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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.



AUDIOPHILE MYTHS- part 1A - Cleaning Records and basic Storage Tips

Part 1A- CLEANING RECORDS and Storage ideas


a picture of someone manually washing an LP with basic brush. this is the best way.

The mos tly portrayed as expensive and esoteric practice of cleaning Vinyl records, is like
most 'audiophile' spin and myths, filled with so much disinformation and utter bullshit
it's surprising people actually want to collect Vinyl.

The first 5 years of my collecting Vinyl, I was under the impression that I should not even
wash the records at all.

This was before the web, and this was also a time when I was the only one I knew who
used vinyl. Late 80's early 90's when others were adopting CD's.
Due to an almost tragic exposure of wettness of my 45s and the place I had them stored
I came to the storage and found many of the 45s starting to get some fuzzy mould.
Since they were my Mint Soul 45s I was very alarmed.

This was lesson 1 : STORE YOU VINYL OFF THE FLOOR OR GROUND
Even if you have them in bins, try to put blocks of wood under the bins to generate nice
cycles of air through your storage area.

Lesson 2 : GET PLASTIC BINS FOR YOUR COLLECTION WITH LIDS.
I know lots of people who like to "show off" their collection. That's great - if you have
the space!  Vinyl spanning walls and a room, aside from being fascinating for guests
is one of the best sound absorbers for nasty reflections if you tend to like to fill the room
with 80db and louder sound output. Just having vinyl in your room, makes the vinyl you play
sound better. An interesting truth!
Plastic bins, aside from what I'm saying are things you should have on hand. The ones with
handles, and the ones that hold about 100 LPs. Any more LP's and the bins are WAY too heavy.
The ONLY thing I ever buy from Walmart in Canada, are these awesome bins that hold about 100 LPs
and are about $5.00 each. They are made by Sterlite, in Canada, I'm not sure if they sell them at USA walmarts or abroad. This is why I buy them at Walmart, due to them being Canadian Made. They changed the design slightly about 8 years ago or so, and unfortunately the quality dropped slightly but not much.  They made the plastic slightly more flexible as they used to be more rigid, the downside of that, a few lids and corners would shatter on cold days when Moving them.


CLEANING MYTHS :

First big myth - and it's one hell of an expensive method.
VACUUM RECORD CLEANER MACHINES
they go by names like MONK, VPI, NITTY GRITTY.

THEY DO WORK! THEY ARE EXPENSIVE!

 THEY REQUIRE CONSTANT
MAINTENANCE.
When I say constant, I mean it.
You have to buy fluid. When you clean maybe 5 records, you will start getting streaks on the LP
varying in 'strength' with how much fluid(s) you use.
The time saving aspect may be there to a degree, but you lose the control and
variables that someone who pays attention to detail utilizes.
THEY ARE NOISY AS ALL HELL. You cannot clean your records past 9pm
on Weekdays in Most cases. - how many of you live in the Country?
Just think if the sound of Shop Vac. That's the noise.


Second Myth :
Liquids - chemicals that bond to the vinyl to 'enhance the sound'.
One well known chemical that is actually active once again due to someone finding a whole
NOS batch is called "LAST"
Seriously, it's the LAST thing you should think of putting on your Records.
Don't even put ISOPROPOL Alcohol on your records. Try to get Grain Alcohol if
you need to use it and even then, go easy with it.

 
This 8oz bottle is $200.00 !! ( equivalent to buying 25 used records) 

Next -
I've recently seen this crap from the UK "the RECORD REViRGiNiZER" it's being promoted by
RZA from the old hiphop group "wu tang clan" As If I could care less about what the
RZA has to say.
The RECORD REViRGiNiZER is based on thats retardedly lame concept of smearing wood glue on the LP
and then when it dries, peeling it off to peel away dust. I have to laugh.
It works but is not worth the effort.
With the RECORD REViRGiNiZER  you have to pay an astounding amount of money to play with it.
For a $60.00 bottle, you can only clean 16 LP's.  Amazingly dumb.
Clip from a TV show promoting it :




Hey it's a clever concept. But it's just not practical if you have over 16 records.

There are also many videos on youtube with people using Window cleaners and other
household products to clean vinyl- To put it simply, DO NOT EVER USE
THAT STUFF ON VINYL. The chemicals in those products are not made
for any type of plastic cleaning. Some even state on the labels with a warning.
WINDEX IS A FREAKING NO NO NO NO NO!!

Next part, I will talk about Manual Methods for Cleaning your precious vinyl.
It costs about $20.00 a year, and that's a high estimate.












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