Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

the jewel in the crown
T68
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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by T68 » 22 Aug 2019 11:01

<Note to myself (and maybe others who fettles with old idlers):>
Yes, soaking the idler in brake fluid will soften the rubber nicely. But afterwards the rubber will sweat brakefluid making the idler slip badly. ...so maybe not the best idea I have had.
Hopefully the wheel will stop sweating after a while so it will work again.
<end of note>

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by DSJR » 22 Aug 2019 18:23

LM grease worked for me with my Lab 80mk2 idler, which has a similar softer rubbery compound - cough... leave smothered on for a few days and gently wipe off the excess. It'll slip to start with but seems to sort itself out quickly.

When I received the Zero 100 in totally stuck condition, the motor pulley was pushed fully down but to get the idler at correct height, even bearing in mind the adjustment underneath, the bracket had been bent so the idler looked as if it was pointing down slightly. After a good service, I was getting audible slow and random wow which was alarming.

Maybe the motor had dropped slightly on its mounts, I don't know.

I took it upon myself to first, bend the idler bracket straight (OK, the face of the idler wouldn't be perpendicular to the tapered motor pulley), I discovered the motor pulley has a threaded insert and found a suitable-thread headless adjustment 'grub screw' as Dual use to gently screw down to fine tune the pulley height and used this to adjust the motor pulley height with the main idler height adjustment screw underneath set half way. Once a suitable height was found around 1mm higher than pushing the naked pulley fully down, I locked the pulley as usual and set about to listen. The idler DOES appear to gently weave at the edge but it's totally inaudible and the slow intermittent wow completely disappeared, so I'm a very happy bunny. The fact the deck is surprisingly quiet through the stylus is a huge bonus. The SL motor locks to the mains frequency as always and the drive itself doesn't see to drift if run for a few hours continuously.

The above may be a bit drastic and the state of the deck indicates that maybe it was supplied set like this, but all the service pics show the idler level and parallel to the deck plate and not bent down towards the motor pulley.. No sign of added idler wear either, so thought I'd share it again.

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by anmpr1 » 23 Aug 2019 22:38

FYI: I've been waiting for a C3 cartridge slide to be advertised on line, somewhere. And waiting. The usual parts sources have been out of stock. However, there is someone selling a handful on the electronic bay. They are supposed to be NOS, and look the part. I don't know if the price is right for anyone; I bought 2. I have no relationship to the seller and cannot make any claims one way or the other. But I do know how these items are getting difficult to find, so if anyone is interested you might want to check it out.

Once I receive mine I'm going to install a low compliance Denon 103 MC, and one of the latest and greatest AT MM cartridges. I'll write something up about it and post, if anyone is interested. I'm curious about how the zero tracking arm will work with two completely different cartridge designs.

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by DSJR » 24 Aug 2019 11:08

The Denon 110 will work, but you won't be getting anything like it's potential here!

The zero tracking error was a selling point admitted by the makers and in actual fact, the conventional short arm in the SL95B was probably better as there was no rattle in the headshell.

PLEASE chaps, these decks are nice conversation pieces and great fodder for practical types who wish to take them apart and service them, but then as well as now, they were NEVER state of the art high end decks. Apologies, but I'm trying to be realistic.

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by T68 » 25 Aug 2019 11:21

Looking forward to hear more about how the 103 runs on the zero 100!

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by DSJR » 25 Aug 2019 19:08

A 103? Oh bloomin' 'eck......... I give up, I really do - lo-res conical tip an' all... ;)

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by anmpr1 » 26 Aug 2019 17:26

DSJR wrote:
25 Aug 2019 19:08
A 103? Oh bloomin' 'eck......... I give up, I really do - lo-res conical tip an' all... ;)
The plane Jane 103 design has to be from the mid '60s. Maybe early sixties. The best of the 103 series was, IMO, the D version, which had an elliptical tip. But that has been long gone for years. There are some folks who advertise retipping with a more 'modern' stylus shape. I would imagine, all things being equal, that would be a viable option if you didn't want the ballpoint pen stylus on the regular 103.

I had my DL-160 retipped with an .02x.07 diamond, with good results. The only reason I did it was I was curious about the process, and whether it could be done well. Denon used to have a 'trade in' program, where they'd give you a new cart for a discount, but as far as I know that is long gone. I bought a couple of 103 for 150 dollars some years ago, as I heard the price was going up. For that price it was decent value. I think they are about 300 dollars now.

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by DSJR » 26 Aug 2019 19:12

Denon cartridges such as the 110, 160 and 103 were cheap in the UK for years and just before the 'crash' in 2008, a DL110 could be got for eighty quid in the UK. The once almost identical price (mid 80's) Dynavector 10X (V) was by this time pushing three hundred quid (they've shoved a Shibata diamond on it and it's well over £500 typically now. The 103 was around £120 from memory.

Now, I know the UK currency has dropped hugely, but long before the whole 'Brexit uncertainty,' cartridge prices were increasing almost at random it seemed and in a very short space of time, the DL110 doubled and then nearly tripled in price I think. The 103 also went up in fits and starts. I suppose £300 is a good price for a basically OK donor cartridge generator and friends have re-tipped theirs with elliptical and line styli to advantage I gather, but for a Zero 100 with rattly tonearm links and bearings? Good luck is all I can say, when an AT540 or the new Sumiko's up from the evergreen 'Pearl' could probably out-perform it right to side end, where sonic definition will be in a different plane of existence in my book. I used and quite liked a DL103D forty years ago in a Mission 774 arm and LP12 turntable, but Linn's own cartridges and Ittok arm led me astray for many years after - I think I'm out the other end a lot older and wiser now, with luck :D

(While I'm in 'rant' mode, the Pearl's not increased hugely in price and it's now £110 or so in the UK when twenty years ago, I'm sure I sold it for £80 or so...)

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by anmpr1 » 28 Aug 2019 15:41

Using the Shure TTR-117 record, there was no mistracking with either the Denon 103 (2.5g) or the AT VM 740ML (2.0 grams), at the highest recorded levels. The Denon uses a spherical stylus, whereas the AT has the Adamant Namiki Microridge (Microline) diamond.

Peak resonance was more pronounced with the Denon. The cartridge showed significant wobbling at 7Hz, but did not lose contact with the groove, nor was there significant audible distortion. The AT showed a small resonance at 5Hz, but this was minimal. These figures indicate that the arm is underdamped. Not surprising, I guess, considering its overall complexity.

FWIW, Audio magazine (July '71) measured resonance with a Stanton 681ee at "just under 10 Hz", but it was not indicated whether the Stanton brush was used. They claimed it would 'track' at 1/2 gram, but I don't believe that. At least not any significantly modulated or warped records. They stated that at 1.5 g the deck was best, and I do believe that.

My takeaway is the the Denon would not be a suitable cartridge for this arm. That said, subjectively the piano on the disc I auditioned (Bill Evans Trio at the Village Vanguard) sounded better on the Denon than it did through the AT, but the AT had much deeper and better controlled LF sound. I never particularly liked the sound of this AT cartridge (or the earlier 440ML, which was quite 'hot' in the HF range). But in the Garrard arm it sounds fine. The 740ML seems to be the 540ML with a metal body. If I was in the market for one these, I'd likely go for the cheaper 540ML.

I will try the Shure M97xE next, and report back. With it's integral damping brush my guess is that this mid-range cartridge will likely be the best match for the Z-100. Unfortunately, Shure is out of the cartridge business, so whether there are any out there at the original price is a big question. No other cartridge manufacturer uses dynamic damping as far as I know. And this arm really needs it.

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by T68 » 29 Aug 2019 04:50

Thanks for an informative post, anmpr1! Looking forward to read about your further testing.
Right now I run a Shure M75 with an aftermarket elliptical stylus (Jico) and like the way it sounds.
But I'm tempted to try a Stanton 680 on it. But got to get a stylus for it first since I only have the body.
Probably by a Tonar for it (budget a bit tight atm).

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by DSJR » 29 Aug 2019 12:08

Check the german Lowbeats site for suibjective and full objective tests on the AT 500 and 700 MM's. Interresting that despite using the same stylus, they seemed to prefer the 540 body (in a top line Rega arm).

I have a 681EEE and my experience selling and setting up many donkeys years ago as well as having several styli at home back then including the aged but decent tipped sample now, 1.2g is about right. This very cartridge sounded great in an S95B 'Module' I had back then although the VMS10E II sounds so good in my Zero I don't want to mess around changing it - the 681EEE is too gentle and restrained for me these days and ADC XLM III and Phase IV are simply too 'nice' - I prefer some life and sparkle in my vinyl playback as I hear from the master recordings I've had my way in the past - once heard, the impressions are never forgotten and although vinyl is way removed from the recording producer's original intentions, you can reduce the gulf if careful to enable suspension of disbelief I reckon, even with old humble (and sometimes surprisingly humbling) auto decks like these.

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by anmpr1 » 29 Aug 2019 16:33

Shure M97xE. I didn't bother with trackability tests, since most modern cartridges don't have problems at the highest velocities, and the Shure is a good tracker.

Resonance (1.5g + 0.5g for damping brush): between 7 and 8 Hz, but was so well controlled that it was difficult to either observe (arm oscillation) or hear (chirping sound). Clearly the Shure is the best behaved cartridge of the 3 I tested, and in this respect is the most suitable for the Z-100 arm.

Two problems: First, Shure is out of the cartridge business. I imagine there are NOS examples out there. All probably subject to price gouging. This was a $100 or thereabouts street price cartridge. So keep that in mind if you decide to buy one.

Second: You may not like the sound of the M97xE, which is typical Shure. Relatively flat without any particular frequency exaggerations. Not everyone's analog cup of tea. It features a middle of the road (.02x.07) diamond bonded to an aluminum cantilever. Nothing sophisticated like the Audio Technica, except for the damping brush, which is an elegant solution to a real world problem.

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by DSJR » 29 Aug 2019 22:53

The 97XE had a foible. Loaded with low capacitance the response was anything BUT flat, rolling off 5db in a fairly straight line from 1kHz to 20khz - heard more as a warmth rather than dullness I felt. Loaded with higher capacitance, the response was totally flat to 10k, dropping the 5db to 20k thereafter. Odd things, human ears, as a bass rise can be heard as a loss of top and a top roll-off an increase in bass. Those cartridge designers were onto psycho-acoustics when tuning their products I'm certain ;)

Jico make replacement styli and there's plenty of threads here in the cartridge 'room' I think, and even measurements of the SAS mk1 stylus for this cartridge.

The 97XE has indeed sadly gone, but what about the AT520? Decent quality bonded elliptical stylus, possibility of an easy upgrade to the 540 and 2g tracking which I assume is stable enough.

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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by anmpr1 » 31 Aug 2019 15:02

Attached are FR responses for comparison. These were done by David Rich of Home Theatre Hi Fi, and are quite thorough--done the way reviews ought to be done. In a way it is sad that Rich spends his time reviewing phono cartridges, given his expertise in amplifier and digital design. But it is good for people still interested in phonograph reproduction.

The rising HF on the AT will likely make them sound 'brighter' than the Shure, which Rich described as 'warm'. I would describe the M97 sound as being overall 'balanced'. The AT 740 I'd describe as 'hot', but not nearly as 'aggressive' in the highs as the prior 440ML. In my system the LF of the AT 740 sounded exceptional. Very tight and well controlled in the Z-100 arm. Subjectively the difference at the low frequencies between the Shure and AT is not obvious by looking at the FR graphs, below. In any case, I would certainly avoid the Denon in this tonearm.

However you see or hear it, the Z-100 arm benefits from the Shure's damped brush.

PS: I lowered the tracking force on the Shure from 1.5 to 1.25g (plus 0.5 for the brush). This is considered 'optimum' by Shure, and subjectively the sound improved by the half a gram difference. The arm remains well controlled at this lower force, using the brush.
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Re: Just won a Zero 100s - let the fun (?) begin!

Post by anmpr1 » 31 Aug 2019 15:46

DSJR wrote:
29 Aug 2019 22:53
Jico make replacement styli and there's plenty of threads here in the cartridge 'room' I think, and even measurements of the SAS mk1 stylus for this cartridge.

JICO replacement could be an option. Certainly the MR diamond is higher quality than the elliptical Shure. I don't know whether the JICO brush is damped, or simply hinged, as was the case with the old Stanton/Pickering cartridges. Shock damping is really what you want. One thing: damping hinges on Shure products can 'dry' out. I have a V-15xMR with this problem.

I bought a couple of replacement styli when I heard Shure was getting out of the cartridge business. I know that the M97x stylus assembly will fit in the V-15x body, but Shure claims the internals of the two are different. Whether a V-15x body with an M97x stylus would sound as good or even better than a plane-jane M97x, I don't know. Maybe I'll try it and find out.