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Shibata vs Microline Styli

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

  1. James

    James Lord of the Erg\o/s

    That's how I understood it, which is why I felt compelled to pay a bit more for the Hana ML over the SL. I suppose it would be more audibly obvious, too, once the micro-ridge is worn away completely.
  2. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    I own about 30 carts - multiple types, vintages and stylus shapes. 8 active turntables.

    I can honestly say that while line shapes usually sound a little more incisive, it is not a large trend. Other aspects of the design are at least as important, if not more. Cantilever material and shape play a huge role. I generally prefer an really good elliptical on a boron or beryllium pipe to an MR on aluminum.
    lencotweaker and Mr Pig like this.
  3. Anh

    Anh Naim ghetto blaster

    Thats until you play an average sized elliptical stylus cart on later tracks or lesser quality records.

    IMO, The only elliptical cart that could live with the ML stylus is the AT150Ea (boron cantilever) the nude diamond from this cart was comparable in size to a ML so it tracked and resolved just as good.

    Interestingly I compared my aluminium cantilever ML stylus from the 440Mlb on a AT150Ea body vs its original boron cantilever stylus, I personally found the former combo more robust / punchy, and the latter more refined and less forward in balance.
  4. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    Like I said, 8 tables, three of them linear. However, I don't hear this "inner track" issues with ellipticals, at least high quality ellipticals on my pivoted arm tables. Maybe my records are all high quality, but I doubt it. I even like the spherical DL103, which can't POSSIBLY sound good.

    I think the fancy stylus shape has become (always has been?) the audiophile "must have," like anything else that has captured the fancy of our community.

    My AT reference is a vintage AT33E from the 80s - elliptical on a beryllium cantilever. Clear as a bell.
    Mr Pig likes this.
  5. jamie123

    jamie123 pfm Member

    'fancy' as you put it or not its a fact that the shibata,ml,fine line and Fritz Gyger type profiles will pull out more detail than a conical tip. it all boils down to personal taste.
    lencotweaker likes this.
  6. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    This is akin to other pieces of "received wisdom" our community has embraced, like solid state is harsh, tubes are mellow, etc. And "conical" is a straw man - I am talking about fine elliptical stylii.

    Premium elliptical stylus has a 5 micrometer "reading" edge. At the inner groove, 20 Khz signal has a 10 micrometer wavelength - linearly unwrapped. So, it should (and does) do fine. Thin Shibata has a 6 micrometer edge, FritzGeiger is 5, Van Den Hull and Paratrace are 4. Microline and SAS have 2.5 micrometer edges.

    And let's be honest - most of us really don't have good hearing ability above 15 Khz.

    What you are describing are design choices made by the cartridge maker. If this is the cartridge aimed at and advertised to "detail oriented audiophile," it better have an exotic stylus shape - otherwise you won't take it seriously. In reality, multiple aspects of the design are adjusted to give you a sense of more detail, with the stylus shape being just one and often not the most relevant one.
    lencotweaker likes this.
  7. Anh

    Anh Naim ghetto blaster

    I had a new DL103 and a mid market MC Dynavector, and a retipped Troika on my old LP12/ARO they could not live with the Mlb or Mlx carts on a much lesser (Hadcock gimball) arm and deck when it came to mid & high frequency detail retrieval nor playing records cleanly and consistently.

    I agree with some of your points, but I’m afraid to say in general (low & midpriced) elliptical stylus sound pap as they skirt along certain sections of groove where a Micro linear or line contact will produce meaningful HF content.

    Being ‘clear as a bell’ on a good record isn’t a huge feat for a decent cart, but capturing more music Hf content, reduced surface noise and being consistent from outside to inside track on a variety of records without optimal pagan dark art cart and tonearm alignment is something else!
    foxwelljsly likes this.
  8. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    I have been collecting and listening to more carts and tables than a great majority of audiophiles. Many of my MCs are mounted on the universal Magnesium headshells and go into a Sony B80 - a table that balances carts automatically and has a front dial for VTF. I have a wall-mounted decade resistance box that allows me to switch in the loading cart needs in seconds, with great precision.

    In many years of listening, I came to an inescapable conclusion that a cartridge is a system, in which a stylus is one of many design choices. An MR stylus on a heavy aluminum cantilever can sound quite uninvolving and a fine elliptical on boron can sound sublime. Magnetics, coils, body, etc, all play important roles.

    Cartridge maker can design a very detailed sounding cartridge around a fine elliptical (not a low or mid priced ones), which technically can retrieve inner groove HF information as well as many "exotic" types. But audiophiles who want a "detailed cartridge" won't buy it, because "everyone knows" that you must have MR tips if you really want detail.
    lencotweaker likes this.
  9. jamie123

    jamie123 pfm Member

    my comment was made because you mentioned a denon 103 ,i owned a 103 sa and really enjoyed it,it wasn't until i tried a audio technica art-7 that i realised how much i was missing in play back. like i said it all boils down to personal taste.

    this makes interesting reading from a guy who knows what he's talking about.
    James likes this.
  10. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Indeed; I'm in awe and ignorance; it's hard to draw a fine-line between them.:)

    Seriously, not one post has mentioned the length of arm (unless I missed it) and to my utterly naive thinking, the differences in tip profle will be different (or even less) on 12" arms than for 9". I haven't a clue whether my Linn, Roksan, Lyra, Koetsu and Transfig. cart's over the past few decades had Shibata, fineline, micro-ridge or whatever tip. I have no memory of having a Shibata tip, though, on these.

    Even with my Dr.F, i doubt that my set-up is 100% (it was checked digitally by a dealer friend 3 years ago and found to be close though). The problem is, I want to switch arms with my Transfig to get my Koetsu back onto a gimbal arm again, but am loth to touch anything while it sounds so good. Wonder if I've the confidence and eyesight left to fart around with these expensive cart's any longer.

    Are there levels of m/coil cart's which tend to have specific tip profiles? The more you pay, the better the diamond, etc . (in theory), but I have a feeling that the upper echelons tend to favour fineline or similar.
  11. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    As to performance differences as they relate to tip profile, in some ways, @DimitryZ's reference to hearing ability above 15kHz (above) is a red herring, as what has come to be known as 'pinch affect' (a side effect of tracing error) creates sound where none exists within that which has been recorded.

    In the image below, note the depiction of varying tip size differences for a given tip profile; these are indicative of tip elevation changes where groove radii is less than that of stylus minor radii. A smaller sized tip rendering (meaning vertical centre of contact patch elevation being higher up the groove wall) means that pinch affect is generating vertical modulation where none exists within the recorded signal; and modulation produces signal, which, in turn, produces sound. IOWs, the stylus rides up (i.e. over) that which it cannot fit within. Also, the arrows printed either side indicate where and by how much the scanning of either channel becomes out of sync due to the ill fitting scanning radii, resulting in phase errors in addition to waveform distortions.[1]

    [Image credit: Namiki Jewel Co. Ltd.]

    [1] The definitive article here being 'Interaction of Tracing and Tracking Error' by Duane H. Cooper, October 1, 1964 (AES paper no. 331).
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
    jamie123 likes this.
  12. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    Do you honestly believe that the difference you heard between the 103 and the Art is mostly due to stylus shape?

    If you do, I have a nice used bridge to sell you :)
    Mr Pig likes this.
  13. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    For those of us who are concerned with tracking distortion, there are special records with many special tracks on them for cartridge checking, including torture tracks for tracking. I think over the years many cartridges with fine elliptical stylii exhibited excellent tracking ability.

    Today, automated machinery makes stylii of any shape for essentially similar money. Cartridge makers, knowing the market preference for "obviously the best stylus shape" put in chisel-shaped stulii, because that's what the buyer expects at a certain price point.

    This leads to an additional industry for precise setup aids, as these special shapes often do need a very precise setup. Upthread, someone proudly said it took them 3 years to setup their cart. To each their own.

    Some cartridge makers never used the exotic shapes, even on their TOTL models (Grado, Vintage Technics, for example).
    Mr Pig likes this.
  14. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I’m pretty sure Grado did at one point. The first kind of fancy cartridge I ever bought was a F1+ and I think that had a decent tip, IIRC it was quadraphonic compatible and that took some HF tracing ability. The first ML I bought was an Ortofon M20FL, which was a fancy fine-line version of the VMS20E. A great cart as I recall. I’ve always favoured cartridges with good stylus profiles as I am very conscious of end-of-side distortion if present. I just can’t ignore it.

    I do get confused about all the variants though; fine-line, micro-line, micro-ridge, Shibata, Geiger etc and have no idea what’s actually on the end of my MP-500! To my mind once you get to this level its all good and EOS distortion shouldn’t be an issue.

    It amazes me how few arms have it! I regularly plug this little device or similar:


    Simple, effective and cheap (Amazon). I’d not buy a cartridge unless I was fairly confident the manufacturer could get the tip on straight, and I’d certainly not second-guess major brands like Nagaoka, Ortofon, AT etc, who likely make everyone else’s carts anyway! I just aim for level in all planes on a typical thickness record, e.g. the lovely flat Japanese Blue Note here!
    gerlando and jamie123 like this.
  15. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    You appear to be confusing tracing ability with tracking ability.

    If you look a little closer at your vintage Technics and Grado, you'll notice that many of the dearer models employed 0.2mil minor radii (r) ellipticals, not unlike the one that Shure originally released in 1964 on the original V15 (so called because of the 15º VTA).

    Keep in mind that Shibata started out featuring minor radii (r) of 6um (0.236mil).

    Certainly, there are other factors at play; that Technics also began employing boron cantilevers quite early on, combined with their novel rare earth disc shaped magnet, allowed them to boast of market leading effective mass, as well. Combined with their suspension innovations, it's no wonder why Technics 'tracking ability' was up there with the best.

  16. DimitryZ

    DimitryZ pfm Member

    And if you read my posts, you would see that same 0.2 mils or 5 um is what I posted for the fine elliptical stylus.

    Technics didn't just use boron cantilevers - they used boron pipes - technology that is no longer available today at any price. Top Sonys and last Graces had them as well.

    ATs and Shures of that time sported tapered beryllium foil cantilevers - again gone today. Toxic, apparently :(

    What is available today are cheap machine-made stylii of any shape. And a customer base insisting on exotic shapes in a quest for "detail."
  17. jamie123

    jamie123 pfm Member

    great,i'll sign up for that all day long!
    what point is it you are trying to make?
  18. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Hawkwind and Fire

    You can't set up a unipivot without one of those, jolly handy for VTA, too. One of these, a shure stylus balance, a laminated alignment protractor, a little bubble level, a good pair of tweezers for cartridge tags and swapping carts is a doddle.

    The RB250 is a great arm, but lack of azimuth and VTA adjustment lets it down.
  19. jamie123

    jamie123 pfm Member

    thats one of the reasons i now prefer ortofon cartridges as they have 3 tiny ridges on top of the cartridge that lets you adjust azimuth.
  20. Colin L

    Colin L High-tech low-life

    Threads like this make the glad that is sold my TT’s. Still hanging onto the vinyl, for now.
    jamie123 likes this.

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