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Audio-Technica launches new entry-level VM95 cartridge series

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

  1. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA

    I don't have the link at hand but someone here modeled the cartridge using SPICE with different levels of capacitance. Like all moving magnet cartridges and most other high output types (low inductance carts are an exception) the cart will be sensitive to capacitance loading. How much additional capacitance it takes to make the sound have an unpleasant peak in the audible band is going to vary from person to person and system to system. But the cartridge will still be affected by capacitance, no getting around that.

    Here is what mine looks like, this is with 100pf at the phono preamp and low capacitance captive cabling + 47K resistance.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see that looks fairly linear. I wouldn't want to add any more capacitance to my loading.
     
  2. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    How do you make such measurements?

    I have a USB audio interface and a little success with REW,
    which accepts up to 5 seconds of .wav;
    does some test record generate sweeps / chirps over 20~20kHz in less than 5 seconds?
    The NAB test record stereo side has only 100Hz, 1kHz and 10kHz tones..

    My ears were never golden and are now rusty. My system is not neutral,
    but at least by REW have some idea about its coloration of digital music.

    I have an old Tandberg 3002 with optional 20pF MM loading
    that might be restored by connector and control cleaning and denoising.
     
  3. 389 Tripower

    389 Tripower Kids can still rock!!

    Location:
    Moline, IL USA
    Remember- the stylus I mentioned is the VM510CB 0.6 mil conical (bonded tip) not microline or elliptical. And Im running 7” 45 RPM singles from the ‘60’s for the time being. So no fancy alignment necessarily other than the 52mm set up on the headshell.

    I believe its lower mass and higher compliance is its strength. I get better vocal clarity with this AT, than with my Shure M44’s original USA NOS and Mex-made conicals. The AT seems to be able to get rid of that slightly crunchy sound that many old 45’s have. It’s great on hot-cut records.

    But - better detail can bring out more other defects on some not-so-perfect records.
     
  4. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA

    You need an accurate test record that has a frequency sweep out to 20khz. Separate left and right channels are fine, you can test each channel individually. I use the CBS STR100 for this purpose.

    To record, I use a cheap interface/soundcard and record with Audacity. I then graph the WAV file in ARTA. I calibrated my sound card using ARTA's instructions before graphing.

    I'm not limited to a certain timing using this method. I assume REW is mainly meant for testing speakers with pink noise, not testing a cartridge FR.
     
    skippy likes this.
  5. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    That higher compliance 500 series conical is good for a lightweight arm. If the arm is much heavier than 10-12g, I would probably use the VM95C instead as it has a stiffer suspension. AT3600 or AT91 conical would also work if you need a cheap conical for old singles and beater albums.
     
  6. 389 Tripower

    389 Tripower Kids can still rock!!

    Location:
    Moline, IL USA
    Questions
    1. Are the 95c /91/ 3600 series conicals Japan made or China? The 500 series is Japan made. I hope to be paying for quality.
    2. I’m running a tech 1200Mk2 - fluid and internally damped. Us that considered light? I was thinking medium.
     
  7. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    REW is popular for testing speakers, because it supports automatically programming some devices for subwoofer equalization, but it can graph frequency response from .wav for sweeps no longer than about 5 seconds.
    Thanks, ARTA is new to me, but appears more flexible for measuring from recordings and explicitly supports my sound card.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  8. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Lets call your 1200 medium light. My old JVC arm is heavier, on the heavy side of medium mass. The fluid damper will give you more leeway with higher compliance carts. I have no fluid damping on my arm.

    RE: the VM95 series - the cheaper models are Chinese, and the more expensive ones are made in Japan (e.g. 95ML). I don't think it matters that much for a conical cart, and the cheaper Chinese ATs generally have good quality control from what I've seen.
     
    skippy and 389 Tripower like this.
  9. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    Thanks, I suspect that series may be too compliant for AT-LP140XP tonearms.
    I contemplate getting a VM540ML for a SME Series III,
    if its wiring capacitance suits and after rebuilding Thorens TD 126 MK II suspension.
    The SME provides for VTA adjustment, but more hassle than on an A-T.
    My understanding is that properly aligned MicroLine is less stressful than conical on LPs.

    Capturing better detail is always good, IMO, then use DSP to deal with defects.
     
    389 Tripower likes this.
  10. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    AT-VMN95ML just arrived; (still awaiting delivery of table with matching cartridge)
    this has the tiniest needle that I recall seeing; not much dust needed to float it out of grooves...
    The AT-LP140XP arm and head shell appear to lack azimuth adjustment;
    I hope this needle is as well aligned as reported elsewhere..
     
    Andrea_Bellucci likes this.
  11. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    If you need azimuth adjustment you can buy a fancier headshell that has that feature. But you shouldn't need to adjust the cart for azimuth much, if at all. Check the alignment of the stylus with a mirror, but make sure the headshell is firmly attached to the arm with no back and forth play. If it isn't, wiggle until it is or experiment with different rubber washers until you get a tight connection.
     
    Andrea_Bellucci and 389 Tripower like this.
  12. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    That is the hope; meanwhile, I ran across the Soundsmith business card technique:
    'One may cut two fine strips of business card, about a quarter the width of the cartridge,
    and place them on top of one another, and then on top of the cartridge,
    running FRONT TO BACK to create a pivot or fulcrum. Then,
    by alternately slightly tightening and loosening each of the mounting screws a tiny bit each,
    one may “tilt” or rock the cartridge as viewed from the front to achieve a slight azimuth adjustment,
    which should be all that is required, to achieve top performance.
    When the proper point is found, tighten both screws by the same amount to “lock” the setting in place.'
     
    Andrea_Bellucci and patient_ot like this.
  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    That will work but is a bit of a hassle.
     
    macster likes this.
  14. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    Reviewing VM95 vs XP3 specs, the XP3 has twice the impedance(6.7k vs 3.3k), so correspondingly more affected.
    A-T cites 20 vs 23 degree Vertical Tracking Angle for XP3 vs VM95;
    I suppose that is cantilever angle interacting with tracking force (3 vs 2 gram).
    I wonder whether XP3 needles are mounted at different angles than VM95 in cantilevers
    to accommodate lower cantilever angle (higher force) for matching (unspecified) stylus rake angles.
     
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    I suspect the carts are substantially different, and only the basic structure of the design is the same. Suspension and cantilever would need to be more robust to accommodate higher VTF, and electrical specs were probably designed to work with popular DJ mixers and such, since the XP series is essentially a DJ cart series.
     
    skippy likes this.
  16. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    Yes, if loading cannot tweak XP for reasonably flat response, I'll end up sourcing a VM95 body for the stylus.
     
  17. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    The difference in pricing between the complete cart and stylus alone shouldn't be that much.
     
  18. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    Yes, a good price on the stylus may have been false economy with the XP3 cartridge; I'll see how measuring and tweaking goes, when the turntable and XP3 arrive..
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  19. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    LP140 arrived; included RCA cables are already 135-140pF, not including tonearm,
    much less typical 100pF preamp loading..
    Audio-Technica must have a "hire the mentally handicapped" program.
     
  20. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Any cables that come with a turntable are usually just cheap stuff to get you going. The turntables AT sells aren't made by AT. They are Hanpin/Ya Horng products. But yeah, I agree that makes no sense.
     
    Andrea_Bellucci likes this.
  21. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    Included cables plus turntable wiring without headshell is about 230pF.
     
  22. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    Recalibrated nanoVNA, and provided cables remeasured about 190pF, so about 40pF internal to turntable.
    Even short RG-59 cables with RCA connectors into Miller capacitance of 12AX7 in Dynaco PAS3X will exceed 200pF.
     
  23. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Too high, try lower cap cables.
     
  24. skippy

    skippy knew it all, when younger

    Location:
    Hilton Head, SC
    Agreed; pruned and reterminated RG-59/U cables for about 160pF measured
    without headshell but including Rotel RQ-970BX input.
    Having now a few hours on VMN94ML stylus with XP3 cartridge,
    I've played enough cuts with left-only and right-only signals
    to be satisfied that azimuth needs no tweaking.

    I am still sorting digital recording and measurement workflow, so SRA and anti-skate may change,
    but felt comfortable enough to audition one of my few "known good" LPs, namely an MFSL CSNY "Déjà vu"
    that was cleaned by a Keith Monks machine, then Last-treated when new and remains noise-free.
    The VMN94ML + XP3 + 160pF + RQ-970BX into a JDS Atom and Sennheiser HD 650 phones
    impress me as lively and unromantic.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  25. Danilo

    Danilo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milano Italy
    Just installed vm 95 ml on a pro-ject 9cc evo tonearm, and despite a not ideal match, tonearm is just 8.5 mass, the cartridge tracks without distortion up to 90 um band on vinyl essentials test record. Great cart for its price
     

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