various detail shots of phono cartridges, and headshells I have owned at one point or another....
Also included will be cartridges I may not have had here, but am interested in. In the near future I will be adding photos of microscope close-ups on stylii.
Such as this: An inexpensive Audio Technica.
ADC Audio Dynamics
A list of compliance ratings and stylus configurations on different ADC XLM models:
ADC ST Series: (Cartridge comes packaged with and mounted to (or in the case of the ST XLM-1, integrated into) a carbon fiber headshell that plugs into the ADC LMF-2 tonearm.
The ST XLM-1 series is integrated into its adjustable overhang headshell. The cartridge can not be separated from this headshell. The headshell is specific to ADC LMF-2 tonearm.
Thanks to Alaskahiatt for these ST XLM-1 photos.
Btw, this model ST XLM-II cartridges are simply removed from the packaged headshell and then can be used in different tonearms of appropriate low effective mass design.
These two came with an SME 3009 S2 tonearm I purchased from an eBay seller in France. I haven't heard these.
Design: Moving Magnet. does not require step-up
At the lower end of the price scale there is this model. It is a universal mount. Fits either 1/2 inch mount or 'P' mount. To fit 'P'mount, undo the screw on the back part of the body and remove the rear adapter frame.
Review pending. Here is a potential world-beater for those who would care to put it in one of Uwe's wood bodies, then match it up with the appropriate step up transformer. It likes a fairly heavy toneam. Design dates to 1962. Initially intended for broadcast use. Still in production. Several variations were made over the years. Currently the two versions still being offered are the DL-103 and the DL-103R. The difference is in the copper coils. The "R" uses a higher purity copper, called "6-nines copper" (99.9999% pure) and has a different load impedance. The 103 and 103R share same family sound but offer slightly different tonal character and with the "-R" offering slightly improved upper frequency detail along with a smoother overall tone quality.
output voltage: .2 mV Load: 14 ohms (-R) and 40 ohms (DL-103) both require voltage step-up*
A DL-103R with Uwe Panzerholz body and a broken Ruby cantilevered Contact Line stylus
Analogue Labs Aluminum body for the DL-103 and DL-103R:
More about the Analogue Labs body when I get around to mounting a DL-103 into it.
More info here
EMT TSD 15
design: Moving Iron. Output Voltage: 5 mV, load: 47Kohms, does not require step-up
This cartridge does nothing wrong. And for a retail list price of ~ $1900 it should not.
output voltage: .34 mV, Load: 10 ohms requires step-up*
Realistic was a Radio Shack brand name that often times featured popular products re-branded with their house names.
brand, model: Realistic R1000 ED
type: moving magnet
This cartridge is missing the stylus assembly. A new replacement should be available somewhere.
OEM from Shure. Judging by the body shape I would compare this model to a Shure M75E or lesser. But I am not really certain. Anyone have definitive info on this? I have listened to it briefly on a Thorens TD160 with the oem TP16 tonearm. I'm tempted to compare this re-branded Shure to a Grado Black (entry level model)
Comments to [email protected]
This cartridge has character. Dynamic. Expressive. Emotional. Nice midrange. Bass is a little tight but extended and textured. Nimble. Fast transients. With the right record, can raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Not a particularly great tracker.
Output voltage: .4 mV. Load: 10 ohms, requires step-up*
It also can be killed with blunt force:
The mishap occurred when the tonearm/cart was allowed to bang against the side of a platter. At the time the damage wasn't recognized. The stylus is very small and can't be seen without magnification. Interestingly, the cantilever remained straight. Damage has caused the cantilever and stylus to rotate within its mount. Obviously, the cartridge is unplayable as is.
cantilever found to be "loose". The cantilever could be carefully rotated back into position using a fine tweezer. After removing the cantilever, and viewing it under as much magnification as was available, I was able to conclude that apparently the adhesive bond failed. The fix, should be obvious. Add glue and stick the cantilever back into its pipe. Here are a couple of shots after re-glue:
But the Shelter wasn't right. Sound Quality was off. So I shelved it untill............
I found someone who could make a proper repair
Shelter refurbished click link to read the details (hint this gave the 501-II a few more years of play time)
Fast forward to 2016 when I finally retired this cartridge due to audible evidence of 100% stylus wear. Then fast forward to 2019 while I perform this post mortem photo essay.
Next: Microscope photos:
Left shows the method I used to get photos through the old Swift microscope. I produced a shroud that engages the front end barrel of the Nikon lens while covering the eyepiece lens of the microscope. I've found that the short little tripod seen in the photo works satisfactorily to hold the camera steady for the shot. I use a cable release. In the photo the side lights are turned off avoid the extreme contrast that would otherwise result.
At 50x magnification, this is a front profile view of the elliptical diamond / boron cantilever of the Shelter 501-II. The dust particles and crusty crud that sticks to these surfaces are not visible to the unassisted eye. At least, not mine.
Left two shots at 50x magnification reveal just how shallow depth of field is with these microscope lenses. I can get focus on the cantilever or on some part of the diamond stylus, but not all of it. What does show, in these photos, is an apparent misalignment between the diamond stylus and the centerline of the cantilever. This affects the zenith alignment during cartridge and tonearm setup.
Next two photos reveal the amount of stylus wear.
Left: stylus wear at 200x magnification. Depth of field is so shallow at this magnification that the entire area of the stylus wear can't be completely in focus. However it does reveal that width of the worn surfaces on this elliptical diamond.
With all of its apparent flaws in performance and apparently in workmanship, I really liked the sound of this cartridge. It fleshed out the texture and neuance of acoustic instruments and the organic lustre of the human voice. I'll see if I can't find a way to re-tip again. Should I be successful I'll post an article that documents the process. But for now, the Shelter resides within its protective shipping case.
Sonic Research Inc., Danbury Conn.
Sonus Blue specifications from user manual:
link to review of the above sample Link
This version of the V15 was made in Mexico. Now it is out of production. This is the last of the Shure V15 series. It is a nice sounding moving magnet cartridge, if a touch rolled off in the high frequencies. Capacitance of your tonearm wires need to be around 250 pF. Load = 47kohms. Static compliance is approx. 20 x 10-6nm. Compliance of this model is not as soft as earlier V15 versions. It mated well with my Rega tonearm; - Not so well with the Graham 2.2. - Fairly well with the Infinity Black Widow tonearm. A touch laid back in its presentation. -Not my favorite Shure but still very good.
Output voltage: 3 mV does not require step-up
From the early 1970's, here is the Shure M91-E Often under-rated, but just as often said to compare well with the top of the line V15 series from the same period. I'm presently using this sample in an Infinity Black Widow tonearm with excellent results. The original stylus assembly on this sample is long gone. Presently a replacement stylus assembly from Pfanstiehl is in use. (#761). My impression at present is of a beautifully warm midrange with solid mid-bass and lower bass that goes down into the basement of the lower frequencies with detail and slam. Upper frequencies are a bit rolled off. I suspect that with a SAS stylus assembly from Jico much greater amounts of detail can be heard. But for now, I'm enjoying it like this on the Thorens TD124.
Sumiko Blue Point Special
above: a dead Blue Point Special, sigh.
but here's a virtual one. Modeled in Rhino 3D circa 2003. Rendered in Rhino.
High Output Moving Coil. Load= 47Kohms. Works with standard MM phono stages common to most 60's,70's and 80's good quality stereo receivers.
In the late 1990's this cartridge received rave reviews within the audio press. Based on these recommendations I purchased the above sample. In practice I found that the cartridge was a good compliance match to the Thorens TP16 (mk 1) tonearm on my TD160. I also noticed that there was absolutely nothing remarkable about the sonic performance of this cartridge. Average sounding. Not bad. Not great. After about a year I managed to lightly snag the cantilever with a dust cloth. Above photos show the damage. The cartridge could have been re-tipped but I didn't feel it was worth the bother or expense. Didn't care. I would rather have saved initial purchase money for something else. However...since the first iteration, Sumiko has worked to improve this model. The Blue Point Special Evo would be one example of this. I haven't tried this one, however there are some positive reviews to be read of the BPS Evo.
Technics SPC205C mkII
Type: Moving Magnet
I reviewed this cartridge 2017. Link to that article:
A P-mount Technics, the P153S
Its cantilever seems to have been dislodged and rotated out of position.
Orsonic AV-101S, anti-vibration universal head shell
Made in Japan.
Notes on cartridge compliance rating systems:
The Dynamic rating:
There is at least one thing the Technics EPC 205C-II and a Denon DL-103R *have in common. Their rated compliance value is achieved through the same kind of test procedure where: dynamic compliance @100hz is measured by determining the minimum VTF at which the onset of mistracking occurs when playing a 50um amplitude 100Hz frequency modulated groove. We can find reference to this explanation from noted tonearm manufacturer H.H. Moerch at his website where he has published a downloadable pdf we can refer to.
Here’s a link to that document:
http://www.moerch.dk then go to: homepage/instructions/cartridge armtube combination list)
In his paper, Moerch offers a simple means to translate from the dynamic @100Hz value to the more common 10Hz rating that many/most cartridges use. Simply take the rated "dynamic" value and multiply by anywhere from 1.5 to 2. The Technics rated dynamic compliance of 10 * 10^6 cm/dyne, multiply by 2 = 20 at the 10Hz method. And this is a value that can be plugged into a formula offered within the same Moerch paper where the said formula can be used to predict the tonearm/cartridge system resonance. Here it is:
Using the above formula and plugging in the required values from the Black Widow spec list I came up with a predicted arm/cartridge resonance at 10.9hz. This proved to be close to reality. When using the HFN-001 test record, side 2 track 2** the measured resonance was 11Hz. The formula appears to work and so did H.H. Moerch’s simple method of conversion (times 2) noted above.
The Static compliance rating system: to be added
The 10Hz compliance rating system: to be added
footnotes on compliance rating systems:
*and many other phono cartridges. When the compliance rating says "dynamic" we presume this is what they mean.
** HFN-001 side 2 track 2 is the band that tests for arm/cartridge system resonance -- lateral.
*Generally, low output moving coil cartridges have a reputation to be the best sounding of their type. But the main disadvantage is that the output voltage is so low it requires a step-up device in line between itself and the phono-preamplifier. Another critical factor is the introduction of noise and hum into this very fragile and vulnerable signal. Great care must be taken to transform and deliver the signal cleanly into the phono-preamplifier. more info