Thursday, May 5, 2011

A visit with the ATN95HE stylus

The Audio-Technica AT-95E cartridge is a budget best-buy. For only $49, it has a great sound that works well for entry-level turntables. With my Dual CS5000, I've put many hours on my AT-95E and enjoyed every moment. But (and there are always caveats at this price range), overall detail and treble extension is certainly lacking compared to more expensive offerings. The sound was very "midrangey" and a little muffled up on top. It is, however, a great tracker and does well with inner-groove distortion.

Since my cartridge was getting a little worn from use, I decided it was time for an upgrade. At only $59.95, I decided to just replace the stylus with LP Gear's AT95HE. The whole cartridge is also available. This "hyperelliptical diamond stylus mounted on a thin-wall Zualam tubular cantilever" was an easy swap since I just had to pull the old stylus out and replace it with the new one. The new cantilever/diamond is more delicate looking and should (in theory) track better too.

The great midrange character of the original is still evident, but treble extension is now much, much better. Perhaps it is just the effect of the treble extension, but detail and transparency has been bumped up a notch. There is an overall refinement to the sound that starts to knock on the door of true audiophile quality.

Overall, a great upgrade to an already great budget cartridge. Very recommended!

Second System:
Audio Research SP-7 preamplifier
Mitsubishi DA-A10 amplifier
Dual CS-5000 turntable with Audio-Technica AT95E cartridge
Pioneer DVD-V7400 DVD player
KEF Q60 speakers

various budget cables