Who needs a MM cartridge type when we have MC?


Dear friends: who really needs an MM type phono cartridge?, well I will try to share/explain with you what are my experiences about and I hope too that many of you could enrich the topic/subject with your own experiences.

For some years ( in this forum ) and time to time I posted that the MM type cartridge quality sound is better than we know or that we think and like four months ago I start a thread about: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1173550723&openusid&zzRauliruegas&4&5#Rauliruegas where we analyse some MM type cartridges.

Well, in the last 10-12 months I buy something like 30+ different MM type phono cartridges ( you can read in my virtual system which ones. ) and I’m still doing it. The purpose of this fact ( “ buy it “ ) is for one way to confirm or not if really those MM type cartridges are good for us ( music lovers ) and at the same time learn about MM vs MC cartridges, as a fact I learn many things other than MM/MC cartridge subject.

If we take a look to the Agon analog members at least 90% of them use ( only ) MC phono cartridges, if we take a look to the “ professional reviewers “ ( TAS, Stereophile, Positive Feedback, Enjoy the Music, etc, etc, ) 95% ( at least ) of them use only MC cartridges ( well I know that for example: REG and NG of TAS and RJR of Stereophile use only MM type cartridges!!!!!!!! ) , if we take a look to the phono cartridge manufacturers more than 90% of them build/design for MC cartridges and if you speak with audio dealers almost all will tell you that the MC cartridges is the way to go.

So, who are wrong/right, the few ( like me ) that speak that the MM type is a very good alternative or the “ whole “ cartridge industry that think and support the MC cartridge only valid alternative?

IMHO I think that both groups are not totally wrong/right and that the subject is not who is wrong/right but that the subject is : KNOW-HOW or NON KNOW-HOW about.

Many years ago when I was introduced to the “ high end “ the cartridges were almost MM type ones: Shure, Stanton, Pickering, Empire, etc, etc. In those time I remember that one dealer told me that if I really want to be nearest to the music I have to buy the Empire 4000 D ( they say for 4-channel reproduction as well. ) and this was truly my first encounter with a “ high end cartridge “, I buy the 4000D I for 70.00 dls ( I can’t pay 150.00 for the D III. ), btw the specs of these Empire cartridges were impressive even today, look: frequency response: 5-50,000Hz, channel separation: 35db, tracking force range: 0.25grs to 1.25grs!!!!!!!!, just impressive, but there are some cartridges which frequency response goes to 100,000Hz!!!!!!!!!!

I start to learn about and I follow to buying other MM type cartridges ( in those times I never imagine nothing about MC cartridges: I don’t imagine of its existence!!!. ) like AKG, Micro Acoustics, ADC, B&O, Audio Technica, Sonus, etc, etc.

Years latter the same dealer told me about the MC marvelous cartridges and he introduce me to the Denon-103 following with the 103-D and the Fulton High performance, so I start to buy and hear MC cartridges. I start to read audio magazines about either cartridge type: MM and Mc ones.

I have to make changes in my audio system ( because of the low output of the MC cartridges and because I was learning how to improve the performance of my audio system ) and I follow what the reviewers/audio dealers “ speak “ about, I was un-experienced !!!!!!!, I was learning ( well I’m yet. ).

I can tell you many good/bad histories about but I don’t want that the thread was/is boring for you, so please let me tell you what I learn and where I’m standing today about:

over the years I invested thousands of dollars on several top “ high end “ MC cartridges, from the Sumiko Celebration passing for Lyras, Koetsu, Van denHul, to Allaerts ones ( just name it and I can tell that I own or owned. ), what I already invest on MC cartridges represent almost 70-80% price of my audio system.

Suddenly I stop buying MC cartridges and decide to start again with some of the MM type cartridges that I already own and what I heard motivate me to start the search for more of those “ hidden jewels “ that are ( here and now ) the MM phono cartridges and learn why are so good and how to obtain its best quality sound reproduction ( as a fact I learn many things other than MM cartridge about. ).

I don’t start this “ finding “ like a contest between MC and MM type cartridges.
The MC cartridges are as good as we already know and this is not the subject here, the subject is about MM type quality performance and how achieve the best with those cartridges.

First than all I try to identify and understand the most important characteristics ( and what they “ means “. ) of the MM type cartridges ( something that in part I already have it because our phonolinepreamp design needs. ) and its differences with the MC ones.

Well, first than all is that are high output cartridges, very high compliance ones ( 50cu is not rare. ), low or very low tracking force ones, likes 47kOhms and up, susceptible to some capacitance changes, user stylus replacement, sometimes we can use a different replacement stylus making an improvement with out the necessity to buy the next top model in the cartridge line , low and very low weight cartridges, almost all of them are build of plastic material with aluminum cantilever and with eliptical or “ old “ line contact stylus ( shibata ) ( here we don’t find: Jade/Coral/Titanium/etc, bodies or sophisticated build material cantilevers and sophisticated stylus shape. ), very very… what I say? Extremely low prices from 40.00 to 300.00 dls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, well one of my cartridges I buy it for 8.99 dls ( one month ago ): WOW!!!!!!, so any one of you can/could have/buy ten to twenty MM cartridges for the price of one of the MC cartridge you own today and the good notice is that is a chance that those 10-20 MM type cartridges even the quality performance of your MC cartridge or beat it.

Other characteristics is that the builders show how proud they were/are on its MM type cartridges design, almost all those cartridges comes with a first rate box, comes with charts/diagrams of its frequency response and cartridge channel separation ( where they tell us which test recording use it, with which VTF, at which temperature, etc, etc. ), comes with a very wide explanation of the why’s and how’s of its design and the usual explanation to mount the cartridge along with a very wide list of specifications ( that were the envy of any of today MC ones where sometimes we really don’t know nothing about. ), comes with a set of screws/nuts, comes with a stylus brush and even with stylus cleaning fluid!!!!!!!!!, my GOD. Well, there are cartridges like the Supex SM 100MK2 that comes with two different stylus!!!! One with spherical and one with elliptical/shibata shape and dear friends all those in the same low low price!!!!!!!!!!!

Almost all the cartridges I own you can find it through Ebay and Agon and through cartridge dealers and don’t worry if you loose/broke the stylus cartridge or you find the cartridge but with out stylus, you always can/could find the stylus replacement, no problem about there are some stylus and cartridge sources.

When I’m talking about MM type cartridges I’m refer to different types: moving magnet, moving iron, moving flux, electret, variable reluctance, induced magnet, etc, etc. ( here is not the place to explain the differences on all those MM type cartridges. Maybe on other future thread. ).

I made all my very long ( time consuming ) cartridge tests using four different TT’s: Acoustic Signature Analog One MK2, Micro Seiki RX-5000, Luxman PD 310 and Technics SP-10 MK2, I use only removable headshell S and J shape tonearms with 15mm on overhang, I use different material build/ shape design /weight headshells. I test each cartridge in at least three different tonearms and some times in 3-4 different headshells till I find the “ right “ match where the cartridge perform the best, no I’m not saying that I already finish or that I already find the “ perfect “ match: cartridge/headshell/tonearm but I think I’m near that ideal target.

Through my testing experience I learn/ confirm that trying to find the right tonearm/headshell for any cartridge is well worth the effort and more important that be changing the TT. When I switch from a TT to another different one the changes on the quality cartridge performance were/are minimal in comparison to a change in the tonearm/headshell, this fact was consistent with any of those cartridges including MC ones.

So after the Phonolinepreamplifier IMHO the tonearm/headshell match for any cartridge is the more important subject, it is so important and complex that in the same tonearm ( with the same headshell wires ) but with different headshell ( even when the headshell weight were the same ) shape or build material headshell the quality cartridge performance can/could be way different.

All those experiences told me that chances are that the cartridge that you own ( MC or MM ) is not performing at its best because chances are that the tonearm you own is not the best match for that cartridge!!!!!!, so imagine what do you can/could hear when your cartridge is or will be on the right tonearm???!!!!!!!!, IMHO there are ( till today ) no single ( any type at any price ) perfect universal tonearm. IMHO there is no “ the best tonearm “, what exist or could exist is a “ best tonearm match for “ that “ cartridge “, but that’s all. Of course that are “ lucky “ tonearms that are very good match for more than one cartridge but don’t for every single cartridge.

I posted several times that I’m not a tonearm collector, that I own all those tonearms to have alternatives for my cartridges and with removable headshells my 15 tonearms are really like 100+ tonearms : a very wide options/alternatives for almost any cartridge!!!!!!

You can find several of these MM type cartridges new brand or NOS like: Ortofon, Nagaoka, Audio Technica, Astatic, B&O, Rega, Empire, Sonus Reson,Goldring,Clearaudio, Grado, Shelter, Garrot, etc. and all of them second hand in very good operational condition. As a fact I buy two and even three cartridges of the same model in some of the cartridges ( so right now I have some samples that I think I don’t use any more. ) to prevent that one of them arrive in non operational condition but I’m glad to say that all them arrive in very fine conditions. I buy one or two of the cartridges with no stylus or with the stylus out of work but I don’t have any trouble because I could find the stylus replacement on different sources and in some case the original new replacement.

All these buy/find cartridges was very time consuming and we have to have a lot of patience and a little lucky to obtain what we are looking for but I can asure you that is worth of it.

Ok, I think it is time to share my performance cartridge findings:

first we have to have a Phonolinepreamplifier with a very good MM phono stage ( at least at the same level that the MC stage. ). I’m lucky because my Phonolinepreamplifier has two independent phono stages, one for the MM and one for MC: both were designed for the specifics needs of each cartridge type, MM or MC that have different needs.

we need a decent TT and decent tonearm.

we have to load the MM cartridges not at 47K but at 100K ( at least 75K not less. ).

I find that using 47K ( a standard manufacture recommendation ) prevent to obtain the best quality performance, 100K make the difference. I try this with all those MM type cartridges and in all of them I achieve the best performance with 100K load impedance.

I find too that using the manufacturer capacitance advise not always is for the better, till “ the end of the day “ I find that between 100-150pf ( total capacitance including cable capacitance. ) all the cartridges performs at its best.

I start to change the load impedance on MM cartridges like a synonymous that what many of us made with MC cartridges where we try with different load impedance values, latter I read on the Empire 4000 DIII that the precise load impedance must be 100kOhms and in a white paper of some Grace F9 tests the used impedance value was 100kOhms, the same that I read on other operational MM cartridge manual and my ears tell/told me that 100kOhms is “ the value “.

Before I go on I want to remember you that several of those MM type cartridges ( almost all ) were build more than 30+ years ago!!!!!!!! and today performs at the same top quality level than today MC/MM top quality cartridges!!!!!, any brand at any price and in some ways beat it.

I use 4-5 recordings that I know very well and that give me the right answers to know that any cartridge is performing at its best or near it. Many times what I heard through those recordings were fine: everything were on target however the music don’t come “ alive “ don’t “ tell me “ nothing, I was not feeling the emotion that the music can communicate. In those cartridge cases I have to try it in other tonearm and/or with a different headshell till the “ feelings comes “ and only when this was achieved I then was satisfied.

All the tests were made with a volume level ( SPL ) where the recording “ shines “ and comes alive like in a live event. Sometimes changing the volume level by 1-1.5 db fixed everything.

Of course that the people that in a regular manner attend to hear/heard live music it will be more easy to know when something is right or wrong.

Well, Raul go on!!: one characteristic on the MM cartridges set-up was that almost all them likes to ride with a positive ( little/small ) VTA only the Grace Ruby and F9E and Sonus Gold Blue likes a negative VTA , on the other hand with the Nagaoka MP 50 Super and the Ortofon’s I use a flat VTA.

Regarding the VTF I use the manufacturer advise and sometimes 0.1+grs.
Of course that I made fine tuning through moderate changes in the Azymuth and for anti-skate I use between half/third VTF value.

I use different material build headshells: aluminum, composite aluminum, magnesium, composite magnesium, ceramic, wood and non magnetic stainless steel, these cartridges comes from Audio Technica, Denon, SAEC, Technics, Fidelity Research, Belldream, Grace, Nagaoka, Koetsu, Dynavector and Audiocraft.
All of them but the wood made ( the wood does not likes to any cartridge. ) very good job . It is here where a cartridge could seems good or very good depending of the headshell where is mounted and the tonearm.
Example, I have hard time with some of those cartridge like the Audio Technica AT 20SS where its performance was on the bright sound that sometimes was harsh till I find that the ceramic headshell was/is the right match now this cartridge perform beautiful, something similar happen with the Nagaoka ( Jeweltone in Japan ), Shelter , Grace, Garrot , AKG and B&O but when were mounted in the right headshell/tonearm all them performs great.

Other things that you have to know: I use two different cooper headshell wires, both very neutral and with similar “ sound “ and I use three different phono cables, all three very neutral too with some differences on the sound performance but nothing that “ makes the difference “ on the quality sound of any of my cartridges, either MM or MC, btw I know extremely well those phono cables: Analysis Plus, Harmonic Technologies and Kimber Kable ( all three the silver models. ), finally and don’t less important is that those phono cables were wired in balanced way to take advantage of my Phonolinepreamp fully balanced design.

What do you note the first time you put your MM cartridge on the record?, well a total absence of noise/hum or the like that you have through your MC cartridges ( and that is not a cartridge problem but a Phonolinepreamp problem due to the low output of the MC cartridges. ), a dead silent black ( beautiful ) soundstage where appear the MUSIC performance, this experience alone is worth it.

The second and maybe the most important MM cartridge characteristic is that you hear/heard the MUSIC flow/run extremely “ easy “ with no distracting sound distortions/artifacts ( I can’t explain exactly this very important subject but it is wonderful ) even you can hear/heard “ sounds/notes “ that you never before heard it and you even don’t know exist on the recording: what a experience!!!!!!!!!!!

IMHO I think that the MUSIC run so easily through a MM cartridge due ( between other facts ) to its very high compliance characteristic on almost any MM cartridge.

This very high compliance permit ( between other things like be less sensitive to out-center hole records. ) to these cartridges stay always in contact with the groove and never loose that groove contact not even on the grooves that were recorded at very high velocity, something that a low/medium cartridge compliance can’t achieve, due to this low/medium compliance characteristic the MC cartridges loose ( time to time and depending of the recorded velocity ) groove contact ( minute extremely minute loose contact, but exist. ) and the quality sound performance suffer about and we can hear it, the same pass with the MC cartridges when are playing the inner grooves on a record instead the very high compliance MM cartridges because has better tracking drive perform better than the MC ones at inner record grooves and here too we can hear it.

Btw, some Agoners ask very worried ( on more than one Agon thread ) that its cartridge can’t track ( clean ) the cannons on the 1812 Telarc recording and usually the answers that different people posted were something like this: “””” don’t worry about other than that Telarc recording no other commercial recording comes recorded at that so high velocity, if you don’t have trouble with other of your LP’s then stay calm. “””””

Well, this standard answer have some “ sense “ but the people ( like me ) that already has/have the experience to hear/heard a MM or MC ( like the Ortofon MC 2000 or the Denon DS1, high compliance Mc cartridges. ) cartridge that pass easily the 1812 Telarc test can tell us that those cartridges make a huge difference in the quality sound reproduction of any “ normal “ recording, so it is more important that what we think to have a better cartridge tracking groove drive!!!!

There are many facts around the MM cartridge subject but till we try it in the right set-up it will be ( for some people ) difficult to understand “ those beauties “. Something that I admire on the MM cartridges is how ( almost all of them ) they handle the frequency extremes: the low bass with the right pitch/heft/tight/vivid with no colorations of the kind “ organic !!” that many non know-how people speak about, the highs neutral/open/transparent/airy believable like the live music, these frequency extremes handle make that the MUSIC flow in our minds to wake up our feelings/emotions that at “ the end of the day “ is all what a music lover is looking for.
These not means that these cartridges don’t shine on the midrange because they do too and they have very good soundstage but here is more system/room dependent.

Well we have a very good alternative on the ( very low price ) MM type cartridges to achieve that music target and I’m not saying that you change your MC cartridge for a MM one: NO, what I’m trying to tell you is that it is worth to have ( as many you can buy/find ) the MM type cartridges along your MC ones

I want to tell you that I can live happy with any of those MM cartridges and I’m not saying with this that all of them perform at the same quality level NO!! what I’m saying is that all of them are very good performers, all of them approach you nearest to the music.

If you ask me which one is the best I can tell you that this will be a very hard “ call “ an almost impossible to decide, I think that I can make a difference between the very good ones and the stellar ones where IMHO the next cartridges belongs to this group:

Audio Technica ATML 170 and 180 OCC, Grado The Amber Tribute, Grace Ruby, Garrot P77, Nagaoka MP-50 Super, B&O MMC2 and MMC20CL, AKG P8ES SuperNova, Reson Reca ,Astatic MF-100 and Stanton LZS 981.

There are other ones that are really near this group: ADC Astrion, Supex MF-100 MK2, Micro Acoustics MA630/830, Empire 750 LTD and 600LAC, Sonus Dimension 5, Astatic MF-200 and 300 and the Acutex 320III.

The other ones are very good too but less refined ones.
I try too ( owned or borrowed for a friend ) the Shure IV and VMR, Music maker 2-3 and Clearaudio Virtuoso/Maestro, from these I could recommended only the Clearaudios the Shure’s and Music Maker are almost mediocre ones performers.
I forgot I try to the B&O Soundsmith versions, well this cartridges are good but are different from the original B&O ( that I prefer. ) due that the Sounsmith ones use ruby cantilevers instead the original B&O sapphire ones that for what I tested sounds more natural and less hi-fi like the ruby ones.

What I learn other that the importance on the quality sound reproduction through MM type cartridges?, well that unfortunately the advance in the design looking for a better quality cartridge performers advance almost nothing either on MM and MC cartridges.

Yes, today we have different/advanced body cartridge materials, different cantilever build materials, different stylus shape/profile, different, different,,,,different, but the quality sound reproduction is almost the same with cartridges build 30+ years ago and this is a fact. The same occur with TT’s and tonearms. Is sad to speak in this way but it is what we have today. Please, I’m not saying that some cartridges designs don’t grow up because they did it, example: Koetsu they today Koetsu’s are better performers that the old ones but against other cartridges the Koetsu ones don’t advance and many old and today cartridges MM/MC beat them easily.

Where I think the audio industry grow-up for the better are in electronic audio items ( like the Phonolinepreamps ), speakers and room treatment, but this is only my HO.

I know that there are many things that I forgot and many other things that we have to think about but what you can read here is IMHO a good point to start.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
rauliruegas
Well, Raul, I think you win this year's award for longest post to the Audiogon forum! [smile]

I currently use B&O MMC1 and MMC2 cartridges and I am thoroughly satisifed with the quality of my moving magnet cartridges. Of course, since I have a B&O BG9000 turntable, I am limited to using only B&O cartridges. It's a good thing they sound terrific and can track *anything*!

-RW-
Raul,

I hope to be having the chance to listen to the new Music Maker Classic on my Morch DP6 redpoint arm shortly. I'll let you know if reports are correct and it does indeed exceed the performance of the MM2 and MM3. If it does, and given my experience of using the MM3 on the Morch with the Essential 3160, well... I am very excited.

Along with the XV1s/Ikeda IT407 combination, the MM/Morch has indeed provided the most vital and realistic analogue performance I have heard anywhere.
Raul, thanks to you for sharing your vast experience. I am soon to have a phono amp capable of MC and MM and am anxious to be able to try and compare different models.

Have you tried HOMC?
Thanks for your post Raul, most interesting. I'm currently using a Garrott Optim FGS which I quite like. I'll have to try experimenting with altering the 47k ohm load impedance that's preset in my phono peamp and see how that alters things.
Thank you Raul for this valuable post.
I agree with you......it is only in the last 10 years that I have mounted MC cartridges in my system.
Before that I was happily playing with Nagaoka MP11, Stantons, and the original Garrott P77 bought from the Garrott Brothers themselves in Australia before they took their lives.
The P77 in particular was the sweetest sound I heard mounted in my Hadcock GH228 on the Rega Planar 3 with the VTA raised slightly just as John and Brian Garrott told me.

I've now gone through the Koetsus and Clearaudios and Lyras before settling on the ZYX Universe and Dynavector DV1s......but your posting has tempted me to reinstall the P77 in either my Copperhead or Schroeder Ref on the Raven AC to see if the advances in MCs over the years is real or imaginary?
Hey Raul, as always great post!
Is the Audio Technica ATLM 170 pretty much the same as my 150 except for the Cantelever? I am curious after talking to another member if I replaced the tip in my 150 with a 170 how much gain in performance I may get, thanks for the time and thought into your post! Chad
Raul, interesting post, with a lot of food for thought - sort of a large audio deli counter.

I was struck by a point many years ago that many top mastering engineers reportedly used MM rather than MC cartridges in their work - Sax, Grundman, Ricker, Ludwig, etc. Now there may have been a variety of reasons for their choices but I couldn't believe these skilled ears would use cartridges that compromised their sound in any way.

Another point from the past. I've read from multiple sources that Joe Grado was the inventor of the MC cartridge - yet he never found reason to use that design on his own products, choosing instead the moving iron. Ever wonder why?

So Raul's information stirs up an interest I once held but got sidetracked (so to speak). This renewal should be interesting.
Excellent, Raul, Thank you!

This is a very useful reference (I bookmarked this thread, of course).

Saves us all the trouble of buying 150 MMs and trying them out individually:)!

{BTW, yes, I also use MM -- an Empire -- replacing a Clearaudio Discovery}
Dear RW: Yes the B&O sounds great. Btw, For reasons that I can't explain I owned the MMC 1 ( that I already sold. ) and when I compare against its little brother MMC 2 ( well not so " little. ) I can't really say the differences, in my system both play almost the same. Yes, I know that both have similar design and build construction.

What are your thoughts about? and do you already try the 100kOhms load impedance?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Dgob: Yes, I'm sure that everyone want to know about the Classic performance.

Btw, I prefer every other MM cartridge performance over the 2-3 Music Maker.

Now, you have a very near source ( Germany ) of new Nagaoka cartridges , why don't take a look here:

http://stores.ebay.de/Williams-Schallplattennadel-Shop_1-2-Tonabnehmer-Cartridges_W0QQcolZ2QQdirZQ2d1QQfsubZ2QQftidZ2QQtZkm

I don't hear yet the classic but the Nagaoka one is a better performer than the Music Maker 2-3, so it will be interesting ( for very low price: a lot lower than either Music maker ) that you could try it.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Maineiac: Yes, I try HOMC cartridge: the Blackbird, good cartridge but not so good against the MM ones.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Chad: When I speak about ATML 170 or 180 these are the OCC ones, because Audio Technica has other " similar " ( but different ) models like AT 150/160ML.

I own the original OCC ones and I have stylus replacement for a 1500 OCC which characteristics are the same that the 170 OCC i swith the 150 stylus in the 170 cartridge and the performance was very poor, why? I don't know because both stylus replacement are similar: at least this is what any can read in the Audio technica brochure. Maybe in the upper models the manufacturer made some internal changes or take care more strictly in the quality build than in the down models.

Now, in your case both cartridges has different cantilever and this fact makes a performance differences more than a change in the stylus tip.

I think that will be better to wait an opportunity to find an AT 170 instead to change that 150 stylus tip.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
I picked up a Grado Sonata as a back-up for my Ortofon Kontrapunkt/Linn Ittok/Lp12 some time ago. Recently my cart bit the dust so I loaded the Sonata. Although very highly rated I was thoroughly underwhelmed. What's more, I found the Sonata/Ittok combo to be totally incompatible! The cart was just bouncing all over the place! After doing some digging on the 'net I found numerous postings detailing the same problem. Anyone need a cheap Sonata!?
Dear Photon 46: Your Garrot is very good and I'm sure will has an improvement changing its load impedance, perhaps with this change maybe you have to re-think the Garrot set-up parameters specially the VTA.

Please let us know what do you find about.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Halcro: The Garrot P77 is a " terrific " quality sound performer that low end/bass response is probably the best of any cartridge out there, it is not only right but has an inherent power that is glorious to hear it to experience it.

IMHO and in the right tonearm the Garrot ( it was not easy to obtain the best with this cartridge but it is worth to make any effort trying to achieve it because whe we have it the audio experience is almost unique. ) is a better performer than your ZYX and even in many ways ( and in other surpass ) your/mine beloved XV-1.

Yes, it likes with a positive VTA.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Pryso: Due to its design/build special MM type cartridge characteristics its sound performance is more " natural " than the MC ones and maybe this was one of the reasonwhy those people choose to use it.

Well, I don't think that J. Grado invented the MC cartridge for what I know that place is for Arthur C. Keler of Bell Labs in 1929 and Ortofon was the first commercial manufacturer to put on the " light " out there. No I don't know why Mr. Grado choose other than MC designs cartridge.

regards and enjoy the music.
raul.
Dear Greg: I hope that a change in the load impedance ( and new set-up parameters. ) likes to your Empire cartridge. Stay tunned about.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Maineiac: Yes, I try HOMC cartridge: the Blackbird, good cartridge but not so good against the MM ones.



Regards and enjoy the music.

Raul.
Dear Chad: When I speak about ATML 170 or 180 these are the OCC ones, because Audio Technica has other " similar " ( but different ) models like AT 150/160ML.



I own the original OCC ones and I have stylus replacement for a 1500 OCC which characteristics are the same that the 170 OCC i swith the 150 stylus in the 170 cartridge and the performance was very poor, why? I don't know because both stylus replacement are similar: at least this is what any can read in the Audio technica brochure. Maybe in the upper models the manufacturer made some internal changes or take care more strictly in the quality build than in the down models.



Now, in your case both cartridges has different cantilever and this fact makes a performance differences more than a change in the stylus tip.



I think that will be better to wait an opportunity to find an AT 170 instead to change that 150 stylus tip.



Regards and enjoy the music.

Raul.
Dear Photon 46: Your Garrot is very good and I'm sure will has an improvement changing its load impedance, perhaps with this change maybe you have to re-think the Garrot set-up parameters specially the VTA.



Please let us know what do you find about.



Regards and enjoy the music.

Raul.
Dear Halcro: The Garrot P77 is a " terrific " quality sound performer that low end/bass response is probably the best of any cartridge out there, it is not only right but has an inherent power that is glorious to hear it to experience it.



IMHO and in the right tonearm the Garrot ( it was not easy to obtain the best with this cartridge but it is worth to make any effort trying to achieve it because whe we have it the audio experience is almost unique. ) is a better performer than your ZYX and even in many ways ( and in other surpass ) your/mine beloved XV-1.



Yes, it likes with a positive VTA.





Regards and enjoy the music.

Raul.
I use a high output MC cartridge (Sumiko Blackbird) and note the advantage of the silent background. It also has high compliance and matches very well with the arm (10", carbon fiber with no removeable headshell) on my Pro-ject RM10. It wasn't inexpensive, BUT it was "only" $400 or $500 when purchased as part of a TT system. (I paid $2880 for a system that lists for about $3300, so I can't accurately attribute the discount to one or the other component).

I'm not planning to replace it, but what arguement would you give me to go MM on my next cartridge purchase? I've got the advantages of high output and high compliances and it sounds pretty darn good to my ear, so what advantage do you think I'd gain.

I'm not pulling your leg. I'm trying to put your research into the context of my system.

Thanks for your efforts.

Dave
Raul, Thank you for your thoughtful treatise. You speak of compliance as if higher is always better. I have been giving this a lot of thought, too. Suppose we take an auto analogy. If you drive a car with no suspension or a very stiff one (i.e., low compliance), the ride will indeed be very bumpy and the whole car, wheels and all, may be thrown up in the air or from side to side, if the road (the groove) is highly irregular, so obviously, some springiness (compliance) is necessary for a smooth ride. But on the other hand, if you drive a car that has a spring suspension and no shock absorbers ("dampers" in the English vernacular), the ride will also be a bit crazy; each bump in the road will cause the car to rise up which stretches the springs and we will experience a series of bounces, as the undamped springs react to the stretching effect of the bump until the energy imparted is dissipated. The wheels may or may not remain in contact with the road, but the weight on each wheel will vary wildly as the car bounces up and down. So, in my thought experiment, high compliance is not an unalloyed blessing. With high compliance, one must have some damping to dissipate the energy generated by compression of the springy cantilever. Have you found any relationship between tonearm damping and cartridge compliance as regards tracking ability?
Raul, what is the best way to locate these fine cartridges? I have tried a google search and ebay for each of them and have not found a single one.
Dcstep,

I have tried both a benz glider HOMC and a clearaudio maestro MM in my system. The HOMC is a bit more detailed and focused than the MM in my system but overall the MM is more enjoyable to my ear.
01-18-08: Maineiac said:

"I have tried both a benz glider HOMC and a clearaudio maestro MM in my system. The HOMC is a bit more detailed and focused than the MM in my system but overall the MM is more enjoyable to my ear."

Thanks for your response Maineiac, but it presents a paradox. You say that the HOMC you tried was more detailed and focused, but you enjoyed the MM more. Can explain why? Is it the EQ (darker/brighter), is it the dymamic range or what? Also, is the system your using it in lean, warm or neutral?

Thanks for your help,

Dave
Dear Changeout: For Nagaoka and Ortofon, here:
http://search.stores.ebay.de/Williams-Schallplattennadel-Shop_nagaoka_W0QQfciZ7QQfclZ3QQfsnZWilliamsQ20SchallplattennadelQ20ShopQQfsooZ2QQfsopZ3QQftsZ2QQsaselZ24926996QQsofpZ0

for Sonus Gold Blue: Mats Carlsson [matsca@gmail.com]

for Empire: hifinova [hifinova@orange.fr]

Grado The Tribute: http://www.audiophile.com.au/product_amber.html

B&O: http://www.stereoneedles.com/Bang&Olufsen.html
http://www.elexatelier.com/bangandolufsenphono.htm

Shelter 201: https://www.elusivedisc.com/prodinfo.asp?number=SHE201

Garrot: http://www.decibelhifi.com.au/category35_1.htm

Reson Reca: info@virtualr.demon.co.uk

Audio technica: http://www.needledoctor.com/Audio-Technica-Cartridge-150-MLX;jsessionid=ac112b1e1f4332c3f61ed3874038851bf947352d0eef.e3eTaxaQbxmTe34Pa38Ta38RbNv0?sc=2&category=363

You have to have your " finding work " ( time consuming ) on the different countries E-bay and here in Audiogon classifieds.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Chazro: I don't have experience with the Sonata but here there are some people that like it:

""""The Grado Sonata & Platinum
(The Sonata is also known as the Signature.

What People are saying about the Sonata...

"The Sonata is a refined and dynamic cartridge. It offers performance ahead of what you might expect for the price. Above all, the Sonata encourages you to play more of your LPs – and what greater recommendation can there be?"
Michael Jones / AudioEnz

"I'd go so far as to say that the Sonata reminded me more of my Koetsu Urishi ($4000) then of my 8MZ."
"No cartridge reproduces a female voice better than this."

"For the extra money, the Reference Sonata represents a leap of performance beyond the Platinum and hints at what an expensive moving coil can do."
Stereophile / Robert Reina Vol.21, No.6

"After a week of warm-up, during which the Sonata was most notable for the solidity of its bass and power of itÕs subsonic bass, the sound started to become very musical."
Andrew Marshall / Audio Ideas Guide / Canada

""""""""+++++++++

Maybe it is not compatible with your tonearm or/and your phonolinepreamp. The precise tonearm/cartridge matching is essential to obtain the best on any cartridge as is the phonolinepreamp.
Please make a revision to the cartridge set-up including the connection between the cartridge pins and the tonearm headshell wires and always can/could contact with the Grado manufacturer for advise.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Dave: No you are not pulling my leg.

""""++++I'm not planning to replace it, but what arguement would you give me to go MM on my next cartridge purchase? """++++

Well the same that when you are going to buy any audio item: first I don't think that you think that your current cartridge is the " best on the world ", right?, you already know that out there are many ones that beats easy what you have, what do you have to do? try to hear the cartridges that you think are better that your current one, yes I know that on cartridges you have to pay for that test but there is no other way for people like you that needs to know very precise why something is better, no one is better judge that you.

You have to invest only 150-250 dls for make the test, well first find the cartridge you like to test.

IMHO many of the MM cartridges that I own put you nearest to the whole music that your Blackbird that is a good cartridge.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Lew: My initial thoughts about were the same as yours and with the car analogy.

You already have the answer: """"++++ But on the other hand, if you drive a car that has a spring suspension and no shock absorbers """""++++

you need that high compliance with the right use of " dampers7shock absorbers " and the cartridges have it, those designs were made under specific science control, no one design a cartridge based only in high compliance obviously not. Maybe the name has to be " controlled high compliance " that always is a desired cartridge target design.

I'm totally sure that everything the same you can get the better performance between two different cartridges from the one that makes a better tracking work, no doubt about.

The differences on tracking ability between almost any MC cartridge against its similar MM one are huge: a normal tracking ability MM cartridge is over 100 um ( it is not rare figures like: 130um!!! ) at 315 Hz and the MC ones are around 70-80 um, this difference makes a " difference ".

Obviously that that tracking ability can/could change depending of the tonearm design and his effective mass.

During my tests about all the tonearms that I used ( but the EPA 100MK2 ) does not have an out of normal self damping mechanisms and all them work very good.
However, I own an Ortofon MC2000 that it is a MC cartridges with a high compliance ( not so high but very high por a MC type. ): 20 cu and when was reviewed on Audio magazine the reviewer use a SP 10MK2 TT and EPA-250 tonearm ( that has a very special damping mechanism. ) where the cartridge/tonearm resonance frequency was 5.1 Hz ( he measure not 20 cu on compliance specification but 30cu!!!!. ) and he reports no problem about with an outstanding performance, inclusive the tracking of the 1812 Telarc cannons in clean way!!!!!!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Raul, Have you considered that all your tonearms with removeable head shells and interchangeable arm tubes may compromise the performance of a really good LOMC? You are placing one or more additional physical contacts in the path of a signal that is 10 or more times lower in voltage than what you get from a typical MM. Moreover, if you also terminate the wires at a junction box at the turntable and then use RCA ICs to go from there to the phono section, you have yet another undesireable physical contact in the signal path. Some of the detail and nuance that are said to be uniquely elucidated by LOMCs, qualities that may distinguish that class of cartridges from all MMs, may not be reaching your speakers. Perhaps you have at least one tonearm that provides a "straight shot" from cartridge pin to preamp, in which case I stand corrected, but then you are not fairly comparing MCs to MMs, because you are using the two types in disparate tonearms. Just a thought.
Dear Lew: You have a point, very good and important subject. Please let me first to try to put my approach about on " stage ":

for many years my whole audio system ( I posted in this forum about .) was hard wired with out any single connector of any kind, every cable were soldered directly to the board or to the audio parts. A monolithic audio system like that take advantage of what you say at all stage levels but it is a " pain in the ass " when you have to make any change or when you have a failure anywhere, so I'm a believer of that kind of audio philosophy: the best connector is NO connector. As a fact I'm still using that approach between my speakers and amplifiers where I don't use any single connector from amplifier to the speaker drivers, it's make a difference?, YES and for the better.

that's why too I'm against step-up transformers ( other than the transformer it self signal degradation ) that needs additional male/female connectors and additional cable.

but Lew there is nothing perfect in the audio world systems, we have to work/accept with some trade-offs " here and there " and the point/sucess is to choose those trade-offs that make less harm to the whole audio system quality performance.

the audio systems and the sound reproduction at home is extremely complex, there are many different subjects that have a relationship that we have take in count and several times we can't have to desired " audio subjects " because you just can't because if you have one some times that preclude the other one that we desired, so we have to accept some trade-offs and work on it trying and testing to find the best of " two worlds ".

no, I don't use any junction box or the like.

and yes I own tonearms that provide " straight shot " from cartridge pin to preamp: Sumiko MDC 800, Mission The Mechanic, Satin, etc, etc.

Saying these I will let you know my experiences ( experiences that I already share and agree with several of my audio friends ) about with my cartridges ( MC/MM ):

for many time I was thinking that my Colibri belongs to the Sumiko tonearm, I try it on other " straight shoth " tonearms and always return to the Sumiko, here that cartridge performs better.

When I find that the relationship between the tonearm and the cartridge ( any one ) and to be more precise : between the headshell and the cartridge is of paramount importance and that that relationships is more important ( because on the quality sound reproduction the differences are " heavy weight " against the " small weight " non-straight shot tonearm subject. ) that what you an me believe about the non removable headshell approach then I have to choose and the choice was easy: removable headshell!!!!!
Today ( and I mean it ) my Colibri is mounted in my Dynavector DV-505 with an unknow ( true ) headshell and here and today it is the best performer cartridge on the MC types that I own, owned or heard it anywhere.
The MM cartridges were compared against " live music " know-how and obviously against the Colibri and other MC ones.

No, it was not unfair for the MC cartridges. As a fact the comparison is fair because we are comparing the best ( or near the best ) each MM cartridge performance against the best each MC performance too where both cartridge type performance almost only can/could obtain through testing on removable headshell tonearms.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Raul, Altho I don't agree with your (rather negative) assessment of either Koetsu cartridges (at least as regards the Urushi) or the Triplanar tonearm, U da man. Still, you are talking about the results in your system (which is hugely different from mine) using your ears. Yet I am stimulated to try out some of your ideas.
I think that the message here is that MM cartridges have a place in high end systems and they should be included in the selection process. There may be more here, but the descriptions are unconvincing to me. Unfortunately it may just be due to our limited ability to decribe what we hear. Saying that a particular HOMC is more detailed and focused, but that an alternative MM is "more musical" is unconvincing to me.

Having owned a few MM cartridges, I agree that they can sound very musical and are worthy of many high end systems. I particularly think that entry level vinyl-philes that are going with Technics and other TTs in that price range, might find MM cartridges very effective.

Dave
Dear Lew: Good for you, go a head!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Dave: +++++ " Saying that a particular HOMC is more detailed and focused, but that an alternative MM is "more musical" is unconvincing to me. "+++++++++

Detailed and focused are only two ( and the grade priorities where these two cartridge sound reproduction count to choose this or that cartridge are different from person to person. ) of the several characteristics on any cartridge where we can judge its OVERALL quality sound reproduction.
IMHO what the whole description ( that are unconvincing for you ) means is that that HOMC is good on those two characteristics but OVERALL the MM beat it.

Dave with the right headshell/tonearm and loaded at 100kOhms almost any MM cartridge ( along MC ones ) is not only for " entry level vinyl-philes " but for every one that want appreciate the music and the people that want to obtain the best of his records.

" +++++ that are going with Technics ... " +++++

Dave as good your TT I can tell you that a Technics SP-100 MK2 could beat it easily. I don't know why you speak so " lightly " about Technics TT. I know that this is not the thread subject but those Thecnics TT's are really good and a pleasure to use it!!!.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Raul, I don't see any mention of the various Decca cartridges and wonder
about your view of them. I keep coming back to my Decca Super Gold Mk VII
and (second choice) Pickering TL-2S (Stereohedron stylus), the latter
available NOS for a very reasonable price from a UK seller. I'm firmly in the
MM camp, never yet having heard an MC other than the cheap Denon DL-103
that really attracted me.

One query, though. How do you keep the Sonus Blue/Golds from self-
destructing? I've given up after three tries. Dave

Edit: The Decca is on a heavily damped JMW 10.5 unipivot. Warren Gregoire
(US rep for Deccas) appeared loathe to sell it to me until I assured him it
would be used on a damped unipivot arm :-)

Great thread, BTW.
Well Raul, if a Technics TT and a MM cartridge is better than any other TT and a MC cartridge, please describe the superior qualities. Being better "overall" is absolutely a cop out and that's all you've done. You actually have a few descriptors and you used a couple to partially describe a HOMC in your system, but then nothing about the competing MM except it was "more musical."

You seem to have gone to an incredible effort and I appreciate that very much, but your recommendation is useless without a better description. (Most of us don't have time or inclination to find and buy half dozen MM cartridges and compare them). If you would take one or two of your favorites and carefully describe their strengths and weaknesses compared to a reference MC it would validate your hard work and make it useful to others. You seem to have a HOMC, so personally I'd appreciate that comparison.

BTW, I KNOW the Technics, having lived with one for a while before upgrading to a Lux, so don't tell me it even compares to my Pro-ject RM10. The RM10 is several orders of excellence better in every aspect. The Technics is a very fine, entry level table.

Dave
Dear Dopogue: I don't mention the Decca's because I don't have it, I once owned but it will be unfair to trust on my memory ( 15+ years ) for the Decca, I'm still trying to find a good second hand sample and I'm sure that sooner or latter I will have it.

Btw, the Stanton 981 comes with the Stereohedron type stylus too.

About the Sonus Gold Blue I can tell you that till today I don't have any single problem, it works right on target that's mean very good, this is very nice performer.

Yes, the MM type cartridges are very good ones and IMHO I think that we have to try to take advantage of today electronics that are far better than the " old " times where belong many of those MM cartridges.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Dcstep: +++++ " Well Raul, if a Technics TT and a MM cartridge is better than any other TT and a MC cartridge... " ++++++

please let me know where I posted " better that any other TT/MC " ?, I'm not saying that so please read according.

+++++ " don't tell me it even compares to my Pro-ject RM10. The RM10 is several orders of excellence better in every aspect. "++++++
I'm not asking ( like you do/did ) that explain very precise your statement. I respect your point of view and if you are happy with it then be happy!!!!!

Dave about the MM cartridge subject you must do your work, I can´t do it for you. I think that you are a person that like the " plug and play " audio items/solutions : well IMHO there is no " plug and play " about cartridges, no it is a long and hard work to achieve the best on any cartridge.

I'm sorry that I can't help you and that you think my experiences are useless for you, no problem.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Raul,

You didn't include the Empire EDR.9 in your list.
I know you've mentioned it in the past.
How does it fit in with the other MM cartrudges?

JIm
Raul, thanks for the response. Hope you get to try a modern Decca some time soon. That Pickering I mentioned (a P-mount, BTW, but it comes with an adapter) is now in the systems of 4 audiophile friends on my recommendation and they seem to agree with me. It was absolute dynamite on an RS-A1 arm I borrowed for a while (the arm eventually drove me nuts but I've never heard its sonic equal). Other carts currently on SME III (my second arm) armtubes are a Grace F9E with a NOS stylus, ADC XLM Mk. II Improved, and Ortofon OM-30. The Pickering beats them all, IMO. Both the JMW and SME arms are mounted on a replinthed (by Jean Nantais) idler-drive Lenco L-75 that weighs upwards of 75 lbs. and beats anything I've ever heard in my system including a VPI TNT. Dave
Raul, thanks for the response. Hope you get to try a modern Decca some time soon. That Pickering I mentioned (a P-mount, BTW, but it comes with an adapter) is now in the systems of 4 audiophile friends on my recommendation and they seem to agree with me. It was absolute dynamite on an RS-A1 arm I borrowed for a while (the arm eventually drove me nuts but I've never heard its sonic equal). Other carts currently on SME III (my second arm) armtubes are a Grace F9E with a NOS stylus, ADC XLM Mk. II Improved, and Ortofon OM-30. The Pickering beats them all, IMO. Both the JMW and SME arms are mounted on a replinthed (by Jean Nantais) idler-drive Lenco L-75 that weighs upwards of 75 lbs. and beats anything I've ever heard in my system including a VPI TNT. Dave
Dear Dopogue: I know that I can get ( in very near future ) a modern Decca and if I can I will report on it.
Btw, last week I buy an Andante P-38 and a MC Technics 305 ( very hard to find ), one on Ebay and one here at Agon. I'm so exited about specially for the Technics MC one.

I will try to look at that Pickering.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Jim: Sorry to forgot but there are many MM cartridges I own. The EDR.9 is very good and loaded at 100 kOhms make it better, I find the right headshell and this fact is very important too to achieve the best performance on it.

Btw, right now are on the Web some interesting MM type cartridges asking for a new owner: Audio Technica AT20SLa ( very similar to the AT20SS ), Empire 4000 D/III, B&O MMc2/MMC 20CL/MM20EN, Grace F9, Pickering 7500 ( similar to my Stanton 981 ), etc.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Raul,

Have you tried the various Nagaoka cartridges and which one would you recommend as the best for matching the strengths of the Music Maker 3 and yet exceeding it in refinement?

Many thanks as alway...
Dear Dgob: No, the only one is the MP-50 that has a more refined sound than the Music Maker that IMHO is on the " hi-fi " side specially on the higs.
I know that you are very satisfied with the soundstage of this cartridge, well the MP-50 is very good too but remember that the soundstage is more system/room dependent.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.
Dear Raul:
Fantastic food for thought. For newbie viniphiles like me your experince on this matter is priceless, thanks a lot for sharing it.
All the best , Carlos
Interesting postings. A "friend" of mine on another forum made me aware of this thread on Vinyl Engine; same problem:

http://www.vinylengine.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=6674
Dear Parelius: Thank you to share that link with us.
Very interesting an a happy coincidence that he and I bring up to the same conclusion about capacitance value on MM type cartridges and in less manner on load impedance.

Btw, I try load impedance values as low as 20kOhms and very consistent I find what I already reported: no less than 75kOhms.

The load impedance subject could be something controversial, specially with MC cartridges where with an internal cartridge resistance lower than 10-15 Ohms is almost impossible to detect changes in the whole cartridge tonal balance with load impedance changes say from 100 ohms going to 200-300 or even 500-800 ohms.
IMHO and according with my experiences about what we usually hear/heard when we made/make those kind of load impedance changes in MC cartridges ( with cartridge samples that have that low internal resistance ) that almost all assume like a better or worse sound in reality it is not a better or worse sound performance but a different SPL that change with changes in the load impedance, how much could change? well something like 0.2-0.4db and that changes in SPL is what we normally hear/heard but not a change in tonal balance.

We have to remember here that our ears/brain are very sensitive to minuscle SPL changes.

So when we are changing the load impedance, for example from 100 ohms to 500 ohms: we can/could think that at 500 ohms the response is more alive because the highs are better but no it is only that we are hearing those highs at a higher SPL.
Obviously that if we go from 100 ohms to 47 kOhms then what we can/could hear it is not a SPL change but a tonal balance change but this is a extreme case, in normal conditions what we hear is a change in the SPL.

Testing about several MC cartridges right now I'm loading all of them at around 500 ohms that in my system is the best performance all around, so right now I'm not a " crazy " changer on load impedance.

Of course that in " colored " audio systems the whole subject could change.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul.