The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by PerFlemming » 2019-09-19 21:38

Thanks Ron
I have considered the WM95 "E or "ML far too long with no decision as of yet, think I'll just order the "C

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-09-19 22:56

I can understand you deliberating over the more costly ML but you might as well just order both the C and E and be done with it :) What's that add up to - half a dozen new LPs, if you're lucky. Also, I'd be forever wondering how it would compare to the E.

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by PerFlemming » 2019-09-20 15:23

Your perfectly right Charlie,
I will of course order the "E stylus extra, too.

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Ron The Mon's Testimonial

Post by Ron The Mon » 2019-11-05 01:59

Øyvind I wrote:
2019-09-14 21:54
Ron The Mon wrote:
2019-09-13 03:04

The crazy thing is it sounds magical. The day I picked up my deck we did some comparisons. There was an LP12 running in a demo room into a very high-end system. The deck was Linn Lingo2/Cirkus/Kore/LP12/Ekos2/Adikt. This deck was $3k more than mine. The funny thing was I made Tom sit down and I did the demo. My less expensive LP12 blew it away; it was not subtle.
Thanks for an informative post. Your observation above has however nothing to do with the new AT range. It is purely down to source first. Radikal vs Lingo 2.
Øyvind,
Thanks for your comment and sorry for my delay in responding.

You are mostly correct. I have heard many cartridges and source-first comparisons over the years,... decades,.... my entire life...

...and the current AT-VM95 is a complete mind-screw. It is far better than you can imagine. Any "audiophile" should go out right now and buy one. If you are a real hi-fi fanatic, you need a backup cartridge anyway. If you are a real hi-fi fanatic, you will also have a moving magnet phono stage as a backup.

You will find the AT-VM95C outperforms 99.9% of all cartridges ever made. I have been experimenting with torques on everything in my hi-fi. An AT-VM95C outperforms a Linn K9 with any stylus on it when installed and torqued properly.

Back to source-first; yes, it is foremost. However, the divide is greatened by a superb product. In my opinion, most hi-fi is a complete rip-off. In my opinion, there should only be two phono cartridges sold on the market today; the AT-VM95 and the Linn Kandid. Explain to me why there are hundreds to choose from?

I will be posting listening comparisons here shortly. Properly torquing cartridges is quite important. So important that I sold my K9 and K5 bodies for over $300 and bought three Richmont Sturtevant CAL36/4s over the past month for less than $35 a piece. A used Richmont Sturtevant CAL36/4, AT-VM95E, and several AT-VMN95E styli will set you back less than $150! That is crazy money!!!

I am quite surprised no one challenged me on the dedicated mono cartridge thread here. I will be comparing those claims as well.

What I have learned this past year: The AT-VM95C (or E)(or EN) is the cat's meow. The Richmont Sturtevant CAL36/4 is a must-have for any audiophile. Tune-dem is king, meaning source-first rules, meaning vinyl is supreme.

The original Linn LV-X (and LV-X+) tonearm came with a freebee, the Linn Basik3 (Basik III) phono cartridge. This cartridge is being sold on online resale sites as a K9. It is not. Basik III, K5, and K9 are based on Audio Technica cartridges and none are as good as the current AT-VM95C for $34.

Avoid them.

The only exception is if you have a Linn K5 or K9 and need to pay a dealer for a set-up. In that case, buy just a current AT-VMN stylus and snap it in place; you will be quite pleased.

Ron the Mon

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-11-05 09:01

Hi Ron,
I have an SV torque driver. Do you have to remove the arm each time you check a new VM95 torque? Ordinarily, I let my dealer do all work on my LP12 but could be tempted to play with cartridge torques if it doesn't require removing the Ittok. But knowing me I'd cock up the alignment in the process or something, especially if the torques are quite low and bearing in mind it's only a two-point fixing. I just wonder if it's worth it - i.e. safer to leave it alone.

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To Torque or not to Torque...?

Post by Ron The Mon » 2019-11-05 18:10

Charlie1 wrote:
2019-11-05 09:01
I have an SV torque driver. Do you have to remove the arm each time you check a new VM95 torque? Ordinarily, I let my dealer do all work on my LP12 but could be tempted to play with cartridge torques if it doesn't require removing the Ittok.
If you have to ask, then you know this is beyond your skills; a man's got to know his limitations.

Which Ittok do you actually have? I seem to remember it being a "Made In Scotland" LV III. For decades Linn has always insisted on removing the arm to avoid damage to the bearings. When you sell that arm, you'll want the maximum price, which means keeping it unmolested. My personal view is I've never seen or heard of an Ittok or Ekos damaged by tightening the cartridge in the arm. Does anyone out there have any actual evidence? In most cases it makes sense to remove the arm as when changing most cartridges, often the cartridge tags are not in the same arrangement and the cartridges are different heights.

To be clear, I am using a Linn LV X tonearm with removable headshell. The LV X has a different bearing arrangement to an Ittok. I no longer remove the headshell as that torque is in the same range as the cartridge torque; if tightening the headshell screw doesn't hurt the bearings, neither should the cartridge screws.

In the case of swapping a K9 for an AT-VM95 body, they are the same and the AT has threaded inserts; it is a breeze to set-up and experiment with torques, though still time consuming. If you were thinking of experimenting with the K9, that is more difficult as you need to hold the nut while turning the screw. If your LP12 is in a tight spot like mine, you are just asking for trouble. If you experiment with the K9, be sure to also adjust the torque of the Phillips screw on top of the cartridge body. I found it sounds better at a lower torque than stock (at least on the one example I had). Same goes for the AT-95E body.

A warning I've never heard about the CAL36/4 is the "IN. LBS." and "N-m" markings are easy to mistake as the digits are similar numbers. I caught myself twice writing down the wrong setting. I threw out my older notes as I don't trust those figures and won't share them.

But knowing me I'd cock up the alignment in the process or something, especially if the torques are quite low and bearing in mind it's only a two-point fixing. I just wonder if it's worth it - i.e. safer to leave it alone.
When experimenting, never undo both screws at the same time. One screw will hold the cartridge in place while torquing the other. On lower settings, I keep mini post-it notes handy to mark the alignment. I hope to soon post a few audio comparisons here of torque settings. Stay tuned.

Ron The Mon

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-11-05 18:40

Thanks Ron - very helpful and food for thought

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-11-11 17:25

Quick update now I've lived with the E, EN and C a lot more - they are definitely all run in and I can happily live with any of them.

I'm particularly fond of the C. It has great rhythm and timing - really snappy and punchy. If you listen to mostly simple rock / pop then this could be the best cart for you. However, it is a bit basic and rough sounding with some LPs where extra refinement or resolution really helps. This is where the EN is really good. The E is probably the best compromise but I'm gonna stick with the C for now as it may just win out in the long term.

Any other members taken the plunge yet? Please share your experiences...

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The Mighty AT-VM95C

Post by Ron The Mon » 2019-11-12 07:08

Charlie1 wrote:
2019-11-11 17:25
Quick update now I've lived with the E, EN and C a lot more - they are definitely all run in and I can happily live with any of them.

I'm particularly fond of the C. It has great rhythm and timing - really snappy and punchy. If you listen to mostly simple rock / pop then this could be the best cart for you. However, it is a bit basic and rough sounding with some LPs where extra refinement or resolution really helps. This is where the EN is really good. The E is probably the best compromise but I'm gonna stick with the C for now as it may just win out in the long term.

Any other members taken the plunge yet? Please share your experiences...
Charlie1,
I agree mostly with what you wrote except I don't think "simple rock/pop" is fair. You could have wrote "avant garde jazz" or "hyper-complex chamber music". The tune is as defined on the C as the E or the EN on any type of music.

The only difference is the presentation (and the fact the conical version may last longer than the ellipticals).

I would also like to hear other members' opinions as this product is a gateway drug to an LP12 (and Radikal and Keel). Fredrik needs to buy this range and become acquainted as it will sell him dozens of Gaio and Slipsik phono stages.

To be clear, Charlie1, you are comparing just the AT styli. The AT-VM95 body is much higher output than a K9 (original AT95 electrically). In addition, I believe it better sounding as well (and much cheaper). How can you beat better sounding and quieter in a phono cartridge?

Ron The Mon

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Re: The Mighty AT-VM95C

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-11-12 10:42

Ron The Mon wrote:
2019-11-12 07:08
Charlie1,
I agree mostly with what you wrote except I don't think "simple rock/pop" is fair. You could have wrote "avant garde jazz" or "hyper-complex chamber music". The tune is as defined on the C as the E or the EN on any type of music.
I struggled to articulate that - mainly cos I don't really understand what's going on and I only have specific examples. I can't quite see it as black and white as yourself. I agree the fundamentals are consistent so I do find the C better than the EN in a broad sense. And yet, listening to something like 'Ram' through the EN allows me to better enjoy other aspects of the album - it seems to benefit from added refinement, enabling subtlties to come through that also add meaning to the music. That has probably made it worse :)

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AT-VM95 Torque Settings

Post by Ron The Mon » 2019-12-11 06:30

Has anyone else experimented with torque settings on this cartridge body?

I have come to the same conclusion as posted by Tom O'Keefe and Fredrik Lejonklou here; the Sturtevant Richmont CAL 36/4 is the best tool for the job. Like many here, I had trouble at first finding one at a decent price. Then over the summer I owned three! All were bought for less than $50 a piece. Be patient, it's worth the wait. My hi-fi has improved by a very large degree just torquing my Isobarik drivers. I have gotten my money's worth.

Being a Linn-tight guy, I bought several of these cartridge bodies as they are only $10 each. I put one in a spare aluminum headshell and tightened it progressively until the screws wouldn't turn anymore; it is impressive how strong the "plastic" body is.

Using the CAL 36/4, the most musical setting was .4Nm +4.

I am now using .2Nm -4; a drastically lower value. Definitely not "Linn tight". But damn it sounds good! I went to a friend's house last week who installed an AT-VM95EN on his Linn. I was surprised he was using the stock aluminum flat-head screws that came with the cartridge. We experimented with screws, torques, and tracking force.

He was right, the aluminum screws sound better (and/or improve sound because the counterweight is closer to the pivot-point). I have since changed mine and it is markedly better. His tracking force (of EN version) sounded best at 1.7 grams with 1.2 bias. This is lighter than mine but his wasn't broken in yet.

I still can't believe I'm listening to a $34 cartridge. Even including the cost of one torque screwdriver, it is outrageous how much my hi-fi has improved.

Ron The Mon

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by lejonklou » 2019-12-11 10:55

Very interesting, Ron The Mon!

That torque is very close to how tight I mount Adikt, so it sounds very reasonable to me. That the aluminium screws are better than stainless steel ones is however a surprise! Maybe I should try that on an Adikt?

The HiFi store next door to my lab has the VM95 cartridges. I just haven't had time to test them yet.

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by Hermann » 2019-12-11 12:05

Ron The Mon wrote:
2019-12-11 06:30
[...]
My hi-fi has improved by a very large degree just torquing my Isobarik drivers.
[...]
Ron The Mon
May I ask for the values that you have set? I'm playing actually with different values...
Torgue Driver.PNG

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Isobarik Torques?

Post by Ron The Mon » 2019-12-12 10:02

Hermann wrote:
2019-12-11 12:05
Ron The Mon wrote:
2019-12-11 06:30
[...]
My hi-fi has improved by a very large degree just torquing my Isobarik drivers.
[...]
Ron The Mon
May I ask for the values that you have set? I'm playing actually with different values...
Hermann,
Like you, my "playing" is a slow and steady process!

I first became aware of "torquing" from Roy Gandy at Rega. At the time I was using a Rega RB300 arm and RB100 cartridge on my LP12. It sounded fantastic. No one talks today about the RB100, yet it was one of the best cartridges ever made (regardless of price). The cartridge body was some space-age resin and Rega recommended the hardware tight. Roy said he found that when both cartridge screws were tightened to the exact same setting, the music sounded better. I first did it on my own cartridge and he was right.

However, that torque driver wouldn't work on certain cartridges. It squished and destroyed Grado bodies and caused the screws to flare out of Denon models.

I mention this because because I think it is more important torquing Isobariks than most other speakers as there are more drivers that are the same. There are four B110s equaling 16 screws. There are four tweeters, meaning 12 screws. I looked up various Linn and Naim fans recommendations and came to an educated guess torque for each driver.

My opinion is (in the Isobarik) going from random stock to all tweeters being the same torque was a far bigger difference than finding the best torque. I then did the same for the midranges. Right now my mids are 1.6Nm -2 and the tweeters are .4Nm +2. Keep in mind I have a very late pair of Isobariks and stock tweeters. The tweeters are the plastic ones with "Linn Products" on them and two circles.

You and I are in the same range it appears. Do you have the same tweeters? Also, I'm counting the latches in the driver for scale above and below whole numbers on the torque driver. Are you estimating the decimal?

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Isobarik Torques?

Post by Hermann » 2019-12-12 12:09

Thank you Ron for sharing your experiences.

First of all, I have a very late pair of speakers with original drivers. By the way, since 1997, bought them used but they where new!

The HT are the Linn with two circles.

It is correct that seems to be a longer process. The difference was clearly heard at the first value. Actually like the LP12 after it was set with the values ​​of ThomasOK. Certainly not so present, but unique. The changes afterwards take more time and some records. Until something pushes awareness and the values ​​are changed slightly.

Interestingly, our values ​​are currently apart. Tonight I transfer yours to my drivers.

A slight sharpness has disappeared due to the reduced value of the HT. Carefully expressed, the heights are easier to follow. But again need some more records.

Maybe this topic should be outsourced in its own thread. We could match up over time if you agree. I'm sure there are more 'briks users out who might be able to participate.

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Re: Isobarik Torques?

Post by Spannko » 2019-12-12 15:49

Ron The Mon wrote:
2019-12-12 10:02
Hermann wrote:
2019-12-11 12:05
Ron The Mon wrote:
2019-12-11 06:30
[...]
My hi-fi has improved by a very large degree just torquing my Isobarik drivers.
[...]
Ron The Mon
May I ask for the values that you have set? I'm playing actually with different values...
Hermann,
Like you, my "playing" is a slow and steady process!

I first became aware of "torquing" from Roy Gandy at Rega. At the time I was using a Rega RB300 arm and RB100 cartridge on my LP12. It sounded fantastic. No one talks today about the RB100, yet it was one of the best cartridges ever made (regardless of price). The cartridge body was some space-age resin and Rega recommended the hardware tight. Roy said he found that when both cartridge screws were tightened to the exact same setting, the music sounded better. I first did it on my own cartridge and he was right.

However, that torque driver wouldn't work on certain cartridges. It squished and destroyed Grado bodies and caused the screws to flare out of Denon models.

I mention this because because I think it is more important torquing Isobariks than most other speakers as there are more drivers that are the same. There are four B110s equaling 16 screws. There are four tweeters, meaning 12 screws. I looked up various Linn and Naim fans recommendations and came to an educated guess torque for each driver.

My opinion is (in the Isobarik) going from random stock to all tweeters being the same torque was a far bigger difference than finding the best torque. I then did the same for the midranges. Right now my mids are 1.6Nm -2 and the tweeters are .4Nm +2. Keep in mind I have a very late pair of Isobariks and stock tweeters. The tweeters are the plastic ones with "Linn Products" on them and two circles.

You and I are in the same range it appears. Do you have the same tweeters? Also, I'm counting the latches in the driver for scale above and below whole numbers on the torque driver. Are you estimating the decimal?

Ron The Mon
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I’m still looking forward to hearing your vid’s Ron! :-)

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Be Careful What You Wish For,.... ...........You Might Get It.

Post by Ron The Mon » 2019-12-12 20:44

Close-up:
https://share.icloud.com/photos/06mDKd7 ... aH66J_qX7g
Spannko wrote:
2019-12-12 15:49
I’m still looking forward to hearing your vid’s Ron! :-)
Let me know if this works.

Before
https://share.icloud.com/photos/0W7w7Zr ... macwHBpmvA


After
https://share.icloud.com/photos/0gDfRwq ... Nw7q1qiVLw

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by beck » 2019-12-12 22:24

Great clips Ron. It works. Easy to hear the differences.

On balance I personally prefer the before clip (steel mounted cartridge is my guess). Listening as a musician I hear a tighter rythm section.
In need of good ears

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by lejonklou » 2019-12-12 22:35

"After" for me!

I find that "Before" has a fat rumbling bass smeared over it. Might sound more powerful, but it obscures musical details and lessens the groove (musically speaking) in my opinion.

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by Spannko » 2019-12-13 00:10

Great stuff Ron. Going by yours and charlie1’s descriptions of the AT95 series, I’ll guess that the first one is the C stylus, and the second clip is of one of the more ‘expensive’ styli? The first one sounds rough and ready to rock, whereas the second one is more refined and ready to waltz :-)

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-12-13 00:46

I prefer 'before' but both were enjoyable.

From what little I see, both stylii look blue to me.

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Tiny Dancer

Post by Ron The Mon » 2019-12-13 01:44

beck wrote:
2019-12-12 22:24
Great clips Ron. It works. Easy to hear the differences.

On balance I personally prefer the before clip (steel mounted cartridge is my guess). Listening as a musician I hear a tighter rhythm section.
beck,
Long ago, you invited me into your "playground" and we always have fun; thanks for that. I'm glad I didn't let you down here. I added a photo above as well.

Yes, the before clip is "stainless" steel hardware. After is the aluminum screws thrown in with the AT-VM95C. Yes, this is the $34 Conical version! Before and after are both torqued at .2Nm -4, tracking force (measured with digital scale) is 1.5 grams.

[By the way, the difference in weight between the two screws is almost a full gram!!!! This is 4.2% the before weight of tonearm, screws, and cartridge combined!]

And, yes, it amazes me how noticeably different the two sound! There is no wrong answer here as both sound really great! But, you're also wrong. The "rhythm section" in the song is really four guys; a drummer, a percussionist (double-tracked), and bass. Listen again and ask which clip lets you hear four guys.

Remember when I recommended to you changing the hardware of your Klyde to shorter screws? Same thing here. Reducing weight at the further-most extremity of a tonearm almost always yields better music as long as strength isn't sacrificed or damping happens.

It is a pet peeve of mine when I see photos online from self pronounced audiophiles or especially dealers with super long stainless steel screws rising 8mm atop a cartridge headshell. David Williamson of Linn designed the Kandid to have a plastic yoke screw to reduce weight and improve performance. Yet earlier today I happened across a photo of a Kandid mounted on an Ekos SE with three screws so long it completely negated the concept of low-mass tonearm or cartridge!!! The dealer who set-up this LP12 claims to have worked with David at Linn designing the Ekos SE/1. I find his claims hard to believe.

Buying correct length hardware costs pennies. Buying stainless-steel cutters, taps, emery cloth and such (which I own) costs less than tens of dollars. Anyone who sets up an LP12 without this investment and brags about it is not a professional.

My biggest pet-peeve is the concept that it costs thousands of dollars to have a good hi-fi. It doesn't. My wife loves our bedroom systems; they get the most attention. Our kitchen hi-fi sounds great. The hi-fis on our boat sound awesome and we live there one-third of the year.

I will post real-life examples here more often.

Ron The Mon

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by Spannko » 2019-12-13 08:32

Very interesting Ron. Who’d have thought that the bolt material could make such a difference? I certainly didn’t! Thanks for sharing.

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-12-13 08:55

Yes, great to finally hear some clips and see one of your decks Ron. Keep ‘em coming :)

Were we listening to Briks in that clip?

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Re: The Mighty AT95E Becomes The AT-VM95E

Post by beck » 2019-12-13 09:11

Ron, the comments to your clips above from Lejonklou, Spannko, Charlie1, myself (and yourself) are in a notshell what makes the “playground” a small gold nugget in the world of hifi forums (and I can relate to all that has been written).

It makes people listen and compare.

We are dealing with flawed reproduction of music (both analog and digital) but a reproduction full of potential to make people happy.

As you point out Ron: Selecting the right gear (not necessarily expensive) and setting it up the right way is key.
In need of good ears

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