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Audio Technica AT-VM95ML - Anyone used on a Technics?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Phil Bishop, Apr 4, 2021.

  1. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    I'm reading a lot of positive reviews and comments about the AT-VM95ML cartridge and am thinking of trying one on my Technics SL-1200GR.

    I'm attracted by the theory that microline styli reduce distortion through improved tracking. I'm plagued by distortion, particularly IGD, far less these days than I was in my early vinyl days when it drove me nuts - anyone else remember how awful "Songbird" used to sound, the last track on Side 1 of "Rumours"? However, there's still room for improvement ;)

    The only reservation I have is I hear microline styli are sensitive to VTA and wonder how the adjustability of the Technics arm may work with this?

    I'd be interested to hear from anyone with experience of using the AT-VM95ML on a Technics deck.
    Jono_13 likes this.
  2. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    I’ve never gone to town/worried too much about VTA, the Techy is easy to adjust though unlike many arms where you need a kludge. Get the overhang and tracking weight right and I’m happy. The ML is excellent. believe the comments, wish I’d taken onboard the ones about the PTG33 some time ago.

    Here’s my 1200GR/95ML playing a few 12” singles this morning, no discernible IGD to my ears. Obvs everyone has different cables/stages/amp/spkrs but in my office system the main areas I notice the ML bettering the E is bass and imaging/separation, well worth the £130 and the fact you can buy the £40 E and swap stylus later as a gradual upgrade is brilliant.

    Jono_13 and Phil Bishop like this.
  3. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    Thanks very much, exactly the useful advice I was looking for :)

    Not quite sure what you mean with your reference to the PTG33?
  4. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    I’d read about it but thought it was being overstated by fans, so I stuck with my fave Dynavector 10x series, then finally had one offered at a serious discount and the last 12 months being what they are I have bought/swapped lots more kit than usual. It really is the best cart at that price point I've heard. So when the ML was bigged up I was quicker off the mark and it also lives up to the praise.
    Phil Bishop likes this.
  5. deebster

    deebster Half Man Half Biscuit

    Another postive report on the PTG33/II here. I was using a DV20X2L on my WTL Amadeus but took a punt on a lightly used one from here (hi, @matt j) and have been very impressed by it. Clean, clear and distortion free.
    Phil Bishop and matt j like this.
  6. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    Good enough for me guys, thank you, I have pressed the button on one (AT-VM95ML). I have heard good things about the PTG33 too - maybe one day ;)
  7. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    OK, AT-VM95ML arrived today and was quickly installed on my Techie.

    Sounded pretty decent right from the off, not had too much time to evaluate closely. However, it's superb tracking was immediately evident playing singles and LP ends with no noticeable distortion at all. Also seems to keep surface noise to a minimum, possibly the quietest background I have heard.

    Only slight criticism is it maybe sounded a bit dull, flat, a bit lacking in the top end. Can I expect this to improve with use?
  8. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    What loading settings does your phono stage have, be worth a bit of experimentation. Recommendation is 100-200pF - that includes your wiring. I found swapping to a shorter Lo Cap tonearm cable improved things as my current stage only goes down to 220pF. I’m ploughing through 12” singles from my youth and didn’t want to use my dearer MC and fancied trying the ML after rating the E highly. Messing with higher and lower than the AT suggestion is worth doing, sometimes you get a win going off piste.
    MJS and Phil Bishop like this.
  9. chartz

    chartz If it’s broke fix it!

    Songbird sounds perfect with the ML tip, absolutely distortion free. I had always assumed my LP was bad from new. The church is here at last, shimmering piano notes and oh what a voice from Ms Mc Vie!

    And yes it sounds awful with any other profiles, including Shibata.

    Tried on various decks with light tonearms, including two Techies.
    Simon s and Phil Bishop like this.
  10. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    Fortunately, I have a wonderful NJC Audio phono stage that allows variable settings from 22 to 330 pF. However, I have never detected much audible difference.

    ...and therein lies the rub. I have always felt that external factors like mood, furniture positioning, room temperature, time of day and how fresh one's ears are make much more difference. I can think a cartridge or system sounds flat one day and lively the next.

    Also recordings. I threw a few bright modern recordings at it and it sounded amazing, just right. A few older records I thought maybe sounded a bit lacklustre.

    Early days but the assured nature of this cartridge is evident from the off and that's very important to me :)
  11. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    Can't wait to try it.

    That particular track varied with the pressings I have owned - it sounded awful on my first copy back in the 1970s with my Trio deck.

    Another horrible track for potential IGD is the title track of Joni Mitchell's "Hejira" which is the last track on Side 1. I remember I bought a Rega Planar 3 with Linn K9 cartridge in the late 1980s and that track gave me sleepless nights. In fact a lot of early Joni Mitchell really tests record players, get through "Blue" without a grimace or two and you have done well.

    Somehow I think the AT-VM95ML may handle these albums and tracks better than anything I have tried before.
  12. chartz

    chartz If it’s broke fix it!

    Also try the Great Gig in The Sky. Bliss.
    Phil Bishop likes this.
  13. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    Mood can be a major factor, couple days ago in the evening I played an LP in the office and it sounded ace, had to wheel the chair back into the exact sweet spot, next day same LP in the afternoon when I finally got a lull to kick back and spin some tunes it sounded meh, been problems at client sites and staff that morning, nothing else had changed.

    Have been rotating a few carts on the Techy during lockdown, the ML is one of the finds, that and the 33PTG. A few have underwhelmed, the Hana EL was one surprisingly, sounds too “safe” a fine enough all rounder but I’m not hearing what the reviewers heard.
    Phil Bishop likes this.
  14. Nic Robinson

    Nic Robinson Moderator

    Tempted to get one for my GR just to see. Out of curiosity I recently bought an Ortofon 2M Red. On this deck and to these ears it's extraordinarily good so I should probs just get a blue to upgrade it and be done.

    My main cart is an ESCo DL-103 which is much smoother but the red really cooks on the GR. I think this is down to it being a simply excellent deck tbh.
  15. fegs

    fegs pfm Member

    I've got the blue on my GR and really rate it, but having only ever used that particular cartridge on that TT I have nothing to compare it to

    I'm tempted with the AT-VM95ML just to see!
    Nic Robinson likes this.
  16. Nic Robinson

    Nic Robinson Moderator

    Somewhere out there I heard a needle drop comparison between the two. Unfortunately is wasn't (imo) a good choice of record or music. The blue was certainly more forward but that's all I'll say.
  17. fegs

    fegs pfm Member


    To be fair, forward sounding is probably more my thing
  18. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    I have the 2M Red but never heard a 2M Blue. The 95ML is £130, the 2M Blue Stylus £125 hard to say which is your best bet.

    FWIW comparing the 2M Red to the 95ML, to my ears the ML is more refined with a wider soundstage and smoother top end, surface noise is a little lower.
    Nic Robinson likes this.
  19. Anh

    Anh Naim ghetto blaster

    The VM95 cart body will have smoother HF delivery than say the AT440 or AT150MLX, I had all these carts with their respective ML stylus. Also give it several hours to run in then re-evaluate.

    the AT carts will sound flattish in comparison to other carts - but the ML stylus resolves those finer details and play more songs off a given record more consistently - probably a good thing if you like to listen to a whole album.
    Phil Bishop and Nic Robinson like this.
  20. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    Technics supply the 2M Red as standard on one of their decks I believe but funnily enough it was one of the main offenders IGD-wise when I was talking Techies a few years ago with friends.

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