Turntable Cartridge Comparison: Audio-Technica AT91 and Sansui SN-80 [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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11-05-2006, 11:04 PM
Hi Team

I am presently using a Sansui cartridge (SC-80) (with Sansui SN-80 stylus) for Sansui P-D10 Direct Drive turntable. I am presently observing a slight hiss in the right speaker, which is due to the mis-alignment of the cantilever.

Therefore, I am planning to replace SC-80 with Audio-Technica AT-91 which is the only available replacement available at the nearby store (Its labelled Made in Japan). The cantilever is black in color. I have been told that it is having a diamond stylus but it is not mentioned anywhere in the package. The package looks exactly the same as given in the following website:

http://cgi.ebay.ie/AUDIO-TECHNICA-AT-91-MOVING-MAGNET-CARTRIDGE-NEW_W0QQitemZ300043527394QQihZ020QQcategoryZ69964Q QcmdZViewItem

Please let me know whether AT91 cartridge is better than SC80 in terms of sound and whether AT-91 has a diamond tip or not.

Looking forward to your inputs,


11-07-2006, 07:30 PM
I have not dealt with cartridges for more than 10 years. Before that time I did deal with a few different brands. I am not familar with the SC-80. I did own one or two AT cartridges as well as Empire, Shure and Pickering. I did like the AT cartridge that I used. It's sound was more towards the Empire and Shures which IMHO sounded more natural in reproducing music from vinyl. What you might be concerned here is what kind of stylus the SC-80 had. Was it elliptical or conical. IMHO if I am replacing a cartridge that had an elliptical stylus, I want an elliptical stylus on the new cartridge. The AT cart. advertised has a conical stylus. If the SC-80 had a conical stylus, then IMO you could go with this AT replacement. The only person who could answer whether audiowise the AT is better than the SC is one who has owned both.

11-07-2006, 08:53 PM
Hello Ed and welcome to AR.com

You are always welcomed at Analog Forum. They are handful of elite analog members here who can help you out tremedusly. I'm not one of them, but would like to give you some advise.
As Kelsci stated, it would be hard to determine whether AR will sound better than your old cart. He also advised you to get a elliptical cart. I can't agree more for what you are looking for. Specs for that AT says 0.6 Conical. I would be more interested to know how wide that stylus is. Narrower/smaller the better, since it can fit between grooves much better.
I would suggest you get a cartridge from a web retailer. You shouldnt be limited to what your local stores can offer. You may want to try this link.

Try looking for one with elliptical stylus with with 0.3mm X 0.7mm. Only AT with 3X7 stylus I can find was AT 120E. There are other choices.
I dont think you are looking to spend more than $50, but I think it would be worth alot in long run if you can extend your budget to say $90.


11-07-2006, 11:12 PM
Thanks for your responses. I have managed to get the following info on Sansui SN-80 stylus from a website:

Tip Material: Diamond
Tip Radius: 0.7 Mil Conical

The sound was really great from the Sansui Stylus. The AT-91 stylus radius is 0.6 conical.
Does that mean better sound and lesser chance of skating. Pls advise. Thanks.


11-07-2006, 11:36 PM
Diamond is a standard material used in 99% of cartridges.
Elliptical stylus will offer much more contact surface, for that they can dig out alot more music. If you liked your Sansui, you might be surprised with cartridges with newer techonolgy.
We still dont know your budget, but you have alot of options with 1/2" Standard mount carts.


11-07-2006, 11:42 PM
Just FYI, this site has AT 120E for a cheaper price.

11-08-2006, 08:00 PM
The hiss will have nothing to do with a misaligned cantilever. It's more likely that you got interference or a loose connection somewhere along the signal path. Or your preamp/receiver and/or cartridge body are getting old.

But, if the stylus cantilever is misaligned, it won't sound right and it will put a lot more wear and tear on your records. And a conical stylus will already put more wear on vinyl. And how do you know that the stylus is misaligned, are you using anything to measure the overhang with your stylus?

As others have suggested, go with cartridge that uses an elliptical stylus. It will improve the sound quality and it's better for your records anyway. I don't think that Sansui has made cartridges for close to 20 years, so your cartridge might be ready for replacement anyway.

Plenty of decent options in the budget range for turntables.

11-08-2006, 10:32 PM
I have observed that when SC-80 has been used, even if the disc had feelable surface marks, it was never 'audible'. So lets say we have options such as a 0.6 conical stylus, and another elliptical stylus, 0.3 X 0.7. (say AT120 or something).

Will the elliptical stylus be better in terms of:

- sound quality (when using LPs with slightly feelable surface marks)
- skating of LPs due to low tracking force. (To reduce record wear, lets assume that I am using a tr. force of 1.5 grams [the user manual says 1.5-2.5 grams] )

Pls share your thoughts on this.

Thanks a lot :)

11-09-2006, 02:10 AM
The conical stylus should actually cause less record wear, particularly if the cartridge alignment isn't perfect, tracking force is higher or mistracking occurs. The tracking weight is distributed over a larger contact area between the stylus and record groove. The stylus shape is smoother. For these reasons conical styli are often used in DJ applications where higher tracking forces are necessary. Detail and clarity do suffer using a conical stylus though. Most quality eliptical or biradial tipped cartridges track a little lighter and shouldn't be any harder on records when properly aligned. Set tracking force between the "optimum" and "maximum" recommended for the cartridge to avoid mistracking and record damage. Mistracking is worse for records than a slightly higher tracking force. It's often not wise to set tracking force at the very minimum recommended for a cartridge.

Just about anything you choose should give you more detail and less surface noise than the .7 mil conical stylus you're using now. A smaller conical stylus should be a slight improvement. An eliptical or biradial stylus would give you considerably better tracking and detail. Smaller stylus sizes track deeper in the groove and can sometimes avoid damaged areas / surface noise. Smaller stylus sizes will offer more detail, but can sound bright or harsh depending on the particular cartridge.

This Audio Technica is very popular as a good sounding budget cartridge right now... http://www.lpgear.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LG&Product_Code=ATC95E

Also the AT120E/T... for a little more $. http://www.lpgear.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LG&Product_Code=ATC06&Category_Code=A3

I agree with the one who said your hiss problem is probably due to something else. Bad connections / electronics = hiss. Bad needle or alignment would likely just cause distorted sound. Could be a problem in the cartridge... Could be something elsewhere... A little experimentation is probably in order...

11-09-2006, 05:21 AM
Roy..thanks for the wonderful advice. I forgot to add one point. The Sansui Stylus that I am presently using, has faced few issues in the recent times. The cantilever is made up of 2 aluminium contacts. One of them was slided into the other piece. Once both became separate and I used a rubber-based adhesive to ensure that the pieces never came out again. The amp is custom made (the preamp for turntable - Circuit book says "xtal pickup circuit"). hope I can use the same circuit for the AT-91 (by the way, my brother got AT-91 for me...I dont have the option of returning it either!).

I can say for sure that there is no issue with the amp. Lets say we are playing the first song on a 33-RPM disc. Just before the track starts, there is supposed to be a slight silence (maybe with some dust clicks). The left speaker sounds just fine, but the right speaker produces a very slight sound (like a metal rod dragged on the floor). Its very feeble, by the way and happens with most LPs. Once the song begins it almost vanishes, as it is only observed during periods of silence on an LP. I am positive that the issue should either be with the cartridge or most probably the stylus.

Please suggest on how I can get the best out of AT-91.

Thanks once again

11-09-2006, 06:42 PM
Please suggest on how I can get the best out of AT-91.

The best way would be to install your cartridge properly. This is very easy to do with proper tools. If you dont already have a cart protractor I strongly recommend you to print this up. Be sure to follow the printing procedure.
Click on this link http://www.enjoythemusic.com/freestuff.htm

If you cant get a hold of a printer, then you can send $2,3 to address listed below on that page. This is a great quick fix, but you should buy one. I use one by the Turntablebasics. You can get one for $20.

JoeE SP9
11-09-2006, 11:37 PM
See the attached PDF files for a selection of protractors.:ihih:

11-11-2006, 02:36 AM
Joe..Thanks a lot :)