School me on turntable stylus / needles

rabidhamster

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2008
Messages
7,282
Reaction score
7,979
If you're so able Id love an intro to the good and bad in styli/needles/cartridges for turn tables.
For background I've used record players and know the basics-I can play records lol- but a needle has always been a needle to me.

What makes good vs bad?
What are the "gems" to hunt?

Any advice is appreciated - don't worry I dont know much
 

Brians Evil Twin

Poophoria Sōtō Zen
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2012
Messages
15,118
Reaction score
44,806
RH, what make & model turntable do you have?

I assume you're not a cork-sniffing audiophile or you'd already have a dozen styli and strong, scientifically baseless opinions about them.

(Kinda like guitarz...)
 

bilbarstow

Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2011
Messages
3,396
Reaction score
5,409
The Cartridge/needle gets a lot of consideration from record-philes. But here's the problem I encountered recently.

I have a pretty nice old Dual turntable that I've had for ages, with a decent Ortofon cartridge I added in probably 20 years ago. It had been packed away from a move, and when I drug it out to hook it up and play some of my records, I discovered that the Headshell (where the cartridge mounts) was snapped in half during the move. OK, I'll just get a replacement and move on, right ?

Nope. Headshell has been discontinued for YEARS ! Search e-bay, Google, etc. to find that NOBODY has one available anywhere ! Closest I could find was scrapped similar models of the Turntable. And ALL of them were missing the headshell. I talked to a guy that claimed to be the LARGEST distributor of Dual parts in the USA. His answer : "Good Luck - I sold the last one of those I could find 2 YEARS ago."

I've managed to make mine work again by super-gluing it back together, but if it fails again, well it'll be time for a whole new Turntable.

Obsolescence is built in.
 

Walt_T

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2014
Messages
3,628
Reaction score
3,395
What turntable do you have? I have a Technics SL1200MK2 with a Stanton something cartridge. Big $ setup, but I've had it for a long time.
These are looking good for folks interested in a new turntable...
http://uturnaudio.com/pages/turntables
 

KP11520

Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2014
Messages
8,693
Reaction score
11,323
Bill,

Does your Dual have counterbalancing weights for setting the appropriate grams on the needle? If so, you can use anything even close, just make sure you spec out the distance the needle needs to be from the center of the pivot point of the arm.

RabidHamster, Stylus is a part of the Cartridge. If you have a decent cartridge, usually you can replace the stylus with an OEM or sometimes better Aftermarket. JICO is usually as good as, or many times, even better.

Many focus so much on the TT performance, and yes, while it's important to spin the LP at a consistent speed with no variation, track the right needle contact angles (arm) and keep the weight on the needle where it performs best, the Cartridge/Stylus is what reads the vinyl (varying differences here) and converts it to signal for the rest of the system to deliver what you hear. To me, the Cartridge should be equal to, or better (especially at the lower end of the equation), than the TT.

There are forums that specialize on Vinyl. Vinyl Engine and Audiokarma are two.

Here's a decent place for when you've done the research and know what you want: http://www.needledoctor.com/

For some reason, this subject is very personal and can get heated, so I suggest YOU do your research and decide what YOU want. If you can't decide, you haven't drilled down enough. LOL

Enjoy the journey!
 

bilbarstow

Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2011
Messages
3,396
Reaction score
5,409
Bill,

Does your Dual have counterbalancing weights for setting the appropriate grams on the needle? If so, you can use anything even close, just make sure you spec out the distance the needle needs to be from the center of the pivot point of the arm.
KP,

Yes it does have counterbalance. But that is not the problem. The problem is the headshell mount to the arm and a "proprietary" system for connecting the signal wires. There's a reason that part was discontinued.

It is irrational on my part to even keep that TT going, other than I like it and have a sentimental connection to it as being one of the first "Good" components that I spent money on. For these days, it is antique tech. Better stuff exists at a much lower price point. But I have it, and it works very well to play my old albums. I was acquiring "new" old albums at a Vinyl shop that has since closed. But I do still like to listen to my records. So I'll keep it until it breaks again, and get a modern replacement.
 

KTM

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2011
Messages
4,896
Reaction score
11,335
The Cartridge/needle gets a lot of consideration from record-philes. But here's the problem I encountered recently.

I have a pretty nice old Dual turntable that I've had for ages, with a decent Ortofon cartridge I added in probably 20 years ago. It had been packed away from a move, and when I drug it out to hook it up and play some of my records, I discovered that the Headshell (where the cartridge mounts) was snapped in half during the move. OK, I'll just get a replacement and move on, right ?

Nope. Headshell has been discontinued for YEARS ! Search e-bay, Google, etc. to find that NOBODY has one available anywhere ! Closest I could find was scrapped similar models of the Turntable. And ALL of them were missing the headshell. I talked to a guy that claimed to be the LARGEST distributor of Dual parts in the USA. His answer : "Good Luck - I sold the last one of those I could find 2 YEARS ago."

I've managed to make mine work again by super-gluing it back together, but if it fails again, well it'll be time for a whole new Turntable.

Obsolescence is built in.
What model Dual do you have? I have two parts Duals (I'll have to dig them out to find the model numbers) and might even have extra headshells for them.
 

rabidhamster

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2008
Messages
7,282
Reaction score
7,979
Thanks for the replies guys sorry, multiquote is hit or miss replying from my phone

My current turntable I just picked up for peanuts, a technics Sl-5b. Its missing the cartridge and I believe needs a belt replacement. I've done that before - in fact every other turntable I've owned previous came from trash-day finds. I had a direct drive full auto panasonic for a while that was my favorite Ive owned, but like all the others I sold it to fund guitar gas.

A few days after I got this I succumbed to turntable gas and started making payments on a Technics Sl1200m3d - it has the cartridge and looks like it uses the same kind as the table I have currently.

Thank for the links and recommendations so far I'll check all of them out now!
 

bilbarstow

Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2011
Messages
3,396
Reaction score
5,409
What model Dual do you have? I have two parts Duals (I'll have to dig them out to find the model numbers) and might even have extra headshells for them.
It's a Dual 506. Straight line tone arm. Cartridge mounts to a flat thin aluminum piece, which is mounted to the black plastic headshell. The plastic part snapped in half, tone arm was secured to the rest, but a vertical drop must have been too much force to hold the weight of the cartridge.

Table works GREAT. And with the super glue fix, the headshell is holding fine, been using it that way for 18 months or so.

Don't go looking just for me, as I said, if it gives up, I'll just use that as an excuse to buy a new, modern one. Probably spend too much money on it for the amount I play it ! :laugh2:

Sorry to hijack your thread RH. I hope you have good luck with your quest.
 

KTM

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2011
Messages
4,896
Reaction score
11,335
It's a Dual 506. Straight line tone arm. Cartridge mounts to a flat thin aluminum piece, which is mounted to the black plastic headshell. The plastic part snapped in half, tone arm was secured to the rest, but a vertical drop must have been too much force to hold the weight of the cartridge.

Table works GREAT. And with the super glue fix, the headshell is holding fine, been using it that way for 18 months or so.

Don't go looking just for me, as I said, if it gives up, I'll just use that as an excuse to buy a new, modern one. Probably spend too much money on it for the amount I play it ! :laugh2:
OK. One of my parts turntables is a Dual 1229. Not sure where the other one is..., I must have hid it from myself. My main turntable is a Dual 621.
 

KP11520

Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2014
Messages
8,693
Reaction score
11,323
OK Bill..... Call me an enabler. It seems you are attached to your 506. I can sympathize. I'm like that too. LOL

Here's a place here on Long Island that just might be the rabbit out of a hat trick.........

http://www.turntableexperts.com/html/dual.html

Best of Luck! :fingersx::fingersx::fingersx::fingersx:

And RH.... Since you're jumping into SL1200 territory.... Here's a BIG drug dealer that has whatever kind of fix you need next. LOL: https://www.kabusa.com/frameset.htm?/m1200.htm

Kevin is a good guy!
https://www.kabusa.com/frameset.htm?/m1200.htm
 

kmasters68

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2015
Messages
1,328
Reaction score
365
Those turn decks are sweet. I remember when they were just a rumor. I used to collect audio gear and had 4-5 different TT. Out of all of them I held on to the most common; the Technics SL1200MK2. Its indestructible and sounds great.

I've tried many carts and stylus. In the range that I could afford which was middling, I couldn't notice much of a difference.
 

Stillhouse

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2012
Messages
1,118
Reaction score
2,083
My 2¢

A good cartridge can, and pretty much should, last a lifetime. Some vintage ones are highly sought-after and also pricey. Shure V15 series for example. But good ones can be had for peanuts. I like Shure's M91ed. Lots of them around and great new styli available for them.

As for new carts, an Audio-Technica AT92ECD can be had for around $20 and is a very nice sounding one for the money. Even better with an upgraded stylus such as JICO offers. Or step up to the Shure M97xe for $100 or so. Probably the best bang for the buck cartridge out now.

Stylus types are generally conical, elliptical and hyper-elliptical. Fidelity increases left to right as does price.

As mentioned above, forums like AudioKarma have tons of info and discussion to peruse. VinylEngine/HiFiEngine as well, plus a large library of user and service manuals available to download once you register.
 

TheX

And then?
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2008
Messages
35,398
Reaction score
72,196
I run Denon DL-110 high output moving coil carts.

Holy crap, just did a search and these things are 300 bucks now. Dayummmm.
 

SteveC

Village Elder
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2012
Messages
15,839
Reaction score
39,544
I'm staying out of this... I'm a corksniffer when it comes to vinyl and turntables. It's a disease and it's incurable.

What I will say is that you can get some very nice entry level TT's with cartridge for under $500.
 

KP11520

Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2014
Messages
8,693
Reaction score
11,323
My 2¢

Or step up to the Shure M97xe for $100 or so. Probably the best bang for the buck cartridge out now.

Stylus types are generally conical, elliptical and hyper-elliptical. Fidelity increases left to right as does price.

As mentioned above, forums like AudioKarma have tons of info and discussion to peruse. VinylEngine/HiFiEngine as well, plus a large library of user and service manuals available to download once you register.
No NO NO.... I had a V-15 III from 1975 and when the stylus puked and I went looking for a new stylus, the price was astronomical. (2002) Shure said the M97Xe was an upgrade. Upgrade my ass. Horrible in comparison. Lifeless. Sure enough, I can't find the old cartridge. Probably threw it away> STUPID STUPID STUPID. The Jico stylus is supposed to be even better than the unavailable OEMs. I am still kicking my ass for that!.

HORRIBLE.

When I got the V-15, shortly after I bought the Pink Floyd Quadraphonic (German Pressing) DSOTM album. You wouldn't believe how good it sounded (including 4 corners) with headphones, despite being a stereo cartridge. AND it tracked at 1.25 grams for longer album life.

Don't waste your money on the M97Xe unless mediocre at best is your passion! LOL
 

RichBrew

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2010
Messages
5,022
Reaction score
7,661
... Don't bother trying to replace a stylus on an old, probably mediocre cartridge when you can get this for a song
Another vote for the Ortfon Red. I bought the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon last April for a mere £325, that comes with the cartridge already fitted. That combination - at that price - is an absolute bargain. There is a run-in period of about 50 hours after which it starts to sound very nice.

Late last year I upgraded to the Ortofon 2 M Blue Stylus (£117), and the benefits were immediately apparent; more-so after the run-in period.
 


Latest Threads



Top