LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

the thin end of the wedge
pcourtney
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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by pcourtney » 21 Nov 2017 09:24

I'm not surprised they are going to increase the 95P to £140, the cat is out of the bag so as to speak, it really is a tremendous upgrade for the AT95E cartridge, hundreds of Linn LP12 owners in the UK have gone for it and that is why demand is so strong for it !

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by BMRR » 21 Nov 2017 16:29

eriathomas wrote:
pcourtney wrote:pretty special in the UK - masterminded by Expert Stylus about 20 years ago

this is a good bit of info

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/daveyw/ ... -t589.html
I re-read it and realized my mistake. It'd be cool to have, but $180 for an AT95E stylus seems crazy. Does it really sound that much better?
The current price of LPGear's Shibata stylus for the AT95 is $173. In that context, $180 doesn't seem crazy at all. The nude Paratrace diamond is unquestionably better than the bonded Shibata diamond.

That doesn't mean you should feel compelled or pressured to buy one, of course. I just think the context is important to keep in mind.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by fresherr » 22 Nov 2017 20:47

I've been lurking on this thread with much curiousity. Having now amassed quite an assemblage of AT cartridges from AT12sa to Signet TK10, I consider myself familiar with their characteristics and specifications. I don't have an AT95 to upgrade, but I do have an AT440mlb with a 'broken in' NOS stylus. It is difficult for me to believe that a hot-rodded AT95 can surpass an AT440mlb in playback performance. Currently, An AT440mlb can be commonly purchased for $199.00, free shipping. LPGear sells the AT95sa for $187.98, plus shipping. I'm sure the upgraded stylus is beneficial, as would be a Paratrace stylus, but that's not the entire picture. The 95sa has a bonded Shibata on a 'thinwall pipe', where the 440mlb has a nude, square shank MicroLine stone on a tapered pipe. The 440mlb also has a higher output (4mv vs 3mv) than the 95sa. Channel balance and channel separation specs are also better for the 440.

Granted, YRMV from mine, but, for the even money, I would take a 440 any day of the week over a 95sa. If anyone is in a position to make a direct comparison of these two, I would be very interested in seeing the results.

just my $0.02

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by pcourtney » 22 Nov 2017 21:25

we're not talking about the AT95SA though, we are using the humble and lowly AT95E

https://eu.audio-technica.com/AT95E

has the same the same dual magnet design as the celebrated AT440MLa or b

and used with the Paratrace 95P it really is terrific value for money in every sense of the word !

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by MikeyB456 » 22 Nov 2017 21:41

By comparison, in the UK the AT440MLb is typically £235, and an AT95 + a Paratrace can be had for around £155, so the numbers work a bit differently for us.

Sadly I've not had the opportunity to hear the AT440MLb, but I've read lots of online comment about it's allegedly over-bright nature, which rather put me off and I didn't pursue it. To my ears the AT95P is nicely balanced tonally, but each to his own.

Like you, I was also concerned about the logic of putting a nice nude diamond on the end of a rather basic cantilever, so it took a deep breath and a stiff gin to decide to give it a go. But, you know, it does work! Listening to old favourite tracks, I'm hearing details and nuances I've never known were there, and my record collection has become a voyage of discovery.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by BMRR » 22 Nov 2017 22:34

pcourtney wrote:we're not talking about the AT95SA though,...
The subject of the thread is the AT95SA. Comparing the AT95SA to other cartridges is perfectly appropriate, in my humble opinion.
pcourtney wrote:...has the same the same dual magnet design as the celebrated AT440MLa or b
The basic concept is the same, but the two cartridge bodies are quite different. The 100-series design (which includes the 440) has several improvements over the 90-series design, such as a center shield plate between the left and right sides; better quality wiring (LC-OFC, PCOCC, or 6N, depending on which version you own); laminated core; and possible some others I'm forgetting.
pcourtney wrote:...and used with the Paratrace 95P it really is terrific value for money in every sense of the word !
I agree. :)

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by james73_2008 » 22 Nov 2017 22:38

Who makes the AT95 Paratrace? Is there an AT91 version available?


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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by BMRR » 22 Nov 2017 22:38

MikeyB456 wrote:Sadly I've not had the opportunity to hear the AT440MLb, but I've read lots of online comment about it's allegedly over-bright nature, which rather put me off and I didn't pursue it.
The "b" version is not bright. The comments you read may have been about the "a" version, or were written by people who haven't heard the "b" version with their own ears and assumed it was as bright as the "a" version.

When AT made the transition from "a" to "b" they switched from an anodized aluminum cantilever to a polished aluminum cantilever, and they also made some minor changes to the suspension system. These changes result in a much more balanced sound.

The only time I experienced any excessive brightness with my 440MLb was when it was brand new. After 10 hours of use, the extra brightness disappeared and it is now a very balanced and neutral cart.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by BMRR » 22 Nov 2017 22:40

james73_2008 wrote:Who makes the AT95 Paratrace? Is there an AT91 version available?
The upgrade is performed by Expert Stylus Company. They take a stock ATN95E stylus, remove the bonded elliptical diamond, and replace it with a nude Paratrace diamond. The stylus is then repackaged and sold online.

I'm not aware of a similar ready-made solution for the AT91, but Expert Stylus could certainly do that if you sent them an ATN91 stylus (and for less money than buying the ready-made 95P stylus).

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by smee4 » 22 Nov 2017 23:36

BMRR wrote: When AT made the transition from "a" to "b" they switched from an anodized aluminum cantilever to a polished aluminum cantilever, and they also made some minor changes to the suspension system. These changes result in a much more balanced sound.
Interesting. I have the 'a' version and it is sitting unused because I did not like the thin/bright sound. If all the changes made were to the replaceable stylus assembly, would buying a 'b' stylus (or some other aftermarket stylus) upgrade it and solve the problem?

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by james73_2008 » 22 Nov 2017 23:46

BMRR wrote:The upgrade is performed by Expert Stylus Company. They take a stock ATN95E stylus, remove the bonded elliptical diamond, and replace it with a nude Paratrace diamond. The stylus is then repackaged and sold online.

I'm not aware of a similar ready-made solution for the AT91, but Expert Stylus could certainly do that if you sent them an ATN91 stylus (and for less money than buying the ready-made 95P stylus).
That's good to know. I dug out my old AT3601 cartridge and I've been looking at 3rd party elliptical, hyper-elliptical, vivid-line and shibata alternatives. I suspect a paratrace version would out-perform all of them. AFAIA the only genuine AT stylus for that cartridge that came with an aluminium cantilever was the CN5625AL. I'd imagine that one would be the best choice for fitting a paratrace tip, as the rest of the AT stylii in that cartridge family all had carbon cantilevers.

Now, what I want first is a decent low-slung counterweight to go on my RB300 arm...



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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by fresherr » 23 Nov 2017 01:15

BMRR wrote:
MikeyB456 wrote:Sadly I've not had the opportunity to hear the AT440MLb, but I've read lots of online comment about it's allegedly over-bright nature, which rather put me off and I didn't pursue it.
The "b" version is not bright. The comments you read may have been about the "a" version, or were written by people who haven't heard the "b" version with their own ears and assumed it was as bright as the "a" version.

When AT made the transition from "a" to "b" they switched from an anodized aluminum cantilever to a polished aluminum cantilever, and they also made some minor changes to the suspension system. These changes result in a much more balanced sound.

The only time I experienced any excessive brightness with my 440MLb was when it was brand new. After 10 hours of use, the extra brightness disappeared and it is now a very balanced and neutral cart.
My experience also. FWIW, I'm listening to the original 'Mission Impossible' tv soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin; Signet TK9lca on the tt. Now, this is what I call 'bright'! Also detailed beyond description. Having a cartridge that accurately reproduces harmonics over 15k can be a two-edged sword; the ears may not be ready for such a wealth of hf. My 440mlb is more enjoyable and less fatiguing over the course of an evening.

OTOH, I can appreciate the cost differences for a Paratrace, across the Pond. This 'world economy' stuff is not always balanced, is it? Regardless, happy revolutions to all.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by chiz » 23 Nov 2017 02:57

james73_2008 wrote:I dug out my old AT3601 cartridge and I've been looking at 3rd party elliptical, hyper-elliptical, vivid-line and shibata alternatives. I suspect a paratrace version would out-perform all of them. AFAIA the only genuine AT stylus for that cartridge that came with an aluminium cantilever was the CN5625AL. I'd imagine that one would be the best choice for fitting a paratrace tip, as the rest of the AT stylii in that cartridge family all had carbon cantilevers.
The recent ATN91R has an aluminium cantilever and may be easier to find locally than the CN5625AL:

https://eu.audio-technica.com/hifi-phono/styli/ATN91R

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by JRob1125 » 15 Dec 2017 19:10

I'm extremely tempted to try the Paratrace upgrade for my AT95E....but the best option for buying a ready-made one in the US seems to be $214 on eBay for the stylus alone!

I have a very lightly used LP Gear ATN95C...is that worth sending to ESCO to be retipped? I suspect the cantilever is technically inferior to the more expensive styli, how much does that matter if you have such a sophisticated tip?


I also have genuine ATN95E with a slightly bent cantilever, an LP Gear SE with a "noticeably" bent cantilever, and of course the SA with an undamaged canteliver. Would anynof these be a better option? I'd honestly prefer to keep the Shibata in tact and upgrade one of the lower grade needles, but my goal is the best quality sound for the least amount of money.

If it helps....I have a Yamaha R-S700, U-Turn Orbit with acryllic platter and cork mat, and Jamo S426 speakers.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by BMRR » 15 Dec 2017 20:26

JRob1125 wrote:I have a very lightly used LP Gear ATN95C...is that worth sending to ESCO to be retipped? I suspect the cantilever is technically inferior to the more expensive styli, how much does that matter if you have such a sophisticated tip?
You also have to consider that the tracking force of the ATN95C (which is actually just an ATN3400) is 3g, which is not really suitable (or necessary) for a diamond shape like the Paratrace.

JRob1125 wrote:I also have genuine ATN95E with a slightly bent cantilever, an LP Gear SE with a "noticeably" bent cantilever, and of course the SA with an undamaged canteliver. Would anynof these be a better option? I'd honestly prefer to keep the Shibata in tact and upgrade one of the lower grade needles, but my goal is the best quality sound for the least amount of money.
Yeah, if I were in your situation I'd keep the SA as-is, and that'll also give you something good to listen to while ESCO is doing their work. Instead of sending in the E or the SE, both of which would probably require new cantilevers and thus would cost more, I'd suggest simply buying a stock ATN95E for $32-$35 and sending that to ESCO. That way you're still getting a genuine (and brand new) AT cantilever/suspension/magnets, and paying less than buying a ready-made ATN95P.