If you thought a stylus was a stylus was a stylus, think again. There are several different types of turntable styli. The stylus is a complicated beast; a stylus is generally one of four types. The difference is in the shape of the tip of the diamond and how it sits in the grooves of your records.
There are four main stylus shapes, excluding a stylus for 78 RPM records. The tip radius should be at least 20mm. A standard microgroove spherical stylus will ride very low in the groove, producing a noisy signal and greatly accelerating wear on your stylus. That said, the shape and construction of the stylus, contributes to how well it replicates sound from your record, due to the access it has to the surface area of the grooves.
It can also contribute to the wear and tear of your vinyl records over time. And of course, both of these things will affect the price of the stylus.
The stylus will be attached to the cantilever will be either a nude diamond, or a tipped diamond. Unsurprisingly, the latter is the premium option as it has a lower mass and tracks more accurately. Spherical, or conical, is the most common stylus type and are the least expensive. It looks a bit like the tip of a ballpoint pen up close. Because of their relatively large radius, spherical styli trace less of the smaller groove modulations that represent higher frequencies.
The effects record wear from spherical styli is ripe for debate within the hifi community. Some claim spherical styli produce the most wear on records because contact area of the diamond is restricted to two specific points, while contenders claim that this actually produces less wear.
The next most common stylus type is elliptical, or bi-radial. E lliptical makes contact across a larger area of the groove wall due to its dual radii. This allows for more precise tracking, improved frequency response especially highsimproved phase response, and lower distortion, particularly in hard-to-track inner grooves.
Hyperelliptical, also known as shibata, fine line, or stereohedron. As the name suggests, this type is the next stage of evolution of the elliptical stylus, sharpening the design to make greater contact with the record grooves.
When properly aligned, this stylus offers excellent high-frequency performance, longer tip life, improved tracking, and lower record wear. The micro-ridge, or microline stylus is the most advanced of the four styli types. The computer designed tip comes close to the shape of a cutting stylus used to produce master discs. You must be logged in to post a comment. Return to Discogs Blog.
Log in to Reply. Leave A Reply Cancel reply You must be logged in to post a comment.Other than finding cheap grails at yard sales, phono cartridges are the most fun you can have in the vinyl hobby. Changing your cartridge can have a dramatic impact on the listening experience, resulting in a more vivid, colorful, and downright enjoyable sound.
It can be a tough decision, so we thought a simple guide might be useful. We asked our friends at Turntable Lab if we could use their selection of carts as a database. This guide will discuss various features and sound signatures which, in a perfect world, will help you make an informed decision. At the bottom is a glossary of basic terms that will definitely come in handy. All gear recommendations are independently selected.
However, when you purchase something through our affiliate links, Discogs may earn a commission. Audio-Technica is the largest manufacturer of phono cartridges in the world, and not only offers an extraordinarily wide range of choices under its own name but also provides cartridges for other brands. Every cartridge body in the VM95 series is identical, which means you can upgrade simply by buying a higher-end stylus.
All of the carts are moving magnet MM designs and have an output of 3. The VM95EN punches above its price point; the elliptical stylus is much nicer than a conical and will also last longer. It honestly makes a difference as a nudie lowers stylus tip mass, which helps with tracking, dynamics, and clarity. A VM95ML is where things get real. Its seriously tiny MicroLine stylus again, check the glossary at the bottom can really dig out some information. This is really a matter of subtle preference as the SH and ML are said to be really close in terms of overall quality.
Some feel the Shibata has slightly better bass, some feel the MicroLine has slightly cleaner highs, but since this is the world of audio, you can probably find someone who feels the opposite. The VM95SP has a fatter spherical stylus that makes it suitable for use with 78s but really nothing else.
These are the next step up in the VM line. The series represents a real commitment to your vinyl.Post by Allan W. Quick links. Username: Password: Remember me? Please login or register an account. Board index Hardware Cartridges and Preamps.
Which stylus is better, microline or shibata? Re: Which stylus is better, microline or shibata? You've also not mentioned whether you like the performance of the at the moment. The funny thing is, I purchased the stylus just to have an extra, since it's not being manufactured anymore. I decided to test the new one before putting on the shelf. OMG what a huge difference, old and well used vs. I had no idea the old one was that worn.
The old one is on the shelf. In my opinion this would be a good replacement with its Microline- stylus and of course the cheapest way Best regards Flo.
However I can give you some information on the types of line contact styli. The microline stylus has a very thin edge that contacts the record groove. As a result groove and stylus wear will be accelerated if the cartridge tracks at above 1 gram. Think of a knife edge rubbing against plastic. The more stylus pressure, the more friction and more wear. Manufacturers typically use highly polished diamonds or apply a polish compound on the stylus tip to reduce the friction.
The idea of using such a thin edge is to duplicate the recording cutting head giving better definition in the higher frequency range.
The Shibata shape has a thicker tracing edge over twice as thick as a microline. Does a Shibata have the same definition as a microline? I suppose if you are sensitive to high frequencies, you may be able to tell the difference. Some have said microlines are overly bright and even harsh in some instances.Log in or Sign up. Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Dismiss Notice We are making some updates and reconfigurations to our server. Apologies for any downtime or slow forum loading now or within the next week or so.
Styli: Elliptical, Conical, Microline, Shibata? What's the difference? Location: Los Angeles, CA. I'm sure this has been covered here somewhere before, but someone please enlighten me: What are the differences in sound and performance between elliptical, conical, microline, and shibata styli?Bafang controller programming
And what makes them "nude"? Heckto35 likes this. Location: sweet VA. This simplified explanation may help. Stylus Profile. This is the shape of the diamond as it contacts the groove. There are many different shapes and they are all borne of historical evolution. It is the least resolving since it cannot trace the highest frequencies in the inner grooves.
The Best Turntable Cartridges to Complete Your Set-Up
It will wear faster and will cause damage to the highest frequencies in the inner grooves. This stylus is incompatible with modern day high fidelity and the preservation of vinyl. This shape was developed to reduce inner groove distortion and extend the frequency response. It is the highest resolving stylus design. And since it distributes the force along a line it exhibits less groove wear and longer stylus life. If there is a downside, it is that with worn records, this stylus will read more of the record wear.
For your worn records, you may want to have an elliptical or even a sphercal stylus for them. Tracking Force -The lighter the tracking force, the less groove wear. This would seem obvious but there are limits. Too light and small amounts of dust will interfere with tracking and cause distortion. And that distortion can cause groove damage.
In my experience 1. Modern vinyl should not be played at forces exceeding 2 grams to maintain good preservation. Cartridges that track over 2 grams will prematurely wear out your records. Slick WillieMar 13, There are MANY hight quality carts that track at 2 grams and higher.LOG IN. In my experiences, it seems that elliptical shaped stylus track better and pretty much have the same amount of detail that a line contact has, maybe a little less.
The difference, again in my experience is that the line contact needs to be set up perfectly for good performance. How many of us are experts at setup. Cartridge manufacturers, Why not just use elliptical shape and give everybody a break?Dire Straits - Six Blade Knife - MFSL - 45 rpm 2 LP - Vinyl - MoFi
Elliptical are not as finicky to setup. I think they pickup more surface noise though. I have an elliptical stylus and it is dead quiet, tracks amazing on older records. It just seems as though it gives better performance. Line contact is a pita to set up and tracks terrible on old records, but if your records are in very god condition, you will be rewarded. But the more importnat is the whole combination bonded or nude, cantilever materials and actual generator of the cartridge.
But because of their lower mass, nude styli track more accurately. Also, since our nude styli are grain-oriented, with their longest-wearing faces touching the record surface, they last longer. Hyperelliptical also known as SHIBATA, discrete-4, fine line, or stereohedron styli take the elliptical design further for greater contact with the record. When properly aligned, hyperelliptical styli offer fantastic high-frequency performance, longer tip life, improved tracking, and low record wear.
Stylus Shape Information
They are, however, harder to manufacture than elliptical styli, and therefore expensive. The Shibata stylus is a type of LineContact stylus that is most often used on more expensive cartridges nowadays.
These are small and narrow styli that ride deeper in the groove than either conical or elliptical profiles. Theoretically, they should be less susceptible to surface noise since they track deeper in the groove and below most surface imperfections and better able to extract information from the groove. Now called surround sound, back in the 70's called Quadraphonics.
Method of delivering 4-channel sound to the home via the vinyl record format was labeled as a Discrete-4 format. It was later learned that a special stylus was also needed to play back Discrete-4 recordings.Jeff the killer creepypasta
The shape of an elliptical stylus did not allow all the tiny modulations in the grooves to be read and allowed dirt and grim to collect in the grooves and hide the subcarrier signal. The most advanced stylus shape created back in the 70's was called the "Shabata". The Shibata shape distinguishes itself by having the necessary small contact surface at the horizontal level for playback of the ultra-high frequencies found on CD-4 records.
At the vertical level, the special shape of the stylus gives a wider contact surface than is the case with either spherical or elliptical styli. This means that a Shibata shaped stylus, in spite of its high frequency capabilities, gives less record wear than the traditional stylus shapes. A "Microline" or "LineContact" stylus currently available will also do the job. Those styli also superior for normal stereo records and that's why they are not cheap today.
I use Feickert protractor to set up my gear. The advanced profiles are clearly better than elliptical and anyone can hear it.
The advanced styli will read the musical information in the grooves of a record with a greater degree of accuracy than any other kind of needle! Why would a cartridge manufacturer do that? There are many that do not have a problem setting up a cartridge correctly! I do not think my set up skills are that bad, I just think certain stylus profile do no track certain records very well.
The shibata looks interesting.
Like I said, if i have a perfect record, made perfectly, the micro ridge sounds wonderful. That is not reality.LOG IN. These two seem too confusing to me. To me obviously the music quality matters. However, I also give a lot of importance to how durable one stylus over the other one is AND very importantly, which one is easier less finnicky to set up. Also, it is important that the stylus does not degrade the vinyl excessively.Prestige juicer jar
Anyone can easily make a perfect alignment of Shibata or MicroLine if you have a decent protractor like Dr. What do you use? Look here. You can use MicroLine longer than Shibata. But Shibata is also a great profile, why not just use both?
Anyway it depends on your system capabilities to reproduce nuances. I have cartridges with all those profiles, i would be happy to avoid elliptical and i don't use conical for sure. If you have Shibata then life is good, MicroLine is even better. I have five different stylus profiles including those two and I am not sure how much they affect the performance of any individual cartridge.
These are all great cartridges in their own right and all a little different. Their tracking ability is a little different but I am not sure how much the stylus profile affects this either.
You would have to put these styluses on exactly the same cartridge to figure this out. Thanks to everyone who responded. I have a Linn Sondek with the Audiomods arm.
Altho it is a great arm, it does not have an azimuth adjustment since the headshell is fixed Rega head. Sondek itself is a bit funnicky anway in trying to get the armboard exactly parallel in all directions with the plinth.
That is why I was open to styli which are not too sensitive to setting up. I've had both and I always seem to prefer the shibata. I like the presentation better. The shibata will be a little less friendly to surface noise in my experience. You just need a proper protractor.
Those carts are giant killers! It is a bit strange that you need somebody else to tell you which stylus profile is better. My thoughts exactly chakster.The Pickering-Stanton group made much of their elliptical styli being better able to trace the asymmetrical shape of the LP stereo groove than rival conical styli and introduced their proprietary term Traceability.
Stylus profiles used to be extensively discussed when a vinyl replay system was an essential component of every aspirant couple's first home. Your Old Scribe still has a paper copy of a useful article explaining stylus tips in Hi-Fi Snooz back in the day when it still mixed in some technical erudition among its audio consumerism. Fortunately, the article has been scanned and uploaded here. In the days when moving magnet and moving iron cartridges, with interchangeable styli, dominated the mass market, stylus profile and tracking force were the primary differences between models in any manufacturers range.
Such was this a dominant hegemony that your Old Scribe remembers being surprised when Shure introduced the M95 range above the M75 range, with exactly the same range and alphabetical designations as the existing M75ED elliptical 0. Audition proved the M95 models to be superior, adding additional audiophile paranoia, within one range, to questions about whether a better generator body with a cheaper tip was superior to the cheaper generator body with a superior stylus.
Audio Technica have managed, over the years to create a bewildering range of superficially similar moving magnet cartridges, with overlaps in price. Fortunately they have recently streamlined the best features of many of these into three ranges. The three ranges differ from each other by mechanical and generator quality and may host the full range of stylus profiles on largely similar cantilever-suspension systems below the top models.
This is an aftermarket stylus upgrade for the popular AT 95E. Two other experienced listeners were present. Rarely does a range of cartridges offer the opportunity to change only one cluster of variables, so this band of brother audiophiles were keen to conduct comparisons. After this review was written, long after the audition, we find Audio Technica explain the VM range of styli thus: "The Series family of cartridges is the entry-level series and consists of four models, all of which feature an aluminum cantilever, centre shield plate between the left and right channels to reduce crosstalk, and a durable low-resonance polymer housing.
The VMCB uses a 0. Conical-shaped styli are the easiest to make and therefore are typically lower in cost.
Styli: Elliptical, Conical, Microline, Shibata? What's the difference?
They are durable and long-wearing, but cannot provide the same level of fidelity compared to a more elaborate-shaped design.
For example, the VMEB, which uses a bonded elliptical-shaped tip, boasts greater channel separation, extended high-frequency response and improved transient response. The VMEN nude-mounts the same elliptical tip the tip and shank of nude styli are made from a single piece of diamondtaking the performance up a notch from the EB, with even greater high-frequency extension, improved transient response and clarity.
The uses our popular MicroLine stylus, typically found only on more costly models. The stylus is nude-mounted using a square shank for precise alignment to the cantilever. The MicroLine stylus traces the record groove with remarkable accuracy, resulting in nuanced audio reproduction, greater channel separation and low distortion levels that elliptical and conical styli simply cannot match.
These were particularly popular among the Flat-Earth fraternity well there are few sororities in the genus audiophiliathe most notable example being the Linn K9 which was named after Dr Who's dog's head, with a similar shape.Jeffersonian institute logo
There were also variations from other manufacturers on Nagoaka and Grado models among others. The argument was that the mechanical closed loop between turntable platter and hence LP surface and stylus cantilever was more cost effective than the same budget allocated to tip quality, which was the dominant narrative until then. This, the then Flat Earthmanufacturers argued, had more effect on Rhythm, bass and pace than other factors. Audio Technica tackle this in-house by offering the VM range with its superior mechanical characteristics.
Remember Linn K9 was a beefed up body on an AT95E mechanical integrity more important than stylus profile and polish in the context of a Linn front end. They argued that an Ittock carrying a K9 would sound better than a basic plus carrying a Karma.
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