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Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89380 is a reply to message #89351] Sun, 16 December 2018 20:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
gofar99 is currently offline  gofar99
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Hi Wayne, I use a stylus scope...actually they are designed for other things but work great for this. Many of the ones that might seem to be useful for this are really glorified toys. I went through three until I found one that really did the job right. I would have to look up the brand though as it isn't marked on it. Additionally, you will need a stable and accurate stand for it. Most that come with the low cost scopes are pretty wonky. Observation is not quite as easy as it seems as the thing you are looking at is quite small and in a location that often makes high magnification difficult. Lighting is key as well. I find that an external light source from the side is often more useful than the lights in the scopes. Send photos when you get some.



Good Listening
Bruce
Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89394 is a reply to message #89351] Mon, 17 December 2018 11:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Wayne Parham is currently offline  Wayne Parham
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Rusty wrote on Sun, 16 December 2018 17:41
Seems we have an inverse parallel with turntables. You went from Technics to Rega and I went the opposite. For me it was a matter of speed drift and feedback with the Rega that sent me to the 1200. And with the ability to change cartridges with easy VTA and anti skate adjustment makes it a breeze to swap. Hope you go back to it. You'll be buying more cartridges for sure.

I'm definitely lusting after an SL-1200. I didn't really move away from Technics towards Rega; It was more that I had a friend that really wanted my turntable at a time when I was never spending time at home to use it, so I sold it to him. I regretted it almost immediately, but I really wasn't using it. I couldn't part with the cartridge though. Stored it for a decade. Then one day, at one of the regional audio shows, an Audio Note dealer friend of mine offered me the Rega table I have now at a good price so I snatched it up. And I like it. But I do think I prefer the SL-1200 for all the reasons you described.


Rusty wrote on Sun, 16 December 2018 17:41
I'd tend to guess that high contrast lighting rather than diffused would help in resolving the facet shaped on the stylus. If that's possible.

I have some 10mm white LEDs that I intend to use to make lighting stands with. One on each side of the stylus.


Rusty wrote on Sun, 16 December 2018 17:41
Hope you get satisfaction with that new stylus too. I bought a stylus from LP Gear years back when I purchased a Stanton 981 HZS from KAB. The stylus was listed as a replacement for the cartridge and was around $100 bucks. I could never get the thing to sound worth a hoot and thought maybe all the fuss about this cartridge was unfounded. I wanted to send it back to LP Gear, but months had gone by and they refused. I ended up with a Pfanstiehl stylus from Voice of Music which for twenty some bucks lets me know how good this cartridge really is. Some day maybe I'll spring for a premium from Jico. But this cheapo 2x7 elliptical sounds pretty good.

I sent back the "Bliss" stylus, and I expect to receive the replacement around the first of the year. Here in the holidays, I don't expect really fast turnaround. And that's OK. I'm not in a huge hurry.

I do wonder what difference there is in the (Bliss) Jico and in an original Audio Technica stylus. One is nude and the other is bonded, so the cantilever is different and the tip is probably different too. The mechanical interface through the adhesive in a bonded stylus is is different than a cantilever with a single material in a nude stylus. It's like the difference between a pair of metal parts that are welded versus a pair of metal parts that are bolted together. One has a bit more "give" than the other. But what the difference "sounds like" - if audible at all - I don't know. Not sure I can hear the difference. We'll definitely look at 'em both close-up and see if we can see the difference though.

Which brings me to another point. It must certainly be a huge "can of worms" in some circles and offer endless opportunities to count the number of "angels dancing on the head of a pin." The pont is this:

How do we measure the differences in styli or in cartridges?

I can run test signals through amplifiers and speakers and compare the difference between what goes in and what comes out. So while measurements aren't a trivial task, they aren't impossible to do either.

But how would one test a cartridge? How do we know its frequency response, for example?

I can only think that someone could use a vibrating device that provided specific displacement (or more likely inverse/square, possibly modified by the RIAA curve) at various frequencies to move the cantilever and monitor the output of the cartridge. But I can't think of any such device. So I think we all just trust the manufacturer's specifications. I know that's what I've always done.


gofar99 wrote on Sun, 16 December 2018 20:46
Hi Wayne, I use a stylus scope...actually they are designed for other things but work great for this. Many of the ones that might seem to be useful for this are really glorified toys. I went through three until I found one that really did the job right. I would have to look up the brand though as it isn't marked on it. Additionally, you will need a stable and accurate stand for it. Most that come with the low cost scopes are pretty wonky. Observation is not quite as easy as it seems as the thing you are looking at is quite small and in a location that often makes high magnification difficult. Lighting is key as well. I find that an external light source from the side is often more useful than the lights in the scopes. Send photos when you get some.

I think you're right that many of the microscopes are glorified toys. The one I bought fits that description. But then again, it is almost good enough. If it was capable of just a little more magnification, I think it would work great for stylus inspection.

As an aside, I've noticed a ton of stuff in this day and age that's "glorified toys" but that does the job. It's a different world today. So many little "toyish" even "hackish" devices can be used that work well. But only for a little while - They're not robust. This is a generation that seems to design for features, not for reliability or for longevity. Seems like everything is cheap and disposable. I prefer more solid stuff, like how things were built prior to the 1970s.

Anyway, I have ordered another 'scope. This one allows changing an optical lens to allow for higher magnification. We'll see if that will get me in a little closer.

Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89395 is a reply to message #89394] Mon, 17 December 2018 12:40 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Rusty is currently offline  Rusty
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Wayne Parham wrote on Mon, 17 December 2018 11:06
How do we measure the differences in styli or in cartridges?

What is the measurement attributed to cartridges when you see a graph. Like a test tone at a certain frequency? My take on the various cartridges I have is a little bit of, or lack of, emphasis in certain frequencies from one another. My favorite cartridge so far, a Stanton 890 LE from KAB, I believe a moving iron type seems to give the greatest inner detail. My last purchase of a moving magnet cartridge, a Ortofon Super OM 30 convinced me that, enough already, they're all nice and fine, just play the music.

I'm curious now in regards to the stylus I mentioned for a Stanton 981 HZS that came from LP Gear, I wonder if they shipped me, by mistake or otherwise, the wrong stylus. It sounded like crap. I couldn't see with a loupe any numbers or marks, other than a green dot on the cantilever. I wonder if I could tell with one of these USB scopes whether it was say a conical, or elliptical type stylus.
I'd better wait though to gather what you've concluded for tips and techniques.


Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89396 is a reply to message #89395] Mon, 17 December 2018 13:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Wayne Parham is currently offline  Wayne Parham
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Registered: January 2001
Illuminati (33rd Degree)

I would expect that a person could measure many of the same things that are measured for amplifiers and loudspeakers - at least the two-dimensional ones - like frequency response (amplitude and time), harmonic and intermodulation distortion, etc.

I assume there are more audible differences between cartridges than styli. But I guess I don't know that for sure. And especially since the stylus contains "half of the equation" - either the moving magnet or the moving coil - my assumption could be quite invalid. I suppose most replaceable styli are moving magnet, so I guess magnet strength could be a big factor.

Magnet strength is a huge factor in loudspeakers. Changing magnet strength changes the tonal balance of the driver. Of course, the driver is used in a tuned cavity, so that's a part of it. The interaction between the tuning of the driver and the tuning of the cabinet is important - they have to be "tuned together."

That same sort of thing may not be (as much of) an issue in cartridges. But the mass/spring system formed by the cantilever/magnets and the "suspension" at its pivot point are one tuned system and the coils and the preamp's reactive load are another. The manufacturer specifies the reactive load required by the cartridge, and they design the stylus specifically for use with their cartridge, so that's how they control those variables.

My assumption is that I can trust the manufacturer's published specifications. And hopefully, third-party manufacturers of replacement styli are also diligent and produce products that maintain manufacturer's standards. But these are the things I do not really know, so thinking out-loud, I wondered about testing with a vibrating machine or test record and analysis software.
Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89397 is a reply to message #89396] Mon, 17 December 2018 16:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Wayne Parham is currently offline  Wayne Parham
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Registered: January 2001
Illuminati (33rd Degree)

Another aside:

On the matter of measuring cartridges, I found the article in the attached "Bruel & Kjaer Technical Review" journal from 1976. Pages 25-34 discuss using an accelerometer to provide a signal for testing turntable cartridges.
This is what I was talking about, exactly. But it's really beyond the scope of this thread. Here I'm focused on examining the condition of the stylus tip, to know when to replace it. So I've sort of hijacked my own thread. Laughing

Cartridge measurement might be a worthwhile discussion in another thread though.
Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89417 is a reply to message #89397] Thu, 20 December 2018 21:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
gofar99 is currently offline  gofar99
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Hi, Actual cartridge measurements are not simple. The only way that I know of that works fairly well is to use a test record. I use the Analogue Productions Ultimate Test LP. I admit to being a serious vinyl enthusiast and what I do is likely well above typical. I use the LP to test individual cartridge/tonearm/turntable combinations. I take the output from the cartridge and feed it to a Simaudio LP3 preamp. It is extremely linear and quiet, just not musical IMO. That in turn feeds a dual trace oscilloscope. It is PC based and I can get all sorts of information from it. I find that some combinations work better than others and going back to the issue of stylus shape and construction there is no real correlation in my tests as to the type when you get to elliptical and higher and how it actually is mounted. Not much difference in MM vs MI either. Then to be honest I have only mid to high end cartridges/arms and turntables. I do find that that the arm needs to be of the right mass range for the cartridge and the tracking force, anti skating and alignment need to be spot on. My two favorite combinations are a Grado Sonata II in an Origin Live arm on my Empire 598. The second one is a Dynavector Ruby Karat23MR-RS in a Jelco arm on a much modified DIY player that uses the drive system of a Dual 701. I use a Pro-ject Align It to set the alignments and a digital scale to set the tracking force. Anti skating is via the listed test method above.

Good Listening
Bruce
Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89425 is a reply to message #89417] Fri, 21 December 2018 16:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Wayne Parham is currently offline  Wayne Parham
Messages: 17501
Registered: January 2001
Illuminati (33rd Degree)

That's very interesting, Bruce. Good information that whets my appetite for more. So I've started a "Cartridge Measurement" thread to discuss what's involved in measuring cartridges. If you wouldn't mind, please post your observations there as well. You've got a big head start on this matter.

I suppose a whole 'nother thread should be started on turntable/arm setup. There's just so much disinformation out there; I think it would be useful to compile information on the subject here on AudioRoundTable.com.

Back to the topic of stylus inspection, I just received another USB 'scope. It has a replaceable lens to allow higher magnification. I'm anxious to use it to look at the "Bliss" replacement stylus and to compare it with the genuine Audio Technica stylus. The trouble is my genuine stylus is worn, and I don't know how badly worn it is. That's one of the main reasons I bought this 'scope and started this thread.
Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89575 is a reply to message #89425] Sun, 13 January 2019 18:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Wayne Parham is currently offline  Wayne Parham
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I've learned a lot, and I have a lot more to explore. So I'm here to report the things I've found.

First, TurntableNeedles.com sent a replacement for the defective Jico/Bliss stylus. They said they have never seen this kind of problem before but asked no questions and didn't hesitate to exchange it. You can see that the one they sent is well-formed:

/forum/index.php?t=getfile&id=2300&private=0
ATN20 "Bliss" (Jico) Stylus
Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89576 is a reply to message #89575] Sun, 13 January 2019 18:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Wayne Parham is currently offline  Wayne Parham
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I am comparing the ATN20 "Bliss" stylus with a genuine original Audio Technica AT20 stylus. Both have the Shibata shape.

/forum/index.php?t=getfile&id=2301&private=0
Re: Stylus Inspection [message #89577 is a reply to message #89576] Sun, 13 January 2019 18:45 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
Wayne Parham is currently offline  Wayne Parham
Messages: 17501
Registered: January 2001
Illuminati (33rd Degree)

As an aside, I am also comparing the AT20SL cartridge with the AT20SLa. Upon casual inspection, you don't really notice a difference in the two. But Rusty clued me into the fact that the AT20SLa has a slightly different cantilever angle. When you hold them side-by-side, you can see this:

/forum/index.php?t=getfile&id=2302&private=0
Audio Technica AT20SL and AT20SLa, top view

/forum/index.php?t=getfile&id=2303&private=0
Audio Technica AT20SL and AT20SLa, side view

/forum/index.php?t=getfile&id=2304&private=0
Audio Technica AT20SL and AT20SLa, bottom view

The original AT20 cartridge is on the left in all three photos. The AT20SLa is the same cartridge electro-mechanically, but it is slightly shorter and the stylus mount is angled differently. As a result, the vertical angle of the AT20SL is 20° and the AT20SLa is 15°.
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