Cartridge Selection

Cartridge Selection

Postby mikethehunterguy » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:53 pm

To the good folks here. I was re-setting my cartridge alignment, because I was hearing things I didn't like, when I accidentally broke my stylus :oops:
I am looking for recommendations on a replacement cart.
VPI Scout II LE. I have the thick platter, and adjustable VTA base. JMW 10.5 arm. No damping well.
After I bought this table (used), I bad tremendous hum. With grounding experiments, and re-routing cables, it got a bit better. I replaced my Phonomena phono preamp with the PS Audio NuWave Phono convertor, and got rid of 90% of the remaining hum, but still have some very low-level buzz. I was told that my Shure V15VxMR cartridge might be the culprit, and now, well dead stylus.
I listen mostly to rock from 1970's to present, and Jazz of all vintages. Not too much classical at all.
I know that the VPI arm needs some specific qualities from a cartridge, but I am not sure what they may be.
All recommendations and reasons for selecting them are greatly appreciated.
Just to qualify, I paid $1900 for the table and $550 for the phono stage. Appropriate budget choices are appreciated.
OH, and the source of the distortion was schmutz on my stylus from cleaning residue. Rinse your records carefully after cleaning!
The diamond on the stylus broke when my Inspection microscope slipped and banged into it :roll:

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Re: Cartridge Selection

Postby DeeCee » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:47 pm

You may want to see the FAQ: Check Here First thread:

What Cartridge Should I use?
Here is VPI's recommendation: (page under construction)
Here are the forum's recommendation:

Start here!

It also helps if you list the equipment surround your table (amp, preamp, speakers, etc.)

Hope this helps!

VPI Scout 2/JMW-9/Benz Micro Wood SL/Graham Slee 3 & PSU1/Sony DVP-S7000/Schiit Audio Bifrost Uber/Sonic Euphoria PLC/Aragon 4004 Mk II/Aerial Acoustics Model 7
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Re: Cartridge Selection

Postby mikethehunterguy » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:16 pm

The rest of my system consists of
Pre-amp- DSpeaker X4
Amps- Aragon Palladium 1K (2 of them for mains)
Subwoofer amp- Gallo Acoustics.
Speakers- Martin Logan Ascent i
Subwoofers- Home made 12" sealed subs (stereo pair)
Power filtration for source gear is a Monster Power Center.
Cables are Audio Envy for interconnect and speaker. Home made 12 gauge power cables.
I am leaning towards the Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC at the high end, and an Audio Technica At-OC9XSL at the low end. The question is, Do I spend $2k on a cartridge for a table that cost $1800? Does this make sense? Or is the big $ cartridge a waste on this table?
Consider that I also had the Shure V15VxMr on this table, and it was pretty good sounding for the modest cost ($350 new). I may also get the JICO stylus for the V15Vxmr, but it is $280!!
Please guide me.
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Re: Cartridge Selection

Postby kurtster » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:05 pm

mikethehunterguy wrote:Please guide me.

You're asking help on one of the most subjective questions in audio that may exist. Any good cart/ stylus will improve any decent TT. Spending more on a cart than the cost of a TT ? Sure, why not ? It is the first intersection between the vinyl and the signal.

Other than your budget, I would define your listening needs first. Which you have. Then what is your preferred stylus type ? And then what are you going to use for alignment. I recently found out just how critical the alignment process is. Everything sounds great until you hear better. My most recent addition to my cart collection sounded great until I took the step to get a decent mid level protractor ( a MINT). Then it went from great to awesome. Could I improve on the MINT, probably, but I am now happier with the sound than I have ever been.

Me, I prefer a Shibata stylus and listen mostly to Rock. Shibata's seem to be more of a cult favorite than a mainstream favorite, but my first ever cart was an AT14SLa back in 1978 and I just have come to love the sound. Shibata's can shine with a rudimentary alignment but really come alive with a decent alignment as I am sure that any so called exotic design will. Perhaps the most important information you seek is what is not a good match for your TT and listening preferences and eliminate them from consideration. Even that will be subjective.

Personally, I would pass on the Jico's. I looked into one for my AT15SS and read too many bad things like the stylus tips coming unbonded. It then became time to give up on it and move on. That $300 on the Jico would go a long way towards a new hassle free cart. FWIW, I did acquire some NOS factory ATN20Sla styluses for my AT15SS body and even with a decent break in they just didn't sound the same. The difference in cantilevers (beryllium with the 15 to aluminum with the 20) probably played the biggest part of that The Jico sub will likely give you a similar result.

Hope this helps at some level.
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Re: Cartridge Selection

Postby seamonster » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:09 am

I believe the MIMC Star is an excellent match for your table, should you decide to buy it. You've got a good table, which, bought new, would cost twice what you paid. I'm using a Star mounted to a 3D arm, and it's pretty amazing. With the slightly heavier effective mass of your tonearm, it might sound better than mine. You've got nice gear that deserves the best cartridge you're comfortable buying.
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Re: Cartridge Selection

Postby babybird » Sun Sep 15, 2019 3:20 pm

I concur with seamonstor. I also have the Sound Smith MIMC Star mounted on my Classic 1 with standard JMW 10.5 arm and it is awesome. If I didn't have this cart I would probably go with the Hana MC for considerably less money but I have heard nothing but good things about this cart.

Good Luck.
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