Ressurecting a hated foe that is now a new friend.
I had been watching some cartridge shoot out videos on YouTube and some of their videos inspired me inspired me to go through some of my cartridges that I hadn’t used or seen in a long time on my VPI Classic 1, one in particular is the Audio Technica AT120E/T. During this, I found out that two of my moving coils, a Dynavector 10x5, I used this four days ago and Denon DL301 MKII, I used yesterday (this one not as bad) had cantilevers that were not straight with in the cartridge body.
They work fine, one a little harder to align because of this (the Dynavector), but sound wise you can’t tell. Another moving magnet cartridge, the Ortofon 2m Red, was defective and didn’t work properly. The Ortofon OM-10 and the Denon DL-110, I didn’t use yet in this shoot out. Well when I got to my Audio Technica At120E/T, I didn’t expect much, but I figured what the heck.
I had hated this cartridge since the 90s. I pulled out all of my set up tools, the Dr. Feickert Alignment tool, another smaller Alignment Tool with a mirror to check azimuth, my Tone Arm Bubble level, both of my tracking force gauges, the Shure-manual and my Digital Gauge and a protractor that I used to check my tone arm height. I align the cartridge for 2 hours and 30 minutes, rechecking every thing three times, especially the nul points. My patience paid off after adding my other phono stage the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS. Now aligning on a VPI-Unipivot is impossible, but a little more difficult than others. Upon being happy with every thing I put on my first record and bam, what is this, OMOG, the sound stage was incredibly wide, the treble extended and the bass wasn’t bad, but not as full as some of my moving coils.
I realized that I had always hated this cartridge and hadn’t used it since the 90’s, but it had been mounted on my Dual CS5000 by my dealer who is no longer around. I made a snap judgement and because I didn’t have the knowledge then that I do now, I shelved that cartridge a year after having it and hadn’t thought about it since. This cartridge sounded as good as any I had, except bass and some midrange in the case of the two Denon cartridges and of course the Dynavector. This cartridge sounded every bit as good as anything that my current dealer has or could set up and I will be refining the set up when my Mint LP protractor comes in, which is specifically made for my tone arm only.
I underestimated this cartridge by a mile in the 90s and for the $130.00 that I paid for it back then, which I thought was too much has turned out today to be very good. When I say I nailed set-up, I mean, I nailed it. I checked again two more times being bent over with that mirror and light and the cantilever and stylus was perfect in both protractors and my efforts were greatly rewarded and a cartridge that was dead to me has been resurrected.
So my question to all of you would be have you ever had an audio item that was either stashed away because of a bad first impression or on the brink of being thrown away, that you listened to or used when you had a clearer head and found that this wasn't that bad after all?