Gering back into vinyl, cartridge questions

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by coolhandjjl, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    I grew up in the '70's. I've just got some new-to-me old gear, Marantz 3800 Pre & 250M Power, & JBL L100's. Back then, turntables didn't matter as long as it had a walnut veneer plinth and a smoked plexi dustcover, so I bought a rebuilt Pioneer PL-530. (I didn't buy a Technics SL 1200. Whoops :D) I listen to mainly 70's rock, Led Zep, Joe Walsh, ZZ Top, Neil Young, Crosby Stills Nash, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Cowboy Junkies, and some Gillian Welch (Appalachian/vocals)

    Anyway, I found a NOS Pickering XSV 3000 c0mplete with factory stylus like I had back then, and also picked up a used Pickering XV 15 625E with an LP Gear D625 replacement stylus (probably elliptical?). That's the limit of my turntable and cartridge knowledge.

    I've been reading up on cartridges here after buying the Hi-Fi News Test LP. Back in the day, it was the Shure M95ED, Shure V15 Type III, Stanton 681 EEE, and the Pickering XSV 3000. But now I read about the latest cartridges like the Audio Technica VM540ML. Am I wasting my money chasing vintage cartridges? Do I really need to spend over $500?
     
    Isamet and snorker like this.
  2. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    I’ll be playing primarily new vinyl. I bought the XV 15 625E for my old beater vinyl, of which I didn’t keep that much of anyway. Or is there a better choice for beater vinyl, would something with a conical stylus be better suited for that? I can certainly flip these cartridges if there are choices that better suit my needs. Not locked into anything at this point.
     
  3. If that Pickering XSV/3000 has a good NOS genuine Stereohedron stylus you’d be hard pressed to do better. These sound excellent and track better than anything else I’ve ever tried, at a very low tracking weight. I usually run them at about 1.25g. Unfortunately the aftermarket styli don’t work as well, so you’re either going to need to find NOS replacements or get it re-tipped.

    I really like the Pickering/Stanton carts, and I’ve amassed a small collection: Pickering XSV/5000, Stanton 981HZS, Stanton 980LZS and a Stanton 981LZS and several NOS styli. I usually use the 981LZS, which displaced a Benz Micro Wood SL (still a nice cartridge, but a different sound, and doesn’t track as well). The LZS series are low impedance and output and need a preamp designed for moving coil or a pre-preamp.

    That said, you’ll read great things here about the AT line, particularly ones with the ML stylus. I also use an Ortofon OM40 that I quite like. It would certainly be easier to buy a new cartridge with a ready supply of new styli when the time comes. And no, you don’t need to spend over $500.
     
    bluemooze and coolhandjjl like this.
  4. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    Thanks! I can see your point about the supply of genuine replacement stylus. Would be an expensive and time consuming venture. I’ll use the XSV 3000 until I can’t. Since the XV 15 does not have a genuine stylus, I might as well flip that one and try the VM540ML.

    There is a model of that VM540ML that comes with a head shell, are those any good? Do they still need alignment?
     
  5. I’m not familiar with that Pioneer, so I don’t know the alignment specs. I imagine you’ll need to align it in any event, so you can probably stick with whatever headshell you have. Others here may know more about that. Same with the AT cartridge.

    From what I understand the 540/740 are better for lighter arms, and for medium mass arms the VM95ML may be preferable. Either way, all AT moving magnet cartridges require very low capacitance: no more the 200pF, which is tough to achieve when you figure in the phono stage and all the cabling.

    Ortofon is more forgiving in that regard. I don’t like the 2M series (plus they’re overpriced) but I like the older OM series, which are still available at lower cost than the comparable 2M, particularly the 40 with its relatively advanced FG70 stylus shape.
     
  6. krisjay

    krisjay Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maine
    coolhandjjl likes this.
  7. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    One of the things I wrestled with on the Pioneer headshell was that the screw mounting holes on top had Some side-to-side slop. Is that common on all headshells?

    As far as my turntable and tonearm, I’m guessing it’s a medium mass S shape arm. It was an average price tt back in the mid-to late 1970’s. A high school kid with a job at a Mickey D’s could afford one. No vertical height adjustment, so it’s pretty basic.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  8. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
  9. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Did you already buy the vintage cartridges? If so, go ahead and enjoy them. Many old Shures, Stantons, and Pickerings can sound great. The trouble is getting high quality styli for them. With NOS there is always a risk of hardened rubber suspensions. If the suspension is good, then the stylus should perform quite well.

    Have the preamp and power amp been fully serviced and recapped? If not you may want to look into that if you plan to keep those pieces long term.
     
    nosliw, coolhandjjl and snorker like this.
  10. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    There is some play with most headshells, usually 1-2 degrees on either side. The best thing to do is carefully line up the headshell with a small bubble level or azimuth block, then carefully tighten it down. If your tonearm has slots for top and bottom headshell pins, you can buy a nicer headshell with two pins instead of one. IME these line up more easily and have less play, but they are more expensive (usually around $80+) and will not work on all tonearms.
     
    coolhandjjl and snorker like this.
  11. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Available direct from AT with a discount code - TIM2020 - use at the last step of checkout. It is also available premounted on a headshell which may or may not be more convenient for OP.
     
    coolhandjjl and snorker like this.
  12. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    For beater records I would recommend sticking with something cheap with a conical stylus. Like an AT3600 or AT91. If you have old records that are just filthy and not scratched or worn, they can be cleaned on an RCM or Spin Clean type device.
     
    coolhandjjl and snorker like this.
  13. Sounds_Good

    Sounds_Good Active Member

    Location:
    CA, USA
    doing wrong chasing vintage ? no. doing wrong spending over $500 ? yes.
    The xsv3000 with a HE or Shibata would be as good as or perhaps even better to your ears and on your system than the 540ML.
    If you are seeking the vintage vinyl sound then a shure or pickering would be better. If you want pop , sizzle and assertive sound then go with the ML.
    If you are starting into vinyl now, then this is not going to be the only cartridge you will ever use.
    I'd say just get started with this and if you find anything lacking then deal with it as per the case. Often a component in your playback chain may be pulling it down and throwing cartridge upgrades at it might not present the change you are looking for.
     
    coolhandjjl likes this.
  14. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    It has just the four contacts that are inside the threaded mounting mechanism
     
  15. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    I already bought the two vintage Pickerings. Power amp & pre amp have been re-capped.
     
    Sounds_Good and patient_ot like this.
  16. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Fish tacos.

    Location:
    San Diego
    coolhandjjl likes this.
  17. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    See the picture below so you know what I'm talking about:

    [​IMG]

    This connector has slots for top and bottom headshell pins circled in red. Some tonearms only have a slot on the top and will not accept a headshell with top and bottom guide pins.
     
    coolhandjjl likes this.
  18. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Fish tacos.

    Location:
    San Diego
    The Pioneer looks like a nice TT!
    Pioneer PL-530 2-Speed Fully-Automatic Direct-Drive Turntable Manual | Vinyl Engine
     
    coolhandjjl and Dennis Metz like this.
  19. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    Yes, my tonearm has both pins like that!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
    patient_ot likes this.
  20. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    patient_ot likes this.
  21. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    It would be a more practical solution
    If you could find a modern mm
    Cartriďge.
    The reason is simply finding .a replacement stylus. If its highly
    Compliant like the Shure V15 MK3
    Modern replacements are usually
    Medium compliance, and stylus
    Probably inferior. Medium compliance
    Means its a different cartridge
    Sometimes Pfanstiehl sold genuine
    Thing under their name.
    I recently found one on line.
    What a difference, . I probably will never find another.
    A cartridge retipper can sometimes
    Manufacture a new stylus to same spec.
    Expert Stylus UK can remanufacture
    A V15 mk3 stylus
    Costs £275.
    Maybe they van can for your Pickering.
    But returning to my opening suggestion
    Far more practical to find a modern
    Replacement
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
    coolhandjjl likes this.
  22. Nathan Z

    Nathan Z Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    Assuming the stylus on the vintage cartridge isn't too worn, you can't go wrong. If you do decide to go new I always recommend Nagaoka cartridges I think they're just amazing.
     
    Hardcore, Thorensman and coolhandjjl like this.
  23. SteelyNJ

    SteelyNJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    I might just be the guy you want to talk to!

    I’ve had a Pickering XSV3000 since the mid-to-late ‘70s. I un-retired it a year-or-so ago and used it with an LP Gear ViVid Line replacement quite happily for awhile but just last week discovered that one of my original D3000 Stereohedron styli had some remaining life to it so I substituted it for the LP Gear and made some test recordings.

    Only a few days before finding the still viable D3000, I had placed an order for a new AT-540ML, so when THAT arrived I placed it on an alternate headshell and made corresponding test recordings of the same tracks I had just recorded with the Pickering. I’d be happy to share those files so you can compare for yourself.
     
    coolhandjjl and Sounds_Good like this.
  24. Sounds_Good

    Sounds_Good Active Member

    Location:
    CA, USA
    lol. thorensman...you should check out your post from a computer, it "looks" like a poem. :)
     
    iloveguitars and morinix like this.
  25. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Appleton, WI
    I’m guessing the Pickering had nicer sound?
     

Share This Page