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Old 01-13-2018, 02:59 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Originally Posted by Sandflyer View Post
It's not only about the spectrum, it's also about a natural, full sound, details, realistic soundstage.
Just because my hearing's going away doesn't mean I stop going to the philharmonic (at which, I presume, I get the full spectrum etc. )
It can't get more realistic than what's already engraved on the disc.
Old 01-13-2018, 03:18 PM
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TooCool4 TooCool4 is offline
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Saying that older people can’t get the benefit of high quality audio because they may have reduced frequency range makes about as much sense as saying a person can not enjoy the benefit of a Ferrari if they cannot drive at 200mph. That is just laughable.

Most of the best recording engineers are well over 40 years old, if the rationale is true they can’t hear jack so their recordings must be rubbish. They are sort after to do recordings for all the best artist, why are they sort after if they can’t hear jack?
So really the recording engineers should be 15 year olds, going by the rationale?

And incidentally the peak of hearing is held by 4,5,6 year olds by the way.
Nakamichi CR-7, Sony WM-D6C, Sony WM-DC2, Sony WM-DD9, Sony WM-DD33

Last edited by TooCool4; 01-13-2018 at 03:31 PM.
Old 01-13-2018, 03:22 PM
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Sandflyer Sandflyer is offline
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But of course it can - at the concert hall.
I understand what you are saying, but obviously there is a difference listening to music on a cell phone speaker and a sensible pair of speakers.
Old 01-13-2018, 09:35 PM
Max77 Max77 is offline
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That is beyond what I would pay, but for someone who has that kind of money to spend, why not? Can't take money with you when you die.
Old 01-14-2018, 01:27 AM
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TheDHndrsn TheDHndrsn is offline
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Originally Posted by lucky View Post
The only phono cartridge which was worth more then 1000€ are strain gauge carts from Soundsmith:
Nothing really new, Mikro and Technics used it in the early 70ies too. But it is actual the only one.
Now I find this an interesting comment, primarily because I run quad. I have two quad carts one of which is the EPC451C strain gauge. For some time I ran output through a hacked semiconductor preamp pulled from an old, dodgy Panasonic table with built in CD-4 decoder and preamp. More recently I picked up an SE-405 demodulator preamp. No significant difference in the output but the SE-405 looks better with the stack. Then again, I have not recapped the SE-405. Something on my short list. This raises a question about strain gauge though.

I would think unlike MM or MC, strain gauge is strain gauge and the preamp would be far more important than the cartridge. I recall also reading the Soundsmith cart / preamp is slightly different than the Panasonic. In other words, I could not drop the Soundsmith preamp onto the Panasonic cart. Claims being the Soundsmith cart / preamp is a superior sounding combination to the Panasonic. Is that an accurate assessment?

Originally Posted by skdsoccer View Post
By reading many o the replies it seems people equate quality and performance directly with cost. So many references state a specific dollar amount threshold that must be spent to achieve some greater level of performance. While something may cost ten times as much does not mean it automatically is as good or better. Also I love the names of these pieces of equipment. Just not a AT 155LC but some esoteric sounding nonsense (Crimson XG Stratavarious)??? By all means if you have the means spend $$. No doubt you are making someone very happy and flush with $$.
While I have zero experience with high end audiophile equipment costing in the stratosphere, I do have experience running multiple combinations in search of the "sound". I have another post here somewhere concerning how much of that sound has to do with the receiver driving the speaker. Some component combinations do not cost a lot but sound wonderful. I am reminded reading through the thread just how significant the speakers are to the mix. I remember those 6 or 7 foot planars (e.g.) that sold for six or seven grand a pop. They had a pair at the high end audio shop while I was at Penn State in the late 70's (or grad school in the 80's... those were fuzzy times). I too was blown away. At the time I would have needed far more amp to drive them than I could afford, even if I could have pair. A luxury I still cannot justify.

My point is that while truly spectacular and expensive setups may exist, no one is committing to such a setup being the fault of a $5K audiophile cart. I have a boat load of cartridges around here in addition to the two I use for quad setup (Panasonic EPC-451C and a JVC 4MD-20X). It sounds that before spending an arm and a leg it would be prudent to give those carts a listen. See how they sound with my set up.

One other thought concerns those planar speakers. I may wish to prioritize the ideal speaker given tastes, listening space, and gear before delving too deeply into cartridges. Then again, I am one of those guys who is never perfectly pleased with anything I hear, even if the ears are shot. I know no more than I will know the sound when I hear it.

Thanks folks! The above edification has been valuable to my audio adventure. Greatly appreciated!
I don't discriminate. I love Reel to Reel, Cassette, DAT, MD and LP!
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Old 01-14-2018, 03:33 AM
lucky lucky is online now
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If you hear no difference its as always in audio: ignore it !

I selled my quadro stuff three decades ago. What makes the difference today ist the shape of the tip. Van den Hul use the old shure "Mircro Ridge" with 2x86µ hard to beat in any cartridge. Soundsmith even used a very sharp type.
Preamps for straingauge are part of the system and not interchangable.

I would like to copy an old test here of the Grace F9, one of the cheapest cart of that days :

Tested in the article from The Absolute Sound 17, 1980. As a synopsis, here is the Editors choice:

"***The grace F9E Perhaps the best moving magnet ever made, and certainly something the Brothers Shure should hear, since the cartridge has a brilliantly convincing ability to portray the sound stage in all its dimensions and a harmonic accuracy better than all of the moving coils. The lack of background noise that accounts for the "purity" of the moving coil sound is, however, not equalled here, so there is the slightest sense of grain, although the Grace does possess a remarkable freedom from veiling (unlike many moving iron designs). Tracking is better than the Koetsu, but not so good as the very best. at the price, about $160, it is, without a doubt, the maximum most-for-the-money in cartridges today."

Absolute Sound divided cartridges into 6 categories, of which the F9E was in Category A along with:
The Mark Levinson
The Koetsu
The Grace F9E
The Linn Asak
The Dynavector Ruby
The van Alstine/Sonus Dimension Five
The Grado Signature IIIa Revised"
Vinyl dont change and even the carts dont change their qualitys. Another statement of Peter Pritchards visit of the Boston Audio Society about the pricing of cartridges (last chapter):

Meeting Feature 8.april 1976: Peter Pritchard

Our guest speaker was Peter Pritchard, formerly the President of ADC, where he designed cartridges and the tonearm that bears his name. He now presides over Sonic Research, also a maker of state-of-the-art cartridges. On the face of it, Mr. Pritchard could not have presented a greater contrast to last month's lecturer on tonearm design, Jacob Rabinow. The glib Rabinow presented the image of the compulsive inventor pushing forward the innovations sometimes at the expense of unrefined details. Peter Pritchard spoke in carefully measured words and seemed a man bent on the development of designs based only on carefully measured parameters at every Stage.

And yet there was also a certain commonality of viewpoint. Rabinow talked about ideas developed from gut instincts—inventions peppered with stardust. Pritchard approached much the same notion from a more conservative psychological foundation. He spoke of the limitations of knowledge and suggested that major innovations transcend what we understand to be the known parameters of performance. As one case in point, he offered Westrex, who developed the 45 -45 ° system of cutting stereo records without having the benefit of a cartridge with which to play them. After inventing the technique they went to GE to see if a cartridge could be made that would play the records without cutting them to spaghetti. He also noted that he has found new pleasures in Mercury's Living Presence recordings of the late fifties. He felt that Mercury could not have known just how good their product was,because they didn't have cartridges good enough to fully demonstrate their fine points.Even now, no pickup designer knows for sure how much his product is limited by record technology or vice versa. Real innovation has to be more than improving on the known, measured parameters. Quoting Pritchard: "We really don't know quite what we're doing in this industry.I shouldn't really say this for everybody else, but I think its true to a great degree. We all of us try very hard and we think what we're doing is in the right direction. We're all opinionated (naturally), but we tend to blunder around and very often we achieve things we don't know we've achieved until we look back and we see the significance of it afterwards.

Why Sonus ? Dissatisfaction with the state of the art led Pritchard to form Sonic Researchand produce the Sonus cartridges—that and the realization that the frontiers of audio performance could not be defined by known test procedures. For a time he believed that electronic componentry had reached its zenith. The specifications were so uniformly excellent that it appeared perfor-mance must be essentially identical. Then a customer who "harangued" him at a CES show aboutthe electronic components ADC happened to be using in their booth set Pritchard to listening toa variety of components. And, specs or not, they were definitely not alike. So he began tore-evaluate transducer designs: "What we were measuring, for the most part, was of very little significance . . . If we carried out conventional measurements, and we found they were reason-ably satisfactory, then that was only a beginning."Working first at ADC, he tried to isolate some of the unknowns. What, for instance, accounted for the oft-noted depth and apparent separation of the XLM? The separation measured on steady-state tones was not exceptional. Perhaps another kind of test would confirm what the ear heard.Working in the lab one weekend, he cut gashes into one wall of silent grooves in a test record.Using a dual-trace scope, he played back the gashes and watched the left and right signals. The gash produced the expected "splash" in the appropriate channel, just a slight "tail" in the other,indicating the excess energy was being dissipated in a random manner. Several competing car-tridges with exceptional steady-state separation figures produced nearly uniform "splashes" in both channels. Now there was at least a way of seeing what had there to fore been an unmeasur-able quality. When he left ADC, Pritchard had no intention of founding another commercial audio company„ But as a private audiophile without a laboratory to supply him products, he found himself dis-satisfied with the choices available. Feeling that significant improvements were possible, he started Sonic Research.

Sonus Products. The Sonus product line consists of two, four, or five cartridges dependingon how one counts. The top of the line cartridge is called the Blue Label, the Red Label, or the Green Label, depending on which stylus is used. The same cartridge body is employed in allthree.The Green is a spherical tip, the Red is biradial, and the Blue offers the Pathimax stylus,which is similar to the Shibata tip, but is more conical at the intersection of the ground faces.The net effect is the same.The other Sonus cartridge is the Silver Label, which comes with either the elliptical or the Pathimax stylus. This cartridge is a ruggedized version with somewhat lower compliance and a heavier suspension, making it usable in a wider range of arms. According to Pritchard, its lab-oratory measurements are equal to or even better than the Blue-Red-Green cartridge, but the sound is not as open or effortless. Prices in the Boston area run from about $40 (for the Silver E)to about $86 (for the Blue).There's also a Blue Calibrated, which is a selected Blue supplied with a frequency run. When its time to change styli, return it to Sonus and they will replace the stylus and supply a new response chart. According to Pritchard, the cartridge pickers at the factory pick the Blues with the best frequency runs to become Blue Calibrateds.Pritchard recommends the Blue as having a smoother frequency response. Because the Pathimax contacts a larger surface area on the groove walls, the groove gives less and the stylus traces better on heavily modulated inner grooves. It should give better record wear than the elliptical tip. Even using higher-than-usual tracking forces, Sonus has been able to play records one or two hundred times without discernible wear. The stylus was chosen to take advantage of its better shape and not for CD-4 (though they feel it's a good CD-4 cartridge).Careful alignment is necessary to realize its full potential, however. Pritchard recommends that after adjusting for minimum tracking error, one place a pocket mirror on the turntable and look at the tip from directly overhead to check for vertical alignment.

Design Factors. So how does one design a good cartridge? What are the parameters? First, says Prtichard, the basic design principle is not critical to the final achievable result. One can use moving coil, moving armature, or something more exotic. The choice boils down to economic factors and to ease of design and manufacture. The more important problem, says Pritchard, is achieving accurate transmission of the motion of the tip to the generating element.It's particularly difficult to get all motion transferred. In this respect, the ideal would be a mass-less, infinitely rigid, cantilever-armature system. Because the ideal doesn't exist, cartridgemakers have to deal with resonances. One way is to taper the cantilever. That suppresses funda-mental beam resonances, but not higher order harmonics. Sonus chooses instead to make the cantilever as short and light as possible. This also helps reduce the total mass of the moving parts. Any mass becomes a storage point for resonances. When the stylus beam is long, nodestend to build and the actual pivot point of cantilever-armature starts to wander, perhaps as muchas 10 mils or so. By keeping the cantilever short, there's very little motion wasted in torsion.The mass of the armature is held down by using very thin, magnetically permeable material and by keeping it very short. The suspension system and the armature have square cross sections,to hold the pivot point firmly in place and suppress rotational motion.Sonus aimed for perfect symmetry of the moving parts. This contributes to good separationof transients and to steady-state separation that continues to the top of each cartridge's range.The production cartridges are not as good as the laboratory models in this respect, but the pro-duction models have to have enough stylus clearance to play ordinary records.A useful feature of the Sonus' electrical design is low impedance. Inductance is about 100millihenries and resistance is 300 ohms. This makes it easy to match cartridge and preamp, and it helps also when the Sonus Blue Label is used for CD-4.Pritchard also explained that it's nearly impossible to lower mass by using a nude diamond. In such styli, the diamond is secured by having a very thin sliver of diamond extend through the cantilever shank, where it's secured with something like epoxy cement. If one doesn't use enough cement, the stylus wiggles in the shank, and if one does use enough, the mass advantage is lost.The Sonus approach is to bond the tip to a tiny bit of steel. The steel is readily enchored to theshank without significantly adding to mass.

Distortion. Pritchard feels one really can't be sure what kinds of distortion predominate incartridges because it's difficult to say how good the test record is. A cleanly recorded mid-frequency sine wave can be reproduced with 0.1% to 0.2% THD. What distortion exists results chiefly from geometry and is random in nature, so it doesn't show up as even-order harmonics.IM tests don't tell much either, because they look at sum and difference products. For that matter, visual spectrum analyzers don't tell that much because (again) the distortion is mostly transient in nature. The best bet for finding cartridge distortion, says Prtichard, is an oscillo-scope and a trained eye.Some hysteresis distortion is inherent in moving armature designs, but it can be minimized.The moving armature is charged to the point of saturation. If it's a little less than saturated,flux density in the armature will change as it moves toward and away from the pole pieces andcharging magnet, especially at high velocities.In the Sonus, the problem was met by using a very powerful charging magnet and a short armature, and by placing the magnet over the pivot point, so the armature is fully enveloped in the magnetic field and its position relative to the field is effectively unchanging. A side benefitis that the magnet doesn't mechanically bias the stylus.

Do Stylus Suspensions Self-Destruct ? Well, they're known to come apart, but so far as Pritchard can discover, stories about suspension materials deteriorating are untrue.When the suspension fails, it's most likely because something has come apart.Cantilevers, on the other hand, do deteriorate. They're usually made of very thin aluminumand are protected only by the aluminum oxide that forms on the outside. The shank is just thousandths of an inch thick, and it can go. ADC had stylus assemblies coming undone because the cantilever and armature were made of different metals, and there was an electrolytic reaction between them. Sonus puts a plastic barrier between cantilever and armature.

A Sonus Arm ? There's a Sonus arm on the back burner now. Pritchard would like to make it an integrated arm-cartridge that could be de-integrated by the user when he got the urge. But integrated designs have never been commercial successes. Dealers react negatively on the basis that the audiophile simply doesn't want to give up the privilege of interchanging cartridges of dif-ferent manufacture.The Sonus arm would be a modernized Pritchard, making use of materials not available when the original arm was designed (as an answer to the SME, which was at that time too massive and undamped for the ADC-1). It would be as light as possible and its cross section would change a long its length.These features would make it a low-mass, non-resonant device. It would have a simple,damped pivot, and its overhang would be less than that of many current designs. A large overhang reduces tracking 'error, but adds to skating force. He prefers to hedge the compromise in favor oflower skating force, because anti-skating devices put an unwanted load on the stylus suspension system. Not only must it provide uniform restoring force to the stylus to keep it on the record,but it must counter the anti-skating device's tendency to pull the stylus off center.Though Pritchard would choose to damp his arm, he agrees in principle with Rabinow to the extent that there are other ways of attacking the problem. Pritchard said that "if you can design everything else to its optimum, then you don't need damping." And yes, he and Rabinow are still talking.

Sonus Speakers ? Maybe. But don't hold your breath. The field is so fiercely competitive andall the commercial angles so well covered that Pritchard will enter only if he can make a material contribution to the technology.

Unfinished Business—ADC. The present ADC Super XLM Mark II is not Pritchard's design.After BSR bought out the company, they asked for a CD-4 version. Pritchard added a Shibata stylus to the XLM but wasn't happy with the result, so he shelved it to work out a new design.After he left, BSR dusted off the cartridge on the shelf, made it a little more rugged, and call edit the Mark II. In theory, it should track inner grooves better, but he doesn't know what kinds of tradeoffs were made in the redesign. Peter Mitchell pointed out that print reviews generally have panned the cartridge for CD-4 use.Someone wanted to know why ADC cartridges were so compliant that an arm with negative mass was needed to achieve a fundamental resonance between 10 and 20 Hz. Pritchard challenged the assumptions. In the first place, the cartridge was designed for a combined resonance of about 6 Hz. And in the second, their experimentation showed a resonance of about 10 Hz in typical record changer arms.You pick your tradeoffs, said our guest. A lot of room resonances occur around 10 to 20 Hz,as does much of the feedback transmitted by resonating records, so ADC chose to put the basic resonance lower. True, record warps ought to show up occasionally in that area, but in practicethey hardly ever do. Besides, if one keeps the Q of the resonance low enough, there won't be anyreal trouble. And finally, 6 Hz is a good match to many of the low-cut filters on preamps.

Marketing Footnotes. Pritchard agrees that there's a lot of opportunism in cartridge pricing.This results from market competition and from the fact that much of the public needs a high price to convince it that the puny little cartridge is as important as the electronics or speakers.Moving coil designs have an advantage in this area, because they really are exceptionally expen-sive to make. Their prices are high even when discounted, and people assume they must be goodbecause they are expensive. There was a time when moving coil designs enjoyed an advantage inhaving low-mass moving elements, but with modern materials, he feels this gap has been closed.A recent ad for Sonus cartridges recommends the different stylus configurations of the premium cartridge for different arms. That piece got out without Mr. Pritchard seeing it. As soon as he saw it, he ordered it withdrawn. Any of the cartridges can be used in a high-quality arm.There was a question about the GE cartridge. Pritchard had worked on that classic, and itcame about as close as any design has to becoming a universal standard. What happened, and could it be duplicated? Yes, said Pritchard, the GE was a dream almost too good to be true. It was a sound, economical, reliable, rugged design optimized over a period of years. The highly competitive, cut-throat cartridge market hadn't yet developed, and GE was able to control its market through a system of franchised dealers. They had 75% of the cartridge market wrapped upin their corporate grasp, as only a giant corporation could. And they lost it all in six months, as only a corporate giant could. Up there in the clouds they got a little short-sighted. Stereo, they thought, was only a gimmick that would fade away. When it didn't, they did a patchwork job onthe classic design, ruined it, and there by hastened their decline. Such a utopia will never happen again, mused Pritchard. And yet, for all we know, they could sweep the technology out from under us, Tomorrow, we could be playing records with laser beams.

Get out the stardust and start sprinkling. — Henry G. Belot
Old 01-14-2018, 03:48 AM
Sandflyer's Avatar
Sandflyer Sandflyer is offline
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Posts: 135
Ah, the Grace.
I have this cartridge, minus the needle. My father gave it to me, already used, I used it for a while and then one fine morning a careless move of my finger took care of things...
Waiting until I have money to burn to buy a needle from Soundsmith.
Old 01-14-2018, 03:56 AM
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Ghitulescu Ghitulescu is offline
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Originally Posted by Max77 View Post
Can't take money with you when you die.
But it would be preferably that your kids will have a larger smile than a sly HighEnd seller, right?
It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.
Old 01-14-2018, 04:02 AM
lucky lucky is online now
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Originally Posted by Sandflyer View Post
Ah, the Grace.
I have this cartridge, minus the needle. My father gave it to me, already used, I used it for a while and then one fine morning a careless move of my finger took care of things...
Waiting until I have money to burn to buy a needle from Soundsmith.
I owned three of the Grace F9E, just selled a NOS one for 600€ to generate a little money for christmas gifts ;-)

Now there a only a F9L and F9E here....

Last edited by lucky; 01-14-2018 at 04:08 AM.
Old 01-14-2018, 08:37 AM
skdsoccer skdsoccer is offline
still in the 70's
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Wadsworth, Oh
Posts: 361
Originally Posted by lucky View Post
If you hear no difference its as always in audio: ignore it !

I selled my quadro stuff three decades ago. What makes the difference today ist the shape of the tip. Van den Hul use the old shure "Mircro Ridge" with 2x86µ hard to beat in any cartridge. Soundsmith even used a very sharp type.
Preamps for straingauge are part of the system and not interchangable.

I would like to copy an old test here of the Grace F9, one of the cheapest cart of that days :

Vinyl dont change and even the carts dont change their qualitys. Another statement of Peter Pritchards visit of the Boston Audio Society about the pricing of cartridges (last chapter):

Great article. The fact that an ideal cartridge does not exist and that the public needs a high price to justify something making a difference are my points exactly. Very educational if people want to read and understand what they are trying to achieve when playing vinyl.

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