Cartridges, styli, and confusion

american simplicity
Post Reply
andrew678122
member
member
United States of America
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Jun 2019 03:00
Location: El Paso

Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by andrew678122 » 17 Jun 2019 23:16

First off I'd like to say hello to everyone here. My name's Andrew, I'm almost 75, retired, and my hearing ain't what it used to be.

I have always thought that paying good money for digital media is funding someone else's get rich quick scheme — in the end you have spent a lot and have nothing to show for it except some vapor-ware. So I had been giving serious consideration to buying LPs and getting a turntable. To that end I have just bought an Acoustics Research XA to restore — that is pretty much in hand. The cartridge it came with is a Shure TM3E with a Shure 3X stylus. I have no idea of the condition of either though I think I might have screwed up the stylus. My problem is I know nothing about cartridges and styli, so I have a load of questions but don't know enough to ask them all yet. I'll start with these:
1. Is the only way to test a cartridge and stylus to play it?
2. I think I buggered the Shure 3X stylus so should I just get a replacement stylus ($30 plus shipping) and try it?
3. I.e. is it worth the investment?
4. Or would it be better to buy a known good cartridge and stylus?
5. How the heck do I navigate that minefield?
6. Since I'm retired and living off a meager retirement and VA disability I can't afford to spend a lot, so what gives me the most bang for my buck?
7. I'd like to keep cartridge and stylus under $100, is that unrealistic?
Any help would be greatly appreciated...

Andrew

andrew678122
member
member
United States of America
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Jun 2019 03:00
Location: El Paso

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by andrew678122 » 19 Jun 2019 18:42

What do you guys think of these:
1. AT95E new with stylus - $50
2. M95ED used with new stylus - $80
3. Ortofon 2M red new with stylus - $100
4. Ortofon Super OM10 new with stylus - $100
Any opinions on them either way would be a help.
Thanks...

simonineaston
senior member
senior member
Great Britain
Posts: 286
Joined: 02 Feb 2004 14:20
Location: Bristol, UK

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by simonineaston » 19 Jun 2019 22:31

Hi Andrew - & welcome!
My two penn'oth: I've reluctantly accepted that my hearing (I'm in my sixth decade...) has deteriorated almost to the point where the nature of the source is irrelevant. Analogue or digital - it doesn't much matter to me anymore. I cheerfuly consume music regardless of where it comes from. Truth to tell, I probably get most enjoyment out of the UK's fabulous BBC Radio 3 streaming. Varied content, really good quality, 24 hour service & play on demand. Awsome.
I enjoy vinyl as a separate hobby. I love the interface between electronics, music & engineering. But that's just me. I have, as they say these days, a health warning for you. Vinyl replay can suck you in - lots can be spent on mechanicals, various bitsNpieces - turntables, tonearms, cartridges, stylii, pre-amps, wires, yadda, yadda, blah blah, etc., etc., with no guarantee of success - and most of them costing more than you'll want them to! Plenty of accidents will take place, in between the successes... In contrast, the BBC radio content is really good & completely free! (other than the cost of the radio, that is..) BBC's outout has limited availability, geographically, I know, but I'm simply using it as an example of decent quality digital media.
Be very clear, before you set out, whether you want to collect / listen to music, OR collect & tinker with the artifacts that make up vinyl replay, as they are two completely separate things. Not that you can't do both, of course... Either way, I hope you have loads of fun!

lenjack
long player
long player
Posts: 2070
Joined: 23 Jun 2017 02:11
Location: Liverpool,PA

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by lenjack » 19 Jun 2019 22:58

If your AR is in good shape, treasure it. Nothing really beats it, even though it dates back almost 60 years. The AT95E is highly thought of.

andrew678122
member
member
United States of America
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Jun 2019 03:00
Location: El Paso

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by andrew678122 » 19 Jun 2019 23:40

simonineaston wrote:
19 Jun 2019 22:31
Hi Andrew - & welcome!
My two penn'oth: I've reluctantly accepted that my hearing (I'm in my sixth decade...) has deteriorated almost to the point where the nature of the source is irrelevant. Analogue or digital - it doesn't much matter to me anymore. I cheerfuly consume music regardless of where it comes from. Truth to tell, I probably get most enjoyment out of the UK's fabulous BBC Radio 3 streaming. Varied content, really good quality, 24 hour service & play on demand. Awsome.
I enjoy vinyl as a separate hobby. I love the interface between electronics, music & engineering. But that's just me. I have, as they say these days, a health warning for you. Vinyl replay can suck you in - lots can be spent on mechanicals, various bitsNpieces - turntables, tonearms, cartridges, stylii, pre-amps, wires, yadda, yadda, blah blah, etc., etc., with no guarantee of success - and most of them costing more than you'll want them to! Plenty of accidents will take place, in between the successes... In contrast, the BBC radio content is really good & completely free! (other than the cost of the radio, that is..) BBC's outout has limited availability, geographically, I know, but I'm simply using it as an example of decent quality digital media.
Be very clear, before you set out, whether you want to collect / listen to music, OR collect & tinker with the artifacts that make up vinyl replay, as they are two completely separate things. Not that you can't do both, of course... Either way, I hope you have loads of fun!
Hi Simon,
Re: the hearing, I'm in the same boat, I hear a song that I know very well from my youth and half the time I can't recognize it! That I find very frustrating. If I use a good set of headphones and adjust everything very carefully I can get back a semblance of what I've lost. I'm just going to muddle on and do my best. The VA supplies me with hearing aids and they supposedly have something for the aurally-challenged who want to listen to music so I'm going to check it out. I love to tinker, the AR XA I bought was basically complete, the solid walnut base is beautiful though shipping cracked some of the glue joints. I'm putting gold plated RCA jacks and an IEC320 C8 power jack in the back of the base. I presently have it all apart and have cleaned and refinished the metal base plate, making it look as close to original as possible. The back of the plinth has been drilled for the RCA jacks and they are mounted, and I'm waiting on the IEC320 C8 jack to arrive. As soon as I have the power jack mounted I'll glue the plinth back together and then start putting it all back together, cleaning components as I go.

andrew678122
member
member
United States of America
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Jun 2019 03:00
Location: El Paso

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by andrew678122 » 19 Jun 2019 23:53

lenjack wrote:
19 Jun 2019 22:58
If your AR is in good shape, treasure it. Nothing really beats it, even though it dates back almost 60 years. The AT95E is highly thought of.
Hey Lenjack,
It will be in good shape when I'm done with it, I'm trying to keep it as original as possible but with a couple of minor alterations: gold plated RCA jacks on the back of the plinth, and an IEC320 C8 power jack. The insulation on most of the wiring is brittle with age and heat so it all needs replacing, the top plate... I'm not sure how to describe it, it's like it has had decades of lemon pledge put on it, building up and turning white with age.
The AT95E is also inexpensive and with my tin-ear a $200-300 cartridge would be wasted, so that will probably be my choice.

andrew678122
member
member
United States of America
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Jun 2019 03:00
Location: El Paso

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by andrew678122 » 20 Jun 2019 00:35

andrew678122 wrote:
19 Jun 2019 23:53
lenjack wrote:
19 Jun 2019 22:58
If your AR is in good shape, treasure it. Nothing really beats it, even though it dates back almost 60 years. The AT95E is highly thought of.
Hey Lenjack,
It will be in good shape when I'm done with it, I'm trying to keep it as original as possible but with a couple of minor alterations: gold plated RCA jacks on the back of the plinth, and an IEC320 C8 power jack. The insulation on most of the wiring is brittle with age and heat so it all needs replacing, the top plate... I'm not sure how to describe it, it's like it has had decades of lemon pledge put on it, building up and turning white with age.
The AT95E is also inexpensive and with my tin-ear a $200-300 cartridge would be wasted, so that will probably be my choice.
This is what I bought... it looks worse than it really is...
https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 778/medium

Gravitar8
senior member
senior member
Canada
Posts: 460
Joined: 18 Nov 2017 17:07
Contact:

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by Gravitar8 » 20 Jun 2019 02:02

Cool looking tt! I think the AT95E et al are all 'good enough' carts/styli until one steps up into 1k$ tables and other components. Spend the $ on vinyl because the cost/performance ratio is steep/minor climb.
andrew678122 wrote:
20 Jun 2019 00:35
andrew678122 wrote:
19 Jun 2019 23:53
lenjack wrote:
19 Jun 2019 22:58
If your AR is in good shape, treasure it. Nothing really beats it, even though it dates back almost 60 years. The AT95E is highly thought of.
Hey Lenjack,
It will be in good shape when I'm done with it, I'm trying to keep it as original as possible but with a couple of minor alterations: gold plated RCA jacks on the back of the plinth, and an IEC320 C8 power jack. The insulation on most of the wiring is brittle with age and heat so it all needs replacing, the top plate... I'm not sure how to describe it, it's like it has had decades of lemon pledge put on it, building up and turning white with age.
The AT95E is also inexpensive and with my tin-ear a $200-300 cartridge would be wasted, so that will probably be my choice.
This is what I bought... it looks worse than it really is...
https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 778/medium

AsOriginallyRecorded
senior member
senior member
Canada
Posts: 874
Joined: 26 Jun 2018 06:05

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by AsOriginallyRecorded » 20 Jun 2019 02:54

Welcome to the site....and an AR is a great re-entry to the hobby. Such a classic can be whatever you want it to be ultimately, since the core unit is so capable and well regarded. Taken to it's ultimate level of restoration, it would be a beautiful turntable. I am also an endorser of the AT line, especially the AT-95e, which can be regarded as the journeyman of cartridges. I have a couple that I enjoy on several different turntables (a testament to the cartridge's versatility), and also a Shure M95ED on a Technics SL-D202, which I think is a fantastic combination. Both qualify as cartridges well worth owning. The AT will be more analytical (detailed, brighter sound), the Shures I find somewhat more mellow and "laid back" (some call it warmer) sound. Both very capable and worthwhile. Enjoy the site, enjoy the hobby and journey, and welcome! 8)

derspankster
long player
long player
United States of America
Posts: 1565
Joined: 25 Feb 2013 17:03
Location: Ohio

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by derspankster » 20 Jun 2019 12:21

You might also consider the Grado Black2 cartridge. They're just $75 and seem to work well with the ARXA. The Grado doesn't seem to care about anti-skating either and the AR has none.

Best of luck with your project. Some good help to be found here.

der

Gravitar8
senior member
senior member
Canada
Posts: 460
Joined: 18 Nov 2017 17:07
Contact:

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by Gravitar8 » 20 Jun 2019 12:49

My feelings exactly!
andrew678122 wrote:
17 Jun 2019 23:16
I have always thought that paying good money for digital media is funding someone else's get rich quick scheme — in the end you have spent a lot and have nothing to show for it except some vapor-ware.

andrew678122
member
member
United States of America
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Jun 2019 03:00
Location: El Paso

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by andrew678122 » 20 Jun 2019 22:44

Gravitar8 wrote:
20 Jun 2019 12:49
My feelings exactly!
Yes! And when I said digital media I was meaning 'soft' media, i.e. digital files etc...

andrew678122
member
member
United States of America
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Jun 2019 03:00
Location: El Paso

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by andrew678122 » 20 Jun 2019 23:29

AsOriginallyRecorded wrote:
20 Jun 2019 02:54
Welcome to the site....and an AR is a great re-entry to the hobby. Such a classic can be whatever you want it to be ultimately, since the core unit is so capable and well regarded. Taken to it's ultimate level of restoration, it would be a beautiful turntable. I am also an endorser of the AT line, especially the AT-95e, which can be regarded as the journeyman of cartridges. I have a couple that I enjoy on several different turntables (a testament to the cartridge's versatility), and also a Shure M95ED on a Technics SL-D202, which I think is a fantastic combination. Both qualify as cartridges well worth owning. The AT will be more analytical (detailed, brighter sound), the Shures I find somewhat more mellow and "laid back" (some call it warmer) sound. Both very capable and worthwhile. Enjoy the site, enjoy the hobby and journey, and welcome! 8)
Thanks AsOriginallyRecorded, the AR is something I have always liked, but I never thought I would get back into LPs. VinylEngine is a resource and I'm glad I found it, I enjoy tinkering with things (my last project was making a good 600mm f4 Takumar telephoto lens from two bad ones). And regarding the cartridge, I'll probably go with the AT-95e, people speak well of it.

andrew678122
member
member
United States of America
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Jun 2019 03:00
Location: El Paso

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by andrew678122 » 20 Jun 2019 23:39

derspankster wrote:
20 Jun 2019 12:21
You might also consider the Grado Black2 cartridge. They're just $75 and seem to work well with the ARXA. The Grado doesn't seem to care about anti-skating either and the AR has none.

Best of luck with your project. Some good help to be found here.

der
Thanks derspankster I have been considering Grado cartridges, but nothing has been decided yet...

andrew678122
member
member
United States of America
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Jun 2019 03:00
Location: El Paso

Re: Cartridges, styli, and confusion

Post by andrew678122 » 21 Jun 2019 00:08

RCA jacks exterior:
45788
and interior:
45787
I should get the power jack Saturday. Once it's installed I'll clean up the glue joints and re-glue it.

Post Reply