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  • Juha
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About testing a cartridge
I'm repairing an original needle for my Technics EPC-205CMK3 cartridge and was going to try few alternatives to replace the original (now damaged) damper material to find the best possible choice. My aim is to run some tests to help choose the final material. 
For testing, so far I have got one test LP (Vinyl Essentials) and have ordered another (Ultimate Analogue Test LP).

My test setup is:
Technics SL-Q2
Technics EPC-205CMK3 (now equipped with 205CMK2 stylus).
Pro-Ject phono pre-amp
EMU-0404USB

I'm in a learning process with this type of testing so suggestions regarding software (excl. recording software) and testing techniques are wellcome.

I did ran three tracking ability (40µ - 100µ) tests (using my current setup listed above) from test LP and recorded them.
Example 1st tracking ability test (files: 20s/FLAC 24/96/6.5MB each)): 40µ 50µ 60µ 70µ 80µ 90µ 100µ
By the test descriptions there should be 'buzzing' noise when the tracking ability limit is past. For my ears there isn't buzzing in any of those recordings (i.e. all three tracking ability tests was passed) but, ... Am I listening these 'by the book' ? Why I'm checking this is just because of, IIRC, cartridge I have wasn't among the best with tracking ability and now the stylus is even worse than the original (boron vs titanium cantilever).

  • DVDdoug
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Re: About testing a cartridge
Reply #1
Are you repairing the stylus assembly because you can't afford a new cartridge?  

I'd just buy a new cartridge...   Shure's best cartridge is under $100 and personally I wouldn't spend any more than that since it's a good cartridge and no matter how much you spend you're still stuck with analog-vinyl limitations.  

Quote
For my ears there isn't buzzing in any of those recordings (i.e. all three tracking ability tests was passed) but, ... Am I listening these 'by the book' ? Why I'm checking this is just because of, IIRC, cartridge I have wasn't among the best with tracking ability and now the stylus is even worse than the original (boron vs titanium cantilever).
If you can't hear any mistracking, why would you say it's worse?    

The original specs are irrelevant after you modify the stylus/cartridge.   I'd be surprised if you can really improve on the original design...   

From what I've read, mistracking can damage the record so the test may only be valid once.  :(

Quote
...and was going to try few alternatives to replace the original (now damaged) damper material to find the best possible choice.
Besides tracking, I'd check the frequency response.   And, you might want to check the channel balance and maybe compare the output level to another "known good" cartridge if you have one.

And of course, listen to some music to see how it sounds!


  • Juha
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: About testing a cartridge
Reply #2
Quote
Are you repairing the stylus assembly because you can't afford a new cartridge? 
I'd just buy a new cartridge...   Shure's best cartridge is under $100 and personally I wouldn't spend any more than that since it's a good cartridge and no matter how much you spend you're still stuck with analog-vinyl limitations.  

Why I'm repairing this stylus is just that it's almost unused (less than 50 hours). I bought this stylus around 1981 (actually whole cartridge because they hadn't plain stylus anymore at that time). I did try repair the original at that time but that failed. A new original stylus went out of markets in early 80's and the well known JICO did abandon this model (w/ boron cantilever) years ago.

I have stylus for both of my 205CMK3 carts and actually, I could buy an original but used stylus (for MK4) right away for less than 500€ but, as it is used --> condition is unknown.

What comes to the damping materials, my 205CMK3 was made around 1978. Here's some specs: http://www.vinylengine.com/images/forum/technics_epc-205.jpg and construction drawing http://i57.tinypic.com/4ki71h.png
They used some viscoelastic material other than butyl rubber (which was the commonly used damper material at that time) for the TTDD damper. AFAIK, new viscoelastic materials has been invented (and the old ones maybe been improved) after that. I'm going to try at least a) soborthane b) silicon based rubber c) butyl-rubber d) other (suggest)?
Quote
If you can't hear any mistracking, why would you say it's worse?    
I did find out that increasing down force improves tracking ability ... maybe I had set it too much for my recording (I have to buy an accurate electronic stylus balance). Worse comes from this fact: Boron vs titanium cantilever ... it's question 'bout effective moving mass 0.149mg vs 0.35mg, elasticity and frequency characteristics (higher mass -> emphasizes more upper frequencies).
  • Last Edit: 03 June, 2016, 03:03:35 AM by Juha

  • DVDdoug
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: About testing a cartridge
Reply #3
Quote
Boron vs titanium cantilever ... it's question 'bout effective moving mass 0.149mg vs 0.35mg, elasticity and frequency characteristics (higher mass -> emphasizes more upper frequencies).
I'm sure cartridges/styli with (relatively) flat frequency response have been made with a variety of materials.    Manufacturer's like to tout exotic materials or various construction techniques, but it really comes down to specs & performance.

  • Juha
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: About testing a cartridge
Reply #4
I'm sure cartridges/styli with (relatively) flat frequency response have been made with a variety of materials.    Manufacturer's like to tout exotic materials or various construction techniques, but it really comes down to specs & performance.

This is a good reason for my project.

  • SMen
  • [*]
Re: About testing a cartridge
Reply #5
I'm sure cartridges/styli with (relatively) flat frequency response have been made with a variety of materials.    Manufacturer's like to tout exotic materials or various construction techniques, but it really comes down to specs & performance.

This is a good reason for my project.
Quote
Are you repairing the stylus assembly because you can't afford a new cartridge? 
I'd just buy a new cartridge...  Shure's best cartridge is under $100 and personally I wouldn't spend any more than that since it's a good cartridge and no matter how much you spend you're still stuck with analog-vinyl limitations. 

Why I'm repairing this stylus is just that it's almost unused (less than 50 hours). I bought this stylus around 1981 (actually whole cartridge because they hadn't plain stylus anymore at that time). I did try repair the original at that time but that failed. A new original stylus went out of markets in early 80's and the well known JICO did abandon this model (w/ boron cantilever) years ago.

I have stylus for both of my 205CMK3 carts and actually, I could buy an original but used stylus (for MK4) right away for less than 500€ but, as it is used --> condition is unknown.

What comes to the damping materials, my 205CMK3 was made around 1978. Here's some specs: http://www.vinylengine.com/images/forum/technics_epc-205.jpg and construction drawing http://i57.tinypic.com/4ki71h.png
They used some viscoelastic material other than butyl rubber (which was the commonly used damper material at that time) for the TTDD damper. AFAIK, new viscoelastic materials has been invented (and the old ones maybe been improved) after that. I'm going to try at least a) soborthane b) silicon based rubber c) butyl-rubber d) other (suggest)?
Quote
If you can't hear any mistracking, why would you say it's worse?   
I did find out that increasing down force improves tracking ability ... maybe I had set it too much for my recording (I have to buy an accurate electronic stylus balance). Worse comes from this fact: Boron vs titanium cantilever ... it's question 'bout effective moving mass 0.149mg vs 0.35mg, elasticity and frequency characteristics (higher mass -> emphasizes more upper frequencies).
I just stumbled on this thread - the epc-205mk3 is a fantastic cartridge. Jico did not abandon this for their Jico - SAS. I bought one last year and love it. There is now a neo-SAS compatible with this. The original cantilever is totally worth keeping if you can, as you appear to be. I have had one repaired with a new damper (p-mount version) - it was not too expensive. Less than that new shure (which would benefit from a SAS imho). If you have not already found a solution please message me and I will happily send you details.

You must have some relevant talents mind you to be thinking of doing this yourself ... but maybe the person who did this for me might recommend a damper.