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Phono & Cart advice - Technics SL1210 GR


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Hi there,

 

I just helped my best mates wife to purchase his first turntable, a new Technics SL1210 GR.

 

I've lent him some of my gear to get him up and running, but i need to find him a suitable cartridge and phono.

 

I'm thinking a budget of around $500 each for a phono and cart. Happy to look around for used as well to get better value for money.

 

Cartridge - I'm thinking keeping it simple and going for an Ortofon 2M although not sure which colour (possibly red or bronze, blue?)

 

Phono - I missed out on a Pro-Ject tube phono a week ago in the classifieds. There was a Clearaudio nano for sale a couple of weeks back, maybe that? Any other ideas of a good quality phono around the $500 mark?

 

Appreciate any and all advice!

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2 minutes ago, wikeeboy said:

Cartridge - I'm thinking keeping it simple and going for an Ortofon 2M although not sure which colour (possibly red or bronze, blue?)

 

I much prefer the AT range.  The VM95 series blows the Ortofons out of the water.   Fewer problems reported with alignment too (many bad reports about the blue)

Edited by aussievintage
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I fitted an Ortofon Bronze to a SL1210GR last Sunday for an SNA and QAC member on the Gold Coast

It is a very good match in terms of compliance to the Technics arm.

Very good sound stage and stereo separation.

It tracks extremely well at 1.5 grams tracking weight.

Decibel HiFi have them on special at the moment for $552.00 http://www.decibelhifi.com.au/ortofon-2m-bronze-cartridge/

Technics are supplying the 1200s with an Ortofon Red.

Installation is a doddle.

Mount the cartridge body in the head shell and fit the cables.

Then mount the cartridge body using the short screws provided with the Ortofon.

You align the cartridge using the supplied Technics gauge.

Using a good magnifying glass is critical to get this right.

It is being used with a Dynavector P75 MkII phono stage that was bought through the SNA classifieds a few weeks ago.

That phono stage supports any possible future upgrade to both low output and high output moving coil cartridges.

I have found that the Project Audio tube phono stages take at least an hour to warm up and give some bottom end.

I have one here that a fellow QAC member left behind for me to play with when I recently held a small get together at my place mid December.

Edited by Pegasus
extra info.
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46 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

I much prefer the AT range.  The VM95 series blows the Ortofons out of the water.   Fewer problems reported with alignment too (many bad reports about the blue)

Thanks for the feedback. Had thought of the AT's but no idea which one to go for. The VM95 is quite cheap (not necessarily a bad thing!), is there anything further up the range you would recommend in the $300-500 range?

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34 minutes ago, Pegasus said:

I fitted an Ortofon Bronze to a SL1210GR last Sunday for an SNA and QAC member on the Gold Coast

It is a very good match in terms of compliance to the Technics arm.

Very good sound stage and stereo separation.

It tracks extremely well at 1.5 grams tracking weight.

Decibel HiFi have them on special at the moment for $552.00 http://www.decibelhifi.com.au/ortofon-2m-bronze-cartridge/

Technics are supplying the 1200s with an Ortofon Red.

Installation is a doddle.

Mount the cartridge body in the head shell and fit the cables.

Then mount the cartridge body using the short screws provided with the Ortofon.

You align the cartridge using the supplied Technics gauge.

Using a good magnifying glass is critical to get this right.

It is being used with a Dynavector P75 MkII phono stage that was bought through the SNA classifieds a few weeks ago.

That phono stage supports any possible future upgrade to both low output and high output moving coil cartridges.

I have found that the Project Audio tube phono stages take at least an hour to warm up and give some bottom end.

I have one here that a fellow QAC member left behind for me to play with when I recently held a small get together at my place mid December.

 

Ok great, the Bronze is in the running then! Mind you setting up a cartridge might be past my pay grade.

 

Appreciate the advice on the Pro-ject tube, i think the long warm up time might not be ideal for my mate.

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1 hour ago, wikeeboy said:

Thanks for the feedback. Had thought of the AT's but no idea which one to go for. The VM95 is quite cheap (not necessarily a bad thing!), is there anything further up the range you would recommend in the $300-500 range?

Definitely.  I am running a VM95ML  (picture of the fancy stylus in my avatar to the left).     Brilliant sound.  

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10 hours ago, aussievintage said:

Definitely.  I am running a VM95ML  (picture of the fancy stylus in my avatar to the left).     Brilliant sound.  

+1 to this. Best windings as well.

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Guest Muon N'

I used to run a Bronze on my old but higher end Sansui table, loved it, the mids are very nice and the whole thing well balanced top to bottom.

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23 hours ago, wikeeboy said:

Thanks for the feedback. Had thought of the AT's but no idea which one to go for. The VM95 is quite cheap (not necessarily a bad thing!), is there anything further up the range you would recommend in the $300-500 range?

 

You could also look into the VM540ML or the VM740ML, both giant killers and well reviewed. 

 

Here is a link to the 740ML at Decibel: http://www.decibelhifi.com.au/audio-technica-vm740ml-moving-magnet-cartridge

 

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G'day all, there are some fine cartridges mentioned in this thread, but don't waste your time on an Ortofon 2M Red as it is a poor cartridge in just about every way,  The upper range of the 2M series are very good though, but avoid the 2M Red at all costs. 

 

The AT's are all pretty good but capacitance loading can be an issue as the manufacturers recommended loading range is 100 to 200 picofarads (overall), a rather restricted range of capacitance.  If loaded poorly, bright and/or 'peaky' audio is the likely result. 

 

I am a fan of the Ortofon Super OM series.  They are now considered old and out of date, but are my recommendation.  Regards, Felix.      

Edited by catman
Grammar.
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16 minutes ago, catman said:

Ortofon 2M Red as it is a poor cartridge in just about every way

Yep.  I don't understand why people pay so much for it.

 

16 minutes ago, catman said:

The upper range of the 2M series are very good though, but avoid the 2M Red at all costs. 

I have read horror stories about the Blue being impossible to align - and needing to be replaced - hinting at quality control problems.

 

17 minutes ago, catman said:

The AT's are all pretty good but capacitance loading can be an issue as the manufacturers recommended loading range is 100 to 200 picofarads (overall), a rather restricted range of capacitance.  If loaded poorly, bright and/or 'peaky' audio is the likely result. 

 

I had that problem with an AT440MLa.    Strangely (happily), the cheaper AT91, AT95, VM95 range don't seem to be at all critical in this regard.   I have tried the AT540/740 range because the sound I get from a VM95ML  is so satisfying (and much better than the AT440MLa).

 

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G'day all, I hate the 2M Red, because it cannot track decently, no matter what!  It has inherently horribly bad inner groove distortion!  Yes I had one and was happy to give it away!  Regards, Felix. 

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15 minutes ago, catman said:

G'day all, I hate the 2M Red, because it cannot track decently, no matter what!  It has inherently horribly bad inner groove distortion!  Yes I had one and was happy to give it away!  Regards, Felix. 

 

I found the exact same problems with the first OM10 that were released.  Dull unexciting sound as well.  

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Ok so if it's Ortofon it will be a bronze no less :)

 

Rookie question, whats the difference between buying a cartridge that needs mounting or the PNP version? The PNP version would be much easier to just click in to the technics tonearm..

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By PNP I presume you mean the cartridge headshell combos they sell.   It is not possible for them to position the cartridge and guarantee it will work, except in some very few well controlled circumstances - like when a certain turntable manufacturer says a cartridge at a fixed overhang, mounted parallel to the headshell will be in alignment.  However different turntables and different manufacturers will be in disagreement.

 

I don't trust them, and aligning a cartridge with a standard 2 point protractor is such a doddle, I always set them myself.

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Thanks all for the advice on the AT range. It makes it nice and easy to give my mate the option/decision according to what he wants to spend:

 

VM95ML $299

VM540ML $440

VM740ML $550

 

 

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Just now, wikeeboy said:

I was doing some reading online last night and faintly recall some discussion about an AT VM95ML using a Jico (?) tip? Does that ring any bells? 

 

Who knows who actually cuts and mounts the diamond?   What I would say, is that AT would make sure of the quality.  Sort of a second line of defence on getting a good one.   Jico do have a good reputation anyway.

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I think the discussion was more about using a different tip (replacement) than what comes stock on the VM95ML. Don't mind me though, it was late and i am probably imagining it!

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G'day all, although the OM10 and the Super OM series 'look' exactly the same the 'magnetic generator assembly' is slightly different.  Loading wise the standard OM series cartridge prefers high capacitance loading to sound its best.  Around 400 picofarads is about right according to my 'tinkering'.  Regards, Felix.   

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

 

I had that problem with an AT440MLa.    Strangely (happily), the cheaper AT91, AT95, VM95 range don't seem to be at all critical in this regard.   I have tried the AT540/740 range because the sound I get from a VM95ML  is so satisfying (and much better than the AT440MLa).

 

 

 

Having had an AT440ml I can confirm that the new 540ML does not have the problems with brightness that the 440ml did.  This very comprehensive review of the 540ml - backed by solid test data - confirms this: https://www.google.com/amp/s/hometheaterhifi.com/reviews/vinyl/turntable-accessories/audio-technica-vm540ml-phono-cartridge-review/amp/

Note they use a SL1200 for this test. 

 

The 540ML and the 740ML share the same generator,  so you only need to pay more for the 740ML if you need the extra weight of a metal body,  or want to access the higher cost styli available for that model.  I personally think these current AT ML stylus cartridges are astonishing value.  The AT VM540ML I  have here sounds wonderful - it competes with the microline equipped moving coils I have, sounding perfectly balanced,  punchy and detailed.  

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7 minutes ago, mkaramazov said:

 

 

Having had an AT440ml I can confirm that the new 540ML does not have the problems with brightness that the 440ml did.  This very comprehensive review of the 540ml - backed by solid test data - confirms this: https://www.google.com/amp/s/hometheaterhifi.com/reviews/vinyl/turntable-accessories/audio-technica-vm540ml-phono-cartridge-review/amp/

Note they use a SL1200 for this test. 

 

The 540ML and the 740ML share the same generator,  so you only need to pay more for the 740ML if you need the extra weight of a metal body,  or want to access the higher cost styli available for that model.  I personally think these current AT ML stylus cartridges are astonishing value.  The AT VM540ML I  have here sounds wonderful - it competes with the microline equipped moving coils I have, sounding perfectly balanced,  punchy and detailed.  

Great review, thanks!

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Ok so i'm feeling pretty confident with my cartridge options, now i need to lock down a phono..

 

Will throwing $500 at a phono be reasonable? Probably like asking how long is a piece of string eh?

 

If $500 new isnt going to cut it then maybe i wait for something to pop up in the classifieds.

 

Any and all phono recommendations appreciated 👍

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

 

Who knows who actually cuts and mounts the diamond?   What I would say, is that AT would make sure of the quality.  Sort of a second line of defence on getting a good one.   Jico do have a good reputation anyway.

If we are talking about Jico SAS,  then it is probable that the diamond and cantilever are sourced from the same supplier, Namiki, who holds the patent for the microridge stylus,  which happens to look a lot like the AT Microline and the Jico SAS. 

 

If you want to wade through it,  this thread is a great resource on the various designs: https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?t=22894

 

And if you are shopping for a bulk order (!),  here is Namiki's pages: https://www.ad-na.com/en/product/jewel/product/record.html

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15 hours ago, wikeeboy said:

I think the discussion was more about using a different tip (replacement) than what comes stock on the VM95ML. Don't mind me though, it was late and i am probably imagining it!

It was and you weren't.....it is in this thread:

.....where @nkoulban stated:

 

"I added a JICO hyper elliptical stylus to my AT95... in a word...wow!  I no longer listen to my moving coil its that good.  I have also put it in a wood body."

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2 hours ago, stevoz said:

It was and you weren't.....it is in this thread:

.....where @nkoulban stated:

 

"I added a JICO hyper elliptical stylus to my AT95... in a word...wow!  I no longer listen to my moving coil its that good.  I have also put it in a wood body."

Thanks mate glad to know i'm not going crazy... yet!

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On 04/01/2020 at 7:09 PM, wikeeboy said:

Hi there,

 

I'm thinking a budget of around $500 each for a phono and cart. Happy to look around for used as well to get better value for money.

 

Cartridge - I'm thinking keeping it simple and going for an Ortofon 2M although not sure which colour (possibly red or bronze, blue?)

 

 

 

The 2M bronze is the same body as the black so the stylus are interchangeable.

 

The AT540ML also has great reviews.

 

I use a Stanton 881s with original stylus and it's the best cartridge I have had including a few $2000+ MC's

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The AT ML diamond has the same profile as the Jico SAS according to Sound Smith. They are very fineline and do reduce surface noise considerably. I have a Jico SAS/B on my Technics EPC205c it's a very good stylus but not as dynamic as the Stanton 881s the 35dB separation and 0dB channel balance is very audible, even if the Stanton has slightly more surface noise, it is more enjoyable.

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On 05/01/2020 at 5:08 PM, wikeeboy said:

Ok so if it's Ortofon it will be a bronze no less :)

 

Rookie question, whats the difference between buying a cartridge that needs mounting or the PNP version? The PNP version would be much easier to just click in to the technics tonearm..

I used a Blue PNP on my 1210m5g  with a sub weight of course , soon after I stripped if from the shell and placed the cartridge on my original technics headshell , sound improvement to my ears ... I wasn’t to fussy getting everything thing perfect with alignment.. 

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You also need to raise the tonearm to "2" to compensate for the Ortofon cartridge height.

The 2M Bronze is the way to go.

I have found the ATX Audio Technica cartridges to be very bright. I had a ATX150 mounted in a Grace 707 tonearm on a Linn Sondek LP12.

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