No, but it takes a darn steady hand, way steadier than mine. An assembly microscope helps and they are not cheap. I think the stylus profile is the most important issue. If you liked the sound do not change profiles.
The main issue is resale value. I believe "retipped by manufacturer" gets more money.
Was it always the case that manufacturers were limited to Ogura and Namiki? Possibly not. If not, then some cartridges with “house built” cantilever and stylus cannot be restored exactly as original, unless the OEM can still do the restoration with original parts.
But didn’t SoundSmith recently introduce the boron option? Which must mean he recently found a source. Some others do too. (Listening to Barton piano concerto #2 which is not relaxing, for the pianist at least.)
A few years past I have had a Beryllium Cantilever with an Ogura Vital Diamond attached and fitted to a Cartridge by a well known Rebuild Service in Europe.
Most will claim Beryllium is not a option on offer.
Cactus Needle will also be an offering from a rebuild service and the source will not be from Namiki or Ogura.
The Structure of a Cactus Needle when seen under a microscope is Scale like and the tests have shown the Cactus Needle is significantly harder than all other organic wood materials, the Cactus Needle has a very stable property and is not changing in differing ambient conditions.
I have not investigated Madake Bamboo as a Cantilever, so can't offer a summary on how it compares to Cactus as a alternative organic material.
After years of effort I was finally able to make the perfect cantilever. Crossed saguaro cactus with Madake bamboo watered with beryllium fertilizer, powder coated with boron and diamond dust it is tipped with dilithium crystal in a Hattori Hansu samurai profile that slices through records like butter.
Unfortunately it turns out better to slice through the groove, and not the whole record. Back to the drawing board....
For all of the above it highlights that you can’t beat sending the cartridge back to the manufacturer for refurbishment. Note I did not say retip.
I have had my Dynavector Karat Nova rebuilt 3 times - each time it comes back completely rebuilt (including generator) with new test results for each rebuild - output, inter channel separation, optimum tracking weight etc all documented.
If you look at how the original diamond fits into the cantilever, in many cartridges retipping can never achieve the same level of fit - there will always be more glue than in the original. There is an argument for "should you replace the whole cantilever, diamond assembly" in order to maintain integrity. I don’t think retippers have access to precision micro laser cutters that Namiki possess.
On my original Sumiko Talismans with sapphire cantilever/microridge diamond you cannot see the glue at all. Compare that to the famous Garrott retips that I also have there is significantly more glue.
A Cartridge becomes unique by the selection of materials used for the assembly.
In the material selection there many be a common part used as a Cantilever>Stylus, that is sourced from a dependable Producer in the Supply Chain for the procurement of the product.
As I stated the choices when using the Third Party 'retiper' service are not limited to only Two Brands Products, there are further options to be considered.
It is not for me to say whether considering such a option for Cartridge is correct/incorrect.
My own experience has been from choosing a not so commonly offered material such as Beryllium, where reliance of a assessment of the new parts in use, has been drawn from a personal subjective evaluation and a groups subjective evaluation, is that this method has been very well received and there is a noticeable improvement over a Original Spec' Cartridge. In my case the veer away from maintaining original parts has been very rewarding.
The OP's statement below appears to suggest that when a Third Party 'retiper' service is used, the options on choices are limited to the the use of Two Brands Products only , as seen in the underscored section below.
My experience and point being made is that this is not the case when discussing options on a Service from a Third Party ' retiper', the options are not going to be limited to this. Albeit that it does require the need to commence in a dialogue with a technician to discover the options that can be offered.
The second most important concern for myself, is whether a Service has the Experience and Skill Set to produce the optimized product as part of the process being undertaken.
My experience as a 'layman only' of investigating a variety of Cartridge Rebuilds, if the information viewed is bona fide, has shown Cartridges after short usage and needing to undergo a repair, that are in a condition that does not suggest Quality Control was a paramount concern when the Cartridge was produced. These observations do not endear one, to the idea of entrusting manufacturers that have a good proportion of the Market Place.
My money goes in the direction where I feel it is to be best served.
By the so called ''retips'' the assumption
is also ''original'' versus ''not original parts''. This means that
every manufacturer as well ''retiper'' uses his own styli and or
cantilevers. The fact however is that they all buy those ''parts''
by either by Namiki or Ogura. So, logicaly speaking, the origin
Some cartridges have no manufacturer alive anymore, and styli are nowhere to be found. The Micro Acoustics 3002 that I have is just such a cartridge. Maintaining all original parts is not an option.
Mine has a snapped beryllium cantilever.
So it will go to a retipper. He can fuse on a boron rod to the beryllium rod stump, or an aluminum alloy, or sapphire, or zirconium, titanium, pretty much my choice, but not beryllium unless I have a donor cantilever. Tips? Pretty much the only limiting factor is price. Boron/MicroRidge would be the closest to original.
My choices are to wait forever for a stylus to come along, or have it repaired/retipped.
This stuff about only having the manufacturer do a repair is a bunch of bull hockey. Often, the reputable hand craftsmanship of a retipper can get tolerances better than the factories have the time for.
@nandric , having cantilevers made covers a fairly wide range of possible options. At the simplest, Namiki / Ogura will deliver an off-the-shelf catalog design cantilever of the kinds that are published in their documentation or websites. Altering the stylus angle to match the cartridge's cantilever rake angle so that the final SRA will be around 90º can also be specified (Namiki / Ogura's catalog specs assume a standard cantilever rake angle of 20º). Everyone who buys from Namiki / Ogura has access to this level of cantilever build.
But Namiki / Ogura also accommodate various degrees of customization.
Entry level of custom assemblies will involve the cartridge manufacturer delivering a bespoke, detailed design that may use original, non-catalog shapes and dimensions, but the materials will be standard Namiki / Ogura fare. Nonetheless, since the design work will have been done by the client (cartridge manufacturer, retipping company etc.), Namiki / Ogura do not have the right to provide such cantilevers to other parties unless there is express written permission by the designer or estate inheritor (in the case of designers who have passed away).
One such example is the Lyra-designed stylus that we have Ogura make for us. Although this stylus has non-proprietary aspects like 3um x 70um contact radii, we also designed in additional, less obvious features to help performance, therefore Ogura do not have the right to deliver the Lyra stylus to other clients. If Ogura wishes to do so, they can make their own 3um x 70um stylus and deliver it to their other clients (Robert Torlai in Italy claims to be using an Ogura-made 3um x 70um stylus), but not the Lyra design.
Second level of custom cantilevers is where the client specifies materials or methods outside of Namiki / Ogura standard choices, but are common or well-known enough that Namiki / Ogura are able to procure said materials / methods on their own, without requiring that these be provided by the client. This may include alloys, adhesives, suspension wires, coil formers, non-contact machining, heat treatments, cryogenics etc.
Nothing prevents Namiki / Ogura from using such materials or methods in the cantilevers of other clients, but generally speaking, unless the client's engineering drawings include clear requests for specific materials or methods, what will be used are the more standard choices.
Similar to the above, there may be places in the design where Namiki / Ogura would normally join one part to another with adhesives, however the client can alternatively specify crimps, press-fits, interference joints, welds, brazes etc. Again, the client's engineering drawings should include clear requests for specific joining methods, otherwise Namiki / Ogura's standard methods will be applied.
Third level of custom cantilevers is where Namiki / Ogura do not have direct access to the materials specified by the client, and depend on the client to provide the materials. One example would be Ceralloy, which was the very first cantilever material that we used in production. This was a whisker-reinforced alloy that we had formulated and made, and we delivered the ingots to Ogura so that they could shape the individual cantilevers and fit them to the rest of the parts. (As an aside, some of Highphonic's A-series cartridges used a related material. Their formulation was somewhat different from ours, but it was the same class of whisker-reinforced alloys.)
Likewise for the diamond-coated boron cantilevers of the Etna and Atlas; Diamond-coating of boron is outside of Ogura's capabilities, therefore Lyra delivers these to Ogura, who does the final shaping and assembly.
A similar situation applies to Lyra's chemically purified iron coil formers, MySonic's SH-μX coil formers, Satin's coreless spiral coils, and undoubtedly the micro-coils used in JVC's MC-L1 / L10 / L1000, with the client providing the materials (sometimes the completed part), which Namiki / Ogura build into the rest of the cantilever.
Fourth level of custom cantilevers is where the client specifies unique parts that Namiki / Ogura are unable to or cannot figure out how to make on their own. The one-piece diamond cantilever used in Sony's XL-88D (and derivatives) are an obvious example. In such cases, the client will provide know-how and advice, guide Namiki / Ogura to suitable fabrication equipment, and otherwise collaborate with Namiki / Ogura so that the parts can be made successfully.
Sometimes, even with the client's assistance, Namiki / Ogura aren't able to make the part exactly according to spec, or tolerances / yield may be beyond the client's wishes. In such cases, the client either has to give up on the part, or be willing to accept what Namiki / Ogura are able to deliver.
There are other categories, but those above are the major ones.
hope this helps, jonathan
PS. Regarding the joint-pipes which are the most common means by which replacement / alternative cantilevers are fitted, they are not present in all cartridge designs. For example, Takeda-san of Miyabi is one well-known designer who disliked the mechanical filtering effect of adhesive joints, therefore a number of his models (and the Fuugas) eschewed joint pipes in favor of seamless metal alloy cantilevers, even at the cost of higher effective mass. Similar thinking as on Sony's XL-88D, but expressed in a different way.
PPS. These days some online vendors selling used cartridges do not bother indicating if a cartridge is in original condition or has been retipped by someone else. We were recently returned a Lyra by way of WAM Engineering, in which we were taken to task for inadequate stylus alignment. The cartridge should have had an Ogura-made cantilever; it had a Namiki instead. The owner had purchased the cartridge second-hand, unaware that it was a retip.
And on our side, it was not a pleasant experience to be blamed for someone else's failings.
PPPS. @mijostyn , in addition to cantilever / stylus block alignment issues, it is also possible for the stylus' groove contact surfaces to be twisted or misaligned within the diamond block. In such cases concentrating on the alignment of the diamond block to the cantilever will not help very much.
First, which exact parts, as in part numbers, did the manufacturer use? I'm an ignorant man, I don't know if this is an issue; but it sure is an issue with every other mechanical device I own. I'll bet that a Koetsu isn't going to sound the same after a generic stylus is fitted with a glob of glue in place of a precision fit.
Second, some manufacturers rebuild from the ground up. That means getting a completely new cartridge for less than new cost.
Third, some parts are no longer generally available, such as boron tubes and platinum magnets.
Fourth, one can reasonably expect a high end manufacturer to choose high end parts. For example, the legend is that HP used to buy ultra-premium tubes by the gross, test, keep 3, and send 141 to the dumpster. That's why HP tubes cost more, and everybody paid up (after trying to make their 'scopes work with run-of-the-mill stuff). It was also said that the reason Mercedes bought Chrysler was so they could order materials in bulk and high-grade the best for their own use.
So I'll be sending my cartridge back to the manufacturer, thank you. Not for psychological reasons, but to maintain their quality.
The supplied information by @jcarr about the Cartridge having been rebuilt to a condition that had shown to be Poor and there was non original parts in place is quite important, as there is a shift in the market to buying used Cartridges becoming more common, especially for the Higher Priced Items.
For some using the used market, it is the most cost effective entrance into the creating the opportunity to acquire the Cartridges that have the Higher Price Tags. For another, it can quite simply mean a rare model has appeared and is the desired to own list. I have seen the latter happen very recently with a Ortofon Vienna, that surfaced in the used Market
In either case, it really is a case for the Buyer to do their home work and research, to ensure they are not buying into a known Model that has undergone 'cut and shut' standards of remediation on a faulty model, Caveat Emptor is the most valuable guidance, a very helpful vendor who supplies accurate information to inquiries, is a bonus.
How the above weaves itself into the description of an occurrence that @jcarrwas exposed to is unknown, but which ever way, a party with no involvement was incorrectly labelled with the blame and this again, is unjust.
I have no issue with not using non OEM parts in a Cartridge, as long as the design is seen to be for the better, and the decision is taken as a result of advise offered by a technician.
Secondly, at no time would this information be concealed, it would be described correctly, Third Party Service Provider and Methods chosen, this would be revealed, whether during a demonstration or if the decision was made to sell.
The Cartridge rebuild service I have used, will not work with a Cartridge that is showing evidence of not being an original spec model. The explained stance, is that the necessary investigation of whether the Cartridge can be repaired to a improved condition, and undoing any work that has been carried out, is a cost the service are not going to pass onto a Customer.
That is why we use ''descriptive names'' like ''iron horse'' for the
first seen locomotive or ''the teacher of Alexander'' , etc, etc,..
A great example of a "descriptive name" is the term "a dead horse".
An example would be your fantasy that a retipper can rebuild a cartridge to better than new with a cantilever and/or stylus that resembles nothing like the original.
To indulge your fetish within your budget I would suggest you invest in an Audio Technica AT95E and a Paratrace Stylus from the Expert Stylus Company. This will indeed meet your budgetary requirements.
"Why should any manufacturer do this better than an retipper ."
Um, having all the jigs? Extensive specialized experience with one configuration? Knowing the exact part with was used originally? Buying a lot of 100 and keeping 2? Having a lot more to lose? Maybe all of these?
And please spare us the elementary philosophy. Others have read Frege.
**** Secondly, at no time would this information be concealed, it would be described correctly, Third Party Service Provider and Methods chosen, this would be revealed, whether during a demonstration or if the decision was made to sell.****
Absolutely true and unfortunately not always the case. A lesson learned the hard way.
My grandfather had one horse when he built his orchard from remote scrub during the Great Depression. The horse was very obstinate - often when required to cart fruit off to the market it would not move. On some occasions no incentives worked - kicking, whipping, he even lit a fire between its legs once - had to put the fire out.
Finally when the horse became elderly and quite distressed, my grandfather decided to put it out of its misery.
After tethering the horse to a fence, he spend hours digging a deep hole, deep enough to keep the wild dogs from digging it up.
Pulling out the shotgun, with a heavy heart he shot the horse -unfortunately even in death the horse had the last say. It fell the wrong way.
I was speaking of high end cartridges, all or partially made by hand, not assembly line. As for assembly line cartridges, I do expect sample to sample variation, because of materials or tolerances - that is, serendipity.
I retired from teaching, so I have no obligation to correct you. Nevertheless, I can point you to a good reference, Thouless's 'Straight and Crooked Thinking'. It's quite accessible. Then try Wittgenstein's 'Blue and Brown Books', less accessible, but not too hard..
Who cares about +15 K carts with 4th level (diamond) cantilevers
and ''gold plated'' styli (grin).
Well obviously you do, because you seem obsessed with trying to delude yourself that retipping is the same as rebuilding.
You appear to be completely unaware, or unable to accept that if a cartridge is a few years old, then refurbishing should include checking the dampers, checking for any mechanical or electrical issues and addressing them at the same time.
You apparently have learnt nothing from JCarrs post above where he clearly explains that many of the cantilevers/styli can be unique or custom. configured for individual manufacturers.
My Dynavector Karat Nova 13D is a prime example. The cantilever and styli cannot be obtained from anyone other than Dyanvector. In fact I have seen on this forum a well known member trying to flog a Dynavector Karat Nova 13D off with a home-brew aftermarket cantilever. It was no longer a Dynavector Karat Nova 13D as designed ( and looked like a small dog with it's lipstick hanging out ).
It is none of your business what I pay for a manufacturers rebuild, but my decision on whether to rebuild is no different to anyone else
What is the cost of rebuild ?
Can I get a better cartridge for the same budget ?
It is very simple. Its called cost benefit analysis.
And contrary to your misplaced envy, no one needs to spend $1000's of dollars on a cartridge to get a great sound. Currently, despite having the Dynavecto Karat Nova 13D and Ikeda Kiwame ( both purchased new and as new ) I am currently enjoying my old Denon 103D ( bog standard, purchased new some years ago and not used much ). I'm still getting a better sound than most simply because of my system which has been carefully assembled over 30 years.
Don't take my word for it - here's what a visitor said who bought an old DD off me ( who has a Stereophile Class A TT and several megabuck cartridges -
The guy I bought it from had one of the best systems I've ever heard, ever!
He had vintage Tannoys, a couple of turntables he demonstrated which I'd never heard of before and can't recall what make. But I do remember how realistic sounding his system was. It was absolutely fantastic and a sound I would love to be able to reproduce.
I'm pretty sure both turntables were belt drives.
I'll NEVER forget how that system sounded. So worth every penny.
Must try to get an invite to have another listen. He was an Audioenz member but not sure if he's signed up here.
Good audio has nothing to do with price, its all about putting together a system properly integrated that is coherent, musical and transparent to source.