Clearaudio MM -- AT-95E and beyond

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dlaloum

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #100 on: 8 Sep 2011, 02:56 pm »
in one of my past lives I worked using the 6Sigma quality system.

Motorola are one of the worlds biggest users of that analytic system, and when they looked at their mobile phone repair/quality system, they worked out that it was cheaper to simply toss out a faulty phone and provide a new one manufactured on a highly efficient production line.
This was hugely cheaper than having a tech dismantle, debug and fix a faulty unit.

Expert labour is expensive, mass production is cheap - even salvaging the diamond might be questionable. (but then I havn't seen the actual labour costs vs materials costs....)

bye for now

David

neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #101 on: 8 Sep 2011, 07:40 pm »
Scotty,
Tolerance might differentiate a Virtuoso body from a Classic. I measured the DC resistance within 1 ohm/ch on my Virtuoso.

Often vintage or moderately priced components aren't worth fixing. These days it might cost $80 or so, just to have it looked at. An extensive repair might cost way more than just replacing it.
neo

glrickaby

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #102 on: 10 Oct 2011, 05:39 am »
Neo-Guess I'm getting slow in my old age. The difference between the Classic and Virtuoso pricewise
is 4-5 times? Surely some difference in electrical specs in the cartridge itself, (perhaps Grado's grading
method), and perhaps a better diamond is all the difference? Buying an AT95/3400 Shibata is +-$100
from TT Needles. Is it possible to upgrade a Classic to Virtuoso status with such a stylus upgrade? Surely
not! Is there not some hidden difference ? We are not talking about an upgraded AT95 now, which I think
all agree may not be in the CA catagory but within the CA line itself? I can't believe the mystery here- CA
is Sc----ing the public? (Afraid to say it) I'm headed to AZ again soon- maybe the desert air will
clear my mind!

dlaloum

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #103 on: 10 Oct 2011, 06:09 am »
The clearaudio MM's are very similar in format to the AT95, but the interior coils appear to be wound differently, and they have much lower resistance...

The now defunct AT105/110/115 series used the same format as the AT95, but OFC coils.

It is not clear (and never discussed in any marketing information) what is on the inside of these bodies....

You can take an AT110, open in up and pot it, mount it in a wooden mounting, and fit a shibata.... perhaps it will compete with the CA cartridges?

The body is a standard AT design, albeit fitted with high quality coils, the styli are also nothing special.... standard aluminium cantilevers with bonded needles....

So the magic has got to be in the techniques used for vibration control - the interface between cartridge & headshell, and the fact that they are designed to mate with the currently fashionable mid mass arms (like Clearaudio's own arms).

The CA's seem to be excellent examples of the primacy of synergy.

bye for now

David

neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #104 on: 10 Oct 2011, 02:41 pm »
Neo-Guess I'm getting slow in my old age. The difference between the Classic and Virtuoso pricewise
is 4-5 times? Surely some difference in electrical specs in the cartridge itself, (perhaps Grado's grading
method), and perhaps a better diamond is all the difference? Buying an AT95/3400 Shibata is +-$100
from TT Needles. Is it possible to upgrade a Classic to Virtuoso status with such a stylus upgrade? Surely
not! Is there not some hidden difference ? We are not talking about an upgraded AT95 now, which I think
all agree may not be in the CA catagory but within the CA line itself? I can't believe the mystery here- CA
is Sc----ing the public? (Afraid to say it) I'm headed to AZ again soon- maybe the desert air will
clear my mind!

I know it's a little hard to believe. All the CA MM carts seem to have identical electrical specs. They used to list 1 ohm difference on the impedance on the least expensive,  but I think they stopped. It's ridiculous anyway. They used to list the stylus dimensions on the CA site, but they no longer do.

Just because the 3400, 95, CAs, K9, and countless P-mounts and other AT-OEM carts share the same basic body and plug, doesn't make them the same. If you look into it, it seems like the inexpensive ones have high impedance even if they have lower output (AT-95). If you notice, the 95 has only 400mH but 2.8K impedance. I'm guessing that this may be due to not having the OCC wire. This cart sounds really nice, but it's not a CA. I think it's the wire that makes the difference in resolution, harmonic texture etc potential, between the top ATs and the inexpensive ones.

Go right down the list of these carts that share the same body or even a different body and come in at an inexpensive price point, and you can guess why they aren't the best, even if they might be nice. The 110 has more output and impedance/inductance to go with. Maybe if you stand on your head and fit it with a boron/ML it would compete or better the 150MLX? It would be cheaper to just buy a 150 (less than $350).

I've reached the conclusion (w/o proof) that AT makes the entire cart for CA including the stylus. CA probably makes the tops. The stock CA has the same fitting that replaces the compliance screw, as a 95. For a minute there I thought it might be Jico, but all their styli seem to have a cu screw.

So, if you want a Virtuoso-like performance you can buy one with a busted cantilever and replace the stylus. Right now on the Agon thread the Soundsmith alum/elliptical is preferred. That's $150. The ATN7V is a nice nude sq shank .2 x .7/tapered alum and has almost the same cu as a 95 and costs $75 at LpGear. That has to be transplanted. The ATN120E is around $50, also transplanted. I have a 140LC that I haven't broken yet, LOL. Maybe I'll try it on the 440 first.

I believe the CA Sigma, Beta etc have the same potential. The specs are identical. There could be some body difference but I doubt it. It would cost CA more to have these produced with differences in the body/generator. In defense of CA, it seems like these are overpriced, but on a high end line the dealer gets 40 to 50%. As the OEM AT is making a profit also. We can thank CA for designing or ordering an AT that competes with an AT-15/20. AT doesn't seem to have enough brains to figure that out themselves. They're still making higher output carts at the TOTL to compete with CDs. I guess that's the dynamic range mentality. I'm sure they're reluctant to change that, and the line. They probably figure they're lucky to still be making carts. Their main biz seems to be microphones and headphones.
neo


dlaloum

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #105 on: 10 Oct 2011, 02:56 pm »
I have a cartridge I purchased as a TK10ML.... except that the stylus on it looks like a TK9 (the label is missing off the top) - and seems to be worn out...

Today you can purchase an AT15/20/21/22/23/24/25 or TK5 through tk10 with a broken or worn out stylus for less than $100... which is cheaper than a CA in the same state.

I am not convinced that the CA has necessarily greater potential than one of these! - And when ordering a stylus for it, you can opt for aluminium or ruby, and a compliance to suit your arm, not to mention your favoured needle profile....

A TK10 body, fitted with a ruby cantilever and ML needle, setup with mid compliance suspension (say 14cu?) - would be a perfect match for the current generation of arms.... this combo should be possible at a price of circa $450 (allow $100 for a cartridge, and $350 for a TOTL retip with ruby cantilever)
Then to get something similar to CA, it would need to be mounted in a wooden headshell....

End result would be less than half the price of the TOTL CA, for a product that should be superior....

And by the way, you can opt for whatever balance between inductance/resistance you want by choosing the relevant body... (which in turn has implications for the capacitance/resistance loading of the end result...)

bye for now

David


glrickaby

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #106 on: 10 Oct 2011, 04:59 pm »
Actually, I have an AT13Ea which I mount a Precept 220 stylus (skirt cut back) or a Pfanstiehl 679DE
and get magnificant sound. Both styli are .0002 elliptical, the 220 with a tapered shaft. The Precept
is slightly more dynamic but considering the price difference, the DE is pretty good. Have $30 in the
body. The Precepts were NOS @ 2 for $69.00. The DE is like $23. Probably sound as good or better
than the AT95/3400Shibata-Virtuoso I had. Precept stylus shaft and diamond appear identical to the
AT7V with no need for transplant as the 13Ea and Precept 220 both have a round plug.

neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #107 on: 10 Oct 2011, 07:23 pm »
That's just the thing. You can get really nice results with lots of combos. Everyone has their own criteria for exactly what they like and what might be better. BTW, LpGear has NOS beryllium/ML stylus for Precept. I'd like to try one on my 15SS, but I'll have to hold off. The cart sounds excellent with a 20SS stylus and I don't need to spend another $200.

I haven't heard all the carts on David's list. Some of them are rare and I doubt if you can get all of them, or possibly any, for under $100, even w/o a stylus. Maybe you can find one or two, I'm not sure. But for people not familiar with all these models, you might have to custom load or have problems finding a stylus. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from getting into this. It's just not always easy to find what you're looking for. StereoNeedles used to have AT-23, 24, 25 needles. They're sold out. Many great NOS styli available a few yrs ago are becoming extinct. I would guess (based on my past TK-10MLII) that fitted w/ruby-micro, would definitely need loading down. Even loaded down, it might not sound completely "right". Maybe it would be fabulous if you can load it, but until that's tried, you're taking a chance.
neo

neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #108 on: 15 Oct 2011, 07:58 pm »
OK GL,
How's this for a budget stylus? I trimmed down the wings on an AT-92 P-mount stylus. I picked up the 92 a few years ago for $20 and never used it. I've only played a couple sides on it so far. It sounds pretty good. I get the feeling though that this won't be the ultimate stylus for the Virtuoso. The occasion was getting the Sonus Formula 4 arm, going again.

There seems to be a lot of resentment about CA and their MMs. I don't agree with your  performance conclusions, but I've always felt that way about the company. I'm not positive about any body differences with the least expensive ones, but the generators are identical. The naked cantilever looks exotic and everybody thought they were not user replaceable when they first came out. So the mentality was that they were MC-like in quality. In that respect CA is getting over on the customer. Re-tip fees are ridiculous. All but 1 is a POS anyway (tips). Why all the models, indeed!! They all have budget stylus except the Maestro. I"m convinced that you could by a used or broken tipped Beta, Sigma, whatever and have virtually the same cart. The little gold plate on the front will have a different letter. Mine fell off and I glued it back on. Maybe I should have put an M on there,  :roll:

I know that a boron or beryllium ML would be killer on it. A ruby micro would probably be just as good. I'd go for it but I don't want to spend the money right now. Truth is, I've been listening to a Genesis 1000 and don't need to chase this down at the moment. I like the Genesis a lot. It sounds like a $2K cart. When I broke my 152ML stylus trying to get it into a 95 plug, I knew that this was turning into insanity. I have yet to get the CA to sound as good as my 440 w/152ML.
neo

glrickaby

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #109 on: 16 Oct 2011, 11:51 pm »
Actually Neo, I agree with most of your CA conclusions. The Caveat is I find
it hard to believe a reputable company would not substantiate a bigger
difference in their line, notwithstanding the source. The AT92E is a .0004
by .0007. Interestingly enough, I read on another thread about the AT92E
being an old spec design etc., which with say an 97XE would kind of turn
into an 15 type. I hooked up an 97HE generic which might have actually
sounded like a 15 series in an at92E body so be careful of what you
wish for! Regarding 440ML, I've been playing an AT125LC which sounds
close-that is the holographic sound we all look for. I know its a titanium
bonded LC but as I say, it may be close!I'm back in the desert now, so
who knows what I'll find at one of these Sun City Garage/Estate sales!
The CA broken bodies now seem to bring $125-150 so I'm looking for
the K-9 or K-18 which actually has the shorter length CA  cartridge
body without the wood  which may work on some of the CA
transfers we are all familiar with.

neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #110 on: 17 Oct 2011, 01:12 pm »
One of the problems right now is my not putting in enough listening hrs to make a proper judgement. A new stylus usually takes at least a few hrs to loosen up mechanically. Much of the time I just feel like listing to the Genesis or 980. I have both set-up at the moment. The 92E has an output of 3.6mV and a .3 x .7 elliptical. Maybe it's the P-mount version of a 95, LOL. It has a noticeably thinner cantilever probably because of the P-mount cu. The Sonus arm has eff mass of 4.1g. Mine has a custom headshell which weighs an additional 1.5g, so mass is around 5g and it's great for high cu.

All the carts we're talking about are part of the 3400 series including the 95. There were a ton of different P-mounts and carts like the K9 etc are included. The CA carts are also included. ALL are just high end variants. I believe they have OCC wire and the right specs. The wood tops make them easy to voice. It can soften the blow, so to speak, and it's one of the main reasons my gut tells me that the right exotic cantilever/stylus will be killer on there.

From a practical standpoint you can get a broken tip CA for $150? Put a Jico Vivid (LC) on there for $90 and have an excellent cart.
You can also get an AT7V for $129 (med/heavy arm) - everybody seems to love em. If you want the "ultimate", VDH probably has boron cantilevers, maybe a S-Smith ruby. I'm not sure yet.
neo

neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #111 on: 10 Nov 2011, 01:10 pm »
I tried an AT-92E P-mount stylus on the Virtuoso. Here's a few pics on the Sonus Formula 4 -












I've only played a few records so far, a Kenny Durham and an Ornette Coleman. They sound really good, better than I thought it would. One thing about a low mass arm, it can sound fast, clean and natural. The cart is not encumbered with the mass and slower response necessary for a lower cu. Many people use relatively high cu carts with massive arms. I know you can often get them to sound good despite a low res frequency,  but I think it will sound much better with a low mass arm of comparable quality. That has been my experience anyway.

I think some people misunderstand the implications of different carts sharing the same body type, like a 95, 92E, 3400, K9, Virtuoso etc.  The body is only the housing. The generators can be very different, and they are. I think the 95 doesn't have the OCC wire. Look at the specs for output, impedance, and inductance. If they are all the same..... I also think that tolerances are the difference between the CA models. My Virtuoso measured 1 ohm difference between channels. That's pretty good.

A friend from another forum sent me an AT-3400 stylus. This is a conical on a carbon fiber cantilever. I think VTF is 2 to 4g. LOL - from one extreme to another. I have the AT-95 mounted on a Sony PS-X50 (20g arm). I'll let you know.
neo

dlaloum

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #112 on: 10 Nov 2011, 01:49 pm »
Nice!

Very nice arm too... damped low mass unipivot, eccentric CW :drool:

nice fit of the needle!

You are right about the body only being the housing... but my reading of the specs implies the 92 and 95 are in fact the same body...

The next notch up in that family might be the 105/110/115 which do have the OCC wiring.

And the internals and materials used in the CA are still a ??? along with whether there is (was?) an equivalent in the AT range.

The proposal to pick up some basic 50 euro CA's and have them upgraded by Alex with Boron or Sapphire cantilevers and Line Contact styli appears to have merit...

bye for now

David


neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #113 on: 10 Nov 2011, 04:03 pm »
Hi David,
I wasn't sure if the 110 took the same plug as the others. Now that I see the picture, the body looks the same.
http://www.lpgear.com/product/ATC110E.html

With 4.5mV output it probably doesn't have the low inductance of the 95, but it might sound very nice. I've never heard one. Most of the magnets on the various AT are the same (I think). The only one I know of that's stronger is the orig 440ML OCC. So the 110 coils must have more turns (higher inductance) for greater output. It might be a great cart for $70.

You might find this of interest. The specs on the back of the arm manual-

Pivot Friction  - Below .005 gm at headshell.

Inertia Moment  -  5213 gm cm2 with 5 gm cartridge. (This extremely low figure is largely the result of skeletal headshell and profile of counterweight.)

I guess my custom headshell messes that up a bit. I don't have one of those Sonus 50cu carts either. It seems to work out pretty good.
neo


glrickaby

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #114 on: 27 Feb 2012, 06:46 am »
Know this subject is at a ripe old age but couldn't resist one last comment-actually,
two- 1. Neo, on your 92E on the V, you can trim all the way back to the plug
and it will work fine. Did this on an AT3003 which is essentially the same unit.
2. Now that I'm back in the desert, picked up an old Garrard 60 MkII changer
which works fine. Had a Pickering V-15 which I put on a D71EE stylus which
is quite suitable. However I was playing an old Mono recording (Charpentier)
which sounded kind of fuzzy- mounted an AT95HE (LP Gear Blue) and things
cleared up quite well- clear as a bell- stereo quality sound! Must be the
desert air (78 deg.today). The AT95 rides again!

neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #115 on: 27 Feb 2012, 04:03 pm »
Hi GL,
A Garrard 60 MkII? Does it have a big old heavy curved arm?  When I was a kid my family had a Type A. That thing was cool. I loved it. You should see the mechanism underneath. It's amazing. The sound of records was even more amazing, especially back then.

For those swapping styli, the cart will take on the compliance, VTF etc of the stylus. The AT95 cu (and replacement styli) is equivalent to 15 @ 10Hz. That's the same as many MCs. It turns out that the P-mount styli like the 92E are more like modern 120/440 cu. This varies with tip type. The sphericals will be lower, closer to the 95. The 92E is more like the 440/120. The 140LC (120 compatible)  discussed earlier, is considerably higher than either. The p-mount cantilevers are thinner than the low cu ones like the 95. Not being tapered isn't such a liability in this case. It might actually be beneficial, improving rigidity. The entire AT-92E(CD) cart goes for $25 and it's a bargain if only for the stylus. I'm not sure about the inductance and impedance, David thinks they might be the same. It comes with an adaptor, which could come in handy in a pinch. For those with a 95 or Clearaudio, you might want to try the 92E stylus. If you have a med/light arm, I suspect it will outperform the 95 styli and variants, and all the stock CA styli with the exception of Maestro.
neo

glrickaby

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #116 on: 27 Feb 2012, 09:18 pm »
Hi Neo-My 60 has a tube shaped arm,like a Dual but somewhat bigger round.
The headshell is cocked at an angle with a mounting plate which attaches to
the headshell by one screw through the top. A roller table. I have a new 92E
but don't want to trim it. Still had my 3003 which I believe is the same,
trimed down to the plug only and put it on the 95 body. Am playing some
Correlli now... more delicate and detailed sound-overall I like it somewhat
better than the LPGear HE. Probably much higher compliance as a thinner
shaft. Used the same stylus plug on my Virtuoso body (now sold) and
wouldn't you know, the AT95 now sounds like I recall the Virtuoso did!
Just as holographic if not more so. Didn't have the Mark 60II than and
had played the V on a Dual 1229 (also gone). The shorter tube with the
long angled headshell seems to handle things beautifully....The AT3003
body was identical to the AT92E. The shaft is a dull silver whereas the
92E is bright-both OEM. Believe I'll plow this ground awhile with my now
poorman's Virtuoso (without the wood) but looks from the bottom
identical as the 3003 is a plug-shaft only. Try trimming your 92E back
to the plug only and see if that doesn't help the sound? Will still fit
back on a 92 body, even without the wings.  70's today in the desert
 which is probably confusing the Virtuoso sound I imagine from this
setup! My the Corelli is nice! Thrift store purchase of 13 records total
@10 cents each!

neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #117 on: 28 Feb 2012, 03:17 am »
All the AT P-mount styli with that unusual plastic holder are 3400 series and they will fit if trimmed.
The LpGear replacement for the 3003 is an identical .3 x .7 tip. I'm virtually positive they're made by Jico. Gear is a Jico distributor and AT dealer. They also sell the SAS. Just as you can get AT95 styli like VL and SA, you can also get them for P-mounts.
http://www.lpgear.com/product/ATN3472LC.html

http://www.lpgear.com/product/LPGATN3472SA.html

The reason I didn't try it sooner is because I was using the Kenwood 770 and I thought cu would be much higher. Not sure what eff mass of the Kenwood arm is, but I guess 14g. I got caught up in the transplant thing. As soon as I heard the Virtuoso with 92E stylus I knew it worked better. It's faster and more natural sounding. Maybe relaxed and effortless are good descriptors. I have VTF around 1.3g and it seems to track just fine.
I haven't tried the 95 with a P-mount stylus. The 95 is reserved for the Sony PS-X50. I keep trying out carts and headshells on the Sony. A couple of MCs worked out pretty well. Other than that the AT-15/20SS was the best on there.  I might sell the Sony with the 95. Think I'll keep the SS. I'm also thinking of selling a Denon 1250 and my KD-500. I have a Sota rim drive project sitting forever. Maybe I'll sell that too. I'd like to get an LO-7D or one of those Japanese only DD battleships.
neo

glrickaby

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Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #118 on: 21 Mar 2012, 10:04 pm »
Neo, regarding your AT92E clipped and mounted on a Virtuoso, I have a 3003,
same as an AT92E, clipped and mounted on an AT95E body which gives very
good sound. Higher compliance so running the P stylus at 1.25gm on my old
Garrard 60 MKII, in the desert. Also have a 92E OEM and 92HE non-oem but
hate to clip them for the 95 body when the used 3003 stylus is sounding so
good. Would be interesting to hear side by side, the AT92E variant mounted
on the 95 body vs the Virtuoso body. That would obviously be the final
determination of whether there really was a difference in bodies, though
the wood block on the V might bias the outcome!

neobop

Re: Clearaudio MM and AT-95E
« Reply #119 on: 22 Mar 2012, 07:24 pm »
I haven't attempted to measure cu of these P-mount styli, but they seem lower than I first suspected. Maybe I'll look into that. I have a test record (although I have yet to open it), and I know the Magnapan arm has an eff mass of 7g. So I could get an estimate from the res freq and figuring it backwards. I don't even know if the record has tracks for that - probably does. I know that the spherical P-mount styli have a similar cu as the 7V, approx 7cu @ 100Hz. But I suspect that 100Hz cu has no direct relationship to standard 10Hz cu except in individual cases. It could be a sliding scale where low 100Hz cu is more than doubled for equivalent 10Hz, and as the 100Hz figure increases, the equivalent multiplier for 10Hz decreases.
 
Anyway, your 92E and 3003 is the same stylus AFAIK, so no need to trim both.
The 92HE might be interesting to compare. Guess I don't have to tell you that trimmed, it's still usable on the P-mount, except for the weight reduction. Do you have P-mount arms?  I've read conjecture that the Jico HE and vivid line are virtually the same, but I don't know this as fact. Could be the vivid and shibata, not sure. Maybe David has seen microscope pics. They might not be much different from the shibata. The shibata is supposed to have different facets on the front and back surfaces (for a sweeter high end?). Have you ever listened to a 92E?

These P-mount styli have lower tip mass and outperform the 95 styli. The cantilever contributes more to tip mass than the stylus. There's no doubt in my mind that if one has a lowish mass arm it's no contest. I suspect that even with med mass arms, like in the 11, 12g variety, they'll be much better.  As far as 95 being the same as a Virtuoso, the door closed on that a long time ago. One has an impedance of 2800 ohms and the other is 660 ohms. If you go by inductance only, the 95 wins. 400mH vs 420mH. They're just not the same whichever one you prefer. I'll take the Virtuoso, although I don't want to demean the 95. It's a very listenable cart. It reminds me of a 103, very nice, but I'm more of a detail freak.  If you have an inexpensive high mass arm I doubt if you can do much better, especially for $50. My 95 is modified anyway. It's potted and has an aluminum top plate. I like it a lot. It sounds like music.
neo

Just to clear up the cu business - the 95 has a 100Hz cu of 6.5 and is = 15cu @ 10Hz.
The 440/120/150 has 100Hz cu of 10 and is = to approx 18cu @ 10Hz.