MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

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IlijaGospodinov
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MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by IlijaGospodinov » 15 Jan 2020 17:28

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the help on my initial question for good options to upgrade the stylus on my Linn K9 cartridge.

After digging deep into several threads here and additional info on the web, I am in a dilemma - do I get the 95P Paratrace from theaudiofiles.co.uk at 170 GBP from their site, or an AT-VMN95ML stylus as sold on Ebay for 129 GBP?

I am assuming the Paratrace is a better stylus, but is it a better value? What should I expect from the Paratrace for the higher price? Strong/weak points of both styli?

I would be using it on a Linn Axis with an Akito tonearm, listening to a wide range of music - heavy/prog rock, jazz, fusion, blues, classical. Mid to heavy use.

Any help on this dilemma would be highly appreciated.

Thank you and all best.

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by patient_ot » 15 Jan 2020 19:56

The Paratrace is a fatter profile. It is not superior in any technical way to a Namiki Microridge, which is what the VM95ML stylus is. AT has better economies of scale than EsCo, which is why they can sell a finer profile for less money.

I know there are some issues with changing a cart on this deck (arm removal recommended), but you may want to seriously consider just buying a new VM95ML cartridge (assuming your phono pre is low capacitance) and then keeping the K9 in a drawer until you can send it off to Expert Stylus for a retip, or just get a new stylus for it.

No matter which one you end up buying, you will want clean records with either of these styli. If you have filthy records and are stubborn about cleaning, or have a lot of bad condition records, then I wouldn't recommend the Paratrace or the ML.

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by Erin1 » 16 Jan 2020 00:51

A Linn K9 is an AT95 cartridge anyway.

I second the advice above. Just get the VM95ML.
It will be the same sound just with a much better stylus.

No need to retip the K9. It's just an old AT95 cartridge.

IlijaGospodinov
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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by IlijaGospodinov » 16 Jan 2020 04:38

Thank you both for the kind advice. I will most probably go for the AT-VMN95ML stylus only. My records have been professionally cleaned a month ago, so I am hoping to receive good results :-) I have a person who will be able to help me replace the stylus if it's recommended to remove the tonearm. All best!

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by cafe latte » 16 Jan 2020 05:05

Erin1 wrote:
16 Jan 2020 00:51
A Linn K9 is an AT95 cartridge anyway.

I second the advice above. Just get the VM95ML.
It will be the same sound just with a much better stylus.

No need to retip the K9. It's just an old AT95 cartridge.
The vm has different cold so will sound different, but if op gets a vm ml with the body (cheap) then they can try the sound of both.
Chris

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by DeepEnd » 16 Jan 2020 08:24

My personal view is that with all the more sophisticated styli Paratrace, ML/MR, FG2, FGS, VdH, Replicant, Vital, Shibata, Stereohedron, FineLine “LC” and perhaps even hyper elliptical is they are all very good and improve on more standard bi-radial types.

Yes some have incredibly fine minor radii and can be shown to track the carrier for 4 channel records (38k Hz) but even the relatively old Shibata was designed to this and is not particularly the finest of radii.

It means that given most records don’t have much content above 16kHz then some of the technology is wasted.

This means that minor differences in presentation and personal preferences become the deciding factor and as result what is “Best” isn’t a clear cut thing.

I do accept that the ML/MR, Replicant, FGS types (especially in AT generators) pull amazing amounts of details off the records and if that is what you need then go for it but getting the alignment correct can be a real pain.

The slightly less radical FG2, Paratrace, Vital, SLC, Shibata are marginally slightly easier to set up, perhaps trade a very small amount of detail for a very small amount of body (push vocals slightly further forward in the mix).

I used to think that I was odd going for the second type (eg I prefer the fine line OM30 over the FG70 tipped OM40) but given AT’s current pricing perhaps I not the only one (“bluntest” SLC more expensive than Shibata more expensive than ML).


I don’t think either stylus will disappoint but I wouldn’t pay £170 for the Paratrace (as £100 would get your K9 retipped) but the Paratrace is closer to the original Vital tip fitted to the K9. So I suppose the choice is close (perhaps slightly better but at £100) or go for the detailed option.

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by cafe latte » 16 Jan 2020 10:42

DeepEnd wrote:
16 Jan 2020 08:24
My personal view is that with all the more sophisticated styli Paratrace, ML/MR, FG2, FGS, VdH, Replicant, Vital, Shibata, Stereohedron, FineLine “LC” and perhaps even hyper elliptical is they are all very good and improve on more standard bi-radial types.

Yes some have incredibly fine minor radii and can be shown to track the carrier for 4 channel records (38k Hz) but even the relatively old Shibata was designed to this and is not particularly the finest of radii.

It means that given most records don’t have much content above 16kHz then some of the technology is wasted.

This means that minor differences in presentation and personal preferences become the deciding factor and as result what is “Best” isn’t a clear cut thing.

I do accept that the ML/MR, Replicant, FGS types (especially in AT generators) pull amazing amounts of details off the records and if that is what you need then go for it but getting the alignment correct can be a real pain.

The slightly less radical FG2, Paratrace, Vital, SLC, Shibata are marginally slightly easier to set up, perhaps trade a very small amount of detail for a very small amount of body (push vocals slightly further forward in the mix).

I used to think that I was odd going for the second type (eg I prefer the fine line OM30 over the FG70 tipped OM40) but given AT’s current pricing perhaps I not the only one (“bluntest” SLC more expensive than Shibata more expensive than ML).


I don’t think either stylus will disappoint but I wouldn’t pay £170 for the Paratrace (as £100 would get your K9 retipped) but the Paratrace is closer to the original Vital tip fitted to the K9. So I suppose the choice is close (perhaps slightly better but at £100) or go for the detailed option.
Ml is not hard to align, I give same care whatever the cut. Moving mass gets less with ml too which speeds things up sonically and adds to detail due to moving mass not just actual cut so improvements are far from wasted.
Chris

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by cafe latte » 16 Jan 2020 10:43

cafe latte wrote:
16 Jan 2020 05:05
Erin1 wrote:
16 Jan 2020 00:51
A Linn K9 is an AT95 cartridge anyway.

I second the advice above. Just get the VM95ML.
It will be the same sound just with a much better stylus.

No need to retip the K9. It's just an old AT95 cartridge.
The vm has different cold so will sound different, but if op gets a vm ml with the body (cheap) then they can try the sound of both.
Chris
Different coils not cold darn predictive text.

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by Erin1 » 16 Jan 2020 13:07

cafe latte wrote:
16 Jan 2020 10:43

Different coils not cold darn predictive text.
Probably has a very similar sound though.
AT still sounds like AT.
You can't mistake that sound for any other manufacturer.

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by patient_ot » 16 Jan 2020 15:49

If the resistance and inductance of the cart body are different, the carts will have a different FR curve. Now, I don't now what these specs are for the K9 body. The 95 generator has been around a LONG time and possibly gone through a few different iterations. I can tell you that the new VM95 series has a flatter, more accurate FR (when properly loaded) than the recent generation AT95 that just preceded it.

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by IlijaGospodinov » 16 Jan 2020 16:26

All very useful advice. Do you think I should also get an AT95E, as a cheaper cart/stylus to use with records in not so good condition?

Thanks again!

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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by patient_ot » 16 Jan 2020 16:31

IlijaGospodinov wrote:
16 Jan 2020 16:26
All very useful advice. Do you think I should also get an AT95E, as a cheaper cart/stylus to use with records in not so good condition?

Thanks again!
I don't think your arm is really conducive to cartridge swapping. You can swap styli on the same cart body, but it doesn't take a whole lot to eventually slip and ruin one in the process. These things are delicate.

Cart swapping on a regular basis should really be limited to arms with a removeable headshell of some type.

If you have a spare turntable, you can mount a cheap conical cartridge on that.

Otherwise, choose a cart based on the condition and cleanliness of the majority of records you will be playing.

IlijaGospodinov
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Re: MM stylus upgrade - 95P "Paratrace" vs AT-VMN95ML

Post by IlijaGospodinov » 16 Jan 2020 16:48

Thanks. The AT-VMN95ML stylus sounds like the next step. Cannot wait :-)

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