Audio-Technica launches new entry-level VM95 cartridge series

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by daytona600, Aug 30, 2018.

  1. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I will check this out. If you have styrene 7''s I probably wouldn't use this cart on those.
     
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  2. c-eling

    c-eling Love has no date of expiration...

    Yesterday I discovered my US promo 7 Depeche Mode-A Question of Lust (Robert Margouleff Remix) is exactly this (an absolute no-go) :laugh:
    I did a good transfer using the Blue a couple years ago.
     
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  3. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    @c-eling I thought that Abba track sounded pretty good, though it's another one I'm not really familiar with. I hear a lot of hard "S" sounds with the high female vocals so I'm guessing this track is a bit of a challenge for some carts, though the 95ML appears to be coping with it quite well.
     
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  4. c-eling

    c-eling Love has no date of expiration...

    Got the minor sibilance as well. On a couple other tough ones I was getting it in the right channel, my AS might be off.
     
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  5. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Could be groove damage as well, especially with the 7”s which probably saw use on crappy setups.
     
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  6. c-eling

    c-eling Love has no date of expiration...

    Good possibility. Who knows, I know I enjoy it better than it's remastered cd counterpart's, so i'll take it :laugh:
     
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  7. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Some more subjective impressions of the 95ML.

    Joe Pass/Synanon Seven - Sounds of Synanon LP - 1962 Pacific Jazz/RE Pure Pleasure 2008 - Mastered by Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman

    Dr. Dre - 2001 Instrumentals 2xLP - 1999 Aftermath/Interscope

    Oasis - Definitely Maybe 2xLP - 1994/RE Big Brother Rec. 2014 - Mastered by Ian Cooper @ Metropolis Mastering


    The Joe Pass album sounds very good here. Bass is deep and smooth, the guitar melodies sound great, and the cymbals and high hats are extremely clear. Separation between instruments is well defined. The album is recorded and mastered very well so many carts probably do a good job with it.

    Next we have an instrumental version of a late 90s mainstream hip hop album. This is my preferred version of the album to listen to as the production is easier to hear unimpeded by any vocals. The bass drums hit hard, the melodies are funky, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything whatsoever.

    Now, how about a band synonymous with the loudness war? Frankly there is no audiophile approved version of this album but this one is done reasonably well and compares quite well to the original 1994 Creation CD IMHO. Guitars are loud and carts that have frequency dips in the mids and upper mids will falter and make everything sound like a muddy mess. With the VM95ML, you don't get that. You get a faithful rendering of a loud 90s rock 'n roll album with as much clarity between the instruments as can be expected on this type of recording.
     
  8. Andrea_Bellucci

    Andrea_Bellucci Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Italy
    Hi Guys!

    In the near future I want to buy a new cardridge.

    I had a Grado Reference Platinum Wood for 350€ and now - for more than a year a Nagaoka MP 110 for 150€, which I do really like.

    As the new AT line up is suprisigly "good value for the money" I consider buying an Audio Technica AT-VM95EN for 110€.

    First I thought to upgrade my Nagaoka MP 110 to a MP 150, but the prices here in Europe exploded. Now the MP 150 is about 330€. I know I can buy them directly from Japan a way cheaper, but I wanna try something new. :)
    Anyone has some experience with the AT-VM95EN? :help:

    Bye Andrea
     
  9. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I do, but I do not have experience with the Grado or Nagaoka in order to give you much of a comparison. I will tell you I think it sounds good (not that overly-bright sound people complain about with AT carts) and tracks well, and it seems to me it is the best value nude-mounted elliptical available. And, as has been discussed quite a lot in this thread, it is very easy to upgrade to ML or Shibata stylus, or to use the conical or bonded elliptical stylus if you need to do that for some reason. I have switched out for the bonded elliptical occasionally, and it takes just a few seconds, snap off, snap on, no dismount/re-mount of the whole cartridge.

    By going straight to the EN and not starting with one of the two lower-priced styli, you are getting the cart body made in Japan, whereas I believe the bodies that come with the C and E versions are made in China, if that matters to you.
     
  10. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    For what it’s worth, I’ve only had the MP-110 get hung up on one notorious torture pressing on a sealed record (Vinyl Me, Please Demon Days) and skip on a few used buys with needle scratches from previous owners.

    @Andrea_Bellucci I would suggest just saving up another 50€ and moving directly to the AT-VM95ML which is an excellent tracker. It may sound like more than you want to spend but that cart is an excellent value I can vouch for, and the cheapest way to get a MicoLine stylus. Thanks to this stylus, it out-tracks more expensive carts like my Denon DL-110, and should give you none of the problems you have with the Nagaoka.

    The EN is an ok value considering the market today, but the radius of that stylus really isn’t that much better than your Nag. Although it will probably track better, you’re ultimately still in the same bracket of IGD and sibilant mistracking. If I were you I would just keep the Nagaoka for now and save towards the ML cart.
     
  11. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    That's strange that people reported skipping with the Nagaoka MP-110, which so far has never happened to me, irrespective of the record condition.

    But with all of the talk about the AT-VM95ML, this sounds like a cartridge I want to try out but Audio Technica products here in Canada are extremely expensive, which is about $250 to $330 CAD.
     
  12. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I will also throw in that, while satisfied with what I have gotten from the EN, there is a ML stylus sitting in my cart right now, just waiting for the news that my backordered 1210GR has shipped. So I can’t vouch for the ML yet, but for my 2 cents, it’s an upgrade I have decided I am going to make. So, there is probably some wisdom in just going straight to the ML (I had my own reasons for starting with the EN, but I think the ML is a better value among the series).
     
  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Sorry to hear about the high prices in Canada and Europe. The VM95ML is only $169 here or $200 if you want it pre-mounted on a headshell.

    I'd say get it from the U.S. but then customs fees come into play which may offset your savings.
     
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  14. Andrea_Bellucci

    Andrea_Bellucci Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Italy
    Hi Guys,

    thanks for your very helpful advice. :)

    Hm, maybe I will stick to my Nagaoka MP 110 and will save some money and go for the AT-VM95ML in the near future...

    Although I do have 90% vinyl from the 80s (Rock/Pop/Indie) in at least VG+ condition, do you think I can really profit from a MicroLine stylus?

    Bye Andrea :wave:
     
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I have a lot of records from the 80s and the ML sounds great on them. Matter of fact, for the 80s records with the hottest cuts and narrowest inner grooves, the ML profile is the only one I've used that can track them perfectly. So I'd say go for it, as long as you have a record cleaning system like a vac-based RCM or at least some kind of Spin Clean type device (Knosti is popular in Europe?).
     
  16. Andrea_Bellucci

    Andrea_Bellucci Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Italy
    Hm, that's indeed interesting that you do also have records from the 80s which profit from the MicroLine.

    And yes, here in Europe the Knosti is very famous, but I clean my records manually and vacuum them with very good results. :)

    Bye Andrea
     
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  17. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I would think a collection like that is a great candidate for benefiting from ML. For one thing, the ML profile should be easier on the grooves as far as wear is concerned, so you will help preserve them. And, VG+ and better condition records, assuming they are clean, shouldn’t have so much surface noise that the ML will prove too revealing for them to be enjoyable. A bonus of this cartridge, too, is that if you have recrods that are too noisy with the ML, you can have the conical stylus (it’s $21 US, so I’m sure Euro prices aren’t prohibitive) around to switch out very easily, if needed.
     
  18. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    More subjective listening impressions of the VM95ML:

    The Saints – (I’m) Stranded LP (U.S. Sire, 1977, mastered by Sterling)

    Chic – C’est Chic LP (U.S. Atlantic, 1978, mastered by Dennis King)

    The Psychedelic Furs Talk Talk Talk LP (U.S. Columbia, 1981)

    John Foxx – The Golden Section LP (U.K. Virgin, 1983, mastered by Townhouse)


    First up is one of the one the best raw punk rock ‘n roll albums ever made IMHO. Probably a nightmare for the typical audiophile but I think it’s recorded quite well for the type of music we’re talking about here. The power of the record comes through and separation between instruments is about as well as you can expect.

    Next up is a disco record featuring the famous Nile Rodgers on guitar. A lot of disco music frankly sounds quite dated to me these days but this particular album has held up pretty well IMHO. On a record like this I usually pay close attention to the basslines and drums and they are well produced and full sounding here, as are the vocals. My particularly copy is not in perfect shape (closer to VG than VG+) but the ML stylus does a surprisingly good job of not being too revealing of record damage on this LP. In my past experiences with ML styli they can cut both ways though, so don’t take this as a suggestion that ML styli are a cure for damaged records.

    The next album is the sophomore LP from the Psychedelic Furs, just before they went in a more polished pop direct with slicker production. There is no mastering credit on my copy or deadwax signature, so I’m not sure who cut it. It is cut quite loud though definitely not among the loudest tier of 80s LPs I have. The cartridge handles everything well here with not a hint of IGD or excess sibilance.

    Next up is an album of moody 80s synth pop, cut loud with narrow inner grooves. This is the type of record where lesser carts and styli start screwing things up IME, especially with the last two tracks on each side. The VM95ML tracks everything flawlessly, period.
     
  19. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Yep I’d agree with the others. 80s stuff can be some of the most difficult to track, so if you have a large 80s collection that's been vacuum cleaned, then I would say you would be very happy with the MicroLine profile. IME, all 80s stuff will benefit from the MicroLine, wether it be mainstream pop like Cyndi Lauper, alternative stuff like the Cure, Smiths, Echo and the Bunneymen etc, or even reissues of earlier albums cut in the hot 80s style.
     
  20. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    C'est Chic is one of those records that's always a dollar or two but also incredibly hard to find in VG+ condition. I've had and gotten rid of a few copies over the years. Good to hear that your copy is playing clean. I think to your point some of my VG LPs have improved dramatically with the ML, while others sound a bit more noisy.
     
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  21. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I don't know what the status is on the master tapes, but it's ripe for a high quality re-issue IMHO. I'm always on the lookout for a near perfect copy but have yet to find one.
     
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  22. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
  23. Andrea_Bellucci

    Andrea_Bellucci Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Italy
    Hi Guys!

    You all convinced me to buy the AT-VM95ML. So I ordered it today for 159€ incl. shipping. :)

    It will hopefully arrive next week. As soon as I set it up on my Rega RB 300 arm, I let you know how it sounds to my ears.

    Thanks for all your kind advice.

    Bye Andrea :wave:
     
  24. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    There is another user here (don't remember the name) that uses the 95ML on a Rega arm with good results, so should be a fine match.
     
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  25. Danilo

    Danilo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milano Italy
    I admit, I haven't read all the pages of this discussion, so maybe I am posing a question that has been already posed… Does the new vm 95 stylus fit on the old AT95?
     

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