Best P-Mount Cartridge???

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Sunset Sam, Mar 1, 2007.

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  1. Sunset Sam

    Sunset Sam Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    Hi all,

    I have decided to stick with my Denon DP-7F p-mount turntable, and want to upgrade from my existing entry-level Ortofon cartridge. Based on your thoughts/recommendations, I have narrowed the list to these 5 cartridges:

    Audio Technica AT311EP
    Freq. Response: 15-27,000
    Stylus Type: 0.3 X 0.7 elliptical bonded
    Output Voltage: 5 mV
    Tracking force range: 1.0g - 1.5g
    Channel separation: 29 dB
    Price: $55

    Audio Technica AT316EP
    Freq. Response: 10-27,000
    Stylus Type: 0.3 X 0.7 elliptical nude
    Output Voltage: 5 mV
    Tracking force range: 1.0g - 1.5g
    Channel separation: 29 dB
    Price: $120

    Ortofon 320
    Freq. Response: 20-22,000
    Stylus Type: fine line nude
    Output Voltage: 5 mV
    Tracking force range: 1.25g - 1.75g
    Channel separation: 22 dB
    Price: $75

    Grado Blue
    Freq. Response: 10-55,000
    Stylus Type: Elliptical
    Output Voltage: 5 mV
    Tracking force range: 1.0g - 2.0g
    Channel separation: 5 dB
    Price: $80

    Audio Technica AT92E
    Freq. Response: 15-27,000
    Stylus Type: .03 X .07 elliptical
    Output Voltage: 3.5 mV
    Tracking force range: 1.0g - 1.5g
    Channel separation: 29 dB
    Price: $30

    I would love to hear some of your thoughts as to what you would pick and why. One thing I have always focused on was frequency response. Yet, when I read some literature from Audio Technica, they noted that the smaller radius of an elliptical stylus will yield a higher frequency response/better overall sound but this smaller radius will result in a lot of pressure on the groove wall......that's a big trade-off, no?!?

    What is really the most important factor? Staying away from an elliptical stylus? Channel seperation? Freq. response?

    Thanks!

    joe
  2. MikeyH

    MikeyH Stamper King

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    You can also get both NOS and used p-mount cartridges from Shure, Stanton and Pickering. They generally fetch less than their half-inch mounting cousins.

    I haven't tried a Grado yet in my set-up, but most seem to track higher than the 'recommended' 1.25g for standard p-mounts. So I don't know what will happen there. Someone recently mentioned that Shibata line contact styli are still made for the 311 type, and mentioned suppliers. The Shure V15/P is a fine P mount equivalent of the V14/4 and has the HE stylus.

    That said, the Ortofon 320 looks like a bargain. Specs are very similar to the OM30, which is twice the price. Will the 320 stylus fit your current ortofon body? That's even cheaper....

    The higher pressure of an elliptical stylus is offset by it's generally lighter tracking force. IIRC the old rule of thumb was that the same cartridge tracked at twice the VTF with a conical over elliptical for the same record wear. I wouldn't worry about those differences in response, which are from the manufacturers and may be measured in different ways.

    A line contact type is the best for least distortion overall, but generally costs more to start with.
  3. What's your exisiting "entry level Ortofon" cartridge? If it's an OM, then you can easily upgrade, with a new stylus, to an OM20, OM30 or OM40.
  4. My thoughts exactly. If your P-mount cartridge is the OMP type, then it can be upgraded with a Stylus 20, 30 or 40 (or any of the standard styli, such as the 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, can be installed as well).
  5. Sunset Sam

    Sunset Sam Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    Hi all,

    I currently have an OMP3E cartridge....

    Ortofon OMP3E
    Freq. Response: 20-18,000 Hz
    Stylus Type: Elliptical
    Output @ 1000Hz 5cm/sec: 4 mV
    Tracking force range: 1.5g - 2.0g
    Channel balance: 2 dB


    Thanks for the insightful comments thus far.....please keep 'em coming! :)
  6. Sunset Sam

    Sunset Sam Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    Oh....and another question.....and apologies if this sounds really stupid....

    How does the cartridge factor in on a P-Mount system? In other words, if the stylus is the upgradeable piece, then are all cartridges essentially the same? If not, what sets one cartridge apart from the next? :confused:
  7. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    It's not that it doesn't matter overall - it's just in the case of that series of Ortofons, the various styli are interchangable and what sets them apart.
  8. Sunset Sam

    Sunset Sam Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    All....first off, thanks so much for all of your help. Mikey, I appreciate the direct response to some of my more technical questions.

    I have taken a look at the Ortofon styli that will fit my cartridge and, to be honest, they don't appear to offer much of an advantage price-wise or spec-wise as it would be going to one of the cartridges I noted above. That said, I would lean toward the Ortofon 320 (stylus won't fit my cart...), but the channel separation seems quite low, and the freq. response is not entirely impressive.

    So far, there is one vote for the 320 (Mike). And one against the Grado (again, Mike...and I have seen posts in other places that seemingly rate various Grados unfavorably). How 'bout the rest of you?

    Thanks!

    Joe
  9. quadjoe

    quadjoe Forum Resident

    The Audio Technica AT316EP should be a fine choice. If you can find one, a AT331LP would be even better: I've owned one for several years and I love it, and for the time being styli are still available (but are getting harder to find). It is a line contact stylus, and tracks beautifully.

    AT331LP Specifications
    Frequency Response (Hz) Output
    10-30,000
    3.0 (mV at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec)
    Channel Separation Channel Balance (dB)
    31/21 (dB at 1 kHz/10 kHz)
    1.0
    Vertical Tracking Force (grams) Stylus Shape
    1.0-1.6
    Linear Contact
    Stylus Construction Cantilever
    Bonded round shank
    Tapered alloy tube
    Recommended Load Impedance (ohms) Mount
    47,000
    Universal



    One thing you should know about the p-mount system (if you don't already) is that the standard definde the physical dimensions of the cartridge, the VTA, and cartridge weight. The reason for this is that the p-mount standard tonearm is pre-set at the factory for stylus force and anti-skating, so that any cartridge fitting the standard will need no adjustments. It was an attempt to make a turntable with a (at the time) high-quality cartridge more user-friendly.
  10. Joe, you need to stop focussing on published specifications. Specifications can tell you between very little and nothing about how a piece of hi-fi equipment will sound.

    The differences in sound between the cheapest Ortofon OM and the 20 or above styli will astound you - but only if you listen with your ears, not your eyes.
  11. Actually, from what I understand, the V15 LT (Linear Tracker) was the P-mount version of the type IV, and the V15 V-P was the equivalent of the V15 V. There was also a VST-III-P (which was the P-mount equivalent of the VST-III, a.k.a. V15 RS and V15 Pro-S). There was even a V15 HR-P, but I'm unsure where it fit into the picture (from what I've seen/heard, it had the later generation styling, but I don't think it was quite as good as the VST-III-P). Unfortunately, none of these fine Shure cartridges are available, otherwise, they'd be choices worth considering.
  12. Totally agree! I just got into the Ortofon OM series cartridges myself, and from what I've heard, they seem to be excellent. If I believed the specs, I probably would have bought something else (but the Ortofon came highly recommended from several, so I figured I'd give them a try). I do have an OMB-10 series cartridge and received a Stylus 40 to try out on it, (but ordered an upgrade Super OM cartridge just to be sure I was getting an "even better" cartridge - received it but unfortunately had to send it back - long story, but I'll save the details for another thread). Oh well. At least the Ortofon OMB and the working Digitrac 200 and 300 cartridges sound great thus far(note: the Digitrac cartridges were a "slightly lesser grade" private label Ortofon cartridge based on the OMP series - no gold plating on the terminals, but nearly identical in overall design - in fact, the OM styli will fit the Digitracs but not the other way around). Of course, I treated the non-gold terminals of the Digitrac cartridges with Caig DeOxit to avoid connection problems, as well as all others (One treatment of DeOxit worked great on my motorcycle ignition through all types of weather - figure it ought to work good on all of my other connections/contacts). So all said, let your ears be the judge.
  13. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Where are styli available? I know LP Gear has an "equivalent" Shibata stylus available, but I haven't see a stock AT stylus available in years. I should have gotten a few when I first got the cartridge...

    Interesting to note that the specs for the Studio Reference 8008 (which is how every one I've seen is branded) are *slightly* better. Yet when I asked AT they told me they were the same cartridge.

    Depends on the table. I've got a Nikko here that has adjustable VTF (although only a marking at 1.25g) and anti-skate.
  14. quadjoe

    quadjoe Forum Resident

    I bought mine from Garage-A-Records I guess it was a couple of years ago now. I just searched again, and they no longer have it. I did look at the LP Gear site, and what I found interesting was that their replacment Shibata stylus is
    "Made in Japan for LP Gear by a world-class manufacturer with a reputation for crafting musically excellent and high quality replacement styli. "

    now I just wonder who that world-class manufacturer might be? any guesses?

    I think I'll buy one and try it out.
  15. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Yeah, I wonder about the details. I'd grab one but don't care to plunk down $50 to find out.
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