View Full Version : Pickering XV-15 Impressions And Info...........

09-11-2005, 09:30 PM
I found a nice Rotel Turntable a few days back. It has a Pickering XV-15 cart on it that appears to have a lot of life left in it. I used to have a XV-15 625ED years ago and I liked it a lot. The 625 was an XV-15 right? It had a gold body and a dustomatic brush. This XV-15 has a light gray body but has no other numbers on it.

I also have a nice Technics SL-1301 TT setup with a Shure V15 Type III. I have been impressed by it also. I took the headshell/Pickering cart off the Rotel and set it up on the Technics in my vintage system. I like the sound of the Pickering better! It seems to have more body! It definitely has more bass response and more output and I think thats what I like about it.

I know it doesn't matter which is supposed to be the more highly respected cart as long as I know which one I like.... BUT....Which one is the most respected? How about original retail? Is there a source for a replacement stylus for the Pickering? How about the Shure? I would like to know this info so I will know which direction to go with my cart setups. Are there any original stock stylus replacements left for these carts or any decent aftermarkets with elliptical diamonds that are as as good as the originals?

By the way I just ordered a Shure M97XE from Amazon what should I expect from it? Thanks for any info/opinions! Franksta

09-12-2005, 10:23 AM
Thanks for the info! Actually the stylus does have a number on it. The Dustomatic is partially blocking it. It is a D1200 and has an elliptical oval symbol in front of it. It has some life left in it as best I can tell with my magnifier. It will track nicely at 1.25-1.50 grams even with the Dustomatic at work. So....there are no legitimate original styluses left for the Pickering or any decent reproductions? How about the Shure Type III? I also have a Stanton 681 EEE cart body and an Empire 5000 Phase IV. I would love to get one or two of these into operation with a new stylus when it needs one! But I guess there is not much opportunity huh :worried: ! Best! Franksta

09-12-2005, 03:43 PM
emaidel, which would be easier to find styli for-- the 881S or the XSV-3000?

09-12-2005, 03:54 PM
I'd say 881S would be easier to find. but if you find a couple of XSV-3000 let me know I have a body missing the stylus.

09-12-2005, 04:00 PM

Insofar as using the cartridge with the Dustamatic Brush (or the "Longhair Brush," as Stanton called it) after balancing your tonearm, set the tracking and anti-skating forces 1 gram higher than normal to compensate for the weight of the brush. If you want to track at 1 1/4 grams (optimal for what you have), set the tracking force for 2 1/4 grams, and set the anti-skating at 2 1/4 grams also.
Are you sure about setting the anti-skating and adding a gram I thought that you added one gram for just the tracking force and set the ant-skating the same as what your actually tracking at.
Example Tracking force for 1.9 grams set at 2.9 grams, then set ant-skating to 1.9 grams, or I'm I wrong? :scratch2:

09-12-2005, 04:19 PM
emaidel, since you're the expert on Pickering, let me ask a question about my XV15. The body is gray with the black "Pickering" sticker on one side and the "XV15 and Pat. no." on the belly of it. The stylus is a NOS with the brush on the nose and is of a pale cream color (old age?), perhaps white, with the Pickering logo molded into it on the front and gold engraved "IV AME" partially obstructed by the swing brush. I was not able to find anything of substance on the web about them both. They do sound good though. Anything you can tell me? Thank you!

09-12-2005, 05:21 PM
I've been watching this thread as I just won a Pickering XV-15 with the the dustomatic off of the bay last night for $20.00. says it has 100 - 150 hours on it, might make up for getiing burned on the Pioneer speakers. :D

09-12-2005, 05:50 PM
What you have is actually an odd mixture of a cartidge body from the XV/15 line, and a stylus from the "Phase IV" line. The Phase IV line was a sales and marketing flop for Pickering, having as its sole benefit, plastic mounting devices to quite literally "snap" into the Garrard, Dual and BSR record changers of the day. The Phase IV styli work in the XV/15 body, but are inferior in overall performance when compared to the proper styli. Nevertheless, if yours works OK, and you like it, then leave well enough alone. You can also insert a Stanton 881S stylus into your XV/15 body, but it'll cost you (i.e. $79.95 at

:thmbsp: Thank you for your response; the XV15 is actually mounted on my entry level Yamaha YP-B2 table and probably not worth the upgrade. The Shure V15 Type III I have is on the Denon DP61F, and it does more critical listening than the Yammy.

09-12-2005, 06:18 PM
Do you think it's worth $25.00 shipped to my door?
"Up for auction is this PICKERING MAGNETIC PHONO CARTRIDGE model XV-15. Cartridge has about 100 to 150 hours on it but was cared for very well. It DOES NOT come with hardware. This cartridge has the DUSTAMATIC duster brush on it. You set it up for 2 grams. The duster brush lifts the stylus up 1 gram leaving only 1 gram on the stylus."

09-13-2005, 12:36 PM
I've been second guessing all day. Could of bought another Grado Black for that, I'm such a loser. Impulse buy, I don't even "need" it. The seller started it off low, and let the bidders determine it's value.

09-13-2005, 01:41 PM
Hey Steve,

How's that 'Black' sounding now?

09-13-2005, 02:37 PM
So far, no hum with the Pioneer PL-517D, or the Kenwood KD-5066. :thmbsp:

09-13-2005, 03:03 PM
i for one am glad that relatively new member emaidel has signed on to AK because he is a very deep well of info....welcome, emaidel

09-13-2005, 03:08 PM
Don't feel bad. I, too, profess to being an 'impulse' bidder, as well...

How would you define the Grado's 'sound'? Is it sonically invisible, or does it have a 'flavor' to it?

09-13-2005, 06:02 PM
Don't feel bad. I, too, profess to being an 'impulse' bidder, as well...

How would you define the Grado's 'sound'? Is it sonically invisible, or does it have a 'flavor' to it?

I'm not really sure how to answer that question other than to say that so far I have compared it to a Stanton 520 SK, (lower end cart), and a Shure M-91ED, maybe considered a mid range , but probably stetching it. The Bass is clean and tight, the highs are crisp. More dynamic might be the way I would critique it. I'm doing a test recoring of a new Veruca Salt "Revolver" LP on the JVC KD-3030 from the Kenny KD-6055 right now. KD's are OK right? I also want to thank emaidel for his input, my timing stinks is all. I'll just have to put my finger & my thumb in the shape of an L on my forehead for awhile.

09-14-2005, 06:02 PM
I appreciate the input emaidel, the Stanton was indeed a "DJ" type cartridge, but when I decided that I wanted to play my old records a couple of years ago, it was the only thing that I could find that was close and had the WAF for price, it came with an extra stylus, and I agree it's a bit better to track heavier than light, so, it does hold the grooves. Got me into my vinyl again, and now I am still kicking kicking myself in the ass for throwing away my Shure V-15 III in the late 80's when I got a CD player, thinking that I'd never want to play records again. I threw it in the garbage, in it's box! What a dumbass! Maybe you can be my "tech support" for new (inexpensive) cartridge purchases? Any opinion on the Grado line?

09-15-2005, 03:59 AM
Actually, after having looked on eBay myself, I think you did get a good deal, considering the prices the folks there are asking for cartridges. From my point of view, Audio Technica and Empire never made a decent sounding cartridge, so buying one from either company would result in an inferior product to the Pickering you just "won."

My take is a little different, probably because my experience was more in the field. I had a dealer relaitionship with the company, and was regarded as an expert by Stanton during the 80s.

In a custom audio business and in radio work, I became very fond of the Stanton/Pickering products. There was a solid, practical, minimal BS design philosophy that I never found in any other brand, except Ortofon. The professional orientation and engineering-driven nature of the company was a pleasure.

I always felt that Stanton's cartridges bore the imprint of Norman Pickering's ears -- he was a very well regarded concert violinist.

However, considering that I disliked AT, and absolutely loathed Empire for their business practices, let me just say that Empire actually could put out a fine cartridge when they were in the mood. I felt, too, that many ATs were good trackers. I never got serious about AT's cartridges, so I never found out what they could really do. Most of the AT cartridges that came into the shop had bent cantilevers due to their vulnerability. That turned me off to the brand -- I had trouble considering them seriously when so many of them I saw were damaged.

When talking about Empire, one must consider that Empire actually seemed to be a sequence of different companies. I believe that the last incarnation, before the brand was bought by TAE (an aftermarket needle outfit) Empire was owned by Benz Micro -- and more than one Empire cartridge was actually a Benz product. The awful problem with Empires was that their product designations were so insanely convoluted that you never knew exactly what stylus or cartridge you were being sold. In fact, at one point, Empire themselves couldn't even figure out which replacement needles went with which bodies! I shure couldn't with products named "XsVzz-1XsZ-zVsxX." I had a way of dealing with this issue, that, well -- heh heh (I'd sell the customer a nice Stanton, remove the Empire, and step on it).

I'll stop now before I write a whole book about this.


09-15-2005, 08:55 PM
Empire made some pretty decent cartridges in the late 60's and early 70's, but then, just like AT when it came onto the scene, concentrated its efforts in private label "cheapies" glamorously packaged and sold by unrepentant dealers for astronomical prices.
... AT actually took its biggest obstacle and turned it into a brilliant ad campaign. Frankly, no one did it better, and while I was at Pickering, I frequently pointed out the marketing tools AT was using to all but conquer the entire cartridge market (except for those who wanted something that actually sounded good).

The private label cartridge hustle used at Pacific Stereo and other chains was unethical: "We'll give you the price plus an extra 10% if you can find the same product at a lower price." And, "Lady, why, no: the cartridge isn't included with the turntable. But just because I like you, I'll give you this Empire XsXvvXXxx-900zzzZ cartridge for only $40. It's their best vXXxx version that they make up special for us."

And then the poor suckers would come to me for a replacement stylus; I'd say, "Fine. I charge a dollar a minute to do the research." It could take an hour to look up an Empire needle, often including a long-distance phone call.

When I was involved during the 80s, I always felt that Stanton (Pickering) didn't do a competitive job at blowing their own horn. (Why was that?) Shure sure did!


09-16-2005, 09:03 PM
First of all I would like to thank Emaidel for his expert opinion. His info on phono carts and other info are an asset to AK!

I have been keeping up with this thread although I haven't given too much input. I just got my Shure M97xE. I mounted it on another headshell. That enabled me to do a quick comparison between it, the Pickering XV15-1200E, and the Shure V15 TypeIII.

My most immediate impression was that the M97xE had the lowest output but a very clean sound. It was impressive! The Pickering had maybe the most balanced sound with a very good output and bass response. It is a very comfortable non fatiguing sound. The Shure V15 had the highest output and good bass response but a little bright mid/high end when the music was cranked up a bit. It makes me want to do a more long term listening test. These are 3 of the better carts available, each with their own special characteristics. Obviously the phono cart you use has more influence on the sound you hear than anything else you do in your vinyl playing system.

I will give another report after extended listening. Tough job but someone has to do it! Best! Franksta

09-19-2005, 01:31 PM
"The folks at Pickering/Stanton during the late 70's and early 80's were "good 'ol boys" from the "old school" ... Instead of revealing a cartridge's innards (as AT did rather brilliantly) these folks felt that by doing so they were "giving away trade secrets."
The companies' execs, until their last dying days, insisted on the "wine & dine" approach to selling, as opposed to giving out useful information to their dealers and sales force. I think that cost them a huge amount of business."

And that's what was so frustrating to me. I made a special trip out to the factory when I was in NYC. The National Sales Manager (Stanton) took me out for the most expensive lunch in my life (a fish place) with the QC engineer. I wanted to see the products being made, and they wouldn't show me. Answers to technical questions were vague. It took _years_ to get a usable description of the difference between the Stereohedron I and II styli. Having to research most of this on my own was a real slog.

Thanks for confirming this for me!

09-19-2005, 04:42 PM
Does anyone recall Electro-Voice announcing their entry into the phono cartridge business with ads that showed the cartridges and their internal contruction? Then.... nothing. A few months later, the identical cartridges started to appear in ads for this strange new company, Audio-Technica. I wonder what the story was behind that.

09-20-2005, 11:01 PM
Those wacky li'l ol' cartridge makers! Weren't most Stantons moving-magnet anyway? Or did they get into the moving-iron realm?

Or have you been sworn to lifetime secrecy?

09-21-2005, 01:52 PM
I've never been clear about the difference between the top Pickering XV15 models. Perhaps you (Maidel) can help clear this up for me.

As I used to think, all the XV15s were the same: moving iron. But I've learned here that the XV15-625e was, in fact, moving magnet.

The top models in my Pickering catalogs (with their elliptical tip sizes) were:
XV15-625e .3x.7
XV15-750 .3x.7
XV16-1000 2x.7 (same tip size as Stanton 681eee)

- Were all three of these models moving magnets?
- Are the styli interchngeable with the 625e body?
- In general, can the 625e stylus be used successfully with the "klutzier" bodies in the series?
- What was the difference between the 625 and the 750? On paper, they look identical.
- Are the moving magnet bodies in this line the same as the Stanton 881 body?

I'm asking because I have three of the 750 needles, no 750 bodies, but at least two of the Pickering 625 bodies, and various Stanton 680, 681, and 881 bodies.



09-22-2005, 02:02 PM
The XV/15-750 quite honestly, is an inferior product to the 625, as it was introduced as the "top of the line" in 1967, and frankly, wasn't particularly good as a top end model. It is identical to the Stanton 681EE, which, like the PIckering, is long gone.

I've used a 750E on my Dual 1245 for many years and have always found it to be about the perfect match for the Dual. I've tried other carts on it and always end up going back to the Pickering. The only cart that seems as well matched is a Stanton 681EEE, which is not surprising given the close family ties.

I sometimes use a XSV5000 on my Thorens and find that a good match, although I seldom mount it due to the scarcity of replacement styli for it. I reserve it for new or special LPs. The Thorens usually sports either a Grado Silver or Stanton 681EEE, both of which I really like and which have replacement styli readily available.

On the subject of lower priced cartridges, I always thought the Pickering 400E was one of the better cheapies. I've not seen or heard a 400E in years but I have fond memories of it.


09-22-2005, 03:56 PM
They used both MM and MI? That's.... that's... I was going to say "nuts", but I suppose they had their reasons... Hm...

What were the reasons? Or does nobody know?

09-29-2005, 01:50 AM
I'll take a try at an answer about the moving magnet-moving iron issue.

Manufacturers of broad-line cartridges, such as Shure, Stanton, Empire, AT, and Ortofon went through generations of development.

We know "moving iron" under other names, such as variable reluctance (principle of the famous General Electric pickups that spanned the mono LP era) and Pickering's own elegant term "fluxvalve." It's a system in which magnetism is induced in a piece of iron. The iron is located in the stylus assembly. A powerful magnet in the cartridge body induces magnetism in the iron, which vibrates between the pole pieces, generating electricity in the coils that are wrapped around the poles. "Induced magnetism" is another name.

In a moving magnet design, there's no magnet in the cartridge body and there's a tiny magnet in the stylus cantilever. Stanton/Pickering needles have either a magnetic dowel or a dowel of iron inside the cantilever. Either way, the magnetic force is emitted from the cantilever into the coil assembly.

In practice, the cartridge makers went back and forth between these two principles as it became possible to steadily reduce the mass in one or the other material.

I'm looking at a Stanton line card from 1979 right now, which gives the principles of all the cartridges, where I can see the changes back and forth. The last round of Stantons/Pickerings that I remember used a very advanced material that Maidel referenced: samarium-cobalt. This is an extremely lightweight, powerful, space-age magnetic material. The story I once got was that this was introduced into audio via the Sony walkman headphone. I think that these incremental improvements were significant -- each one was an advance across-the-board.

Having many Stanton pickups and styli, I'm sometimes amazed at how good some of the oddball implementations have been. I've got one pretty rare stylus for the 500 body -- the cartridge name would be a 500 AA. This is a .5 mil conical stylus; it's lower mass and higher compliance than the other needles in the line, and delivers better sound than the other models (except the 500 EE, a .3 x .7 elliptical). Of course, the tiny conical tip was soon outperformed by ellipticals. At the other end, Pickering had one stylus for the V-15, as I recall, that was the fattest elliptical I ever saw: a .5 x .7, a heavy-tracker. I'd love to have that stylus just for kicks. It'd be a subtle tweak of the regular .7 mil conical.

Since the Stanton line was somewhat professionally-oriented, I envisioned the AA stylus being suited to use by a station's record librarian, but far too delicate for on-the-air use.

So, Maidel: does this description meet with your approval?


10-04-2005, 08:23 PM
Not in my budget but thought some of the AK'ers on this thread might be interested in this eBay listing. ameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem


10-05-2005, 04:45 PM
Also noticed this site with replacement stylus for wide range of Pickering. Would these come under bogus?



11-29-2007, 03:57 PM
Just getting back into this. Used to love stereo, and bought as much good stuff as I could afford as a poor college student in the mid 70's. I lost what my ex-wife and three sons had left me of my gear when a pipe broke in the wall when wife no. 2 and I were out of town over Christmas. Came home to a soggy frozen wonderland.

Blew out my back and won the lottery on multiple pensions, not the usual case, but I was "lucky". Anyway, am trying to put together a vintage stereo; Receiver, turntable, 80's CD, old speakers and various noise reduction units and graphic equalizers etc. (Never got to play with the noise enhancement toys).

I thought that buying a used turntable would be a snap; just ebay it. Turned into a nightmare. I finally have a Technics SL-1300 that works. It came with a Pickering XV-15 1200E cartridge. Under the lens the stylus looks new. I am not familiar with cartridge. I had purchased a new Grado Gold for the last turntable (which came DOA), and was wondering what everyone's thoughts were on the relative merits. We're moving into a bigger place in the spring, but am not currently in a position to do a lot of high volume listening etc. Also; I now have three Technics headshells from 3 differnt model turntables; should they be interchangeable? (SL-D2, SL-1300, and SL-1900)

11-29-2007, 08:53 PM
Well use the Grado if you like the sound. But if you're sure the stylus is okay, the Pickering is also a respectable cartridge. I have one and like the sound

Yes all Technics headshells are interchangeable.