View Full Version : From Elliptical to Micro Line ??


DVjorge
09-15-2011, 09:33 PM
Hi all,
I am wondering if it justify the money going from an elliptical cartridge to a micro line ??
What improve in sound, if so, can be gained if going with the micro line ??
I am not sure if it is something that really worth the sacrifice. I want to buy a new cartridge but can wait until save more money to go for a Micro Line (micro reach) if it really is an AUDIBLE step up ??
Thanks for your help. !!

cactuscowboy
09-15-2011, 10:29 PM
Depends what you're spinning?

I love using my cartridges with micro line, Shibata, and Fritz Geiger styli for spinning stereo LPs. I can definitely justify the cost based on the sound. OTOH, I use different cartridges with conical or elliptical styli for playing mono or worn discs and I'm very happy with those results. Can't have too many cartridges IMO.

DVjorge
09-15-2011, 10:48 PM
Yes, we buy numbers and technical data but no what our ears say !! Good point !!!

beatcomber
09-15-2011, 10:56 PM
The smaller microline tip does a better job of navigating the twists and turns of a groove than an elliptical tip, resulting in cleaner tracking and more precise detail retrieval. If your stereo is very revealing, you will absolutely hear the difference.

lini
09-15-2011, 11:17 PM
DVj: Depends - most so on what kind of elliptical we'd be talking about, 'cause there's quite a huge quality margin there. E.g., on an AT120 family body, I'd surely deem an ATN440MLa a significant upgrade over an ATN102EP, ATN112EP or ATN120E/ATN122EP, whereas an ATN440MLa vs. an ATN130E/132EP in my view would already be more a matter of taste. And in case of an ATN150E (or even an ATN150Ea) vs. an ATN440MLa I'd actually rather go for the former...

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini

flavio81
09-16-2011, 03:04 PM
Yes, we buy numbers and technical data but no what our ears say !! Good point !!!

Then clean your ears, because the SAS on beatcomber's M91ED was clearly a better, cleaner tracker than his Denon DL-110, Grado Gold, and other distinguished cartridges, to name a few. I heard it, many others heard it.

Technical data DOES correlate to what your ears hear, if you know what data is relevant and how to intepret it.

Science. It works.

beatcomber
09-16-2011, 03:22 PM
Then clean your ears, because the SAS on beatcomber's M91ED was clearly a better, cleaner tracker than his Denon DL-110, Grado Gold, and other distinguished cartridges, to name a few. I heard it, many others heard it.

...not to mention cleaner than both the generic and OEM Shure elliptical styli on the same cart body!

majick47
09-16-2011, 04:46 PM
The difference with ML stylus can be clearly heard compared to a standard stylus. One listen and you will be convinced.

Bluespower
09-16-2011, 05:10 PM
I upgraded an Ortofon Super OM20 to the 30 stylus and was floored. No going back now. As a matter of fact, I'm going to dip my toe in the low output moving coil pond. I just ordered an Ortofon Salsa largely because of its "super fine line" stylus.

KentTeffeteller
09-16-2011, 08:16 PM
Microline and other similar shapes are superior on HF tracking on really mint records and on early 1970's and later Stereo LP discs. I prefer conicals for older Stereo, all mono, and 45 RPM singles due to being better suited for such and less noise. For 45 RPM singles, use light tracking conical broadcast cartridges for best results and least wear (line contacts tend to chew styrene 45 singles and LP discs quicker, a tip! Just because your cartridge can play up to 40 Khz flat, does not mean your records have more than 18 Khz top end in real life playback).

beatcomber
09-16-2011, 09:20 PM
I agree with Kent; for my pre-1968 mono 45s and some (but not all!) mono LPs, I like to use a vintage Shure M44-7. It tracks at just 2 grams, so it is gentle on my precious old rekkids.

It's not the last word in refinement and top end air, but it has a powerful midrange punch that is very well-suited to those records (not surprising, since it was introduced in 1963).

Tedrick
09-16-2011, 10:51 PM
I also find that fine line/micro-ridge/shibata styli are less prone to surface noise; presumably they ride deeper in the groove so they don't pick up as much of the stuff that's on the surface of the record. The result is a quieter background and less hiss, pops, and ticks.

dlaloum
09-17-2011, 03:12 AM
If I have to choose a single stylus type....

Definitely a Line contact type...

Either a shibata, or a microline/ridge.

Why:

1) the side radius is finer than anything but the best elipticals, (and the microline is finer than any eliptical) - so better HF reproduction
2) Lower wear due to distributed force over a larger area (the "line") - so better for the records and better for the stylus

I am a little ambivalent about hyperelipticals/hyperbolic and other more basic line contact types.... no logic to it.... just wary....
Even though my OM30/Digitrac300SE is fantastic, and so is my Shure V15HRP
On the other hand the 320u which is also a "fine line" is not as impressive. (but looking at it under the microscope shows it to be a far lower quality needle...)

The AT440MLa is fantastic value, so is the Digitrac 300SE... there are not that many budget contenders in the Line Contact category...

Also keep in mind that the cantilever quality has a huge impact on the sound... and the cantilever is what seperates the budget category from the next step up in most cases....

bye for now

David

catman
09-17-2011, 03:43 AM
G'day all, the exotic stylus geometries like the SAS are amazing, but a decent elliptical is ok too if you just want to play music (and they're less expensive too). :D Regards, Felix aka catman.

gusten
09-17-2011, 04:05 AM
I must admit Shibatas are my favourite. To me, in principle, they are without any particular flaws. Very good frequency range, absent inner groove distortion, low surface noise, not sensitive to ticks and pops and all in all a very natural presentation. I like them so much so I only have Shibatas these days.

gusten

LP-THORN
09-17-2011, 04:12 AM
G'day all, the exotic stylus geometries like the SAS are amazing, but a decent elliptical is ok too if you just want to play music (and they're less expensive too). :D Regards, Felix aka catman.

Good point,but depends what you mean decent.

I'd say a nude .3x.7 elliptical would be the lower limit.

Almost all nude ellipticals I've seen are better polished than bonded types.

And that is very important.

LP-THORN
09-17-2011, 04:16 AM
Hi all,
I am wondering if it justify the money going from an elliptical cartridge to a micro line ??
What improve in sound, if so, can be gained if going with the micro line ??
I am not sure if it is something that really worth the sacrifice. I want to buy a new cartridge but can wait until save more money to go for a Micro Line (micro reach) if it really is an AUDIBLE step up ??
Thanks for your help. !!

What is your present cartridge?Maybe it is one on which you can use different styluses?

If you are buying a new cartridge,how about an audio technica AT120E and a spare ATN440mla stylus?

dlaloum
09-17-2011, 04:33 AM
Not a bad option... but I would probably go for the StereoNeedles ATN140LC at $90 - about $30 cheaper than the ATN440MLa.... it is a Shibata style needle rather than a MicroLine, but concensus is that it is smoother sounding than the 440MLa (cantilever tuning variation...)

Still the total is not unsubstantial, and it would be pretty close to the price of an AT440MLa.

However before recomending a cartridge - I would prefer to know the TT and arm it is intended for first.... better to match cartridge to arm....

bye for now

David

p.s. not to mention needing to know the budget

LP-THORN
09-17-2011, 04:40 AM
.... better to match cartridge to arm....

bye for now

David

That is correct

KentTeffeteller
09-17-2011, 11:52 AM
And also what kind of records you'll be using on it. I like Micro Line and Shibatas for my best modern discs. But not for my older discs. If you own either of these advanced tips or their relatives, alignment and overhang are CRITICAL to their performance and on record wear.

hifitommy
09-17-2011, 03:14 PM
the microridge or microline stylus shapes can be seen in this link:

http://www.vinylengine.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=22894

not only does it have a fine contact area (and long to spread out the load), the thin ridge remains narrow even with wear (up to a certain point) that allows longer stylus life.

the smaller tip rides lower in the groove than more common larger styli and touches the lesser worn part of the groove, thus the reports of quieter playback.

this may be worth saving up for.

melofelo
09-17-2011, 07:40 PM
early shibata profiles were simply record groove scrapers...the closer the stylus shape approximates the record cutting head shape...the more likely it will cut the groove...hence the tendency to use them with lower tracking force than cruder profiles..
i think acutex and a few others had to refine the shibata profile edges so it played the record groove's undulations instead of erasing them..
in practice i've found that ellipticals are a fine compromise ...better to spend the money on the best arm and turntable you can afford...worry about exotic stylus profile later..

hifitommy
09-17-2011, 08:16 PM
not quite true. van den hul styli are touted to be an analog of the cutting styli. what i wouldnt recommend is back cuing.

the andante shape used by micro-acoustics was also reputed to be similar to cutting styli.

dlaloum
09-17-2011, 08:16 PM
early shibata profiles were simply record groove scrapers...the closer the stylus shape approximates the record cutting head shape...the more likely it will cut the groove...hence the tendency to use them with lower tracking force than cruder profiles..
i think acutex and a few others had to refine the shibata profile edges so it played the record groove's undulations instead of erasing them..
personally i think ellipticals are a fine compromise ...better to spend the money on the best arm and turntable you can afford...worry about exotic stylus profile later..

Where did you get that from !?!
Shibata's were designed for CD4 which needed to read up to 45kHz with low distortion (the rear channels were FM encoded in the high frequencies)
The length of the contact patch results in increased contact surface area, so it reduces the pressure per contact area.... a Shibata/line contact of any type actually has a greater surface contact area than any eliptical - and as the VTF is spread out, they can handle higher VTF than elipticals. (cantilever and suspension design permitting... of course!)
High VTF (over 3g) line contact styli are available and are very well regarded ... here is a small list:

Ortofon SPU RoyalN or RoyalGM - Nude Replicant - VTF up to 3.5g (also several other line contact SPU models)
Stanton 680SL - stereohedron - VTF 2-5g
EMT XSD-15 SFL - super fineline - VTF 2-3g
Audio Note IO range - VdH - VTF max various 3g or 4g
Sansui SV-40X - Shibata VTF 1-3g
Miyajima Shilabe - Shibata - VTF 2.5-3.2g

All of these are highly regarded cartridges, and none of these are considered "record cutters" likely to wear out records!!

Most of the "refinements" were related to avoiding the patents on the shibata... There is also some debate as to the effect of the Shibata contact patch being slightly curved and not quite vertical.... the subsequent LC designs all have a vertical and straight contact patch.

I honestly think you are promulgating unwarranted FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) about Line contact designs.

Furthermore, there were tests that showed that an eliptical had higher wear on vinyl than a spherical/conical or LC design.... primarily due to the VTF being focused down on such a small contact patch.... so a very good case can be made for the elipticals being the "cutters".

bye for now

David

melofelo
09-17-2011, 08:26 PM
Almost all nude ellipticals I've seen are better polished than bonded types.

its for this reason i never use a new stylus with a new record... modern cartridge reviews seldom mention how finely polished a stylus tip is..or whether the profile is even symmetrical...even less do they actually measure the contact radius major or minor..and instead just quote the manufacturers specs..
in the good old days of hi-fi tests..such as hi-fi choices excellent cartridge shootouts from the early 80's... quite a few cartridges had a stylus tip that seldom met its published dimensions... and what some advertised as elliptical was in fact pseudo elliptical...what manufacturers quoted as a 3 by 8 tip ..was in fact a plain ole 18 by 18 spherical...and as for groove polishing..
playing a used non valuable lp for 10 hours or so was the only user end insurance it wouldn't carve a second groove into your mint pressings..:D

one strange thing i often read in the summary of these reviews was... record wear tends to be highest in the very first few plays of an lp..than after 20 hours or so stylus use..when it became negligible for measuring or discernment purposes...
in fact..the common recommendation was to always play a new stylus on a non valuable record for the first 10 hours or so until it acquired a bit of 'groove polish'..
how one interprets that is anyone's guess...but i guess reviewers were a bit more objective back then when available cartridges at any one time numbered in the hundreds...and the consumer was bit more sceptical of advertising claims..:scratch2:

melofelo
09-17-2011, 08:28 PM
Where did you get that from !?!
an acutex brochure...explaining why they developed the vital str shibata profile for stereo use using their lowest possible mass stylus assembly design...instead of using the crude earlier cd4 shibata profile

melofelo
09-17-2011, 08:41 PM
Furthermore, there were tests that showed that an eliptical had higher wear on vinyl than a spherical/conical or LC design.... primarily due to the VTF being focused down on such a small contact patch.... so a very good case can be made for the elipticals being the "cutters".
most ellipticals tend to be conicals with the front and rear sides shaved off...
the elliptical profile acting as a cutter..depends on how the surface left by shaving off the front and rear faces on a conical are profiled or 'smoothed' at the edges..not its increased contact patch with the groove..or that it requires less downforce to keep it in contact with a highly modulated groove than a conical..
conicals don't seem to feature tracking forces much below 1.8 gm...ellipticals tend to use the 1.25 gm to 2.0 gm range...

some would say anything above 2.0gm downforce when magnified is actually several tonnes per square inch riding on the weakest (ie thinnest part of the groove) where the conicals tend to sit..

hard to say who's right...just mentioning a different perspective really..:D

melofelo
09-17-2011, 08:59 PM
the microridge or microline stylus shapes can be seen in this link:

http://www.vinylengine.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=22894

not only does it have a fine contact area (and long to spread out the load), the thin ridge remains narrow even with wear (up to a certain point) that allows longer stylus life.

the smaller tip rides lower in the groove than more common larger styli and touches the lesser worn part of the groove, thus the reports of quieter playback.

this may be worth saving up for.

excellent link...:thmbsp:

melofelo
09-17-2011, 09:06 PM
not quite true. van den hul styli are touted to be an analog of the cutting styli. what i wouldnt recommend is back cuing.

lovely picture of the van del hull profile...and it does indeed look like the perfect analog version of a cutter...
would i let it anywhere near my records for front cueing or back cueing......erm...nah!:D:D

hifitommy
09-17-2011, 09:09 PM
i had a sumiko alchemist ho mc with vdh stylus. it rested on a sme IV and i was never tempted to back cue with that setup.

Tuxman
09-17-2011, 10:05 PM
Today I just received a SAE 1000LT which is a line trace and it passed the sibilance text on Norah Jones Austin City Limits and Bon Jovi New Jersey; both brand new, both had noticeable sibilance issues. Not anymore.

The SAE 1000LT is replacing my Shure M75 hyper-elliptical and Yamaha MC-705 elliptical permanently.

melofelo
09-17-2011, 10:14 PM
its a hostile groove to be sure..or shure..:D

dlaloum
09-18-2011, 01:21 AM
For a great concentrated education in the parameters involved in playing records I suggest reading the Shure Technical Seminar paper from 1978...

They naturally go through the process that led them to the solutions they specifically chose.... (naturally) - but it covers many issues, including damping, differing stylus profiles and their impact on wear (measured...) both of the record and the stylus... damping, cantilever resonance, etc... etc...

Given the discussion with regards to eliptical vs microline wear - I recomend the section in this document where they discuss the wear patterns and compare hyperbolic vs eliptical and conical styli.... Hyperbolic is another variety of Live Contact - closest to the current HyperEliptical style... (It was the predecessor to HyperEliptical in the Shure range... it may be the same as HE with a marketing rename... not sure)

The particularly interesting outcomes of this test series is that there is substantial difference in wear between 2g and 1g, it is non linear so there is a greater difference between 1.5g and 1g than there is between 2g and 1.5g.

This is (of course) assuming that all tested setups are properly optimised and that there is no mistracking - ANY stylus will act as a cutter when mistracking kicks in.... avoid mistracking AT ALL COSTS. - Higher VTF is far far far better than mistracking.

Are these differences relevant .... well that depends how often you play each record.... and how sensitive you are to the variations generated by wear, etc... etc... etc...

All of which does not discuss the other advantage of LC designs.... the long contact patch makes contact with a larger proportion of the groove wall, if you are playing a worn thrift store record, it was probably played by a conical or eliptical stylus - the LC types will read the groove both above and below the area originally read by conicals and elipticals, this means you are also reading virgin vinyl.... - and therefore some older "worn" records can come up sounding like new......

bye for now

David

gusten
09-18-2011, 06:53 AM
There must be some misunderstanding. A cutter is optimized to be able to cut the groove in the lacquer, it cannot follow a cut groove. It has a shape of 90deg with sharp cutting edges.

A stylus is made to follow the groove, it does not do any cutting, whoever says so, even when mistracking.
A good stylus cannot look like a cutter and it doesn´t, it would certainly be very unpopular.
gusten

dlaloum
09-18-2011, 06:57 AM
I just realised that I had mentioned the Shure Technical Seminar paper, but not provided the link to it....

http://shure.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4072/session/L3RpbWUvMTI5NzAxMDc1OC9zaWQvbDl4aWhZbGs%3D

A highly recommended read!

dlaloum
09-18-2011, 06:59 AM
There must be some misunderstanding. A cutter is optimized to be able to cut the groove in the lacquer, it cannot follow a cut groove. It has a shape of 90deg with sharp cutting edges.

A stylus is made to follow the groove, it does not do any cutting, whoever says so, even when mistracking.
A good stylus cannot look like a cutter and it doesn´t, it would certainly be very unpopular.
gusten

I don't know - used neumann lathes tend to fetch good money.... and get used as turntables....

The arm might be different - but overall it would look a lot like a cutter ;-)

KentTeffeteller
09-18-2011, 08:19 AM
dialoum,

Many of those repurposed Neumann lathes also have SME 3012 playback tonearms installed if not most. Not a cutting head.

melofelo
09-19-2011, 12:34 AM
i tried a shibata stylus on a few records...it certainly sounded a bit more detailed in the high notes..but it managed to sound noisier on the few records i tried than the elliptical stylus it replaced..
my guess is that increased contact with the groove wall meant it picked up more of the groove's imperfections...perhap stuff embedded in the groove that no amount of cleaning will remove..or perhaps the vinyl itself wasn't 100 % pure and had contaminants below the surface where the elliptical profile sat.
It wasn't loud enough to make the sound unpleasant..but there was no escaping the constant scraping noise..as if the point of the stylus was actually riding on the bottom of the groove..or the increased contact with the sidewalls contributed to higher tracing noise..:scratch2:
I have no way to confirm this of course and i didn't let the stylus play for long enough on any one record to consider it 'broken in'... still it was an interesting listen..:scratch2:

dlaloum
09-19-2011, 01:20 AM
dialoum,

Many of those repurposed Neumann lathes also have SME 3012 playback tonearms installed if not most. Not a cutting head.

Now you are just raining on my parade! :grumpy:

dlaloum
09-19-2011, 01:24 AM
i tried a shibata stylus on a few records...it certainly sounded a bit more detailed in the high notes..but it managed to sound noisier on the few records i tried than the elliptical stylus it replaced..
my guess is that increased contact with the groove wall meant it picked up more of the groove's imperfections...perhap stuff embedded in the groove that no amount of cleaning will remove..or perhaps the vinyl itself wasn't 100 % pure and had contaminants below the surface where the elliptical profile sat.
It wasn't loud enough to make the sound unpleasant..but there was no escaping the constant scraping noise..as if the point of the stylus was actually riding on the bottom of the groove..or the increased contact with the sidewalls contributed to higher tracing noise..:scratch2:
I have no way to confirm this of course and i didn't let the stylus play for long enough on any one record to consider it 'broken in'... still it was an interesting listen..:scratch2:


:yes: that's the swings and roundabouts - with the Shibata you are reading more of the groove wall, and doing so more accurately....

But...

With a fatter needle you "surf" across the tops of the higher frequencies, losing the detail, but also losing the imperfections....
And a "cleanly" worn record will also have that effect.... a loss of detail but reduced imperfections (some of the vinyl imperfections will have been smoothed away).... so there is the potential of a smoother sound with a conical or eliptical riding on the "wear" zone....

flavio81
09-19-2011, 10:52 AM
The particularly interesting outcomes of this test series is that there is substantial difference in wear between 2g and 1g, it is non linear so there is a greater difference between 1.5g and 1g than there is between 2g and 1.5g.

Note that this difference is in STYLUS wear not RECORD wear!!

Playback at over 1.5g with an spherical will leave a trace on the groove that will be seen over the electronic microscope. So there will be "wear" in the absolute sense, but on the relative sense, the audio will be perfectly OK.

I think the issue of record wear has been largely overblown. Get a perfectly tracking cartridge and wear will be nonexistent.