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Audio Technica AT440mla-120e vs Ortofon Tonar OM5e

Nina Simone Baltimore
Nina Simone: Baltimore

I am returning to the Baltimore album to deal with an issue of groove damage called surface noise. One of the many challenges of vinyl records, surface noise can be lowered by matching the stylus to the contour of the groove by changing the cartridge or by lowering phono stage gain. My current tracker the Ortofon Tonar cartridge with OM5e stylus combo is more reveling of noise. For an otherwise clean album the Audio Technica AT440mla cartridge is known to lower surface noise because it's micro-line stylus rides deeper in the groove. After sampling different cartridge and stylus combinations I am find the Audio Technica AT440mla body with ATN120e elliptical stylus is a better match for the Nina Simone album. The samples below were taken with no filters or noise reduction; give them a listen and let me know what you decide.

Tonar Banana with HiFi OM5e stylus
Ortofon Tonar Banana with OM5e Stylus

This cartridge is operating far from its design. You will hear is a more forward vocal presentation with a bass presence and a warm sound. The stylus is tracking lightly at 1.75 grams. The surface noise is apparent but I must say the TonarOM5e combination has rhythm.

Audio Technica 440mla with AT120e Stylus
Audio Technica AT440mla with AT120e Stylus

The Audio Technica AT440mla is not the cartridge for everyone. I've had more fuss from it than any other cartridge I own. After trying various loading options, tracking forces, pre-amps, turntable mats, and VTA adjustments I find it matches well my Carver preamp. The MM phono section of the Carver with the SLSM turntable mat makes the cartridge enjoyable. The tracking force and VTA are standard recommendations (1.4g horizontal to the platter). The sound is laid back and the stereo separation spot-on. The AT440mla cartridge reaches the upper frequencies yet it's a light sounding cartridge. Swapping the micro-line stylus to the elliptical ATN120e helps the cartridge sound better.

Carver Preamp MM Phono

The sample recordings will show the differences between three combinations. I'm using different phono sections so things aren't truly equal but adjusted the gain to level the playing field. The TonarOM5e is captured directly from the Cambridge 640p phono section. It has the least gain adjustment at 2.0db. The AT440mla cartridge body gets some additional gain: the micro-line stylus is set at 7.8db while the body with elliptical stylus (ATN120e) is set at 6.2db.

The sample track is Baltimore as recorded by Nina Simone.
Format: waveform Tags


Anonymous said...

This track is taking hella long to download. Also, you should have let your great friend and drinking buddy edit your post.


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