Originally Posted by JamieMcC
Jico SAS 1, stylus upgrade for P77 Cart
With the arrival of a new Jico SAS stylus for my vintage P77 cart I have on my Rega Planer just before Christmas. I thought it was a good time to also start taking my approach to vinyl playback a bit more seriously so a Hi-Fi News Analogue test LP was also ordered.
Key features of the SAS stylus 1 are it is of the boron cantilever and micro ridge tip type.
Initial observation, the Jico is so tiny the tip and cantilever look very delicate the tip is not visible with the naked eye and even with a magnifying glass it is hard to see.
After some fiddling with settings tracking down force was set at 1.20grm my cartridge set up was checked against the analogue test LP and performed well (which was a relief) in the entire test bar the most extreme tracking test
“Track 9: Bias setting: 300Hz tone, both channels +18dB
This track stands alone as perhaps the most difficult track for a cartridge to track cleanly. Although Its only 2dB higher than track 8, this track is perhaps the most famous of the four, as only the very best gear and alignments can pass it unscathed. For those with more modest gear, results from this track should be taken with a grain of salt.”
Well the TT has been going for most of the afternoon unfortunately any chance to do any objective listening during this period was scotched as my 8 year old daughter decided she wanted to have a disco but we had a great time playing and getting down to the Detroit Spinners, Boney M, Divine, B gee’s some rock and roll etc etc. The TT is only a couple of feet away and did not skip or miss a beat, tracking proved to be excellent. I love the simplicity and ease of use of the Rega for this.
Ok so later on I had a chance to make some better observation and comparisons to how the player performed against the original stylus.
Enough with the waffle. Improvements over the old stylus are immediately noticeable.
Clarity has improved across the board and with it increased resolution and detail retrieval especially in vocals which have more body and texture. Better treble detail which is smooth without tinnyness or harshness.
There is a greatly improved sense of soundstage and imaging it is much more precise and vocals have moved forward from being slightly recessed.
The bass has tightened up and is more controlled I initially thought there was less but that’s not the case it is just presented in a more coherent form.
It has proved without any doubt to be a very worthwhile upgrade and I am delighted with the results, not really expecting there to be such noticeable improvements from changing something so small as the stylus and not the whole cartridge is something to marvel at.
Thanks to analogsurviver who suggested it.
I am glad you got it so fast and, most importantly, like it.
It is a good opportunity to stress the vital point - if the stylus shape, diamond size and cantilever qualities are not "good enough", no cartridge (principle on which it operates, fancy body materials ( lapis lazuli, jade, urushi, etc, etc... )) - can change that fact.
As noted before, Arcam P77 is in fact a Japanese OEM cartridge. In USA it is currently sold as Sumiko Pearl - and it has been "sailing under many flags" in the past 40 or so years. It is basic, but good MM design that changes as the stylus that is used with it dictates.
Jico sells it as "limited edition" on the world market as SAS1 cartridge (but it is readily available on the Japanese Jico site without restrictions ). SAS1 stylus gets substantially subsidized by Jico - it is about 2/3rd cost of Jico's SAS styli for any other cartridge make, but is essentially the same cantilever and stylus tip used in all of them: the difference is in the suspension, possibly magnet and of course "peripherals" that allow fitting the stylus to the intended cartridge.
Here the pics of my sample of Jico SAS stylus for Technics EPC 205C II L (one of the VERY best MMs in history, significantly bettered only by Technics' own EPC 100 series) :
Here Micro Ridge is clearly visible - the contact line with the record is the bright line in the second photo, scanning radius being mere 2,5 micrometers. It is the ULTIMATE shape - any sharper than this and it would tend to recut the groove. Micro Ridge also offers the longest lifetime of any type and will not "spread into teardrop shape" with use as any other type eventually will. Jico quotes for its SAS version (called Super Analogue Stylus simply because of commercial/legal purposes ) service life of approx 500 hours - until certain level of distortion is not exceeded. But Micro Ridge will not damage records/erase treble from the innermost grooves up to about 1000 hours - which is well past anything any other design can claim. Any other stylus tip used for that amount of time would have irreparably damaged your, by now mostly irreplaceable records.
I apologize for some photos not to be completely in focus and properly aligned - but as stated before, I am not going to risk a perfectly good stylus just for the photo !
Left channel contact line
Right channel contact line
Facets from this angle/lighting
Facets from another angle/lighting
Edited by analogsurviver - 12/27/13 at 4:56pm