Mono Reissues and the Conical Stylus


Hi Folks,

Recently I started buying mono reissues from Speakers Corner, Impex, and have recently ordered a few from Analogphonic. They're all of the 'long haired' variety. In the process, I've come to discovery threads where posters claim that the newer mono reissue grooves are cut in a V (stereo) shape rather than the vintage U (mono) shape.
My AT 33 mono cartridge comes with a conical stylus and from what I can tell, so do the better mono cartridges, i.e. the Miyajima Zero Mono. This of course would then create an issue where it pertains to using a conical stylus in a V shaped groove.

Around November, I plan to purchase a Jelco tonearm for my modified Thorens TD 160 and after that, will be looking to upgrade to a higher end mono cartridge. However, I don't see that they're would be a viable solution to the stylus dilemma given that I will only have one tonearm. I do by the way own a collection of early mono records but would like to find a cartridge that better crosses over between my vintage pressings and my reissues. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
goofyfoot
My parents own.ed a major number of mono recordings from their times living in the states in the 50's. A part is musically so-so, but there are treasures like eg. the Mozart sonata recordings with Walter Gieseking. I always liked the magical sound of these recordings "even" played with my stereo cartridges like Koetsu Black, Monster Genesis 2000 and others. (Turntable were at some time Merrill Heirloom, then WTT Signature and lately a modified Technics SL1210, I used the ET2 arm, where possible). I BTW used these mono recordings to tweak lateral azimuth by minimizimng the"null" mono signal via electrically mono-ed- out-of-phase channels.
After reading several enthusiastic UK reviews of the Miyajima Mono cartridges I started to get intrigued and asked friends, and finally bought a Miyajima Zero and mounted it on a friends Lenco "monster" with Adanalog air bearing arm, where we could "directly" compare a modded (and very good sounding) Denon DL103 vs. the Miyajima on mono recordings.
I was quite smashed by the difference. "Stereo illusions" excepted, I rarely heard as lifelike true timbres and dynamics, and as much colours, and the bass was in a class by itself - in a never heard of way. The "virtual mono" coming from the stereo cartridge somehow simply sounded broken and fluttering, somehow instable.
I truly recommend trying to hear - no, experience this difference for yourself, if you are interested in mono recordings.After listening, some observations and thinking trickled in: Stereo cartridges have to track and electromechanically decode vertical information, mono cartridges do not. For stereo cartridges there is a certain design freedom regarding lateral and vertical compliance, eg. resonance frequency, but in the end vertical resonance will practically never be above 20Hz. The stiffer the suspension, the less the cantilever moves vertically - and that's where almost all extra-musical LF "rubbish" lays.The Miyajimas suspension is much stiffer vertically than laterally, and stiffer than any cartridge I ever saw. And IMO / IME this reduces flutter / Doppler distortion from excess cantilever movement by (almost) an order of magnitude.It reduces this on both a mechanical level and by not decoding it electromagnetically. Which means the coils. cores, and magnetic circuits are much less modulated / saturated by LF, where saturation is at its worst.Internally or externally mono-ing will simply not do the same distortion elimination trick. (It might simply be a marketing decision to sit on a me-mono-too-bandwaggon :-).
Yes, probably cartridge tips will make a difference too...
I don' think anyone would disagree that the 1 mil. conical stylus, while optimal for early mono records, wasn't ideal for later stereo records.
I agree that the 1 mil conical is not a goof choice for micro-groove but I also do not believe it is the best choice for early mono recordings.   I prefer the sound of the micro-ridge compared to anything else for all of the mono I have played with.    The simple fact is that back in the day the 1 mil conical wasn't the "best option" it was the "only option".  Just because more advanced profiles didn't exist in the 50's doesn't mean they engineers and enthusiasts  of the day wouldn't have used them for playback if given the chance.
 
here is a "to scale" image comparing a micro-ridge to a 0.7 mil conical.
http://www.intactaudio.com/forum/files/micro_vs_conical_187.jpg

dave
intactaudio,

have you heard the Miyajima Zero? I personally have not but many will claim that it is one of the best mono sounding cartridges. What mono micro ridge cartridges do you believe to be a good choice. And, are their good micro ridge mono cartridges that are more affordably priced?
I have heard a low hour zero compared to one that had been retipped with a Boron / microridge combo in a direct comparison and I felt that while the retipped cartridge was no longer a Miyajima, the sound was superior.  The most surprising thing I found out about the microridge mono combo was how sensitive it was to SRA.  Getting the SRA correct allowed the music to completely escape the speakers and fill the space between and above them with music.  I have also played a fair bit with a Denon 103 converted to mono by rotating the coil 45º for true lateral pickup.  By rotating the stock stylus along with the coil I could then do a fairly close apples to apples comparison of the original aluminum conical combo to a  boron microridge combo.  Granted that there were two things changed (cantilever material and diamond profile) but the sensitivity to SRA and the huge 3D sound field you could get with the microridge was beguiling and points to the profile as the cause of improvement.

Lew asked me above about my thoughts on the true mono with no vertical pickup  vs. a stereo wired mono with the vertical information summing to 0. The above 103 experiments gave me a bit of insight into this too.  Since I had stereo and "true mono" 103's with the same suspension and boron microridge combination I could series strap the stereo and compare the two methods in a fair way.  Sonically the overall presentation was similar but the lateral mono was more dynamic and had what seemed to be a much lower noise floor.  The immediate place this was heard was in the needle drop.  The lateral cut was nearly silent and the stereo wired mono's needle drop was quieter than stereo but still had a unique amusical quality to it.  This is just a single observation but it does seem to fall in line with the ideas presented in the DG mono link by goofyfoot a few posts up.  I think this distills down to the idea that in a perfect world the sides of a mono groove are 180º out of phase with each other yet noise has no inherent phase relationship to the music.  When picked up with a single lateral coil reading the entire groove, there can be no phase anomalies for the noise but when picked up with a two discrete summed coils there is suddenly no consistent nature in the way noise will be summed which can cause some unique sonic results.

dave


Dave, interesting comparisons! And they align well with what I wrote. The mechanical aspect ie. stiffer vertical suspension seems to me still a very important factor.
Recently Shibata tips resurrected, interestingly at the top of the ladder. I principally assumed tha a vdH / Gyger Type I stylus or a MR stylus were "better than Shibata", that's the way they were introduced in the eighties. Maybe... it was already good vdH marketing - or the re-inroduction of Shibata is? However, from what I read about the new top AT MM cartridges, I somehow trust that the Shibata excel in optimizing the musical detail vs. amusical artefacts ratio.
The resurgence of conical styli, with the original SPU or DL 103 "cult" contains some arguments pro conical styli. Ie. a suggested geometrically much more complex pinching effect / movement of the "sharper" modern styli, including MR or Shibata. This would lead to spurious vertical movement as artefacts (more with these sharper styli than with conical styli), and is a claimed reason for the more relaxed "pro-music" way of musical tracing of these very traditional (and superb) cartridges.
Extending this line of thoughts... could mean that the "real" advantage of these sharper styli would stand out considerably more with a "real" mono cartridge like a Miyajima Zero, because the spurious vertical movements would not be decoded, or far less. And the lack of out-of-phase, vertical stereo signals would eliminate a source of intermodulation on top of these spurious movements.