The Sophistication of the inexpensive VM540ML

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by allied333, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire Thread Starter

    Location:
    MI
    The VM540ML is likely the best deal in a cartridge for $250. It has a most sophisticated micro-line needle that is exactly the same as records are cut on a master. What this means is it will extract all the information in a record grove unlike other designs. And, unlike some needles that last as low as 300 hours, the VM540ML design lasts 1000 hours. Even a cartridge at $150 with 500 hour life is actually more expensive than the VM540ML due to the lower life. It has to be the best deal anywhere.
     
  2. Davey

    Davey made a machine by describing the landscape

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    I wonder how much input capacitance you have on the Allied Receiver? Any idea? I'd bet it's quite a bit since it's a pretty simple phono stage, right?
     
  3. SNDVSN

    SNDVSN Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Or the VM95ml at £130, AT really has the market sewn up, no need to look elsewhere.
     
  4. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire Thread Starter

    Location:
    MI
    I have about 200pF as the 12AX7 tube amplifies it. I have 22pf short phono cables so I am at the top recommended limit, but ok.
     
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  5. Floyd Crazy

    Floyd Crazy Forum Resident

    Here here I use VM95ML best £129 I ever spent, well said SNDVSN, Floyd.
     
  6. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire Thread Starter

    Location:
    MI
    You are right, VM95ML has same microline needle and 90% of VM540ML performance many systems could not hear the difference with great ears let alone 60 year old ears. The VM540ML is better suited for light medium mass tone arms vs the VM-95ML for medium mass tone arms. I have a light medium mass tone arm..
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
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  7. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    The main advantage the 540 will have is in the crosstalk/stereo separation department because it has the shield plate and a different coil design layout. That said 27dB stereo separation, which is what I measured on my 95ML, is more than good enough for most people and records. The 540 will not work well on heavier tonearms, as you mentioned. Most tonearms a bit over 12g effective mass (that have no special damping features) would likely be better suited to the 95ML over the 540.

    I showed the difference in coil designs here:

    Audio-Technica launches new entry-level VM95 cartridge series
     
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  8. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    If youre gonna pick the low estimate for lesser styli then so should you for the 540 which is 500 hours.
     
  9. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire Thread Starter

    Location:
    MI
    Anoth
    Another poster disagrees and states all mico-line are 1000 hours.
     
  10. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Then you should double the 300 hour mark as well. Even though it should be 200 to begin with.
     
  11. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire Thread Starter

    Location:
    MI
    No. Other poster stated 300 hours and they seem to know what they were talking about. I will go with other poster, no offense.
     
  12. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    LOL, it's happening again.

    I'm still not tossing you a lifeline.
     
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  13. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire Thread Starter

    Location:
    MI
    [QUOTE="Phil Thien, post: I'm still not tossing you a lifeline.[/QUOTE]
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.........................:yikes:
     
  14. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Audio-Technica’s own estimates list 300 hours for elliptical and 1000 hours for MicroLine. So 300 is already the “larger” estimate, according to Audio-Technica.
     
  15. dconsmack

    dconsmack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV USA
    This is indeed a great cartridge. Its tracking performance is excellent compared to cartridges at ANY price. A MicroLine stylus cannot be beat at any price either. I've owned 5 or 6 Audio Technica carts and their quality control has always been the best in the business - and I own a $8,000 cartridge. The cantilevers are straight, the diamonds are square to the cantilever's, and the rake angle is at, or very close to 92º at the recommended tracking weight. The only real criticism I have of the VM540ML is the frequency response has a very pronounced rising high end, even when loaded within the rated capacitance. However, it somehow doesn't sound brittle or etched; it sounds aggressive and exciting in a good way. I always recommend this cartridge to friends who are looking for equipment on a budget. If they've got an unlimited budget, I recommend the AT33PTG/II to them. Needless to say, I'm a fan.
     
  16. dconsmack

    dconsmack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV USA
    It seems that maybe the MicroLine/MicroRidge 1000 hour life span estimate came from when cartridges like the Shure V15VxMR tracked at 1 gram. In my experience, using a Dynavector 17D3 MicroLine stylus tracking at 2 grams on only vacuum-cleaned, mint condition records and cleaning the stylus after every side lasts about 500 hours. Go figure. This is when it started to have degraded audio and I confirmed it by seeing the MicroLine "fin" worn down on the left side. However, the 17D3 is a bit of an anomaly with the short cantilever and I now know that particular cartridge needs more anti-skate than most other carts to even out the wear so this is not meant to be the last word in MicroLine stylus life. But, I still think it's a good idea to check all MicroLine styli after 500 hours if tracking at 2 grams or heavier. Tracking weight and proper anti-skating is a major factor in stylus wear. I now set anti-skate using Peter Ledermann's (Soundsmith) procedure and found that it works great for any cartridge at any tracking force.
     
  17. emenel

    emenel Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Having never heard these AT carts, does anyone have any thoughts on how they compare to the DV 10x5 or 20x2? I’ve been using those exclusively for the last many years, and generally have been very happy. But I’m kind of getting tired of spending ~$1k CAD every 12-18 months based on my listening hours. If I could get somewhere in the same ballpark performance for less I’d definitely give it a shot.
     
  18. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brazil
    Exactly my experience.
     
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  19. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Audio-Technica VM540ML Phono Cartridge Review - HomeTheaterHifi.com

    ^ Review here with some measurements. There is a small top-end lift, but it's small. Looks like +2-2.5dB from 10-16Khz.

    How much lift you get on your system will likely be highly dependent on capacitance load. You'll want things as low as possible with this cartridge. You may also be able to tune the FR of the cart further with parallel resistive loading.
     
  20. Voxy

    Voxy Member

    Location:
    Singapore
    Yes the best price performance AT cart.... will be looking at one as another cart to pair with the Sl1200GR.
     
  21. Echo's Answer

    Echo's Answer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I’ve had a 10x5 some time ago, i don’t miss it at all. I’ve tried out a lot of the budget MC carts and always came back to the at microline. The key is having the correct capacitance. I’m going thru stylus as fast as you (less than a year). $200 for a replacement is great. I buy tons of used, lots of it is hot cut vinyl from the 80’s, many 12 inch singles. No IGD. I think it’s one of the best deals out there.
     
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  22. Michael Sutter

    Michael Sutter Forum Resident

    Location:
    Holbrook, NY
    The Microline stylus is without question the best tracking stylus you can get on the market right now. Better than Shibata or other line contact styli - far smoother treble response without sacrificing detail. The VM95ML is as good a deal as the AT440MLa/MLb was, and if AT were to ever release an ML option below that price point it'd basically demolish the competition.
     
  23. TheVU

    TheVU Forum Resident

    Has anyone tried one with the Musical Surroundings Phonomena or Nova?
     
  24. recstar24

    recstar24 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glen Ellyn, IL
    Very random question - is there such a thing as too low a capacitance? My pass aleph ono allows some choices accessed internally, of which I've selected 100pF (short phono of BJC LC-1), so I'm definitely within the recommended range for AT, but the aleph ono also allows a 0 pF capacitance loading setting, should that be the one I click or is that too low which would cause its own set of issues?
     
  25. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    On my budget, $250 is a lot of money. But this Audio-Technica VM 540ML is the bang for the buck MM cartridge in audio. This is a better, cheaper cartridge and replacement stylus than an Ortofon 2M Black, for less money. And the most for the least money today. Does need optimal setup and VTA/SRA dialed in. When you want wide soundstage, detail, musicality, and in an attainable manner, this cartridge is a best buy, I agree with you completely on this one.
     
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