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Sunday, September 18, 2011

CARTRIDGE SPOTLIGHT - AUDIO TECHNICA at554Sa aka AT12Sa SHIBATA - ATN12S-1974



The vintage Audio Technica AT554Sa, made in Japan, is a pretty decent cartridge and has excellent abilities in transposing vinyl to sound waves.

This particular cartridge, I found as a package deal online, with a Technics headshell
for $20.00. I would have paid that for the headshell so it was an easy gamble.
It turns out the cartridge and stylus was barely used 
but it had very light
corrosion over the cantilever and diamond
 (microscope-pic below of front side - Shitbata AT554sa aka ATN12S)




I was able to 'buff' the corrosion off the shibata tip by using a simple rubber-eraser.
To do so, you use a razor edge to score a barely visible line at the top of
a flat artistic/pencil eraser, a line that runs at least half inch.

Then you simply run the stylus tip
 in the proper direction (as if a record
was playing forward) with the stylus
against both walls of the eraser
and you have the perfect buffer for the
stylus tip. I used the weight of
 the stylus only taken off the cart body,
dragging backwards down
the length of the eraser "groove", instead of

risking the weight of the eraser and possibly
instabilityof my hands if I was to "drag"
the eraser against the stylus, but you could
also do this with the cart assembled.
It had a light patina of corrosion, but after
 I did the buffing it eliminated ALL of
the corrosion. So no need for chemicals!

(IF ANYONE WANTS TO SEE PICS OF HOW
I CLEAN THE STYLUS OF CAKED ON CORROSION
PLEASE REMIND ME AND I WILL MAKE A BLOG POST)

My guess the cart was sitting unused for years and just gained atmospheric condensation hence the corrosion.

So after I was able to do that, I rechecked the sound and adjustments and
I have a very dependable, revealing, stable cartridge.
The shibata stylus was a real groundbreaking design, still coveted barely
unchanged today and this is one of the first models by AT that used it.
The actual model Number AT554sa is very rare, and not many references
only to point that
the  equivalent is the  AT12Sa , Consumer Testimony that this has merit!
From what I can tell, this was first issued in 1974!

The photos provided are some shots of the actual cart/stylus and then
I took a series of photos with my microscope of the front/back/side
of the shibata stylus. I did my best to make it somewhat legible.
Not the best camera with the microscope..
Regardless, the Cart is working like new!
--- Review of sound to come --











-video slideshow-
with example of song transcribed with the AT554sa



above - Looking at the front of Shibata from below, you can see hollow cantilever with
rectangle shape crimp at end 

above - same shot of SHibata as the top of this post. Looking from the Left side 
frontal - you can see clearly the shibata cuts and the odd sleeve
cut around the front. It reminds me of a rose bud coming forth.



above- here you can see looking at the SHibata from below it, and 
visible the rear of the stylus shape. Whih is similar to the front, but
narrower, like a dagger. you can also see the detail
of where the corrosion was buffed. You can see the corrosion at
the top of the picture! 

above :
looking from below again, but on angle. Looks
like a closed cloven hoof.


above : same shot as below, but inverted. Kinda looks
electron like! Looking from the rear again. This was
an earlier shot where you can still see some corrosion
on the stylus-since has been effectively removed




above - looking at the front from the side. The nicest shot I could get.
You can even see the way the tip
is like a ball peen. Ready to trace those grooves.

below - a detail of the sections of the shibata -
blue is the two edges at front
and the purple at back. the light blue is the stylus
bit.



2 comments:

  1. Bought a vintage JVC QL-A7 TT which has this cart in it... has the corrosion as you show and recently started sounding 'fuzzy' in certain wavelengths. Will consider attempting a similar 'cleaning' as you dis but I'm not versed at all in this stuff, especially TTs... AM considering buying a new stylus for about $130 - do you think this would be a good investment?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I find the replacement to be pricey - if you have some extra cash , always better to get a non used stylus. - Yes still after cleaning I found my Stylus to be a bit fuzzy but that seems considerate since the cantiliever tube is so corroded (dissipates frequency response)

      I MUST be clear - I made a typo - the replacement stylus is - ATN12S- the at554sa is a clone of AT12Sa - not AT12s (notice the a gone) Some say the ATS12S will fit but you have to modify it but since the ATN12Sa is available - it could be a decent investment. I rarely use mine as I have the at150 series of carts and stylus (at150e at150mlx) --the old AT carts just don't compare. If you can afford it - ditch the stylus idea and go for a at150mlx or the at440mla (if you are on a lower budget) as the 440mla is about the same price as the at12sa stylus! peace

      Delete

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