Hear my Cartridges....🎶

Many Forums have a 'Show your Turntables' Thread or 'Show your Cartridges' Thread but that's just 'eye-candy'.... These days, it's possible to see and HEAR your turntables/arms and cartridges via YouTube videos.
Peter Breuninger does it on his AV Showrooms Site and Michael Fremer does it with high-res digital files made from his analogue front ends.
Now Fremer claims that the 'sound' on his high-res digital files captures the complex, ephemeral nuances and differences that he hears directly from the analogue equipment in his room.
That may well be....when he plays it through the rest of his high-end setup 😎
But when I play his files through my humble iMac speakers or even worse.....my iPad speakers.....they sound no more convincing than the YouTube videos produced by Breuninger.
Of course YouTube videos struggle to capture 'soundstage' (side to side and front to back) and obviously can't reproduce the effects of the lowest octaves out of subwoofers.....but.....they can sometimes give a reasonably accurate IMPRESSION of the overall sound of a system.

With that in mind.....see if any of you can distinguish the differences between some of my vintage (and modern) cartridges.
This cartridge is the pinnacle of the Victor MM designs and has a Shibata stylus on a beryllium cantilever. Almost impossible to find these days with its original Victor stylus assembly but if you are lucky enough to do so.....be prepared to pay over US$1000.....🤪
This cartridge is down the ladder from the X1 but still has a Shibata stylus (don't know if the cantilever is beryllium?)
This cartridge was designed for 4-Channel reproduction and so has a wide frequency response 10Hz-60KHz.
Easier to find than the X1 but a lot cheaper (I got this one for US$130).
Top of the line MM cartridge from Audio Technica with Microline Stylus on Gold-Plated Boron Tube cantilever.
Expensive if you can find one....think US$1000.

I will be interested if people can hear any differences in these three vintage MM cartridges....
Then I might post some vintage MMs against vintage and MODERN LOMC cartridges.....🤗
F047e6d3 4ab4 4f0d 81a3 1d06afd11319halcro
Sorry for the delay.  Some thoughts on the latest trio of cartridges.  This time I listened on my Stax Lambda Signatures with SRM-T1S tube amp fed by my iPhone.  

I should preface my comments by pointing out that while I like and use MM’s a lot, I am not in the camp that feels that they are inherently superior to MC’s; or viceversa.  I have used enough examples of both persuasions to feel that neither type, as a whole, is superior to the other in the ways that matter to me.  I know some will disagree, but I feel that there are certain sonic qualities that are shared by all of either type; and each type generally has certain specific strengths relative to the other.  In my experience MM’s excel in the area of timbre and tonality and MC’s excell with dynamics.  By dynamics I mean the feeling that the music is alive and the musical interaction among the musicians is realistic.  In a nutshell, that summarizes for me what I heard as the differences between the two Ortofons and the Signet.  I get seduced by the full, saturated and realistic tone of a good MM, but end up missing the immediacy and rhyhtmic definition of a good MC.  That has been my experience with the gear that I have owned over many years.  Other details:

SPU Gold:

Beautiful and rich midrange tone.  Sweet.  Seems to be weighted toward the lower mids.  Good feeling of immediacy and clarity.

SPU Silver:

Noticeably brighter sound with even more “clarity” in the mids and highs.  Sounds like it probably does a better job than the Gold of fillling and enveloping the room.  But there is a glare throughout that range that is annoying.  Seems to play slightly louder.  Again, great feeling of immediacy.  


Darker, fuller and thicker tone as well as thicker sense of rhythm; not as lithe.  A little more clarity up top would probably be a good thing.  There is less of the sound of metal from the sleigh bells one hears throughout the beginning of the tune compared to the SPUs.  Great realism in the sounds of midrange instruments, but the music doesn’t flow with quite as much natural flow as with the SPU’s.  At times the music almost sounds like it is being performed a tiny bit slower.

There is a cowbell that enters @1:57 - 1:59 (depending on which clip) and plays on every beat.  It’s way in the background, but can be heard.  With the SPU’s one can actually hear or sense the feeling of forward drive that a player can coax out of the lowly cowbell.  On the Signet track the cowbell sounds like the player stuck a towel in it.  It sounds muffled with less definition on the beat and this diminishes the sense of forward drive in the rhythm of the tune.  

They each have strengths and I’m sure all three sound great on Halcro’s system.

Where does one find an SAS stylus for the Victor Z-1 ?

Good question......
It used to be easy....just go to the Jico Website, look up the cartridge you're interested in (Victor Z1) and see all the Jico replacement styli available for it.
One of them would be a SAS....the most expensive!!
The SAS was a radically profiled diamond (some say similar to the AT ML Microline) glued to a solid boron cantilever.
A few years ago, when boron became scarce.....Jico changed to sapphire cantilever and ruby cantilever and call them Neo-SAS(S) and Neo-SAS(R).
Since about Feb 2018 the Neo-SAS has not been available.
One rumour is that the elderly Master Japanese Craftsman who was the only one able to assemble the SAS styli has retired and Jico can thus no longer supply them 🧐.

This is tragic for the analogue community IMO and we all hope that Jico can solve their problems and return to supplying the SAS Styli once again.
Meanwhile there is an 'extortionist' market on Ebay where SAS styli are being offered at higher prices that Jico sold them when NEW.....🤯

Interesting Frogman....
I again agree with you in your descriptions of the two SPUs but your summary of the Signet is a little surprising....🤔 as the metal sleigh bells at the beginning sound just as shimmery and 'ringing' in realtime in my room....as they do on the MCs.
This is something I always listen for when I play any cartridge on this track....
Your comments on the 'cowbell' are insightful as that has always escaped my attention.
That is why this exercise is so valuable for me and your way of 'listening' is so enlightening.

Unlike you....I cannot hear the 'dynamics' of MCs as being distinctly different to that of MMs or MIs so that probably explains my general preference for really good MM cartridges.
Our ears all hear differently (even if it's only slightly).......with all the improvements in digital playback during the last ten years, I still can't comfortably listen to it for an extended period whereas many audiophiles can and some even prefer it to analogue 😱
MC is lush, sweet, detailed, and colored.
MM is clear, neutral, spacious, easy to follow.

I tend to agree with Noromance as a generalisation.....although the SPU Silver Meister is definitely less coloured than the AE-Gold 😃
But the luscious tone of the old SPU is just soooo seductive......
It is interesting indeed, halcro. I agree with you in your strong preference for the sound of analog vs digital.  You seem to be particularly sensitive to high frequency aberrations and why you react so strongly to the sound of digital and perhaps why you prefer the sound of a good MM.  I hear consistently less high frequency detail and sense of limitless extension with most MM’s compared to MC’s which often go too far in the other direction such as with the SPU Silver.  I think noromance’s description of MM/MC’s was in reference to the three cartridges in question only and not a generalization.  I would never describe MC’s as a group to be more “lush” than MM’s; quite the opposite.  

To me ears it is MM’s that tend to have a fuller, more tonally saturated sound; what I would describe as “lush”.  I have also found that the sometimes exaggerated high frequency “clarity” of some MC’s creates a better balance in my all-tube amplification chain which tends, itself, to be on the lush side.  Even the best of my MM’s can be a little too lush and dark in my system without enough clarity and control in the highs.  The problem for me is that while I love the midrange “neutrality” of good MM’s they tend to go a little too far in that direction; almost as if they rob timbres of some natural colors by seeming to reduce the high frequency extension needed to balance out the very full and dense midrange character.  MC’s tend to put the emphasis on clarity/detail in the highs leaving the midrange to sound too lean.  A very difficult balance to get right.  

Assessing dynamics is complicated since timbre neutrality affects our perception of it.  All I can say is that to me that wonderful “coiled spring” aliveness and sense of the music always moving forward is generally better served by good MC’s.  Not that MM’s don’t do it well; matter of degeee.  I commented on the ET2 thread a while ago on a MM that I felt was the best MM that I have owned in regard to dynamics as described above.  The Acutex M420 STR.  Do you happen to have this cartridge?  Would love to hear it up against some of your faves.

I used a 420 for several years WAY back in the day because it did what needing doing with classical music .I worked part time for a guy that was turning 20 million $ in audio in the 70’s , about 100 million $ today .
We sold every brand of MM, save Grado, and a few MC’s , notably Dynavector , there was and I tried them all .Only thing I liked better was the Empire ED R9(?) in any event the best Empire made .Used either big Sansui integrated or Dynaco 400 with AR- LST or AR-9 .(and about 10 other speakers ) .
We bought Acutex by the hundreds , I got couple 420’s from their rep for free.As I recall , we paid 25-30 bucks for them but don’t quote me .I like MM better. Listening to , say, a Brahms symphony I’ve found can you feel the drive and energy coiling up in your mind and muscles from an MM if everything in your system is in synergy .As as we all know that is very difficult and very expensive .