Running an old cartridge?

Hi guys,
Some of you will know of my recent (ongoing) vinyl woes in the “Loud cracks on vinyl” thread. In an attempt to find the culprit I’ve replaced my Dynavector XX-2 and in its place fit an old (I’m guessing 2004 vintage) Audio Technica ATOC9 ML/II.
It sounded pretty horrible at first but it seems to be waking from its slumber now. The cartridge has less than 50 hours on it from new, however I am a little concerned that the dampers may be past their best. Is that a valid concern?
So far I’ve only played stuff I picked up second hand in case I’m risking damage to the vinyl.
Anyone else running an old cart out there?

My Transfiguration Temper is approximately 10 years old and was used the whole time. Its dampers look fine and everything sounds right.
I still remember the last months of a friends Linn K 18. That cartridge ran frighteningly close to the record. The damper on your AT might be fine, but I guess they are a little hard. Have you tried just a little more downforce, something in the 0,05 to 0,1 g range?
Most unused cartridges seem to like this for the first few weeks.

Cheers for that Mulberry.
I did add a little more weight when I first fit the cart but it completely flattened the sound. I’ll give it a few more days then have a tinker.
The cartridge looks like it’s riding nicely I’m just wondering how hard those dampers may have got. Probably worrying over nothing …
Steve O.

Hi Steve,
flattening the sound isn’t the best thing to do. I can only guess, but it seems the OC is still in a good shape.

The tracking force is at 1.56g at the moment, the recommended range being 1.25g to 1.75g.

If it is riding at a reasonable level, cantilever is straight and sounds good then no worries- play it :slight_smile:
Should improve after a few records… Cartridges are more durable than we give them credit for imo.


Maybe worth reading the Pear Audio ( UK Dynavector distributor) advice for Cartridges. Their view is that Cartridges have a life related either to playing hours or, even if rarely played, to years. The reasoning being that suspension and related components, especially rubber or other compliant materials, have a finite life before they degenerate, regardless of use. Whether or not this may apply to either of your carts I can’t say of course.

KJC, yeah I’m familiar with the Dynavector take on things. Indeed my dealer was advising me of the fact that the damping rubbers on my XX-2 would be an issue long before stylus wear was an issue before I replaced it two years ago. In fact that’s why I’m asking the question.
The XX-2 has been removed from the system as I am trying to find the cause of a cracking issue I’ve had (another thread). The ATOC9 is merely an end to a means - I just wanted to check I wasn’t causing undue damage.
I’ve emailed Audio Technica for their take on it but have yet to get a response.
Steve O.

I understand how miss tracking might damage a record but I cannot see how a cartridge could damage a record silently without you hearing it happening.
Surely if a cartridge sounds as it should then it’s good wouldn’t it let you know there wa a problem sonically before it got to the stage of damaging a record. I’d love to be corrected and have it explained to me because I use lots of vintage and pre used cartridges.
Also some cartridges such as the Goldring I just bought are ‘low riders’ and will play close to the record surface but from memory the OC9 isn’t one of those.

The thing is the cart hasn’t been played in 15 years, and that was when it was in a different system so I don’t really know/remember how it should sound.
It doesn’t have the speed of the Dynavector but there’s no distortion and it’s not misstracking, the soundstage is open with plenty of detail and the sound has the lean characteristic I associate with an OC9.
But is the damping rubber as compliant as it should be and if not is it causing damage?

Quite possibly not but I doubt if it is causing damage, for the reasons you cite such as lack of mistracking, clarity etc.

I write as an AT-OC9 ML/II owner who finds it a great match with a Valhalla Sondek, Ittok LVII and Stageline S. I would buy one again.

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That’s good to know, thanks.
After settling down it’s making some nice noises. The XX-2 is very different tonally but I do like the airiness in the top end of the OC9 but I am missing the grunt in the bass and the attack on strings the XX-2 brings.

You might be able to improve on that by moving your speakers back to the wall a little to bring the subjective performance of your OC9 more in line with your tastes. Obviously impossible if you have Kans, SBLs etc!

It’s only in the system until I can say that the XX-2 is faulty, or not, as the case may be.
Plus, if I start moving the speakers I’ll mess up the sound on the CDS3. As long as it’s listenable it will do the job for me. Anyway, I think it’s the characteristic of the cartridge rather than the set up. I’ve got more bass out of the cart by increasing the tracking force and changing the mat but that doesn’t give me growl of a plucked electric bass like the XX-2.

A bit of a simplified explanation, but here it goes: You can “hear” mistracking when it’s pretty intense; however, it doesn’t suddenly start mistracking, but rather get progressively worse. Combine that with the fact that your ears get used to the gradual worsening sound over time and you basically don’t notice the distortion until it’s way too late.

I generally agree with you, but Steve changed cartridges from the well tracking Dynavector to the AT. In a situation like this tracking distortion should be audible. Every time I change my cartridges, the Temper is noticeably cleaner. Like many older Koetsus my Urushi gets into trouble on highly modulated grooves near the label.

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That’s an oxymoron in my experience. :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s a tracking limitation. I personally don’t use cartridges if I can hear mistracking, but to each their own.

Re: the AT, it might well be fine. I think it’s really hard to count on one’s ears in something like this as there’s no way one can remember what it sounded like when it was in good shape. I prefer to think of them as tires - after a few years I just won’t use them even if everything seems fine.

@ricsimas, that’s kind of my view but I’m backed into a corner as a member of the household is shielding so I can’t visit my dealer to borrow a cart.
I’m using the AT on stuff I’ve bought second hand that didn’t meet my expectations just so I can clock up some listening hours in my quest to resolve my issue with loud cracks during replay. I’ve limited my listening to those few LP’s that never made it to the charity shop and will continue to do so I think.

This morning I received a reply to my email to Audio Technica in which I asked about the potential problem with hardening of the damping rubber.
I got a reassuring reply advising me that the major factor with regard to record damage would be the condition of the stylus. They said as long as the cartridge was tracking and riding well then any hardening in the suspension would merely slow transients and not cause damage. “Hardening” would actually mean harder as opposed to hard and unresponsive.
Although it doesn’t satisfy like the XX-2, it does a lot of things really nicely and it reminds me why I chose am OC9 all those years ago. I would like to hear how the AT-ART9 compares to my XX-2.

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