View Full Version : Audio Technica 95E- not enough bass. Upgrade recommendations?


Natrik
04-19-2012, 02:48 AM
I have a Pioneer PL-12D with a brand new Audio Technica 95E, run through a Marantz 2240B and Infinity Qa speakers. After listening to a couple dozen records, I just am not impressed with the bass output. Lossless MP3's and CD's sound impeccable, so I know it's the cart and not the rest of the system. I listen to a lot of indie rock, rockabilly, some electronica, 90's skate punk and lots of old jazz (eclectic, I know). I play electric bass, so hearing a well defined kick drum and bass guitar is very important. I don't want something really bass heavy, I just want it balanced. Where should I look for an upgrade? Grado? Shure? :headscrat

avole
04-19-2012, 03:00 AM
The AT95E is a well balanced cartridge, neither bass heavy nor bass light.

First thing I'd check would be configuration - did you use a protractor? Also VTF should be set at the maximum for this cartridge.

I've used the AT95E on a PL12D and wasn't that impressed - don't think this turntable can get the best out of the cartridge. There was enough bass, but it was a bit one-note and slow in nature.

Sultan swing
04-19-2012, 03:31 AM
I agree with avole, the AT95e is a very balanced cartridge and in my setup provides enough bass... But when I put it in my friends Pro-Ject/Cambridge/KEF system it wasn't that balanced...

catman
04-19-2012, 03:37 AM
G'day all. Natrik: You've perfectly articulated my only negative about the AT95E. I love the cartridge, but I find its lower bass output slightly lacking.

On some material (Classical Music for example), I find the AT95E wonderful however where a little more bass is useful I find my other favourite cartridge the Shure M97xE ideal. It has a full bodied and meaty sound that I find very satisfying.

However the M97xE has a slightly soft upper treble which requires optimal capacitance loading (250 picofarads overall), if runnning at the 'standard' 47 k, or as I do with my DIY phono stages modify the input 'resistance' (impedance) to 62 k. Regards, Felix aka catman.

beej
04-19-2012, 04:33 AM
I find the AT95e a bit light on the lower end as well.

avole
04-19-2012, 05:19 AM
I think it depends on the turntable. I wasn't so impressed with the AT95E on the Pioneer as stated, but on my Rega RB300/Thorens it sounds fine. In fact, it sounds so good I haven't bothered to take it off even though I have better, and much more expensive, cartridges.

I'm not really a deep bass person, though, preferring a balanced, tight sound.

StinkPiece
04-19-2012, 06:59 AM
I have the AT95E on my Technics SL-1500 and it felt a bit lacking on the low end on a few albums. The most memorable was a Bob Seger album. It sounded thin and under-emphasized. Another album that lacked bass was my pressing of Dire Strats' Brothers In Arms. I will add that both of my Cat Stevens albums have been very strong in their low end reproduction. I don't want to blame the cartridge because it seems like a pretty wild difference for a cartridge to make. Instead, I'll assume that the low bass comes from a combination of the gear (table, cart, phono stage, amp) and the copy of the record.

Celt
04-19-2012, 08:12 AM
However the M97xE has a slightly soft upper treble which requires optimal capacitance loading (250 picofarads overall), if runnning at the 'standard' 47 k, or as I do with my DIY phono stages modify the input 'resistance' (impedance) to 62 k. Regards, Felix aka catman.

This is very important if you want to run a 97XE and want to get the best from it.
I'm running a AT120E and it's bass output is tremendous, but can sound bright on some systems unless the capacitance gets dialed in.

gusten
04-19-2012, 08:39 AM
I have a Pioneer PL-12D with a brand new Audio Technica 95E, run through a Marantz 2240B and Infinity Qa speakers. After listening to a couple dozen records, I just am not impressed with the bass output. Lossless MP3's and CD's sound impeccable, so I know it's the cart and not the rest of the system. I listen to a lot of indie rock, rockabilly, some electronica, 90's skate punk and lots of old jazz (eclectic, I know). I play electric bass, so hearing a well defined kick drum and bass guitar is very important. I don't want something really bass heavy, I just want it balanced. Where should I look for an upgrade? Grado? Shure? :headscrat

When I had the AT95E I found it surprisingly neutral, at least after about 50hours of play. There are most likely carts that are more bass heavy, but the bass on most records is not like the bass on CDs. The bass on CDs is many times not neutral but more heavy.
As I am into a neutral bass I donīt have any recommendations, I just want to point out that if comparing to a more bass heavy cartridge, or other more bass heavy sources, a neutral cartridge might seem lacking for that reason.
gusten

neobop
04-19-2012, 08:54 AM
The AT-95 has the same capacitance recommendation as the 120, < 200pF total. That can be difficult to achieve. I don't think it would diretly affect the bass, but too much capacitance will make it brighter and roll off the extreme high end.

Cu is 6.5 @100Hz, which is = 15 @ 10Hz. This is best suited for med/heavy arms. If you're running a med/light arm, I think you'll get better results with a P-mount stylus like the AT-92E. You can pick up the whole cart for less than $25 on fleabey. This has a .3 x .7 tip and a thinner cantilever. You'll have to trim back the plastic stylus holder, but this is no big deal - just a couple of snips with a wire cutter. VTF changes to 1.25 to 1.5g. Cu changes to around 18 to 20 @10Hz.

I'm not sure if < 24 hrs is enough to break in an AT. Most take 50 hrs or more in my experience. Changing the stylus with an appropriate arm can make a big difference. All the P-mount replacements (3472 series) will work. Jico vivid line and shibatas are available, just like those for the 95.

ChairSpud
04-19-2012, 09:24 AM
I'd recommend you consider the Nagaoka MP-110, it should deliver the bass you're looking for.

Dave/ChairSpud

dshoaf
04-19-2012, 09:32 AM
I'd ask a couple of other questions from a slightly different perspective:

- What, specifically, has been done for remedial maintenance on the 2240?

I ask in that this is a 40 year old piece of electronics. Even if the preamp and power amp have been rebuilt, did this include the power supply and the phono preamp's input and output capacitors? These would affect perceived bass slam and definition - both appearing to be important for our OP.

- The PL-12: What is the condition of the interconnecting wires?

Again, a 40 year old device. The foam cores of some of these cables will tend to deteriorate over time, which will definitely affect the cable capacitance. Best if they're replaced with new ones for this reason. You cannot depend on the original specs for the '12 turntable after 4 decades.

Food for thought.....and intended to be coupled with the other excellent observations here.

Cheers,

David

jrtrent
04-19-2012, 09:49 AM
I've also found the AT95E to be lacking in bass and fulness. Mine was mounted in an LP12/Ittok combination. I found a surprisingly good choice in the even cheaper Audio Technica CN5625AL. Here's a cut and paste from a couple months ago:

. . . my favorite AT cartridge has become the CN5625AL (current MSRP of $25). I've always liked AT cartridges in my systems for their good communication of rhythm, timing, and dynamics, but disliked what to my ears was always a lean, bright tonal balance. Compared with other AT cartridges I've owned (13Ea, 440ML, 95E), the lowly CN5625AL retains the strengths I've associated with the more expensive models, but with a tonal balance that is far more pleasing to my ears--smooth, non-peaky high end with a richer, fuller bass/mid-bass that reminds me more of a Stanton than other AT's I've owned.

The lean character of most AT's is, I think, just part of their usual house sound. An older review of the Stanton 881 and ATML-170 also noted the lighter, brighter balance of the AT model in comparison with the Stanton. That the CN5625AL is different in this regard is also borne out by a recent Youtube review that noted its fuller bass response compared to the AT95E and 440MLa (not exactly a professional review, but at least it's not just my ears and system context in which the difference was apparent).

marcmorin
04-19-2012, 09:54 AM
I have a Pioneer PL-12D with a brand new Audio Technica 95E, run through a Marantz 2240B and Infinity Qa speakers. After listening to a couple dozen records, I just am not impressed with the bass output. Lossless MP3's and CD's sound impeccable, so I know it's the cart and not the rest of the system. I listen to a lot of indie rock, rockabilly, some electronica, 90's skate punk and lots of old jazz (eclectic, I know). I play electric bass, so hearing a well defined kick drum and bass guitar is very important. I don't want something really bass heavy, I just want it balanced. Where should I look for an upgrade? Grado? Shure? :headscrat

Both the Grado and Shure carts will give you more robust bottom end than the AT. At entry level money the M97 once loaded properly (cap and input load) will push bottom to top performance above the AT. Sound stage will be slightly narrower, but much more front to back. The Grado cart will give a more honest bottom end, but you need to move further up the line than entry level IMO. The CDs I have of the albums I have, none reach down with the authority that my Grado cart(s) has. A recent rebuild I did of an XB, the customer supplied a NOS Shure M75 T2 cart. It gave a very nice presentation of the bottom end. Something an AT VN 240LC cart I own (well above the AT95E) can't do.

LAB3
04-19-2012, 11:25 AM
When I had the AT95E I found it surprisingly neutral, at least after about 50hours of play. There are most likely carts that are more bass heavy, but the bass on most records is not like the bass on CDs. The bass on CDs is many times not neutral but more heavy.
As I am into a neutral bass I donīt have any recommendations, I just want to point out that if comparing to a more bass heavy cartridge, or other more bass heavy sources, a neutral cartridge might seem lacking for that reason.
gusten

Well said.... I am relearing analog after 30 years away and use to CD sound.
Some CD don't sound the the same either, most newer CD sound Great to me
(Blues/Jazz). Norah Jones "Come Away With Me " SACD is awsome:music:
wish all my Cd sounded this good.

I wondered if Pop's old TT and the new/old stylus I purchased for his vintage carts was set up correctly(light in bass/flatt sounding) until I cleaned and played a Dire Straights LP I had new from back then and WOW wish all my LP sounded this good. My TT is set up close...:yes: I am looking at new Lp that is recorded on one side to listen to my analog system I am putting together(bedroom system) and see if it sounds better. I am looking at a Protractor to fine tune it farther then what I have done so far.I am learning about VTA,Bias etc..... back in the 70's we just used a scale and made sure of the tracking weight and match the anti-tracking and play them. Tone LP's with less then 20 plays with a scope to measure the the output etc.. I had no idea until I read all this last year. I just sold my Shure SEK stylus microscope(finished with it) to a member here and read about the Shure PEK TT measureing equipment.WOW very expensive vintage testing equipment.

HTHMAN
04-19-2012, 11:51 AM
I agree with trying a Shure cartridge. I have several Shure and AT cartridges and across the board, the Shures have a fuller mid-range and bass than the AT's while the AT's have a lot crisper highs. Try to pick up an M75 or M91 series Shure. There are some good generic styli for them so you can try them on a budget.

flavio81
04-19-2012, 11:52 AM
I have a Pioneer PL-12D with a brand new Audio Technica 95E, run through a Marantz 2240B and Infinity Qa speakers. After listening to a couple dozen records, I just am not impressed with the bass output. Lossless MP3's and CD's sound impeccable, so I know it's the cart and not the rest of the system. I listen to a lot of indie rock, rockabilly, some electronica, 90's skate punk and lots of old jazz (eclectic, I know). I play electric bass, so hearing a well defined kick drum and bass guitar is very important. I don't want something really bass heavy, I just want it balanced. Where should I look for an upgrade? Grado? Shure? :headscrat

What VTF are you using? Try 2.5g and listen to the bass to see if it improves.

Natrik
04-19-2012, 01:30 PM
Wow! that's a lot of info to consider. Thanks, guys! I have the VTF set at 2g I believe, but it may already be 2.5. I recently refurbished the 2240 with ALL new caps, every single one on all the boards, using 90% Elna Similac II and the rest Nichicon Muse. It has well over the recommended 100 hours of burn time. Now, if I was going to experiment with a Sure and need to adjust the capacitance, couldn't I swap out caps in my phono input board?
I think that I may keep the AT cart on there for a little while longer to see if it improves with some more play time, but I may pick up a CN5625AL just because it's cheap. I also have a Red Ed cart that I was using before I got the AT95E, and honestly, I can't hear much of a difference. The AT has a subtle quality that I like more, but it is really subtle (and could be my imagination). Also, I want to clarify that I'm not looking for boomy, overpowering bass, I just want the kick drum to be tight and thick, and have the bass guitars to move up to where the recording engineer placed it in the mix (I work in a recording studio part time, I'm very familiar with instrument placement).
I guess that I was hoping to reach audio nirvana without emptying my bank account, so I may have set my standards a little high :cool:

aedaza
04-19-2012, 01:53 PM
New cart/stylus usually sounds lighter on the bass,,,(well, that is my experience). Make sure you put like 30 hrs or more to the cart before jumping to conclusions. Also, does your TT has a VTA adjustment? After the break in, try balance the arm on a proper position, at least visually, but mostly, sonically.

Best,

melofelo
04-19-2012, 03:04 PM
It may sound a bit odd...but even the basic elliptical at95e needs a 'good' medium mass arm like the rega rb250 or similar to sound its best.
I've used the 95e with a PL 12D and the later PL112D to good effect but my personal experience is that the Pioneer arm,decent as it is for such a basic table, is still a little 'light' for that particular cartridge...and any slop in the bearings due to age or wear certainly wont help matters in a cartridge with a medium compliance suspension.

I suspect the Pioneer arm would be much happier with the AT-110e instead or perhaps something *newer* but similar in compliance to the older Ortofon VMS range...:scratch2:

Multiplex
04-19-2012, 03:06 PM
Allowing more time for break-in will help. However, it sounds like you just may not care for the sound of low-end AT carts. If you don't particularly like the AT95, don't bother with a 92ECD. It also has mids are tense and nervous, and low end that is tight but recessed. The wide separation and bright highs seem dazzling at first, but quickly become fatiguing. If you already have a Red Ed and AT95, the CN5625AL will probably be a waste of time.

I suppose you could try better Audio Technica cartridges like the AT120 cartridge (which costs about twice as much as the AT95, but seems to get mixed reviews) and AT440MLa cartridge (which is much-loved, but costs three times more than the AT95.) Either would probably yield an improvement, but both are known to have that bright AT sound. A better possibility might be the AT 7V, priced at $130. It is supposedly warmer than most AT cartridges, but I've never heard one, and there is not much info out there on that one yet.

I tend to prefer the sound of the Shure M97xE over the AT sound, and at it's sub $70 price point it is one of the better deals out there. However, it has an equal, yet opposite problem. It is dark sounding to a fault on some systems. Tinkering with loading can resolve this, as Catman mentioned, but most preamps are limited in flexibility. It will sound better after 50-75 hours of break-in.

What I like about the Shure is it's warm bass, smooth mids and detailed highs (when properly loaded.) It tracks light and sibilance all but disappears when aligned properly. The dynamic stabilizer will match it's compliance to nearly any tonearm. Unfortunately, it's channnel separation leaves much to be desired, so it's soundstage is a little lacking. It also tends to muddy up and become bland towards the inner grooves.

I tend to prefer the nature of better Grados to the Shure M97xE, but the Grado Black/Green doesn't quite do it for me. Low-end Grados don't tend to track as well as the Shure, can be finicky about tonearms, and hum on certain TTs. Fortunately, Grado has an upgrade path though better styli, such as the 8MZ, and the MCZ.

The suggestions of finding a used Shure M91 are pretty good. NOS styli can still be found, and Jico makes great replacement styli. The Jico SAS, is a considerable improvement over the elliptical stylus.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that you'll be truly happy with anything near the $50 price point.

LAB3
04-19-2012, 03:08 PM
New cart/stylus usually sounds lighter on the bass,,,(well, that is my experience). Make sure you put like 30 hrs or more to the cart before jumping to conclusions. Also, does your TT has a VTA adjustment? After the break in, try balance the arm on a proper position, at least visually, but mostly, sonically.

Best,

I was looking at a head shell that had a small screw to adjust vertical tracking angle as older carts from the 1960's were set at 15 and the newer one's at about 20 degree's VTA with a parallel tone arm. Azimuth was another topic that I just learned about, making sure the stylus is perpendicular with the cantilever. I read that by moving the angle you can adjust bass one way and treble the other. Too far eithway will sound flatt.:scratch2: Oh and yes to playing the new stylus for 30 plus(or more) hours before you start to point fingers.

gusten
04-19-2012, 03:26 PM
Generally I cannot agree that ATs are bright, I measure them to be very neutral. This I do not do with the 97Xe, it has a response that is rather far from neutral, where neither the lower end or the higher end is flat.
I think the perceived sound has very much to do how we want it to sound, and how our speakers and room interact. Most speakers are really bright, lack low end and are not very natural, with a neutral cartridge they will sound bright.
gusten

Balifly
04-19-2012, 03:28 PM
I was looking at a head shell that had a small screw to adjust vertical tracking angle as older carts from the 1960's were set at 15 and the newer one's at about 20 degree's VTA with a parallel tone arm.

Very good idea for that kind headshell!

Do you have a make and model number for that particular head shell? :music:

LAB3
04-19-2012, 05:25 PM
Very good idea for that kind headshell!

Do you have a make and model number for that particular head shell? :music:

I think it was on the Needle Doctor site, I will have to look. I think they said the metal shells had better sound and the adjust screw was a better quality. I found a new/old ADC XLM MkII Improved stylus for my cart there.:thmbsp: I have mounted on a plastic ADC head shell that I have not broken in yet.

Multiplex
04-19-2012, 07:05 PM
Generally I cannot agree that ATs are bright, I measure them to be very neutral. This I do not do with the 97Xe, it has a response that is rather far from neutral, where neither the lower end or the higher end is flat.
I think the perceived sound has very much to do how we want it to sound, and how our speakers and room interact. Most speakers are really bright, lack low end and are not very natural, with a neutral cartridge they will sound bright.
gusten

I quite agree that the Shure is not the end-all. Loaded at 47k, it is far from flat, and since it does need some tweeking, it's not for everyone. However, I'm not real thrilled with AT's lower offerings, either.

It's not just the brightness that I don't get along with. After all, the cartridge I am currently loving is an ADC XLM MK III, which trends a little towards the bright and in-your-face side. It's kind of hard to explain, but of the lower end AT's I've tried, (AT2002 .3x.7 elliptical, AT92ECD .3x.7 elliptical, ATSLT88E .4x.7 elliptical, as well as a couple of aluminum cantilever conicals, and a carbon fiber cantilever conical) all have a kind of a thin, high-strung, nervous nature. Words like smooth, lush, warm, rich, need not apply. I just can't relax and get into the music like I can with even a cheap Stanton, Grado, or Shure.

I'm sure it varies by system, as you have stated. With my system, and my ears, I prefer a more laid back presentation. The Shure is perhaps a little too relaxed, but the AT is far too taut. I found that I wasn't thrilled with either, and decided to move on.

I would like to someday try a 440MLa. If they ever drop to around that $100 price point again, I will probably pounce.

gusten
04-19-2012, 07:20 PM
I quite agree that the Shure is not the end-all. Loaded at 47k, it is far from flat, and since it does need some tweeking, it's not for everyone. However, I'm not real thrilled with AT's lower offerings, either.

It's not just the brightness that I don't get along with. After all, the cartridge I am currently loving is an ADC XLM MK III, which trends a little towards the bright and in-your-face side. It's kind of hard to explain, but of the lower end AT's I've tried, (AT2002 .3x.7 elliptical, AT92ECD .3x.7 elliptical, ATSLT88E .4x.7 elliptical, as well as a couple of aluminum cantilever conicals, and a carbon fiber cantilever conical) all have a kind of a thin, high-strung, nervous nature. Words like smooth, lush, warm, rich, need not apply. I just can't relax and get into the music like I can with even a cheap Stanton, Grado, or Shure.

I'm sure it varies by system, as you have stated. With my system, and my ears, I prefer a more laid back presentation. The Shure is perhaps a little too relaxed, but the AT is far too taut. I found that I wasn't thrilled with either, and decided to move on.

I would like to someday try a 440MLa. If they ever drop to around that $100 price point again, I will probably pounce.

Yes we must choose what we like the best, if we can. Various parts of the TT interferes quite a bit, so the same cart at different TTs can sound surprisingly different.
gusten

melofelo
04-19-2012, 09:05 PM
A blind listening test of an AT95E in a Pioneer PL12D , an AR EB-101, a Thorens td160 mkIV with rb250 arm ,a circa 1990's Rega Planar 3, a Roksan Xerxes with Artemiz arm and a Linn LP12... might suggest a different 'long term' upgrade path...:scratch2:

Balifly
04-19-2012, 09:43 PM
I think it was on the Needle Doctor site, I will have to look. I think they said the metal shells had better sound and the adjust screw was a better quality.

Much thanks for the reply, I will go for some window shopping! :music: :D

avole
04-20-2012, 01:09 AM
A blind listening test of an AT95E in a Pioneer PL12D , an AR EB-101, a Thorens td160 mkIV with rb250 arm ,a circa 1990's Rega Planar 3, a Roksan Xerxes with Artemiz arm and a Linn LP12... might suggest a different 'long term' upgrade path...:scratch2:If I understand you correctly that's what I have found, although in my case it was the 12D, AR the AR with Linn Basik arm and now a TD150 with Rega RB300 arm.