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Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 10 Feb 2019 16:37
by albertca
After getting my PL-518x, I quickly picked up an Audio Technica 3600L with headshell and all the other bits necessary to set things up. I figured this would get me up and running. Later I would be able to improve things as funds allow.

As I started to adjust the cartridge in the headshell I quickly realized things are not so simple. The overhang set the cartridge all the way back in the headshell. The tracking weight required the counterweight to be all the way forward.

I set the assembled headshells on a scale. The OEM Pioneer has a total weight of 18.6g while AT weighs in at 15.6g. No surprise there considering. Its easy enough to add some weight to the tonearm to get some adjustable. I ordered a 2g weight. At some point I'll probably get more but for now that will be close enough for testing.

For me the bigger issue is the lack of cartridge adjust-ability. With the screws all the way back I'm finding aligning the stylus using various protractors is just not possible. Even the original Pioneer is set back significantly. There is some room with the OEM setup be even that is set fairly well back.

At some point I'd like to get some of the better cartridges and I'm concerned the needle position just won't work with the headshells I have. Maybe my cheap cartridge selection is at the root of my issue.

Does anyone have a similar experience? Can you offer some advice? Are there any cartridge - headshell combos I would avoid? I'm looking at a Jelco and Grado combo as a next purchase.

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 00:28
by Alec124c41
The distance between the mounting screws and the stylus does vary between cartridges.
If you are really having a problem getting your cartridge back far enough, it is possible to extend the slots in many headshells, using a small round file.
Are you certain that you are using the right methods with the protractors? I would not expect a Baerwald alignment to be shorter than the Pioneer.

Cheers,
Alec

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 02:21
by lenjack
Agreed. There should not be that much difference.

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 12:42
by albertca
So far this isn't a problem since I was able to get the overhang set. A pic should be able to help.

http://i65.tinypic.com/2ilc60i.jpg

With a 49mm overhang the cartridge on the Audio Technica headshell sits to the rearmost position in the slots. I was watching a vid where a Stanton headshell and cartridge combo on the 570 ended up in the same position once it was all set up.

I'm sure a file would work to some degree. I would need to make the screw heads smaller and then take a file to the slots. I'd hate to go to that level with an expensive headshell. I'd rather avoid it altogether and just get an aftermarket headshell that has some adjustability and is in the ballpark weight wise.

It appears the shoulder at the headshell sme connector is in part the reason for the loss of adjustment at the slots. This is easily seen in the picture. The OEM Pioneer headshell doesn't protrude anyway near that. Next is the slots are positioned more forward on the AT headshell as well. This combination has consumed all potential adjustment.

If I use the Technics overhang I would gain 3mm in adjustment. That might be plenty and work well for this cart but I can't imagine that would be the case for all.

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 13:46
by vanakaru
Have you tried setting the stylus tip 49mm from the base of the of the head-shell connector for Pioneer shell or 51-52mm for other head-shells. This is old foolproof way to get the overhang roughly right. With AT3600 this is enough unless you use very exotic styli.
https://www.turntableneedles.com/SFK013 ... _4253.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfTpHQD ... gs=pl%2Cwn

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 14:25
by Alec124c41
Pioneer specify a 49mm flange to stylus distance, and Technics are usually 52mm. These are not interchangeable, and are not dependent on the headshell you are using.
You might try using a Baerwald protractor. This protocol is a couple of millimeters longer than the Stevenson.

Cheers,
Alec

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 16:31
by vanakaru
Alec, I thought that the shell geometry is different but ca 50mm overhang is universal. So you say that the arm length differs Pioneer versus Technics? And not all SME type head-shells are interchangeable?

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 16:45
by circularvibes
Some headshells are shorter than others, the slots are not always the same length or postiton. Other than that, most standard S shells (sometimes referred to as SME or bayonet type) are the same geometry, they are straight, the arm shaped only. My memory seems to remember my only Pioneer table, a PL12Dmk2??? had a gauge for alignment built into the plinth, and only the Pioneer shell was short enough to work. I only had a couple other shells, so it is a poor sample of course. That was in the 80's as well.

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 17:32
by albertca
@vanakaru, even within one manufacturer, there are differences from one headshell to another.

http://i66.tinypic.com/1t0p48.jpg

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 17:47
by lenjack
Excellent info. I'm printing out a copy.

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 17:57
by vanakaru
albertca wrote:
11 Feb 2019 17:32
@vanakaru, even within one manufacturer, there are differences from one headshell to another.
Yes, this is well understood and my experience as well. The differences are minor however within 4mm. So if your S-arm geometry is set so that you achieve right overhang with measuring 49mm from base to needle on head-shell you can use ANY shell to set the cartridge for same 49mm measurement to get correct overhang.

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 11 Feb 2019 19:45
by Alec124c41
vanakaru wrote:
11 Feb 2019 16:31
Alec, I thought that the shell geometry is different but ca 50mm overhang is universal. So you say that the arm length differs Pioneer versus Technics? And not all SME type head-shells are interchangeable?
There is no universal overhang. Both the length of the tonearm and the alignment protocol selected affect this.
Some manufacturers may standardize on a particular headshell shoulder to stylus distance (which is not the same as overhang) for a quick-and-easy set-up, and I have seen 49, 50, and 52mm specified, but these are not set in stone.
I have arms with nominal effective lengths of 8 1/2, 9, 9 1/2, and 10 inches, and have used both Baerwald and Stevenson alignments. Each of these combinations has a specific overhang and angle.
Yes, SME type headshells are interchangeable, but not all are the same, as has been pointed out.

Cheers,
Alec

Re: Should I avoid any aftermarket headshell cartridge combo?

Posted: 12 Feb 2019 14:59
by albertca
After having a chance to soak in all the responses I realized this is just a math problem.

Using the 95E for example, here the cartridge mount location to needle distance is 9.5mm.

http://i64.tinypic.com/2mhdh7k.png

Any headshell with a "D" measurement, back of the headshell to the end of the cartridge mount slots, of 39.5mm would be at the exact overhang measurement for my turntable.

I measured my AT headshell and it's at ~37mm for "D". I did attempt to measure the needle to mount distance for the 3600L but could only ascertain a slightly greater than 10mm. I wasn't able to find mechanical drawings online so I just went with what I could do. I didn't want to damage anything for this measurement.

This conversation was very helpful, I have a good idea of how I should be selecting headshell - cartridge combos.