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Audio Technica cartridges ???

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Was having a look at the AT range of cartridges. Holy cow how many models do they have, from cheap MM & MC to expensive MM & MC, its bewildering? 

 

The Art9 ($1499) seem well reviewed, but what about the OC9 range ($469 to $1399 or the AT33SA at $1199? 

 

How about their exxy MM's - the VM760SLC ($1199) and VM750SH ($699)?

 

Thoughts by others?

 

 

 

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I’ve had the AT-33sa before. It was great! 

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Audio Technica do certainly have an overwhelming array of cartridges...

 

THE AT95 IS an amazing budget cart... put on a better profile diamond (nude eliptical or vetter) and it scales up nicely.

 

The 5xx series and 7xx series have a choice of stylus  to change/improve sound. Apparently 540, 740 and 760 are all excellent and perform beyond their price.

 

I have heard the ART9 many times at a friend's place in his system (he has 3 turntables and multiple phono stages and cartridges)... We both love how the ART9 sounds. - natural tone, fast and delicate with huge soundstage.

 

I have also heard the OC9 mk2 with the matching AT SUT for it and again... amazing sound for the money.

 

AT are actually the manufacturer of the REGA CARBON and are also used on the first few models in the Music Hall turntable line up... consequently they probably have high turnover OEM stuff to feed the R&D department budget 👍😎

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Don't forget the somewhat hidden AT3600L.  An OEM MM cart, so isn't in catalogues, but available from China/eBay.  Many believe that it's a hidden gem, competing in quality against carts costing hundreds of dollars.  Can be improved with other AT styli (eg. eliptical).  Because it's an OEM produced in huge numbers without a fancy box it is cheap.  So cheap that the cart+styli is cheaper than the replacement styli.  Cart+styli can be obtained for about $25, incl. postage. 

 

For that price it's ideal to put into a spare headshell and use it to play damaged records so your good cart/styli is protected.  Many like it as their primary cart.  There are some very looooooong topics on VE and AK discussing the quality if this.  Don't get me wrong, there are better cart's out there.  But none that offer this level of quality for the money.

 

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And some of the AT's (eg. AT95) respond nicely to potting and other mods.  The range of styli options for the 95 series is impressive. 

 

Also impressive that AT as a company are so strong these days, in comparison to their respected competitors like Shure and Stanton that are no longer around.

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Will watch this thread keenly.

Never heard or owned an AT cart, often considered dipping in at the VM95e but also thinking VM95ml or VM95sh might be a good place to start when I decide to have a look.

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6 hours ago, Douglas HiFi said:

THE AT95 IS an amazing budget cart... put on a better profile diamond (nude eliptical or vetter) and it scales up nicely.

 

11 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

And some of the AT's (eg. AT95) respond nicely to potting and other mods.  The range of styli options for the 95 series is impressive. 

 

Don't forget that that series is no longer sold and the equivalent is the VM95 series, which fortunately have styluses that fit the AT95 carts.  I stepped "back" from an AT440MLa to a VM95ML and I think it's a much better cartridge.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, 08Boss302 said:

but also thinking VM95ml or VM95sh might be a good place to start when I decide to have a look.

I always recommend the VM95ML.  I prefer microline to shibata.    Really good sounding little cart - this one.

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2 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

Don't forget that that series is no longer sold and the equivalent is the VM95 series, which fortunately have styluses that fit the AT95 carts.  I stepped "back" from an AT440MLa to a VM95ML and I think it's a much better cartridge.

I believe that a VM95 series stylus needs some plastic to be trimmed in order to fit the AT95 carts. 

Great to have the compatibility and longevity. 

 

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10 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

I always recommend the VM95ML.  I prefer microline to shibata.    Really good sounding little cart - this one.

I've read many many good things on the VM95ml, it's most likely where I'd put my coin when the time comes..

It seems to be the AT cart to get in the VM line if stepping up OR bypassing  the 95...

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I had an OC-9mk2 that was probably the quietest cartridge as far as surface noise was concerned that I've ever owned. Really full bodied sound but with an unpleasant top end that got wearing. This was a fairly common complaint around 10 to 15 years ago but from comments on the Mk3 I've read the top end has been tamed. I currently own a 33PTG-II and that has all the pluses of the OC-9 with none of the drawbacks and has a lovely smooth top end with no lack of detail and some good midrange oomph. Has to be set up absolutely bang on or you can get a bit of groove noise in one channel at the start of a record. Not particularly hard but fiddly. Worth it though.

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16 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

I believe that a VM95 series stylus needs some plastic to be trimmed in order to fit the AT95 carts. 

Great to have the compatibility and longevity. 

 

Sumiko have recently done the same with the Rainier, Olympia etc.

Very handy that some manufacturers are offering this level of compatability and succession imo.

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43 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

I believe that a VM95 series stylus needs some plastic to be trimmed in order to fit the AT95 carts. 

Great to have the compatibility and longevity. 

 

No, the other way around.  I am currently running an VM95ML stylus on an old AT95.  It just clips right on.

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Posted (edited)

I absolutely adored the Audio Technica ART9 when I was running a Hashimoto HM-7 SUT + Valab LCR-1 Mk2 phono stage though with my Abbas Audio EL84 phono in place of the Valab it sounds flat and lifeless (more like a wall of sound) where various vintage carts sound phenomenal (Fidelity Research FR-7, Garrott Bros P87,  Empire 1000ZE/X etc) with life and depth. I need to experiment more.  Unusually my wood bodied Grace F9 (boron cantilever and tie wire, micro ridge tip) doesn't fare as well where it sounds incredible with more modern circuits.

 

Moral of the story,  the cartridge needs to have synergy with the phono stage. I will soon have my AT ART9 up for sale,  and it really doesn't have many hours on it. Such is life.

 

I'm betting on a Grado Statement Master 1 or Empire EDR.9 being the perfect match  ;)

Edited by MattyW

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Posted (edited)

Long time AT fan here,  with many cartridges in the collection.  

 

Currently listening to an AT VM540ML. It is without question one of the best value cartridges I have heard in terms of sound quality for dollar. Certainly more balanced than the 440ML, while maintaining all its detail.   I have a VM740ML too,  which has the metal body,  but there is more than a suggestion that these do not test as well as the 540ML. For a couple of very thorough reviews of these cartridges,   see:

 

https://hometheaterhifi.com/reviews/vinyl/turntable-accessories/audio-technica-vm540ml-phono-cartridge-review/amp/

 

And 

 

https://hometheaterhifi.com/features/secrets-world-of-vinyl/vinyl-accessories/audio-technica-vm760slc-phono-cartridge-review/

 

To put the VM540ML into perspective,  I run a vintage AT36ML on my other turntable - it is a very low output MC (0.12v) which uses a ml stylus on a gold plated beryllium cantilever; this cartridge is I believe a predecessor of the ART 7/9 design. The AT36 is marginally more detailed than the AT540ML,  but you would be hard pressed to spot the differences - both sound clear,  detailed,  and balanced from top to bottom.  And none of the harshness / brightness that many people associate with AT cartridges. Thoroughly recommend the 540ML.

 

 

Edited by mkaramazov

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1 hour ago, mkaramazov said:

Currently listening to an AT VM540ML. It is without question one of the best value cartridges I have heard in terms of sound quality for dollar. Certainly more balanced than the 440ML, while maintaining all its detail

I would love to hear your comparison of it to the VM95ML.  As I was saying I went back down to it rather than go to the VM540 range.

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3 hours ago, aussievintage said:

No, the other way around.  I am currently running an VM95ML stylus on an old AT95.  It just clips right on.

Thanks for clarifying.

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I have had two generations of OC-9, II and III, and the latter is better. I also have AT-33PTG which I have strapped for mono after I had it- it is certainly smoother, though I don’t think it is better than the gen III OC-9. They all track amazingly well.

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

I would love to hear your comparison of it to the VM95ML.  As I was saying I went back down to it rather than go to the VM540 range.

I would like to hear them side by side too.  I believe the AT VM540ML is higher compliance,  so works better with a lower mass arm. 

 

I recently aquired a AT150MLX , which I am looking forward to comparing to the 540ML. 

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Posted (edited)

I have the AT150MLX which has some cracking reviews. Very detailed, tracks brilliantly and is low noise. It just seems to pull so much info out of the groove. 

 

Warning though, I've read and think it can be hard to setup/get right. I don't think I'm there yet with my skills. Working on it though. Need to invest in a decent pre too.

Edited by blakey72

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On 07/05/2020 at 11:32 AM, cafe67 said:

 

How about their exxy MM's - the VM760SLC ($1199) and VM750SH ($699)?

 

Thoughts by others?

 

I bought my AT-150MLX for AUD $350 new when the AUD was at parity with USD.

At the time it was the best cartridge I'd ever heard.

 

I bought a Denon DL-110.

I compared recordings made with the AT-150MLX and I found that the Denon has a flatter frequency response. The Denon is clearer, more accurate, and even the high frequencies are faster and more defined and the bass is deeper and overall more dynamic than the AT. This was interesting to me because I thought that a microline stylus would be more revealing than a special elliptical, but no. So I have learnt that MC has better sound in all aspects over ATs best MM cartridges. So, since you asked for thoughts.. I would avoid the expensive MM cartridges and instead get a Denon DL-110 at less than 1/3 the price OR just go for the AT MC cartridges if you have a good enough MC preamp.

 

But actually you didn't say if you were in the market for a cartridge or if you were just mentioning that AT has many models of cartridges available?

 

Fwiw I still prefer the AT MM sound/ price/ performance over the other MM manufacturers sound / price/ performance.

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I run an AT150MLX  in my spare system which only has an MM capable  preamp (Sugden C28). Nice detailed sound, good dynamics and tracks well. Never had a set up problem. Not as sophisticated as my Clearaudio Maestro Wood but a lot cheaper.

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On 07/05/2020 at 10:56 PM, mkaramazov said:

I would like to hear them side by side too.  I believe the AT VM540ML is higher compliance,  so works better with a lower mass arm. 

 

I recently aquired a AT150MLX , which I am looking forward to comparing to the 540ML. 

 

Well I am currently in need of either a new stylus that fits the 95 series - so probably the VM95ML stylus, or a new cart.  I have an AT440MLa which I do not like as much as the VM95ML.    The 440 is way to thin sounding, and I have been down the twin rabbit holes of tracking angle and loading, to no avail. 

 

My fear is that if I buy a 540ML, It might be similar to the 440MLa and I might not like it.  It certainly looks like it is built from the same heritage.

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On 07/05/2020 at 7:06 PM, mkaramazov said:

Long time AT fan here,  with many cartridges in the collection.  

 

Currently listening to an AT VM540ML. It is without question one of the best value cartridges I have heard in terms of sound quality for dollar. Certainly more balanced than the 440ML, while maintaining all its detail.   I have a VM740ML too,  which has the metal body,  but there is more than a suggestion that these do not test as well as the 540ML. For a couple of very thorough reviews of these cartridges,   Thoroughly recommend the 540ML.

 

 

Gee - I just went down a rabbit hole for 2hrs on the Net. I never considered the AT VM540ML - I have just purchased a Rega 3 from Lens Wallis (Without Cart) and was seriously considering the Ortofon 2M Blue - until I read this post. Then the hole began - looking at the VM750SH (Because it is ONLY a couple of hundred dollars more,,) and then it hit me I was looking at $700 cartridges and considering more - even worse, I even justified to myself.

I think I will take the AT VM750ML route - so thankyou @aussievintage for the post. I can get the AT VM750ML for $14 more ($383) than the Ortofon 2M Blue ($369) from local Aussie stores. I think it will suit my needs after getting back into vinyl after many years off to match the Rega Planar 3. Side note - any posts or sites for TT and Cartridge setup ? Thanks.

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26 minutes ago, John Baseley said:

Gee - I just went down a rabbit hole for 2hrs on the Net. I never considered the AT VM540ML - I have just purchased a Rega 3 from Lens Wallis (Without Cart) and was seriously considering the Ortofon 2M Blue - until I read this post. Then the hole began - looking at the VM750SH (Because it is ONLY a couple of hundred dollars more,,) and then it hit me I was looking at $700 cartridges and considering more - even worse, I even justified to myself.

I think I will take the AT VM750ML route - so thankyou @aussievintage for the post. I can get the AT VM750ML for $14 more ($383) than the Ortofon 2M Blue ($369) from local Aussie stores. I think it will suit my needs after getting back into vinyl after many years off to match the Rega Planar 3. Side note - any posts or sites for TT and Cartridge setup ? Thanks.

Are you referring to the vm540ml for $383?

I have seen Klapp have them on sale, they have the version with the at headshell at that price.  You won't need the headshell if that's the one your looking at, but, it's a good headshell and that price they have is very good imo.

 

The VM95ml is different again and usually had for approx $300

 

They both review very well.  I think on paper the 540ml spec is better, though this doesn't always return an audible benefit,  and most comparisons put them pretty equal with a minor nod again to the 540, but it can be system dependant also.

 

They do come from a slightly different line heritage, but seem to measure closely - pick the one that best matches your arm would be advisable.  Do a bit of research of your arm and either cart, refer to the vinyl engine resonance calculator also.  

 

I haven't heard either in person  so can't comment from experience, but, I like the interchangeable flexibility of the vm95 range and given the praise both receive my money would probably go there. It also matches up to my arm well which is important too.

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