Cartridge advice

Re: Cartridge advice

Postby kurtster » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:08 am

Optimationman wrote:Playing back a record with a Shibata stylus which has been worn with a conical or elliptical stylus can result in near pristine sound - this is because the Shibata shape can "read" the groove wall in areas that were not contacted by the simpler stylus shape.

Anyone experienced this improvement in sound?

So to answer your question, yes.

Here's my Shibata story.

I have used a MM Shibata since I got my first turntable in 1978, a Technics SL1700 with an Audio Technica AT14Sla designed for quad playback (20hz to 45khz). Still have them. That was my TT up until 3 years ago. Along the way in the 90's after Lyle Cartridge went out of business (anybody remember them ?) and I could no longer get styluses for the 14 body I tried a couple of other carts with decent results but still not close to the 14. One was an AT142LP I got over at the main office in Stow, Ohio. I only live about a half an hour away. Then a few years later I went back trying to get some kind of affordable Shibata and ended up with a DR500LC linear contact that was supposed to make the record "sound like a CD"by design. This is what the guy who ran the whole USA division told me. He went and dug it out of closet and said that was the best he had laying around at the time. I guess it did and I found it too sterile. That was in the 90's and then everything ended up just sitting and collecting dust until about 4 years ago and I dove back in.

Went to EBay and found another AT14Sla and it was ok having some time on it then stumbled onto an AT15SS (Super Shibata also designed for quad) cart that only had an honest 10 hours on it. Bought a Cyclone for cleaning, an SL1200MK3 from Japan, put the cart on it and went to town playing and ripping. I found this forum because of looking for help with my Cyclone. The AT15SS is the sound that I missed for so long. It was the next step up from the AT14Sla and one under their best, the AT20SS, a legendary cart. I have constantly been looking for more since. I stumbled on a NOS early Audio Technica MM Precept PC440 with the Shibata on a beryllium cantilever, same as the SS models this past winter. Designed for quad as well and to replace the SS series, IIRC.

Back to playing back an old LP collection. Mine is as old as my high school days in the 60's. The bulk of my collection has only really ever seen a Shibata. The ones from my really early days were played on TTs that were always decent at worst. But they got some wear and tear over time. For the most part they still play fine and on the ones with light scratches I can still hear the music under the noise and it does sound nice in most cases. For the past three years, I have been constantly working on my cleaning regime. Special attention given to a soaking cycle using a mold release agent.

What I seem to have found is that all that junk and whatnot that has resided at the very bottom of the grooves has actually protected the record all this time. Now that I have removed it, the Shibata stylus goes deeper into almost virgin vinyl. Eh ?

The last step was getting a protractor to actually align my cart instead of eyeballing and guessing.
Since I used the Mint Tractor to actually align my cart, not only has the sound improved but the sound of the ticks that still remain is different and softer now.

I mostly listen to Rock. The Shibata has the sound I've grown accustomed to. I'm no longer interested in trying something different anymore after 40 years. It is demanding and very revealing like any exotic design. They are also most gentle to vinyl even if only reasonably aligned so that when you finally dial everything, you have done no harm to your vinyl. Getting your old vinyl super clean is the only way to find out what is left to use. I went through a very similar experience that Mr Putty did regarding the cleaning process of the day back then. I cannot tolerate surface noise, especially crackle. Your Spin Clean may or may not be up to that task. Your ears will be the judge of that.

Since joining here in September, the amount of learning about cleaning and setup that I have accomplished has been rewarded with the best sound of my life.

Cheers, kurt
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:46 pm
Location: Northeast Ohio

Re: Cartridge advice

Postby Optimationman » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:39 am

Thanks kurtster for those encouraging words. My cleaning routine with the spin clean is more extensive than the literature recommends. Sometimes letting that album soak, and many more turns in my own formula. Then again, maybe I actually cared for those old albums better than I had realize. With the elliptical stylus, I only rarely hear the dreaded snap crackle and pop. Ok, a few of the we're obviously left out of there covers, or were party victims. As I learn more about different stylus shapes and sizes, I realize there is more to this game than appears in a casual look.

I need to study a bit more. I expect to buy only one cartridge for my needs. Maybe a bit optimistic, but I have my final table(?).
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:58 pm

Re: Cartridge advice

Postby Pythonman » Thu Aug 15, 2019 4:28 pm

Most of my records were bought slightly used and played with elliptical or hyper elliptical stylus shapes while in my possession. A few sounded “worn” but playable. Then I bought a new Prime with a Hana SH and after carefully setting up using the Prime protractor (excellent piece BTW!) I dialed in everything else by ear and set VTF to factory Hana recommendations using the VPI supplied digital scale. Records I thought were worn were actually in need of better cleaning. To that end I quit using an alcohol based home brewed cleaning solution to something manufactured for the job with my Record Dr. The Shibata stylus was digging deep into areas of buildup I hadn’t suspected were in the records making some of them sound worse than I’d remembered. A good cleaning and rinsing cleared most of that up. Records that sounded like they were on their last leg with my Denon DL 160 got a totally new lease on life with a good cleaning and played back with a carefully dialed in Hana. My entire record collection sounds hugely improved with the Prime Hana SH combination. The only music I listen to seriously now is either my records, or the CDs I have burned from my records. My old factory CDs almost never get played now.
VPI Prime, Hana SH, Pass Labs X250, Parasound A21, Parasound P5, Parasound JC3+, Athena AS F2s
Posts: 27
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:25 pm


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