LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

the thin end of the wedge
JRob1125
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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by JRob1125 » 11 Jan 2018 17:28

So, a few weeks ago I forgot to put my cue lever up and dropped the SA flat on my scale. Goodbye suspension.

I replaced it with the Vivid Line and was blown away. I've now heard every stylus available for this cartridge except for the paratrace and IMO, the SA is too revealing (this IS a budget cart after all). Surface noise and slightly exaggerated treble were the two main flaws (not major, but noticeable). The VL seems to be exactly what the AT95 is asking for. Low noise, low distortion and a frequency response about as flat as a CD....all without sounding "digital".

Again, I haven't heard the paratrace, but I can't imagine it being any less revealing than the Shibata. The VL may not be the most advanced cut out there, but it sounds like a perfect match for the AT95E

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by oztayls » 21 Jun 2018 01:01

While I have not delved into the AT95E upgrades before, I've been fascinated by the offerings available. I have been quite keen on getting an SA or VL, and then up popped another option, the P! After much deliberation, I've just ordered a Paratrace AT95P "stylus only" to upgrade the AT95E I have on one of my ERAs. While I've been happy with the E, I can't wait to hear the results and compare it to my Super OM30 and a couple of vintage Shures as well (V15-III and M91ED). Perhaps this purchase now admits me into the College of Nutters! Scary where this could lead me over the next few years... :)

The AT91 has been mentioned here as a candidate for a Shibata or Microline upgrade as well. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea as the 91 has a similar dual magnet design and the specs are quite close to that of the 95, but different enough that the result would be interesting. I find it intriguing that Rega chose the AT91 over the AT95E for it's Carbon base model cartridge, particularly as Roy Gandy is quite the pedantic type and wouldn't have made the decision flippantly. I still have the Rega Carbon on hand and occasionally I drag it out to hear what I was listening to a couple of years ago. It's a very impressive cartridge for it's price, so I can't help wondering how a Linear stylus might sound on that carbon cantilever.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by Wimbo » 21 Jun 2018 04:44

JRob1125 wrote:So, a few weeks ago I forgot to put my cue lever up and dropped the SA flat on my scale. Goodbye suspension.

I replaced it with the Vivid Line and was blown away. I've now heard every stylus available for this cartridge except for the paratrace and IMO, the SA is too revealing (this IS a budget cart after all). Surface noise and slightly exaggerated treble were the two main flaws (not major, but noticeable). The VL seems to be exactly what the AT95 is asking for. Low noise, low distortion and a frequency response about as flat as a CD....all without sounding "digital".

Again, I haven't heard the paratrace, but I can't imagine it being any less revealing than the Shibata. The VL may not be the most advanced cut out there, but it sounds like a perfect match for the AT95E
I've got an AT95VL that I put into a wooden body and I cut all the plastic away from the stylus just leaving the Stud. Sounds heaps better. A lot of the harshness and busyness of the cartridge has gone and it leaves a more revealing soundstage.

JRob1125
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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by JRob1125 » 21 Jun 2018 15:06

I've learned over the past few month how big of a difference the cantilver makes in term of sound presentation. The VL is better than the stock, but the EX is my personal favorite.

If your main goal is sound quality, I recommended having the EX retipped with an nude Extended Contact by Expert Stylus (essentially a 0.25 x 0.7 true elliptical) for $90 including shipping. At the very least, it sounds "just as good" as the VL and SA, and I say that mainly to avoid overhyping it.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by oztayls » 29 Jun 2018 04:05

My ATN95P (Paratrace) finally arrived from the UK early this morning. I was pretty keen on giving it a quick trial run so out came a couple of Dire Straits albums that I'm very familiar with, Brothers in Arms and Love Over Gold. First impressions reveal more air, better detail and the harshness that sometimes comes with high notes on these records is gone. Highs, lows and mid-range all seem to have a lushness that I haven't experienced before. It was a new AT95 cart so it will be interesting to see how it sounds after a few hours. I'm still up in the air about whether the so-called burn-in period exists at all, but concede I'm no expert in such matters, so I will try to be aware of it and see if I can detect anything. The records I played today are in great condition so I'm now interested to hear how the P will sound on some of my lesser quality ones when I get a chance this evening.

At nearly AU$300, the Paratrace stylus is not exactly cheap for Aussie buyers, but seeing as it's installed in a $60 cart makes it an excellent buy, I think. (Note: Next week the price jumps for Aussies as we are hit with 10% GST on both foreign and domestic purchases, so jump in now if you can!)

I have a few carts for comparison, for example an OM Super 30, Shure V15-III/Jico; Shure M91ED/Jico; Rega Bias2; Rega Exact and of course the original AT95E. To my ears, the 95P is easily the pick of the bunch on my system, so I'm in no doubt that's it's a very, very good buy. It certainly showcases the capabilities of the amazing and bargain-priced AT95 cartridge.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by smee4 » 29 Jun 2018 05:56

The Vivid Line stylus is nearly half that price from Decibel Hifi in Australia. Your description is pretty much in line with my experience listening to the VL. I had been wondering about Paratrace, but doesn't sound like enough difference to change next time.

oztayls
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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by oztayls » 29 Jun 2018 07:16

smee4 wrote:The Vivid Line stylus is nearly half that price from Decibel Hifi in Australia. Your description is pretty much in line with my experience listening to the VL. I had been wondering about Paratrace, but doesn't sound like enough difference to change next time.
Hi Smee4, I've no doubt the VL is a fine stylus for the price also, but I didn't want a stylus that is essentially a bonded hyper elliptical/line contact and not quite a Shibata. I've read lots of good things about the VL, but I really wanted to experience a nude "true ML" along the same design lines of a MicroLine/VanDenHull etc, which is the Paratrace. I can't comment on which is the better stylus, the VL or the Paratrace as I've not heard the VL. The differences are in all likelihood, very slight, so I tend to agree with you that for the money, the VL would likely represent a sweeter spot in terms of price/performance, or as we say, bang for our bucks. But there's no denying that the nude Paratrace (AT95P) is a heck of a stylus even at the price point it sits at. Unfortunately for us here in Oz, we suffer the effects of adverse currency conversion rates, but sometimes we have to suck it up or miss out :cry:

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by JRob1125 » 29 Jun 2018 15:32

The Paratrace and Vivid Line have the same side radius of 6 microns (about .24 mil), so the both give the same amount of detail. The VL is a 0.2 x 2.7 hyperelliptical and the Paratrace is a 0.2 x 0.7 x 1.0 microridge. The AT95P has less surface noise and gets rid that last bit of distortion you get with less advanced shapes. It definitely lives up to the hype, but the VL gives you about 90% of that for significantly lower cost and IMO is the better "bang for buck" option.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by JAV80007 » 01 Jul 2018 16:20

JRob1125 wrote:The Paratrace and Vivid Line have the same side radius of 6 microns (about .24 mil), so the both give the same amount of detail. The VL is a 0.2 x 2.7 hyperelliptical and the Paratrace is a 0.2 x 0.7 x 1.0 microridge. The AT95P has less surface noise and gets rid that last bit of distortion you get with less advanced shapes. It definitely lives up to the hype, but the VL gives you about 90% of that for significantly lower cost and IMO is the better "bang for buck" option.
I have an AT95SA stylus that I purchased directly from JICO, Japan. It has the wings cut and it's mounted in a Clear Audio Virtuoso I cartridge. The shibata cut and polish looks extremely good under
Microscope scrutiny.

With proper VTA it has noticeably lower surface noise than the stock stylus and tracks much better. The sound quality is excellent with more space and clarity. The highs are opened up as well, but it retains that AT95 bass forward sound that I love.

Anywho, the JICO shibata is a solid contender that's slightly less expensive than the paratrace and more easily available. I bit more than the vivid line, but I'd bet eorth it as the improvements I can hear are more than "subtle".

smee4
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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by smee4 » 01 Jul 2018 23:57

JAV80007 wrote:
JRob1125 wrote:The Paratrace and Vivid Line have the same side radius of 6 microns (about .24 mil), so the both give the same amount of detail. The VL is a 0.2 x 2.7 hyperelliptical and the Paratrace is a 0.2 x 0.7 x 1.0 microridge. The AT95P has less surface noise and gets rid that last bit of distortion you get with less advanced shapes. It definitely lives up to the hype, but the VL gives you about 90% of that for significantly lower cost and IMO is the better "bang for buck" option.
I have an AT95SA stylus that I purchased directly from JICO, Japan. It has the wings cut and it's mounted in a Clear Audio Virtuoso I cartridge. The shibata cut and polish looks extremely good under
Microscope scrutiny.

With proper VTA it has noticeably lower surface noise than the stock stylus and tracks much better. The sound quality is excellent with more space and clarity. The highs are opened up as well, but it retains that AT95 bass forward sound that I love.

Anywho, the JICO shibata is a solid contender that's slightly less expensive than the paratrace and more easily available. I bit more than the vivid line, but I'd bet eorth it as the improvements I can hear are more than "subtle".
Good info as I am considering a shibata for a Stanton 681eee I have.

JAV80007
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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by JAV80007 » 02 Jul 2018 00:41

smee4 wrote:
JAV80007 wrote:
JRob1125 wrote:The Paratrace and Vivid Line have the same side radius of 6 microns (about .24 mil), so the both give the same amount of detail. The VL is a 0.2 x 2.7 hyperelliptical and the Paratrace is a 0.2 x 0.7 x 1.0 microridge. The AT95P has less surface noise and gets rid that last bit of distortion you get with less advanced shapes. It definitely lives up to the hype, but the VL gives you about 90% of that for significantly lower cost and IMO is the better "bang for buck" option.
I have an AT95SA stylus that I purchased directly from JICO, Japan. It has the wings cut and it's mounted in a Clear Audio Virtuoso I cartridge. The shibata cut and polish looks extremely good under
Microscope scrutiny.

With proper VTA it has noticeably lower surface noise than the stock stylus and tracks much better. The sound quality is excellent with more space and clarity. The highs are opened up as well, but it retains that AT95 bass forward sound that I love.

Anywho, the JICO shibata is a solid contender that's slightly less expensive than the paratrace and more easily available. I bit more than the vivid line, but I'd bet eorth it as the improvements I can hear are more than "subtle".
Good info as I am considering a shibata for a Stanton 681eee I have.
I've purchased two over the past couple of years and both were of consistent craftdmanship and quality. They are bonded diamonds, but of extremely clean well crafted build. My fairly humble system sounds sublime using the Virtuoso cartridge and JICO shibata stylus combination.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by oztayls » 02 Jul 2018 01:42

JRob1125 wrote:The Paratrace and Vivid Line have the same side radius of 6 microns (about .24 mil), so the both give the same amount of detail. The VL is a 0.2 x 2.7 hyperelliptical and the Paratrace is a 0.2 x 0.7 x 1.0 microridge. The AT95P has less surface noise and gets rid that last bit of distortion you get with less advanced shapes. It definitely lives up to the hype, but the VL gives you about 90% of that for significantly lower cost and IMO is the better "bang for buck" option.
The only real reason for going with the Paratrace P over the VL was the nude stylus vs bonded. The Paratrace does look very nice and highly polished under a microscope. It does look rather more fragile than a bonded elliptical though so I doubt that any accident will offer any second chances. I'd post a pic but my microscope doesn't have USB. I've played quite a few records with it now and am just loving it.

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by arcamguy » 30 Nov 2019 16:12

Hello group,
Reviving an old thread here: does anyone know the compliance of the AT95SA?

oztayls
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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by oztayls » 30 Nov 2019 18:38

Specs for the AT95E here. As far as I know the SA is the same, as the Shibata profile diamond is glued to the same cantilever.
https://www.lpgear.com/product/ATC95E.html

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Re: LP Gear AT95SA Shibata Stylus REVIEW

Post by BMRR » 01 Dec 2019 00:55

The SA stylus is not made by Audio-Technica, so I would not expect the compliance to be exactly the same as the original E stylus. Aftermarket styli almost never are.