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Old 31st July 2012, 12:44 PM   #1
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Default Moving on from a Stanton 681?

My turntable still has the Stanton 681 cartridge I used in my days in FM radio. But I remember with fondness the clarity of the Grace cartridge I had before then. What would you replace the Stanton with?

Terry
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Old 31st July 2012, 04:06 PM   #2
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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To provide any sort of meaningful advice it would be helpful to know what arm** this cartridge is to be used on, the pre-amplifier it will be connected to, input and cable capacitances if you know them, and your budget..

** Things like effective mass, tracking force range, VTA adjustment range (if any), anti-skating, head shell in use, etc.
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Old 1st August 2012, 07:02 AM   #3
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Current turntable is a Technics SL-23, belt-driven, servo controlled with manual control of speed using strobe. (The manual control of speed was important for learning tunes by ear in the days before computers!) Original 220mm S-shaped arm, tracking force range 0-4gm, with an antiskating control calibrated against the tracking force. No apparent control of vertical tracking angle (other than by packing cartridge). Generic-looking aluminium headshell with overhang adjustment slots. Cartridge weight range given as 3-8.5gms. Cable hardwired to turntable end, but no info on capacitance other than the manual claims it is "low capacitance"

Currently connects to a Yamaha A 520 "Natural Sound" amplifier with switchable MC/MM input.

None of this is cast in stone however, so feel free to cast criticisms!

Terry
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Old 1st August 2012, 07:55 AM   #4
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I recently bought a Shure M97xe on eBay from the states. It was about AU$100 delivered. I use it to play second hand records on an old Denon DD to listen for condition before trusting them on the Rega/Ortofon.

It is a fairly viceless cartridge and seems quite unfussy about setup. Replacement stylii are readily available and inexpensive (relatively). It probably offers a similar general level of quality to your Stanton.

Incidentally, 681s are still available new. Google is your friend.

Otherwise, the Ortofon OM10/OM20 is readily available and is probably a bit more revealing than either of the US carts. If the arm can cope, Denon, Goldring and Ortofon have high output moving coils worth a look.

I am sure others will also nominate their favourites. Be aware though that some products are MUCH more expensive in Australia than in other countries, so the relative price/performance merits need to be looked at in context.

Another low cost favourite is the Denon DL160 - hope they are still around!

To get started, Check out:
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Happy grooving,

blakkvinyl
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Old 1st August 2012, 04:51 PM   #5
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Hi Terry,
I had an SL-23 way back in the 1970s, apparently that little servo motor is more durable than I suspected. This was the first belt drive TT I ever owned, and was quite decent at the price point.

Some of the reasonably priced Grados may be worth a look if they are not excessively expensive over there. I used Empire and Goldring MMs on mine, but have absolutely no recollection of what models I used after all these years..

The above recommendations for an OM10/20 or DL-160 seem like good ones to me. I'd add the Nagaoka MP110 to the list.

The 681 to me seemed pretty mediocre in several incarnations I have heard (or owned)..
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Old 2nd August 2012, 04:09 AM   #6
bgruhn is offline bgruhn  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinkr View Post
Hi Terry,
I had an SL-23 way back in the 1970s, apparently that little servo motor is more durable than I suspected. This was the first belt drive TT I ever owned, and was quite decent at the price point.

Some of the reasonably priced Grados may be worth a look if they are not excessively expensive over there. I used Empire and Goldring MMs on mine, but have absolutely no recollection of what models I used after all these years..

The above recommendations for an OM10/20 or DL-160 seem like good ones to me. I'd add the Nagaoka MP110 to the list.

The 681 to me seemed pretty mediocre in several incarnations I have heard (or owned)..
Hi Kevin and Terry,
I hope I,m not hijacking your thread. I have a question for Kevin. I,m listening to Pierre Rampal playing the jazz concerto for flute and piano right now and very pleased with the sound coming from an old Empire 2000 E-111. I've been fighting with a bunch of Audio Technicas all having highly suspect stylii and giving much grief with groove skipping on specks of dirt and wear. My arm is a homebrew Cantus 3 linear tracker. Last night I dug out the Empire (from an estate sale) with a bent cantilever which with much care straightened up rather well. To my amazement it tracks all the problem records perfectly. My question to Kevin is, how did you find the Empire cartridges when you were using them? I think I've answered that for myself but I need more time with it and possibly a new stylus. It is doing a great job this instant reproducing Rampal's windy rough tone on an alto (bass?) flute. His C concert flute is magnificent. Terry, I really enjoy following your posts on the flute makers forum If you can find an Empire 2000 E-111 on ebay I think you will like it a lot, it won't break the bank and it beats the 681 by a country mile.

BillG
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Old 2nd August 2012, 04:32 AM   #7
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Thanks for that, BillG, and no concern at all about hijacking the thread. I'm glad to hear negative comments about the 681, both from you and Kevin. I have nothing else to compare it with here, but my instinct and memory suggest it's very ordinary. Not surprising - it has to have been made tough to survive in broadcasting, and "tough" doesn't normally suggest nuanced! So I'm very pleased to hear from people who do have or have had access to a few decent cartridges as to what they think are sensible ways to proceed.

Terry
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Old 2nd August 2012, 04:55 PM   #8
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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@ Bill
IIRC I had an Empire 2000E III on that table and liked it quite a lot at the time, but this is way over 30yrs ago and way before I started designing high res tube audio gear. They were alleged to have been quite bright, but given the sorts of speakers and soft sounding HK Award series tube amplification I had in those days I'm not sure I would have noticed. These days I'm rather partial to modern production SPUs and high mass arms on antique tables like the TD124.

I think a low end Nagaoka like the MP100, or Denon DL-160 would run circles around most of these vintage MM cartridges, so probably would something like the Grado Blue 1. The old Pickering, Stanton, and Empire cartridges IMVVLE just don't fare that well compared to good modern cartridges.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 05:03 PM   #9
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Terry, yes I agree. I have inherited several 681variants over the years and found them relatively boring/ordinary to listen to. Resolution is not one of their strong suits. I gave away a very early 681 last year when I had my latest "cartridge purge."

I was also not very thrilled during my brief "affliction" with a Pickering 380 flux valve either which some people revere, not sure exactly why.. Noisy and the highs were pretty rolled off, rather high tracking force even for this SPU lover. This is the one with the "Rooster" stylus. It sure looked cool though.. Gave it to a friend who would appreciate it..
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Old 2nd August 2012, 05:08 PM   #10
6L6 is offline 6L6  United States
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The demon DL-160 is almost impossible to find anymore, but I can report that the current production DL-110 cartridges are quite nice. A very fine cart that does a fantastic job.
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