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Thread: Using a Rega Carbon cartridge...

  1. #1
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: A Strangely Isolated Place in Suffolk with far away trains passing by...

    Posts: 14,552
    I'm David.

    Default Using a Rega Carbon cartridge...

    All the talk on this section regarding exalted and expensive cartridges has got me going

    For some decades now, the humble yet capable AT95E has been the low cost cartridge of choice for many impoverished vinyl lovers. Not too expensive and made immortal by Linn adopting the conical version (AT93?) as the mk2 Linn Basik, the AT95E elliptical version has a safe-as-houses quality to the sound. Recent currency revaluations have seen this model (and most pickups from the far east) rising in value and the AT95E is now retaiuled at well over thirty quid and no longer pocket money.

    So, what else is there as a starter cartridge? The Ortofon OM 3 and OM5e promise much, but tend in these versions to sound rather crude and rough in the treble, magnifying surface noise and the basic rawness of the low cost decks they're often fitted to by manufacturers on an OEM basis. Rega obviously felt this way, and may have been stung by Ortofon's all but relentless price increases in recent years - all my opinion, but I think it has to be said!

    Instead, Rega looked to AT for a solution. The AT91 and the related OEM AT3600 have been around for years, ignored by "us/me" because of the AT95E model. I've heard a few possibly tired AT3600's and found them dull and a bit thick toned, but the Rega version certainly doesn't seem to do this IMO. I'm told the Rega version of this model has been tweaked a little, but cannot confirm this.



    Examination under a microscope shows the stylus seems to be a typical conical shank mounted diamond chip, this shank mounted in the carbon/plastic? cantilever. Polish seems good and the diamond is a lot less coal like than some 1970's models I remember. Compliance is fairly low on my sample and behaves impeccably in my medium mass Dual tonearm with little microphony (the Dual arm is a bit "lively" in the upper mid with some pickups).

    So, how does it sound? Well, tracking at 2 grammes, it comprehensively trounced my Ortofon M20FL Super in the bass and lower mid, the former being clearer and the latter substantially clearer, reverb and spatial clues being reproduced with ease in comparison. The upper mid and treble is gentle, but certainly not lacking and tracking of sibilants is clean as long as bias is set correctly - rather higher than I'd normally dial in for conical tips, on my sample at any rate. End of side seems good too, which is great for such a tip IMO. What comes across is the fact that this cartridge seems to cover it's tracks so well. Of course it's not as etched or detailed as better cartridges, but neither is it sharp but limp-wristed or bassy-n-dull with it. The firm, ballsy and musical quality reminds me of a good G800, but without comparing the two just yet, I'd say the treble of the Carbon is superior and less splattery than the G800, which can sound a little crude at times when the tracking going gets tough I think.

    So, for 25 or so, I reckon this cartridge is great value and better for "us" than the beefy Stanton 500V3 or dearer OM Pro and its DJ siblings. Maybe the AT91 is the same, but I'm glad Rega have brought this design back into enthusiast consciousness. I'd like others to hear it at some point, putting it into half decent tonearms and seeing if my good vibes towards it are justified. I certainly think that it should be great used with vintage integrated turntables since it's so stable and I hope others are pleasantly surprised by it as I am. I was going to shove it in my Garrard 60mk2 but I'm so pleased with it I'm going to keep it in the Dual 701 for a bit longer
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  2. #2
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Derbyshire Nr. J28 of M1

    Posts: 589
    I'm Rob.

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    I notice that Rega state the out put at 2.5mv at 1Khz, where as the AT91 stated 3.5mv (freq not stated), smaller magnets, less turns on the coils? There for lower inductance, more extended top end?

    Thanks for the write up, I wonder if one will work in my current Linn Basik Plus, how does it compare to the AT95e??

  3. #3
    Join Date: Nov 2011

    Location: london

    Posts: 1,135
    I'm george.

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    where can I get one?

  4. #4
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Derbyshire Nr. J28 of M1

    Posts: 589
    I'm Rob.

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    Rega dealer?! You'll be able to mail order this too.

    ;-)

  5. #5
    Join Date: May 2009

    Location: UK

    Posts: 6

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    Thanks Dave for a very clear and informative write-up: a budget cartridge to watch for sure.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Dec 2009

    Location: York, UK.

    Posts: 240
    I'm Andrew.

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    I had an AT95e after a Goldring G1042, it's was better!

  7. #7
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: A Strangely Isolated Place in Suffolk with far away trains passing by...

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    I'm David.

    Default

    The output is about the same as the resident V15 III, so around 3mV or so at 5cm/s.

    Lest I have the usual accusations thrown my way, I should say that it'll be available all over the place, is very cheap, and with Rega's dealer margins, the supplier ain't going to make very much at all out of it on its own.

    I really hope that anyone else trying it finds it as fun as I do. Music first - definitely

    The AT95E may well be slightly better overall, but i don't remember the bass and lower mid being as involving. I shall have to mount my 95E and do a comparison, probably at the weekend 'cos I'm too knackered during the week.
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  8. #8
    Join Date: Aug 2010

    Location: Northamptonshire, UK

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    I'm Dave.

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    Try an LPGear HE stylus on your AT95 Dave, I bought one for mine and it pushed the performance up by several notches. I no longer have it as I let it go with the Thorens TD316/Linn LVX+ combo I sold a couple of years ago, but from memory it wasn't far off the performance of the 900IGC. It's also bloody good value.
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  9. #9
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: A Strangely Isolated Place in Suffolk with far away trains passing by...

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    I'm David.

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    I shall, thanks. I believe there's an elliptical available from a third party supplier for the AT91 as well.

    I do remember that the AT95E sounded fab on a "proper" turntable, sounding totally out of its price class. AT do upper models based on the same technology though and the better bodies, internal wiring and far more sophisticated styli and cantilever/mounts can work wonders in subtlety, but I just find these basic ones get the "musical basics" right so well...
    Tear down these walls; Cut the ties that held me
    Crying out at the top of my voice; Tell me now if you can hear me

  10. #10
    Join Date: Apr 2011

    Location: Manchester UK

    Posts: 56
    I'm chris.

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    Lpgear offer a few interesting takes on the AT95, including a shibita tipped option >>, http://www.lpgear.com/product/LPGAT95, & also the hypereliptical you mention. Got to see I've been intrigued by these & wonder if any other folk on here have tried any of these options?

    linky to the range offered here>>, http://www.lpgear.com/category/AT95SERIES.html , Theres also a Vital line VL, line contact offering too.
    Quote Originally Posted by synsei View Post
    Try an LPGear HE stylus on your AT95 Dave, I bought one for mine and it pushed the performance up by several notches. I no longer have it as I let it go with the Thorens TD316/Linn LVX+ combo I sold a couple of years ago, but from memory it wasn't far off the performance of the 900IGC. It's also bloody good value.
    Last edited by vacdac; 13-11-2012 at 19:49.

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