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Cartridge with conical stylus for used records.

Discussion in 'audio' started by gerlando, May 23, 2022.

  1. gerlando

    gerlando Prog Rocker

    Hello everyone, I would like to buy a cheap cartridge with a conical stylus for listening to old used records, as this type of stylus seems to be more forgiving than the elliptical one.
    I have already had good results with the AT91 on my Transcriptors.
    I am therefore undecided between the new Audio Technica VM95C (which is said to be very good) and the classic AT-3600l / Rega Carbon.
    I look forward for any advice and / or suggestions on these or other cartridges.
    PS: I would prefer a tracking weight of no more than 2.5g.

    Thank you.
  2. PerF

    PerF Scandinavian Member

    VM95C is their latest and much easier to fit.
    Good upgrade option too for Shibata, ML or Elliptical stylus tip.
    freefallrob and gerlando like this.
  3. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    I have both the 3600L and 95C here. The 95C is better but not by much, they are pretty similar. The advantage of the 95 is the large range of styli for it. If that's not a worry just get the 3600L as it's almost as good and half the price.

    I've bought them direct from China off eBay several times and never had a bad one. Look around and you should find one for about £17, which is crazy!
    gerlando and MUTTY1 like this.
  4. freefallrob

    freefallrob pfm Member

    I like the VM95C, it has the benefit of having a tapped body, loads better than faffing with nuts
    gerlando likes this.
  5. sktn77a

    sktn77a pfm Member

    An elliptical stylus is nothing like as picky as the line contact types when it comes to setup. And it improves end-of-side distortion, which is the conical stylus bugbear. I'd get an AT-VM95e, but that's just me.
  6. colasblue

    colasblue pfm Member

    Surely what's required to get the best out of "old used records" is anything but a conical stylus.

    A crappy conical stylus is what they've always been played and knackered with in most cases.

    Provided they're properly cleaned a microline, shibata or FG tip must be the way to go to minimise the impact of previous damage?
  7. narabdela

    narabdela who?

    For used records, an AT3600L is the way to go.

    You will, of course, receive profoundly differing opinions.
    Mr Pig and gerlando like this.
  8. gerlando

    gerlando Prog Rocker

    The VM95 series offers the opportunity to try out all the different types of stylus.
    freefallrob likes this.
  9. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    I'm curious about this. In the past when I've asked on hi-fi forums about cartridges to minimise the effects of damage I've just been told to buy new records :rolleyes:
    freefallrob likes this.
  10. colasblue

    colasblue pfm Member

    In the days when records cost £1 in charity shops maybe, but these days not so much.

    The current advice is probably "buy the CD"
    gerlando likes this.
  11. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    You're probably right. Sadly there remains great swathes of back catalogue still only available as used vinyl.
  12. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig Trade: ^'- -'^

    It's quite simple actually.

    As the name suggests, a line contact stylus touches the groove in more of a line rather than a rounder patch. Like a dagger shape.

    Imagine you cover your kitchen table in litter. Nuts and bolts, little bits of wood. Now roll a wooden roller over it. If the roller is the width of a trolley wheel it'll hit the odd thing but miss a lot of it. If the roller is the width of a paint roller, or almost the width of the table, it's hitting everything! It will be deflected and lifted off the table far more than the narrow roller.

    In fact the narrow roller might knock things out of the way even if it does hit them.

    So if you have a used record that has been played with a worn stylus and has damage on part of the groove wall, there is more chance a line contact stylus will hit this area and pick up the damage. A simpler stylus might miss it completely.

    The Denon DL103 is a good example. It's a low-output moving coil but it has a conical stylus because it was designed to be used in radio studios where you'll need to play worn records.

    This is why a record can sound bad on one stylus and ok on another. Different profiles touch different parts of the groove one might hit damage while another misses it.

    Even among advanced types, some profiles are more forgiving than others. Shibata and Gyger S seem to find every bit of crap in there while Audio Technicas SLC is detailed while not highlighting the problems so much. It's a matter of what compromise you want. The most detail but noise of poor records or trade some of that information so you can enjoy more of your music. It's your call.
    freefallrob likes this.
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I’d actually argue the reverse, that a good stylus profile (micro-line, Geiger, Shibata etc) contacts a far wider and tighter area of the groove wall and can often negate a narrow area of damage caused by a more primitive shape.

    I’d never play a record that had deep scratches, i.e. anything that stood a remote possibility of hooking a stylus tip off or even jumping. Those are records to chuck out to the local charity shop, they have no audiophile context. I’ll also never play a dirty record, and that is where most issues with second hand vinyl lies. A good wet vacuum record cleaner is an essential accessory to any vinyl collection IMO. This done I have no issue playing anything in a condition I’d be prepared to own with the best cartridge I can afford or justify. I only ever have one cartridge in use.
    Simon s, andrewd and chartz like this.
  14. Big Tabs

    Big Tabs looking backwards, going forwards

    the VM95 Conical costs about £29 - I would start there.

    A little more detail on the term, “old, used records “ would be useful.

    Deep Scratches that you can hook with a fingernail? I wouldn’t bother, all you will hear is frequent loud clicks.

    Surface paper scuffs? Go for it.

    A basic wet-clean as a minimum for dusty/dirty vinyl.
  15. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    I'm interested in anything that can minimise playback distortion from groove wear - the sort of thing you get towards end of side when it's been played 100s of times on a Dansette fitted with a rusty nail. I suspect there's no magic bullet but wouldn't be surprised if some styles profiles (or even some cartridge designs) reduce it to a degree.
  16. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    IME the better the stylus profile the better result you’ll get. I’m a big fan of fancy tips (micro-line, micro-ridge, Shibata, Geiger etc) as they are able to properly trace the groove end of side whereas conical tips and cruder elliptical tips just can’t. Starting with a tip that is at least theoretically capable of retrieving this information puts you in a far better place regardless of record condition.

    I really can’t emphasise just how important cleaning is though. That can often get a lot that initially seems to be mistracking, crackling etc out of the equation. If the record is genuinely damaged with a chipped tip or whatever then there is no fixing it, but many old and obviously well-used records can sound superb once properly cleaned and played with a good cartridge/tip profile. As an example the best I’ve ever heard The Beatles sound is from original UK mono vinyl and that has always been hard to find above say VG to a very borderline EX condition. The people who bought it tended to hammer it on Dansettes etc even if they didn’t scratch it. It will still beat anything made since to my ears!
    andrewd and paulfromcamden like this.
  17. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    Completely agree with this - with the added bonus of the stylus not getting gunked up...
  18. Helen Bach

    Helen Bach if it ain't Baroque ...

    if you like the AT91 (et al) then I suggest you consider a Black diamond stylus for it. These are real elliptical (not just rounded spherical, like most of them) square shank nude ellipticals that sound very good for the money. Keep the AT91 and experience better sound. I don't have the BD AT91 (on my list to get) but have been impressed by the ones I have bought (AT12, AT13, AT95, the latter with a Linn K18 body).
  19. gerlando

    gerlando Prog Rocker

    “old, used records“ but clean and with no deep scratches.
    Surface paper scuffs? Maybe.
  20. chartz

    chartz If it’s broke fix it!

    Like Tony, I’d recommend something much better like an AT ML profile.
    That magically sails through worn records, exploring never played before zones of the groove.
    I’ve played records that were virtually unlistenable with any other tips, including posher Shibata.
    VM95ML it has to be. Look no further.
    Simon s likes this.

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