Grace F14 MONO cartridges and styli

Dear all, i have to start this thread because i’ve come across first MONO cartride in my system.

The cartridge is extremely rare Grace F14 (MONO) LC-OFC from the mid 80’s.
I’m a huge fan of the Grace stereo cartridges, in stereo world the F14 LC-OFC is superb, this MM generator is the best ever made along with LEVEL II LC-OFC. As you might know the Grace made so many different styli with different cantilevers and different diamonds for F14 and LEVEL II series in the 80’s.

BUT I know nothing about mono cartridges, because i’ve never used any of them.
And i don’t even have enough MONO records, but i got some for sure.

I don’t play 78rpm SP ... and most of my mono records are 45 rpm (7’inchers) from the 60’s, 70’s, maybe a little bit from the 50’s.

My F14 LC-OFC cartridge has ONLY 2 PINS (not 4 pins like stereo versions). The special lead wire designed for use with mono is included, no problem with that.

Looking at the MONO stylus on my F14 MONO cartridge i realized it is not an SP version described here (definitely not a huge 3 mil. tip), but a nude stylus tip, small just like stereo tip on some other Grace styli that i have in collection. So it’s a good news, because i’m not gonna play 78 rpm anyway.

What i realized by trying this cartridge/stylus on my mono records is a lower compliance of the stylus compared to normal Grace (they are high compliance). The stylus replacement designed for F14 (not for older F9), the plastic shape of the F14 is always different compared to F9.

I’ve searched for MONO styli shapes online and i’ve seen many articles about oldschool conical styli of the different size for the mono records from the different eras. Also about the mono cut on stereo cutterhead.

I could find only one more Grace mono cartridge (LEVEL II) with 1 mil. conical tip described here

BUT this post on another forum is the most interesting:

"I play a number of vintage monos (primarily stuff from ’58 to the mid 60’s, admittedly no pre ’57 stuff) here with a modern microridge stylus and would never go back to using a conical on them (having done so in the past). They sound incredibly good with the microridge...

Based on my experience, I feel all the talk of conical styli being necessary to get the best out of mono records is urban legend at best, if not patently false."

If this is true i can use any stylus on my Grace MONO cartridge for my records pressed in the 60s/70s in mono ?

I don’t have a mono switch anywhere on my gear, but since the cartridge pins are designed for MONO only, i believe, i’m safe to cancel vertical noise caused by conventional stylus with vertical compliance ?

I can not detect a stylus shape yet, it can be Conical, Elliptical, Shibata (or maybe even Micro Ridge). I’ve heard they are all good for MONO made with stereo cutter head in the 60’, 70’s or even today.

Let me know what you think, it can be my first mono cartridge then.
10076406 d6c5 4854 a751 76cefa9d8a70chakster
What i can see in Lyra Etna MONO specs is LineContact stylus: 

"Lyra-designed long-footprint variable-radius line-contact nude diamond (3um x 70um profile, block dimensions 0.08 x 0.12 x 0.5 mm)" 

Here is more about mono cartridges in the article by Art Dudley. Only the cheapest carts have conical tip for mono, most of the high-end mono have at least elliptical or line contact. 

Interesting. All these makes me think that signal generator is more important that the tip ? 

Art Dudley says: " stereo cartridge that's been optimized for mono rather than a mono design from the ground up "  What's the difference? Vertical compliance or something else ? 

These days many are coming around to using modern styli on for later mono records (excluding 78 as you noted). The main advantage for a true mono cart is the lack of output for vertical modulation- which if present is unintended for mono records. That said people with pristine mono collections often use a stereo cart as the selection and quality levels are often greater and vertical modulation noise is not much of an issue...
I don't recall ever reading that a spherical tip is to be preferred for mono.  Rather, I have often read that the spherical shape is OK for mono, whereas it would be regarded as out-dated for stereo.  Miyajima make some of the best mono cartridges, and I believe without having checked recently that some of their models use spherical tips.

Mono cartridges come in two very different "flavors".  Most modern mono cartridges are stereo cartridges in which the two channels are bridged, internally, to provide mono output into two channels of a stereo system.  In that case, the signal derived by vertical deflection of the stylus is present but cancelled before it goes anywhere. Only a very few modern mono cartrides, like those made by Miyajima and maybe some of the Lyra mono cartridges, are "true" mono, designed so that they cannot read a stereo signal, which is to say they cannot read signal derived from vertical deflection of the stylus.  Your Grace is vintage and evidently is of the latter type.  So, I am curious, do you somehow run the output into both channels of a stereo system, or do you listen to it over just one speaker of your stereo pair?

Last year when I was in Tokyo, I bought a Shelter 501 series II mono cartridge.  It has 4 pins, so is probably a bridged stereo type. I have yet to install it on a tonearm.  I really should do that.  In one of my two systems, the phono stage has a mono switch.  Engaging the switch for mono LPs affords a huge improvement, and I think you will find the same at least with your mono cartridge, on mono LPs.  Using the mono switch on a phono stage is really just like using a bridged stereo cartridge that produces a mono signal into both channels.  I've wondered whether it is even better to use both a mono switch AND a mono cartridge, for mono LPs.
I’ve been pondering the effectiveness of my Audio-Technica VM-610 mono cartridge. It comes with a comical stylus (ugghhh), but I’ve been contemplating the VM540ML stylus on the mono body, and wondering if that combination will be better for my mono records that are all from the mid-60’s and later. 

Does that mean that "vertical signal" is cancelled before it goes anywhere, if a cartridge has ONLY 2 PINS ?

4 lead wires from the conventional headshell are "Y" type for use exclussively with just 2 pins on the MONO cartridge.

I use 2 stereo speakers, of course.

No mono switch on my First Watt and Pass Labs amps (or on the phono stages).

I’m not a mono guy, it’s all about curiosity.

My mono records are not LPs, but a vintage 7’ inch singles on 45 rpm. Most of them have Stereo version of the tune on one side and MONO version of the same tune on the flipside. By Playing MONO side with Stereo cartridge i’ve never noticed an improvement and always prefered the STEREO to MONO. But i’ve never owned a MONO cartridge untill now (Grace F14 LC-OFC MONO)

Cartridges you’re calling "TRUE MONO" are all LOMC, but what about true mono MM cartridges ? What’s makes an MM a "true mono" ? Why Grace MONO can not be a "true mono" ? After all are you aware of any MM with no vertical compliance ? This grace model designed for use with 78rpm only (SP) and the stylus must have no vertical compliance then (or not)? My stylus is different, not for SP, and it does vertical movement, but on a low compliance.

I’m aware of Miyajima, but i think it’s for oldschool MONO records made on MONO cutter before mid ’50s or for very old 78 rpm which i don’t use at all.

My MONO records are 99% 45s made on stereo cutter head (i guess) after mid ’50s (mostly in the ’60s and ’70s).

Chakster, You wrote, "4 lead wires from the conventional headshell are "Y" type for use exclussively with just 2 pins on the MONO cartridge."  I am not sure I understand.  How do you attach your 4 lead wires from the headshell to two pins on your mono cartridge?

Where did I say that all true mono cartridges are LOMC types?  I didn't say that; nor is it true.  However, if you ask me to name some current MM cartridges that are true mono, I cannot do that, because I have not looked for one.  I am pretty sure Audio Technica makes one that is widely advertised on eBay. Also, you've got one, and it's vintage.

As I wrote above, what I call "true mono" cartridges are cartridges that are built such that they cannot "read" vertical deflections of the stylus tip.  Stereo cartridges that are also marketed as mono variations usually have intact two internal channels that are simply bridged at the output.  These CAN read vertical motion at the stylus, but because of the bridging, the electrical signal produced by vertical motion of the stylus is cancelled.  The result is the same.

Read the Miyajima website. They make mono cartridges for 78s, but they also make mono cartridges for modern mono LPs, using a different stylus from the dedicated 78 rpm type. They probably sell more mono LOMCs than any other company.

You should try a mono 33-rpm LP some time, using your Grace cartridge.  You'll be pleasantly surprised at how great such LPs can sound, and in some cases you won't care that they are not in stereo.

But do tell me how you are connecting 4 wires to two pins.
@lewm Well, the "Y" type is just a simbol, if you will look at that simbol this is exactly how two wires from the shell goes to one pin to attach to the cartridge. I got two "Y" type leadwires, headshell got 4 pins, cartridge got 2 pins, the "Y" type wire in between. They are designed only for mono application.

Everything related to the compliance in case with MM is about the stylus, not about the generator. I don’t have that stylus anyway, my stylus have vertical compliance. But i hope a cartridge generator is a true mono as it has only two pins on it.

MC carts for mono is not a subject of this post, it’s completely different design.

Got some mono LPs, maybe just a few :)

The Audio-Technica VM-610 MM mono cartridge has 4 pins like a stereo cartridge, so this one is bridged internally as Lewm said.

What’s the benefit of having just 2 pins on the cartridge body? Does it meant to be a "true mono"? 
Not necessarily "bridged internally". Maybe, maybe not. 

There’s a lot of great info provided by JC in the thread linked below:

Generator and coil orientation is the key. I have come around to believing that very good mono reproduction can be achieved with a conical. Am currently using an AT 33 Mono but would like to try it out with a more sophisticated stylus profile and/or better cantilever material. May tackle that in the future.

@hdm thanks for the link

I think i will copy paste J.Carr's comment here:

Even if the LP groove is mono, you will get maximum information retrieval if the vertical stylus contact is maximized and the longitudinal stylus contact is minimized. This dictates a line-contact stylus - similar to the requirements for a stereo LP.

But there are two things to watch out for regarding the stylus shape.

One is that many earlier mono LPs have shallow bottoms, and/or the bottoms of the groove are mired in decades of accumulated grime. You can run into problems with tracking and noise if the stylus shape is narrow and pointed enough to allow the very tip to touch the bottom of the groove or the dirt that may be there.

Two is that a line-contact stylus will make the effects of stylus rake angle (SRA) and cantilever rake angle (which I think is a far more descriptive term for cartridges than VTA) more noticeable, and if you have a tonearm that doesn't allow easy height control, you may be better off with a spherical stylus.

Regarding coil structure, it should be real mono rather than strapped stereo. On paper, strapped stereo coils, or using a mono switch on the preamp will get the job done. In the real world the results are audibly better with real mono coils. Canceling whatever vertical noise component that may be present in a mono groove assumes very tight matching of channel output as well as magnetic and capacitive crosstalk - but this assumption doesn't hold up well in the real world. And in general (with amplifiers as well as transducers), not picking up an error component in the first place is preferable to picking it up and trying to cancel it out later.

Regarding vertical compliance, a mono cartridge should have it. Mono LPs are not tougher than stereo LPs, both are made from the same materials, and both will remain in good condition for a lot longer if grooves are not subjected to high pressure - especially if that pressure is concentrated on a narrow area of the groove. If the cartridge suspension has no vertical compliance, the same stylus will require higher tracking forces than if there is vertical compliance.

This also becomes an argument in favor of line-contact styli, since they do the best job of distributing the vertical tracking forces over a wide area of the groove. ... 

hope that this has been informative, jonathan carr

Why do manufacturers bridge the two channels of a mono version of a stereo cartridge? Wouldn’t it be more sonically accurate to take the signal from only the horizontal coil?
I’m not sure that’s a good question.
It seems that Lyra orients one coil of a stereo cartridge such that it doesn’t react to vertical displacement. But it’s there.
Somebody can correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that stereo cartridges will typically be 2 coils at a 45 degree orientation to allow pickup of both vertical and horizontal signal. 

Mono cartridges will either be a single coil mounted horizontally (think Denon 102, Chakster's Grace, both with 2 pins only) or two separate horizontal mono coils to work a bit more gracefully in a stereo set up (think the various Lyra, AT 33 Mono etc. with the typical 4 pin configuration).

Manufacturers bridge the stereo version because it's cost effective, not because it offers the best performance, which it won't. For that, they'd have to totally build another cartridge with the coil(s) in the horizontal orientation. 
But in a MM cartridge the body is 5% of the cost. Seems to me they could just wire both channels to the horizontal and call it a day. 
But in a MM cartridge the body is 5% of the cost.

Do you mean the cost for the manufacturer or for a consumer?

In terms of the market price for a consumer I think it's the other way around, the MC body is useless without stylus/cantilever and cost almost nothing, while the MM cartridge body is expensive because we can manually insert the stylus in 3 seconds to return it back to life. So i think it can be easily 30-50% of the total cost, but the stylus is the most expensive part of MM/MI, definitely.  
I don't disagree with anything HDM wrote above.  That's pretty much what I said too.  But I would not go overboard to say that mono cartridges derived by bridging stereo channels are to be dismissed out of hand.  First of all, that would drastically limit one's choice, as the market is quite thin on "true mono" cartridges.  And second because I have had a great result just using a mono switch on either of two preamplifiers that I own that provide for same.  The mono switch acts further up the chain to bridge the stereo input, so it is subject to the same caveats as are bridged mono cartridges.  Yet it works dramatically well to improve the mono LP experience.  Lower noise, better high frequencies, etc.

And finally, the manufacturers have made it very difficult for buyers to figure out how they have constructed their mono cartridge offerings.  If you want to see double talk that rivals only the drivel of politicians, go to one of those websites and read about mono cartridges.
Sorry, I forgot one thing.  Chakster, the way you have hooked up your Grace to your stereo system could cause a degradation of performance, because each channel of your stereo phono stage is now seeing the output impedance of the cartridge in parallel with the input impedance of the other channel.  But since you are probably running a 47K resistor on each channel as cartridge load, which gives a fairly high impedance in parallel with a much lower one at the cartridge, I am guessing the effect is not too terrible for performance. Conversely, the cartridge is driving the two channels in parallel.
@lewm what is the correct way of hooking it up then? Each headshell designed for stereo and has 4 pins, Mono cartridge has 2 pins. The "Y" type leadwire is original Grace, and the headshell for this MONO cartridge is also original Grace.

Not every phono stage or an amp have a mono switch. 

Try this. But be careful with that cartridge. If it has fairly high tracking forces and you cannot establish whether it has vertical compliance, I would not advise you to be playing any mono reissues that have been cut with a stereo cutter head with it.

You may experience hum problems as well within a stereo setup.
This is the "Y" type MONO lead wires, i have almost the same with my Grace F14 MONO


Looking at the headshell from the front, right side up (not upside down!) you want red to upper right and green to lower right. White upper left and blue lower left.

Looking at the cartridge from the rear, right side up (not upside down), you want red and white to the left pin, blue and green to the pin on the right.

That’s the way the Denon 102 should be wired so I’d try that first anyway.
We’re looking at Denon 102 just as a guide? Because i don’t want another mono cartridge.

My Grace F14 Mono has been pre-mounted on dedicated Grace headahell with leadwires already connected (correctly). I’m checking all my new carts with Test Records first (Hi-Fi Test LP) with various high modulation grooves for suspension check (no skip btw), then with Ultrasonic Stylus Cleaning (Cardas Sweep LP) and finally with the music, but in the headphones.

So my Mono 45 rpm 7’inch records from the 70’s are really good with that Grace Mono, no hum detected in my headphones. Loaded at 47k Ohm. Stylus has vertical compliance just like stereo stylus. Stylus size is small just like stereo stylus tip.

Not sure what am i missing?
I'm not sure what I'm missing either. Just totally confused at this stage. Thought you were asking for guidance in hooking it up and you're already hooked up. 
Thought you were asking for guidance in hooking it up and you're already hooked up.
Thanks @hdm , but It was @lewm who said that something wrong, see below

 Chakster, the way you have hooked up your Grace to your stereo system could cause a degradation of performance, because each channel of your stereo phono stage is now seeing the output impedance of the cartridge in parallel with the input impedance of the other channel.  

I was more concerned about MM stylus type and the compliance of the stylus (just like conventional cartridge).  
Chakster, you’re doing nothing wrong. The purist approach would be to hook up only one channel to the cartridge. No need to go that far. A mono switch would make no difference as far as impedance matching at the headshell.