Good idea !
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If a cartridge set up is a problem for you then you have to use conical/spherical, but if you want the top quality it is the worst profile ever, the elliptical is clearly not the best profile too. But the more importnat is the whole combination (bonded or nude, cantilever materials and actual generator of the cartridge). You should learn about it: https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?t=22894
Nude styli, shaped from whole natural diamonds, are more costly than bonded styli, with their diamond tips “bonded” to metal shanks before finishing. But because of their lower mass, nude styli track more accurately. Also, since our nude styli are grain-oriented, with their longest-wearing faces touching the record surface, they last longer.
Hyperelliptical also known as SHIBATA, discrete-4, fine line, or stereohedron styli take the elliptical design further for greater contact with the record. When properly aligned, hyperelliptical styli offer fantastic high-frequency performance, longer tip life, improved tracking, and low record wear. They are, however, harder to manufacture than elliptical styli, and therefore expensive. The Shibata stylus is a type of LineContact stylus that is most often used on more expensive cartridges nowadays. These are small and narrow styli that ride deeper in the groove than either conical or elliptical profiles. Theoretically, they should be less susceptible to surface noise (since they track deeper in the groove and below most surface imperfections) and better able to extract information from the groove.
Now called surround sound, back in the 70's called Quadraphonics. Method of delivering 4-channel sound to the home via the vinyl record format was labeled as a Discrete-4 format. It was later learned that a special stylus was also needed to play back Discrete-4 recordings. The shape of an elliptical stylus did not allow all the tiny modulations in the grooves to be read and allowed dirt and grim to collect in the grooves and hide the subcarrier signal. The most advanced stylus shape created back in the 70's was called the "Shabata". The Shibata shape distinguishes itself by having the necessary small contact surface at the horizontal level for playback of the ultra-high frequencies found on CD-4 records. At the vertical level, the special shape of the stylus gives a wider contact surface than is the case with either spherical or elliptical styli. This means that a Shibata shaped stylus, in spite of its high frequency capabilities, gives less record wear than the traditional stylus shapes. A "Microline" or "LineContact" stylus currently available will also do the job. Those styli also superior for normal stereo records and that's why they are not cheap today.
MICRO LINE stylus tip also known as "Van Den Hul," "Microridge," this is a sophisticated, computer designed diamond shaped stylus, designed to reduce skew error and the resulting harmonic distortion and phase error.
Personally i’ve never had a problem to set up cartridges with Shibata, Line Contact, Stereohedron, Micro Ridge and even Ortofon Replicant 100 (similar to Fritz Gyger). I use Feickert protractor to set up my gear.
The advanced profiles are clearly better than elliptical and anyone can hear it. The advanced styli will read the musical information in the grooves of a record with a greater degree of accuracy than any other kind of needle!
Chakster's remarks are spot on — it should be published separately somewhere. I don't disagree with you that a good elliptical can equal a more advanced profile. Much depends on the minor radius. An 0.2 "reads" as much of the groove as the fancier stones, though record and stylus wear are not as good. The thicker that radius, the less resolution, and at a certain point it's just a variant of conical. Years ago van den Hul introduced two styli, VDH 1 and VDH 2. One would think the 2 was an advance on the 1, but it was the opposite. The VDH 1 was so detailed because its edges were razor sharp — consumers were so afraid (unjustly) that it would carve up their records, he had to make a "fatter" diamond to stay competitive. But alignment is more critical with the sharper profiles. Chakster is right about the Hyperelliptical — I have one on a Shure IV (I don't like the cartridge, but that's how it goes — I may transplant it onto a cart I like better). The Hyper is almost a line-contact, tons of detail and nuance, while also easier (and safer) if you're not confident the alignment is exact.
Dear tzh21y, I think most of us would agree that cartridges bearing elliptical styli are less fussy to set up and enjoy, but that is not what the hobby is about, for most of us. Most audiophiles want "better". If X is good, then what is better? So, there will always be a place for elliptical styli on midrange and budget brand cartridges, but likewise there will always be a market for the more sophisticated stylus shapes, on upscale cartridges. There really is no conflict. If you like elliptical styli, you are free to enjoy cartridges that use them. High end cartridges bearing complex-shaped styli will also continue to be marketed just because audiophiles can be or are convinced that the sound reproduction thereby achieved is at least a little bit better. That's capitalism.
Dear tzh21y, I think most of us would agree that cartridges bearing elliptical styli are less fussy to set up and enjoy, but that is not what the hobby is about, for most of us. Most audiophiles want "better". If X is good, then what is better? So, there will always be a place for elliptical styli on midrange and budget brand cartridges, but likewise there will always be a market for the more sophisticated stylus shapes, on upscale cartridges. There really is no conflict. If you like elliptical styli, you are free to enjoy cartridges that use them. High end cartridges bearing complex-shaped styli will also continue to be marketed just because audiophiles can be or are convinced that the sound reproduction thereby achieved is at least a little bit better. That’s capitalism.
I agree Lewn.
We all want X , being a good sounding product(system) for the dollars we output.
Difference is many of us will go to our own personal Z to look for the best while it seems more these days seem stuck on the "Y" than in the past when it comes to vinyl playback. I think its the lack of knowledge in general for vinyl playback/setup
compared to digital and the level of quality vs. cost that differs the two.
Vinyl is expensive to get the best and to get it right and to maintain let alone
own a good stock of media. The fact more are getting back, or entering into
vinyl is likely the biggest reason for all the questioning of, and on, all things related
to it, but , it really is the simplicity of capitalism that offers choice.
Choice is good , .............................. knowledge and ability is king
Dear @chakster : The VE information is what theory says and things are not so easy as we can think because what @tzh21y posted:
" it seems that elliptical shaped stylus track better " " tracks amazing on older records ...""
For me cartridge tracking abilities is one of the main desirable characteristic in any cartridge design and depends not exactly on the stylus shape. If it's true that the line contact different versions can pick up more information or at least with more precission it depends to pick up that groove information of the overall tracking abilities of that cartridge and this depends of the cartridge overall design not the stylus shape. Yes, the stylus shape can help a little about but it's not the main premise for those abilities.
The other main subject as some of you already posted is the precision of the cartridge/tonearm/TT set up.
The cartridge quality performance depends on the overall design where the stylus shape is only one ( not the main. ) characteristic.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
@rauliruegas i have no problem to use nearly all of them, but for some reason the most impressive carts are not with elliptical diamonds (and not with a conical). Some elliptical are very good like the Pioneer PC-1000 mkII, Victor X-1 IIE or those top Technics we have discussed million times. Nothing really wrong with an elliptical, but it's easy to compare many styli with such carts like Grace Level II or F-14, they made many variations (different cantilevers, different diamonds).
The problem with all MC pickups is that you can't quickly check the same cartridge with a different stylus profile for comparison like you can do with MM to make sure what is the best sounding stylus shape. It's important to listen to the same cartridge on the same toneam, but with different stylus profile (or maybe even different cantilevers). Surely we can retip MCs with a beter profiles, but how can we actually compare them after it was away for 5 month at least (typical turnaround with any retiper) ?
P.S. the FR-1 mk3F is not forgotten, dealers still fooling people around with a statement that it is a non integrated version of the venerable FR-7F, but it's not true.
I understand that the best cartridges will have the profiles that in a perfect alignment will give the best performance on the best vinyl. I do not question that. Some profiles work better on all vinyl, not just new vinyl. they should make the better carts with a choice of stylus profile. What I here is not much difference from elliptical and micro ridge to justify. Sorry, I just do not here it and I have pretty good ears, trust me. i am very finnicky, so I know the whole perfection thing.
omg the stylus I am listening to is a line contact. lol. It is better than Micro ridge, thats for sure. lol. Sorry for the post. Thought it was an elliptical
That's exactly was i tried to say about Line Contact / Shibata for old vinyl. Those records were played by cheap conical and elliptical most of the time by previous owners. But the Line Contact / Shibata goes deeper in the groove to achieve previously untouched (by conical and elliptical) area of the groove walls. That's why it's always better to use Line Contact or Shibata for vintage/old/used records in my opinion.
I listened to elliptical styli for 25 years (Micro Acoustics 2002e, Shure M97, and Grace F9e). I replaced the elliptical stylus on my Grace F9 with a SoundSmith "Optimized Line Contact" stylus. I now play records with the F9, bought in the 70's and played dozens of times and they sound better than any elliptical did and it now tracks the Telarc 1812 Overture cannon fire perfectly. The F9e would not hold the track.
I also have a SoundSmith Voice (OCL), Ortophon 2M Black (Shibata), and Signet TK7SU (Shibata). They all track fine. Extensive setup time is needed to dial in anti-skate properly, done by ear.
Granted I have had some adventures in setup, but once dialed in there is a major difference in timbre and sound stage. It also helps to have clean records. I play and there is virtually no record noise of any kind.
Peace and rock on :)
"Is there any correlation between stylus shape and a specific alignment method for setting up the cart?"
No. Aligning the stylus has more to do with the record groove than the stylus. There is one position, and one angle, in the groove where the most information can be extracted, with the most accuracy, regardless of stylus shape. Once the stylus is in that position, its shape will determine how much of that information it is able to extract, but "finding the spot" is the same for all shapes.
Aligning the stylus has more to do with the record groove than the stylus. There is one position, and one angle, in the groove where the most information can be extracted, with the most accuracy, regardless of stylus shapeThat may be mostly true, but it's not that simple. Consider that with a spherical stylus, there's really no such thing as VTA because the angle is the same regardless of the height of the pickup arm. As you advance to an elliptical stylus, VTA obviously becomes a factor in proper alignment. As you climb the scale to fine-line styli, hyper-elliptical, Shibata styli and other more refined shapes, some have established that SRA is the more critical angle. Of course, as you adjust SRA you also change VTA, but you can only optimize for one! So aligning for SRA may be the most important angle to optimize for some special stylus shapes, while VTA may be what you optimize for others.
To correct my own post above ▲▲▲▲▲▲ it was not quite accurate to say there's no VTA when using a conical stylus, because VTA describes the cantilever more than the stylus. What I should have said is that because of the conical stylus shape, there is no effect when changing the VTA, because it doesn't change the stylus' contact with the groove. (Of course, when you change the VTA by raising or lowering the pickup arm, you are changing the overhang, however slightly.)
Dear @cleeds : "" is there any correlation between stylus shape and a specific alignment method for setting up the cart? In other words, did you ever notice if baerwald or lofgren tends to work better with a given styli? ""
luisfcoimbra was refering to Löfgren A and B alignment and not the overall cartridge set up.
bimasta goes a step beyond it where your answer was opotune.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
For me the biggest advantage of line contact over conical and elliptical is lower IGD and maintenance of HF level at end of record. Especially the latter! This is the main advantage of CD over vinyl AFAIC. The best line contacts (Shibata, Microline) do away with this problem. The record sounds the same all the way through - inner tracks do not sound less crisp than outer tracks. Not so with conical and cheaper ellipticals.
Arguable the ''best shape'' is Van den Hul (aka Gyger I). Van den
Hul designed this stylus for Gyger but with stipulation to sell
them also under his own name. Hoever his first design was very
difficult to produce (polishing) so he designed Gyger II and
Gyger S(?) ; the latest Gyger stylus. The respective dimensions
are published by van den Hul. He claimed 5000 hour use for the
I think rauliruegas has the best handle on this subject. Any cartridge is going to sound better when it is set up properly. Tracking is paramount. The overall sound quality is determined by the design of the cartridge and the manufacturer’s attention to detail. Very tiny detail.
Setting up a turntable is not rocket science. Some of us do not want to be bothered so hopefully they have a tech who can do it for them. But I think nobody does it better with more loving care than yourself.
Any cartridge is going to sound better when it is set up properly.Obviously!
Tracking is paramount.Oh no, I couldn't disagree more.
I often read user comments here about phono cartridges that proclaim, "excellent tracker!" when, in fact, the cartridge can objectively be shown to be a poor tracker.
Tracking performance is properly assessed using a test record. That a cartridge will play an LP while also remaining in the groove is not sufficient evidence that the cartridge is a "good tracker." Any cartridge should be able to stay in the groove; it's low-distortion HF performance that defines the best tracking cartridges.
Some of the best tracking phono cartridges of all time are also considered by many to have mediocre sound quality. The Shure V-15 V is a good example of that. Yes, some audiophiles love that cartridge! But there are good reasons why many audiophiles don't, and perhaps that explains (in part) why Shure left the cartridge business even as many of its cartridge competitors have thrived.
I forgot. In terms of record wear there are other variables than stylus profile like compliance and tracking force. Styli with larger contact patches are a benefit given the same VTF. SRA and azimuth have an influence but not as much as you would think as long as they are within reason. I think they are more important for separation and high frequency performance. Today’s cartridges are significantly superior to the ones we had in the 60s and 70s particularly when it comes to build quality. It is hard to find one that is objectionable. We really are talking about nuances.
In terms of record wear there are other variables than stylus profile like compliance and tracking force.How could a phono cartridge's compliance have any affect on record wear? I don't see any correlation between the two at all.
Surely the best stylus profile is the stylus profile you like best. Hard to see any reason to make it more complicated than that.
Sure, tracking *might* be a slight factor, but like mijostyn says above it's hard to find a modern cartridge which doesn't track quite well or better. I suppose if you play the Telarc 1812 every other day it could conceivably be a significant issue, but I'd happily put a good few quid on 95%+ of all tracking problems being down to bad set-up or a mismatched tonearm/cartridge combination.
Sure, tracking *might* be a slight factor, but like mijostyn says above it's hard to find a modern cartridge which doesn't track quite well or better.That depends on what you mean by "doesn't track quite well." If you're stating that most modern cartridges will stay in the LP groove, I'd agree with you. If you mean most modern cartridges can sail through things like all six tracking bands on the Shure V15 Type V Audio Obstacle Course LP, I'd disagree, based on my own experience.
In fact, Shure pressed those LPs specifically to show the tracking limitations of its competition, and some have not improved much - or at all - since.
cleeds it takes more force to move the stylus of a less compliant (stiffer) cartridge than a more compliant (softer) cartridge. That force is supplied by the turntable spinning through the vinyl of the record groove. In other words the vinyl has to transfer more force to the stylus of a less compliant cartridge than the stylus of a more compliant cartridge. More force means more wear. The approach to cartridge design has changed quite drastically since the 70s. We use to have crazy compliant cartridges like the V15, Pickerings, Stantons, Empires tracking at 3/4 gram with elliptical styluses in crazy light tonearms. Remember the Infinity arm? Now we have stiffer cartridges with line contact styli in larger arms tracking at 2 grams. The other big cause of record wear that I forgot to mention is mistracking. You can always tell when a record has been mistracked. The heavy passages get crackly for lack of a better term. The stylus starts jumping up and down in the groove digging in a little each time it lands. Sort of like the difference between walking on thin ice and jumping on it.
A cartridge mistracking at 3/4 gram VTF will cause a lot more damage than a smooth tracker at 2 grams.
That depends on what you mean by "doesn't track quite well." If you're stating that most modern cartridges will stay in the LP groove, I'd agree with you. If you mean most modern cartridges can sail through things like all six tracking bands on the Shure V15 Type V Audio Obstacle Course LP, I'd disagree, based on my own experience.I meant the latter, though not so specifically. However, I too own the same record and every cartridge I've owned or borrowed over the last 12 to 15 years (which is quite a few...) has passed said tracks no bother. A suitable arm and proper adjustments was all it required.
The HFN test record presents rather more of a challenge, as only a handful has passed its +18dB track.
The question is what is the highest groove velocity you would see on records and can the cartridge get through it without mistracking. I am not sure what that number would be but I can say that there are a number of cartridges I have never heard mistrack. I do have test records that will make any cartridge mistrack. So what. The heaviest test tracks get beat up so fast they are worthless within just few plays.
it takes more force to move the stylus of a less compliant (stiffer) cartridge than a more compliant (softer) cartridge.Intuitively, that seems correct - but you can’t be sure sure that it works that way in practice. You’re not accounting for a pickup arm’s low friction, and that factor must be part of the equation for your assertion to be correct. Stylus profile is another wear factor that your claim overlooks, and you also need to consider the difference between a cartridge’s horizontal compliance and its vertical compliance. There are simply too many variables for your claim to be universally accurate.
The question is what is the highest groove velocity you would see on records and can the cartridge get through it without mistracking.Not necessarily. Although it's HF that is typically the greatest challenge to accurate tracking, very low frequencies can also be an issue, such as is found on some of the 1812 demo LPs. By definition, low frequencies are low groove velocity.
there are a number of cartridges I have never heard mistrackIt isn’t always easy to detect the HF distortion that is the result of mistracking.
Cleeds, I think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. Given the same stylus profile and tracking force the less compliant cartridge will wear the vinyl down faster than the more compliant cartridge. Tonearm friction means almost nothing as the stylus is at the end of a rather long lever.
You are defining groove velocity incorrectly and also remember the RIAA curve. The groove velocity is the speed the stylus is traveling in the groove. It has nothing to no with frequency. It is the distance traveled per unit time. The heavier the modulation, the farther the stylus has to travel, the higher the groove velocity. Linear velocity is the speed the groove passes a fixed point it decreases as you travel towards the middle of the record. (20 inches per second down to 8 inches per second) Now, does the frequency effect tracking ability. I have no idea. The maximum groove velocity you can cut and probably only on the outer grooves is 50cm/sec. If you maintained that speed the stylus would surely start miss tracking somewhere on its way towards the center of the disc. Would a 100 Hz tone miss track before or after a 15 kHz tone. I do not think so as the velocity remains the same but I do not know for sure. Would be a fun experiment. Maybe there is a recording engineer out there who could tell us.
There are a number of cartridges I have never heard miss track. Maybe my hearing sucks and they are miss tracking but I have never heard it. You can masturbate about what is actually happening all you want but the simple fact remains that I have never heard it. Whether or not you trust my opinion is your problem not mine. If I were you I certainly wouldn't:)