Sorry Viridian, trying to find out the capacitance of the Mani, doesn't look like it has it directly? Perhaps it's in the details here?
Gain 1 = L, Gain 2 = L (Decca Mode)
Gain 1 = L, Gain 2 = H (Standard MM Mode)
RIAA Accuracy: +/- 0.2dB, 20-20kHz
Output Impedance: 75 ohms
Topology: Fully passive RIAA network with ADA4897 and AD8066 gain stages, thin-film resistors, and film capacitors throughout
Power Supply: “wall wart” style 16VAC transformer, regulated +/- 5V rails
Power Consumption: 4W
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.25”
Weight: 1 lb
Hi bstat -
I have a very similar set-up as yours ... Technics 1200GR (the new 1200 series) with the AT VM540. the Stereophile review pointed me towards this cartridge. Amp is a Rega Brio R, Parasound Zphono preamp, and Omega Compact Alnico monitors.
The AT does a nice job. A lot of cartridge for the money. The AT does require some break-in though, so be prepared. Not sure what cartridge you are changing from, so I can not add too much more.
I know the Mani pre has a series of switches that you can set for the cartridge. So you should be good to go.
Given that most 1 meter phono ICs connecting the turntable to the phono preamo will be about 100 pf, added to the Mani’s, the total 200 pf will be the capacitance load. If you look, some cartridge manufacturers will specify the optimal capacitance loading for a given model, usually in the 200-250 pf range. This spec determines how the extreme high end of the cartridge will respond but I’ve never found it to be highly significant. I have a Manley Steelhead phono stage that allows a great amount of capacitance adjustability; the results are very very subtle when playing with this parameter on MM cartridges. Nagaoka likes a lower figure of about 100 pf total, but that’s almost impossible given cables and phono pre inputs. I too use a Mani for my MMs and all three of my Nagaokas, 110, 150 and 200 sound terrific through it with a standard IC for a total of about 200 pf.
Look at these brand new Garrott Brothers cartridges, prices are in Australian Dollars (not in USD), so you have to calculate the actual price. Garrott K3 has Shibata stylus tip and cost USD 283 (AUD 400). You can upgrade any of them with Jico SAS if you want. You can also upgrade them with original Garrott styli anytime. I am a big fan of Garrott P77.
First of all: you limit yourself if you ignoring NOS cartridges from the pinnacle of MM era (it was in the 70's, not now), they are 10 times better than anything new. Even if they are more expensive they are still the best you can buy today if you want an MM or MI.
Some of the vintage carts can accomodate Jico SAS if you like Jico so much, as been said before Victor Z1 can be upgraded with SAS. But most of the vintage cartridges are just great with original styli.
This guy selling NOS Pickering for low price, it's it's new and never used you can buy it. Just make sure the stylus is D3000 (Stereohedron) and it has mounting hardware kit (plastic blackets to mount a cartridge). This is a great cartridge, search online about it. Everyone is happy.
I think Grace F8 Custom is a great low budget cartridge if the stylus is something like RS8F blue (Shibata). Victor X-1IIe is great cartridge with titanium cantilever. You can also search for Stanton 881s on ebay for around $350. Here is more about Stanton in TAS article.
chakster"selling NOS Pickering for low price, it's it's new and never used"
You are obviously confused, disoriented, or misinformed by definition NOS means "New Old Stock" if it has been used it is not new and therefore can not be NOS of course many old, aged, out of production phono cartridges are advertised as NOS but they are in truth, reality, and practice used, used, used as can be verified by experts i do not know why anyoen would prefer such old products even if they are genuine NOS it is likely and even probably that elements of the cartridge have dried up from unuse in storage!
You are obviously confused, disoriented, or misinformed by definition NOS means "New Old Stock"
This is excactly what i said "new and never used" and if the item sold on ebay not as described anyone can return it for full refund including return shipping under paypal buyer’s protection.
I’ve heard this BS about "dried up suspension in storage", but in practice i’ve NEVER had this problem with more than 50 vintage cartridges. If the damper is weak anyone can return the cartridge for full refund on ebay with no loss, please think about it, isn’t it the best option to buy something?
Don’t forget that we’re talking about MM cartridges, not an MC.
MM cartridge has removable stylus.
Personally i have no problem if the seller will open a NOS cartridge to check it for a 10 hrs or so, this is more like a free burn-in, honest seller will never try to lie about condition if he was able to check it. This is all good. Factory sealed cartridges have higher market value. After trying many samples of the same favorite models of many vintage cartridge i can make my conclusion that this cartridge does not have a problem with damper at all (even after 30 years in storage).
If you don’t know why anyone prefer Vintage MM cartridges i’m pretty sure you have NEVER heard or owned a decent vintage MM cartridge. Some of them are quite expensive now, some goes for over $1k. Many of us own them and in comparison with $3-4k NEW MC they are still amazing (yes, vintage MM are amazing, not a new $3k MC, not all of them).
I have both MM/MI and MC cartridges in collection. The most problematic cartridge in my life was brand new LOMC, not any vintage MM or vintage MC. Actually those carts from the golden age of analog continue to impress me every month, prices on used market is much better than distributors prices for new cartridges. If i like used cartridge i would look for a NOS sample of this cartridge for collection.
However, the OP asking about $300 cartridge, this is cheap and for this budget i would not hesitate to buy a few to try.
I hope you’re not gonna tell me that Nagaoka 150 or AT VM540ML are very impressive MM of today ? No, they are not. So who cares if they are new, the problem is that even USED vintage MM is 10 times better in sound for the same price.
Many killer MMs discovered in Raul's old thread by many contributors long time ago.
Thanks @chakster , I appreciate you trying to steer us in the right direction. You are right, I have never heard any golden age carts, but I haven't heard many new ones either. Perhaps ignorance is bliss? Really the ONLY cart I've spent any amount of time with is the Shure M97xE - I've had for 10 years and now it's giving up the ghost. Surely the ones I mentioned should at least put the Shure to shame? But if you are talking about what's the absolute best for under $300, now you have me intrigued by the Garrett K3...How would you compare the Garrett K3 to the 540ML? Both seem to have similar tips - Micro line compared to Shibata (I take it the Shibata is a step above?) how would this translate into what I will hear in the music all else being equal? more detail? more bass? better sound stage? Just trying to piece it all together. Thanks for your time!
Micro line styli have signicantly better wear characteristics than Shibata and elliptical, let alone conical profiles. About 2:1 compared to Shibata and 3:1 compared to elliptical.
Price (value) is not unimportant to most of us. A $300 cartridge is not pocket change if you live in many parts of North America where the cost of living is astronomically high. The VM540ML is a star performer in a sea of others. As a very high value proposition, any incremental increase in price over it would yield little perceptible improvement.
If if you can afford to casually drop a thousand dollars here and there to “try a few” $300 cartridges, you are much better off than many, many others. Something to keep in mind.
Shibata or MicroLine are all good, but i could mention 10 more different profiles, i think this topic if not about profiles, but about a good or very good MM cartridge for $300 ?
However, if you want to look at some of the best diamonds clikc here, the Shibata is in the middle, on the left is Van den Hul and on the right is Fritz Gyger.
For more information about different styli click here it’s a long thread with data and pictures.
Audio-Technica is one of my favorite brands, their cartridges are really good, the AT-ML150 OCC was a mind blowing for $350 in my experience, Cantilever is Beryllium, stylus is MicroLine. But for much higher price the top model in AT-ML series is my reference cartridge AT-ML180 OCC or OFC.
On the budget side the AT20SLa (Shibata) and even a $250 Ortofon M20FL Super (FineLine) are superb!
For this Ortofon M20FL Super i still have a NOS FineLine stylus (D20FL Super) in original box if anyone need it:)
Unfortunately top models of vintage carts from the 80’s from any manufacturers only goes up in price.
I’m wondering why older member did not bought them 20 years ago when the price was really nothing compared to today market value ? Some member bought them long time ago and do not complain about high prices.
Victor invented Shibata stylus, the best cartridge they made with Shibata is X-1II. It’s getting more and more expensive slowly, because it’s a killer MM cartridge with Beryllium Cantilever and Nude Shibata tip.
This is AT’s MicroLine, looks very impressive, but cartridge design is not just about the stylus tip. How about the cantilever? As much as you move from Conical/Elliptical to Shibata/MicroLine in upgrade of the stylus, you can do the same upgrading Alluminum cantilever to Titanium or Beryllium or Boron ... in theory.
Practically it would be hard to tell what is the "best", because it’s a personal preferences and system dependent.
You want a NEW cartridge and the Garrott Brothers is what i’d like to add in the list. This is an old brand, the original owners are no longer with us. I am using the old Garrott P77, now they have P77i (improved version), the K-3 is one step behind.
Just bought the AT VM540ML. I didn't want to buy the JICO SAS since the main part of the Shure cart body was ever so slightly crooked after I super glued it back together.
After doing a lot of research I am confident that I bought the right one. (should pair Nicely with my Vandersteens since those are a bit laid back the extra treble and detail will do them nicely). I am excited. I will report back probably end of next week with my initial impressions.
Well, after I bought the 540, I kept doing research and listening to more needle drops, so not so confident as my last post in this thread. I am giving up on the Jico since I believe the cart isn't square anymore (and maybe glued on slightly cockeyed) that leaves the Nag if the 540 doesn't work out. Again probably shouldn't have gone searching for negatives against the 540. I will attach the 540 tonight and I will finally find out if I made the right decision.
@chalkster: "I hope you’re not gonna tell me that Nagaoka 150 or AT VM540ML are very impressive MM of today ? No, they are not. So who cares if they are new, the problem is that even USED vintage MM is 10 times better in sound for the same price."
As an owner and user of several Pickering, Stanton and Shure vintage cartridges from the 70s and 80s, plus a number of newer models from AT, Grado, Nagaoka and Ortofon, I will say that the current cartridges manufactured, especially those by Nagaoka, are just as good as those vintage examples. Improvements in materials since the 70s, such as cantilever suspension elastomers, laser cut diamonds, precision coil winding, cyanoacrylate adhesives, all contribute to a better product that is, by price and sonics, an even better value than what was sold 30 to 40 years ago. So, I don’t agree with you on this point, especially the "10 times better in sound" comment.
So, I got the AT VM540ML installed properly and listened to it over the weekend and....I'm not a fan. My fears were realized. On most of my records that gave me the warm and fuzzies previously, now sounded bright, thin and with the life sucked out of them. There were only 2 records that sounded better than my old Shure M97, those were Paul Simon Graceland and Daft Punk Randon Access Memories. I think the reason is that they seem to have been recorded the highs rolled off, were-as the 540 accentuates the treble so those now seemed more balanced out. Everything else was just too bright. So, yes, I am disappointed as I had high hopes for it. Did I give it a fair shake? Perhaps it did not get broken in all the way, but I do not believe the sound signature will drastically change at 100 hours, though it may get a bit less harsh. I am returning to order the Nagaoka MP-150. I will let you know how that one turns out...to be continued...
As an owner and user of several Pickering, Stanton and Shure vintage cartridges from the 70s and 80s, plus a number of newer models from AT, Grado, Nagaoka and Ortofon, I will say that the current cartridges manufactured, especially those by Nagaoka, are just as good as those vintage examples.
Would you like to specify which models of the vintage cartridges from the manufacturers in your list do you have and comparing to modern Nagaoka ?
Pickering, Stanton, Shure, AT, Grado and Ortofom made so many low budged inferior cartridges too, all depends on each specific models. The price range for all those cartridges today varies from $50 to $1500 easily. When you name a manufacturer i don’t undestand which particular model do you mean as your reference ?
Improvements in materials since the 70s, such as cantilever suspension elastomers, laser cut diamonds, precision coil winding, cyanoacrylate adhesives, all contribute to a better product that is, by price and sonics, an even better value than what was sold 30 to 40 years ago. So, I don’t agree with you on this point, especially the "10 times better in sound" comment.
This is the Gyger / VdH / Shibata diamonds from the 70s/80s, no one made anything better and laster technology was widely used in japan even in the 70s. I am not aware of the better products of today when it comes to MM/MI carts. Coil winding with LC-OFC wire was designed in the 80s and still the best (utilized for top models from Grace and Audio-Technica back in the day). Some new High-End MI carts like Top Wing cost $12 000 this is what you call a better value ? :) That brand new TOP WING MI coreless cartridges designed by ex Grace (Shinagawa Musen Co LTD.) engineer.
I’ve mentioned some extraordinary MM cartridges in my previous posts, exact models of vintage heritage.
My sniff test?
Everyone knows that XSV-3000 is exactly Stanton 881s.
Never tried the XSV4000, but all 3 cartridges are very good in $300-400 range, but not top models from Stanton/Pickering.
I am not a fan of Shure, but there is a Shure ULTRA-500 series which easily goes for $1500 today. And Stanton CS-100 WOS or 981 or Pickering XSV-7500 are also superior to the earlier models. There cartridges ain’t cheap today anymore, but the best from those brands.
It depends how far you can go with a choose of vintage MM, but if you really want the best then top models only.
I can see why people really like the 540ML due to it's extremely detailed nature, but for me I think I prefer more warmth (full velvety mid-range and solid bass with good dynamics) even if it means it's at the expense of just a tad of detail. I just find the hyper detail to suck the musicality out of the recordings and it lost it's emotional impact. I guess I am learning more about myself and what I like with these experiments, so that's good I guess (even if it's a bit frustrating)
I think I prefer more warmth (full velvety mid-range and solid bass with good dynamics) even if it means it's at the expense of just a tad of detail.
Then why did you ordered the Nagaoka?
You need Garrott P77i if you like what you described above.