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.
VICTOR X1
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.....🤪
VICTOR 4MD-X1
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).
AUDIO TECHNICA AT ML180 OCC
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
I ask is it not the case that so-called "ruby" and "sapphire" cantilevers are one and the same material?
I think it IS basically @lewm .....
What could possibly explain the differences here, is that the proportions of the RUBY CANTILEVER to the SAPPHIRE CANTILEVER appear to be different?
@halcro
What could possibly explain the differences here, is that the proportions of the RUBY CANTILEVER to the SAPPHIRE CANTILEVER appear to be different?
The main theory for going to exotic cantilever materials is not only stiffness, to improve resolution, but also to push the resonant frequency of the cantilever/stylus assembly as high up as possible out of the "audio band", mostly to extend high frquency response.

The mass also comes into play.

Cantilever shape, and whether it is a tube or rod also come into play.

The short cantilevered Dynavectors being an extreme example with super extended high frequency response.

And of course how the stylus is connected - glued or nude.

At the end of the day there is no magic bullet - the sound of a particular cartridge is just the sum of parts, materials and technologies employed and the overall design objectives of the designer.

As an aside, if anyone out there has experience with the new "cactus cantilever" I am interested to know if watering it improves the sound.

@frogman 
Does single crystal oxygen free copper have an inherently different sound than plain old copper? Some feel it does. Both are copper....no? Why should it? 

I don’t know. Jus’ sayin.. 
I have spoken to some designers who believe "dirty copper" should be used on ground planes and screening of interconnects because it attracts and dissipates noise better than "pure materials".

This is analagous to some tube designers who advocate the use of carbon resistors as grid stoppers, because although they are generally noisier than other types, they actually are more effective at reducing noise in high voltage power supplies.

Again an example of no magic bullets, it is always about the overall design topology, criteria and context.

Some other designers are now pushing very high purity silver ground cables, in other words, the opposite view. Is this marketing hype ??

Unfortunately audiophiles who proclaim a "magic component" in every situation usually are unaware of the design criteria of the component, they just assume more $$ equals better sound, not always the case.



As I understand it, there is a "science"-based reason for using carbon composition resistors as grid-stoppers.  This is because CC resistors maintain their resistivity up to very high frequencies, higher than other types of resistors that may otherwise sound better and are also non-inductive.  At very high frequencies, most other resistor types reach a resonance point and become capacitative.  The purpose of the grid-stop resistance is to dampen oscillations of the tube that depend upon its Miller capacitance and its transconductance.  (High transconductance tubes are more prone to oscillate and more likely to require a grid-stopper to keep them quiet.) If the resistor itself becomes reactive at very high frequencies, then in theory the dampening effect is lost.  That said, some good designers ignore the issue and just use resistor types that they like.
@lewm 
Thanks for the info, I was aware of the science on this, and use them myself in this application. It was the $$$ silver grounding cables I'm less sure about. Do you have any experience with the original non magnetic shinkoh tantalum resistors in the signal path with tube preamps ?  I have enough to replace the signal resistors in my Marantz 7 but have never got around to it. I use nude vishays for loading.