First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

the thin end of the wedge
klegier
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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by klegier » 14 Jan 2019 16:47

So perhaps it has an upgraded motor? I have all the original parts as well except the tonearm screw in weight. I have never needed it however. But if I did need to add something extra, I suppose I could just run a bolt in there. When I went through mine, I used copper tape that I also use for guitar electronics cavities for shielding. I lined the entire inside with these self adhesive copper sheets. It must have worked, because mine does not make a sound.

Thanks to Raphael for the link. Good reading. So now I need to get the MP-200? LOL. It never ends....

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by audiopile » 14 Jan 2019 17:14

Add me to the VM540ml camp -I'm using it's replacement stylus to get a top of the line Pmount body in a technics T4P to SME headshell back in service -going to buy a complete cartridge to use with my SME IV arm. Full disclosure: Lounge Audio LCR III (100kOhm/47pf) in SL-1200GAE arm with KAB fluid damper. The iFi iPhono II offers adjustable capacitance from a low of 100pf to a high of 600pF -which pretty well covers the waterfront in terms of MM cart needs. It is limited to 47kOhm on MM carts -very adjustable in terms of LOMC loading and very very quiet . Push comes to shove - I still prefer the LCR III (own 2)over the iFi iPhono (have owned both the I and two of the II's). The sub-500 buck external phono stage world is pretty rich in better than fair offerings right now.

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by BrianovichIV » 14 Jan 2019 23:38

klegier wrote:
14 Jan 2019 16:21
BrianovichIV wrote:
14 Jan 2019 13:12
This has been a great thread to read, because I just bought a PL-12Dii a week ago and also need a new cartridge for it. My budget is a lot smaller, but I've settled on the Nagaoka MP-110, and I might eventually add the Audio Technica AT95e for some variety because of how many people say it's a great pairing.
It has been alot of fun interacting with everyone. Would love to see pics of your PL-12D. I received mine from a coworker in Guam about 30 years ago. It was in great shape, but I essentially built a new cabinet for it and put the TT itself inside the new case, discarding the veneered pressed wood original outer shell. I intend to go through it again soon to make the upgrades I have been talking about, plus just do some maintenance and cleanup of parts inside there. I am so used to it ergonomically, that I compare all turntables to it WRT functionality, where everything is located, etc. Does yours still have the dust cover on it? Mine only has one small scratch on it, which I believe is amazing seeing its age and all. I am not sure what is different about the "ii" model, but would like to know.
Here’s a photo of mine.
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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by cafe latte » 14 Jan 2019 23:48

klegier wrote:
14 Jan 2019 03:15
In order to reach out for a little more input, I put up a poll in a TT Enthusiast group on Facebook. See attached photo. Do the (early) poll results look valid to you guys (gals)? My son is in Japan and I asked him if he could check on a MP-150 there, to see what kind of price he could get. The ones on Amazon ship from Japan, so there will not be much savings to be had if any, I think.

fb poll.JPG

Some of the commenters suggested I upgrade my TT first. Not to get off topic, but I view the 'table itself as almost a passive device. Mine is damped really well (with spiked 3 point feet and 20lbs of solid maple cabinet), maintained meticulously, and is dead quiet. The speed is spot on. Other than updating the tonearm wires and RCA connectors (see earlier posts in this thread), I do not see a huge benefit from a new TT. I love the Pioneer functionally. I do not like that I have to unplug it to set tracking force, or otherwise do any setup tasks, but that is very minor. So I guess I just pointed that out because....well, because I love my TT. If I were to upgrade, the only thing I see out there at the moment is the Pro-Ject Classic....primarily because it LOOKS like my Pioneer....lol. I can afford the $1100, but if it is that much better than the Pioneer, surely an MP-150 would be improved as well (on the Pro-Ject). The law of diminishing returns is what I am getting at.

Nevertheless, wouldn't a 2M Red sound like a 2M Red on a Pioneer or a Pro-Ject? Wouldn't a MP-150 sound like an MP-150 on either also?
Problem with poll re Grado gold is almost everyone will be voting with experience of the Grado gold 1 or even the Grado gold not the new Grado gold 2 which is totally another cart way better than the other 2. Also as the new VM95 is new very few people will have tried one yet as most sellers dont even stock them yet so hard for it to get votes but it is a really good cart. Worth mentioning most people of Facebook will just be voting for the one cart they have with no experience of anything else, here on VE many here including myself have multiple carts some of us own quite a few things on your list so to be honest I know where I would be getting advice from and I dont think it would be facebook.
Chris.

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by klegier » 15 Jan 2019 00:06

I totally agree with the assessment of how/who/why people will vote for "their favorite" on Facebook, Chris. I take everything on Social Media with a grain of salt. I certainly trust the opinions in this forum over any other, which is why I came over here from AVS for all things TT related. The Nagaoka MP-150 did win out, 35 votes to 36 votes total for all others combined. The VM540ML pulled a distant 4th...very surprising, but I don't put too much stock in it. I will however, probably opt for the MP-150. The MP-200 looks good, but is really starting to stretch the budget.

Brian, here is a pic of mine. I need to do some scrubbing on it, especially around the on/off switch there.
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The reflection is from the TV, which is on the wall above it. Record on there now is Tumbleweed Connection....a few gems on it.

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by BrianovichIV » 15 Jan 2019 01:12

LOVE the wooden base you made. I could see myself doing that in the future when I have the time and space.

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by cafe latte » 15 Jan 2019 13:16

klegier wrote:
15 Jan 2019 00:06
I totally agree with the assessment of how/who/why people will vote for "their favorite" on Facebook, Chris. I take everything on Social Media with a grain of salt. I certainly trust the opinions in this forum over any other, which is why I came over here from AVS for all things TT related. The Nagaoka MP-150 did win out, 35 votes to 36 votes total for all others combined. The VM540ML pulled a distant 4th...very surprising, but I don't put too much stock in it. I will however, probably opt for the MP-150. The MP-200 looks good, but is really starting to stretch the budget.

Brian, here is a pic of mine. I need to do some scrubbing on it, especially around the on/off switch there.

IMG_0683.jpeg

The reflection is from the TV, which is on the wall above it. Record on there now is Tumbleweed Connection....a few gems on it.
I have a lot of carts really a lot and a mp500 in the bunch. It really depends on what you want and what you like. The Grado gold 2 IMO is a better cart than the mp500. That said what turntable? I listened tonight to my AT3600l with the elliptical stylus still all up very cheap but on my Lenco.I have carts around 2k but enjoyed this tonight. Point is what turntable and how does the system sound? I have line 30 or 40 carts all high end and I still enjoy a 10 dollar cart. It has taken me 30 years to come full circle but listen to the music not the gear..
Chris

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by audiopile » 15 Jan 2019 16:10

Ya -it's a system and while I am firmly in the preeminence of the source(s) camp - do you want to toss a record on the platter and listen ? How much enthusiasm do you have for doing this ?If yes -you're going in the right direction . But I do think that a further interesting complication is the vast number of used cartridges floating around the 'net -this is both a great opportunity and a chance for the same worn out/defective cart to have X number of owners - trashing that products reputation as it slides thru the gut of our hobby. And I do find the "reviews" on the net worth reading -in order to weed out that portion of those reviews that are clearly either reviewers with different audio taste than mine : " prefer ultra detailed high end -run extra piezo tweeters in order to get every bit of cymbal shots" - that's not what I'm looking for. The raw numbers of mass review sites don't have much value IMO. But user reviews of the A-T VM540ML siting it's somewhat subdued high end compared to previous generations of AT "house sound" are the reason I tried one out. Personally not interested in hyper detailed screamin carts. But there isn't a thing wrong with someone who wants that characteristic in their music playback. This site has a lot of folks with experience and opinions based on that experience. Usually -if you research our previous posts -our prejudices become pretty obvious.

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by cafe latte » 15 Jan 2019 23:01

audiopile wrote:
15 Jan 2019 16:10
Ya -it's a system and while I am firmly in the preeminence of the source(s) camp - do you want to toss a record on the platter and listen ? How much enthusiasm do you have for doing this ?If yes -you're going in the right direction . But I do think that a further interesting complication is the vast number of used cartridges floating around the 'net -this is both a great opportunity and a chance for the same worn out/defective cart to have X number of owners - trashing that products reputation as it slides thru the gut of our hobby. And I do find the "reviews" on the net worth reading -in order to weed out that portion of those reviews that are clearly either reviewers with different audio taste than mine : " prefer ultra detailed high end -run extra piezo tweeters in order to get every bit of cymbal shots" - that's not what I'm looking for. The raw numbers of mass review sites don't have much value IMO. But user reviews of the A-T VM540ML siting it's somewhat subdued high end compared to previous generations of AT "house sound" are the reason I tried one out. Personally not interested in hyper detailed screamin carts. But there isn't a thing wrong with someone who wants that characteristic in their music playback. This site has a lot of folks with experience and opinions based on that experience. Usually -if you research our previous posts -our prejudices become pretty obvious.
We dont all just go for carts with a signature sound though, I have a lot of carts as I like their differences it would be no fun if they were all the same. The AT3600l (the 10 dollar one) is detailed in the highs but still nice as are my ATvm95 conical and ML and my AT95e are more accentuated in the tops but still enjoyable, the Grado gold 2 is quite a balanced presentation so less toppy and I like that too. Some MC's are toppy some less so some are quite warm all have a place in my system.
Chris

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by klegier » 20 Jan 2019 17:11

Tuesday I will be receiving a Nagaoka MP-150, generic Technics headshell, and Schiit Mani. These will replace the Ortofon 2M Red going into the Denon AVR-4311ci phono input. I will use 2 pair of new KabelDirekt RCA cables to connect the components.

It is true I have never actually heard the cart or the preamp. I am having to rely on input here and other places. What led to my choices are below.

1) Nagaoka MP-150 - I thought long and hard about this one. The MP-110 is almost the same cart, at less than half the price. As far as I can tell, the only difference being the cantilever, which presumably is made out of a harder aluminum. Nevertheless, I wanted to stretch out my upgrade time to much longer than with the 2M Red, which didn't make it past 6 months or so. I ended up choosing the Nagaoka mainly because of my biggest complaint with the 2M Red, which was strident, harsh, grainy highs at louder listening levels with rock/hard rock. I hope I have made a good choice. (I have all the setups tools, including scale, protractors, etc. so no issue there. Should I use 1.8g VTF to start?)

2) Generic headshell - Basically I like to keep the carts mounted on it's own headshell. I could have opted (and almost did) for the packaged Nagaoka with headshell, but I saved $20 with this generic one. Read all the reviews on Amazon, and if it fails to live up to those, then no biggie. I can swap it anytime.

3) Schiit Mani - I went back and forth on this one many times. Almost went with the Cambridge Audio, a Project S2 and a few others. Ultimately, the YouTube videos with the little Asian guy (I'm sure everyone has seen his videos) sent me to the Mani. I would have loved to have one with more loading options, including capacitance, but alas, the budget did not agree.

My intent is to replace all the components at the same time. I want to hear, at the very least, that a change has been made. I realize the cart and preamp need to break in, and will take that into consideration when first listening. My belief is that I SHOULD hear a significant difference. I cannot say at this point if it will be "better", but it sure should be "different".

Meanwhile, my TT upgrades (tonearm wires, RCA jacks, shielding, solder joints, cleaning, oiling) are still in the cards, when I get time. I have hesitated on this one because of course, the TT will be out of commission for about a week when I undertake this. And I am not yet ready to go into vinyl depravity voluntarily.

Looking forward to any input. And, thanks to all here who shed light on the way forward.


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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by DeepEnd » 21 Jan 2019 08:40

Just for info

MP110 / MP150

Plastic frame/Harder plastic frame
Single lamination mag circuit/Two layer laminated mag circuit
Tubular cantilever/Tapered cantilever (stiffer)
Bonded elliptical/Nude elliptical (lower moving mass)

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by klegier » 26 Jan 2019 03:46

Will be installing these in the morning and hopefully enjoying a relaxing listening session thereafter. I will post my impressions later tomorrow, realizing the cart (and possibly the preamp?) needs some break-in time.
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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by klegier » 26 Jan 2019 17:27

Took some quiet time this morning and got everything installed. First thing I did was oil the 'table. Installed cart, ended up setting VTF at 1.85. No particular reason, just seemed like a good number. Then I used the built in overhang checker and tightened the cart in the headshell. Turns out it is all the way back on this particular headshell (a cheap generic Techniques knockoff), but looks spot on in this position. I then checked the side to side or squareness (what is this called again?) of the cart alignment with this cheap little mirrored protractor I ordered awhile back. The cart looked nice and perpendicular to me, and the overhang checked out here too. I do have a few of the printed protractors but will use that in the future. Didn't want to overthink it or stress on it following the advice of users here.

Next I hooked up the Mani. I situated it on the center shelf, below the 'table and above the AVR and pushed it as far as I could away from the center channel speaker. I went into the CD input of the AVR, disabled the phono input of the AVR (not that it actually disables it, but removes it from the choices menu), and used the new Kabeldirekt RCAs to connect everything. The wall wart went into my Iot Relay (works like a charm) so the Mani will come on when the AVR does. I fired up the system, and first thing I did was crank the volume to listen for hum, radio stations, etc, as has been complained about by some. I am happy to report, I did not here anything but the normal slight hiss from the tweeters (with the volume cranked and my ears next to the tweeters). I would never listen with the volume this loud anyway (well, maybe I would), but mine is not picking up any interference or otherwise adding any noise that I can tell.

Last night I cleaned some records with my new Studebaker cleaner. It is basically a nicer looking SpinClean knockoff. I think the best thing I did was get some of the Kodak wetting agent to add to the cleaning solution. I did not use any of the included cleaning fluid that came with the Studebaker, as reviews have stated it leaves an almost sticky film on the records. Otherwise, my cleaning solution is just distilled water and alcohol.

First up (for no particular reason) was The Moody Blues' A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Not real familiar with it, but as soon as it started I was pleasantly surprised. Firstly, I had to reduce the subwoofer level by about 2db. Before I could even sit down, my wife said "It doesn't even sound like a record". This is EXTREMELY high praise coming from my wife, who wouldn't know or care about the differences between a cartridge and a carburetor. My first thought was, wow, this combo is SMOOOOOTH. Everything I disliked about the Ortofon 2M Red is gone. The highs have no peak that my ears can hear, yet the highs extend way above what the Red did in my system. Not harsh at all. I would describe the highs as laid back, smooth, even, possibly "flat" (as in frequency response). I could certainly here details in the songs that intrigued me, not having heard this album for a super long time.

Next I put on an album I am VERY familiar with...Frank Marino's Juggarnaut. I love this album. It has everything on it. Mostly blues guitar stuff, but heavy rock, ballads, synthesizers, and a great drum sound. Wow is all I can say. I kicked the sub back up 1db. Sat back. The snare drum was clean, and punchy...really in your face. Again, the highs were not even noticeable, which is to say, they sounded natural. I found myself not listening to the equipment, but hearing layers of guitars and little keyboard fills that I never heard so distinctly. Almost like it was a new mix of this record I am very familiar with. One of my favorite parts of "Strange Dreams", the opening song, is the synthesizer that follows the bass line, creating a fuzzy, low rumbling almost waltz (we used to call this "walking bass lines" in my band days). Wow, you could separate the synth and the bass clearly. Just amazing.

Next I put on one of my all time faves for just listening to cool music....KC and Sunshine band's Part 3. As soon as it started, I was like, maybe I should kick the sub down a few db, but decided to turn up the volume instead! Super. The horns were like Herb Albert on Viagra. I listened to side one amazed at hearing instruments that were seemingly masked before, and now they were pushed right up in the mix. Really like hearing it for the first time.

What I did not get from any of my early album choices was any wow factor of a wide soundstage. It sounded natural, not compressed or closed in, however. It is not something that I would describe as blowing me away. It sounded average, normal, or in my words, natural. Whether this is a limitation of the MP-150, the Mani, or the combination of the two I cannot say. But the soundstage, or width, was not something I would rave about. But everything else this combination does (so far) more than makes up for its lack of spaciousness (width wise...depth is all there).

Mornings are my wife's time to relax, so I removed the KC and resolved to pick out a few more for cleaning and checking out later today/this evening. I want to try some female vocals to see what happens. The 2M Red sounded strident, harsh and sometimes even distorted on powerful female vocals. I have Adele's 25 that is totally disappointing with the Red. Her voice sounds like it is being run through a sawmill. Of course, it could be that it is just an overly-compressed modern piece of crap recording....but I will spin it up later to verify. Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac and Carly Simon will also get some playtime soon. (No Sara K or Diana Krall on LP...plenty on CD).

My next steps will be to play with cart alignment a little mostly to verify/confirm. The big thing I have in the chute is to disassemble TT to clean, oil and otherwise rejuvenate my 45 year old Pioneer. I have procrastinated doing this as I will be without a TT while it is apart. This is why I am looking seriously at getting another one for a backup.

So, I invested about $380 in a cart and preamp and it was money well spent. None of the issues I have read regarding the Mani have surfaced for me. It is quiet, revealing and neutral. What more could I ask? The MP-150 is probably what I am hearing most, and so far, I am quite impressed. And, I realize, as some may be wondering, that both components only have about 1 hour of playing time so far. So I am anticipating it getting even better.

I need to get a test LP with a 20hz-20khz sweep on it so I can break out my UMIK mic and REW to see what is really happening. I know I have a little fatness in the 200-400hz range, but this is a fault of my (modified) Pioneer CS-88a speakers. I would really like to see what the highs are doing that make it sound so natural and smooth. Maybe someone can recommend a test LP with the sweep I need?

Finally, I always like to thank those in the forum for offering advice, wisdom and experience. I could not have made these changes without your valued input.

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by klegier » 28 Jan 2019 17:11

I got lots of spinning time over the weekend. I cannot tell if things are getting "broke in", but since each record I play seems to sound better and better, possibly the combo is settling in. I have the Mani on a relay connected to the AVR, but the AVR is on most of the time, as the wife is watching TV when I am not listening to records, so it is getting some serious burn in time. Still no noise, hum or anything that would suggest something is wrong. I still have not plugged the player directly into the AVR, to compare the on-board pre and the Mani, but may just to satisfy my curiosity.

The biggest change is the low bass. I mean 20-50hz. I have basically continually had to reduce the sub volume little by little to get it balanced. Again, cannot say at this point if it is the MP-150 or the Mani, but the combo sure thumps! Was playing some CSN&Y and the acoustic guitars had a real beefy, rhythmic quality.

The Red, in all aspects, but especially the low bass, is totally inferior to the MP-150. Not even in the same league. My Denon 4311 AVR is slick as that it allows me to set things differently for 2 channel listening compared to surround listening. Crossovers, levels, distances...I had it set for the Red, which is why I find myself turning the sub level down as time goes by. Sub level started at 0db and is now down to 3.5 db, and it may need to come down even more. This is why I need to get a test disc with the freq sweep so I can check this out.

I cannot recommend the combo more. I don't know how the MP-110 compares to the MP-150, but it should be similar based on what I've read. The Mani may not be the last word in budget preamps, but it certainly matches with the MP-150. Of course, the day the Mani arrived, Music Hall announced a new pre https://musichallaudio.com/product/mini ... no-preamp/ that looks very interesting. Would like to see some reviews of this in the future.

The Studebaker record cleaner is a real time saver. As I have only recently gotten back into vinyl, and my collection is about 600 or so, ALL need cleaning before hitting the 'table. I do a quick rinse in the sink to remove large debris, then go to the Studebaker and spin twice in each direction in a solution of distilled water, alcohol and wetting agent. The wetting agent is the key ingredient here, I am certain. Then I dry with some lint free paper towels (my wife and I tried everything, and ended up with this certain brand of paper towel that works great.) Yes I have all the microfiber towels, but they don't seem to absorb the water...they just push it around. After air drying for 20-30 minutes, I put the record on the 'table and use the Boundless Audio brush to give it a swipe. Now, the stylus doesn't require a brushing hardly at all between playing. Almost all pops and clicks are gone too (I did have to clean a very used Aerosmith Get Your Wings copy twice...).

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Re: First post - Another cartridge recommendation question

Post by BrianovichIV » 04 Feb 2019 13:54

klegier wrote:
26 Jan 2019 17:27
Took some quiet time this morning and got everything installed. First thing I did was oil the 'table. Installed cart, ended up setting VTF at 1.85. No particular reason, just seemed like a good number. Then I used the built in overhang checker and tightened the cart in the headshell. Turns out it is all the way back on this particular headshell (a cheap generic Techniques knockoff), but looks spot on in this position. I then checked the side to side or squareness (what is this called again?) of the cart alignment with this cheap little mirrored protractor I ordered awhile back. The cart looked nice and perpendicular to me, and the overhang checked out here too. I do have a few of the printed protractors but will use that in the future. Didn't want to overthink it or stress on it following the advice of users here.
I just got my LPGear Vessel, and had some struggles with alignment and distortion, so I had a couple of questions for you.

First, how did you use the overhang checker? I can't seem to get it to work because it wiggles and it doesn't seem to rise high enough to get the arm over the latch? So I used a protractor but I want to make sure the overhang is right first.

Second, do you use your lateral balance weight? After some Googling last night, I decided to remove it, and then rebalance the arm and reset the VTF to 2 grams (recommended for the Vessel) and it seemed like my distortion issues magically disappeared. However it was getting late and I didn't do much listening to really verify it. So I could be wrong.