Which headshell to use?


Hello. I am a new member to Audiogon and am seeking some adivce. I have a vintage system consisting of a Pioneer SX1980 receiver, Teac X2000 reel to reel, Klipsch Belle's and most recently added a Pioneer Series20 Model PLC-590 turntable. It is set up with the Pioneer PA1000 tonearm, but has an aftermarket headshell by Audioquest. Ive installed an Audio Technica 440ML cartridge that I was previously using on my Empire 698. Given that you guys know just about everything with regard to turntable setup and I know just enough to get myself in trouble, could someone please reccommend an appropriate headshell. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. Looking forward to becoming part of your community. Rick
35off
I have a box full of different headshells. My favorite is the Orsonic. Audioquest made a version of this also, (actually it just had their name on it).

These went out of production for a long time, but have recently come back. 2Juki on E-Bay sells them.

I also like some of the wood bodied headshells, but the Orsonic is my favorite. There are quite a few to choose from nowadays...happy hunting!
BTW...welcome! Nice vintage system!!
Thanks Mofimadness for your reply. Ill take a look at the Orsonic. I know there is a whole "science" to turntable set up and what works well with what. How much impact does the headshell really have or is it mostly a carrier of the cartridge. Obviously next comes the correct cartridge match which I know is a whole nother story. Any suggestions in that arena will be greatly appreciated as well. Thanks again for your input. RM
I also have lightweigh (silver) Orsonic headshell for my Denon DL-107 MM and it was ok.

Later i tried Technics EPA-100 with stock headshell with my Zyx Airy 3 MC and it was ok too. But when i bought heavier Zyx Live 18 headshell for ZyX Airy i was blown away buy the difference in performance, even my girlfriend noticed that. So if the weight of Zyx Live 18 is ok for your cartridge/arm it can be one of the best shell (but it's not cheap option).

The budged option is Audiotechnica Technicard shells, the esiest shell to mount cartridges, pretty good one and must be in collection.

As for audiocraft i'm sure it must be good (i want to try one). I use heavy utracraft shell (by audiocraft) on my Thomas Schick "12 tonearm with low compliance Argent MC500HS cartridge and i like it. Design of this black ultracraft is great.

I can't say much about wooden headshells (like yamamoto sound craft), but a friend of mine has their ebony wood shell for his grado cartridge. Unfortunately this shell cracked after all, not sure why exactly, but that's not good imho (wood is very sensitive to temperature etc). Anyway people love it for DL103 on Schick Arm. There're also titanium headshells in yamamoto soundcraft line...
kk
...could someone please reccommend an appropriate headshell.

I don't believe with a headshell there is a standard of appropriateness that is independent of the overall sound it plays a part in making. That is to say, the appropriate headshell is the one that, along with your cart and tonearm, produces your preferred sound. A consequence of this is that, absent experience with a particular combination, no one can predict which one will work best. Thus, a headshell made of other-worldly materials and with an other-worldly price may not be better for you than the 'cheap' stamped one.

Unfortunately, this means that, like Mofimadness (and myself), you'll end up with a box full of headshells.

Having said all that, here are some considerations to keep in mind when shopping:

1. overhang adjustability: some headshells (e.g., AT mg-10) have pre-set holes and are not adjustable, while others have pre-set holes but are adjustable via a set screw (AT ls-12); but most common are the ones with slots.

2. weight: be sure that your arm can balance the headshell + cart combo

Being close to the source (the cart), I believe headshells are very important. I just experienced a case in point. I recently mounted a victor z1 mm cart onto a cool looking vintage victor headshell made around the same time as the cart. I reasoned that victor wouldn't make a headshell that didn't match well with one of their signature carts. I was wrong: I couldn't get the combo to sound nearly as good as the first combination I tried (z1 with AT ls-12 headshell). Tonight, I tried a 3rd combo: z1 + lp gear zupreme hs): again, significantly different from the first two.

Finally, don't forget the importance of headshell leads. Personally, I prefer and use silver ones (with kondo and ikeda and, soon, zyx wire). Since you're just starting out, I recommend buying some good silver wire and clips and getting someone to make you leads (unless you are good at soldering and can make them yourself). That way, (assuming you would follow the trajectory of the typical neurotic audiophile) you'll save yourself from amassing a graveyard of leads (like I have) that weren't good enough.
Thanks to all for your input so far. Banquo363 it's funny you mention leads because I've read about the importance of high quality connectors. Totally makes sense. In essence they start the chain of events as signal moves through your system. I've been collecting vintage gear for quite some time and have put together some high quality gear for its time. Now it's at a point to attend to the details to get as much out of it as possible. I'm really looking forward to tapping into the brain trust available with this community.
Yes, what banquo said. May I add, I have found that a $30 jelco can be the best choice for a particular cart while I use a $100 cherrywood Yamamoto with my Denon 103. I have an sme 3009 but have found that the sme headshell with holes all over is the poorest performer. Choose heavier solid for better sound ~ aside from all/magnesium I use ebony, cherry wood, and graphite depending on the cart.

I also agree with silver headshell leads. I do not like silver connecting preamp to amp or digital to line stage or speakers. But I have found as mush silver as possible from cartradge through phono to line input is best sounding for me ~ I use VDH silver.
Surely the leds are important but silver or copper is a matter of taste. Also if your tonearm internal/external wires are copper what's the point to use silver led wires in headshell or vise-versa? If your cartridge coil is copper why you need silver wires or vise-versa? Some of the best tonearms use one set of wires from cartridge to your phono stage.

About Audio-Technica headshell with fixed screw holes:
Yes there are no slots to move cartridge in headshell but on the backside of the AT Technicard or Magnesium headshell you will find at least two sets of mounting holes. The most important thing about this type of AT shells is FULLY ADJUSTABLE OVERHANG AND AZYMUTH and with thus option you don't need any slots, you move the whole shell to adjust cartridge with your protractor!
Mofi is correct,Orosonic IS 'da bomb !
If I had money burning a hole in my pocket, I'd be tempted to try this headshell. Evidently, inspired by the Orsonic.
My favourite is the Sumiko magnesium (13 g) with wire and
movable connector for the azimuth and extension. About
40 GBP on ebay. uk. From the 'exotic kind' I prefer the
heavier Orsonic (AV -101). From the 'professional kind'
the Arche. The one which Banquo would like to own. The
Arche is pretty expensive but the insert pieces on which the
carts are fastened make this headshell a totally different
proposition. With, say, 4 inserts pieces one get
4 Arche headshells. The insert pieces are about $ 50 each
so one get the Arche headshells for about $150 each.
The Audioquest headshell that was on the TT when I bought it is styled like the Acoustical Systems that Banquo mentioned. As I mentioned in my opening post, the tonearm on my table it the Pioneer PA1000 which I understand is from their Exclusive line. There's a listing on eBay for the correct matching headshell in carbon fiber from Pioneer. It's in Russia and the guy wants 140 for it delivered. I think I'm going to get it just so I'll have it. The Orsonic appears to be well regarded by each of you so far. That may be the best long term choice.
35off...if you have the Audioquest that looks like the Orsonic, you have an Orsonic. Orsonic made that headshell for Audioquest. It just says Audioquest on it, instead of Orsonic, but it's the same exact headshell.

I was a dealer and have several of both. They are the same.
Thanks for that bit of info Mofi. That's a biggie! I acquired this TT from a friend of mine who owns a high end stereo store here in Jacksonville Beach. They were doing close to a 200k install and took a bunch of gear from their client on trade. This Series20 TT was part of that gear. Being a vintage Pioneer guy, I grabbed it up right away. It was an easy replacement for the Empire 698 I was running. It fits in nicely with my SX1980 and in my opinion a big improvement over the Empire. I probably should swing back in and see what else they brought in from this guy. So thanks again Mofi, I really appreciate the input I've received from you and everyone on this thread.
About Audio-Technica headshell with fixed screw holes:
Yes there are no slots to move cartridge in headshell but on the backside of the AT Technicard or Magnesium headshell you will find at least two sets of mounting holes. The most important thing about this type of AT shells is FULLY ADJUSTABLE OVERHANG AND AZYMUTH and with thus option you don't need any slots, you move the whole shell to adjust cartridge with your protractor!

Just a note: not all AT magnesium headshells are adjustable. The mg 10 is not. I learned this the hard way.

Sumiko HS 12,Adjustable Azimuth,Litz wire, Needle Doctor sells it for $90.00.
Yogiboy,

LP Gear sells the same Sumiko but calls it Zupreme. They only ask $55 for it! BTW. Jelco also sells the same head shell but lists it under their name!

Regards,
We're talking about any headshells or about very good headshells ?
Does it improve the sound when you change just a headshell ?
Dual pin Zyx Live 18 DOES (pretty much) more than any other headshells i have tried on my EPA-100 tonearm.

P.S. SAEC ULS-3X ALSO RATED VERY HIGH (AND THE PRICE TOO), anyone happy with SAEC ULS-3X? I've never tried it myself.