View Full Version : AT95E not bright enough. Recommend something under $150 for me?


bondospecial
12-22-2011, 02:58 PM
I replaced an old conical AT DR250 cart, which I actually liked the sound of but I didn't want to play my new rare albums with a conical stylus, with an AT95E. With the old DR250 my vinyl albums sounded very similar to commercial CD versions in the high frequency (or if you are anti-CD, put it this way, with the old DR250 acoustic guitars and cymbals sounded natural, like they would played live). The new AT95E is a LOT less bright than I expected. It's been a long time since I bought a new cartridge so I don't know how much break in is going to affect the sound, but unless it gets magically a ton brighter than it sounds now I'm going to be unhappy.

I don't mind spending more if that means getting a better cart, I thought the AT95E was worth a shot for 50 bucks. How do the AT110E and AT120ET's compare to the AT95E in brightness? I'm thinking of trying the AT120ET

I would take any other under-$150 recommendations for a new cartridge w/ stylus. The TT is a Technics SL-D205. I listen to classic rock and pop music.

Thanks!

Steven

catman
12-22-2011, 03:15 PM
G'day mate, the AT95E should have no lacking 'highs'. I wonder if your set up has a touch too much input shunt capacitance, as the manufacturers recommended input shunt capacitance for the AT95E is only around 150 picofarads, a rather small value!

Much more that will roll off the highs substantially. Try the effect of perhaps using lower capacitance input interconnects (if possible), or perhaps if your phono stage has switchable input capacitance, try using the lowest value. Regards, Felix aka catman.

benricci
12-22-2011, 03:18 PM
How long did you let it break in for?

vinyldavid
12-22-2011, 03:20 PM
I never thought my AT95e was mellow...I had it on a SL-D202 for a while...

bondospecial
12-22-2011, 03:25 PM
Hi guys. Nothing is switchable about my TT or the receiver.

It has almost zero break-in on it. My first impression was just, wow, I don't like how this sounds. Does break in have a slight effect on the sound or can it make a BIG difference? I am playing high quality transfers of the same album (through an M-Audio 2496 audiophile card) made with the DR250 and the AT95E and the difference is unbelievable. I have a hard time listening to the transfer from the new cart, it makes me sad!!!

Sam Cogley
12-22-2011, 03:30 PM
I've never encountered an AT cart that I would describe as "mellow" - they tend to be, to my ears, quite forward and strident. Depending on the program material, almost too much so at times. Did you verify the alignment?

davidro
12-22-2011, 03:32 PM
Not sure about not bright enough but if you're talking about lack of highs yes it does lack highs big time. You might wanna try a more detailed cartridge.

bondospecial
12-22-2011, 03:32 PM
Yes, I mean lack of highs. Hi hats and cymbal crashes and plucked acoustic guitar strings sound so much less detailed on this AT95E over the cart it replaced. I am playing the same album A/B with the two carts to compare. I aligned it using the LP gear paper protractor, and the tracking is set to 2g. Will it get brighter as it breaks in? This thing is pretty much right out of the box with no break-in. I was just struck with how much I don't like how it sounds at the moment, and that makes me want to start buying things - I am impatient!

PickyEars81
12-22-2011, 03:33 PM
Also too much tracking force can dull the highs.

rexrider
12-22-2011, 03:35 PM
If don't have the means to adjust the capacitance to work with the AT95, I would recommend an AT440mla.

The AT440mla are notoriously on the bright side. But they do excel at extracting detail from records and track like its on rails. They work with a wide range of turntables too.

There are several recent posts with people being very happy with the 440mla.

I used the AT440mla several years ago but it was a bit too bright for my taste.

Another choice is the Denon DL-110. Its within your budget. It carries the same level of upper end detail and tracks just as well. For me, it was not near as hot and more natural sounding over the 440mla. The only catch with this choice it can sound a bit thinner than other carts.

Also (just FYI), there is nothing inherently wrong with conical stylus. As long as it is in good shape and set at the recommended tracking force, there is no reason why it would cause excessive wear on your valuable records.

Heck, one of the most famous and well regarded carts for decades is the Denon DL-103. Which also uses a conical stylus (listed as 0.2 mm special round solid diamond) and tracks at 2.5 grams.

I would not talk you out of getting another cart, but if you like sound of the AT DR250, I say use it and enjoy.

catman
12-22-2011, 03:35 PM
G'day all, yes this is curious. I wonder if the pin wiring on the cartridge might be accidently mixed up, causing phase cancellations and frequency response anomalies. It's worth checking, just in case. Regards, Felix aka catman.

davidro
12-22-2011, 03:38 PM
Yes, I mean lack of highs. Hi hats and cymbal crashes and plucked acoustic guitar strings sound so much less detailed on this AT95E over the cart it replaced. I am playing the same album A/B with the two carts to compare. I aligned it using the LP gear paper protractor, and the tracking is set to 2g. Will it get brighter as it breaks in? This thing is pretty much right out of the box with no break-in. I was just struck with how much I don't like how it sounds at the moment, and that makes me want to start buying things - I am impatient!

It won't mate. It's just not a very detailed cartridge. Other people have recommended other more detailed ones and I suggest you try AT440mla or something.

bondospecial
12-22-2011, 03:41 PM
Thanks Felix. I just double checked the pin wiring, and it is correct.

It is possible I just like a brighter cartridge and the AT95E is presenting a very honest playback... I am not a seasoned player of LP's.

The DR250 was the same cartridge that I played LP's on as a kid. It has hit the mat accidentally too many times and it has been dropped a lot. The stylus looked fine under low power mag (jeweler's loupe) and it doesn't have that many hours on it but I figured I should start with a fresh cart and stylus just for the heck of it. And since the DR250 is such a cheap piece I figured I'd buy something more premium.

Davidro and Rex, thanks for your replies and recommendations. I will go ahead and look into the AT440. My younger brother just got into playing LP's too so whatever cartridge I like less won't go to waste, I'll give it to him. He is using a thrift shop TT with a probably 30 year old cart on it so no matter what I give him I'm sure he'll be thrilled with it.

finnbow
12-22-2011, 03:58 PM
How about upgrading the stylus of the AT95 with a Jico Shibata or VividLine stylus? Both are a bit more finicky to set up, but should improve performance considerably.

http://www.turntableneedles.com/-710-Dshibata_p_3721.html
http://www.lpgear.com/product/LPGATN95VL.html

bondospecial
12-22-2011, 05:08 PM
Hehe so many choices...now I get to thinking, maybe I should start off with a better TT. This Technics SL-D205 plays and tracks perfectly and it's in fantastic condition but not having a quartz lock bugs me a little bit. As the motor warms up the speed does wander a tiny bit. Then after I have a better TT maybe the AT95 will sound different.

This is a slippery slope getting into analog gear! But it is fun. Thanks for the food for thought guys, and happy holidays!

Finn, you are somewhat local to me, do you have a better turntable to sell me?

finnbow
12-22-2011, 06:15 PM
Hehe so many choices...now I get to thinking, maybe I should start off with a better TT. This Technics SL-D205 plays and tracks perfectly and it's in fantastic condition but not having a quartz lock bugs me a little bit. As the motor warms up the speed does wander a tiny bit. Then after I have a better TT maybe the AT95 will sound different.

This is a slippery slope getting into analog gear! But it is fun. Thanks for the food for thought guys, and happy holidays!

Finn, you are somewhat local to me, do you have a better turntable to sell me?

Sorry, I don't. I've been downsizing a bit. DC and Baltimore's Craigslist usually has some pretty nice offerings.

charles 1973
12-22-2011, 06:56 PM
The sound of my Nagoaka MP11 cartridge changed dramatically after the 30 hrs. recomended breakin period. The the high frequiency response and Detail improved, bass became tighter. What changed the most was the Imaging/Soundstage. It seams to be getting better even to 100 hrs or so. I'd highly recomend the negoaka MP11 or its replacement. I seems to have a very ballanced sound with my Vinyline (aka project Phonobox) preamp and tracks like a champ.

boreas
12-22-2011, 09:14 PM
How about upgrading the stylus of the AT95 with a Jico Shibata or VividLine stylus? Both are a bit more finicky to set up, but should improve performance considerably.

http://www.turntableneedles.com/-710-Dshibata_p_3721.html
http://www.lpgear.com/product/LPGATN95VL.html

Excellent suggestion.

I checked on the DR-250 as it's a model designation I'm not familiar with. Turns out it's a version of our old friend the AT-92ECD but with a .4 x .7 mil elliptical instead of a .3. x .7 mil. Also, I believe that these cartridges use the same generator as the AT95E so I'm surprised to learn that you hear a significant difference, especially a relative lack of brightness.

You might want to recheck your setup. Judging by your signature, it appears that you're using an SL-D205. Maybe, instead of using the protractor, you could set the overhang to Technics specs using the 52mm shortcut. That's putting the cartridge square in the headshell and setting the distance between the stylus tip and the rubber washer at the rear of the headshell to 52mm.

John

beej
12-23-2011, 06:00 AM
Wow, I don't know that I've ever heard anyone describe any AT cart as 'not bright enough'. You may wish to allow this baby to break in a bit. In my experience any new stylus should have at least 10 hours break-in before tweeking. Some, like the Shure M97xE require a bit longer. I'd let this jewel run a bit befor making any final decisions.

My 2 cents (adjusted for compromise).

awise1961
12-23-2011, 08:01 AM
Try the LPGear Shibata replacment stylus for the AT95.
I had one last year and felt it was plenty bright. I don't like "bright" sounding cartridges and thus sold it off.

Al. Wise

Sultan swing
12-23-2011, 08:43 AM
Maybe it's a defective unit? My AT95e sounds "just right", but that's very subjective. Listened the Ortofon OM5e and that cart wasn't bright as much, so I prefer AT!

soundman2
12-23-2011, 12:36 PM
I find it very strange that the AT95E is not "bright" enough for you (I own FOUR). It is possible you might have a duff cartridge and it CAN happen. I got one in 1996 and it was a bit iffy as the output was a lot more on one channel than the other. Hmmm.....

I returned to the retailer who sent it back to Audio Technica and it was found to be bad and they sent a replacement. It's the old addage of Murphy's Law. If it can go wrong, it will!

Sultan swing
12-23-2011, 01:17 PM
Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking! Maybe you can return it and exchange it for another one. I the lacking still exists, then it's really about your preference!

goldwax
12-23-2011, 01:30 PM
Try 1.5 grams instead of 2, use it for about 50 LP plays, and then get back to us.

Rotoplooker
12-23-2011, 02:00 PM
Does the arm sit higher with the AT95 mounted? As a general rule, carts will sound warmer when the cart sits higher and brighter when the arm sits lower(plays closer to the record).

Sorry, I don't know anything about your first cart but AT's generally aren't lacking high end.

hifitommy
12-23-2011, 02:25 PM
the only thing i can think of that hasnt been touched on here is VTA. i dont know if the 205 has that adjustment but you can effect changes by:

putting shims under the cartridge which angles the tail of the cartrdidge down or

use a thinner mat which will cause the tail of the cartridge to angle up slightly.

otherwise, wedges under the cartridge can effect more angle.

break in may have an effect, not sure. was it a new at95 or used? it seems a used one would already be broken in.

also, is the speed variation you see audible? if so, there are fixes for that. search the archives here, and at audioasylum.com. or post the question in these places.

melofelo
12-23-2011, 04:36 PM
Its possible that you either have a bad stylus or you need to double check your set up.
try it at 1.85 - 1.9 gm instead of 2.0..i've always found it sounds best when used just below 2.0 gm...any higher and you lose a bit of 'air' and 'ambience'.

Its not fussy about vta neurosis either (its a basic elliptical tip after all)..
Just keep the arm tube level with the record surface when the stylus is in the groove and it should sing.
What is IS fussy about however is critical alignment at the inner null point.


If anything, the at95e has always sounded very bright,detailed and lively in the first 10 hours play...eventually adding some 'tone' and 'body' in the midrange and bass as the suspension settles down and the diamond gets a bit of groove polish.

This cartridge may be 'cheap'...but its no less demanding of a good tonearm,a good turntable,good alignment and accurate setup to get the best from it than any other more expensive cartridges.

catman
12-23-2011, 05:01 PM
G'day all, another thing to check, is make sure that the stylus is properly seated and 'clicked' into place.

I was personally caught out by this and I thought that I had a faulty AT95E! The stylus just wasn't seated properly. 'Clicked' it back into place all was ok. It's worth checking anyway. Regards, Felix aka catman.

Dynacophil
12-23-2011, 05:32 PM
I never heard that somebody found a old konical stylus sound more detailed and natural in highs than any (better) Cart... ok. At95e is the lowest acceptable range of a "better" then konical cart... but I used it lots of times on Players i sold for a cheap but pretty good sounding "sales-Cart". Never had the impression OP has... I always found it very nice for the ultralow price, and it should pair very nice with the arm of that player. 2g is way to high tracking force. 1.3-1.5.... but 2? ouch...
may be that the records suffered beein' plaid with a dead konical in too high tracking force for years before...

boreas
12-23-2011, 05:58 PM
I never heard that somebody found a old konical stylus sound more detailed and natural in highs than any (better) Cart... ok.


Well, it's possible that the OP is mistaken about the stylus on his DR250. The info (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Audio-Technica-DR250-Cartridge-Needle-UNUSED-BOX-Stylus-/330522431028) I found on it says it comes with a .4 x .7 mil elliptical. Of course, the stylus could have been replaced with one of the conicals that fit that body.

John

bondospecial
12-24-2011, 01:02 AM
I brought the (new) AT95E with me to visit my family for the holidays and I put the AT95E on my brother's old nasty Fisher MT-6420 turntable and aligned it and played it through his JBL82's and the AT95E sounds really great on this setup. The 82 is a pretty bright speaker though so it's hard to make a direct comparison to my setup. Whatever the case, the AT95E really sounds great through his setup, so I'm letting him keep it. He was using an unknown age Shure 3x that probably has a million hours on it so this will keep him from damaging his vinyl collection. Clearly the AT95E sounds great on some setups, why not on mine I don't know. I am not crazy about how my Technics does not hold constant speed so I am going to be looking into that. It's not audible that I can tell. The speed is not oscillating irregularly. If you set the speed perfectly and then start using the table, as it warms up you can see the speed slowly starts to wander from where you set it and then you have to start messing with the speed wheel to bring it back. My brother's super beat up fisher table, which is also not quartz lock, stayed dead on speed as we ran several albums through it tonight. That made me mad that my really nice condition TT does not stay that constant!

John, I very well may be mistaken about the DR250 being a conical, I thought it was. It has its original stylus on it, my dad bought it new and I know he never changed it. I suppose I could just put that back on my table for now. The one thing I'm not crazy about is it's a universal mount and to run it as a 1/2" mount instead of P mount you have to use a big dorky plastic L shaped adapter. But I guess if it sounds okay it doesn't exactly matter huh.

may be that the records suffered beein' plaid with a dead konical in too high tracking force for years before...

I am playing brand new vintage vinyl. The albums I am testing with have 2 or 3 plays on them since I opened the shrink wrap. Also 2 grams is right in the middle of the range recommended for the AT95E.


Thanks

Steve

Bob_in_OKC
12-24-2011, 08:55 AM
I brought the (new) AT95E with me to visit my family for the holidays and I put the AT95E on my brother's old nasty Fisher MT-6420 turntable and aligned it and played it through his JBL82's and the AT95E sounds really great on this setup. The 82 is a pretty bright speaker though so it's hard to make a direct comparison to my setup. Whatever the case, the AT95E really sounds great through his setup, so I'm letting him keep it. He was using an unknown age Shure 3x that probably has a million hours on it so this will keep him from damaging his vinyl collection. Clearly the AT95E sounds great on some setups, why not on mine I don't know. I am not crazy about how my Technics does not hold constant speed so I am going to be looking into that. It's not audible that I can tell. The speed is not oscillating irregularly. If you set the speed perfectly and then start using the table, as it warms up you can see the speed slowly starts to wander from where you set it and then you have to start messing with the speed wheel to bring it back. My brother's super beat up fisher table, which is also not quartz lock, stayed dead on speed as we ran several albums through it tonight. That made me mad that my really nice condition TT does not stay that constant!

John, I very well may be mistaken about the DR250 being a conical, I thought it was. It has its original stylus on it, my dad bought it new and I know he never changed it. I suppose I could just put that back on my table for now. The one thing I'm not crazy about is it's a universal mount and to run it as a 1/2" mount instead of P mount you have to use a big dorky plastic L shaped adapter. But I guess if it sounds okay it doesn't exactly matter huh.



I am playing brand new vintage vinyl. The albums I am testing with have 2 or 3 plays on them since I opened the shrink wrap. Also 2 grams is right in the middle of the range recommended for the AT95E.


Thanks

Steve

Maybe your turntable's speed issues could be solved by cleaning the speed control with Deoxit.

bondospecial
12-25-2011, 11:04 PM
Thanks for the tip on the deoxit, i just ordered some along with a 440MLa cart to play with this week. I appreciate the great info guys!

Steve

bondospecial
01-05-2012, 10:57 PM
I just got the 440MLa cart in today and started playing it. My first impression is that I have never had such click, pop, and crackle-free vinyl playback before. I honestly didn't think playback this dead quiet was even possible with vinyl. It sounds like I'm listening to a CD right now it is so noise-free, I can't believe it. It is definitely not too bright with my technics/Onkyo/Kef Q60 setup, it sounds great. THANK YOU for the recommendation on this cart!!!!!

The funny thing is, using the Shure tracking force gauge, my Technics SL-D205 tracking force graduations on the counterweight are 100% dead on. That was nice to see.

davidro
01-05-2012, 11:05 PM
That confirms my suspicion that your 'not bright enough' meant 'lack of highs'. Congratulation and enjoy your vinyl!

bondospecial
01-05-2012, 11:08 PM
I can not get over the difference in surface noise w/ this cart over the other 2 AT's. I aligned them w/ the same gauge and the same level of care. I guess it's not really fair to compare a $50 cart to a $150 cart but wow. This thing sounds good.

dlaloum
01-05-2012, 11:12 PM
One more thing - if the TT has a captive cable this is irrelevant, but if the output is RCA sockets and you are using interconnects, then replacing the interconnect cables with lower capacitance cables might help...

Typically Composite Video cables have about half the capacitance of standard audio Interconnects... (and shorter is better/lower C)

bondospecial
01-05-2012, 11:15 PM
The cables are captive. I'm good w/ this setup, it sounds the way I expect now. It sounds so good I just listened to a whole Barbara Streisand album with it. And liked it. haha. And my brother is enjoying the 95E that I gave him on his little setup so nothing went to waste. The 95E replaced a Sure 3x on his Fisher table. Whatever the case, the 95E has a lot more highs through his setup than it did through mine, but I win in the zero surface noise department and my highs are back w/ the 440MLa so I am not sad about having to spring for the 440MLa at all. He is playing his TT through a Sony STR-6800 monster receiver that I gave him, which probably has a phono stage in it that is better than that in my modern receiver in ways I don't understand, too.

leepal
01-06-2012, 02:33 AM
I just got the 440MLa cart in today and started playing it. My first impression is that I have never had such click, pop, and crackle-free vinyl playback before. I honestly didn't think playback this dead quiet was even possible with vinyl. It sounds like I'm listening to a CD right now it is so noise-free, I can't believe it. It is definitely not too bright with my technics/Onkyo/Kef Q60 setup, it sounds great. THANK YOU for the recommendation on this cart!!!!!




:scratch2:
this is why I have been interested in getting the 440MLa, I want as quiet playback as possible.

Sansui Louie
01-06-2012, 08:08 AM
:scratch2:
this is why I have been interested in getting the 440MLa, I want as quiet playback as possible.

If I understand the Microline stylus on the 440 correctly, it's quieter because it's riding lower in the grooves, lower than most of the crud that accumulates in the grooves and lower than most of the wear of previous stylii. Still, nothing beats a clean record. If you want quiet, build or buy a RCM.

dlaloum
01-06-2012, 04:47 PM
If I understand the Microline stylus on the 440 correctly, it's quieter because it's riding lower in the grooves, lower than most of the crud that accumulates in the grooves and lower than most of the wear of previous stylii. Still, nothing beats a clean record. If you want quiet, build or buy a RCM.

No - it rides at much the same height - in fact given its larger major radius (70um as opposed to standard eliptical/conical 18um) it would ride higher in the groove!

What happens is because it is a LINE CONTACT design (ie it makes contact with the groove along an extended vertical line, rather than a "spot" (as with conical and eliptical styli) - it is frequently making contact with parts of the vinyl that have never been played before - the conicals and eliptical styli have always run along the same part of the vinyl - which is now worn, the MicroLine stylus still makes contact there, but also makes contact above and below that point, so where vinyl has been worn away, that part of the stylus is not making contact at all, but it is still making contact with the vinyl above and below that point which is "virgin".

The other thing is that the AT440MLa is much higher compliance than the AT95e, and it has much higher tracking capability.

Much groove noise is generated naturally by the imperfections of the vinyl itself, and becomes audible as the stylus approaches the limits of its tracking abilities (where the non smooth base surface starts to become an issue). - This type of groove noise increases with loud tones (ie hard to track parts of the recording) - and can particularly be heard in the opposite track to the loud tone.

A better tracking stylus will reduce this type of noise, and the AT440MLa has substantially higher tracking abilities than the AT95.

bye for now
David

bondospecial
01-06-2012, 05:12 PM
^^Thank you for the tech explanation! The 440MLa actually tracked some "S" vocal sounds cut really hot on Robert Palmer's "pressure drop" without becoming spitty, which neither of the other AT carts I played that album with would play without making very spitty sounds on the loud S's. It's a-workin!

Bob_in_OKC
01-06-2012, 06:01 PM
The shape of the MicroLine stylus doesn't continue through the lowermost point at a single radius, so I'd be a little skeptical of the assertion that its major radius causes it to ride higher in the groove than the elliptical. I think this illustration shows what I mean...

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7151/6649798199_d3ac8c0be0_b.jpg

gusten
01-06-2012, 06:19 PM
The shape of the MicroLine stylus doesn't continue through the lowermost point at a single radius, so I'd be a little skeptical of the assertion that its major radius causes it to ride higher in the groove than the elliptical. I think this illustration shows what I mean...

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7151/6649798199_d3ac8c0be0_b.jpg

I believe the most reasonable is that different shapes are supposed to track at a similar height. Mostly it will come down to the tolerances that are achieved.

(I do not believe that tracking is done with a longer radius. There is also nothing that says that noise increases with numbers of play.)
gusten

boreas
01-06-2012, 06:39 PM
The shape of the MicroLine stylus doesn't continue through the lowermost point at a single radius, so I'd be a little skeptical of the assertion that its major radius causes it to ride higher in the groove than the elliptical. I think this illustration shows what I mean...

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7151/6649798199_d3ac8c0be0_b.jpg

Higher and lower.

John

krisjay
01-06-2012, 08:11 PM
AT440MLA, if you want bright, there you go.

dlaloum
01-06-2012, 09:29 PM
Excellent vintage article here:
http://forums.klipsch.com/forums/storage/4/580044/Cartridge%20Loading2.pdf

Talks about the need for getting the loading right...

Specifically the calculated loading for an AT440MLa using the two seperate parameters mentioned in the article (for Q=0.707 and Q=0.577) when calculated using the factory capacitance recomendation (150pf) comes out to a suggested R load of between 40kohm and 33kohm.

My own measurements and listening led me to a value of 35k ohm.

At these values the cartridge is nicely Neutral... it is NOT bright.

To achieve these values you put 260k ohm in parallel (with the standard 47k) to achieve 40k, 110kohm to achieve 33k.... and values in between will tune the cartridge to the brightness or smoothness desired.

NOTE: all AT cartridge like to have a LOW capacitance - the AT440MLa is recommended by AT for 100pf to 200pf - many phono stages have onboard 200pf or more of capacitance, and when you add the tonearm and interconnect cables (around 150pf) you tend to have many people running these with 350pf capacitance.

At 350pf with 47k ohm loadings most AT cartridge will sound bright.

bye for now

David

Anubis
01-07-2012, 10:43 AM
AT95E not bright enough? How can that be? You might check your settings on your other gear or something. The AT95E is a bright cart..actually I find it well balanced, not too bright and not too low. Unlike the Shure M97xe which has a roll off issue in the highs.

bondospecial
01-07-2012, 12:00 PM
Can't tell you the technical reason why but A/B, I didn't like it, I gave it away after trying it for a little while so it's gone, and the 440MLa is now providing a lot of listening satisfaction on the same rig. Like the guys said above it may have to do with non-adjustable capacitance issues specific to my gear (or not). The bonus is that the 440MLa plays good used records a million times quieter w/ regards to surface noise, the AT95E was not even slightly comparable in that regard. I don't usually listen to a lot of vinyl but I can't stop playing it lately with the 440MLa because I keep being surprised how completely noise free a lot of my parent's used stuff from the 70s now plays w/ this cart. I'm guessing it's partially just not a coincidence that a product made by the same company that cost a lot more just performs better. Whatever the case, I'm happy.

Anubis
01-07-2012, 07:28 PM
Can't tell you the technical reason why but A/B, I didn't like it, I gave it away after trying it for a little while so it's gone, and the 440MLa is now providing a lot of listening satisfaction on the same rig. Like the guys said above it may have to do with non-adjustable capacitance issues specific to my gear (or not). The bonus is that the 440MLa plays good used records a million times quieter w/ regards to surface noise, the AT95E was not even slightly comparable in that regard. I don't usually listen to a lot of vinyl but I can't stop playing it lately with the 440MLa because I keep being surprised how completely noise free a lot of my parent's used stuff from the 70s now plays w/ this cart. I'm guessing it's partially just not a coincidence that a product made by the same company that cost a lot more just performs better. Whatever the case, I'm happy.

Hmm, perhaps it was the tonearm or wiring? Maybe the amp your running or something? I don't know, carts can react differently with different materials and gear. For example the AT95E sounds good on my Pioneer PL-510, but might sound off on a different TT. Glad you found satisfaction.:music:

bondospecial
01-13-2012, 11:11 AM
I am still loving the 440MLa, it is just wonderful. If anyone is interested, I can provide short clips of the same audio that I made comparing the AT95E, 440MLA, and the AT DR250 from the same new, well-mastered vintage LP, using the same TT, preamp, and M audio soundcard.

The difference between the 440MLa and the 95E playing the same tracks through the same equipment and under the same proper alignment is pretty noticeable, the 440 definitely has better high frequency detail. I can hear beyond 18 khz and I really notice the difference.

The old AT DR250 would actually be my second choice to the 440MLa, out of the 3 carts I tried. It has really good HF detail too but it is on the "essy" side, it does not track sibilance as well as the 440MLa no matter what I tried for tracking weights. It also does not play as quietly w/ respect to surface noise. For an old, universal cartridge though I am surprised how well it stacks up against a modern $150 cart. I don't remember what it cost but $45 sticks out in my mind (in 1990s dollars).

Because I'm a huge dork, I took a picture of the 440MLa happily tracking along

http://bondospecial.smugmug.com/For-Sale-things/Jimmy-Buffet-Down-to-Earth/i-Ds6MSpS/1/XL/Jimmy-Buffet-Down-to-Earth-002-XL.jpg

http://bondospecial.smugmug.com/For-Sale-things/Jimmy-Buffet-Down-to-Earth/i-xqm533D/0/XL/Jimmy-Buffet-Down-to-Earth-001-XL.jpg

Eagle1
01-13-2012, 12:35 PM
I am still loving the 440MLa, it is just wonderful. It will get even better as it breaks in. Figure about 100 hrs. I have the 140MLa and 150MLX and like the seperation and depth of the 140. If an album sounds too bright with the 140 it gets played on my TT with the 150 on it. I had the 120 and couldn't stand it, glad you went with the 140MLa :yes:

bondospecial
02-25-2012, 01:55 PM
Argh I wish I could delete this thread, lest I lead someone astray. I found out that the likely reason the 95E sounded so unbelievably dull was my Onkyo TX-8050 receiver. The TX-8050 has the worst phono stage I have ever heard in it. Catman was right on, saying that my loading was probably to blame. I A/B'd the TX-8050s phono stage against another receiver, a Denon, and suddenly realized it was the TX-8050 that was rolling the highs off, even of the 440 MLa. I bought a NAD preamp w/ switchtable capacitance and have found what a difference this makes in having a cart. perform correctly. I gave away the 95E so I can't tell you how it sounds with a good preamp through my same speakers but I have heard it through my brother's setup with a good receiver and it is plenty bright enough.

Conclusions:
1. The 440MLa is still a great cartridge. It is extremely detailed and sounds great through any of the preamps I have used. It sounds best with the 100 pF loading selected on the NAD amp, which including the 75 pF of my cables/arm wiring puts the total at 175, right in the 100-200 pF recommended by AT.

2. The Onkyo TX-8050 has a horrible phono stage in it. I don't know if the input capacitance is too high (probably) but it rolls the highs off any cartridge I have played through it. I consider it an unusable phono stage, and it makes me wish I hadn't purchased this receiver, which is otherwise good but honestly I should have bought separates.
3. Don't listen to my cursing out the AT-95E as being dull sounding, it is probably fine with a good quality phono stage. The 440 MLa is definitely more detailed on the top end but that doesn't mean the 95E should be overlooked at 1/3 the price if that's what you're going for. Just don't pair it up with a junk phono stage like the TX-8050 has.

Eagle1
02-25-2012, 02:11 PM
Argh I wish I could delete this thread, lest I lead someone astray. I found out that the likely reason the 95E sounded so unbelievably dull was my Onkyo TX-8050 receiver. The TX-8050 has the worst phono stage I have ever heard in it. Catman was right on, saying that my loading was probably to blame. I A/B'd the TX-8050s phono stage against another receiver, a Denon, and suddenly realized it was the TX-8050 that was rolling the highs off, even of the 440 MLa. I bought a NAD preamp w/ switchtable capacitance and have found what a difference this makes in having a cart. perform correctly. I gave away the 95E so I can't tell you how it sounds with a good preamp through my same speakers but I have heard it through my brother's setup with a good receiver and it is plenty bright enough.

Conclusions:
1. The 440MLa is still a great cartridge. It is extremely detailed and sounds great through any of the preamps I have used. It sounds best with the 100 pF loading selected on the NAD amp, which including the 75 pF of my cables/arm wiring puts the total at 175, right in the 100-200 pF recommended by AT.

2. The Onkyo TX-8050 has a horrible phono stage in it. I don't know if the input capacitance is too high (probably) but it rolls the highs off any cartridge I have played through it. I consider it an unusable phono stage, and it makes me wish I hadn't purchased this receiver, which is otherwise good but honestly I should have bought separates.
3. Don't listen to my cursing out the AT-95E as being dull sounding, it is probably fine with a good quality phono stage. The 440 MLa is definitely more detailed on the top end but that doesn't mean the 95E should be overlooked at 1/3 the price if that's what you're going for. Just don't pair it up with a junk phono stage like the TX-8050 has.Don't feel bad. I have an Onkyo TX-SR803 that I bought 7 yrs ago. It preforms quite well as a A/V unit but totally sucks on the analog side including the phono section. One of the reasons I bought the Onkyo because it was one of the few units that offered a phono input. Since my Pioneer SX-1250 aquisition and refurb, the Onkyo is used strictly for movies and TV. All of my music listening is done thru the Pioneer.

bondospecial
02-25-2012, 02:12 PM
That is exactly why I bought this Onkyo, because it has a phono input. But the phono input flat out sucks, so it might as well not have one...now I am using the Onkyo with a NAD preamp, which defeats the purpose of having a nice modern receiver with a remote control. The very old, very inexpensive Denon AVR that the Onkyo replaced had a wonderful phono stage in it. I figured the Onkyo would have something over the Denon but it really doesn't. At least the Onkyo wasn't very expensive. It does have a decent sounding DAC in it but honestly I don't really need it since any of my digital devices also have good quality analog outs....

62caddy
02-25-2012, 02:24 PM
Glad to hear you're enjoying the 440 MLa. I'm running one with PL-518 through a MAC 4300 and couldn't be happier with the results. I haven't found it overly bright as many others claim but it's also a matter of preferance, listening environment and a zillion other things.

bondospecial
02-25-2012, 02:31 PM
Yeah it does not seem to be overly bright, and I am the first person who will complain if recordings or playback equipment is overly bright. I can hear past 18k and my hearing easily fatigues with too much high frequency content. I can't tolerate many modern CD's and CD remasters that have the treble cranked up on hi hats. Just because digital allows mastering engineers to do so doesn't mean they should. The KEFs I am usually listening to are known to be a little rolled off in high frequency though (a deliberate selection by me for that reason), I can't tell you if the 440 would be too bright through other speakers. What the 440 does not do is give you overly bass and mid heavy music with the highs rolled off, some people may prefer that sound.

dlaloum
02-25-2012, 02:46 PM
That is exactly why I bought this Onkyo, because it has a phono input. But the phono input flat out sucks, so it might as well not have one...now I am using the Onkyo with a NAD preamp, which defeats the purpose of having a nice modern receiver with a remote control. The very old, very inexpensive Denon AVR that the Onkyo replaced had a wonderful phono stage in it. I figured the Onkyo would have something over the Denon but it really doesn't. At least the Onkyo wasn't very expensive. It does have a decent sounding DAC in it but honestly I don't really need it since any of my digital devices also have good quality analog outs....

As a matter of interest, do you have any idea what the input capacitance of the Denon AVR was? (or the model number of the AVR so I can look it up?

thanks

David

bondospecial
02-25-2012, 02:52 PM
I doubt Denon ever published the input capacitance of such a run-of-the-mill AVR receiver, and I could not figure a way to measure it using the LCR meter I have that goes down to single-digit picofarad readout. It is a Denon AVR-1000 5 channel pro-logic receiver that is just 70W rms front and center, and I think 30 watts rms for the mono rear surround channels. It is great unit though, if I weren't stuck with this TX-8050 I'd just go back to it, I thought I was upgrading, and I also only listen to stereo audio so I figured the TX-8050 was more appropriate than using an AVR receiver for two channel playback. The TX-8050 does have cool features like bypassing an Ipod's DAC so you can use the receiver's DAC, which sounded like an interesting feature to have but I quickly found I don't really need to do this. It might make a good garage receiver, that's the only place I really would shuffle from an ipod source vs. using a high quality CD player or turntable, which is what I do with the TX-8050 right now.

Eagle1
02-25-2012, 03:16 PM
As a matter of interest, do you have any idea what the input capacitance of the Denon AVR was? (or the model number of the AVR so I can look it up?

thanks

DavidGood luck with trying to find that kind of important info in today's mid-priced digital gear. Hence the lack of a phono stage in most AVR's. I guess they expect that you would add a phono pre to it if you want to add a TT.

dlaloum
02-25-2012, 03:21 PM
Hmm had a search for it - sometimes manuals and schematics are available online... no such luck!
My Onkyo receiver has 220pf, as does my Creek Phono stage, and my eMU 1616m phono stage - these all make the Audio Technica cartridges sound dull... (too much capacitance) - so this is not an unusual experience, and not limited to receivers...

bye for now

David

bondospecial
02-25-2012, 03:25 PM
I had the manual for the AVR-1000 at one point and I don't remember it having the capacitance value published. I did record some really well-mastered LP's through my M-audio 2496 card using the Onkyo, Denon, and NAD phono pre's, all using the 440 MLa, so I could hear, and compare spectral plots, of their reponse. The Denon AVR-1000 performed very similarly to the NAD phono pre switched to 100 pF capacitance, so it appears the AVR-1000 capacitance is somewhere in that vicinity, which works well with the AT cart's.

I guess my buying a switchable-capacitance phono stage was the best thing I could have done, which again is thanks to Felix the catman. It was only $75 for a 1-owner, like new condition NAD 1130. The seller included the original sales receipt and manual too for that price, he paid $280 out the door in 1986 or 87, I forget. Thanks guys, I have defnitely learned the importance of a switchable phono stage if I am to use AT cart's that like low capacitance. So maybe the TX-8050 phono stage isn't "junk" per se but it sure sounds like it with the AT carts. It sounds like I should stop declaring absolutes on this board, as the more I learn, the less there appear to be any...I will go crawl back into a hole with my 440MLa and at least a decent pre amp now. slink slink

Eagle1
02-25-2012, 03:44 PM
I had the manual for the AVR-1000 at one point and I don't remember it having the capacitance value published. I did record some really well-mastered LP's through my M-audio 2496 card using the Onkyo, Denon, and NAD phono pre's, all using the 440 MLa, so I could hear, and compare spectral plots, of their reponse. The Denon AVR-1000 performed very similarly to the NAD phono pre switched to 100 pF capacitance, so it appears the AVR-1000 capacitance is somewhere in that vicinity, which works well with the AT cart's.

I guess my buying a switchable-capacitance phono stage was the best thing I could have done, which again is thanks to Felix the catman. It was only $75 for a 1-owner, like new condition NAD 1130. The seller included the original sales receipt and manual too for that price, he paid $280 out the door in 1986 or 87, I forget. Thanks guys, I have defnitely learned the importance of a switchable phono stage if I am to use AT cart's that like low capacitance. So maybe the TX-8050 phono stage isn't "junk" per se but it sure sounds like it with the AT carts. It sounds like I should stop declaring absolutes on this board, as the more I learn, the less there appear to be any...I will go crawl back into a hole with my 440MLa and at least a decent pre amp now. slink slinkThanks for your input/feedback Bondo. I think I'll fire up the TT and listen to some music.

catman
02-25-2012, 03:52 PM
G'day all, great stuff and a nice outcome. I guess that it all goes to prove that the phono stage and loading is actually pretty important. :yes: :thmbsp: Regards, Felix aka catman.

prosim
01-11-2013, 12:04 AM
@first posting to bondospecial, without having read every of the further postings:
I think some of the dull sound just appears because of the 'thick' original 0.4x0.7 stylus the AT95E is equipped with.. . So just try out a (lp gear) AT95SE or maybe AT95HE (now named 95VL (vivid line) I think) stylus replacement and I almost gurantee that you will be more pleased with them (to use on not worn out records).
My original AT95E stylus sounded dull/edgeless as well, but replacing the stylus with a simple (lp gear) AT95SE stylus, which is just a bit more thin (0.3x0.7 mil) than the org. (0.4x0.7 mil) stylus, improved the sound a lot (regarding highs and general clearness at least).

rnorton
01-11-2013, 12:22 AM
...

rnorton
01-11-2013, 12:32 AM
:scratch2:
this is why I have been interested in getting the 440MLa, I want as quiet playback as possible.

I've found the same drastic reduction in surface noise by mounting the VL stylus on my AT-95.

iLUVanalog
01-11-2013, 09:53 AM
Also too much tracking force can dull the highs.



Somewhat true. However, 2 grams tracking for the AT95E is not "too much" tracking. 2 grams is the recommended VTF by AT. I have two of these cartridges. I don't track them at 2 grams...I use 2.2 grams, which is within the upper limit of the tracking force range (2.5 grams).

hifitommy
01-11-2013, 10:22 AM
the reason two grams isnt too much is that the contact area of the stylus is broader which spreads the vtf over more area reducing ppsi.

Stacker45
01-11-2013, 06:23 PM
With some of my brighter sounding LPs i sometimes prefer the mellower, dare i say, more musical sound of my AT95e, to that of my much more expensive Ortofon 2M Black.

Now, altough i believe that the AT95e punches way above it's weight class, and surely has one of the best price vs performance ratio, it is obvously not for everyone, eespecially if the rest of your sound system has a rolled off sound signature in the treble area.

rnorton
01-11-2013, 06:25 PM
the reason two grams isnt too much is that the contact area of the stylus is broader which spreads the vtf over more area reducing ppsi.

So why does LP Gear recommend the same VTF whether you use the elliptical, the VividLine or the Shibata stylus?

Presently tracking my VividLine at 1.9 grams.

hifitommy
01-11-2013, 08:46 PM
now THAT is a good question. but check around say on VE with carts that have styli of different shapes and differing recommended VTFs.

dynamic73
01-13-2013, 08:21 PM
Its possible that you either have a bad stylus or you need to double check your set up.
try it at 1.85 - 1.9 gm instead of 2.0..i've always found it sounds best when used just below 2.0 gm...any higher and you lose a bit of 'air' and 'ambience'.

Its not fussy about vta neurosis either (its a basic elliptical tip after all)..
Just keep the arm tube level with the record surface when the stylus is in the groove and it should sing.
What is IS fussy about however is critical alignment at the inner null point.


If anything, the at95e has always sounded very bright,detailed and lively in the first 10 hours play...eventually adding some 'tone' and 'body' in the midrange and bass as the suspension settles down and the diamond gets a bit of groove polish.

This cartridge may be 'cheap'...but its no less demanding of a good tonearm,a good turntable,good alignment and accurate setup to get the best from it than any other more expensive cartridges.


Thank you "melofelo" I've read most of this thread and I was experiencing some of the same thing as the OP. I had my tracking force set slightly over 2 grams. Thanks to "melofelo" I set it down to around 1.85 grams. The difference is really amazing. I picked up more top end and now it's so much more detailed. This adjustment has made quite a nice gain in sound on my system. I'm still learning about this TT and cart setup. But I think it's pretty spot on dialed in now. Thanks again.

prosim
01-14-2013, 04:17 AM
I track my AT95(SE) at a bit beyond 2,0 grams as well. I get (for me) best results at quite exactly 2,3 grams with my 95SE stylus (as well as with the org. 95E stylus). I did some test recordings with a few different LPs (tesing with 1,8 - 2,4 grams) and found that 2,3 grams on my set delivers more/best depth of some certain/'deeper' sounding soundsections, -but more than 2,3 grams (2,4g) then is a bit too much.., then the sound gets maybe too 'stiff' or whatever you would call it.

Less than 2,3 grams does sound well too at 'first hear', but you just get a bit more depth and details when using a little bit of a higher gram-value on the AT95E than just the sometimes recommended 1,8g.
However, everyone needs to test his desired gram-value on his own stylus and turntable, because stylus-stiffness may differ a bit sometimes.

jmchrislip
01-23-2013, 11:57 AM
Ortofon 2M series

dynamic73
01-23-2013, 02:48 PM
I track my AT95(SE) at a bit beyond 2,0 grams as well. I get (for me) best results at quite exactly 2,3 grams with my 95SE stylus (as well as with the org. 95E stylus). I did some test recordings with a few different LPs (tesing with 1,8 - 2,4 grams) and found that 2,3 grams on my set delivers more/best depth of some certain/'deeper' sounding soundsections, -but more than 2,3 grams (2,4g) then is a bit too much.., then the sound gets maybe too 'stiff' or whatever you would call it.

Less than 2,3 grams does sound well too at 'first hear', but you just get a bit more depth and details when using a little bit of a higher gram-value on the AT95E than just the sometimes recommended 1,8g.
However, everyone needs to test his desired gram-value on his own stylus and turntable, because stylus-stiffness may differ a bit sometimes.


I'm getting the exact opposite sound quality from what your getting. By going lower on the tracking force weight. Maybe my counter weight is off a little. After listening to over 200 albums. At a little above 2.0 grams and now listening at a little below 2.0 grams. My cart. now has a fully extended top end range. Which I didn't have before. And the detail and focus is much better. We also lowered the weight on my friends Rega RP1 and got some of the same results. So I suggest everyone find the closest sweet spot on their cart. and then try upping and lowering the tracking force. In small increments. Till they find where they like it.