Headshell how to choose

the thin end of the wedge
Post Reply
cunningr
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 18
Joined: 11 Dec 2019 10:08

Headshell how to choose

Post by cunningr » 17 Jan 2020 12:09

Hi,
I just received a KP-990 in great shape but am thinking of getting a better cartridge and head shell. I read the manual and doesn't really mention how to choose a head shell. So thinking of going with a Denon 301II how would I pick a Head shell to match?

lenjack
long player
long player
United States of America
Posts: 2727
Joined: 23 Jun 2017 02:11
Location: Liverpool, PA

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by lenjack » 17 Jan 2020 14:45

There are several types of specialized headshells, but most turntables use 2 basic types. Your turntable has a curved arm, which uses what is called an SME type, which is made by dozens of companies. You'll find examples on this page. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=phono+cartri ... nb_sb_noss. Any of these will work. Note that some of these shown include the cartridge which you don't need.

patient_ot
long player
long player
Posts: 1140
Joined: 03 Dec 2013 19:32

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by patient_ot » 17 Jan 2020 15:03

The big thing to consider (besides obvious compatibility issues like connector type/hs type) is the weight of the headshell. Headshells can weigh as little as 6g or as much as 18g or so. The heavier ones are not going to work with every TT or cartridge.

Before doing anything, consider the existing mass of your tonearm and the mass of the stock headshell. Typically I do NOT recommend using a HS that is too much heavier than stock. Try to weigh the stock HS with no cart if can.

Bear in mind the Denon 301 is fairly high compliance for a LOMC. It may or may not be a good match for your Kenwood arm. You will need to research the mass of the tonearm before jumping the gun on a cart that may be a bad match for it. Keep in mind Denon, like most Japanese cart companies, uses the 100hz compliance spec rather than the 10hz Western compliance spec. As such you cannot use the VE calculator with those Japanese specs - you'll get incorrect results.

cunningr
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 18
Joined: 11 Dec 2019 10:08

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by cunningr » 17 Jan 2020 15:31

patient_ot wrote:
17 Jan 2020 15:03
The big thing to consider (besides obvious compatibility issues like connector type/hs type) is the weight of the headshell. Headshells can weigh as little as 6g or as much as 18g or so. The heavier ones are not going to work with every TT or cartridge.

Before doing anything, consider the existing mass of your tonearm and the mass of the stock headshell. Typically I do NOT recommend using a HS that is too much heavier than stock. Try to weigh the stock HS with no cart if can.

Bear in mind the Denon 301 is fairly high compliance for a LOMC. It may or may not be a good match for your Kenwood arm. You will need to research the mass of the tonearm before jumping the gun on a cart that may be a bad match for it. Keep in mind Denon, like most Japanese cart companies, uses the 100hz compliance spec rather than the 10hz Western compliance spec. As such you cannot use the VE calculator with those Japanese specs - you'll get incorrect results.
You hit the heart of my question on the HS weight, I am not 100% sure the HS that came on it is the original and the Service manual doesn't list specs for the HS.

As for the 301 it was recommended to me by another forum member that has the same TT and is using it with excellent results, also same Preamp.

I have tried identifying the tonearm compliance was told by the Kenwood guys that the KP-990 is medium, but the more I read on how to calculate the more confusing lol.

The TT came with a Picker P/AT-1 I can't find any setup info in the database and the vendor zeroed out the tone arm set up.

I appreciate the feedback.

dagfinn
senior member
senior member
Norway
Posts: 558
Joined: 09 Jun 2019 00:29

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by dagfinn » 17 Jan 2020 16:10

The KP-990 and the KD-990 looks the same to me. https://www.vinylengine.com/library/ken ... -990.shtml
Except for the headshell in the pic ;).
KD-990_headshell.JPG
(22.64 KiB) Downloaded 136 times
KD-990 says 12g.
KP-990_headshell.JPG
(89.59 KiB) Downloaded 129 times
If this is original, it looks heavy to me. 12g minimum.

Usually I'd chose headshell after compliance, and start light and add weight if necessary. But the KD-990 arm can't balance very light loads, minimum is 14g cart+headshell. Max 24g. So if the KP-990 is the same... :). Good luck!

patient_ot
long player
long player
Posts: 1140
Joined: 03 Dec 2013 19:32

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by patient_ot » 17 Jan 2020 16:13

cunningr wrote:
17 Jan 2020 15:31

As for the 301 it was recommended to me by another forum member that has the same TT and is using it with excellent results, also same Preamp.
Did that recommender measure the resonant frequency of their cart/tonearm combo? If not, I would take the recommendation with a grain of salt.

patient_ot
long player
long player
Posts: 1140
Joined: 03 Dec 2013 19:32

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by patient_ot » 17 Jan 2020 16:17

dagfinn wrote:
17 Jan 2020 16:10
The KP-990 and the KD-990 looks the same to me. https://www.vinylengine.com/library/ken ... -990.shtml
Except for the headshell in the pic ;).
KD-990_headshell.JPG
KD-990 says 12g.

KP-990_headshell.JPG
If this is original, it looks heavy to me. 12g minimum.

Usually I'd chose headshell after compliance, and start light and add weight if necessary. But the KD-990 arm can't balance very light loads, minimum is 14g cart+headshell. Max 24g. So if the KP-990 is the same... :). Good luck!
If the HS alone weighs 12g I probably wouldn't put a highly compliant cartridge on it.

Found this through a quick search:

A Hifi Choice review in Feb 1989 has the approximate effective mass of the KD-990 arm at 16g, including screws

Some discussion here:

https://pinkfishmedia.net/forum/threads ... 90.184309/

Alec124c41
vinyl engineer
vinyl engineer
Canada
Posts: 23470
Joined: 28 Oct 2002 03:24
Location: North of Toronto, Canada

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by Alec124c41 » 17 Jan 2020 17:42

The DL-301 II likes a bit of mass to sound its best. A 12 gram headshell should be in the right range.

Cheers,
Alec

goatbreath
long player
long player
Scotland
Posts: 2710
Joined: 17 Mar 2010 16:54
Location: Edinbugger

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by goatbreath » 17 Jan 2020 18:45

I owned a Kenwood KD 7010 for a while,that I deeply regret letting go..
This is basically the exact same as the KP 990..Great turntable..
The arm is on the heavy side of medium mass it is nearer 10 inches rather than the usual 9..
My Sumiko 12 Gram headshell was a bit too much for the AT95e I felt..
I tend to run it without the finger lift making it,I think it was 11.2 grams..
I had a Denon DL110 in a 9.2 gram headshell..
The good news is the 9.2 gram headshell is basically the cheap Technics Copy Headshell..
Mine was an Altai..You can actually get them with screw in weights for the top to alter the mass.
They don't have fancy wire etc,but they work,you can always keep it as a spare if you want something more Audiophile....
The Altai had a fair bit more bass than the DL110 with a Rega RB250..
Alec's method of tuning the mass to the cartridge is a good one..
I use my DL110 on a Sumiko headshell on my SME 3009 Improved S2 detachable..
This gives plenty of bass..The Kenwood without headshell has a bit more mass than the SME though..
It is a bit more heavy duty..

Still wish I hadn't parted with it...Groan...
I have other nice turntables though and very little room.. :)

This is the headshell that I am talking about..
I imagine easily available in the USA..

https://www.juno.co.uk/products/tonar-d ... 567696-01/

cunningr
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 18
Joined: 11 Dec 2019 10:08

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by cunningr » 17 Jan 2020 21:11

Thanks for the insight. The person that recommended cant say for sure about testing the resonance but he loves kenwood turn tables and has provided me with good advice, my guess is he has checked the resonance and was also the person stated its medium compliant. Hopefully using the correct terminology. I am going to try using the info provided in the calculators.

The KP990 and KD990 I believe are the same, the KP are the ones for Japan where the KD designator was for rest of the world. Several models are basically same unit kd850 and the unit mentioned above was an updated version.

goatbreath
long player
long player
Scotland
Posts: 2710
Joined: 17 Mar 2010 16:54
Location: Edinbugger

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by goatbreath » 17 Jan 2020 21:44

Here's my Old One..

I still miss her... lol
Kenwood.jpg
(96.3 KiB) Downloaded 88 times
Kenwood 2.jpg
(89.01000000000001 KiB) Downloaded 88 times

cunningr
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 18
Joined: 11 Dec 2019 10:08

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by cunningr » 18 Jan 2020 18:43

goatbreath wrote:
17 Jan 2020 21:44
Here's my Old One..

I still miss her... lol

Kenwood.jpg

Kenwood 2.jpg
Nice, looks like mine lol

I have in cool sown wife doesnt know i bought yet. Lol

AsOriginallyRecorded
long player
long player
Canada
Posts: 1027
Joined: 26 Jun 2018 06:05

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by AsOriginallyRecorded » 18 Jan 2020 19:31

Skirting all the tech talk and details, Alec knows...one of our favorite straight shooters here! Very elegant looking TT, enjoy it. And good luck with your wife when you "surprise" her! :lol: 8)

cunningr
junior member
junior member
United States of America
Posts: 18
Joined: 11 Dec 2019 10:08

Re: Headshell how to choose

Post by cunningr » 19 Jan 2020 20:24

AsOriginallyRecorded wrote:
18 Jan 2020 19:31
Skirting all the tech talk and details, Alec knows...one of our favorite straight shooters here! Very elegant looking TT, enjoy it. And good luck with your wife when you "surprise" her! :lol: 8)
Haha already laid the ground work, gave her $500 windfall. Lol. Told her i want another TT, forgot it was already in my possession :D .

Post Reply