AR-XA and a Shure M91ED

the thin end of the wedge
OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 03 Feb 2006 10:21

OMG, I don't think I have ever seen a worse Web site. Do you just email him and ask Joel if he has the stylus? Maybe Joel would want to swap some turntable stuff for some decent web site programming.


I am actually thinking about buying a second table, so I could have one in the listening area and one in the computer room, not sure yet. This one already has a Grado cart installed, which I assume either means the guy is living with a hum or has somehow solved the problem by shielding the wires. What do you think?

Thanks
Barry

bastlnut
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Post by bastlnut » 03 Feb 2006 10:44

hallo Barry,

i think that there is less of a problem with grado cartridges than people let on about. like i said before, it is probably the wiring and not so much the shielding. (take a look at my website-not the programming, the analog stuff)

why don't you just listen to both turntables when you get them and see what you like best. spend money when you know some more.
the shure m91ed is a budget cartridge, always was. if you want better than a budget cartridge, then look elsewhere for what you like the sound of. the 97xx needle will not fit the 91 body, they are different sizes, but the whole 97xx cartridge is a big step up from the 91xx cartridge, if you like the sound of shure cartridges maybe the way for you.
i think that a cartridge should be really good, and not budget. the tt can be less high end, but with a really good arm, cartidge or both ( :) ) you can get spectakular results.

you can find many used, therefore inexpensive, cartridges on ebay that you can get for a few quid just to try out to see if you like the sound. there may even be a hifi dealer near you that will have a used cartridge or two you can listen to, maybe even take home on loan.

regards,
bastlnut

OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 03 Feb 2006 11:44

No, I have resisted spending any money until I know more, but having information is a good thing. This is a hobby after all and should be fun.

I don't know if I have ever classified myself as an audiophile, I like music and I like it to sound good without a lot of fuss. That is I don't mind taking the time to set it up properly but don't want something that needs constant attention. My Stanton 6 series always gave me what I needed, it sounded good to me, was very gentle on my records and quite durable. Buying turntables with other carts opens up whole other world possibilities. The Shure seems very functional to me, something that could be used for doing LP to CD transfers and do a good job, the Grado seems like the one that you would want to use for serious listening. I may get exactly what I want and need quite by accident. The process has been quite enjoyable, very different than buying stereo equipment in the 70's which is the last time I did this sort of thing. There are so few real high end stores and if one exists it is geared more toward Home Theater. Which is probably fine, because I never found the snobby stereo sales people very helpful, "Oh that is your budge, maybe you should be looking in the Fisher Price Aisle". I have never had a problem having very nice sounding equipment on that Fisher Price budget, you just need to do your homework and make wise buying decisions. Which is what I am trying to do and I thank you all for your help. I may even become somewhat knowledgeable on Phono Cartridges, who knows.

Thanks
Barry

bastlnut
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Post by bastlnut » 03 Feb 2006 12:28

hallo,
i wouldn't classify myself as an audiophile either, but i am sure anyone else would. for me, it is a question of sound and not about getting a deal.
yes, acquiring stereo equipment is fun, as you said, and it should be. collecting information is the A and O of getting something good for oneself, i am not trying to stop that. on the contrary, i am simply showing where else to look that has not been mentioned yet, and giving another view on the 'misconseptions' some 'more than mention'.

btw, the playstation (the first one) is a very good cd player and a bargain on top of it. fixing up an older turntable is also a way to a bargain.
:? how many components do you have now? i am afraid that anyone with more than one of each (tt, amp, speakers, cd, tuner) is a audiophile to most people. :twisted:

O:)
now can we speak about what cables you are using? #-o [-X ](*,)

regards,
bastlnut

OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 03 Feb 2006 12:56

Ok, I must admit to having 4 amps and it would be 5 if my friend didn't accidentally sell my Marantz 1070 at her Yard Sale.javascriptemoticon(':(')
Sad and I am about to have 2 TTs. I am not sure that qualifies me for an audiophile classification, just too stupid to bring amps in to get them fixed. Real soon I am going to have an AS IS sale for two of them on Ebay.

Now you have asked a very good question about the cables. All my cables are old and if you haven't got the picture, so am I. I have so many, back when every piece of equipment came with cables, not sure that happens anymore. The one exception is my speaker cables which are Monster Cable (although I don't find them very monstrous). So I am quite open to suggestions on cables. Although without re wiring the TT, they have one built in, I suppose it would be a good idea to replace them if they have not been already.

Thanks
Barry

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Post by HotHondr98 » 03 Feb 2006 14:17

I own both the Shure M97xE and the M91ED, and can tell you that the M91ED is nowhere near the quality of any of the ‘M97’ series of cartridges. The M97 cartridges are below the V15 cartridges in Shure’s lineup, but above just about everything else, and while they don’t sound as good as the V15’s (I own a V15VMR!), they will track just about anything, and sound better than most low priced MM cartridges.

The M91ED was at the lower end of the Shure range – better than the M70 cartridges, but not as good as the M95 or M97 models, which were around 2 to 3 times the price. As it was around in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, like many of Shure’s range then, it needs quite a high capacitive loading – Shure state that it requires 400-500 pF, which is about 200 pF more than you get from the combination of most phono leads plus phono preamp. You really need to use a 200 pF capacitor wired across each channel to load the M91ED for the flattest frequency response. The closest cartridge in Shure’s current range to the M91ED in performance would be the M92E. Shure currently (February 2, 2006) have the RRP as $40 for the M92E, and $140 for the M97xE, and the difference reflects how much better the M97xE is compared to the M92E, which replaced the M91ED (many sellers have them for lower prices, by the way).

If you can afford it, go for the M97xE or another higher priced cartridge. I bought my M91ED when I was a 16 year old schoolboy (1977!!), to replace the quite ordinary cartridge in my turntable, and while it still sounds OK, and may work quite well in your AR turntable tonearm, higher priced cartridges will usually sound better, and wear your records less. I would set the tracking weight for your M91ED at 1.5g – they don’t really track well at less than that – 1g is quite fanciful, and 0.75g is dreaming!! The M97xE will track perfectly at a lighter weight – Shure recommend 1.25g. If you replace the stylus, you should get quite acceptable sound, and it’s certainly cheaper than upgrading. There are plenty of generic replacement styli around for that model, too, which give good results. Shure still list the styli – they probably sold hundreds of thousands of the M91ED cartridge, as they were one of the cheapest upgrade cartridges at a tracking force less than 2g. While a genuine Shure replacement stylus is probably the one to go for, I haven’t heard any difference using other brand replacements for the stylus. However, you probably won’t save much, and the Shure styli are still available, so would be worth getting. If you are thinking of upgrading the cartridge, the Stanton 681EEE is also worth considering – it was ranked better than the M97xE in a recent test in a British hi-fi magazine, and is roughly the same price. A Goldring cartridge was also ranked as fairly similar to the 681EEE, but as they are fairly expensive outside Britain, I’d go for the Stanton anywhere other than Britain. The Stanton 680Hi-fi is also an upgrade from the Shure M91ED.

And, for those who have discussed Grado cartridges, I own a Grado G+ with a Garrott Brothers Weinz Parabolic stylus re-tip. It sounds quite nice, but is really only any good on direct drives – it hums like crazy on most belt drive turntables with AC motors! I think it’s probably not shielded very well –something you can’t say about any Stanton cartridges, as most have metal bodies. I haven’t had hum problems with ANY other cartridges, come to think of it, and I own several low output Denon and Ortofon MC cartridges which aren’t plagued like the Grados!

OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 03 Feb 2006 14:47

Thanks for the reply.

So with the Grado it isn't the wires that need to be shielded it is the cartridge, very interesting.

I have inquired of the seller of that AR-XA with a Grado G+, how is it that he doesn't get hum when everyone else does, haven't heard yet, or maybe there is hum and he doesn't care, I can't imagine that.

It sounds like from every source I have, that I didn't do so badly with my Stanton. I can't say that it was totally my choice, I worked at a radio station and they used all Stanton and wow did they take some abuse and always sounded great. So I thought, good enough for them good enough for me, it always gave me the finest service.

The turntable that has the Shure M91ED will most likely be used for LP to CD transfers and as such not so critical. I was hoping the one with the Grado would really sound terrific for my main listening room, where all the serious listening happens. If not will have to revert to plan “B� and buy another more serious cartridge.

I have this other thought, the AR doesn't really have leveling feet and of course every turntable should be level for the best results, putting cardboard under it doesn't really make it for me. Has anyone found a nice way of using leveling feet with the AR-XA? If so where did you get them and how did you install them?

Thanks
Barry

HotHondr98
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Post by HotHondr98 » 03 Feb 2006 15:29

OldRelayer wrote:Thanks for the reply.

So with the Grado it isn't the wires that need to be shielded it is the cartridge, very interesting.

I have inquired of the seller of that AR-XA with a Grado G+, how is it that he doesn't get hum when everyone else does, haven't heard yet, or maybe there is hum and he doesn't care, I can't imagine that.
It's more likely he doesn't realise it's his expensive cartridge that is causing the problem. It's only a low level, persistent hum, but it's annoying after a while. Apparently the DC motors in direct drives are much better with Grados, as they have less of a hum field. I've certainly had better luck with them with my Grado, anyway. It's a pity, because it sounds particularly sweet.

With the levelling, and my house isn't level, so I also need to jack up one end of my turntables to level them, many Japanese better quality turntables (JVC, Denon, etc) had adjustable feet, so if you can get some of them, it should solve your problem. They just screw onto the bottom of the turntable. If your turntable doesn't have a bottom, fit wooden blocks underneath the turntable to screw them onto, or make one from particle board or MDF. You could probably make similar feet using a nut and screw as the adjustment, with some fancy rubber feet, which are usually available from electronic supply shops such as Radioshack, Tandy, Jaycar or Dick Smith.

OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 03 Feb 2006 16:10

I did hear back from the owner and yes there is an audible hum but the only time he really hears it is if the volume is very loud and there is no source material and the trade off is well worth it for the great sound.

If I remember correctly the base of the AR-XA is maybe a half inch deep, maybe not and the rest is just a flimsy cover for wires and mechanism of the turntable. So I guess a nice think piece of MDF, which probably won't look as nice as the wood frame would be needed and then attach the feet to it. I will stop by Radio Shack and see if they have any ideas, but frankly RS isn't what it use to be, there was a time when you went in with a problem and a guy would whip out a pencil and draw you a schematic and suggest a 100PF capactior.

Thanks
Barry

bastlnut
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Post by bastlnut » 03 Feb 2006 17:10

hallo,

i have said before and will say agein, if the wiring is done properly a grado will not hum more than most if it does not get to close to a motor. proper wiring is not schielded, it is keeping all leads seperate and isolated from each other and making sure all the ground wires are connected and isolated. schielding helps too, but getting the grounding right makes more of a difference.

grado's sound great and take a bit more effort to set up. period.
I did hear back from the owner and yes there is an audible hum but the only time he really hears it is if the volume is very load and there is no source material and the trade off is well worth it for the great sound.
and it is often said that grado's hum terribly with a AR deck, HAH!, so, we can now move on from here.

check out the vinylnirvana website that specializes in AR turntables. there should be some tips on modding an AR turntable. a more stable baseboard on the bottom will help a lot, as will felt or neoprene rubber feet. spikes are also very worthwhile having espescially if you need to level the deck on a uneven surface, just build them into the mdf or ply wood base.

needle doctor has a nice page on there website with similar priced cartridges shown together. select a few, and then use the search function on this site to find information about the ones on your short list.
the best way to get the cartridge you like best is to listen to it. listening will let you know which is the right one for you, gathering information and choosing from that is just an informed, intelligent guess.
the fun in this is the comparing to find the one or two, IMHO.

fun regards,
bastlnut

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Post by bauzace50 » 03 Feb 2006 17:38

Bastlnut,
So it is. The best way is to listen for oneself. That's why many enthusiasts have several cartridges. I have ten, and like them ALL! Would not be without any one of them, priced from $45. to $1,850.
In my case, it is NOT wondering which is better! ALL of them are my favorite best, and I use each to fit my choice!
Haydn on the Empire, Mozart on the Jubilee, Verdi on the V15V-MR, Berlioz on the Stanton, etc.
I have sold the ones not liked, such as the M97xE, and the Grado Reference Platinum.

OldRelayer
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Post by OldRelayer » 03 Feb 2006 17:42

OMG, I am so far out of my league here.

bauzace50
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Post by bauzace50 » 03 Feb 2006 17:53

Relayer,
don't worry about leagues! Some crazies, such as me, go into this a bit more than normal healthy music lovers! In another thread here, it was said that one diamond stylus will probably be good for about 1,000 hours playing time...which translates into about ten years of one's life. I surely will be closing in on the next dimension by that time, and nine cartridges I own will still have ten years worth of diamond after that!
Good luck, and have fun! Don't mind the crazies!

bastlnut
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Post by bastlnut » 03 Feb 2006 18:07

OldRelayer wrote:OMG, I am so far out of my league here.
hi,
then i shouldn't mention what i listen with! :-s

someone said leagues don't matter. how right he is!
beg, borrow, go visit, buy?, do what you can so get to listen to a few precious's so you can make a choice.

btw, i have about 15 that i listen to, and probably 40 or so :oops:
fwiw, the shure m91xx is usually a throw in just to be gotten rid of as they come with any old tt one gets to fix up.

fun, fun, fun,
bastlnut