Weathers PS-11 Professional Stereo Pickup System Page 2

Response checks using the Westrex 1-A and London's stereo test disc showed a slightly rising top—up about 0.5dB at 10kHz and 3dB at l5kHz. Both channels of two samples were within their rated 1dB limit of output imbalance. Total unweighted noise measured 56dB below a 7cm/s 1kHz signal, which is completely inaudible, and since there are no inductive elements in the cartridge, it is not susceptible to hum interference from poorly shielded phono motors. The transistors in the polarizing supply will, however, start making thunderous grumbling noises if the supply is placed where other components can heat it up. So keep this in a cool place.

It is on listening tests, though, where this pickup really shows its capabilities. Separation, on widely miked discs, is so so close to complete that we have never been aware of separation as a consideration. The sound is as vast and spacious as that from two-track tapes, there is no instrument wander, and cross-channel splatter on "ping-pong" discs—where one channel speaks while the other goes dead—is as low as we have heard.

The high-end rise is not severe enough or sharp enough to cause spitting or sizzling colorations, and is in fact not even perceptible on most loudspeaker systems. But when the speaker is flat or slightly rising in response above 10kHz, the rise is audible as a subtle extra string sheen and brass bite. A rolloff of 3dB at 15kHz, from a treble control or a simple R/C filter, will take care of it.

More important than niceties of frequency response (which are, after all, easily equalized out) is a pickup's tracing ability, and this is where the PS-11 excels. At 1.5 grams force, this pickup will track, without audible distortion, discs that throw every other currently available cartridge for a loop. The small (0.4-mil radius) stylus causes some trouble on early mono LPs with rounded groove bottoms, and we did find a few stereo discs that won't trace cleanly on any pickup we have encountered to date. But the pickup's freedom from sharp high-end peaks holds the resulting distortion at a tolerably low annoyance value, instead of exaggerating the distortion and adding "spikes" to it. And if you happen to own a number of old mono discs that give trouble, a 1-mil cartridge is available from the factory on special order, as is a 3-mil model for 78-rpm discs.

We must admit that our PS-lls did not perform this well as received. The tonearm in two samples had too much damping action in their vertical pivots, resulting in variations in tracking cleanness with each revolution of a warped disc. We understand the factory has been taking measures to remedy this problem, and will adjust any arms that are sent to them with excessive damping, but the user can do the job easily himself by adding one or two drops of Weathers turntable lubricant to the vertical pivots until the arm, when dropped from a height of 3" (onto a soft surface), takes about one second to touch down.

Like most good pickups, the Weathers is rather fragile, and while its stylus will retract into the case when overloaded, to avert utter destruction, the driving system may still be displaced enough to cause tracing problems. With the tonearm lightly damped, stylus damage through dropping is not beyond the realm of possibility, so it's advisable to cement a small wooden strip to the motor board in such a position that, regardless of where the arm hits it, it will support the rear of the cartridge, holding the stylus above the motor board. If you drop the thing onto a disc, and then start noticing distortion, you'd better return it to the factory for a checkup.

The PS-11 also shares with other pickups a tendency toward long-time deterioration of its damping elements. The symptoms of this are very much like those of a worn stylus—distortion, rough-sounding highs—and often prompt pickup owners to discard perfectly good styli when all the stylus needs is redamping. So if this, or any other pickup that you own, starts sounding less clean than you remember it as having been, send it back to the factory for redamping. It's cheaper than a new stylus.

There are several pickups—some of them more rugged than the Weathers—that will play most stereo discs without severe tracing problems, and there are probably some whose overall coloration will better complement your speaker system than will the Weathers. But it is on those few wide–dynamic-range discs with very high groove velocities on them where the Weathers shows its superiority.

The price is steep, you may not like its freedom from coloration, and you may prefer what a pickup with a falling high end does to today's souped-up discs. But if you're looking for something that will really show you what's on the records you're buying, the PS-11 will do the job better than anything we have encountered thus far. This will be our standard of comparison until we find something better. We're still looking.

Weathers Industries, Division of Teleprompter Corp.
Company no longer in existence (2019)

Glotz's picture

"The extra force also reduced the tendency for the stylus to "hang up" on accumulations of the waxy substance that appears to be present in all vinyl record grooves."

Waxy substance? Could it be the pickup was destroying the LP's they were playing?