Part 5 – Performance Testing

In line with my adapted methodology, I carried out resonance testing in several interesting configurations. 

Firstly, a clarification:  The X-axis depicts data collection points in time. Measurement unit is irrelevant. The Y-axis shows the following values: 

  • Blue line – peak frequency picked up by the microphone, including background noise. This data is used primarily for context. You can see 4 different frequency sweep tracks on the graph below (alternating left / right channel 800 – 20kHz outputs). Blue vertical lines can be described as noise and are either spaces between tracks or sounds that the mic struggled to pick up. The below waveform starts with noise, followed by linear 800 – 20kHz signal (it gets a bit messy from 15kHz), then silence between tracks (noise), and another 800 – 20kHz sweep. 
  • Green line – vibration in g picked up by the sensor (g = 9,81 m/s^2 * 100,000 for Y-axis scale). So, at frequency 7,500Hz (blue line), the vibration value is 0,12g (green line). You can see below that the tonearm starts vibrating at approximately 8kHz and then peaks at 12kHz with approximately 0,25g. 

Vibration readings above 15kHz may be less accurate, the sensor still works but has a higher margin of error. 

It should be noted that there is hardly any vibration before the frequency reaches 8kHz. This is good news. 

Test 1 

  • BennyAudio Immersion turntable with BA 12.5inch tonearm v.1 (also used in the HighFidelity magazine test) 
  • Denon DL103R Stock cartridge 
  • Tracks: 800 – 20kHz, 20 – 20kHz, Pink Floyd ‘Hey You’ 
  • One of the highest-rated slipmats on the market vs. no slipmat 

Conclusions: 

  • The tonearm doesn’t vibrate at frequencies below 8kHz for both 800 – 200kHz and 20 – 20kHz outputs.  
  • Both sweep tracks see resonance increase from 8kHz and peak at approximately 8kHz and 12kHz. 
  • According to product description, the slipmat is meant to help reduce vibration. Does it help? Not really. The mat not only increases vibration amplitude (see ‘Hey You’), but also causes much higher resonance at 12kHz.  I’m not saying that slipmats are useless. They can definitely improve sound quality, but in Benny, it is the POM plate that does the job. 

Test 2 

  • Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable 
  • 2M Red cartridge vs. DL103R cartridge 
  • Tracks: 800 – 20kHz, Pink Floyd ‘Hey You’ 

Conclusions: 

  • The Pro-Ject tonearm vibrates much more with 2M cartridge than with DL103R cartridge. Interestingly, the 2M has no vibration at 8kHz but goes off the scale at 12kHz. 
  • During ‘Hey You’ playback, vibration peaks higher for 2M, while DL103R shows more frequent vibration of lower amplitude. 
  • In terms of sound quality, DL103R disappoints. The low mass tonearm of Pro-Ject Debut Carbon clearly isn’t an ideal partner for such a stiff cartridge. 

Test 3

  • BennyAudio turntable 
  • 2M Red cartridge vs. DL103R cartridge 

Unfortunately, this test had to be abandoned. The 2M cartridge fell apart when I tried to remove it from the arm. 

Test 4

  • BennyAudio Immersion turntable with current BA 12.5inch tonearm 
  • Audio Technica AT33PTG2 cartridge vs. DL103R cartridge 

This one is interesting. 

I previously mentioned that the Audio Technica cartridge lacked dynamics and soul. Despite that, it works fine and generates limited resonance at above 15kHz, as shown on the graph. Denon DL103R is more dynamic yet lacks damping, with considerable vibration recorded at 12 – 20kHz. 

It’s worth noting the improvement at frequencies above 8kHz – the current tonearm version performs much better here than the version used in Test 1. 

Both cartridge models have pros and cons. Denon sounds good but not on every tonearm. Audio Technica tracks well but generates poorer quality sound. 

My personal conclusion: higher-end cartridges have the sound quality of DL103R (broadly speaking, as they also offer good sound resolution and tonal balance), and vibration damping at least as good as in AT33PTG2. This is why they cost so much money. 

Test 5

  • DL103R cartridge retail version vs. DL103R cartridge modified by me 

The modified cartridge version was fitted with Paradox Pulse body, boron cantilever, and Namiki Microridge stylus. 

Sound quality aside, the new body was intended for improved damping. It did the job as vibration occurs only beyond 20kHz and has a higher amplitude compared to the unmodified cartridge version. It is also flawless for frequency values below 15kHz. 

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