Cart modifiers / budget hunters / Clearaudio / AT

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by H8SLKC, Jul 9, 2017.

  1. nitsuj

    nitsuj Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest
    Great thread.

    More photos please.
     
  2. Dr. J.

    Dr. J. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Here you go.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Dr. J.

    Dr. J. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    I am still impressed by the CA Frankenstein cart but with the .4x7mm stylus I am finding it to be a little lacking in HF extension, so I will upgrade soon to a hyperelliptical.
     
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  4. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I predict you'll love that cart with an HE stylus. I'm listening to my (far uglier) frankencart right now and it's pretty damned good IMO.


     
  5. struttincool

    struttincool Senior Member

    Location:
    Anacortes, WA
    Very interesting. Any video of someone 'potting' a cartridge?
     
  6. Dr. J.

    Dr. J. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    No, not for this AT95e/wood body combination, although I have seen some for the Denon DL-103. I had not worked with a lot of different epoxies, so that was a bit of an unknown going into the project. H8SLKC (above) suggested 30-minute epoxy and it worked but I wish it was a bit more fluid. I didn't want to force the epoxy down into the cavity but mine didn't exactly flow into the hole. So it was a bit of a crap shoot. But with carts being less than $40, I was willing to lose one if I failed.
     
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  7. struttincool

    struttincool Senior Member

    Location:
    Anacortes, WA
    Went ahead and ordered these two. If I really like it I'll upgrade from this AT95EX to LPGear's vivid line.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  8. Dr. J.

    Dr. J. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Did you pot it with epoxy yet or are you just going to put it in the wood body for now?
     
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  9. struttincool

    struttincool Senior Member

    Location:
    Anacortes, WA
    Both still on the way. Need to decide what to pot and secure in body with. Besides epoxy I'm thinking of a wax or super glue for potting. For securing in body I'm thinking of epoxy, super glue or Stanley Duel Melt glue stick which I've used before(on fishing rods) and seems like it would be great for this purpose.
    I hate working with epoxy.....
     
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  10. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    Location:
    SW Washington, USA
    If one is potting the body, what prevents the epoxy from running into the area that the stylus snaps into?
     
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  11. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    For the AT95e, I can only speak from experience with 30-min epoxy. I removed the top black plastic mount, which exposes a screw hole in the top of the metal cartridge body. It's small and there is no way for me to see well enough into that top hole how much room is in there, not what components inside are actually potted when going down this road. I potted it based on other threads I've read online and believe that it should at least reduce resonances within the cartridge body.

    I mixed the epoxy and used a small balsa rod to gather up a small blob on the tip, which then gets held over the hole. Picture gathering honey on a stick and twirling it until you want it to run. My 30-min epoxy ran in a very small ribbon into the hole. It didn't take long for it to reach the top hole. I stopped and waited for it to descend into the body, making room at the top again. Several iterations of this had epoxy filling up that part of the cart body, at which time I left it to sit overnight with the cart body level. The next day I sunk it into the wood body I made for the cartridge, again with 30-min epoxy, and also ran thin ribbons of epoxy along every exposed seam that remained to be seen. Last, I ran small epoxy filets along the joints between the wood body and the exposed portions of the cart body.

    My goal was to reduce any capacity for any portion of the cartridge body to resonate, excluding the stlyus plug and underside hole where it is inserted. I suppose that if you wanted to take it all the way, you could seal a stylus into the cart body as well, but I wanted to maintain easy serviceability of the cartridge. As far as an earlier question about why the epoxy doesn't get to internals that it shouldn't, I cannot answer that question since I've never disassembled an AT95e metal body. It's possible that the epoxy into the top hole accomplishes nothing but adding weight to the cartridge, but it also (in my case) did no harm, so I prefer to guess that it accomplishes something along the lines of resonance reduction, or maybe just placebo!

    I'm listening to my AT95e frankencart right now, with a CFN95SE .3X.7 carbon-cantilever stylus, running out front naked as on a Clearaudio MM cart. It sounds wonderful to my ears, WAY better than its price would indicate. It's also great fun to play around with these things and not worry about financials of wrecking one along the way.
     
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  12. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    Location:
    SW Washington, USA
    Thank you for the detailed response, I appreciate it!
     
  13. struttincool

    struttincool Senior Member

    Location:
    Anacortes, WA
    I'd love to see a video of nuding the AT95e stylus assembly. I've seen them do it to Denon103 cartridge, but it has nice seams to work with. Not so the AT95e...
     
  14. Dr. J.

    Dr. J. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    I too was worried about this, so I held the cartridge with a binder clip while I was working, making sure the cart never tipped to the front. In other words, it was angled about 20 degrees toward the back for this very reason: to keep "the epoxy from running into the area that the stylus snaps into."

    This is more or less what I did, but I used some toothpicks. I didn't get the sense of how much I used, unfortunately, but maybe an eraser's head worth? I didn't want to force the stuff in too much. Perhaps that's the key. Let gravity do it's thing with a little pushing here and there and it doesn't flow anymore, then stop. I thought about using a syringe and squeezing it in but couldn't fine the right size for the job.
     
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  15. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    Location:
    SW Washington, USA
    Great idea!
     
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  16. struttincool

    struttincool Senior Member

    Location:
    Anacortes, WA
  17. riverrat

    riverrat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    Very cool thread. Not sure my Barney Rubble fingers are up to this sort of work, but I may give it a whirl at some point.

    H8SLKC: How does your Frankencart sound compared to the stock one on your TT15 table?
     
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  18. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    With the same stylus installed, the AT95e frankencart sounds very close to the Virtuoso to my ears. I've seen plenty of posters online sneer at Clearaudio MM carts because of the AT connection, but I have concluded the opposite, that the AT95e is a very, very good cart that is normally only heard with its stock .4X.7 stylus and on "lesser" turntables. Especially frankencarted and with a better stylus installed, it's a beautiful cart. I would not bet money that I could pick my modified AT95e apart from my Virtuoso in a blind test.


     
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  19. struttincool

    struttincool Senior Member

    Location:
    Anacortes, WA
    This will be my second encounter with an AT95e variant. First was with a souped up AT95e called the Linn K9 on my Linn Axis in 1990. Still have the K9 body. The stylus on the K9 is long gone, but it was a nice one. Used the K9 for awhile on my LP12, also.

    We'll see how this wood bodied one stacks up to $100-150 cartridges I have or am very familiar with.
     
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  20. riverrat

    riverrat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    This is all quite fascinating. Having read this thread, and some of the links herein, the 2002 Stereophile review of the Clearaudio Virtuoso, and similarly complimentary, much more recent review of the Maestro V2, I just can't help wonder why AT doesn't just upgrade the 95 in similar fashion themselves.

    I say this having just purchased a Marantz TT15 that is still in the box, which of course comes with the highly touted Virtuoso. Really looking forward to hearing it.
     
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  21. riverrat

    riverrat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    X2
     
  22. riverrat

    riverrat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    Anyone care to make attributions as to the improved sonics? It seems to be some combination of:
    1. Improved resonance control (or something) from the wood body
    2. Potting the cart internals
    3. Nuding the stylus
     
  23. H8SLKC

    H8SLKC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    To me, the AT95e frankencart sounds better than the original in sounding fuller, with both better highs and better lows. I have no doubt that the potting and seam-sealing with epoxy helps, and assume that the wood body adds its own bit of tone around the margins. I also note that if you drill the wood body to accept mounting screws, the whole thing becomes much easier to mount than a typical budget cart as well.

    Now remember that beyond doing the things you noted below, I also use a better stylus, so at least some of the improvement can be chalked up to the better stylus. Doubters would likely attribute all of the better sound to the improved stylus. I never simply tried a stock cartridge with HE stylus, so I cannot comment on how good that would be on its own, though based on what I've read the AT95e with HE, VL or shibata becomes a truly excellent cartridge all on its own.

    Here is a link showing the clipping of stylus plastic (wings) from the AT95e stylus assembly. FWIW, I use nail clippers instead. I clip away enough plastic so that I can make a clean snip around each side of the stylus plug and voila, nuded stylus! You will be stunned how easy it is, although I suppose that with a slip of a hand the thing could be wrecked. The assembly is more rugged than one would think though, so I (who am not super fleet with my fingers) have had no problem nuding multiple AT95e styli. Link:




     
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  24. riverrat

    riverrat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    Super helpful, thanks H8SLKC.

    I suppose the next question would be...do you know which stylus the Virtuoso comes with stock?
     
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  25. PoeRaider

    PoeRaider Forum Resident

    I think that's the million dollar question here. Or at least, which cantilever/stylus folks have had great success matching or possibly even improving upon the sound of the Virtuoso with. It's all subjective of course, one man's improvement is another man's complete destruction of the original tone. But I trust people's ears on here. We do have some leads thanks to the posts on this thread, so thank you, and please keep them coming :)

    I want to start playing around with my Maestro a bit. I did try putting a plain jane AT95E stylus plug in it, and it sounded god awful. Shrill, thin, fatiguing. Everything the Maestro and Virtuoso are not. I definitely didn't expect an improvement with that cheap stylus, but I didn't anticipate it being *that* bad.
     
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