Hear my Cartridges....🎶


Many Forums have a 'Show your Turntables' Thread or 'Show your Cartridges' Thread but that's just 'eye-candy'.... These days, it's possible to see and HEAR your turntables/arms and cartridges via YouTube videos.
Peter Breuninger does it on his AV Showrooms Site and Michael Fremer does it with high-res digital files made from his analogue front ends.
Now Fremer claims that the 'sound' on his high-res digital files captures the complex, ephemeral nuances and differences that he hears directly from the analogue equipment in his room.
That may well be....when he plays it through the rest of his high-end setup 😎
But when I play his files through my humble iMac speakers or even worse.....my iPad speakers.....they sound no more convincing than the YouTube videos produced by Breuninger.
Of course YouTube videos struggle to capture 'soundstage' (side to side and front to back) and obviously can't reproduce the effects of the lowest octaves out of subwoofers.....but.....they can sometimes give a reasonably accurate IMPRESSION of the overall sound of a system.

With that in mind.....see if any of you can distinguish the differences between some of my vintage (and modern) cartridges.
VICTOR X1
This cartridge is the pinnacle of the Victor MM designs and has a Shibata stylus on a beryllium cantilever. Almost impossible to find these days with its original Victor stylus assembly but if you are lucky enough to do so.....be prepared to pay over US$1000.....🤪
VICTOR 4MD-X1
This cartridge is down the ladder from the X1 but still has a Shibata stylus (don't know if the cantilever is beryllium?)
This cartridge was designed for 4-Channel reproduction and so has a wide frequency response 10Hz-60KHz.
Easier to find than the X1 but a lot cheaper (I got this one for US$130).
AUDIO TECHNICA AT ML180 OCC
Top of the line MM cartridge from Audio Technica with Microline Stylus on Gold-Plated Boron Tube cantilever.
Expensive if you can find one....think US$1000.

I will be interested if people can hear any differences in these three vintage MM cartridges....
Then I might post some vintage MMs against vintage and MODERN LOMC cartridges.....🤗
128x128halcro
Btw, Halcro, very sneaky of you to have both TT’s spinning at all times 😉
Hahaha.......
Not only that Maestro.....I also alternated where my stylus cleaning apparatus was located to confuse the 'eagle-eyed' even more 🧨 😝

So to recap:-
Dover and Noromance pick 
  • TT1 - DD
  • TT2 - BD
  • TT3 - DD
  • TT4 - BD
Frogman picks
  • TT1 - BD
  • TT2 - DD
  • TT3 - BD
  • TT4 - DD
I think this shows....regardless of the results....that this is not as easy as most pundits have been declaring for decades!!?
Those declaring their astute 'hearing' abilities the most....are conspicuously absent in all these 'listening tests' 🤥

Before the 'Big Reveal'......does anyone wish to reconsider his choices?
Still time for Edgewear or anyone else to chime in....

Wouldn't it be great if @grooves (Michael Fremer) had a try....? 🙏
Thanks for this experiment Halcro, great fun. It is still difficult for me to listen through the distortion of the laptop speakers and tonal nuances mostly get lost in translation, but I'll give it a go anyway.

I concentrated on listening to the rhythmic presentation, based on my impression that DD is usually prone to latch on to the attack, while BD more emphasizes the flow of the music. At least that is what I hear comparing my own DD table (Pioneer PL-70L II) and BD tables (Micro BL-91G and RX-1500S). I also tried to bring back from memory the experience with my previous BD table (TW Acoustic Raven GT SE with Black Knight battery power supply), which tended to sound slightly dark and subjectively slow paced. This could be a TW family character shared by Halcro's Raven AC.

All that said, I feel TT1 & 4 have the more tightly organized rhythmic presentation I associate with DD, while TT2 & 3 have a more relaxed and flowing presentation, so these would be the BD tables.

Would mr. Fremer take the challenge? The suspense is growing.....😆

Thanks for accepting the challenge Edgewear......
We now seem to have all bases covered 🤗
Almost......
  • TT1 - DD with Glanz 610LX
  • TT2 - BD with London Decca Reference
  • TT3 - BD with AS Palladian
  • TT4 - DD with Sony XL-88D
Congratulations Edgewear 👏🎉
All that said, I feel TT1 & 4 have the more tightly organized rhythmic presentation I associate with DD, while TT2 & 3 have a more relaxed and flowing presentation, so these would be the BD tables.
This is how I hear it 'Live'....
Your experiences with the Raven and Pioneer turntables possibly gave you the edge 😃

It would be interesting to hear what you all take away from this experiment? 🧐
Thanks for your 'bravery'.
No-one on YouTube had the guts to try it... 
Excellent, Edgewear!

In answer to Halcro’s question, my primary takeaway goes to our agreement about TT4 being DD. You describe the sound as “tightly organized rhythmic presentation” while I described it as “solid pitch stability” compared to TT3’s slight pitch waver. One can’t have great rhythm without rock solid pitch stability. It confirms my feeling that DD, in general, offers superior pitch stability; something that has been a struggle for me in setting up my belt drive turntables over the years. Perhaps time to jump ship.

One of the mysteries of this hobby is how the advantages AND disadvantages of the different technologies impact our perception of the music; sometimes in ways that are contrary to what would expect from a logical standpoint. Belt drive, as you point out, are known for highlighting “the flow” of the music. Yet, the flow of the music, from a musician’s perspective, is entirely dependent on great pitch stability. A conundrum.

As I wrote, due to the nature of the music there weren’t obvious clues re pitch stability in the Stravinsky examples. Yet, I associated what was for me the “bolder with more hf energy sound” of the belt drive TT2 with my expectations for DD. Knowing now the cartridges involved, it all makes sense. This is what I wrote in the previous MC/MM “test” re the Glanz cartridge (on TT1 in this test and cartridge B in the previous test):

**** Cartridge B requires (allows) that the listener “lean into” the music instead of it being pushed in the direction of the listener.

“A” seems to present a more generous soundstage and with larger individual images. “B” ‘s soundstage seems more compact with smaller individual images. ****

The Glanz, even on a DD (TT1) which I expected to provide a sound which was “bolder”, retained its more polite and “set back” sound. Pretty consistent observations, I would say. So this brings up again the often asked question: barring gross pitch stability issues in a TT’s performance what is most important, turntable or cartridge? Of course, when one is dealing with gear of this caliber, the deficiencies in any one sonic parameter are very small and the music does not suffer too terribly in any case. Thoughts?

Thanks, interesting and fun as always, Halcro.
Perhaps a better way of asking the question is:

When the playback equipment is of such high caliber, where (turntable or cartridge) does that extra bit of improvement bring one closer to the music?  I suppose it is, as always, a subjective call.  Does one react most positively to that extra iota of tonal truthfulness, or of rhythmic integrity?  Of course, then there is still the arm to contend with.  
To quote Vince in “Pulp Fiction”:

“Ain’t it cool?”  

Can also drive one crazy.  😱