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AT440MLb Discontinued!

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AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby dberber » 21 Mar 2017 00:21

I hadn't noticed anyone posting about this particular aspect of Audio Technica's cartridge lineup reshuffling, sorry if it's already been threaded. Audio Technica has apparently discontinued the 440MLb in the US:

http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/cartridges/639dc678493df33c/index.html

They are recommending the VM540ML with a 25% higher MSRP instead:

http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/cartridges/e7a3d4bc8b248b64/index.html

The 440MLb had been on my long-term wishlist since I restored my parents' Dual 1246 last Spring. It has the original AT14Sa cartridge my Dad put on it, but after much protracting and teeth gnashing I determined the stylus was shot and in the meantime I have been using LPGear's $35 ATN13 elliptical stylus on it, which has worked out nicely although I still get some IGD on worn vinyl.

I'm not sure I'll be able to pick up a 440MLb anytime soon. Or at least, given that I don't want to get into a similar situation that I'm already in with the AT14Sa -- styli scarce and pricey or just plain unavailable -- I think I would have trouble justifying it right now. Granted this cart was only recently discontinued rather than decades ago. Should I scratch the the 440MLb idea and plan on the VM540ML? Will the 540ML stylus fit on the 440ML cartridge? I see AT has discontinued other VE "favorites" like the AT1xx series as of January.
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby billshurv » 21 Mar 2017 00:33

Yeah I just noticed that. Two days ago the 440 was still shown on the european website but is now gone. Oddly enough the replacement stylus is still shown on the european site but not the US one. Curious.
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby audiopile » 21 Mar 2017 00:35

I think you are wise to consider cartridges that still have OEM styli available for them - take a look at what Ortofon is doing with the 2M series of MM carts plus even some of their older bodies (OM) where made in such vast numbers over decades - that OEM styli at non exploitive prices are still available for them.
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby billshurv » 21 Mar 2017 00:43

OM Stylus 40 is hardly cheap. The VNM50SH is in fact the same price. So unless AT have done something very uncharacteristic for them and made the VMN incompatible with the 440/150 series there will be high end and low end (and 78) stylii available for some time to come. The VMN60 is however taking the p*** at £500.

I have an AT150 and a superOM so I think I am covered. The 64k question though is if ESCO can fit a paratrace to the AT. Suddenly a retip becomes the economical solution.
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby audiopile » 21 Mar 2017 03:11

What I've noticed almost across the product lines is that whatever the TOTL is - once discontinued -it's probably expensive -and was expensive when a stock item. I've had some luck trolling for the "one down from the top" category of styli. For instance - own three Shure VN45he styli -have never been willing to pay the prices NOS 45 MR draw. Just starting to experiment with the OM30 which seems like a lot of cart/styli for the price. 40's better I bet - but how much $ better than the already interesting OM 30 ? Own several JICO SAS -good as they are - at least with Shure V-15 IV and V's - the OEM styli are better by a fair margin. I rapidly get confused by the vintage AT numbering /model designation system -but i think Thacker in Germany has styli for the 14sa ?
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby fresherr » 21 Mar 2017 05:15

There are actually cartridges other than Audio Technica?
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby billshurv » 21 Mar 2017 11:00

They will be in the supply chain for a while. Not sure how long AT will continue to make replacement. Did a bit of digging and although the 540 IS higher spec (tapered cantilever) there is a significant price hike. Replacements are $60 more based on LP gear prices. On balance its such a good cartridge you could argue is was underpriced.
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby jusbe » 21 Mar 2017 12:51

dberber wrote:I hadn't noticed anyone posting about this particular aspect of Audio Technica's cartridge lineup reshuffling, sorry if it's already been threaded.


Audio Technica have form, doing this sort of thing. Just as items get popular, they yank the rug from beneath your feet and retire them! Aside from the tonal characteristics (which don't appeal to me, generally), it's one of the reasons I'm wary of their lines, justifiably or not.
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby billshurv » 21 Mar 2017 13:40

What do you mean by tonal characteristics. Only ask because I like them for their neutrality (when interfaced correctly).
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby dahoo » 21 Mar 2017 20:49

VMN50ML is compatible with AT440. just need more tracking force at 2.0g.
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby BMRR » 22 Mar 2017 18:25

The new styli in the new VM line of cartridges are indeed compatible with the 440MLb. In fact, they're compatible with the rest of the original 100 series going all the way back to the early '80s. I would use this as an example of AT providing unusually good support for cartridge bodies that are now 35+ years old. And not just token support, but broad support ranging from bonded spherical all the way up to MicroLine and Shibata. I can think of very few other cartridge makers who can say the same.

So, to the original poster: if you want an AT440MLb and you find a good price on one, buy it. Compatible styli aren't going anywhere and you're making an excellent investment. Also remember that you'd have to spend at least $400-$450 to get comparable features/performance from the other manufacturers (e.g. Ortofon 2M Bronze).
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby Sunwire » 22 Mar 2017 19:34

These guys still have the cartridge for $199 - but no replacement stylus.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby lini » 23 Mar 2017 17:18

billshurv wrote: (...) and although the 540 IS higher spec (tapered cantilever) (...)


Actually it isn't. The good, old ATN140LC already sported the tapered alu cantilever, and so did all it's MicroLine successors from the ATN140ML over the ATN440ML(/OCC) to the ATN440MLa and -b and now the VMN40ML. In fact one could even regard the new variant as possibly a little worse in technical quality, as from the ATN440MLb or actually already the last batch of ATN440MLas on the alloy has been changed from an anodised to a non-anodised sort. So the new variant now has to do without the artificial corundum coating by anodising - which however doesn't necessarily mean that the new choice of alloy would necessarily have to perform less well...

Still a puzzler seems to be, why the suggested VTF for the new VMN family of needles has been raised to ~ 2 g, while the compliance specs for the new versions hardly, if at all, differ from those for the predecessors... I.e., one would at least have expected that the static compliances would accordingly be a bit lower now...

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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby billshurv » 23 Mar 2017 18:15

Well AT do NOT state tapered for 440MLb
http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/cartr ... ndex.html*

I did check their website before posting, and looked at the pics. So I stand by the statement that the 540 is higher spec than that 440, but the 140 may have been tapered. I have not checked that.

* and yes I know manufacturers specs can be wrong.

EDIT: I stand corrected. Their website is wrong. The instruction manual for the 440MLb states tapered.
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Re: AT440MLb Discontinued!

Postby needlestein » 23 Mar 2017 18:38

lini wrote:
billshurv wrote: (...) and although the 540 IS higher spec (tapered cantilever) (...)


Actually it isn't. The good, old ATN140LC already sported the tapered alu cantilever, and so did all it's MicroLine successors from the ATN140ML over the ATN440ML(/OCC) to the ATN440MLa and -b and now the VMN40ML. In fact one could even regard the new variant as possibly a little worse in technical quality, as from the ATN440MLb or actually already the last batch of ATN440MLas on the alloy has been changed from an anodised to a non-anodised sort. So the new variant now has to do without the artificial corundum coating by anodising - which however doesn't necessarily mean that the new choice of alloy would necessarily have to perform less well...

Still a puzzler seems to be, why the suggested VTF for the new VMN family of needles has been raised to ~ 2 g, while the compliance specs for the new versions hardly, if at all, differ from those for the predecessors... I.e., one would at least have expected that the static compliances would accordingly be a bit lower now...

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini


Maybe because people complained that the MLa and MLb were bright and thin. But as I and probably many others discovered acting solely through experimention, increasing the VTF to 2.0 or so balances the sound a lot more, just like using a VTF on the heavier side of the recommended range on Ortofon cartridges brings out the bass.

Maybe . . .
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