Is elliptical the best stylus profile


In my experiences, it seems that elliptical shaped stylus track better and pretty much have the same amount of detail that a line contact has, maybe a little less.  The difference, again in my experience is that the line contact needs to be set up perfectly for good performance.  How many of us are experts at setup.  Cartridge manufacturers, Why not just use elliptical shape and give everybody a break? 
tzh21y
Elliptical are not as finicky to setup. I think they pickup more surface noise though.
I have an elliptical stylus and it is dead quiet, tracks amazing on older records.  It just seems as though it gives better performance.  Line contact is a pita to set up and tracks terrible on old records, but if your records are in very god condition, you will be rewarded.
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!



Why would a cartridge manufacturer do that? There are many that do not have a problem setting up a cartridge correctly!
I do not think my set up skills are that bad, I just think certain stylus profile do no track certain records very well.  micro ridge was the profile that I was thinking of originally.  The shibata looks interesting.
i have to say that the elliptical on my system actually sounds better than the micro ridge in some ways, believe it or not
Like I said, if i have a perfect record, made perfectly, the micro ridge sounds wonderful.  That is not reality.
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.
If all other factors are held equal, such as tracking force, polish, alignment, compliance, etc. an elliptical has the smallest groove contact area of any stylus cut, including conical, and hence will wear the LPs more quickly than any other shape.

Hyperelliptical styli are not known as Shibata and have a much smaller major radius than any of the Shibata cuts, while still being larger than an elliptical.
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,
R.
@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). 
My favorite mc cartridge for years was the GAS Sleeping Beauty Super Elliptical ($200 in 1977!). Great sound for years until the suspension failed! I recently purchased a Coral 777 (used) to replace it (same cartridge as the SB). Still one of the best overlooked bargains!
After the SB died I bought a Fidelity Research FR1mk3F (line contact stylus). Again, great sound (and a forgotten classic -$230 in 1980!).
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
@tzh21y 

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

Ahahaha 

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 would have to agree wholeheartedly with that for sure
Wouldn’t a Shibata ride higher in the groove than an elliptical or conical due to its much larger primary radius?
Nope. The ’wedge’ profile of the Shibata allows it to ride deeper in the groove. A conical stylus, by comparison has a fatter cross-section.
@chakster and @rauliruegas in your experience, 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? 
Dear @luisfcoimbra: Exist no difference in that specific regards between Löfgren A ( Baerwald. ) or Löfgren B.

Both kind of alignments shares same offset angle and the main difference is in the overhang ( less than 0.5mm. ). So don't worry about.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
I have Van den Hul re-tip my cartridges. I have never been disappointed.
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.
bimasta
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
That 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,
R.