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Shibata vs Microline Styli

Discussion in 'audio' started by foxwelljsly, Apr 6, 2021.

  1. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

    Is there an art to getting Shibata Styli to sound right?

    I have now tried these more expensive, and supposedly far superior, diamonds twice and failed on both occasions to get them to sound remotely as nice as comparably priced carts with fineline styli, despite an obsessive attention to alignment detail.

    Am I doing something wrong?
  2. Phil Bishop

    Phil Bishop pfm Member

    Not sure but from what you say I'm glad now I ordered an AT-VM95ML rather than the more expensive AT-VM95SH. It arrives tomorrow :)
    Nic Robinson likes this.
  3. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Oh heck, I've just purchased my first Shibata! I've got pre-alignment-anxiety now.
    Craig B, Rosewind and Mike Reed like this.
  4. myles

    myles Intentionally left blank

    If you subscribe to the theory that VTA doesn't make a difference - and I'm not saying you do - then you'll most likely never get the full performance of a shibata.
    Wilson and misterdog like this.
  5. divedeepdog

    divedeepdog pfm Member

    Just hear-say, but when Ortofon 2m Black was the best thing since sliced bread, there was lots of comments about getting the geometry correct. The smallest change affected performance and until you found that 'sweet spot' you hadn't heard what it could do?

    I consider myself competent fitting a cart and getting it right enough, as a fan of Audio Technica ML spec carts I've never felt to need to analyse beyond appropriate arc protractor and tracking force.
    Sonny Beauceron, Simon s and misterc6 like this.
  6. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

    Exactly the same here.
  7. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

    Cryptic, but not particularly helpful. Any chance of expanding?

    If you're getting great results, are you aligning very, very precisely using a protractor or by some other method? Which alignment are you using, Baerwald, Loefgren or something else? Are you setting VTA using a mirror and the cart to get it absolutely flat? Or are you simply tuning VTA by ear by shifting it up and down until it sounds right?

    With both my Shibata carts, the bass has increased if I've lowered the arm pivot from level and rolled off when it's shifted upwards. I've not noticed noticeable changes with fineline styli using these adjustments.
  8. myles

    myles Intentionally left blank

    I didn't think it was cryptic; you need to be able to adjust VTA to get the performance the cartridge is able to give. Your original post didn't really indicate to what degree you have attempted to do your alignment.

    I use a Dr Feickert alignment tool and use Baerwald to get the Hana SL aligned. As I have an Audiomods Series 6 I can set VTA on the fly but I get the arm flat then adjust a small amount at a time to hear the bass tighten up, treble and soundstage open up. I'm always careful to periodically check VTF because it will change as VTA is changed.
    Wilson likes this.
  9. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

    Cheers. I don't use anything as elaborate as the feickert alignment tool, and incremental changes to VTF and VTA on my Nima unipivot, whilst extremely easy, are more of an art than a science, but I've tried much the same here.

    Where have you found the optimum VTA? With the pivot slightly higher or slightly lower than level?
  10. myles

    myles Intentionally left blank

    Tail up suits the Hana SL (pivot higher). My Morch unipivot was the same, it was easy to adjust VTA but not very accurately. The Feickert is really excellent; I used to use a printed alignment tool from Vinyl Engine but this thing can provide accurate alignment in super quick time.
  11. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Has anyone characterised the difference in sound quality between ML and SH? Audio Technica effectively make the same cartridges across their range with a choice of either and I was very tempted to get the ART-9xa (shibata, lower output) to compare with my ART-9 (ml).
  12. Simon s

    Simon s pfm Member

    Maybe you aren't doing anything wrong ? Maybe the idea that a Shibata stylus brings some extra magic to the table over a Microline profile is a fallacy. Well thats the conclusion i came to anyhow.
  13. twotone

    twotone pfm Member

    I bought both second hand, a VM 95 ML & SH and VM 95 cartridge plus a head-shell so that it would be easy to swap each stylus over.

    The Shibata was terrible with dirty records so much so I gave up on it, I really couldn't hear much difference between either stylus though.

    I ended up selling it to a guy on eBay who wrecked the stylus within hours of him installing it on his TT so I ended up giving him some money back just to keep him happy cause he said the stylus was old and damaged when he received it (it wasn't, it wasn't old and it wasn't damaged) and the guy I bought the two stylus, head-shell and cartridge from chipped in for the refund to Ebay man.
    TheDecameron likes this.
  14. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    HiFi World did a roundup review


    I have to keep reminding myself that the basic unit in this new range from Audio Technica, the VM95C costs just £29 – peanuts. It gave an even and balanced but ‘generalised’ sound. The VM95E/H was more sonically engaging and the best starting point if you are a cash strapped audiophile. For a few dollars more, however, you can and should get the VM95EN as this is best budget value. My choice would be the VM95SH – yet the VM95ML had greater treble confidence, if a brighter balance that did or did not suit according to recorded balance. Confusing!

    Audio Technica’s new VM95 range offers extraordinary value at a time when rivals are pricing up. They might not have the low end weight of a Goldring 1012 GX (£250) or a Denon DL-103 (£180 MC), to put them in context, but they have better insight, speed and inner groove performance. Plus you get a nice, simple budget design easy to fit and upgrade. Fantastic value.​
    gerlando and twotone like this.
  15. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Ah yes, I’d read that back then and forgotten I had! Correction- they had another article on the new OC9 range with the different tips.
  16. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    Not had any of the new OC9 carts, have to say I was really surprised just how good the new 95E is, way better than the £40 implies. Bought the ML recently and am very happy with it too, another relative bargain imho. Ran various OC5 and OC9 over the years, bought a OC9II when they started to get a bit scarcer for nostalgia, prefer the ML on my office 1200GR, has a nicer sounding top end to me.
  17. Anh

    Anh Naim ghetto blaster

    I recall the Shibata stylus will cost more due to AT paying for licensing to use that design.

    Some vinyl heads swear by it, but then you look at their choice of cart, deck, amp etc and you gauge the type of presentation they prefer.
  18. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    The Shibata patent ran out back when I had a full head of hair.
  19. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    I have. Exactly the same thing on ML carts.

    I'd take an ML over a Shibata any day. The difference in detail retrieval, the main difference, is quite small and the ML is easier to get working properly. If you get a Shibata set up spot on, fine but in the real world the ML is a better compromise in my opinion.
  20. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    This thread really makes me want to stand up for Shibatas, even though I've not yet used one.

    Next week I'll have them in the house and I will be reborn; the Shibata martyr. Time to change my forum moniker.
    Craig B likes this.

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