Buggering around with headshells

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Ant
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Buggering around with headshells

Post by Ant » Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:20 pm

Do headshells make a difference?
Apparently they do. I havent had an arm with a detachable headshell in years, the jvc robot arm is the first one ive used for a long time.

I put the at150 sa in a pioneer headshell wot came with the r200 arm as I wanted to use a lightweight one for it given the cart weight is about 9 or 10 g. The pioneer one looks like an sme one, pressed aluminium with a load of holes in it.
In the pioneer one it sounded abit crap. Not as good as it did in the jelco one.
However, the goldring eroica L was in that one.
The other 'good' headshell I have is the jvc magnesium one which is abit too heavy for the at, but as the eroica weighs In at about 6 g, its fine for that. So abit of faffing, and the at is in the jelco one, and the eroica is in the jvc one

The eroica and at150 can be swapped in and out as im using the denon ha500 step up wot I got off our Ali, and the eroica does sound better in the heavier jvc headshell.
And the at150 sounds much better in the jelco one.

Why is this? Im wondering if it is to do with resonances in the headshells as the mass is not a great deal different between the jelco one and the pioneer one, its about 3 g different, but the jelco one is probably much stiffer being a solid block rather than a pressing.

The eroica is probably better as the compliance is alot lower so the extra mass of the jvc one its in is helping.

Anyone looked at this before? And has anyone tried a wooden one?

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IslandPink
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Re: Buggering around with headshells

Post by IslandPink » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:00 pm

Ant , you should know by now that everything matters enormously with an analogue front-end !
Since the first thing the heavily HF-biased vibration coming out of a cartridge encounters is the headhsell, which can resonate quite a bit in the kHz region, it must matter.
I know Jono Noble has spent years tinkering with things like ebony headshells on SME3012's and the Schick tonearm.
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Ant
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Re: Buggering around with headshells

Post by Ant » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:57 pm

I know I know, I should know better than to question the fact that it makes a difference, its the mechanism by which it makes the difference that is intriguing.

Its a slightly odd conundrum that the headshell is both coupled and decoupled at the same time, coupled by the bayonet fitting but decoupled by the rubber washer.
That a cast alloy headshell sounds better than a pressed aluminium structure which should be stiffer in the vertical because of the wings on it,
Perhaps its structural stiffness is outweighed by the decoupling washer causing an amount of vibration to stay in the headshell....

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IslandPink
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Re: Buggering around with headshells

Post by IslandPink » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:20 pm

When you have a discontinuity like a removable headshell, it acts like a (mechanical) low-pass filter. This is often a good thing, especially with low-compliance carts like the 103 and 103R , which put a lot of HF energy into the arm.
Obviously if the connection between the cart and arm becomes too soft or loose, you start to lose the bass and timing.
White flags of winter chimneys waving truce against the moon ( Mitchell )

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DSJR
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Re: Buggering around with headshells

Post by DSJR » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:50 pm

Mass plays a part as well as general cartridge microphony, which is audible when playing records I found. I intensely disliked the previous Goldring MC's but held off saying anything because the current ones may be a lot better in this (a kind of pinched closed-in 'nasal' sound I remember).

Of the cheapo lowish mass shells, the current Techie type (of which there are many clones) seems to work really well with more delicate mm types like the AT 150. I added posh headshell wires on mine, not because I thought they 'sounded' any better, but you can't beat a bit of gold plated bling on the tags and the wires themselves looked more substantial. I 'imagined' the sound was better too and for twenty quid or so for the Sumiko ones as they used to be, I didn't mind. The once hugely popular ADC LMG1 was another good universal shell I remember and I still have one or two with odd things mounted to them.

For typical MC type, the sky's the limit these days, but the Sumiko shell when it was well under forty quid seemed to be a good deal. I think there's a similar Nagaoka one as well offering a solid flat surface to mount a metal bodied cartridge on (my Deccapodded Microscanner worked perfectly on a Nagaoka shell I found I had, this in a not too appropriate - for the Decca - R200 arm).

There was a fashion in the UK to remove the rubbery washer at the plug end of these headshells. I tended to keep these intact as a 'bit of Linn thinking' had something to do with it in the early days before the Basic LVV came along. The LVV was actually a very 'musical' device but so badly chucked together I doubt few good ones remain now. The very flimsy low-mass 'ADC' shell it came with actually suited the arm resonances and sonics better than a supposed 'better' more rigid one I remember and at the time, removing said rubbery washer made the sound worse. The R200 arm doesn't suffer thus and the original shell is quite adequate for many mid-price not-too-fussy cartridges I think.

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