Audible Differences between Elliptical Bonded vs Micro Line Stylus

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by rockin_since_58, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Simi Valley, CA
    I currently have the AT VM520EB cartridge/stylus combo on my turntable and the next in line cartridge/stylus is the AT VM540ML which is a micro line stylus vs the elliptical bonded. They styli are interchangeable for the VM5 series cartridges.

    What improvement can expect with the micro line over the elliptical bonded stylus?
  2. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    If you have used records in particular, you'll notice they will have less distortion issues as the arm gets closer to the label. The micro-line will ride lower in the groove and avoid much of the baked in distortion that used records have from previous play. That said, take extra pains with the alignment and really work at getting it right. Nude vs. bonded is it's own thing, but the main difference you will hear will be from the stylus shape. You might notice more or less surface noise with particular pressings, but you'll always get a bit more detail.
  3. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    Detail, agreed.
    Baked in sibilance, no difference. Compared between a AT 150 MLX, Orto Blue and a NAG MP-110.
    LP Tunes didn't have those new AT's in stock yet, so I'm thinking about grabbing a Shibata (I've never had this type before)
    AT-VM95SH when it hits the US.
    Musical Maxis likes this.
  4. tumbleweed

    tumbleweed Prisoner of my own device

    Colorado foothills
    The Shibata was a big improvement over the standard elliptical when it was introduced in the early '70s, but there have been considerable improvements since then. MicroLine, Fritz Gyger, van den Hul and other later designs have surpassed the Shibata tracing abilities. Not that a Shibata isn't still desirable, but it really isn't up to comparison with more recent designs. OTOH, the more exotic the stylus shape, the more finicky it is to get juuuust right. At least in my experience.

    This long thread has more than you probably ever wanted to know:

    Advanced Stylus Shapes: Pics, discussion, patents. - Vinyl Engine
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
    c-eling likes this.
  5. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    Thanks Weed for the info. So many variations it's tough to track down a favorite (within a certain price point).
  6. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    They work really well on my old Phase4 records.
  7. rockin_since_58

    rockin_since_58 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Simi Valley, CA
    Thank you for your responses...Sounds like the difference may not justify the additional cost.
  8. cmcintyre

    cmcintyre Forum Resident

    In your market I'm not sure of the difference in cost, though there's some audible differences that perhaps haven't been clearly spelt out.

    * More instrument definition (which then leads to more spatial information - high, low, up, down)
    * More "air" around the music
    * More sounds of the recording environment
    * Much better high frequency response on the inner grooves

    I have the VM540ML/H, though haven't fully familiarised myself with it, though as a comparison, a year or so ago I found an elliptical stylii that fitted the cartridge that came with my Yamaha turntable. (Yamaha MC 705) Comparing that to an advanced Ortofon stylii (OM40) which is not dissimilar a comparison you're wishing to make, the difference was pronounced. All the advantages listed above disappeared.

    The difference cartridges were from different manufacturers Audio Technica (MC 705 is a rebadged AT moving coil) and Ortofon, so there were some different characteristics as well - I'd expect the change you're suggesting, from one AT to another) to be more similar musically, with the added advantages I've suggested.

    As your existing cartridge is the one supplied with your AT turntable, it might be worthwhile contacting Audio Technica to see if they think a higher spec cartridge will work well with the turntable.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  9. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    A nude mounted stylus makes an audible improvement over bonded. The lower the mass at the tip, the higher the trackability, and the lower the distortion. A microline is vastly superior in resolution at the inner groove, retrieval of inner detail and nice clean transients, just like the outer groove area produces. There is no guarantee the microline will track a worn groove any better than the elliptical. The microline contact area is a taller "footprint" on the groove wall, so it does not only track deeper, it simultaneously tracks higher up on the wall too. So the microline may or may not reduce background noise due to wear, may or may not reduce distortion from wear. The performance of a worn groove (minimal wear not talking about massive wear) will be contingent on the profile of the micro-line stylus and what part of the groove has been damaged.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  10. Fedot L

    Fedot L Forum Resident

    Well-grounded. But the fact that “microline” and its analogs are superior to all other styli shapes in resolution not at the inner grooves, but at ALL grooves.
  11. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    I have an Ortofon 2M Black which has a shibata stylus. I think I may have damaged it because it was sounding strange last night. To be safe, I took the stylus out and put a 2M Blue, elliptical, I had in my drawer, in the same Black cartridge.

    I'm surprised how good it sounds. I guess I'm not as sophisticated as I thought I was. Elliptical seems to be good enough for me. I'll try a few more records but so far I'm satisfied.
    SandAndGlass and c-eling like this.

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