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more tonearm/cartridge adjustments, some peculiar results?
post Aug 14 2010, 08:18
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Not long ago something happened to the stylus of my cartridge. One day the end of the cantilever, with the stylus, fell off. It probably had done only a few hundred LP plays so it should have been good for quite a long time yet.

Fortunately I had another new stylus, perhaps one of the last in captivity. Shure no longer makes them for the V15VxMR. I just plugged in the new stylus assembly and everything seemed fine.

I started to worry about this a bit however. I looked into the M97xE stylus, as rumor has it that it fits the V15V cartridge. Looking at the Shure website for information, I saw the N97xE, the stylus for the M97xE cartridge, marked as “not available.” This was even more worrying as no aftermarket stylus has appeared for the V15V.

I located a dealer who had them in stock and bought one. Today, perhaps inspired by the recent HA thread on cartridge setup, I decided I might as well check the tracking weight before testing the new stylus, as I had not touched any adjustment since remounting the cartridge several years ago. The V15VxMR setup guide says 1.0 grams track force is optimum, 1.25 grams is maximum.

When I had the Shure force gauge up to almost 3 grams, nearly its maximum measurement, and it was still plopping all the way down on the cartridge side, I just started over with re-balancing the tonearm in floating mode (bias adjustment off), then adjusted the tracking weight to 1.25 grams. Then I got out the alignment gauge.

The stylus came down about 3mm short of the proper target????? I had to loosen the cartridge in the tonearm head, then reposition and realign it. Then I had to readjust the tracking weight to get back to 1.25 grams. Fortunately the cartridge alignment did not seem to be effected by this second tracking weight adjustment.

I set the bias to the position on the dial it had before I started today. Then it was time for the HFN&RR test LP. all track observations below are of recordings made in CoolEdit, zoomed in very close. Things did sound in accordance with what I saw on screen, which was gratifying, but I trust what I see more.

The +12dB bias setting track was nice and smooth, the +14dB bias track less so. (there is a point of sorts for all this verbiage). I reduced the bias setting and the +14B track eventually became nice, smooth and even, but the +16dB one was much less so.

I switched to the other side and tried the center +15dB track. This was less than stellar but by turning up the tonearm weight a degree or two at a time, I finally got it looking pretty good. At first I though everything was smooth and even but eventually I realized there were occasional bits of mistracking every now and then as the recording progressed. I have no way to tell if this is actual mistracking or damaged LP.

The inner and outer +15dB test tracks both showed mistracking at the screen bottom peaks of the right channel (minus swing, I presume). I could not seem to improve that much , although I wasn’t keen to up the tracking force more. The middle track was good as is, and the tracking force had to be above Shure’s stated maximum.

The +16dB bias track on the other side still looked much the same after the tracking weight increase (not so good) and bias adjustments could only make it worse.

In went the M97xE stylus assembly. I made no more tone arm adjustments. All the tracks recorded more cleanly than with the V15V stylus. The +16dB bias track still wasn’t perfect but it definitely looked better. The inner and outer +15dB tracks on side 2 still showed the same mistracking, but to a lesser degree than with the V15V stylus. Most or all of the tracks I tested show longer stretches with no mistracking evident, just nice even sine waves. Strangest of all, the M97xE stylus produced +3dB greater amplitude.

The M97xE specs say 0.75g to 1.5g tracking force, vs 1.0 to 1.25 for the V15VxMR. The specified output voltage is 4.0mv vs 3.0mv for the V15VxMR. While those specs might say I could safely use a greater tracking force with the M97xE stylus (how involved is the cartridge itself in setting this limit?), surely it is the cartridge more than the stylus that is responsible for the strength of the cartridge output, no?

The new V15VxMR stylus that I installed not long ago has perhaps not been used on more than 25 or 30 LP plays so far. Of course it was apparently being forced down far too much by too high a tracking weight, so maybe that damaged it and accounts for the poorer performance. I did not touch any adjustment when I originally put in that stylus, so maybe a high tracking weight is also what broke the previous cantilever.

In spite of this, or maybe because of it, the music I’ve been recording sounds good, at least to me, and shows nothing strange on screen. I have played nothing but the test LP tracks since finishing the tonearm/cartridge adjustments this evening, so I don’t actually know about music with the new setup.

The final current tracking force measures as just under 1.4g. I don’t know whether to leave it there for apparently better tracking or reduce it for stylus safety. It was set with the V15VxMR stylus and that is the stylus I intend to use now, keeping the new N97xE as eventual replacement. Anyone have any experience with exceeding Shure’s maximum setting?

By the way, according to a Shure support person, the M97xE stylus will only fit the V15VxMR cartridge, not any other version of the V15V. She also said Shure has never tried the stylus in the cartridge and so knows nothing about how it might work or not work, only that it will fit.
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post Aug 14 2010, 19:26
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Both my experience reported here and the findings reported in the Stanton TT setup thread suggest that the idea that mistracking an LP once produces mistracking on subsequent plays, regardless of the current setup, may be largely a myth.
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post Aug 15 2010, 09:59
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QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Aug 14 2010, 11:26) *
Both my experience reported here and the findings reported in the Stanton TT setup thread suggest that the idea that mistracking an LP once produces mistracking on subsequent plays, regardless of the current setup, may be largely a myth.

I can't answer the question but I can offer up some samples.

I played that middle track 21 times before sampling, several of them severely mistracking (listen to 2.25 grams).

It was a brand copy of HFN002. I first played it at 4 grams. The 17th play was also at 4 grams.

Maybe some patterns appeared between the plays.

HFN002 Trackability Test
300Hz sine @ +15dB, Center of Record

I have around 30 tracks of 300Hz sines, mostly that same, center track. Just ask if you'd like other samples.

Mistracking was this severe.

Trackability Test @ 2.25 Grams

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