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I have to laugh . . . the AT VM95E vs the Grado Sonata

Discussion in 'audio' started by Bob Edwards, Jul 17, 2021.

  1. Bob Edwards

    Bob Edwards pfm Member

    So I swapped an AT VM95E into the Ekos, replacing the Grado Sonata. First record with the AT - Steve Winwood's "Back in the High Life." Also last record with Grado. And I laughed out loud after the first couple of notes - the AT was that much better, right out of the box. It's actually in tune, for one thing, and it has bass and treble for another. Sure, it's a little splashy and stiff in the bass, but the musical communication is simply on another planet relative to the Grado.

    Lots of turntable stuff coming - Karousel and Trampolin2 next Tuesday, a VM95ML coming tomorrow (Sunday). I had planned on using the ML until I figure out a longer term cartridge - OC9, ART9 (if I REALLY splurge), a used/retipped Linn Asaka/Karma/Troika, etc. So I'll wait and see how it breaks in - it needs it, with some obvious sibilance/splashyness in the treble and as mentioned above the bass/lower midrange sounds a bit stiff, for lack of a better word. But it has musical bounce and flow already out the ass!

    For $69 USD I can't believe anything could touch it.
  2. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    If you've found a cartridge that can make music play out of tune there are scientific institutes that want to hear from you!

    As to Grado... used to be great in the 70's early 80's but now utter shite. tried a prestige black and it lasted about 4 tracks before being put back in box to go back to the seller. Audio equivalent to a British Rail sandwich but less appetising. Ideal for someone who doesn't really like bass or treble and thinks midrange should be in beige in case any dynamics wake their cat up.... YAWN...
  3. runforfree69

    runforfree69 Spinning vinyl

    Try a Clearaudio Virtuoso, on balance the best MM I've heard which uses the AT95 stylus, gets rid of all the 95 negatives you mention and keeps the musicality ... amazing MM I like to enjoy my ebony bodied one from time to time and takes a very good MC to clearly better it.
    Bob Edwards and Miss Ariel like this.
  4. Miss Ariel

    Miss Ariel pfm Member

    I think you will have a big smile on your face when you get the Karousel installed.It's brilliant and will improve as you get more hours on it.
    The AT 95 ML with your Ekos will work a treat.
    I have been useing a AT 95 ML with an Akito the last 4 months and can honestly say it's just so hard to fault for a £140 cartridge.
    Have a Hana ML arriving shortly and Lingo 4.I know the Hana is going to be great as it should do at 10 x the price but got so much pleasure from the AT 95 ML.
    Mr Pig and Bob Edwards like this.
  5. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    The AT95 E is a better cartridge than the Hana ML

    Don’t believe the hype.
    Bob Edwards likes this.
  6. Gaius

    Gaius Trade: Stiletto by Tangerine

    The new ATVM95E is a belter of a cartridge, it *is* laugh out loud good!
    Ptah, Mr Pig and Bob Edwards like this.
  7. Miss Ariel

    Miss Ariel pfm Member

    No I believed my ears when I had it demonstrated.Sounded stunning ;)
    Bob Edwards likes this.
  8. Martin M

    Martin M Crueller than April

    Hi Bob, for a bit of fun try the conical stylus. I recall it was a complete riot...for the first few tracks at least!
    Charlie_1, Mr Pig and Bob Edwards like this.
  9. jamesd

    jamesd pfm Member

    I have one on my RP6 until my 2 year old becomes less curious. I like it so much that I might move up to ML. Great match on a Rega
  10. Robert

    Robert Tapehead

    You are the real Chris Frankland and I claim my prize.
  11. wd40addict

    wd40addict pfm Member

    No, he didn't mention Ben Sidran!
    SCIDB, Rana, Robert and 2 others like this.
  12. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    Grados are not very roundly balanced carts. Aspects of their sound is really good but I reckon they'll really only work to fix the balance on a system that is out of whack.

    The VM95e is great and much better than the old 95e. The top end shouldn't be too bad. Double check the alignment and let it run in for a bit. Should be ok. What tracking weight are you using?
  13. Bob Edwards

    Bob Edwards pfm Member

    Yep, I think it just needs to run in - I played it about 4 hours yesterday brand new out of the box. Alignment is dead on per the MoFi alignment disc. Tracking it at 1.9 at the moment - will experiment within the range given of 1.8-2.2.
  14. matt j

    matt j pfm Member

    What is this obsession with using 10 pence carts on decent decks?
  15. Bob Edwards

    Bob Edwards pfm Member

    For me, it's a stopgap while I decide how good a cart to put on it. Thinking of up to a Dyna 20x2 or AT ART9X, or may stay with a AT VM95ML or something in between.

    And it's fun and instructive to hear how good a $69 USD cartridge can be.
    Mr Pig likes this.
  16. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    It can really work. A cheap but decent cart on a really good deck and arm can often sound better than a good MC on a lesser arm. And the running costs are much lower. Linn demonstrated this by playing an Ekos/Basik next to an Ittok/Troika. The former sounded better.
    Charlie_1 likes this.
  17. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    The ATs are fun if you have the right load/capacitance balance, but I’d personally go further up the range. I don’t care what you put it in, a shank-mounted budget elliptical stylus is going to come unstuck on more challenging music end-of-side. If I thought the 95 was ok I’d definitely investigate the micro-line model.
    Snufkin, MJS, Robert and 1 other person like this.
  18. matt j

    matt j pfm Member

    I can see it as a bit of fun or a stop gap, but not as a proper solution. Different strokes for different folks and all that I guess. A bit like sticking Nankang Ditch Finders on your Porsche.
    Bettisdad, Bairnstorm and Fretbuzz like this.
  19. Nagraboy

    Nagraboy How’d all these people get in my room?

    I think I had the previous gen AT on their DD turntable a few years ago. Changed to a Nagaoka MP500 which was an all-round improvement.

    I’m using the VM540ML now (which cost about £250 complete with headshell) and overall I think it’s the best cart I’ve owned. I did like the Miyajima I had but it had a conical stylus so sounded less good at the end of a side - the AT ML stylus sails right through though.
    Darren L, gary1064 and Mr Pig like this.
  20. Bob Edwards

    Bob Edwards pfm Member

    Agreed. I have a ML arriving tomorrow; I'll move the E to the Revolver. And then I'll start torturing myself with how far up to go: an OC9X? ART9X? Dyna 20x2? Etc. Way back when I had a Lyra Helikon in an Aro which worked well but didn't demand my attention the way other arm/carts have. From what I'm hearing now I suspect it'll come down to the ART9 or the Dyna, or perhaps the Hana ML if Rick Duplisea at Audio Alternative recommends it (I worked for him years ago and he is the very best LP12 person I know - when I did Linn LP12 training in Eaglesham Martin McCue and others knew his LP12 work, and he still has people ship him LP12s from across the world to work on).

    Slightly off topic, but I think different TT types (and other hifi components, for that matter) simply resonate differently with different people. I'm apparently a dyed-in-the-wool Linnie. Still have the Rega P6/Ania (awaiting payment for it), and I can hear what people love about Rega from it, but it doesn't demand that I sit down and play record after record the way it does for others. I've tried other tables as well, like a VPI and a Well-Tempered and a Roksan Xerxes X and started with an Oracle Alexandria, but none of them have produced the engagement and emotional effect that an LP12 has. And I know that's true for others with different tables. Hence, I have a rather "live and let live" attitude about such things. Someone prefers a Verdier? OK, good for them. A friend has a huge VPI - he loves it, I think it one of the most boring TTs I've ever heard. I've said before the one table that absolutely gobsmacked me was the Goldmund Reference - but I have zero idea how it would sound today - or if any working ones even exist (to say they were fiddly would be a great example of litotes).

    Sometimes I also think that fun is hugely under-rated in hifi - people get WAY too serious and spun up over it. Relax. Play a record. Play a CD. Play something via streaming. Enjoy.
    Robn, Darren L, TimF and 5 others like this.

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