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  1. #1
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    The Stanton "Collector's Series 100" cartridge

    I think it's a pretty safe bet to say that no one here at AR had either ever heard, or even heard of this cartridge until I posted (on quite a few occasions) that it's the cartridge I'm currently using in my system. And that's a shame. It's far and away the best sounding cartridge Stanton ever made.

    Also known as the "WOS 100" ("WOS" standing for "Walter O. Stanton"), the cartridge has its beginnings in the legendary Pickering XSV-3000, introduced all the way back in 1976. At that time, most people were startled to hear just how good the 3000 was, and even asked, "Who really makes this cartridge?" believing Pickering incapable of making anything so good. One such "non-believer" was Saul Marantz, to whom I gave a 3000 to use at a consumer audio show while I was PIckering's National Sales Manager.. He was reluctant to use it at first, but after installing it into the turntable he and Jon Dahlquist were using, Saul came over to the Pickering booth and proclaimed the cartridge the best sounding moving magnet cartridge he'd ever heard.

    As design improvements were incorporated into the 3000, the Stanton 881-S was born. While the 881-S was slightly better than the original 3000, those changes silently went into production 3000's at the time, so that the two cartridges were in fact, identical (this was typical at the time with Pickering and Stanton, and actually a rather clever marketing ploy.)

    Over the years the design (using samarium cobalt as the magnetic material) and a stylus that had more than 12 patents on its internal design and construction, eventually evolved into the WOS 100. In addition to the company's proprietary "Stereohedron" stylus shape (a variation of the Shibata-type), a super-thin, sapphire-coated beryllium cantilever was fitted with a "nude" variant of that Stereohedron stylus. The WOS-100, aside from the customary "Calibration" that all Stantons came with, also came with individually-run frequency response charts. Of course, it also had to be packaged well, and the solid walnut box it came in was something to behold too.

    Glamour and glitz aside, the WOS 100 sounds just plain wonderful. It hasn't been manufactured now for about 10 years, and, despite glowing reviews and huge sales success in Europe, suffered from a genuinely vile and needlessly insulting review in "The Absolute Sound" from a young a**wipe who, by his own admission, never liked Stanton cartridges in the first place. (I believe I've written a thread about this entire ordeal before - it's too long to go into here, but if anyone's interested, send me a PM and I'll give you all the "gory details" about the truly fraudulent and misleading efforts of TAS in this matter.) Sales were quite modest prior to that review, and all but collapsed afterwards.

    I also own a Shure V/15 Type V MXR, which is a highly-touted MM cartridge. Just a few days ago, I decided to fool around with my turntable setup, and to check the cartridge aligntment. To my horror, I discovered it was way off, and corrected it. I also did the same with the Shure, which I had mounted in an additional headshell. Then I did a comparison.

    I used my wife again (who usually thinks I"m nuts whenever I ask her to see if she can hear a difference between anything) as my "audience." I played a favorite track on a Sheffield direct to disc recording of Dave Gruisin, and listened to all of it. It sounded clear, distinct and pleasant.

    Then I switched cartridges, without telling my wife which was which. As soon as the first note of the track was heard, there was an immediate difference, and as the music continued, there was no question that the second cartridge was far and away the better of the two: much, much more distinct, brilliant and "alive" sounding, without a deliberate peak in the high end, and a good deal more "bite" to the initial attacks of many instruments. ALL frequencies seemed to be reproduced better, with more "sparkle" to the highs, "presence" to the mids, and "guts" and "impact" to the bottom. These are all my adjectives: my wife simply said, "that one's much better."

    And, of course, "that" cartridge was the Collector's Series 100.

    I guess I went through this exercise to convince myself that I'm using a cartridge that's still as good as many others of today, other than taking that giant leap into the multi-thousand dollar area for top end moving coil models and their associated step up transformers. While Walter Stanton believed to his dying day that NO moving coil cartridge could ever be any good, none of us in the sales department ever agreed with him, and for the sake of our careers, wouldn't dare admit that either. Still, some of the company's products (both Pickering and Stanton) were really first-rate performers, with the WOS-100 firmly planted at the top of the heap.

    Stanton today is primiarily a DJ-oriented company, having been sold to a new owner in 1999, and with a new CEO heading up what's now called "The Stanton Group." Going gun-ho into the DJ marketplace made sense for the company, and I fully support its efforts. Still, if not only for the sake of nostalgia, it's a crying shame that a product like the Collector's Series 100 can no longer be had from them.

  2. #2
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    Saul came over to the Pickering booth and proclaimed the cartridge the best sounding moving magnet cartridge he'd ever heard.
    I confess that I was not much of a Stanton fan back then either. All the 681s I heard had short, fat and stiff cantilevers. And the funky brush. I graduated from the Shure V-15 (type III I think) first to Ortofons then to Peter Pritchard's final design, the Sonus. The Sonus Blue was a killer cartridge in the 70s. Since it was twice as compliant as the Stantons, however, you needed a low mass arm. That's when I got a Vestigal.

    rw

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I confess that I was not much of a Stanton fan back then either. All the 681s I heard had short, fat and stiff cantilevers. And the funky brush. I graduated from the Shure V-15 (type III I think) first to Ortofons then to Peter Pritchard's final design, the Sonus. The Sonus Blue was a killer cartridge in the 70s. Since it was twice as compliant as the Stantons, however, you needed a low mass arm. That's when I got a Vestigal.

    rw
    You're right about the cantilevers on the 681 series (a moving iron, as opposed to moving magnet design). Those on the Pickering XSV-3000, Stanton 881-S and WOS-100 were considerably thinner. And, at Pickering, we used to use a Micro Seiki triple tonearm turntable to compare the XSV-3000 to a myriad of other cartridges at dealer promotions that we ran. The Sonus Blue was one of them, and the XSV-3000 creamed it! Still, it was a fine product.

  4. #4
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    And, at Pickering, we used to use a Micro Seiki triple tonearm turntable to compare the XSV-3000 to a myriad of other cartridges at dealer promotions that we ran.
    Just curious. What arm(s) did you use on the Micro Seiki?

    rw

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I confess that I was not much of a Stanton fan back then either. All the 681s I heard had short, fat and stiff cantilevers. And the funky brush. I graduated from the Shure V-15 (type III I think) first to Ortofons then to Peter Pritchard's final design, the Sonus. The Sonus Blue was a killer cartridge in the 70s. Since it was twice as compliant as the Stantons, however, you needed a low mass arm. That's when I got a Vestigal.

    rw


    I loved the Sonus and ADC XLM MK ll cartridges. The Sonus I had might have been a Sonus Black or a model that was not as compliant as the Blue. I have always preferred an induced magnet cartridge over a moving magnet cartridge. I am currently using a moving coil but miss my Ortofon OM 20. The OM 20 sounds more dynamic but that may be a sign I need a better phono pre-amp.
    JohnMichael
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  6. #6
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    I loved the Sonus and ADC XLM MK ll cartridges. The Sonus I had might have been a Sonus Black or a model that was not as compliant as the Blue.
    I think you're right. The Black series came later and was more like the Green in that regard. The challenge with all of Pritchard's most compliant designs (>50 cm/dyne) was they needed an exceptionally low mass arm to work optimally. The popular SME 3009 S2, for example, was considered a "low mass" arm, but was not the best match for them. Most generic Japanese "S" arms were not well matched either. You really needed an Infinity Black Widow or a Vestigal.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    The OM 20 sounds more dynamic but that may be a sign I need a better phono pre-amp.
    I suspect you are not hearing the full capabilities of your Benz.

    rw

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Just curious. What arm(s) did you use on the Micro Seiki?

    rw
    It all depended on which dealer we were working with. There were times when two SME arms were used, and others when the Micro Seiki arms were used. At no time did we use two different tonearms, as we wanted to give each cartridge "equal footing" in the comparison. Our "tests" were hardly scientific: our purpose was to show people that the XSV-3000 was an exceptionally good sounding cartridge, and at a "list" price of $99.95 (most dealers sold it for $79.95), it was an outstanding value too. We used at least all of the following: Shure V/15 type III. ADC XLM MK II, Sonus Blue, TOTL Empire (hardly mattered, as virtually all Empires were pretty awful at the time), Denon DL-103 (with matching transformer), Stanton 681EEE (only when corporate execs weren't around since we were essentially bad-mouthing products from our own company), TOTL AKG cartrdige, Audio Technica AT-15SA, plus whichever cartridge a given dealer asked us to use. And, don't forget, this was 1977-78, so many fine cartridges from other suppliers didn't exist yet.

    We carefully mounted and aligned each cartrdige, and set the tracking and anti-skating forces as needed. The turntable was connected to a dealer's (or our) preamp with two phono inputs, and we just played a particular record, trying to carefully cue the two arms to be playing pretty much the same thing, and then switched from "Phono A," to "Phono B." The only cartridge out of the bunch that outperformed the Pickering was the Denon, but not by a huge margin. Given the enormous difference in price between the Denon cartridge/transformer combo and the 3000, we were able to prove the value of the Pickering cartridge.

    This was all a long, long time ago, but the XSV-3000 was the foundation of the Stanton Collector's Series 100. I suspect that as many rejected the 3000 out of hand simply because it was a Pickering cartridge, so did others with the Collector's Series cartridge because it was a Stanton product, and those individuals had limited experience with Stanton's better models. And as I said at the start, "that's a shame."

  8. #8
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    At no time did we use two different tonearms, as we wanted to give each cartridge "equal footing" in the comparison.
    I appreciate the concern, but ironically different cartridges require different arms. What is ideal for one is not for another. Ultra compliant cartridges like the Sonus need a lower mass arm than either the SME (still have one myself) or the basic Micro Seiki and MCs need higher mass arms (or mass added to shell).

    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    I suspect that as many rejected the 3000 out of hand simply because it was a Pickering cartridge, so did others with the Collector's Series cartridge because it was a Stanton product, and those individuals had limited experience with Stanton's better models. And as I said at the start, "that's a shame."
    All in all, it sounds like the 3000/881 was a great cartridge.

    rw
    Last edited by E-Stat; 07-15-2008 at 05:15 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I appreciate the concern, but ironically different cartridges require different arms. What is ideal for one is not for another. Ultra compliant cartridges like the Sonus need a lower mass arm than either the SME (still have one myself) or the basic Micro Seiki and MCs need higher mass arms (or mass added to shell).


    All in all, it sounds like the 3000/881 was a great cartridge.

    rw
    That's very true, but then, in order to provide each cartridge with its perfect match, we'd have to have had a large assortment of different tonearms, and that was just out of the question. Our purpose in the comparison was not to degrade or disparage any of our competitors (save, perhaps the awful Empire cartridges and the crummy sounding AT-15sa), but to illustrate how the XSV-3000 could hold its own against the best available of the day.

    As it was a reasonably compliant cartridge (though not so much as the Sonus or ADC), it performed best in an Infinity Black Widow, or other such ultra low-mass arm. Still, unlike its brethren, it was equally "at home" in a clunky Garrard Zero-100, or BIC 980. That made it a far more "universal" product than any of its competitors. And, at $99.95, it was a steal.

    And you're right, the 3000/881-S was/were fine products.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular O'Shag's Avatar
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    "All in all, it sounds like the 3000/881 was a great cartridge." - EStat

    I owned the 881-S. It was my first cartridge on the first good 'table I owned. I got it brand new from a friend of mine and used it with the legendary Alphason HR100S tonearm (pure titanium and still one of the best arms any money can buy). I discovered when using the881-S on other arms, that the Alphason was leagues ahead, and extracting the very best performance to be had from the 881-S. I was very impressed with my vinyl rig and like the Stanton, however found it somewhat un-refined up top. It was only when I tried out a dynavector Karat 17D2 and subsequently replaced the 881-S for it, that I realised the Stanton's limitations and what all the fuss was about moving coil. I've not heard the CS100but it must be a great deal better than the 881-S according to emaidel's description. EMaidel, have you compared the sound of the CS100 to a good moving coil cartridge?
    'Lets See what the day brings forth'.... Reginald Iolanthe Perrin

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    You're right about the cantilevers on the 681 series (a moving iron, as opposed to moving magnet design). Those on the Pickering XSV-3000, Stanton 881-S and WOS-100 were considerably thinner. And, at Pickering, we used to use a Micro Seiki triple tonearm turntable to compare the XSV-3000 to a myriad of other cartridges at dealer promotions that we ran. The Sonus Blue was one of them, and the XSV-3000 creamed it! Still, it was a fine product.
    In my college days working in a stereo shop, the Stanton 881s was an employee favorite. it was affordable (especially with my employee discount living on a college budget) and when compared on various tables in our listening rooms, it could hold its own against cartridges costing much more. It was a well kept secret because Stantons just didn't have a reputation for high fidelity.

    I've never heard of the WOS100.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by O'Shag
    I've not heard the CS100but it must be a great deal better than the 881-S according to emaidel's description. EMaidel, have you compared the sound of the CS100 to a good moving coil cartridge?
    Actually, the WOS-100 sounds a lot like the 881-SMKII, but with a smoother top, and better defined low end. I've been able to compare the WOS-100 in my own home to the Denon DL-103 and the Ortofon MC-20MKII, and preferred the WOS-100 to both, and by a considerable margin too. Still, I have no doubt that some of the newer (and very expensive) moving coils will outperform it, but I'm just not willing to shell out that kind of money for a cartridge, especially since my primary listening is to CD's and SACD's and not LP's.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeegy200
    In my college days working in a stereo shop, the Stanton 881s was an employee favorite. it was affordable (especially with my employee discount living on a college budget) and when compared on various tables in our listening rooms, it could hold its own against cartridges costing much more. It was a well kept secret because Stantons just didn't have a reputation for high fidelity.

    I've never heard of the WOS100.
    Both Pickering and Stanton had the best employee prices of any company in the industry. Normal discounts to store employees from manufacturers was 50% off list: Stanton's and PIckering's discount was 50% off dealer cost. The PIckering XSV-3000, with a list price of $99.95, had a dealer cost of $39.95. Employees could buy one for their own personal use for $20. At that price, there wasn't anything that could touch it.

  14. #14
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emaidel
    Still, I have no doubt that some of the newer (and very expensive) moving coils will outperform it....
    The other challenge with MC cartridges is they require a more capable and higher gain phono preamp. Traditional 60 db gain preamp / line stages really don't work optimally or end up noisy. Alternately, the use of many SUTs can mask the added resolution and thus cancel the benefits.

    I chose my high gain Audio Research preamp solely to work with a Dynavector DV20X.

    rw

  15. #15
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Alternately, the use of many SUTs can mask the added resolution and thus cancel the benefits.

    rw
    I've recentlu acquired my first SUT and, so far I have not found added coloration to music. Doesnt most of SUT rob resolution from LOMC mostly from a mismatch of cart and SUT?
    But some people will use OTL amp with Magnepan assisted by such device as the ZERO Autoformers. That makes you wonder why people even use OTL amp.... So I see where you are getting at.

  16. #16
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    I've recentlu acquired my first SUT and, so far I have not found added coloration to music. Doesnt most of SUT rob resolution from LOMC mostly from a mismatch of cart and SUT?
    Just from my experience (I used an Ortofon SUT with a SL15 as far back as '75), it is not a question of color but focus. At their best, MCs are remarkably open and focused. I also use a Shure M97XE in the vintage system. I would say that it is pretty neutral and free from coloration. As compared with the Dyna though, it is opaque sounding. The difference is resolution.

    rw

  17. #17
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    E,

    Dont be spittin' me some audiophile Jiba Jaba to me my friend. I think you are telling me that LOMC cart is like a cage-free eggs filled with Omega-3. While MM and LOMC with SUT is plain ol AA Grade eggs that Jayra buys. If so, you are speaking my language.
    I can roll wit dat.

    J

  18. #18
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    Dont be spittin' me some audiophile Jiba Jaba to me my friend. I think you are telling me that LOMC cart is like a cage-free eggs filled with Omega-3. While MM and LOMC with SUT is plain ol AA Grade eggs that Jayra buys. If so, you are speaking my language.
    I can roll wit dat.
    Yo, my homeys what's trippin' in the forums? I say talk to the hand - call waiting. I'm conversationin' you right now to get to a realistic level as it were. Pimp my Benz, put me on hold. You know what I'm sayin?

    rw


    RV

  19. #19
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    Stanton Collector's Series 100

    Good afternon all,
    In response to emaidel in reference to the Collectors Series 100 I have used it for years. I enjoyed it so much I purchased a couple of extra sets at the time. I've done that more often then not because items are discontinued to quickly & become hard to find. Now my Cartridge/stylus lasts longer because I don't use it as much as I use to even though I have 1,000's of records. It happens to be a great sounding (Stereohedron) Cartridge, with the brush I Tracked at 1 3/4 gram without brush 3/4's of a gram. At the time I had a Solidly built Empire Turntable & the Sonic ambience of the Cartridge synchronized well with my ears. I will be posting on eBay New (never used) Collectors Series 100 complete with wooden box, Manual, little Stanton metal Box, Specific specs unique to this cartridge and other items that came with it 100.

  20. #20
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    Stanton Collector's Series 100

    Hi;

    I have just purchased a Stanton Collector's Series 100, would anybody know if a replacement stylus is available? This unit was made in 1996, (i would guess one of the last). I have a feeling I will not be able to find an orginal styli replacement.

    I have been a Stanton owner since 1986 my first and only 881's lasted untill 2006 when the stylus gave out. I did not think any Stanton could sound better, but the 100 does for sure.

    -Torrence

  21. #21
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    881 Series styli will fit the Collectors Series 100 cartridge.

  22. #22
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    Xsv-3000

    I had one of these many years ago and loved it. Unfortunately, the owner of a local shop convinced me to ditch it for what was essentially a low-end AT cart. Never liked the sound of that or the trackability. Seemed harsh. My old 3000 tracked anything, and always sounded so sweet and smooth. Perhaps this is a skewed memory. But anyway...

    I've been wanting to get back into my vinyl and recently found a NOS 3000 on e-bay. Bid and won, and now it's at my house. Need to get an alignment tool so I can properly set the cartridge up.

    TT is a Luxman PD-264. Would like to upgrade that at some point (it seems fine, but I wonder if a new unit would have a quieter bearing or better arm -- this is one of those knife-edge arms, and there's a lot of play).

    Been thinking about Music Hall 5.1, or maybe a Rega P5, or lower-end Clearaudio. Any thoughts? Or will this cart be ridiculous or outdated in such a combo?

    I'll report back once it is mounted and set up.

    Pete

  23. #23
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    Properly set up, the Lux will sound great. I think it would be at least a match in many ways with the tables you've mentioned. You'd likely have to move well in to the $1500 and up range to better it with today's available phono gear, or go down the road of modifying a Technics 1200 via Kabusa if you want to stay in the direct drive realm.

  24. #24
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    Walter O Stanton 100 Collectors Series

    Where can I find a replacement stylus for one of these? Thanks, MG

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgomez
    Where can I find a replacement stylus for one of these? Thanks, MG
    You can't. As another member posted though, the 881-S stylus will work reasonably well in the Collector's Series body, but there are virtually none of those original replacements left, so you'll likely have to settle for a knock-off. LP Gear is a place that sells non-original (knock-off) styli, and apparently people who've purchased styli from them have been satisfied.

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