-103. You could stay with a spherical diamond or you could upgrade to a different shape. I've also heard of people staying with a spherical diamond but getting a .6mil or .5mil instead of the traditional .7mil.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by Boltman92124 » 07 Jan 2020 19:14

patient_ot wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:05
What is the effective mass of your tonearm? Input capacitance of phono pre?

The VM95ML is different enough from the 120/440/540 lineage of carts to make it worth owning both. I ran a Signet with a 440 stylus for a long time (went through several 440 styli) and now use the 95ML as a daily driver.

None of those other carts are anything special IMHO. The Goldring E series are just rebodied AT95s with low-end styli no matter what anyone says. Someone took one apart, don't have the link, but it's a fact jack. The only carts Goldring actually makes are the 1000 series. They are beyond your budget.

If you could swing an OM30 or 40 I would say go for it, but it is beyond your stated budget. It is also a risk if you did not like your OM10.
I am definitely in the 300pf range on capacitance. It has never been a issue for me with the AT carts though. I really like the 120eb and it's got plenty of hours left on it. I want a 540ml probably in 6 months or so. It's just a LP120 tonearm which is around 12g+ heavier counterweight. But I use heavier headshells 10g, 13g etc..And I have a light Technics 1200 headshell as well. The 120 is on that right now.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by raphaelmabo » 07 Jan 2020 19:19

Todays Sumiko Pearl has a 0.3 x 0.7”. Specifications has changed during the years. 0.2 x 0.8 is old info, not valid today. Note that you shouldn’t go above 250 pF in the phono stage, treble will get too soft. So stay with 100-150 pF MM phono stage. (Turntable cables adds an extra 100 pF).

The Rainier is a more dynamic and rythmic version of the Pearl, and upgradeable to Olympia and Moonstone. Difference is that Olympia and Moonstone has a smaller magnet = lower moving mass, this enhances the sound quality.

An alternative to the Nagaoka is the Osawa OS 301, slightly less expensive and with a 0.3 x 0.7 *nude* elliptical. This reduces the mass. The Osawa OS 301 is an ”induced magnet” design, similar to the moving iron/permalloy design in the Nagaoka.

And it has warm tonal qualities.
You can find it here:
https://www.thakker.eu/en/pickup/osawa- ... ge/a-5147/

Reviews here:
https://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge_r ... del=OS+301

The Ortofon OM are rather laidback but not warm. They’re on the analytical and neutral side of things. I liked my Pearl more than I liked my OM 20. OM 20 was a bit sterile.

Goldring E-series is based upon a modified AT95, not a warm sounding cartridge.

Grado makes warm sounding cartridges.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by Boltman92124 » 07 Jan 2020 19:19

BMRR wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:11
Regarding the OM, Stylus 20 is nice but not a huge upgrade over Stylus 10 in my experience. Not worth $150, in my opinion. Stylus 30 is where it really starts to get good, but that's $265 and I think you'd be better off spending that money on an ML stylus for your AT120.

The E3 is indeed an AT95 in a different housing. Some people swear it sounds different (better) than the AT95, and they may be right; the outer housing can definitely have an impact on the sound. But is it worth $170? I'm not convinced. You could put an AT95E or VM95E in a DIY aluminum or wood housing and probably get very similar results for a lot less money.

The price of the Sumiko Pearl is a lot more reasonable than the E3, and if you like warm sound you'll like the Pearl.

Ditto for the MP-110. And the MP-110 has an upgrade path which the Pearl and E3 both lack.

Last but not least, consider having your DL-103 retipped. There are retippers out there that can do all sorts of cool things with a DL-103. You could stay with a spherical diamond or you could upgrade to a different shape. I've also heard of people staying with a spherical diamond but getting a .6mil or .5mil instead of the traditional .7mil.
Thanks. I think my future money is going to be on the 540ml instead of a 103 replacement. The OM20 is basically an Ortofon Blue stylus correct? Both nude ellipticals? Saw one for $160 recently. The Pearl seems to good to be true? I know some posters here swear by it. But the Rainier is also upgrade able.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by raphaelmabo » 07 Jan 2020 19:23

patient_ot wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:05
The only MM/MI carts Goldring actually makes are the 1000 series.
It is true that Goldring doesn’t make the 2x00, they are MI cartridges made by Nagaoka but with a Goldring sound. Very different sound to Nagaoka. They sounds like the Ortofon 2M. My Goldring 2200 was very close in sound to the 2M Blue. Too forward for my taste.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by Boltman92124 » 07 Jan 2020 19:24

raphaelmabo wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:19
Todays Sumiko Pearl has a 0.3 x 0.7”. Specifications has changed during the years. 0.2 x 0.8 is old info, not valid today. Note that you shouldn’t go above 250 pF in the phono stage, treble will get too soft. So stay with 100-150 pF MM phono stage. (Turntable cables adds an extra 100 pF).

The Rainier is a more dynamic and rythmic version of the Pearl, and upgradeable to Olympia and Moonstone. Difference is that Olympia and Moonstone has a smaller magnet = lower moving mass, this enhances the sound quality.

An alternative to the Nagaoka is the Osawa OS 301, slightly less expensive and with a 0.3 x 0.7 *nude* elliptical. This reduces the mass. The Osawa OS 301 is an ”induced magnet” design, similar to the moving iron/permalloy design in the Nagaoka.

And it has warm tonal qualities.
You can find it here:
https://www.thakker.eu/en/pickup/osawa- ... ge/a-5147/

Reviews here:
https://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge_r ... del=OS+301

The Ortofon OM are rather laidback but not warm. They’re on the analytical and neutral side of things. I liked my Pearl more than I liked my OM 20. OM 20 was a bit sterile.

Goldring E-series is based upon a modified AT95, not a warm sounding cartridge.

Grado makes warm sounding cartridges.

Thanks for that! The Osawa looks like a Sumiko Oyster body correct? There's also the LP Gear Deft 2 I guess.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by patient_ot » 07 Jan 2020 19:24

BMRR wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:11

The E3 is indeed an AT95 in a different housing. Some people swear it sounds different (better) than the AT95, and they may be right; the outer housing can definitely have an impact on the sound. But is it worth $170? I'm not convinced. You could put an AT95E or VM95E in a DIY aluminum or wood housing and probably get very similar results for a lot less money.
Yes, they swear but no real data to back it up. Measure the cart I say. A cheap plastic housing won't do jack but add more weight. If you want more weight on an AT95 you can either rebody the cart (which several folks have done) or simply add a headshell weight plate and/or heavier headshell.
BMRR wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:11

The price of the Sumiko Pearl is a lot more reasonable than the E3, and if you like warm sound you'll like the Pearl.
Agreed, not much of a fan of it in stock form but you can put a Jico SAS 1 stylus on it, which is a nude Namiki Microridge with a boron cantilever. That costs about $200 or so extra. I have not heard this combo but know one person that swears by it.
BMRR wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:11

Ditto for the MP-110. And the MP-110 has an upgrade path which the Pearl and E3 both lack.
Does that upgrade path top out at the 150? IIRC the higher end Nagaoka styli use a different body, so not an exact match. I suppose retipping is an option. I know a guy that got a Paratrace from EsCo on their Nagaoka. Cheaper than an MP-500 I guess.
BMRR wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:11

Last but not least, consider having your DL-103 retipped. There are retippers out there that can do all sorts of cool things with a DL-103. You could stay with a spherical diamond or you could upgrade to a different shape. I've also heard of people staying with a spherical diamond but getting a .6mil or .5mil instead of the traditional .7mil.
I know a U.S. retipper that will do a nude elliptical for ~$150. Might be worth looking into. They can do a ruby elliptical (unconventional) for a bit less. Higher end styli for more, e.g. over $200+. Not sure if they do conicals, but they probably could.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by raphaelmabo » 07 Jan 2020 19:25

LP Gear The Vessel is an option. I have the A3SE and may upgrade it to a SV stylus. Lot’s of options. It’s a warmish organic sound. Close to the Pearl.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by patient_ot » 07 Jan 2020 19:26

raphaelmabo wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:23
patient_ot wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:05
The only MM/MI carts Goldring actually makes are the 1000 series.
It is true that Goldring doesn’t make the 2x00, they are MI cartridges made by Nagaoka but with a Goldring sound. Very different sound to Nagaoka. They sounds like the Ortofon 2M. My Goldring 2200 was very close in sound to the 2M Blue. Too forward for my taste.
Yes they are hot output carts, 6.5mV IIRC, just like the Goldring 1000 series even though they are made by Nagaoka. Might give weaker phono stages some trouble. My 1042 certainly did.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by patient_ot » 07 Jan 2020 19:27

raphaelmabo wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:25
LP Gear The Vessel is an option. I have the A3SE and may upgrade it to a SV stylus. Lot’s of options. It’s a warmish organic sound. Close to the Pearl.
I had an A3SE. Agreed on the warm sound, maybe rolled off up top. In the end I got rid of it. Tracking wasn't up to scratch for my picky nature. I wish I still had one, just to measure it. I got rid of it before I got all my measurement tools.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by raphaelmabo » 07 Jan 2020 19:31

Boltman92124 wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:24
raphaelmabo wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:19
Todays Sumiko Pearl has a 0.3 x 0.7”. Specifications has changed during the years. 0.2 x 0.8 is old info, not valid today. Note that you shouldn’t go above 250 pF in the phono stage, treble will get too soft. So stay with 100-150 pF MM phono stage. (Turntable cables adds an extra 100 pF).

The Rainier is a more dynamic and rythmic version of the Pearl, and upgradeable to Olympia and Moonstone. Difference is that Olympia and Moonstone has a smaller magnet = lower moving mass, this enhances the sound quality.

An alternative to the Nagaoka is the Osawa OS 301, slightly less expensive and with a 0.3 x 0.7 *nude* elliptical. This reduces the mass. The Osawa OS 301 is an ”induced magnet” design, similar to the moving iron/permalloy design in the Nagaoka.

And it has warm tonal qualities.
You can find it here:
https://www.thakker.eu/en/pickup/osawa- ... ge/a-5147/

Reviews here:
https://www.vinylengine.com/cartridge_r ... del=OS+301

The Ortofon OM are rather laidback but not warm. They’re on the analytical and neutral side of things. I liked my Pearl more than I liked my OM 20. OM 20 was a bit sterile.

Goldring E-series is based upon a modified AT95, not a warm sounding cartridge.

Grado makes warm sounding cartridges.

Thanks for that! The Osawa looks like a Sumiko Oyster body correct? There's also the LP Gear Deft 2 I guess.
The Osawa is not a Sumiko Oyster, not at all.
The Sumiko is a MM cartridge with a bonded conical. The Osawa is an IM (induced magnet, similar to Moving Iron) with a nude elliptical. The Osawa was inspired by the ADC IM cartridges from the early 70’s. It was also made under brand names such as Sansui and Pioneer. Today, the Osawa is the only one left that still can be bought.

The exterior may look close to an Oyster but the interiors and stylus differs. Specs is totally different. It’s om the warm side as the Oyster but with an opened treble. It sounds more like a Nagoka, according to those that has listened. I have been thinking of getting one myself.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by BMRR » 07 Jan 2020 19:40

Boltman92124 wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:19
The OM20 is basically an Ortofon Blue stylus correct? Both nude ellipticals?
That is correct. OM Stylus 20 and the 2M Blue stylus both have the same nude rectangular shank .3x.7mil diamond. It's a very nice diamond, probably the best .3x.7mil elliptical out there. I'm not a big fan of how .3x.7's sound but the I will say the quality/craftsmanship of the diamond is top notch. And it should be for the price they charge!

If you want to try something warm, interesting, and affordable, here's another option:

Get yourself an Excel QD700C cartridge and put a QD700XR stylus on it. You can get this combo from V-M Audio Enthusiasts.

Start here with the QD700C cartridge for $29:

https://www.thevoiceofmusic.com/catalog ... ategories=

Then grab the S700XR stylus for $21:

https://www.thevoiceofmusic.com/catalog ... ategories=

Add $4.80 for shipping and that brings your total to $54.80.

I mention this cart/stylus combo for a couple of reasons:

1) The QD700C is the same generator used by the Sumiko Oyster and LPGear DEFT, so you can get to experience the Oyster/DEFT sound for less money, and

2) The XR stylus is a specially designed elliptical made for quad records so it adds a little extra detail than the stock stylus (which is a .6mil spherical). The overall sound is still very warm and smooth.

Now I can't guarantee that you'll like or love it, but it's something you could try that's different/unusual, definitely warm, and not your run of the mill AT or Ortofon.

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Re: Can't make up my mind on new MM

Post by patient_ot » 07 Jan 2020 19:49

BMRR wrote:
07 Jan 2020 19:40

Add $4.80 for shipping and that brings your total to $54.80.

I mention this cart/stylus combo for a couple of reasons:

Whether you like it or not, that is a very decent price if it performs decently. Quite honestly I don't think the performance gap between entry level $50ish carts and $100ish carts is that wide. I never found one I really loved at the price point, except if I was using a beater conical cart for beater records. Makes more sense to go cheaper if you need cheap.

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