Audio-Technica launches new entry-level VM95 cartridge series

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

  1. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    It also doesn't come with the same mounting hardware, just what it comes attached with. This didn't prove to be a problem for me when changing to a different headshell, but I do wish they would have included all the same pieces regardless of whether it is already attached to their headshell.
     
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  2. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    The AT HS-6 headshell is actually die cast aluminum. I see no reason to change mine even though I have some more expensive headshells. With my JVC arm, the HS-6 is basically parallel. No idea about Fluance but that might be something you can fix with a different platter mat or by stacking mats or something. The Zupreme HS (made by Jelco) is obviously a much more high quality HS but it should be at $80 vs. $30 for the HS-6. My guess is the material is stiffer and less resonant than the HS-6.

    RE: the elliptical versions of the VM95, I don't have them so I can't compare them to the ML.

    Like pretty much all advanced styli, the ML tracks better than any elliptical cart I've used, but it also tracks better than my GR 1042 which is an extreme Fritz Gyger-S profile. Same deal for the 95ML vs. the Jico Shibata I run on my Stanton 680. This is consistent with my previous experience with AT ML styli on my old Signet cart - went though several on that cart body.

    In terms of tonal balance I want to wait until the cart is fully broken in before I do an FR test. Our ears can be deceiving and downstream equipment like amps and speakers (not to mention room acoustics and expectations) can make us think we are hearing things that aren't there. Right now, from a subjective standpoint, I am hearing nothing overtly tipped up or rolled off. It sounds even handed and accurate to me. Stereo separation is very decent (23dB spec) but nothing out of this world - then it again it's tough to beat the Stanton in that respect (35dB spec).
     
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  3. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I should clarify the issue was not VTA, but azimuth. The headshell tilts to one side when locked in. I am pretty sure this is quality control of the Fluance arm tube setup and not a problem with the HS-6. I think the Zupreme just happened to come lined up decently for the tilt, but one of the reasons I got it was to be able to adjust the azimuth if needed, to compensate for the cheap tonearm being a little off. I am definitely keeping the HS-6 around for future use. When I bought my AT-VM95EN/HS-6 combo, I caught it at a price that basically put the headshell at $12 rather than $30, so I felt far more OK about ditching it for now. Good to know it’s cast aluminum. It seemed plasticy to me, but that is probably just because it is so lightweight. In my case, on my cheap table, I think the Zupreme is giving me a more level playing field to evaluate the VM95, but I think the HS-6 is probably good enough on an otherwise better rig.
     
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  4. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Most removeable headshell arms have some play in the connector that holds the center pin. If you have the HS tilted one way or another before locking it down it can be off azimuth. The connector on my JVC arm is a little different than most - it locks more like a drill bit chuck. But on my HS-6 I didn't see any QC problems anyway - that can definitely occur with some cheaper HSs though.
     
  5. tables_turning

    tables_turning In The Groove

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic, USA
    Just got one of these as part of the A-T cartridge/headshell combo. Quality appears excellent so far; enjoying going back through some older discs as part of the test drive. Also ordered the elliptical stylus so I can swap back and forth as needed. As you say, no real negatives jump out of this latest iteration; how A-T can make these available at the price point they do is surprising. And, this conical loves mono Dynagroove pressings -- always a plus in my book!
     
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  6. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I bought the conical version of the VM95 to put on a turntable I wanted to sell. I tested it briefly and it did sound very good, though not as clear or detailed as the ML version. I would think the conical would be a great choice for people that want a cart to play back older vinyl in not so hot condition, records you flip a mono switch on, etc.
     
  7. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    The VM95ML continues to impress. Played Killing Joke's 2nd LP this morning. Bass response is excellent with this cartridge.
     
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  8. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I did some rudimentary measurements today using a cheapo RCA to 1/8'' cable from the rec outs of my integrated amp. Feel free to take this with a grain of salt.

    RE: tonearm compatibility, I'm getting 9hz when looking at frequency sweeps and tracking tests from the CBS STR100. That is for both vertical and lateral tracking BTW. My tonearm is 21g EM with the stock headshell and around 23g with the AT aftermarket one. So in case anyone is wondering about tonearm compatibility/compliance matching for arms in the range, I don't think there is anything to worry about.
     
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  9. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Good to hear. I actually ordered the VM95ml cart and headshell combo for myself last night with some Amazon credit, it should get in tomorrow. My stock SH-98 headshell and tonearm weigh 25.5g, the tonearm with the AT headshell should be 25g flat. Per most calculators this should put me in the clear at 8-9hz depending how you convert AT's 100hz compliance spec to CUs. I'll post my feedback when I've got it setup and run in. This will be my first advanced profile stylus, so I'm excited.
     
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  10. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Yeah, you should be a good range as far as matching goes. Let me know how you do with the cartridge. I think you'll like it. It should pair nicely with your new preamp since MOFI's carts appear to be based on a modded AT95 design also.
     
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  11. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    What program are you using for the SPAN VST? I tried installing it into Audacity with no luck, even though some users say they were able to get it to work. I was able to get another free VST to work (Bluecat Analyzer) but SPAN seems like it could be better.
     
  12. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Yes I'm hoping for a great match. After a few days of playing with the MoFi I've realized it really reveals the existing tracking issues that the HF roll off hid on my receivers stage, so I felt this was a necessary second part to my upgrade. Plus after years of ellipticals I'm no longer in denial of their faults in tracking.

    I also just realized I have Adobe Audition as part of my Creative Cloud subscription, so hopefully at some point in the future I can pick up the necessary gear and plugins to get decent FR measurements of my own.
     
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  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    This video shows some measurements done using Adobe:

     
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  14. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Yes. I like both of those for different reasons. SPAN has a feature where you set the angle, which can approximate pink noise and make flat look flat.

    One of the best things to use, which is not so well publicized is AU Lab, downloadable here.

    iTunes - Mastered for iTunes - Apple

    I LOVE this tiny app, and it will allow you to use either plug-in in real time. I have speakers on sliders and I can see pink noise and tune the nulls while moving the speakers and looking at the screen. It's very basic but to me essential piece of software
     
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  15. SNDVSN

    SNDVSN Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Anyone tried the Shibata?
     
  16. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    My AT VM95ML is in and set up. Out of the box the cartridge was not aligned to 52mm I aligned it to the Technics 52mm confirming against a Technics gauge, Denon gauge and paper protractor. I may try a more exotic alignment in the future, but this is doing it well for me now.

    First impressions are exactly what I had hoped for. I'm getting a much better sound out of my new phono stage, moving from my DL-110. No more grating treble, even more bass extension, and what feels to be balanced neutrally across the range. I'm running it at 47k with the stock Technics hard-wired RCA, 40db gain, and it seems to like this well.

    Spinning the Vinyl Me, Please Reissue of Coal Miner's Daughter (AAA by Ryan K Smith) which I just spun last night with the DL-110, and I have to say I'm very impressed. The album is decently recorded instrumentally, but Loretta frequently maxes out the mic, which was a source of tracking woes for the Denon. So far the AT is handling it much better. Subjectively it feels more whole to me, which is probably a product of the perceptually flat frequency response and lack of drawing attention to hot passages.

    I also tried two of my torture tracks for fun. One, a worn out OG German copy of Iggy Pop's Lust For Life. With my previous carts the final track of side 2 "Tonight" sounded terrible, David Bowie's parts sounded like a grated parody of him. As others have noted, the ML does a good job of resurrecting the track beneath the damage done by prior owner. It still sounds worn, but much improved. The second was Wes Garland's cut of Stay Gold by First Aid Kit. This cut is quite bad, it's tipped in the treble, and cut rather tight to the inner groove for an album under 40 minutes. Both end of side cuts sound much improved with the new cart.

    I'm planning to try this out with a lot of different genres as I wear this in. Up next is electronic and hip hop to test just how low that bass goes...
     
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  17. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    Strong opinions going against that Denon :winkgrin:
    Sounds like it's Sig is comparable to the AT7V which is enough for me to bite.
    95ML will be mated to my Technics, I'll throw the AT7V on the Marantz (it needs a good cart)
    Thanks guys :cheers:
     
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  18. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

    Location:
    US

    I don't like their carts, but I'm glad they're still a major pumping them out!
     
  19. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Played these records today:

    Television - Adventure ('78 Elektra)

    Aerosmith - Rocks ('76 Columbia)

    Hyperdontia - Nexus of Teeth (2018 Dark Descent/Me Saco Un Ojo)


    The VM95ML performed very well on all. Basically if a record is sparkling and bright because it was recorded that way, it'll sound that way. If it's bass-heavy, it'll sound like that. If there is some coloration, there's not much. The fact that it can sound just as good playing a well-recorded rock album and contemporary death metal release says something...
     
  20. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA

    Glad you are liking it. I think with HOMCs, since they are sort of neither fish nor fowl, it's kind of hard to get the loading right and an even response. Those particular types of passages you mentioned - tight inner grooves, sudden sibilants, vocalists that are closed mic'd, etc. are exactly why I prefer to run advanced styli and the ML/MR profile above all others.
     
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  21. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    To be fair to the Denon (which was my favorite cart until this came in), I think the $200 price point is still a game of compromises. At this point I just think the AT is the better cocktail of compromises for me.

    Without any real measurement and without having run in the AT, I would say the Denon still has great HF extension / clarity, and bass tightness at 47k, that subjectively seems to best the AT. Channel separation also seems superior on the Denon which for some genres may feel like a bit of a step backwards.

    I think paired with the right phono stage the DL-110 can sound quite good. The AT is just a much better tracker and has much better detail retrial, so I really think it holds up to a more revealing setup. Based on my first few spins I'd agree with @patient_ot that the AT doesn't homogenize the recording being played back, which is important to me. This is something the Denon is also great at, but the added tracking ability really helps each record shine.

    Let us know how you like it!
     
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  22. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Thanks again for your recommendation! I don't think I'll go back to elliptical on a daily driver cart again!
     
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  23. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Yeah, that sounds about right. The thing is, even at higher price points, there are still compromises. My Goldring 1042 retails for over three times what the VM95ML does, yet it doesn't track as well, and only has marginally better stereo separation.
     
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  24. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    I have to cosign this. I just spun a few different sounding cuts. The first was FKA Twigs M3LL155X cut by John Davis @ Metropolis. This pressing has some insane bass but Twig's vocals are crisp and clear in the digital mix. The AT MoFi combo is really handling separating those elements well with a good dollop of bass, and no truncated highs. Next up was Sun Giant from Fleet Foxes, the OG press cut by John Golden. This sounded big, warm and enveloping, but still had the crispness of a modern digitally recorded project. So far I'm not getting that feeling that any album is surrendering to the sound signature of the cart.

    At this point I'll run this in with my collection and report back after I've given it a good survey.

    BTW, does anyone know what Audio Technica recommends to clean this type of stylus? I usually use an Onzow and Nagaoka 801 fluid if needed. Should I invest in the AT fluid?
     
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  25. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I have the fluid. It's pretty strong stuff. I wouldn't use it more than once a month maybe. A little dry stylus brush is fine for routine cleaning, as is the zero dust. If you do get certain types of crud on the ML stylus, it can removed very carefully with a plastic toothpick. Best thing to do is just keep your records clean.
     
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