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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: The Softer Side of a Hard-Tracing Cartridge
Post Subject: A System is ManditoryPosted by Paul S on: 5/25/2009
Adrian, I have not tried the top Deccas for many years.  My last experience with them was as ever: I absolutely loved their unrivaled immediacy and presence, which I found totally addictive, and it also made other cartridges sound pretty pathetic by comparison.  But they were for me like a 45 amp run "FR", in that they had so many problems that I just could not overlook.  Add to that the chronic variability and poor reliability, and they became for me like a drug that is better remembered than imbibed.

IMO the key to using the hard tracer is set-up, including record-to-record with respect to VTA.  Height adjustment is simply not optional with the modern "long-line" styluses (plural per OED), and it is absolutely not an option with the Replicant.  One simply must have a system that enables one to ascertain and correct for record thickness, which varies by a factor of nearly 3 (according to my most recent data).

I do not buy into the "damping qualities of carbon fiber", and I certainly did not buy the WT Reference because of the carbon.  Rather, I bought it because it allows easy access and quick, reliable adjustability of all set-up parameters, including arm height/VTA.  It is tough to dial in tracking weight, but who cares?  I came up with my own modification that allows me to keep track of arm height, and I also came up with a simple system for correlating arm height to record thickness.  Now I can accurately measure a record for thickness (if it still needs measuring), put the thickness and its arm-marking correlary info on the sleeve (on architect's tape), and from then on I need only look at the numbers, set arm height and play the LP, which takes less time than dusting the record.  IMO, difficult and/or non-repeatabe height adjustment would make ANY arm a non-starter for use with a hard tracer.

A funny, surprise benefit is that correct VTA (etc.) makes bad electricity decidedly less problematic.

Like I told Romy a few months ago, I think Ortofon has tried to standardize their lines and get rid of the exotic sintered ceramic bodies; but they have released the Uber-Replicant-bearing MC Windfeld, which looks to be a tweaked Jubilee with a super-polished version of their Replicant stylus.  And like I said back then, I like it very much that all of the "reviewers" had a hard time ascribing adjectives to its sound.  This is always a good sign, in my experience.  Problems?  Asking price, for openers, coupled with the usual problematic fact that it takes so long to integrate and evaluate a cartridge, and since all base adjustments must (obviously) be set by ear.  And this means you pretty much have to swallow hard and buy the damned cartridge before you really, seriously get a handle on it.

Best regards,
Paul S

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