Last weekend, Lorrie and I had a guest spend a couple of nights with us so we all could attend a Hot Wheels show about 30-miles away. He's a real nice guy and about 10-years younger than us. It was his first time here but Lorrie has known him about 15-years or so (he's from Knightdale, North Carolina). After they looked over her collection and planning strategy for the show, we all started to relax after his 8+hour drive up here to SW Ohio. Something Lorrie told him about was that I still have a working turntable (Yamaha PF-800 / Shure V15 XmR) with a few cartridges to choose from. Well, he was just enamored over the fact that the turntable worked much less was this versatile. He actually enjoys the minute clicks/pops in the vinyl. It was amusing to watch him stand there close to the TT watching it turn.
In my own head, I was being critical of witch cartridge I had on hand sounded best and swapped out a couple for comparison (Orotofon VMS-30MkII and Stanton P888 w/D73-S stylus). Our guest said they all sounded fine, but me being more of the audio-fool than he was, I couldn’t help it. The Stanton rode very low almost as if it would not support the weight of the tonearm and cartridge at its prescribed tracking force. But I concluded that it was just because the stylus is nearly 40-years old and the cantilever’s suspension had no more elasticity. The Orotofon usually had a relaxed sound to it. The Stanton had nothing going for it from when it was new. The tip looked like it was for 78 rpm records only as it was huge. We referred to it as the Godzilla Bicep Claw (good for trying to take skips OUT of records). But I bought the Stanton long before the Yamaha for my first TT; a Technics SL-D300 that was only $150.
The stylus and cartridge for the Shure V15 was only about 20-years old so that had the best chance of sounding good and is still my favorite bang for the buck. I have an older Shure V15 Type V but the stylus had way too many miles on it. Shure even had an offer in the late 90’s to early 2000’s where you could send them your worn out stylus and they would sell you an exact replacement for $20!!! Thankfully, they let me order two new ones.
So, our guest went back home Sunday night and I started diligently trying to get back the sound I once had. The Shure stylus is what I’m working on most so I took it off of the tonearm still attached to the headshell and started applying some Clearaudio stylus cleaner using a Discwasher stylus brush only moving in the outward direction. I then looked at it again with a lighted magnifying glass. The sides of the tip again were sparkling with the reflection. So, from there any improvements would have to come from either a new Jico stylus (@ $250) or a record cleaning machine. Up till now the only thing I’ve used is a Discwasher D4 brush a fluid set that was a birthday gift from when I was 19-years old (I’m 56 now).
Someone I once knew said they had surprisingly good luck with an Okki Nokki unit a friend of his owns and those run about $600.
Is there any others that would be comparable to performance and maybe a little less cost?