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Thread: what makes a good headshell?

  1. #21
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

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    I'm Oliver.

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    The AT1010 uses a chuck type attachment and it's very very secure. It makes solid contact between pins. It's the best arm I've owned (and about to get better) regardless of headshell.

    Jamie, has just bought a Pioneer arm with a removable headshell and it's not come off his TT either, replacing a Zeta and an Alphasson. Both of those had been rewired too!

    Its not the headshell being attached or one piece arm/headshell that matters. It's the damping properties, bearings and tonearm wire connections that matter. Get that right and your laughing. Soldered or pressure connection, hasn't made a blind bit of difference in my system. The arms limitations have been the biggest factor.

    IMO.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK5 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Wizard Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken & Tesla Valves)
    Digital: NONE
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 & Monarchy Audio SM-70 Class A Amplifier
    Cables: Fisual S-Flex Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  2. #22
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Sheffield - UK

    Posts: 6,049
    I'm Mark.

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    Quote Originally Posted by montesquieu View Post
    SME haven't abandoned it it's currently used on several of their arms.

    Where's the evidence that the sound is compromised? Some of the best arms in the world have a removable headshell. (And some of them don't).

    Your opinion has no evidence behind it.
    If you look at the SME range, those aimed at highest performance either have a fixed headshell or a much more mechanically inert design. Look, you clearly want to believe a different point of view so I won't waste further time. My opinion has plenty of evidence behind it in the sense that adding a mechanical joint at the headshell impacts upon the transference of vibration - how much you consider this an issue is up to you but don't pretend it doesn't exist!

    100% Analogue

  3. #23
    Join Date: Jul 2009

    Location: Hampshire, UK

    Posts: 2,235
    I'm Buriedunderaloadofturntables.

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    I think the most important thing to consider regarding a headshell, is whether it looks nice or not.
    Adam.

  4. #24
    Join Date: Apr 2011

    Location: London

    Posts: 3,134
    I'm Robert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beobloke View Post
    I think the most important thing to consider regarding a headshell, is whether it looks nice or not.
    My System:
    Amplification - Sansui AU-alpha 707 DR
    Turntable - Modified Technics SL1210 MK5G
    Mike New precision bearing, bearing base plate, ETP Platter
    Micro Seiki MA-202 tonearm, rewired, hybrid ceramic bearings
    Ortofon Cadenza Black moving coil cartridge
    Yannis Tome 423.5 Silver-Litz tonearm cable with KLEI Pure Silver Harmony plugs
    Ebony armboard
    Audio Technica MS-8 Magnesium headshell, Ortofon pure silver headshell leads
    Isonoe Isolation Feet
    Paul Hynes SR7EHD PSU (plus regulator modules), DCSXL pure-silver DC lead with Jaegar low impedance connector
    CDP - Pioneer PD-91
    Speakers - Spendor D7
    QED Silver Spiral speaker cable, Airlock plugs - bare wire amp end.
    Mains - Ultra Pure silver plated un-switched socket, Missing link EPS 500 silver plated plugs with Hi-Fi Tuning gold plated silver ceramic 13 amp fuses

  5. #25
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,163
    I'm Tom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YNWaN View Post
    If you look at the SME range, those aimed at highest performance either have a fixed headshell or a much more mechanically inert design. Look, you clearly want to believe a different point of view so I won't waste further time. My opinion has plenty of evidence behind it in the sense that adding a mechanical joint at the headshell impacts upon the transference of vibration - how much you consider this an issue is up to you but don't pretend it doesn't exist!
    Highest performance? I'd take either of my Ikedas or my AT-1503 over an SME V any day of the week. Likewise something like a Glanz.

    Can you point to the evidence please if there's plenty of it. All I've read so far is opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigman80 View Post

    Its not the headshell being attached or one piece arm/headshell that matters. It's the damping properties, bearings and tonearm wire connections that matter. Get that right and your laughing. Soldered or pressure connection, hasn't made a blind bit of difference in my system. The arms limitations have been the biggest factor.

    Quite.
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  6. #26
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Norwich

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    I'm Hugo.

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    The audiophile obsessive in me tends to dwell on the ‘unnecessary joint’ theory that Mark outlines above, but in my experience and practice no tonearm is really defined by whether it has a fixed or removable headshell. There is much more to a good sounding tonearm than just this one aspect. Ultimately, I have found, as Tom has, that the most enjoyable and musical sounding tonearms generally have removable headshells, and the added convenience that brings is icing on the cake. For someone who only ever uses one cartridge, swappable headshells might not matter much, but for those of us who listen to stereo and mono using different transducers, convenience is important.

    As for what makes the the best headshell, the answer rather depends on mass and cartridge compliance. That said, there are clear differences in sonic character between light alloy, carbon fibre, wood etc, so mass aside, which type is best rather depends on the preferences of the listener. My current favourite is the Timestep ebony headshell, which is moderately heavy at 15g and has a lovely ‘organic’ and natural sound that I find quite alluring. On a practical level, I like multi-adjustable headshells like the Acoustical Systems Arche 5D, which is heavy at 18g and does have a lovely sound character but is ruinously expensive. I’m mulling over a design for a heavy-ish machined alloy headshell with generous cartridge mounting slots, as well as adjustable overhang and azimuth at the collet, to allow for any tonearm alignment oddities.

  7. #27
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 36,235
    I'm Geoff.

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    The pros and cons of removable headshells and fixed examples and one piece arms were researched. I remember the mags delving into this many years ago. No doubt the data is out there if anybody is interested enough (I'm not).

    The usual SME/Universal headshell is retained by what is basically a spigot and socket arrangement. This is a reasonable compromise, but that does not alter the fact that this is exactly what it is. A compromise! There are better ways of doing things.

  8. #28
    Join Date: Oct 2016

    Location: Bolton, England

    Posts: 1,310
    I'm Andrew.

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    Quote Originally Posted by montesquieu View Post
    It's all about cartridge compliance and overall mass. All but the cheapest most rubbishy headshells are sufficiently rigid...
    I don't think material matters very much, if at all, except in its contribution to overall mass.
    I agree. A headshell is too small to be troubled by flexing unless it's made of something very thin or plasticy.

  9. #29
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

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    I'm Grant.

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    on reflection i shouldnt have sold my Yamamoto ebony Headshell HS-1A ... that was a nice thing.
    Regards,
    Grant ....

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
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  10. #30
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: belgrade serbia

    Posts: 649
    I'm gordan.

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    headshells are redundant, use SPU or FR pickups
    Gordan.
    Speakers: Oris Swing MkII
    Amps: Thomas Mayer 300b/ Hiraga La Maison de L'Audiophile 20
    Preamp: Silver AVC by eng. Ferenc Lazar
    Phono Preamp: Shishido LCR by Solaja Audio
    Deck: Garrard 301 with Fidelity Research FR64fx
    Cartridges: SPU Spirit/ Koetsu Black revisited by eng. Salai/ Miyajima Shilabe
    Step Up Transformers: Tango MCT 999/ Ortofon T-5000/ Lumiere SUT
    Digital: Shigaclone by eng. Ferenc Lazar with Lampizator Amber II
    Wires: of sufficient length

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