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Old 11th February 2011, 10:37 PM   #1
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Default Anyone Into Vintage Cartridges?

Just bought a Stanton 380 Fluxvalve magnetic stereo cartridge. I would guess it to be somewhere in the vicinity of 50yrs old. These are massively heavy cartridges which track at 3gms and above. (Range 3 - 7gms!) Mine is installed somewhat uncomfortably in my SME 3009 Series II arm as a lark. The stylus is ancient. I'm tracking it at 4gms. Set up is tricky because it apparently needs an angled headshell or an arm that has a wider range of VTA setting than my arm. Despite this it is playing.. Not trusting it to my good records. It should work fine in my Schick (not here yet) as an alternative to the ZU when I want that "mellow vintage sound"

Performance is better than I expected. It's big, very energetic, and powerul. Midrange is pretty lush and warm.. Highs are present, but subdued. There is a little air here and there. Imaging is ok, soundstage mediocre with little depth at all. There is undoubtedly some significant mid bass bloat as well. It's not the most detailed cartridge seeming not to go very far back into the soundstage, but nothing is obviously missing either. There might be more resolution here than is immediately apparent.

Stylus geometry results in a remarkable amount of tracing noise.. It also does a phenomenal job of reproducing cutter rumble - it is very audible when present.

Overall it is a strangely comfortable and undemanding sort of sound. Not analytical, but sort of organic in an oddly limited way.

Obviously there are other interesting cartridges like the Shure M3D, M7D, etc. Wondering if anyone else is playing around with ancient cartridges, and we all known (hopefully) that the vintage Ortofon SPU is in another league.

Obviously I am planning on eventually acquiring an SPU to use with the Schick. A friend has recently introduced me to the joys of collecting vintage cartridges. Fun!
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Last edited by kevinkr; 11th February 2011 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 11th February 2011, 11:14 PM   #2
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I should mention that my ZU/Denon DL-103 is considerably better having just switched back. The DL-103 of course is relatively contemporary to the Fluxvalve I mentioned in my last post..

Mine is less than a year old, but the DL-103 has been in continuous production more or less unchanged since 1962..
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Old 11th February 2011, 11:22 PM   #3
SY is offline SY  United States
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Well, you know that I'm using an antique!
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Old 11th February 2011, 11:31 PM   #4
jmsent is offline jmsent  United States
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I guess the question I would have is whether you're hearing the cartridge the way it was originally intended to sound. Back in my vinyl days I always found that cartridges would "go south" after a certain period of time, even when the styluses hadn't accumulated a lot of hours. I was under the impression that suspensions tended to go off and this was the cause of the problem. Now, if you're talking about a 50 yr old cartridge, I have to question whether the rubber suspension components are still any good at all or whether everything has hardened to the point where the damping is way off from where it was originally. As for the popularity of the old Shures like the M3 or M7, I have to confess I don't get it. I still remember my move from my M3D to the then new M91ED and ultimately the V15 II. The later cartridges were night and day better, especially in tracking ability.
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Old 11th February 2011, 11:32 PM   #5
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I used to use record turntables on a disco in the 1980's.
I f i remember correctly they were BSF turntables with ceramic cartridges.
The two turntablkes fitted inside a cabinet supplied by Maplin.
The pre amps were a Maplin kit too along with the 225WRMS amplifier.
Finished off with 4 off 50watt Fane speakers.

It used to be fun if the floor wasnt very steady, had to use 2p on the cartridge head to get them to track OK.
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Old 11th February 2011, 11:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmsent View Post
I guess the question I would have is whether you're hearing the cartridge the way it was originally intended to sound. Back in my vinyl days I always found that cartridges would "go south" after a certain period of time, even when the styluses hadn't accumulated a lot of hours. I was under the impression that suspensions tended to go off and this was the cause of the problem. Now, if you're talking about a 50 yr old cartridge, I have to question whether the rubber suspension components are still any good at all or whether everything has hardened to the point where the damping is way off from where it was originally. As for the popularity of the old Shures like the M3 or M7, I have to confess I don't get it. I still remember my move from my M3D to the then new M91ED and ultimately the V15 II. The later cartridges were night and day better, especially in tracking ability.
I plan to get a new stylus for the Fluxvalve as oddly someone in Japan is still making replacement styli for these cartridges. I figure that some of the performance issues I heard might be ameliorated with a new stylus. My experience back in the day closely parallels yours. I figure the rubber must have hardened in the current stylus as it is of indeterminate age, and it looks quite old, possibly original. It works however and better than I expected probably because of the obscene tracking force it was designed for. It's compliance is even lower than the Denon which is significant.

The design of the cartridge body makes it quite hard to use on arms like the SME which does not have sufficient VTA/arm height adjustment range to accommodate the odd offset of the body against the head shell.. With insufficient care in set up the rear lower end of the cartridge can hit the record surface..

I too had an M3D I inherited in the early 1970s from my Dad when I bought him a Dual table to replace his old Garrard. I was a teenager at the time and quickly replaced it with a new Shure, and later a Goldring which was even better. I have to admit the M3D sounded very good at the time and I am not sure with a new stylus installed that replacement Shure even matched it, but it was new and hence had to be better. So out it went. The Japanese revere this cartridge which now gets my attention since I have what is quintessentially a system using many of the same pieces the Japanese chase fervently. Asian friends have commented on this.. I do like resolution and probably have a system using many of the same odds and ends but ends up sounding not at all similar.. Still...

So I pay attention. I'm actually going to acquire an M3D at some point.
I have a later Stanton which while over 40 seems nothing special, it doesn't have the energy or verve of that early Fluxcalve..

The Zu/Denon though wins hands down. It is less forgiving and much more resolving, and much more neutral. I hope the eventual Soundsmith retip is actually an improvement. The others I have are toys to trot out for fun, for serious listening the Denon is top choice.
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Old 11th February 2011, 11:53 PM   #7
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nigelwright7557 View Post
I used to use record turntables on a disco in the 1980's.
I f i remember correctly they were BSF turntables with ceramic cartridges.
The two turntablkes fitted inside a cabinet supplied by Maplin.
The pre amps were a Maplin kit too along with the 225WRMS amplifier.
Finished off with 4 off 50watt Fane speakers.

It used to be fun if the floor wasnt very steady, had to use 2p on the cartridge head to get them to track OK.

Funny growing up overseas I might even have seen one of these set ups..
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Old 12th February 2011, 12:12 AM   #8
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Well, you know that I'm using an antique!
I keep thinking i should pick up one of those and make a little power supply to run it. Doesn't Jico make a replacement stylus for the nameless one?
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Old 12th February 2011, 12:21 AM   #9
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Nope, unfortunately. The EPC100C-IV is an orphan. The 305MC I'm using is very nice, but...
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Old 12th February 2011, 12:28 AM   #10
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Nope, unfortunately. The EPC100C-IV is an orphan. The 305MC I'm using is very nice, but...
Ouch...
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