AT-95ML on a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon

I just upgraded my stereo system and it’s revealed how lacking my turntable is, so I’ve ordered a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (without a cartridge) for a couple hundred bucks, without a cartridge. I plan on throwing the AT-95ML from my current turntable onto the Pro-Ject.

I know a VM540ML would be a "better" fit due to it being higher compliance, but the 95ML is what I already have.


My thinking is that some weights behind the cartridge should overcome the compliance issue and give me a solid (for the money) turntable setup.


Is there anything I’m overlooking? I ran the compliance calculator and it seems around 6g of additional weight (not including the screws/mounting hardware) should be enough to overcome the compliance issues.


Setup will be a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with a VM95ML -> Fosi Audio X2 phono preamp with some GE 5654W’s -> Tubes4Hifi SP12 PreAmp -> VTA ST-120 with Sovtek 5660WE’s -> B&W 702s2’s and a KEF R400b subwoofer.


threaded holes in the body is why I would stick with the 95.

my guess, align it, play, bet you will have no problem.

The VM95ML is a good performer and great value, however, my take is that your gear is worthy of better.  If you're going to bother to install a cart on the arm, IMO now's the right time to grab the VM540 (or better) and be done with it, then enjoy it for a good long time.  I suppose it really depends on how far you want to take the system.  Either way, it should sound good.  

The AT 95ML is a high compliance cartridge (about 40cu at 10 Hz), so I don’t know why you want to add 6g to the effective mass. With such a compliance you could use a tonearm with 6g effective mass, total, which doesn’t really exist. In any case, don’t add any mass. One wonders what data you used to come up with your conclusions.

The effective mass of the arm is 6g, the cartridge is 6.1g.

Everything I've come across has basically said the VM95ML might be a bad match for the Debut Carbon, but since it's what I already have was wondering if there was some kind of stop gap measure to make it usable for the time being, until I decide to just get a different TT or a new cartridge.


I'm also wondering how overstated the mismatch is. I'm going from a Teac TN-400S (which hums and is a very entry level turntable anyways) so while the VM95ML might not be the 'best' for the TT, it should be noticeably better than my current setup.


I know you're not supposed to add weight to fix compliance issues, but I was wondering if there was some kind of short term cheat to improve things to maybe give me the nudge I need to fully commit to a good TT setup.

I strongly doubt your data for effective mass of the arm. There have only been a few tonearms in audio history, dating back to the hayday of high compliance cartridges, with such a low effective mass. But I’m guessing you got the number from some reliable source, so I’m puzzled. Perhaps that value doesn’t account for the headshell. I regularly weigh all of my many headshells, and none weigh less than 8-9g. Most weigh 10g or more. So, to begin with, effective mass includes headshell and mounting hardware(add a few grams for that). It also includes the weight of the cartridge (6.1g). Even if your particular tonearm really does have effective mass of 6g without cartridge and even if we discount the weight of hardware, you’re at ~12g minimum. And finally, a high compliance cartridge like yours needs a low effective mass. The two parameters are inversely related. You’re going in the wrong direction if you add mass. Also, in my opinion, this whole issue is way overrated. One reason I say that is you and I don’t really know the compliance of your particular sample. Nor do we know exactly the tonearm effective mass. The equation merely puts you in the right ballpark. And, with apologies, you have somehow made an error in your calculation, if it leads you to believe you need to add 6g of mass.

That's the data from Pro-Ject directly.  Effective arm mass: 6.0g

That's not including the weight of a cartridge or the mounting hardware (the Debut Carbon has no headshell, the cart mount directly to the arm). Everything said and done it'll probably be around 13-14g.


I think you've given me the answer I was looking for. I've been getting the feeling that this is a really nitpicky thing that I likely won't notice and even if it is noticeable it will likely be eclipsed by the gains from going to a quieter, overall better table anyways.


I think I should stop over thinking it and just throw the VM95ML and, barring absolutely terrible performance, just call it a day.

You have to multiply the compliance on a Japanese cartridge by 1.7 before you calculate. That 6 gram arm and that cartridge are a perfect 10.92 hz. BTW, adding a weight to the arm will change the resonant lower and you don’t want to do that!


I have both cartridges (95ml and the 540ml) and use a Jelco 250ST arm which is medium compliance. Both preform excellent on the vinyl. Both sound different to each other. The 95 is clean and crisp but the 540 amps it up the level quite a bit. I was surprised actually. A debut carbon won't give you much of this realization. If I were you I would suggest a low level, high end table used in good condition. Would allow for the next step up on the speakers and preamp if and when you are ready.

Yogiboy, the given compliance of the cartridge, according to AT, is 20 at 100Hz.  I multiplied by 2 to give a rough approximation of the compliance at 10 Hz, which gives 40 cu. I don't disagree with you at all, but the equation softens the effect of changing M or C, because you are taking the square root of the product.  So, rather large changes in either parameter don't have as much effect on the resonant frequency as one might expect, which, coupled with the fact that we don't really know the compliance of any one sample of any cartridge, is why I take a laissez-faire attitude toward the whole thing. You probably could increase effective mass by 6g and still be within a reasonable lower bound of F for the ensemble.  There is just no reason to do it.

@lewm Thanks for the correction. I was doing the calculation with the static compliance spec. My bad!

Dear @mephiloco  : The 95ML is just fine with your new TT/tonearm. I own it and it's a very fine cartridge and way better of what its low price can shows. Go a head with.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


On the vinyl engine, Dynamic Compliance is 10 at 100Hz so at 10Hz it's a round 17. So it will work in any tonearm with medium effective mass. I own a VM95ML and I have used it on Roksan Nima that has a mass of 11g. Playback is very good for low-cost mm cartridges. The VM95ML will work fine in a Pro-ject arm.