Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

the thin end of the wedge
Roohark
United States of America
Posts: 4
Joined: 09 Jan 2020 15:46

Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by Roohark » 13 Jan 2020 03:26

Hello,

I'm new here and hoping the assembled years of cart experience can help me. I recently bought a Technics SL-1700 mk2 off Craigslist from a local seller with a basement full of vintage audio gear. No exaggeration, racks and racks of mostly technics turntables, speakers up the walls, you get the idea. Consequently he also has about 75 or so carts of various types. During my audition of the table he suggested some of the MicoLine or Shibata carts might be an upgrade from my current Ortofon 2M Blue. He suggested the following options: AT12Sa, AT14s, AT14Sa, Shure V15 Type IV (MR and HE), or a Pickering EEE II-s and Pickering TL3. While I enjoy the Ortofon 2M Blue, the upgrade bug has bitten, I'm curious if any of the above mentioned carts will be a significant improvement over the 2M. As far as I can tell these are 'vintage' NLA carts, as long as the styli are good, are they worth exploring? If not, am I better served buying new? My budget is under $400 and I can use MM or MC.

wolfie62
long player
long player
United States of America
Posts: 1340
Joined: 04 Jan 2017 15:47
Location: Birmingham

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by wolfie62 » 13 Jan 2020 04:18

I can speak for the Shure V15 Type IV; It's a very good cart body, and sounds really nice even with the Turntable Needles (Bliss) elliptical. For more money, you can get a Vivid Line stylus from LP Gear. The Stanton 681EEE is also a very good choice, and there are some very affordable aftermarket needles available to keep it singing, as well as for the Pickering TL3. I have all of these, and from experience, they are very enjoyable cartridges that are still hard to beat, especially for the amount of coin comparable new carts cost.

As for the AT carts, I'm tuning in, as I have the AT12 and AT14, but no styli.

lini
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
Germany
Posts: 6690
Joined: 22 Sep 2007 05:17
Location: Munich/Bavaria

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by lini » 13 Jan 2020 08:54

Roohark: To be honest, as much as I like vintage cartridges, in my view the times, when grabbing new old stock carts or equipping used bodies with new old stock needles was more attractive than buying new, in the meantime are pretty much over, the one or other exception aside. Hence I'd simply suggest you to consider a new Audio Technica AT-VM95ML.

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini

wolfie62
long player
long player
United States of America
Posts: 1340
Joined: 04 Jan 2017 15:47
Location: Birmingham

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by wolfie62 » 13 Jan 2020 09:25

I sold my 2M Blue almost 3 years ago. It just couldn’t hold up to my vintage carts, even with inexpensive and readily available aftermarket styli. $50 for a very nice elliptical for the V15 Type IV. After comparing that to my Orto Blue, I sold the Blue.

And how much is the stylus for that AT VM95ML?

BMRR
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
United States of America
Posts: 6030
Joined: 23 Aug 2013 03:48

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by BMRR » 13 Jan 2020 12:24

The replacement stylus for the VM95ML is only $150. An unbeatable bargain for a nude MicroLine/MicroRidge. Compare that to the price of the 2M Blue replacement stylus which is $170-$200 (depending on where you buy it) for a nude elliptical.

I agree with you about the Blue, I had one and sold it. It's a good cartridge in its own right but it never wowed me and I didn't enjoy the slight dip in the midrange.
Roohark wrote:
13 Jan 2020 03:26
He suggested the following options: AT12Sa, AT14s, AT14Sa, Shure V15 Type IV (MR and HE), or a Pickering EEE II-s and Pickering TL3.
Those are all nice carts. The problem is that OEM styli are no longer manufactured for any of them. There are lots of aftermarket stylus options for the Shure, including the excellent JICO SAS series, but aftermarket options for the ATs and the Pickerings are a bit more limited. You could have the original styli retipped by a professional cartridge retipper but that'll generally run you about $150 for a nude elliptical and considerably more ($200 to $400+) for a hyperelliptical, Shibata, or MicroLine.

Without a very good microscope, you'll have no way of knowing the true condition of the styli that come with those carts. They might look perfect through a magnifying glass or a 40x loupe but they could in fact be very worn and you'd have no way of knowing.

The Shure might be worth considering if you don't mind spending an additional $200 for a JICO SAS stylus to go with it. Unfortunately JICO does not make SAS styli for the other carts you listed.

Alternatively I concur with lini's suggestion to get a new AT VM95ML. The nude MicroLine diamond of the VM95ML is exactly the same as the nude MicroRidge diamond used by the JICO SAS. Replacement styli will be readily available for many years to come.

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

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by noisefreq » 13 Jan 2020 13:59

The carts suggested (including the VM95ML) would all outshine the 2M Blue.
I would also add the Pickering XV15 with JICO stylus to that list.

Roohark
United States of America
Posts: 4
Joined: 09 Jan 2020 15:46

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by Roohark » 13 Jan 2020 17:06

Thank you all for the feedback and guidance.

BMRR raises a good point that gives me pause when it comes to rolling the dice on used carts without many/any options for new styli:

"Without a very good microscope, you'll have no way of knowing the true condition of the styli that come with those carts. They might look perfect through a magnifying glass or a 40x loupe but they could in fact be very worn and you'd have no way of knowing."

I've requested a price list from the seller for the carts he suggested. Unless he's looking to unload them at prices that are too good to pass up, I'll most likely focus my search on new carts. As was pointed out, the Shure may still need a new JICO SAS stylus for $200. That cost needs to factor into the equation since I don't have a micro scope - or know what I'm looking for even if I did! Thanks as well for the recommendations, I'll look into the VM95ML. Looks like I can get a VM95ML with headshell combo for $200, not bad.

dagfinn
senior member
senior member
Norway
Posts: 426
Joined: 09 Jun 2019 00:29

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by dagfinn » 13 Jan 2020 19:47

Roohark, while our friends makes very good points about availability, finding those gems is still possible. NOS is safe to buy, AT has no aging issues. My oldest is from 1970, still fine. But the price may be high. And it may be low, if you're lucky ;). But buying cart only "for parts", without "still sharp stylus" is usually cheaper, and then spend on a NOS from a shop. "Used combo" is like BMRR says, very risky.

Here are some Swedish shops with your mentioned AT models in stock :).
https://www.snyggtljud.se/skivspelare-n ... 14-at-14sa
https://www.snyggtljud.se/skivspelare-n ... 12s-at-12s
https://www.svalander.se/shoppen/tillbe ... ege/pickup

AT12s is bonded shibata, AT14Sa nude shibata, AT14S I can't remember. Otherwise you can't go wrong with VM95ML.

patient_ot
long player
long player
Posts: 1049
Joined: 03 Dec 2013 19:32

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by patient_ot » 13 Jan 2020 21:18

lini wrote:
13 Jan 2020 08:54
Roohark: To be honest, as much as I like vintage cartridges, in my view the times, when grabbing new old stock carts or equipping used bodies with new old stock needles was more attractive than buying new, in the meantime are pretty much over, the one or other exception aside. Hence I'd simply suggest you to consider a new Audio Technica AT-VM95ML.

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini
Agreed. Which is why I'd just say buy a new AT that matches your arm, budget, and phono preamp. Most ATs like low capacitance. They are making excellent cartridges today still. Vintage/OOP carts a rabbit hole I wouldn't suggest for everyone.

wolfie62
long player
long player
United States of America
Posts: 1340
Joined: 04 Jan 2017 15:47
Location: Birmingham

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by wolfie62 » 13 Jan 2020 23:48

$150-$200 is a lot of coin to me.

Very honestly, the $50 aftermarket stylus I have on the Shure V15 Type IV outperforms a great many of the other carts I have. It doesn’t quite match the original VN45HE stylus, but it shouldn’t, either. But, it comes a lot closer than it has any right to.

Basically, all here are saying that nude elliptical or nude line contact styli are better than bonded elliptical. Well, of course! Is that news? So basically, the advice is spend a lot, don’t bother spending less. Get a cheap body and buy an expensive stylus.

I know that formula works for many, but not for me. I love and appreciate the high degree of precision designed and crafted into the vintage upper tier cartridges. They have the inherent ability to make even aftermarket styli sound extremely good, owing to the extremely well designed bodies.

KentT
long player
long player
Posts: 4574
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 19:44
Location: Athens, TN

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by KentT » 14 Jan 2020 01:34

Roohark wrote:
13 Jan 2020 03:26
Hello,

I'm new here and hoping the assembled years of cart experience can help me. I recently bought a Technics SL-1700 mk2 off Craigslist from a local seller with a basement full of vintage audio gear. No exaggeration, racks and racks of mostly technics turntables, speakers up the walls, you get the idea. Consequently he also has about 75 or so carts of various types. During my audition of the table he suggested some of the MicoLine or Shibata carts might be an upgrade from my current Ortofon 2M Blue. He suggested the following options: AT12Sa, AT14s, AT14Sa, Shure V15 Type IV (MR and HE), or a Pickering EEE II-s and Pickering TL3. While I enjoy the Ortofon 2M Blue, the upgrade bug has bitten, I'm curious if any of the above mentioned carts will be a significant improvement over the 2M. As far as I can tell these are 'vintage' NLA carts, as long as the styli are good, are they worth exploring? If not, am I better served buying new? My budget is under $400 and I can use MM or MC.
Think of those AT cartridges with Shibatas, as more like 2M Black performance level.

dagfinn
senior member
senior member
Norway
Posts: 426
Joined: 09 Jun 2019 00:29

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by dagfinn » 14 Jan 2020 02:11

@wolfie, here's my advice: Buying a high quality generator without stylus can be cheaper and safer than buying used combo if you want vintage. I paid $60 for AT160ML, without stylus. I found NOS AT140ML for €110. Buying stylus unused, NOS or aftermarked is safer IMHO.

Like this https://www.ebay.com/itm/SHURE-V15-IV-C ... SwnMRdDV6u
Looks good? Stylus almost straight? $374.99 :lol:

or this https://www.ebay.com/itm/SHURE-V15-TYPE ... SwTaFdU5Qv
No stylus, $150. JICO VN45HE SAS/B $199. As you say, cheaper can be found.

You see my point?

Roohark
United States of America
Posts: 4
Joined: 09 Jan 2020 15:46

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by Roohark » 14 Jan 2020 04:23

On the subject of price, the seller responded with asking prices:
The AT12, AT14S, AT440ML range from $225-$240, all have new styli (what type he did not say, I've asked for clarification).
The Shure V15 Type IV HE $250, Shure V15 Type IV MR $400 - new styli, again brand not listed.
The Pickerings are $180 and $200 - used styli.

I'll report back on the replacement styli brand. At these prices, I am leaning towards new unless someone sees a screaming deal here that I should jump on.

BMRR
vinyl addict
vinyl addict
United States of America
Posts: 6030
Joined: 23 Aug 2013 03:48

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by BMRR » 14 Jan 2020 15:56

Some of those prices might be reasonable if the new stylus is a new old stock original or a JICO SAS, but be sure to ask for specifics. If, for example, he just says "it's a JICO stylus" or "it's an LP Gear stylus" or something similar, get specific details from him, e.g. is it a conical or elliptical or SAS or something else.

The prices for the Pickerings with used styli are unreasonable unless he can somehow prove that the styli have little or no wear, which is impossible for most people unless they have high quality microscope images they're willing to share with you or they were OCD about tracking the hours on their styli and kept meticulous records thereof.

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

Re: Vintage AT12s, AT14Sa, AT14S step up from 2M Blue?

Post by noisefreq » 14 Jan 2020 19:53

Looks like the JICO D1200 is out of stock.

Take a look at this.
https://www.lpgear.com/product/PICKSXV151200E.html

I found a cartridge body for $15.
So for around$100 it's a really good sounding combination.
Comparable to the vintage Shure sound.
All the warmth, with maybe a little more top end detail.

Post Reply