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
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.
Wow, some people need a higher dose of Thorazine. I could never hear the difference between styli in the same cartridge. I guess my hearing sucks. If you think you need a mono cartridge it is your money. I certainly do not having just listened to a mono copy of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. I am not about to spend money on what is most likely a meaningless improvement in sound quality that I sincerely doubt any of these people can reliably distinguish. Spurious vertical movements? I'm going to jump up and down on my tonearm to see if I can create some spurious vertical movements. I wish my d--- would have some of those movements. Maybe I should plug myself into a phono preamp. Any body try that?
'Maybe I should plug myself into a phono preamp. Any body try that?'
Sounds as if your already convinced but if you wish to, then go ahead.
My main point is: The difference I heard was as clearly audible as any I ever heard. Between a very good stereo and a "real mono" cartridge. It’s the kind of difference every non-audiophile hears, because it’s the difference between kind of fake and real life, it’s about musicality and direct connection to the musicians. I agree with you mijostyn that there is too much talk about micro-differences that are only relevant for audiophiles, which are not really relevant for the musical experience.
The rest of my post might be over the top of (your? others?) head, and / or you don’t like the difference to exist? I could understand that. I did so for quite a long time.
Regarding the conical stylus: The stereo cartridge had a very good line contact stylus, the Miyajima a 1um conical. The line contact to our ears didn’t swamp the electromechanical advantage of the "real mono" cartridge. Although it most probably would improve the latter, as Dave observed.
The review (Hifi News) of the 1um vs. the 0.7um version of the Miyajima hinted at even better sound with the bigger radius on "original" mono recordings. But the 0.7um is probably the safer bet, because it wan't harm any of the newer microgroove cut mono LPs (or mono reissues). I decided for the 1um because of the big stock of old monos in my family.