CD-4 Cartridge Stylus Recommendations

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edisonbaggins

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Ok, folks! Lots of CD-4 advice has been exchanged over the last few weeks. It's all much appreciated!
I think it would be helpful (to me) to break down the advice by specific items.

So... carts and styluses!

Here are the compiled recommendations, thus far (updated 8/8/2022):

ADC
ZLM
SX LM MK II

Audio Technica
AT440MLA
AT440MLB
AT12SA
AT14SA
AT15SA
AT15SS
AT20SS
AT20SLA
AT912Sa
ATVM740ML

Band & Olufsen
MMC6000
MMC5000

Empire
4000D I/II/III
440D

Grace (Sumiko)
F8/F
F8/E
F-9F
F-9U

JVC
X 1
4MD-20x
CD4-1000

Micro/Acoustics
QDC-1G

Nakamichi
MC-1000

Ortofon
SL20Q
MC-20
MC-20 Mk II

Panasonic
EPC-451
EPC-450C II

Pickering
XUV-4500Q
UV15-2400Q
UV15-2000Q

Pioneer
PC-Q1

Satin
M-117X

Shure
M 24H

Sonic Research
Blue Label
Silver Label P

Stanton
780-4DQ
780-Q

Strain gauge
???

Technics
EPC-45OC-II

Win Laboratories
SDT-10

Criteria I care about:

1) Easy compatibility, e.g. some carts/stylii need a special preamp. Let's avoid those, unless they're clearly ultra superior. Bear in mind that a TT and/or demod might need to be acquired, so a cart/stylus that plays well with lots of gear will leave the most options later.
2) Currently manufactured, i.e. let's avoid discontinued models that might, or might not, be available.
3) Value, e.g. let's avoid $5k carts. Several hundred dollars is doable.
4) Good sound! Let's avoid products that really just don't do it for ya! I'm no audiophile. If it's decent, I should be happy.

Thanks for the help! I'd like to make a cart/stylus purchase soon and get this show on the road, as they say!

:SB:LB:SG
 
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sjcorne

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2) Currently manufactured, i.e. let's avoid discontinued models that might, or might not, be available
This may no longer be possible. The AT440MLb used to be the only newly-manufactured option, but it seems to have been replaced by a new model called the VM540ML (not sure if this one still handles CD-4 well, maybe someone else can chime in?). You can still get a NOS or lightly-used 440 on eBay though.
 

edisonbaggins

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This may no longer be possible. The AT440MLb used to be the only newly-manufactured option, but it seems to have been replaced by a new model called the VM540ML (not sure if this one still handles CD-4 well, maybe someone else can chime in?). You can still get a NOS or lightly-used 440 on eBay though.
Noted. I guess we'll have to include models with decent NOS available. Thanks for that valuable input!
And yes, if anyone knows about a current model that does the job, please let us know!
 

J. PUPSTER

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Noted. I guess we'll have to include models with decent NOS available. Thanks for that valuable input!
And yes, if anyone knows about a current model that does the job, please let us know!
I believe someone also mentioned an AT VM740ML (ML stands for MicroLine stylus) that works for them. I have one but can't try it until I get a Demod. that's not hosed up :)
 

chucky3042

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Based on the design of the induced magnet ADC ZLM, i think it would work well. Ultra low mass, zero anything on the tiny shank and fancy tip shape. Have not tried it myself as i do not have a CD4 setup
 

J. PUPSTER

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The part that’s always confused me is the cart’s specs on how high up its freq. range goes in order to read the 30k carrier signal.
Some don’t seem to have such a range like the AT 440MLb IINM.
So maybe the technical experienced CD-4 folks can clarify that aspect.
 

Doug G.

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The first thing to do is get a cartridge you know, for a fact, has response and acceptable separation to at least 40kHz and preferably to 50kHz. If you have success. you know your CD-4 setup is viable. Trying cartridges of unknown response and separation, you won't know if it's the cartridge or other parts of your setup causing problems.

Follow the rules.

Doug.
 

Sonik Wiz

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Based on the design of the induced magnet ADC ZLM, i think it would work well. Ultra low mass, zero anything on the tiny shank and fancy tip shape. Have not tried it myself as i do not have a CD4 setup

The ZLM was the top of the ADC cartridges. It had better seperation at 1kHz & 10kHz than most others. Not sure what an Aliptic stylus shape is tho. At any rate isn't ADC long gone? Is it possible to get new stylus replacements?

I'll just mention that I've had success with the AT 440 cart, in this case the MLA version, with CD-4 when new. I tested it with a Clairicon CD-4 demodulator when I first received it with a AT PL120 TT. Carrier signal locked on and able to acculturately adjust the separation controls. Now what happens years later I don't know as CD-4 is not a regular part of my audio diet.

As these carts are no longer made as @J. PUPSTER has mentioned the
AT VM740ML would be of interest. The specs equal or better the ones on my AT 440. I do note that optimum load is 47k ohms & most all CD-4 demods are at 100k ohms input. Not sure how this might affect it.
 
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Doug G.

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What would be nice is if one could obtain actual test results to see what the actual response and separation characteristics are of any given cartridge, instead of just having to rely on published specs. from the manufacturers which, I'm sure, only reflect their guaranteed. specs.

The AT440MLa is a good example. Published specs. only guarantee to 20kHz but obviously are much better than that.

Doug
 

Sonik Wiz

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What would be nice is if one could obtain actual test results to see what the actual response and separation characteristics are of any given cartridge, instead of just having to rely on published specs. from the manufacturers which, I'm sure, only reflect their guaranteed. specs.

The AT440MLa is a good example. Published specs. only guarantee to 20kHz but obviously are much better than that.

Doug
Agree. I am pretty much out of the loop for main stream audio media. Does anyone or a website still test carts like they used to in the olden days? I know JVC made several generations of test records that included a high freq test tone of 40kHz. Maybe they still do?
 

kfbkfb

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Carrier Crosstalk Considerations in the CD-4 System - AES Journal July/August 1977

Regular production CD-4 records (no special test records needed) can be used for this test.

I haven't tried this method, apparently a Digital Audio Workstation can be used (along with an amplifier to bring the cart level up to line level for the PC).

The limiter in a CD-4 demod can (mostly) compensate for poor frequency response in a cart, but not poor channel separation above 15kHz (where the FM carriers are).

^^^
...low tracking force (below 1½ grams) [are critical] in achieving long record and tip life.


Kirk Bayne
 

edisonbaggins

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All right, y'all. I get that recommending a cart/stylus for CD-4 is tough.
But just go with it! Knowing there are some caveats to consider, what is a solid choice to start out with?
It can't be impossible, or nobody would be listening to CD-4...
Thanks.
 

gene_stl

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If the "effective tip mass" is of interest , below is a table which is originally from linear audio.nl
but the table is now behind a paywall, ie you have to buy their full webpages on a memory stick.

quote:
Depends if the 3/4 means 3db to 4db channel balance (very very poor) or 0.75db (i.e. very good)!

The effective tip mass sits it in the middle of this table near the OM30/40 which does not make it a "poor" spec.

0.970mg Shure "bi-radial" (0.4x0.7mil, MM)
0.750mg Ortofon X1-MCP (p-mount, high output MC)
0.500mg Ortofon OM10 stylus (bushed elliptical, MI)
0.400mg Ortofon OM20 stylus (nude elliptical, MI)
0.400mg Ortofon X5-MC (HOMC, nude FG)
0.370mg Shure Elliptical (0.2x0.7mil, MM)
0.330mg Shure bi-radial on V15-III (MM) (berillium control rod)
0.300mg Ortofon OM30 stylus (nude Fine Line), OM40 (nude FG), MI
0.290mg Technics EPC-P202C (p-mount, MM)
0.290mg Shure HE on V15-IV (MM) ("telescopic shank")
0.240mg Van den Hul Colibri (MC)
0.230mg Technics EPC-P310MC (p-mount, MC)
0.220mg Ortofon Jubilee (MC)
0.170mg Shure Micro-Ridge (0.15x3.00mil, MM)
0.098mg Technics EPC-100CMK3 (MM)
0.077mg Denon DL1000 (MC)
0.055mg Technics EPC-P100CMK4 (p-mount, MM)

: end quote.

It would seem that lower would be better if you are running at the modulation frequency. I am guessing because have never tried to run CD4

some food for thought:
 
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J. PUPSTER

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All right, y'all. I get that recommending a cart/stylus for CD-4 is tough.
But just go with it! Knowing there are some caveats to consider, what is a solid choice to start out with?
It can't be impossible, or nobody would be listening to CD-4...
Thanks.
My vote (even though I've never tried one on CD-4 😬) is either a AT VM540ML or VM740ML since they can be had new and would make fine carts for regular stuff anyway. Or an AT440MLb NOS, if you can find one.
 

par4ken

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The part that’s always confused me is the cart’s specs on how high up its freq. range goes in order to read the 30k carrier signal.
Some don’t seem to have such a range like the AT 440MLb IINM.
So maybe the technical experienced CD-4 folks can clarify that aspect.
The 30 KHz carrier is FM Modulated and so it carries frequencies 15 KHz above and below the carrier frequency. Even a stereo cartridge will often pickup the carrier but that is not enough to properly pick up the entire signal.
 

kfbkfb

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A couple of years ago, I asked Audio-Technica (Q&A part of their web site) if the AT440MLb would work for CD-4, at first, an A-T employee said he thought it would work, then a month or 2 later, I got an email from A-T saying they would not make any guarantees that it would work for CD-4.


Kirk Bayne
 
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