Audio Technica ART9 MC Cartridge- The Real Deal?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by avanti1960, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    I would respectfully disagree with Avanti's assertion above that most cartridges sound better with the kind of gain recommended in the TAS article he links to. In multiple systems with various low output MC cartridges that I've run for the past 20 years those kind of gain to output numbers would make my ears bleed. In any systems that I've run, utilizing 66 dB of gain at the phono with a .3 mV cartridge would have been unpleasant; 66 with .5 mV with the equipment that I've used might have had me abandoning vinyl.

    All systems are different, however, and subjective listening preferences come into play. But, unlike many, you have the luxury with that phono stage of being able to experiment with a very broad range of gain and loading settings. If, as you dial the gain down, you continue to get improvements with a deeper, more natural soundstage that is a good sign. Things should start to sound more natural and less like hi fi, and with good all analog recordings much less like poorly recorded or compressed CD's. Dynamic contrasts in music (quick bursts from soft to loud) should be rendered in a way in which you can still hear individual instruments instead of just a cacophony of noise-that is a sure sign of too much gain.

    This may well result in you dialing volume much higher with your linestage preamp or integrated ahead of the phono stage, which often seems to bother people. It should not, as that volume pot will be much more linear and also give you better sound quality in a more advanced position.

    As long as you can achieve SPL's to listen as loudly as you want to without injecting noise into the signal/music (ie. achieving the best signal to noise ratio), where you are on the volume pot is not important with the exception of achieving the best sound quality and having to turn it down when you're done a listening session to avoid blasting yourself if you switch over to digital for the next one. With the Art 9 in most normal systems (with adjustable phono gain and an active linestage as opposed to a passive) I would expect around 56 dB to be pretty good as Catcher mentioned but your choices are 52 and 58 and 52 is very likely to be too low and inject noise and sound pretty anemic, which is why I recommended you try 58.

    "Punchiness" is a tough one and means things to different people I think in this hobby. I want the punchiness to be in the recording, not injected by the equipment. Do not confuse punchiness with real dynamics; they can very often be exactly the opposite.

    In terms of loading, the 9 has relatively low internal impedance of 12 ohms. I'd try the loading at 100 or 330. Just guessing that the 100 would probably be the best but 330 might have a bit more high frequency energy if your subjective preference is for that.

    But you've dropped the gain down with good results at this stage. My suggestion is you keep doing it until you stop getting a good result, even if you progress in small increments, and then raise it back up if you feel you want to.
     
    Shivermetimbers and MattyW like this.
  2. MattyW

    MattyW New Member

    Location:
    Brisbane
    I simply use a RCA splitter from my phono into a line attenuator (gain control) with that into a Creative SB1240 sound card that I use purely for recording. Playing back on the same system with a Gustard DAC-X12 is indistinguishable from actual vinyl playback. I record using Audacity and playback is using either AIMP or JRIVER
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  3. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Location:
    Frenchtown NJ USA
    Nothing wrong with having both of them. Go for it. :)
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  4. MattyW

    MattyW New Member

    Location:
    Brisbane
    Yeah, I'll drop back to 58db. If that shows improvement I'll experiment with 330 ohms rather than 100 and see if I like it :)
     
  5. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    I'm thinking the same. I even have a scenario in my head where I can use the Tape Monitor Out to record when I want, but I still get full analog sound and pretty much just have to select on the preamp to engage the tape monitor. Would be a pretty slick setup, I think.

    Yea, I'm aware of the various ways to do it but for better worse, I'm afflicted with a certain neurosis I cannot explain :)
     
    bluemooze and MattyW like this.
  6. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Forum Resident

    So now we have established you should be in the 56-58dB gain range, at least trial it for some time and listen intently for increased dynamics, I expect your 58dB will be almost perfect. You should notice a decrease in noise floor which allows more music to come thru, hence better dynamics and increase resolution. Surface noise will decrease too, again more dynamics and resolution to come thru.

    Now on the topic of loading, you need to be careful as you need to know the total capacitance from cart to phono stage and use that to set loading. The easy common setting is 100 ohms. If your phono cable is a low capacitance like under 100pf, you might find loading at 500 ohms and see what you hear. Pay attention to dynamics and the subtleties of the music, can you hear a "few rows deep" in the music and do the small things now come out. Can you hear the bass player actually hitting the strings rather than the bass sounding all mushed together? It's possible 300-400 ohms is where you will land (or I see you only have 330) close enough........Understand you need to let it settle in for a day and listen for several days afterwards.
    What you don't want is a setting based on your total cable capacitance, that makes the cartridge work harder which will stiffen the compliance and cantilever, the stylus will not be allowed to simply flow in the groove. Reducing the carts life.....

    After I fully understood the build of the Delos and why Lyra and JCarr do what they do, there is a reason I went from 100-121 ohms to 475 and settled at 380 ohms. I had to change phono cable as I had a high cap cable in the 300pf range, I now use one that is about 40pF per mt. The difference was beyond my expectations......

    Have fun!
     
  7. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    Just so much misinformation here. Capacitance has little to no effect on MC cartridges as I proved with the original Rega Fono MC (which unusually has capacitance adjustment due to sharing partly the MM version design). You can adjust impedance loading and experiment. Often a higher loading than nominal helps. AT MCs are 100 ohm or above and the NVA phono 2 is set at 470 ohms which in this design works great (it has very high headroom due to massive power supplies that mean loading is not critical). Headroom needs to be taken into account with gain. If high gain causes strain the design likely lacks headroom. Also cartridges vary in output but 60-65 db gain should be fine with most. I find some fixed gain designs lack gain which means they will not work well with very low output MC's below 0.3 mv 0utput. As long as gain does not put the volume control below 10 O' clock for normal listening there should not be problems with signal to noise.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
    MattyW likes this.
  8. MattyW

    MattyW New Member

    Location:
    Brisbane
    That does seem to fit with my experience as the last cart I was running was 0.12mv. I had to use a SUT to get the required gain.... If I set the stage to 72db without the SUT it sounded thin.

    58db gain with the ART9 puts my amp right on 10 o clock for normal listening though I may often increase it to 12 o clock (45 WPC tube amp + 89db speakers). 52db DOES sound better though unfortunately my amp being a 45WPC tube amp just doesn't have the noise free headroom far beyond 12 o'clock which happens to be normal listening volume so I guess I'll settle for 58db.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  9. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Forum Resident

    With MC carts you should try and reduce as much as possible the amount of capacitance between the cart and phono stage, use a cable with low capacitance rating. Also at the phono stage reduce or eliminate additional capacitance at the input, for example my Nova II has 100 and 200 pF options, it is set to 100. For the most part yes little effect, but the less/lower total capacitance my Delos sees is of much sonic benefit. Plus I know it is not being over worked, being able to use higher loading values should let you hear more of the dynamics and resolution your cart can give.

    Use your ears and set what sounds best to you......My situation is with the Delos, Lyra does not recommend high capacitance cables. I have both and so my experience fits with what Lyra suggests in their mathematical setup of loading.
     
    HiFi Guy likes this.
  10. MattyW

    MattyW New Member

    Location:
    Brisbane
    Adjusted the VTA to slightly more tail up and the cart has really come alive. Sounds absolutely sublime. Best I've ever heard music, with the proviso that I have a good pressing.
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  11. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Just curious as to what gain and loading you settled on and what kind of differences you would describe (if there were any) between the different settings?
     
  12. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Slightly tail up sounds best to me too. It's a pretty stark difference from tail down to tail up. I've got a new, improved tonearm base on the way for my Jelco 750L to fix the "lean" from the VTA grub screw and I'm hoping that cures some of the IGD I'm seeing on some records. Hoping it's waiting for me when I get back into town on Friday. Got it from the UK. Should make VTA adjustments easier as well, though that's not something I tinker with very much once I find a good spot.
     
  13. MattyW

    MattyW New Member

    Location:
    Brisbane
    I settled on 58db gain. 52 does sound better though unfortunately that doesn't give me enough distortion free volume with my little 45WPC tube amp so 58db is best in my system. 52db has a better sound stage though. It really didn't like 330 ohms, sounded to forward and more treble. It has quite enough already at 100 ohms. More balanced that way. :)

    Yeah, much more lively tail up. It was nearly putting me to sleep before. Interesting, I'd have thought the Jelco 750L wouldn't have that issue.... It's a fairly well thought of arm. I considered it before I discovered the vintage Fidelity Research arms which are incredible. Funnily enough I'm running Jelco headshell from the 750L to fix the azimuth on the FR arms as normal headshells are way out. Thankfully these arms all use thumb screws for the VTA. :)
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  14. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Yea, it's not by any means unbearable and it's only a few albums where it occurs and, frankly, I think those albums are just "crammed" near the label anyway. But, it's a bit of a known flaw in the Jelco design since there is at least a couple mm of play in the shaft hole and with a single grub screw, there just isn't a way to keep it level in the vertical plane. The new design fixes that. I do use a Fozgo to set azimuth but even then, with a slight "lean," there's only so much you can correct for if you're using outer bands for the setting, but having issues on the inner bands, when the darn tonearm is slightly leaning inward toward the spindle. And this may not be my issue, but I've tried my custom Mint tractor, a Baerwald I've printed off VinylEngine, and multiple anti-skate settings. To me, this "fix" makes sense, but the proof will be in the pudding. Thankfully it's not even close to every record, but the ones it does occur on happen to be favorites of mine :)
     
    MattyW likes this.
  15. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    I assume that's from Ammonite Acoustics ?
     
    toddrhodes likes this.
  16. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    good luck todd, hope the fix works for you.
     
  17. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Correct!
     

Share This Page