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Mm cartridge: Shibata

Wharfedale Speakers

joysec

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With my limited knowledge and informations available over net, there are four varieties of MM cartriges namely Spherical, Elliptical, Naked elliptical and Shibata(Most expensive). Due to the shape and cutting of the diamond tip of Shibata stylus, its arguably the best among MM cartirdges since it is believed to access the maximum area of a vinyl groove. While Entry level Audio Technika Shibata(used) retails @200-400 usd, the Ortofone 2M Black retails @600-800usd. Nagaoka MP 500 @700 usd. Now my question is, In case of Listener of Indian music, Bollywood 80-90s, classical and modern basic albums, is it really worth? or with a morderate set up of TT, Amp, speakers (combined within 3-4 lacs) Does it make at all any sense to go for such pricy Shibata? How much qualitative difference one would get? Anybody having first hand experience may please shed some light..
 
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greenhorn

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you can get a Jico Shibata for much lesser.

Jico Shibata are available for 120 USD onwards

If you have the right cart, you can get a shibata for as less as 35 USD!
 

Fantastic

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A spherical stylus has a large round contact with the groove wall. Elliptical has a narrower contact and is in the vertical plane hence moving more accurately with the groove at high frequencies and reducing distortion. So better HF.

A nude elliptical is an elliptical stylus that consists of only the ( tiny) diamond tip glued to the carrier tube ( the cantilever). Cheaper stylii are ( small diamond tip) stuck to a a tiny holder which is then glued to the cantilever. This means less diamond ( not really a problem ) but more mass due to the interface and inferior HF performance. Basically on cheaper cartridges.

Shibata has a finer sharper contact making it's HF performance even better. It can also easily collect more dust from the grooves and might need more cleaning than an elliptical or hyperbolic stylus. All stylii need to be cleaned periodically to remove muck that gets trapped on the rear surface of the stylus.

About " there are four varieties of MM cartridges " . No , there are several varieties of "stylii " that can be used on a MM cartridge . Like you could get a spherical or elliptical or shibata or SAS type stylii for the same cartridge. Not all cartridges have a wide range of stylii available for them. Prices keep increasing rapidly from spherical to fine line SAS types.

If the original recorded quality isn't first class and if the pressings are on average vinyl ( older Indian albums) then an expensive Shibata or SAS may not be worth it. But if you have the money, why not ?
If you have pristine albums ( 200 gm ) and/or albums from specialized manufacturers like Mobile Fidelity etc, then the Shibata or SAS will certainly be worth it.

However do note that bass/mid quality isn't the same for all cartridges. Read up reviews before you plonk down good ( large sums of ) money. If you are confused, just get an elliptical/hyperelliptical stylus. Also remember the sound is also affected by the performance of the tone arm on which the cartridge is mounted ! Things get more involved as you try to improve the performance. You should know when to stop . Otherwise your empty pocket will force you to stop the improvements. Analog can end up being VERY expensive if you are not careful ! ;)
 

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greenhorn

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I have seen different types of MM carts based on their construction
Moving Magnet (single magnet - Shure etc)
Moving Magnet (Double magnet - Audio Technica etc)
Moving Iron (Ortofon VMS, Grado etc)
Induced Magnet (ADC )
.... (not sure if this is an exhaustive list)

Even for stylus shapes, there are other types like vividline, microline, hyperlliptical, stereohedron etc.

see if you can spot the difference between a conical and an elliptical. You kinda get an improvement in the same ballpark as you switch to finer styluses, but the upgrades keep getting much more expensive :D
 

jls001

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The more specialised a stylus profile, the more the need for careful setup. For example, hyper elliptical needs careful SRA/VTA adjustment to get the best out of it. If not optimised, some part of the audio spectrum will be recessed.
 

joysec

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A spherical stylus has a large round contact with the groove wall. Elliptical has a narrower contact and is in the vertical plane hence moving more accurately with the groove at high frequencies and reducing distortion. So better HF.

A nude elliptical is an elliptical stylus that consists of only the ( tiny) diamond tip glued to the carrier tube ( the cantilever). Cheaper stylii are ( small diamond tip) stuck to a a tiny holder which is then glued to the cantilever. This means less diamond ( not really a problem ) but more mass due to the interface and inferior HF performance. Basically on cheaper cartridges.

Shibata has a finer sharper contact making it's HF performance even better. It can also easily collect more dust from the grooves and might need more cleaning than an elliptical or hyperbolic stylus. All stylii need to be cleaned periodically to remove muck that gets trapped on the rear surface of the stylus.

About " there are four varieties of MM cartridges " . No , there are several varieties of "stylii " that can be used on a MM cartridge . Like you could get a spherical or elliptical or shibata or SAS type stylii for the same cartridge. Not all cartridges have a wide range of stylii available for them. Prices keep increasing rapidly from spherical to fine line SAS types.

If the original recorded quality isn't first class and if the pressings are on average vinyl ( older Indian albums) then an expensive Shibata or SAS may not be worth it. But if you have the money, why not ?
If you have pristine albums ( 200 gm ) and/or albums from specialized manufacturers like Mobile Fidelity etc, then the Shibata or SAS will certainly be worth it.

However do note that bass/mid quality isn't the same for all cartridges. Read up reviews before you plonk down good ( large sums of ) money. If you are confused, just get an elliptical/hyperelliptical stylus. Also remember the sound is also affected by the performance of the tone arm on which the cartridge is mounted ! Things get more involved as you try to improve the performance. You should know when to stop . Otherwise your empty pocket will force you to stop the improvements. Analog can end up being VERY expensive if you are not careful ! ;)
Thanks for your wonderful elaborative illustration! Yeh dil mange more...like what is the average lifespan of shibata, same as elliptical or shorter due to the fineness of the tip?
 

joysec

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Location
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you can get a Jico Shibata for much lesser.

Jico Shibata are available for 120 USD onwards

If you have the right cart, you can get a shibata for as less as 35 USD!
Thanks for your esteemed suggestion. Please let me know whether the spare slylii is available at ebay or other online portals.
 

Fantastic

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......what is the average lifespan of shibata, same as elliptical or shorter due to the fineness of the tip?
Typically stylii are supposed to last for +1000 hours with perfectly clean records. This isn't usually possible. After 500 hours you are expected to inspect the tip for wear. A badly worn tip can permanently damage the grooves making the disc noisier or distort with time. Some people simply change the stylus after 500 hours so that they never reach the stage where the stylus gets worn and starts damaging the records. But I have heard of a few people using their stylii for several years ( 20 to be exact ) before any wear was detected.

Cartridges with a cleaning brush on them ( like Shure MX97 etc.) should benefit as they do remove fine dust from the groove before the stylus gets to it. You also get stand alone slim 'arms' with a brush that you place on the album along with the tone arm. These clean the grooves before it is played by the stylus. Should be easy to make also. Can use fine bristles or a bit of carbon fiber from an antistatic brush.

Shibata and other fine line contact stylii have a narrower vertical contact section but usually have more overall contact surface area than the elliptical stylus. Hence it is easier on the groove and should last longer. For people who use vinyl a lot it is best to get a stylus inspection microscope ( 200X I think) which can show what's happening. Decreasing tracking force also increases life but if it's too low ( lower than recommended ) it can sometimes slap around the groove causing damage !
Since this topic came up I looked for the Shure microscope and found this:
http://cdn.shure.com/user_guide/upload/1506/us_pro_sek-2_ug.pdf

It also appears that a PC based USB 200X microscope starts from around Rs 2600/- onwards. No idea how good it is.

I have several cartridges and my daily average use of vinyl is very low. So my stylii will last me a lifetime !:)
However a nice microscope could come in handy for other uses also ! ;)

Most importantly clean your stylus with dilute isopropyl alcohol and a stylus brush EVERY time you play a side of an album. EVERY time ! There is no way out for this. If you want your albums and stylus to last as long as possible you will need to do this. You can also kill a perfectly good stylus in a second , if you are careless ! :eek:
Always brush from the tone arm body towards the stylus ONLY. Reversing the direction or doing it sideways could destroy the cantilever !

If you want to handle vinyl seriously you need kid gloves ! Maybe that's why it's more attractive than CD ? :D
 
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greenhorn

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Thanks for your esteemed suggestion. Please let me know whether the spare slylii is available at ebay or other online portals.
turntableneedles seems to have a jico shibata for the AT91 cart.

the cheapest shibata is the Pfanstiehl 614-DQ which is supposed to fit the sanyo ST-28D ( has multiple clones like my Excel es70E& Ronnette SM500E) but can be modded to fit a variety of carts ( shure, technics etc)
 
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