Linear Tracking

MarkWComer

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I use the Shure V15 III on my Dual 1229Q changer. Nice vintage cartidge.

View attachment 40284

Nando.
Test: “Unbroken Chain” from the Grateful Dead’s “Mars Hotel” has a section of sparkly high frequencies that the Shure V15/III reproduced flawlessly. I borrowed a 1229Q long ago that had that same cart- nearly every phono after that never sounded quite right. Even my Pioneer misses it (but came closest).
 
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Actually, I originally had the PL version of this ‘table back in 1985, I find it hard to remember what I didn’t have mounted on it! The Ortofon Concorde 30 looked the coolest (but that was when I had the accessory counterweight). Pickering V15/ATE-4 was nice and warm, but the conical point didn’t do well with HF in the inner grooves. I used that mainly for the 12” 45rpm singles.
I'm still using the original Yamaha MC705 [ AT 3100/3200 ] great cartridge except for the conical point, unfortunately no elliptical replacements for it either.
 
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I’ve been using an Audio Technica AT440MLa, but I’ve also had an Ortofon Super OM30 and a Shure M97xE.

The Ortofon was tricky to counterbalance due to the low mass, I had to make a different counterbalance with casting resin and lead pellets. The Shure had nice body to the sound, but seemed a little vague in the upper frequencies. The Audio Technica seems a bit on the bright side with regards to the mids and highs, but has a good punch in the bass.

Both the Ortofon and the A/T seem to be a good choice for this. When they were shipped, the PL-L1000 (PL 8000/II) came with two counterbalances to account for low mass carts, but since I bought it used, all the extras were missing.

I’d love to get my paws on a V15 Type III...
Yep the Shure V15 III still the ultimate IMHO. Too bad when one can be found they cost about the same as a turntable.
 
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I'm still in love with my Pioneer PL-L1000 (sold as the Phase Linear 8000 Series II in the USA). I don't know what I'm gonna do when something goes dead on the tracking system- and I know that eventually it will. It's amazing the prices they fetch when they show up on ebay, sometimes over $1000. As far a consumer turntables go, this was probably the most affordable and reliable LTTT you could get. I bought mine on ebay from a guy in Washington state for $92, listed as malfunctioning, and no one bid against me. The arm lift belt was stretched out of shape (achilles heel of this unit), one of the rails that the arm carriage rode on was loose, and the rear bearing roller was loose as well. Easy to fix mechanically, but things like arm return speed, end-of-record return trip, and stylus point setdown for play all require an oscilloscope to adjust.

I also had one of the Harman/Kardon LTTTs, the ST-8, and that sucker was the most finicky things I've ever screwed with. I liked the mechanical design- which seemed to be more dependable than using optically coupled sensors for tracking correction- but once I had the roller adjusted correctly on the H/K it would work for about a week, and then I would see that the carriage would either lead or lag the cart by a few degrees. The sucker just would not stay in adjustment for very long.

The H/K / Rabco series used a rotating cylinder at the bottom of the tonearm carriage, the cylinder was coupled to the turntable with a belt. A "tire" at the bottom of the tonearm carriage tracked the rotating cylinder and played a game of "catch-up" with the stylus point. All well and good given the pitch of the spiral of the groove on the recorded areas, but for those records that weren't recorded to within 3/4" of the eccentric groove, the mechanism couldn't catch up fast enough, pulling the stylus out of the lead-out, and you ended up hearing the matrix numbers in the deadwax being played through your speakers. Mechanically, it was good in theory, but in practice, way too finicky for the end user to continually adjust.

The platter being coupled to the tracking cylinder (in my experience) also lead to speed inaccuracy. You adjust the speed, see that the strobe markings are stationary, and a few minutes later the speed drifted.

The H/K tonearm was a travesty as well, the "headshell" was in fact the bulk of the tonearm, which prevented the user from quickly swapping out a cart. The screw holes were round so that when you mounted a cart you couldn't adjust overhang to zero with any precision (actually the only cart alignment necessary for LTTTs, other than VTA). This wouldn't be an issue if the cart manufacturers kept the centers of the mounting holes and the stylus tip at the same distance- but- they don't!

Edison's original was probably the best idea: a fixed groove pitch and a screw-driven tonearm!

So these are the only two LTTT designs I've used. Those air-bearing jobs by ClearAudio cost as much as a Harley Fat Boy. Perhaps one day I'll run across a Pioneer PL-L1 at a Goodwill store...
Looked up the PL-L1 at the Vintage Knob, whoa! what a beautiful table. If a guy had the balls and some knowledge it might be possible to re-create such a thing out of the PL-L1000 maybe. Dreams that will never be....

http://www.thevintageknob.org/pioneer-PL-L1.html
 
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Nice Mark, thanks for that. The Pioneer seems to tracks in to start a bit faster than my PX-3, I'll have to check that a little more. still would like to have the PL-L1000 as another option. Also did a bit more searching and found an elliptical stylus for my 705 actually two, a low output like the original and also a high output version. Any thoughts on you might have since you have much more experience than me on these things.
 

MarkWComer

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MarkWComer

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Victim of the record bug since age five
Also did a bit more searching and found an elliptical stylus for my 705 actually two, a low output like the original and also a high output version. Any thoughts on you might have since you have much more experience than me on these things.
I don’t understand what you mean by a high output/ low output version- isn’t it the same cart? Is one MM and the other MC? I never used an MC myself, expensive, low output, the stylus isn’t user replaceable, and higher tracking pressure. I know they’re supposed to be sonically superior, but to a degree that justifies the price?
 

MarkWComer

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Also did a bit more searching and found an elliptical stylus for my 705 actually two, a low output like the original and also a high output version. Any thoughts on you might have since you have much more experience than me on these things.
Okay- got it, had to look it up. The MC705 is a moving coil type, .3mv output. Read a review, biggest complaint was a spherical point on an MC cart- what the hell? Since this is also an ATechnica, they had the smarts to make an elliptical point on their model. The AT440MLa is a “micro line,” very small front to back radius, which seems to be something AT likes to put on their high end carts.

Maybe the difference between high/low output is the number of windings in those microscopic coils...

Hate to say this, but this isn’t something I’d buy.
 
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Sorry Mark, I should have clarified the differences on the carts, the AT 3100 is a low output design, the AT 3200 is the high output design, the stylus for them are interchangeable. Like you found the 705 output is .3mv as is the AT3100 same cart, and the AT3200 output is 2.0mv. A lot of difference but I don't get it either that the stylus could make up that difference, Deeper investigation will be happening.
 

MarkWComer

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Sorry Mark, I should have clarified the differences on the carts, the AT 3100 is a low output design, the AT 3200 is the high output design, the stylus for them are interchangeable. Like you found the 705 output is .3mv as is the AT3100 same cart, and the AT3200 output is 2.0mv. A lot of difference but I don't get it either that the stylus could make up that difference, Deeper investigation will be happening.
A MC cart with replaceable points is unusual... The cantilever is usually connected to the coil, and alignment to the magnets and the electrical contacts is usually why they’re not replaceable by the user. Odd...
 
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A MC cart with replaceable points is unusual... The cantilever is usually connected to the coil, and alignment to the magnets and the electrical contacts is usually why they’re not replaceable by the user. Odd...
As I pull my head out of the sand [ or elsewhere ] I wasn't aware of that fact until I started looking around for a cartridge and read that fact so that tells you how much I know. It is an interesting thing though so how do they do and why not other carts? Found another AT cart that has a permanent stylus but no ID on it, not sure where it came from but going to play with it tomorrow since we have a storm coming in. Still will be buying another stylus for the MC 705 probably too.
 
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Here's a couple of pics of the Yamaha MC-705 with the stylus, a small clip on the back of the stylus locks in in to the contact. It doesn't slide but pull straight down while pushing on the back end of the holder. Weird but it works. IMG_0402.JPG IMG_0403.JPG
 
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Found this among my stuff, think it came from my late brother's things. No marking other than AT, looks a lot like an AT91MM. Has a great point on it and it sounds very good, bright sound and fills in everywhere very well. Going to keep it on for awhile until I get the other stylus for the MC 705. I also found a new elliptical stylus for this one.

https://www.vinylengine.com/library/audio-technica/at91.shtml IMG_0405.JPG IMG_0406.JPG
 
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