After deciding to look into the budget category, I stumbled upon this model. A little research proved worthwhile and interesting. The Audio Technica AT95E goes way back, actually. In fact, it is quite the contender amongst affordable phono cartridges.
The Audio Technica AT95E caught my attention for several reasons. Firstly, it’s quite the oldie. Secondly, if I were to list my top 5 most affordable phono cartridges that you wouldn’t chuck in the bin right after opening it, the Audio Technica AT95E would sit pretty high on the table. And lastly, the fact that those two things are combined makes it really pretty exciting.
A check on Audio Technica’s website will reveal that the Audio Technica AT95E has been discontinued for quite a while. It worried me. I was really eager to get my hands on it and if it was discontinued on the manufacturer’s website, I worried that it would be hard to get. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.
I got one pretty easily and had no problems at all with the delivery. Although after I unboxed it, I realized that the tough little guy looked the part for a budget cartridge. The good thing, however, was that while it was obviously not expensive, it didn’t look tacky and cheap.
The Audio Technica AT95E isn’t a beauty. If you are after it, be ready to classify it as a classic built mainly to perform and not sit pretty. I was pleased, however, that holding it didn’t give an air of fragility.
With cartridges, I am a firm believer that first impressions are extremely important. If a phono cartridge doesn’t look like much, chances are it isn’t really much. I liked the color mix as well. I feel they could have done worse than my green, black, and white mix. However, I am unsure as to whether there are other colors for that model. I mainly noticed the color because it was the exact shade of green as the table cover which my system sat on.
After my first view of the Audio Technica AT95E, I had more hope than ever than it could actually be a good buy. From the first view, it gives no reason for one to think otherwise.
In this segment, we’ll be looking at some of the most important features of the Audio Technica AT95E phono cartridge. Let’s begin!
Tracking Force Range: 1.5 g -2.5 g
The tracking force abilities with this cartridge sit right in the middle. With good recordings that have an okay sound quality and are in okay conditions, you will enjoy quality tracking from the Audio Technica AT95E. The Audio Technica AT95E will not make up for or hide the inadequacies of your record. If you have a
However, with recordings that aren’t are so good, the tracking isn’t nice. The result is dry and less than desirable. You might want to stick to the Audio Technica AT95E if your records are worn out. If you don’t, you’d not be giving the Audio Technica AT95E room to make a good impression.
If a sound test is carried out at that time, the results would be quite awful. If we’re to consider the Audio Technica AT95E on even ground with good records, you’ll definitely find that the tracking available is better than most. It definitely can do the job in the right conditions. The Audio Technica AT95E is quite versatile as well. With some warped records, it performed well when used at the manufacturer’s recommended tracking force weight.
Recommended Range: 100 pF-200 pF
Usually, most of Audio Technica’s cartridges in the MM series or line have capacitive loads that range from 100-200. The Audio Technica AT95E is no different. From the start, that looks like a problem. The average capacitive load range of phono cartridges is from 100 pF-220 pF. Some go as high as 300 pF and go as low as 50 pF. Hence, the capacitive load is a big issue on paper. However, luckily, it is only on paper. The Audio Technica AT95E works well even when the capacitive load is much higher than the recommended range of 100 pF to 200 pF.
Dynamic Compliance: 11.5 CU (at 10Hz)
The Audio Technica AT95E has a dynamic compliance of around 11.5 CU (at 10Hz). This leaves it at the lower side of medium mass when its compliance is considered. Due to this, you should be better off pairing it with medium mass arms or high mass arms.
Sound tests are my favorite parts of records. It is quite amazing how the same record can sound different depending on the cartridge or player you use. With each test on phono cartridges, I begin with a minimum expectation from the model. If I hadn’t studied the Audio Technica AT95E, I would have had much lower standards due to the price. However, features like the adaptive dynamic compliance gave me higher hopes than I would have had originally.
In this sound test, I assessed the sound quality for the major parts.
Personally, carrying out sound tests for the midrange is perhaps my favorite way to start. However, in hindsight, I should have ended the tests with the midrange. The midrange wasn’t good enough in my opinion. If you decide to make use of the Audio Technica AT95E during a sound test for a record, you would have to take into deep consideration the quality of the cartridge that you are using.
It felt rough in some places. It lacked the smoothness that I demand from phono cartridges. To best enjoy it, the overall picture should be considered. The midrange did quite sadly.
VERDICT: It could have been a little better. I’d rate it a 4.5
By the time it was time to test the treble, I was a bit downtrodden and not looking forward to much. The midrange hadn’t given me what I was looking for and I was a bit disappointed
However, the treble change all of that. I suspect that this was because, in comparison, the treble was amazing. However, in all fairness, some high-end models don’t do it so much better. There was a particular texture to it that I really liked. It was very clear and even though it got quite thin towards some points, I’d say that it is quite overlookable.
VERDICT: I actually enjoyed the treble testing. For the price, it is a good buy. I rate it a 5.5
Finally, the bass was tested. Since I’d experienced two different qualities, I told myself to place my expectations in the middle. Hence, I expected no punch from the bass but I expected its presence at the very least.
I was almost right. Only that this time, it surpassed my expectations. The bass actually gave a little punch- definitely not the type that you feel in your guts but it was there and if it wasn’t, you would notice and miss it sorely. So while it was great, it did much better than the midrange.
VERDICT: I was actually quite pleased with it. 6
Considering the blend came in next. How does the Audio Technica AT95E mix it all? Does it give out a nice balance? Is it worth your buy? I’d say that if you are considering going for a budget buy, the Audio Technica AT95E is probably one of the best you can get. It manages to blend very nicely; soothing to the ears and clear. It is good enough to be the main and only phono cartridge you’ll use if you’re on a budget. If you can overlook some flaws, you’ll enjoy it. However, if you have sensitive ears, you might want to look somewhere else.
If you use records frequently, you’ll know that while the sound is the most important part of phono cartridges, other things matter. We’ll consider the pros and cons in our next segments.
The Audio Technica AT95E is quite the gem of budget bargains. It is affordable and doesn’t shout that it was bought on a budget. Sure, it has problems with the sound quality and although it tracks better than its mates, one could want more. If you aren’t really picky, go for this. It is a bargain that you’ll enjoy