I know this subject has been visited and revisited. I'd like to approach it from a slightly different perspective. This is regarding the infamous Telarc 1812 overture with the digital cannons. In 1979, I purchased the recording and played it entirely satisfactorily with my Technics SLD2 or Sony PSX7 and Shure cartridges: M95e, V15III, etc. My AudioTechnica 12XE and 12 SA played it as well ,also MicroAcoustics, Acutex, and ADC cartridges without problems. Skip to 1984 or so; with the CD age, you could buy at thrift shops many by then older turntables: Onkyo, Pioneer, Sansui, Kenwood, Technics, Yamaha, etc. Well, those sometimes $10 or less turntables could also play the cannons without problems with the aforemention cart's without bouncing out of the groove. Ortofons or Stantons, even the 681EEE, could not do so unless you brought in a turntable with a servotracer arm [JVC, Denon, Sony, etc.] Keep in mind the total cost at thrift stores would be less than $50, whereas brand new equipment might have run as much as $200. OK; Look at today; I have had turntables from VPI, Project, Music Hall, Rega (3) priced from $1000 to $3000 which look silly when trying to play the 1812 Telarc cannons! This is progress?, I would like some input, and I'm fully aware of phono cartrige compliance assues,and tonearm weight, ec..
Interesting question. I too often wonder if we have not gone backwards in some ways compared to the well respected gear of yesteryear. However, IMO, basing audio performance on the ability to produce canon shots in a living room is similar to judging truck performance on how fast it can get around a race track. Both are interesting diversions but how relevant is either to their intended use's.

It may be possible that the TT/tone arm/cartridge's that you state can not handle the Telarc canon shots may actually sound better with music because the designs are optimized for music not for there ability to track the (sonic boom) canon shots.
"I have had turntables from VPI, Project, Music Hall, Rega (3) priced from $1000 to $3000 which look silly when trying to play the 1812 Telarc cannons! This is progress?"

When you say look silly can you be more specific? Is this a sound quality issue?
Sorry, Zd542; I was not chiefly talking about sound here---just the ability to track the Telarc cannons and the fact that much cheaper older units I mentioned could do so and the more modern, more expensive, and much more esoteric ones I described cannot. The older combo's just sail thru the recording effortlessly whereas the newer ones look silly, ie. jump out of the groove, distorting while doing so.. Except for the cannons, all mentioned TT's sound just fine, and if sound is what it's all about, well and good; but I think trackability should also be a concern, especially if today'sprices are considered.
Since the turntable is not directly responsible for tracking, it would be helpful to know what tonearm(s) and cartridge(s) you are talking about. For one thing, typical modern MC cartridges often do not track as well as the old war-horse MM cartridges you mention. So just on that basis, your experience is not surprising. (Further, while VPI makes all sorts of turntables with tonearms, at all price and quality levels, Rega and Music Hall do concentrate at the low end of the spectrum. The vintage tables you mention are very good ones.)
I think I see what you are saying. It is a very interesting problem. I don't know that the answer is, but I'll make a couple guesses.

My first guess is that the older TT's may have been designed for DJ's or other commercial (non home) uses. For example, a TT in a night club needs to operate in an environment where there is a lot of vibrations.

Another factor may be room placement. The TT may be in a location where low frequencies interfere with it.

The rack, or whatever you have the TT sitting on may not be good enough to isolate the it properly. If that's the case, it would be easy why the problem will occur. Newer analog gear is much more sensitive. A good example is VPI. The slightest touch and those tonearms shake like a 90 year old alcoholic. The upside is the potential for better SQ.

Anyway, thats all I can think of.
07-14-13: Lewm
For one thing, typical modern MC cartridges often do not track as well as the old war-horse MM cartridges you mention.
+1. That is my impression as well. Same goes for the old war-horse MM cartridges vs. typical older MC cartridges, AFAIK.

-- Al
To all who have responded to my forum entry: In one sentence: why in 1980 could I buy a turntable such as a Technics SLD2 for $130 and a cartridge such as an Audio Tecnica 12XE for a total of $160, while today I might spend $3000 and still not be able to track the Telarc 1812 cannons[when I could do so with the $160 1980 expenditure]?
Because you have made some bad buying decisions, if your sole goal is tracking the 1812 Overture, and because of inflation and the evolution of the "high end" as we now know it, and because to some degree "we" drank the moving coil Kool-Aid 30 years ago.
This photo of some of the grooves on that recording may be of interest to those who haven't physically seen it. Among other things, note the point near the center of the photo where there is an abrupt change of direction of around 45 degrees. IIRC, there were some other points that were even more severe, which don't appear in the photo.

I didn't purchase this recording, in part because the receiver I was using ca. 1980 would have clipped on the cannon shots if I listened at anything approaching reasonable volume. I did, however, borrow it from a friend and play it back at a very low volume setting, using a Sony direct drive turntable with its integrated arm, and a Shure cartridge. Had no tracking problems at all.

I believe that a few years later Telarc released a version of the recording that was somewhat easier to track.

-- Al
I bought this record in 1980/81. I think it was close to $20 back then. I bought it because I thought digital records were the best. I don't think that today, although the Telarc records were exceptionally quiet back then, more so than most labels. I also bought it simply for the challenge because of all of the warning labels on the jacket. Telarc was daring me to buy it and play it. I was young and bold back then. I actually enjoyed the piece and played it often back then for people. I also remember smirking a few times in the 80s when someone's high end tt would jump the tracks during the canon fire- usually it was a salesman at a stereo shop. I have never had an issue playing it with my gear. I used MM or High Output MC cartridges up through 2002 when I traded my old faithful ARC SP-6b for my current preamp that can play low output MC cartridges. Never a problem with MC cartridges. I think it is all about set-up, cartridge/tonearm matching and proper isolation. This is a low frequency tracking problem. If your analog rig can't track canon fire, then how do you know the bass is all it can be otherwise?
In one sentence: why in 1980 could I buy a turntable such as a Technics SLD2 for $130 and a cartridge such as an Audio Tecnica 12XE for a total of $160, while today I might spend $3000 and still not be able to track the Telarc 1812 cannons[when I could do so with the $160 1980 expenditure]?
In 1980, vinyl records were the medium of choice for home music reproduction. Millions upon millions of turntables, tonearms and cartridges were manufactured and sold every year. Today, that number would be in the mere thousands, not millions. Economies of scale dictate pricing. The fewer units a company's fixed costs can be amortized over, the higher their prices must be to stay in business.

Additionally... what they ^^^ all said about the goal of our equipment.

I don't own a copy of the Telarc 1812 and never will. Since the track looks like the photo Almarg posted, I've no intention of subjecting my $5K LOMC to it. My $15K vinyl rig plays music so much better than my old $500 rig that I can't stand to listen to the old one. If a rig isn't worth listening to, I couldn't care less what sort of torture tests it can track.
" I think it is all about set-up, cartridge/tonearm matching and proper isolation."

Having not tested out or compared the modern tables to the older in a test like this, I also suspect the overall setup is the key to success in many cases. This and similar records were the ultimate test for table tracking back then. I was in retail audio sales back then and had the opportunity to set up and use many tables and carts back then and the setup made all the difference as I recall. Only a small % of setups/combos seemed up to the task even back then as I recall. Also I seem to recall high mass carts in lower mass tonearms popular with many Japanese and European tables at the time having the least success due largely to extreme inertial effects. Those records served too purposes: 1 ) demonstrate the dynamics possible with digital recording technology of the day and 2) demonstrate the shortcomings of most record players/turntables of the day with such recordings as they failed to track the records adequately in most cases. Digital had its own technical issues and challenges to conquer over the years, but the laws of physics relating to mass and inertia was not one of them luckily.
Dear Boofer: +++++ " Except for the cannons, all mentioned TT's sound just fine, and if sound is what it's all about, well and good; but I think trackability should also be a concern, especially if today'sprices are considered.... " +++++

IMHO perhaps the main or more important cartridge characteristic/target is: the cartridge traking abilities.

Everything the same the best cartridge tracker ( between cartridge comparisons. ) is the best performer too.

Better cartridge tracking abilities means ( between other things ) LOWER DISTORTIONS: distortions that many of us can hear and discern about.

The main cartridge function/target is to follow the recorded grooves staying in touch with always.
Any stylus microscopic " jump " when the stylus is riding the grooves means added distortions and we don't want added distortions in our audio system.

In any decent TT/tonearm/set up the main responsability to shows great or poor tracking abilities fall in the cartridge it self. We don't have to have an stellar tonearm or TT for the cartridge can shows its tracking habilities. I made it " thousands " of test for tracking habilities with real music/recordings with " hundreds of vintage and today MM/MI/LOMC/HOMC cartridges.

One of the recordings I used is that Telarc 1812 Overture ( that IMHO is a great recording and not only because the cannons. ) and because the way ( over the recording. ) the cartridge trfacked I know how that cartridge performs against other cartridges and the differences I have to expect.

Only a few of the today cartridges can track the 16 cannon shots ( one of them is the Denon top of the line S1. ), other only part of those shots and depending which shots can track that's the way that cartridge performs with " normal " LPs.

Now, that is not only which cartridge can pass the 16 cannons shots but on each cannon shot: how it performs/sound? and ( again ) depending on the cartridge kind of sound/reproduction of each one shot will be its overall quality performance level.

Those people that still think that because no other LP is so demanding it's no important that his cartridge can't pass the test but the other LPs: wrong way wrong, it's important because the cartridges that can always performs in any other LP with lower lower distortions.

Of course that if the distoriton levels o what you are hearing is not important: well, is not important.

Dougdeacon, the recording can't damage your precious cartridge but it's a good test/experience to know which distortion levels you have at the source.

Several today and other vintage LOMC cartridges more than riding the LPs normal grooves are jumping on it! . This is terrible, not the Telarc 1812 Overture.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Your moniker tells me all a I need to know.
I think Al's photo tells us all we need to know. Nice find, Al.
Stealing from Pauln, AK Member who wrote the following which nicely allows one to envision the factors at play in getting a cartridge/stylus to track a record properly:

"Compliance is a measure of how hard the groove wall has to press on the stylus tip to get it to move.

Since the pressure and movement are changing through time, the usual attributes that come into play with accelerations apply.

In an automobile suspension, all the moving parts are classified as belonging to one of parts of the system - the sprung weight, and the un-sprung weight. In the case of a car, the un-sprung weight is the car itself, the suspension mounting, and the parts of the suspension that "don't move". The sprung weight included the wheel and hub, maybe part of the axle, etc. (the parts that do move).

It get a little tricky when considering the shocks, springs, and sometimes the axle. These things "move", but they are typically held fast at the un-sprung end. What happens is that the wheel itself is considered fully sprung, but the shock or spring is considered partially sprung (math is used to figure the equivalent sprung mass of the partially sprung components).

Anyway, on the turntable, the stylus, cantilever, and a portion of the suspension mounting, (and the coil if MC, or the magnet if MM, or the iron if MI) is the sprung weight; and the tonearm, balance weight, and cartridge mounting is the un-sprung weight.

(And if your turntable uses a suspension subsystem, there is a similar relationship between the tonearm/platter system (sprung) and the chassis (un-sprung).

Because of the geometry of the sprung weight (a tip at the end of a rod with the rod mounted at the other end with something connected to it - a coil, magnet, or iron), the usual way this is all described is effective tip mass. Which is to say, all the linkages and differential momentum and inertia and damping of the cantilever mounting is all rolled into one figure that describes how the groove wall would receive and respond to an equivalent isolated little mass in contact with the walls. The calculation reveals how much the groove wall "thinks" the tip weighs by how hard or easy it is to push and accelerate the tip.

But since the tip in the real world is connected to the rest of the system, the compliance needs to match the physical characteristics of the arm, the mounting, etc. because of the accelerations and inertia.

Sometimes it helps to visualize the extreme cases using a thought experiment.

Case 1 - Low compliance and light arm
Here the tip may be heavy and the cantilever very heavy and the mounting very tight and stiff. Let the arm be very light (like a soda straw). When the groove presses the tip, the tip resists deflecting in relation to the arm strongly and the whole arm moves. Now the whole geometry is wrong because instead of just wiggling the cantilever the whole arm is trying to wiggle and the effects of its geometry and mounting to the table come into effect.

Case 2 - High compliance and heavy arm
Let's say the arm is made of granite and weighs about ten pounds, but it is balanced just right and is floating on air bearings. What happens when the groove wall presses the tip sideways? The tip moves, but the arm does not. What happens when the groove presses the tip up? It moved up, but the arm does not. What happens after a few seconds of tracking? The tip gets bent to the side as the groove moves inward to the center of the record. The arm does not move. The tip finally mistracks and hops over the groove into the next groove and repeats this indefinitely. The compliance is too great for the deflected tip to move the arm. If the tip had a few minutes to apply its deflection continuously to the arm, you might see the arm begin to move, but that's too late, and it would take the same amount of time deflecting the other way just to get it to stop."
To summarize; that magic number for the correct compliance/effective mass yields a system (tone arm and cartridge) natural frequency around 10 Hz.
The laws of physics relating to acceleration and inertia essentially make playing records always an exercise in compromise. The highest quality and most dynamic recordings are inherently also the hardest to get to playback accurately! A true dilemma! That is why so many (including myself)were so excited when digital came along.....a different set of problems in the digital and electronic (not physical) domain to solve that seemed more solvable and in fact has been pretty well shaken out by now over the years.

Those early Telarc records were the first indicators for many (including myself) that vinyl playback technology had progressed about as far as it could/would and a new and better way was needed to move things forward.

Modern tables and cartridges may be more technologically advanced than those from years ago, but they still have to deal with the same laws and limitations dictated by physics to work well. Proper setup/matching of components in a vinyl rig is pretty much what its all about to get best results. A lot of the rest may be nice but do not matter nearly as much. The same rules and limitations hold today as back then, which might explain why the progress made in fact may not be so great as one might expect given some of the modern price tags in many cases.

I wish I still had my old $200 Philips 312 table from back then. One of my all time favorites. That low mass tonearm with the right high compliance mm cart tracked pretty well and sounded way better than it should have. I recall it doing way better than most Japanese table setups of the day with the Telarcs. I still have some old cassette recordings I made back in the 70's that still sound half decent and give a decent hint of its charms. A gorgeous and utilitarian design as well.
So when does the new and improved 45 rpm re-issue version of the classic Telarc 1812 recording come out? That might be the new King Kong of record tracking challenges. BEst sound ever if anything could play it without the stylus getting launched all the way to some prehistoric island in the process. :^)
Actually, the accelerations at the stylus would need to be the same in order to generate the same frequencies and amplitudes. So the grooves would just be elongated and not quite as pronounced on a 45rpm version. Also, you would have to flip the record halfway through the song; but then side 2 of the Telarc disc is not nearly as exciting anyway.
Dear Mapman: Your posts are right as a theory, unfortunatelly in audio for some " unknow " reasons not always is acomplished.

This is an example and I already experienced several other that gone against theory:

In 1984 Audio magazyne made the review of one of the greatest LOMC ever, the Ortofon MC2000 ( that I own. ). This cartridge weight is 11grs and its compliance is 20cu.

The reviewer was the regarded B.V. Pisha whom mounted the cartridge in the technics EPA 250 through the SP-10MK2 TT.

The measured compliance was 30cu and the resonance frequency was 5.0 hz. Well trhough measures of the cartridge traking ability ( to many numbers to shows here ) Pisha writed: " this is the best tracability I have ever measured at low frequency.

The MC2000 tracks cleanly: even the level 6 on the Shure Era V. He continue: " as I had expected, the MC2000 reproduced very the very high-velocity cannon shots on the Telarc 1812 with no apparent difficulty ".

How that could happen?

Regards and enjoy the music,
Not surprising that the cartridge could track low freq better with a system natural at 5Hz; because that is further away from the 20Hz+ musical frequencies. It could be ideal if not for the other parameters that must be addressed, ie. warps in records, runout, external vibrations such as foot falls and rumble. The author of that article looked only at one parameter. I also think that stylus design/shape is a factor too for both low and high frequency tracking. Some stylus shapes definately work better than others.
Dear Tonywinsc: Well, the tonearm/cartridge resonance was that 5hz value that's way out of the " ideal " range: 8hz to 12 hz.

I assume you have that review and is very interesting. The subject here for what Mapman posted ( he is right. ) is that all the cartridge/tonearm specs and measurements goes ( in theory ) against what he stated but in the real life the cartridge performs great. I own this Ortofon MC2000 and I mounted in several tonearms and in each one performs almost the same.

I own several very high compliance cartridges that I mounted in heavy mass tonearms and performs very well.

+++++ " I also think that stylus design/shape is a factor too for both low and high frequency tracking. Some stylus shapes definately work better than others. " +++++

this is absolutely true. I experienced about and I remember one of my latest test with the AT Precept 440 MM cartridge: things are that this cartridge ( over the time. ) was marketed with different stylus shape: Shibata, eliptical and ML ( line contact type. ).

All stylus/cantilever/suspension " mechanism " are the same but the stylus shape. Well, only the ML sample traked cleanly all the 1812 cannon shots, the other two failed and I tested in three different tonearms.

Regards and enjoy the music,
"I own several very high compliance cartridges that I mounted in heavy mass tonearms and performs very well."

Hi Raul, I believe that is possible if your turntable is very well isolated, has low rumble and has a way to keep the record perfectly flat. The danger is if the record has any warp then it is possible to drive the cantilever suspension to its hard stops. At that point, there could be risk of damage to the cartridge and/or record groove. The high compliance cartridge sees the high mass tonearm as an immovable object. So even a record with high runnout, ie. eccentric hole might stress the high compliance suspension in the lateral direction. The grooves are moving back and forth but the tonearm stays steady and the high compliance suspension must absorb all of the motion.
Dear Tonywinsc: Yes we have to take in count that all LPs comes with eccentric hole and warps , ideally is better to stay in the " safe " resonance frequency range: 8hz to 12 hz.

I only want to show that a good tracker tracks under almost any condition.

Regards and enjoy the music,