Cartridge Comparisons on YouTube

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by floweringtoilet, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Great comparison, and you did a great job with the level matching. I must say both cartridges sound great, and sound almost identical, a sign of excellent engineering and quality control.

    My leaning is the DL-110, for its resolution of sibilants, and without excess air on top. This was noticeable in the Fleetwood Mac sample, as Christine's esses are strong, and not so easy to track. I am OCD about the timbre of the upper harmonics of hi hats, cymbals, and vocal sibilants. Many cartridges get too hissy on top. This can work for or against according to the music program, as some emphasis above 12 kHz adds a sense of air. The DL-110 has a very natural sounding top end. I'd like to add, the DL-110 sounds a little more solid in the midrange, perhaps cleaner.

    When listening to Red Norvo, I'm thinking the MP-110 is the "better sounding" cartridge. The drums and cymbals sound more alive, more space, perhaps enhanced depth of image. The DL-110 performed fine, but there's a slight advantage I think with the MP-110. I did not hear any difference in harmonic distortion, strangely, as I detected it in the Fleetwood Mac sample. These cartridges are very close.

    My gear for this enjoyable comparison:
    My cheap laptop without any special sound card, you tube setting at 480p (max sound quality, higher settings are the same)
    Headphone out to a vintage re-capped Pioneer SA-500 integrated amp
    Sennheiser HD-420SL headphones
    My own near field studio monitors as I am a speaker builder hobbyist.. these on par with other fine small monitors or better.
     
  2. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Out of curiosity, do you agree with me on the tracking abilities of these two carts? Maybe it’s just more pronounced to me than to others.

    Not trying to give you more work, but these are specific pressings in my collection that have issues that have moderate to impressive improvement on the Denon. I’d be curious to hear any of them. Of course I should note a possible improvement on my end may be the Denon’s slimmer profile actually bypassing some wear on used records combined with advances in tracking.

    New Order:
    In a Lonely Place 7” (Factory UK)
    Temptation 12” (Factory UK)
    Age of Consent (PC&L US Qwest) Honestly anything on the Qwest label, by New Order these are quite bright.

    T Rex:
    Jepsteer/Rip-off (Electric Warrior US Reprise, the new Rocktober is a big improvement, but provides less dramatic improvement)

    Smiths:
    Stop me if... (Strangeways US Sire) Almost anything on this pressing is a bit problematic as well.

    Cure:
    Six Different Ways (Head on the Door US Elektra)

    And totally on a whim but another great torture test is “Time” by Tom Waits off the US press of Rain Dogs. Not going to sound amazing on either due to mastering, but I think this track really shows the wall that the Nag hits for me.
     
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  3. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Well stated summary, couldn’t agree more. I think you’ve put into more elegant words what I’m trying to say above. I too am very sensitive to those issues, they drive me nuts, considering even a compressed MP3 resolves these HFs better than a mediocre tracking cart.
     
  4. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident Thread Starter

    At the moment I'd rather hear what others think, although I may offer some impressions later. For now I'll only say that both carts are (IMO) excellent at their price points and provide a lot of value. I've had more expensive carts than either of these that didn't perform as well. I should be able to post one or two of those requests over the next week or so. Appreciate hearing your impressions.
     
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  5. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    Another question is whether the comparison is made with new stylii. Even if there is a difference, you would exaggerate this if the MP-110 is older than the MP-500. Your videos tell me that you can get better sound from the MP-110 than the MP-110 vs MP-500 video shoot-out. If not old, it may show that cheaper cartridges do suffer from individual variations much more so than higher spec cartridges.
     
  6. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Give us the most sibilant record you got ;^)
     
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  7. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident Thread Starter

    It seems while we share a lot of common music, we don't necessarily share common pressings.

    For New Order I can do "Temptation" from the '1981 - 1982' EP, or the US (Rough Trade) Factory pressing of 'PC&L,' or the UK 12" of "In A Lonely Place."

    TRex, I don't own Electric Warrior on vinyl. How about "Life Is Strange" ("sssstrange") from 'Tanx'?

    'Strangeways' is the one Smiths album where I don't own a US Original Sire pressing (I have the Rhino reissue). How about "Cemetery Gates" from 'The Queen Is Dead'? It's the last song on side one, so a good test of inner groove distortion with plenty of sibilance from Morrissey.

    The Cure I can do something from '...happily ever after,' or 'Pornography' (US A&M pressings), 'Japanese Whispers,' or 'The Top' (US Sire pressing), or 'Disintegration' (Rhino 2006).

    I think I sold my US copy of 'Rain Dogs' a few years ago, in part because it didn't sound very good, and in part because it was going for decent money.
     
  8. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    For sibilants, I usually test the Cowboy junkies Trinity session. Most of it has difficult s-sound (worst is Sweet Jane). Example linked.

    Dropbox - Cowboy junkies.wav
     
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  9. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    That is funny, we seem to have limited alignment on pressings. Any of those tracks would be great!

    “Cemetery Gate” really stands out for me, as the Sire US should be pretty bright (I have the Rhino for this one) and the track on the inner groove should be a great tracking test. It’s also one of my favorite Smiths tracks! I would also be interested in your own personal “torture test” any mastering or track that is edgy and sibilant in your experience.
     
  10. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    From what Ive heard The Smiths fo have pretty sibilant music, especially their first pressings. According to one youtube reviewer I saw once the Rhino is a lot less so. He believed it to be attributed to digital recordings being transfered to vinyl much better than in the days of the original. Just food for thought.
     
  11. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    Missed that post. Not sure I can elaborate more than I listen to the high frequencies and judge the DL110 just a tad brighter.
     
  12. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Good point, I agree that it’s partially in the source. Part of the “sound” of the whole 80s alternative / college rock / indie is those sharp vocals. The production like mainstream 80s rock leans towards bright.

    I’ve seen those videos, and agree that the Rhino reissues are great compared to the US Sire pressings, which are excessively bright. I observe the same situation with my US Qwest New Order vs my Scandinavian New Order pressings (UK metal parts). Just buying the better pressings settles some of the issues, but in my experience, the Nag gets sloppy with both before the Denon does.

    This is import to me as not every band with this issue has affordable alternative pressings. Sadly a lot of the bands I like are European alternative or modern indie, which is a whole other issue on quality of mastering / recording.
     
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  13. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    I have some sibilant sounding records myself. And I sometimes wish I had an MC cart and tube pre amp instead, as they tend to deal with brightness better. But I also dislike the idea of coloring my music so to speak. If I did have them might I judge a record differently?
     
  14. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Interesting you say that, as to me, the Nag is great at dealing with brightness, as it’s just a tad darker than neural vs the tipped up eq of the ATs. The only fault I have with it is tracking of sibilants and inner grooves, an issue that Nagaoka doesn’t start dealing with till their TOTL MP-500. I’m sure I would love that cart but it’s a bit pricey.

    A good tube phono stage shouldn’t have a massive coloration to the sound, nor should an MC cart be any more colored than a MM. If anything MCs are less susceptible to loading issues.
     
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  15. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I see you have a Shure M97xE. Put a Jico SAS stylus on that and you'll have cart that handles sibilance and inner groove distortion as well as any cart you can find.
     
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  16. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    About as sibilant as it gets, I hear a sharp rise at about at 5kHz. At about there and close to that in the treble range, the physical shape of the record groove is at its maximum pitch, and maximum acceleration of the stylus... the most difficult to track.

    This is the sound of the Cowboy Junkies, much to my chagrin, as Margo Timmons has a gorgeous voice. While not bad sounding, it just could be a lot better IMO. While listening to this clip, I turned down the treble to nearly 9 O'clock, and bass at about 10 O'clock.. and turned up the volume on my little Pioneer SA-500, What a difference! (beautiful) Of course to get this "right" according to my ears and taste, it would need to be "unmastered" with careful touches of minus eq here and there... also possible taking the mix apart to "fix" other problems.

    BTW I have Margo's autograph on a favorite shirt. It is sealed... never wore it again! Her DNA is on it! :love:
     
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  17. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    That may well be my next step when my Denon wears out. I’ve thought about selling the m97xe, since I’m not a fan of Shure’s stock styli and lack of QC (the NOS one I have is much better but still has a slightly canted angle.) but the SAS interests me, especially since I’m assuming it’s a huge step up in tracking from the Denon. I got the Denon for less than the SAS goes for now though, and I’m 90% satisfied with the tracking in my decidedly mid-fi setup.

    Something else that I wonder about a SAS is the agreeability with less than NM records. Actually, another interesting test between the 110 carts would be playback of a VG or VG- disc if you have any. I feel both are pretty great at repressing micro scratches on a properly vac-cleaned record.
     
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  18. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    I never should have sold my M97-XE, as it was a good one. I thought is would be easily replaceable, since the quality issues were unknown to me at that time. Actually, its NEVER a good idea to assume a great sounding component is replaceable.

    As for cartridge/stylus selection for mildy worn, or surface scratched records, I would also be interested in which cartridges handle these. In my experience so far, I've had the best results with 0.6 conical, since the stylus tends to track below the wear zone, and well removed from surface imperfections.
     
  19. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    I’ve heard that type of stylus mentioned frequently in regard to suppressing sound. Any particular cart you’re referring to?

    So far the Denon checks most boxes for me, it sounds quite good on rougher discs I would prefer not to replace (like my German Vertigo Paranoid) for finicial reasons, and perfect on NM records. In my mind both 110s are pretty equal here and the samples above seem to confirm this but they seem to be good condition records.
     
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  20. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Mine was a Nagatron MC-8 high output moving coil, 0.6 mil natural grain oriented diamond. Eventually one of the coils opened up.. tried micro-surgery but failed. This cartridge sounded very nice on my pristine records, but it also worked wonders on cleaned slightly worn records. It's ability to track the inner groove was ok, better than a 0.7 conical, but slightly not as clean as a 0.2 x 0.7 elliptical. I loved this cartridge for playing my VG records so cleanly, you'd not believe by looking at the record, it could play like that... no distortion from some of them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
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  21. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Ive been trying to get a UK or German Vertigo Swirl Paranoid for months now. People just bid so much on auctions, might as well buy from Discogs in that case. But I want to get a good deal.
     
  22. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Sabbath records are very overvalued in recent years, especially online. I always try to look in stores first, but Veritgos never show up over here. Funnily enough, I actually got my copy in Stockholm at an Ideal for Living for ~200sek, perhaps I just got lucky. I’ll actually put it out there that Stockholm is my #1 crate digging city, the breadth of selection, variety of pressings and condition of records put the American Northeast to shame. It might be worth digging around since the copies are out there.

    On the topic at hand, the reason the record was relatively cheap is that it’s VG though, maybe VG- on parts of Planet Caravan, but the Nag and Denon both handle it pretty well. My Shure is much noiser across the whole disc. Even with the surface noise, it kicks the US WB I had to the curb, but it’s just much more enjoyable with a quiet cart.
     
  23. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Talking to older collectors at my local store they tell me about many years back when you could find one at flee markets for 5 dollars.
    Ive been to Stockholm for digging a few times. I mostly went to stores that sell new or had a really bad selection though. What Ive done recently is buying from their online auctions that I found instead. Best recent pick up was a Dark Side of the Moon PRO USE for 20$ which is just amazing. I was ready to bid a lot more but I guess it just flew under the radar.
    I cant dig in stockholm too much either sadly. I dont want to be boring my friends for that long when I visit them ;^)
    I tend to only buy VG+ at least but there is a Paranoid Swirl on that same store auction in VG. Maybe I should go for it and see if I can bring it to VG+ with a few washes.
     
  24. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    I think for 'In A Lonely Place', the issues are baked in, I've tried with a few carts with no success (for perfect playback without zero sibilance)
    No issues on my US Strangeways.
    Here's a sample of Age from my Canadian Emile Lepine cut using an Orto Blue. I think the slight brightness is in the recording, same goes for low-life.
    Dropbox - Age Sample.wav
     
  25. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    I usually stick to VG+ as well, this isn’t one of only a few records I have that dip below that threshold. An Ideal for Living in Soder is a great used shop if you are seeking that. Deep slection of rock, mainstream / folk upstairs and alternative / metal in the basement. I go to Stockholm yearly, and always pull a great stash from them.

    I bought the Paranoid on a whim, to try the mastering without the $80 price tag, knowing I could flip it easily in the US. I’m fully intending on replacing it eventually but it’s actually shocking how well both carts repress this noise.

    Yep, New Order was clearly curating that bright brittle sharp sound. See to me, that sample is fine. Either the Ortofon or the Canadian cut is making it brighter than the master streaming on Apple Music (obviously not quality audio but useful comparison) but the sibilants are the same across both. Sounds pretty close to my memory of my Precision mastered Qwest. The Nag would get spitty with some of my New Order, beyond what he Denon does. But... as a 0.4x0.7 bonded elliptical, it is much less sophisticated than the Denon or Blue. In fact, it’s remarkable how much better it performs than the AT95e, which is closer in spec.
     
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