Audio Technica VM540ML or Nagaoka MP-200?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by AnalogReview, Mar 1, 2019.

  1. gmcjj

    gmcjj Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mid Michigan
    I have the 540ml and to my ears it sounds just right. I do believe my next purchase is going to be a MP150 as I always wanted to see for myself how it sounds on my system.
     
  2. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brazil
    To me, in my system:

    VM540ML tracks like a champ. No IGD, no sibilance, no anything. That stylus is really good. Sounds fine too. However, a rather unexciting, two dimensional presentation. Good enough for its price point but there are better sounding cartridges out there. You just have to pay the price. In its price range it is probably very difficult to be beaten.

    No experience with the MP-200 to compare but since I bought a three times more expensive MP-500 my VM540ML was retired. I keep it as a backup.
     
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  3. Wow a lot of debate.!!
    I have an MP200 and am contemplating an alternative ! Why? I amconcerned about that stylus and also the apparent short life of it. Despite exemplary tracking on test grooves (HFS75) there can, at times, be a gravely nasty sound in the treble not unlike miss tracking. Not always inner groove either. Other times it sounds great. Smoother and more extended on 100 capacitance than on 200 where there is a lift 4 - 8khz followed by a roll off over 12khz (by ear, not exact measurement.
    Soo I amconsidering one of the AT's or possibly something else (G 1042??)
    The problem is choosing between the three VM540ml, VM 740ml & VM 750 sh
     
  4. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    You can also retip your MP200 stylus to something with a better profile. Will cost you around 200$ but its still cheaper than the VM540 and good if you already like the sound, otherwise that is the one I recommend, people seem to prefer it over the other two even as its cheaper for some reason.
     
  5. Tim1954

    Tim1954 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    In my experience the stylus is but one aspect of how sonic detail is retrieved.

    For example, on a 2M Black or MP-500 I can certainly hear more detail, but at the prices of carts near the MP-200 I've been less convinced.

    Perhaps in my case it is also due to the fact that detail is also but one aspect of what I enjoy about vinyl. I actually prefer the MP-200 and MP-300 to the MP-500. The latter just doesn't have that Nag "sound" I have come to appreciate. The MP-110 doesn't really quite have it either. It's once you get to the MP-150 and then especially the MP-200 that they get a sound out of their carts that (to me) is their signature sound.
     
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  6. rasputin1

    rasputin1 Active Member

    Location:
    New York
    Addressing an early post concerning a subtle roughness in the MP200 sound, QA is really not the issue. It is how the stylus is affixed to the cantilever. In offering the boron cantilever at a budget price, Nagaoka took the cost cutting route of not laser drilling a hole in the cantilever like most LOMCs using exotic cantilevers but instead glueing the tip with lots of glue to the underside of the cantilever (check out all the pictures on the web). Since the vibrations have to travel thru the adhesive blotch before hitting the boron, the arrangement offers little advantage over shank mounting. The MP150 doesn’t have this problem.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
    patient_ot likes this.
  7. Tim1954

    Tim1954 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    MP-200 sounds better than the MP-150. It isn’t that close, IMO.
     
  8. matrix-6

    matrix-6 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    USA
    I had a friend over who brought a 24/96 HDTracks hi-res version of an album by The Cocteau Twins called Blue Bell Knoll. I have it on CD, vinyl, and a 16/44 FLAC so we compared them. I have a Technics SL-1210GR with Nagaoka MP-200 and a Pro-Ject Carbon Classic with Ortofon 2M Blue. Here's where it got interesting. We both agreed the vinyl with MP-200 sound best, but... The 2M Blue sounded near identical to the 24/96 hi-res copy. As the hi-res copy isn't colored by anything aside from the DAC, this kind of implies the 2M Blue is more neutral/flat while the MP-200 adds some color to the sound. The MP-200 sounds fuller, with slightly more bass, but still crisp and clean. Anyway, just something worth considering. In the end we agreed that all that really mattered was whether it sounded good or not and they all did. We also agreed that if you have to work to figure out which version sounds better, then it's not really worth worrying about. Although we preferred the fuller sound of the MP-200, the 2M Blue cut some of the inherent sibilance in the album which made it more pleasing in a different way. Blue Bell Knoll is a very shimmery sounding album.
     
    sturgus likes this.
  9. LARGERTHAN

    LARGERTHAN Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eire
    As ever, these things are system dependent in the main - carts have an inherent FR, and at this kind of quality level it's what is most apparent, excepting arm and phono stage compatibility. Your system is bright overall, perhaps the Nag will serve you better. Prefer detail, the AT might serve you better.

    FWIW, I believe from the research I've read that AT advanced cut will last longer than an epllipitcal, at least in theory. Though the Nag will be far less sensitive to alignment issues - ellipitcals play nice and friendly in this regard.

    Check out Fremer's cart comparison a few years back - he has the MP200 in there against the 150MLX. Not exactly what you're after, but you'll get a decent basis of the so-called house sounds. Download the files in high res, play through your system, and pick your poison. Obviously there's variables at play here, but it's the best you'll do save trying them both yourself.
     
  10. Nifkin

    Nifkin New Member

    Location:
    London
    Hi,

    I'm new here, and I'm interested in the VM530ML to replace the Elys2 on my P3, largely based on what I've read about its characteristics and that it seems to be regarded as one of the best at its price point. However, I'd like to get an understanding from those who use it as to how critical it is to keep within the recommended capacitance load of 100-200pf with it, and if it really is at its best at 100pf? This seems to me to be a tall order, even with a phono stage that can be lowered to 47pf.... I'm guessing the tonearm wiring plus RCA cables on a 2016 P3 will run to anywhere between 100 and 150pf, so if I'm not up for missing my deck and buying a £500+ phono pre amp, are AT carts best avoided?

    Thanks!
     
  11. Tim1954

    Tim1954 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH

    Fremer's shootout used the MP-300.

    Also a great cart.
     
    LARGERTHAN and 4011021 like this.
  12. matrix-6

    matrix-6 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    USA
    Quick update to this I posted in another thread here. The Technics SL-1210GR tonearm height was set to 0. According to page 20 in the 1210GR manual, the height should be set to 1 for an 18mm cart. Nagaoka doesn't appear to give the height of the MP-200, but from what I've found online it's 18mm. I set the 1210GR height adjustment to 1 and some of that extra bass/fullness was gone. Someone in the other thread mentioned the lower tonearm height setting, the more bass is accentuated, so that might explain some of what I was hearing.
     
  13. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brazil
    That was me.
     
    matrix-6 likes this.
  14. Sterling1

    Sterling1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    Here's your test for how well a cart deals with sibilance: Diana Krall's "Straighten Up And Fly Right". My only cart that gets the job done is a Shure V15V-MR, my Shure M97xE is not quite there.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  15. Sterling1

    Sterling1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    BTW, the Nagaoka MP-200 is 17mm tall. I think it's been said following Technics instructions to level this cart the VTA would be set at ZERO. Setting the VTA to 1 would yield a tail high condition.
     
  16. smctigue

    smctigue Forum Resident

    Yes!!!!!!!

    I am convinced that the "cold" rap that AT's have is due to running them with high system capacitance.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  17. smctigue

    smctigue Forum Resident

    I don't own the 530 but I do own a number of 40 year old ATs/Signets. Frankly, I don't think the generators have changed that much over the years. My all time favorite cartridge is the Signet TK7LCa. The recommended capacitance range is 100 - 200pF. My total system capacitance is ~150. If I bring the capacitance up into the 250 - 300pF range things fall apart completely. Unfortunately, 250 - 300pF is probably a fairly common range for many.

    If you dig around you can probably find the total capacitance of both your arm and your phono pre. Make sure that the minimum 47pF setting isn't in addition to some other base value. I can whole heartedly recommend the ATs provided you can get into the recommended range.
     
  18. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brazil
    I believe it is 18mm tall.
     
  19. Sterling1

    Sterling1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    I got my info from someone who measured his from stylus tip to top.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  20. matrix-6

    matrix-6 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    USA
    Leonthepro likes this.

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