Gluing styli to MM carts -- ??? for Dice45

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I was reading your adventures in gluing the stylus assemblies to the cartridge body (filling the gaps and thus killing resonances) at AA and had some questions:

1) Did you try using any glues less permanent than epoxy? I was thinking that a "white" glue could allow the stylus to be carefully removed again (although my slow labor would probably cost more than a new cart).

2) You stated that the gluing procedure made the MM carts sound extremely alike. Did this observation hold for variations in stylus types, or were you only working with a specific shape?
Hello Lonestar,

welcome! is this the Lonestar i know from another forum? :)

I am struggling to get a digital camera and when i have it, i intend to glue a cartridge and have a buddy take pixes and i will put those pixes on my website.

to your 1st Q,
yes, i did. But i stuck to permanent glues, intending to keep the cantilever plug-in as rigidly integrated into the cartridge body.
I tried superglue, but i ran out of open time 2 times :( . I tried silcone glue remaining a bit soft, but the sonic results were not as satisfying as with epoxy.
Finally, i was happy with the open time of nearly 2 hours the my epoxy gave me. This epoxy (Araldit AW 109 from CibaGeigy) is a highly viscous fluid (i never would use a putty epoxy; apart from the ugly look, it does ot creep as well into cavities). So i could do the cartridgde glueing without stress and observe the glue slowly settling in all cavities, i could plugout and plugin the stylus unit to make the glue flow where i wanted it. I used up the rest for coating the cartridge body whereever it could dampen partial resonances. As the epoxy's consistency is fluid, one gets glossy surfaces finally. Looks neat.

Believe me, there is no reasonable reason to remove the stylus after the glueing is done and the cartridges is mounted into the tonearm and the 1st music spun. Because you don't wanna remove it. You wanna listen to this music. The only reason to remove the stylus is because it is worn.

For replacing the stylus plugin you pay about 60 to 75% of a new cartridge's retail price. But as MM cartridges are not costing much money, and even a Shure V15V costs ridiculously low money when you compare the sound achieved by the glueing with the sound of a top-notch MC cartridge: the glued MM reaches if not outperforms the $$ MC cartridge's musicality and integral sound, it excels in reproducing female voice (hard job even for the best MCs) and it almost reaches the $$ MC's transient impact, µdynamics, detail resolution and tone colour saturation.

So: if you did the glueing yourself (and settle your own labour at zero$ in true DIY spirit), you get a terrific bang for the buck. But it is atleast 4 if 6 hours of work to do it properly and with all due preparations.

One thing, AudioTechnica MM cartrigdes are dangerous to glue, due to their different stylus unit construction. Not what i would recommend as 1st try, as beginner's job, but e.g an AT440 ML is very promising for the advanced cartridge gluer:) . The glue must never contaminate the cantilever's rubber suspension and even this happens easily with AT cartridges.

To your 2nd Q,
yes, different MM cartridges sounded extremely alike. But not in the way of a common basic coloration, rather in the lack of such (as it should be). Of course there were differences due to different stylus shapes, cantilever materials, moving masses, but differences were comparatively minute compared to the improvement towards transient impact, µdynamics, detail resolution, tone colour saturation and tone colur distinctability caused by the glueing.

I know this is no proof, just circumstancial evidence, but i would guess that 90 -95% of an MM phono cartridge's coloration and sonic flaws is due to cartridge body resonances and relative movements between cantilever plug-in (stylus unit) and cartridge body.

In the $$ MC world, there is a strong tendency toward the naked body MC. BluePointSpecial, Lyra Clavis and Helikon, vdHul Grasshopper and Kolibri, Scheu-Benz, Roksan "Shiraz" (a fancy EMT variant), just to name a few. Other manufacturers like Koetsu use fancy rare woods and/or metal/resin compounds to get over body resonances or (like the SumikoVirtuoso Talisman DTI and again the Shiraz, they use tetraedric body shapes and absence of parallel surfaces to cope with the problem. So I would guess the cartridge body is a core issue for $$ MC manufacturers not only because of luxury appearance, mainly because of sonics.

Ah the good old days. I used to use Duro gray 5 minute epoxy. I used to file a corner off Stanton cartridges and put a plastic part of a ball point pen where the stylus suspension tube went in, and fill the cartridge body with polyester casting resin. You could tap on the cartridge body and not hear the coils go TWANG! I just read about a guy potting electric guitar pickup for the same reason. After it set, I would remove the plastic tube and epoxy the stylus assembly. The Grado cartridges used to mount the stylus with some black goo. Once you changed the stylus you ever got the seal of the original stylus to body. I think Grado used dental cement on the coils in the old days. I have the drivers in my Grado RS-3 headphones gasketed with Green florist clay. Big improvement.

Oops, forgot, folks,

i hereby excude Grado cartridges from my glueing recoomendations.

they are high output but no MM cartridges
their body construction is sufficiently dampened
the black goo prevents the epoxy from sticking and i would not recommend removing this goo.
I must defer to your knowledge and experience Bernhard, but I can think of one legitimate reason to not permanently fix the stylus to the cartridge. Admittedly, it may not be an issue for everyone, but it is for me.

I periodically check my stylus under the microscope. I cannot forgo thorough inspection of the stylus by this means. Although I can clean between plays using a magnifier and mirror, I need to see that little thing up close sometimes.

Of course, I understand your point, and I am sure the dampened resonance resulting from the gluing will result in the substantial improvements you describe. Maybe I can devise an armature to allow me to view by scope the stylus/cartridge on the tonearm.

On another topic, you mentioned depth of focus problems at 100x with your scope. This is not often a problem at 100x, unless perhaps you are using a 20x eyepiece. A friend (an optical engineer from Moscow) has put together a new scope and I've made a fancy armature that swings easily over the record while on the cleaning platter. I use a 4x and 10x objective without problem though I need to get a decent cool light source.

Look forward to your pics Bernhard.
I've only done the gluing thing once, to an inexpensive cartridge - a Stanton or Pickering maybe? - and it made a nice improvement in the overall focus and musicality. I used epoxy.

While we are on the subject, I have a Grado that has had the stylus in & out a few times, and the quantity of black goo is somewhat diminished. What should I use to replace it? I think I hear a little midbass resonance with this cartridge and I want to find out if this is the cause.

V15 vs M97


Have you ever had the opportunity to compare these two carts, either glued or unglued? I need a new cart and am wondering whether the V15 is worth 3 times the money over the 97. My gut hunch is that they use similar generators and are different in the cantilever material and stylus profiles mainly. The lower cost of the M97 makes it a more attractive proposition to experiment

My experience with the big $$$ MC carts is that they fail to shine for me, yet they seem to be the almost universal recommendation. My other cart is a Denon 103D (1978) which is sounding like it needs replacement after spending most of it's life in storage (suspension going?).


no, have to admit, never had the opportunity to long-term listen to either of them unmodded. The M97 is white map to me, butu will find others having extended exerienece with the M97. All i know is that it is the Shure workhorse and still in production whereas most MM cartridges and their manufacturers have vanished (this being the case, it is probable i acquire one in the near future for try-out).

So there must still be considerable demand for this cart whic i see as a high praise.

I have listened shortly to a V15-V unmodded, boring and undynamic, but i didn't know the system, listening was too short to tell anything..

But i do have experinece with a glued V15-III i had in my system for 9 months (i intended to try it out for one day or so). It already was used when i glued it, thoroghly broken-in :). I liked it so much in its sonic entirety that i played it to death.

And i have about six-hours listening exerience with a glued V15-V, same magic, 2nd best resolution of an MM cart (best i ever had was a glued AT 180ML). However, it had too much treble.

The V15 series were the top segment of Shure and TME unequalled in bench performance. Channel separation was better than other MMs and almost approaching MC level (as always was the case with AudioTechnica MMs), lewset tracking force on the market, very high complicance, unequalled tracking ability. But rumours had it they sounded boring.
The V15-V was thrown in the market as a competitor for MCs of that period and most of those had way too much treble. So the V15-V had to have added sparkle.

The cartridge i am looking after is a NOS sample of the V15-IV, it was flat like a ruler and IMO the best Shure MM cartridge ever made. Make that two samples; i would glue an N78 stylus in the second one for shellac reproduction.

Arms: the V15 series require an ultra light-weight tonearm, (SME3009-III for instance).

Your hunch concerning the generator system could be right, but the generator housings are definitely different, TMK u cannot use the one's stylus/cantilever plug-in for the other.

As i mentioned above, the plug-ins of V15 and M78 are interchangeable, you can turn the unglued V15 into a shellac cartridge by trading plug-ins.

$$$ MCs: There is an awful lot of MCs out there sounding like a welding torch. Get listening experience with one or two of the right-sounding ones, those which backup the fancy rep. Consider, many posters in the big forums yapyap on stuff they have never listened to.
Get a listen with a well-adjusted Lyra Clavis, Koetsu Red Sign. or Urushi, Ortofon Rohmann, Aellaerts, vdHul Kolibri or Grasshopper.

Denon suspensions do not get weak that fast. They should make ten years on the shelf. But in case best-before date is over, try to apply a tiny drop of glycerine on the suspension rubber. Should revive it.
Denon DL103: ultra low compliance (5mN/µm). So you need a heavy arm. not only heavy, also stiff. An SME 3009R will do, but u have to blu-tack coins on the headshell until vertical tonearm resonance of about 10Hz is reached. A FR64S will do mighty fine. A Zeta. Such stuff.

The DL103 is still in production and compared to its sonics, it is dirt-cheap. See my contributions to the Mayware thread, it is possible to DIY a super-heavy unipivot for the DL103. Due to its low compliance, it will happily cooperate with agricultural-maching-style DIYed tonearms most cartridges would die in within hours
Ready, steady, go! )
Hi Bernhard,

Thanks for the reply. Very helpful. I'd planned to reply sooner, when I'd made a decision, but one thing led to another and I forgot. With the best prices I can get for the V15 and M97, I've decided to get the M97 for now (1/3 cost of V15). I have a Mission 774 arm just sitting in a box, so I'll order a new armboard from Michell (I think it's an SME mount) and put it on the Gyro as arm #2 for the Shure. It should be compatible.

As for my comment about the V15 and M97 having similar generators, I was hypothesising that if they are similar, there should be a similarity in 'family sound'. Shure would have the economies of scale stuff down by now, so it wouldn't surprise me to find they are basically the same cart with differences noted before. BTW, I found some posts on AA saying both stylus assemblies are interchangable.

The Denon is going in a nice solid arm with good bearings: SAEC 407/23 with the ceramic shell. It managed well with a Decca, so the Denon should be a yawn.
I'll try your suggestion of glycerine to loosen the suspension. Heaven knows what my brother would say. Personal lubricant on my cart; he thinks I'm too fetishistic about the stereo now. :D If that doesn't work, I'll order another from phonophono, but they only have the black conical stylus 103C.

The really expensive carts don't interest me much as all the Clearaudio's, Koetsu's, Grado's etc I've heard didn't impress me. None were as good as my Decca Garrott. The others you've mentioned, are a lot of money for me to risk on a 'blind purchase'. A Koetsu Urushi is about $A8000, more than I paid for my bike! I live in a rural area so I have no chance at all of hearing them, and the dealers in Sydney and BrisVegas I've tried, have little interest in analogue: I've seen very few TT's set-up. Big money for a cart, I'd spend on a new Decca Jubilee, an Ikeda or maybe a Shelter 501.



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the Denon DL103 is no yawn for any tonearm. It inserts so much mechanical stress into the arm that tinest dynamic instabilities are laid bare.

$$$ carts:
I was always fond of Koetsus, however the Urushi is the only one i would spent serious money on (i already did once).
The other Koetsus are extraordinarily pleasant, but not dynamic enough, to my taste and that's what MC carts are for.

the Jubilee would be the only Decca tolerated in my system as it is VERY dynamic and has the fancy detail resolution of all Deccas but it is not shaken all over by housing resonances which I dislike sonically.
I once heard a fantastic Decca Garrott but it was not as good as the Decca Jubilee. Housing resonances. A dream would be a Jubilee Garrott re-furbished. I guess R.L.Andreoli could provide this service if he has been bribed enuff.

no word from me without the presence of my lawyer. :mad:

Ortofon Rohmann:
can be obtained cheap compared to other top-notch MCs. Although its construction is completely different to the Koetsu Urushi, I call it the poor man's Urushi. A bargain, a magic one. Just music.

only if you get a good sample. Happens 1-2 out 5 times :( and then you have to claim warranty replacement. Exhausting.

sad to admit, but what you say i do not read the 1st time. However, i did not hear this about the more expensive Koetsus and not from outside the US.
I had several buddies who were happy with their Blacks or Black Goldline for years. Shelf life also was extraordinarily high.

But there must have been a real low-tone dealer or re-seller in the US who sold defective warranty claims as new stock. And 9 out of 10 Koetsus are from the "Black" line which are made for but not by Koetsu. If the OEM manufacturer die not take his task that serious, i can imagine both facts together are devastating for the reputation.

memyselfandi have only experience with the more expensive Koetsus and i never considered any of those i mounted any near to be flawed. But i expect it that way, if a manufacturer claims to stick to such high ethics, he better sticks with it. And TME they do.

Messieurs van den Hul and Suchy have a long way to reach that level of consistent quality. Hul atleast gerenously refunds in case and as often as needed. And he is able to create extraordinary phono cartridges.
With Suchy (the man behind clearaudio), there is no sort of ethics observable. But funnily this seems to be counteracted for the US by the high-tone guy who is distributor for clearaudio in the US. Quite inverse to the Koetsu situation in the US.
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