Cartridge Reviews

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Michael Fremer Posted: Sep 30, 2007 0 comments
These are great times for analog, and I'm happy to have played a small part in the revival, but recently the demand for some products has outstripped supply; getting review samples has been next to impossible. I've requested an Audio Research PH7 phono preamplifier for literally years now, but ARC can't build them fast enough, so they don't need a review. The more they sell, the greater the buzz, and the greater the buzz, the more e-mails I get from readers asking for a review. It's not nice to not be needed.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 03, 2007 15 comments
You know what's the first thing they teach you in dental school? Don't ever say "Oops!" Even if you stick one of those hooked teeth scrapers through the patient's cheek, you don't say "Oops!" "Don't move!"? Yes. "Oops!"? No. That's the big day-one lesson—and given the cost of medical malpractice insurance today, a damn good one.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 08, 2014 46 comments
What happens when you install in a $70 M97xE a $179 Jico V15xMR stylus replacement?
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Michael Fremer Posted: Feb 20, 2014 16 comments
I was lucky enough to see the St. Petersburg Philharmonic play Carnegie Hall recently. They did Prokofiev's Violin Concerto with Julia Fischer, who played wonderfully and then Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony. We get great seats courtesy Joe Kubala of Kubala-Sosna cables who had a scheduling conflict and kindly thought of me. We had to drive through a snow storm to get there but it was well worth it.

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Michael Fremer Posted: May 08, 2006 0 comments
What makes a phono cartridge worth $3500 or $4000? Pride of ownership? Snob appeal? Sound? Tracking ability? Exotic materials? Styling? Labor cost for skilled artisans? Special ether? Cool wooden box? All of the above?
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Michael Fremer Posted: Sep 02, 2007 0 comments
Scan-Tech builds low-output moving-coil cartridges for a number of companies, including AudioQuest, Linn, and Spectral (footnote 1). It also markets its own line, under the Lyra brand name (Lydian, Clavis, Parnassus), which is imported and distributed by Immedia out of Berkeley, CA.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 10, 2014 6 comments
The $2995 Lyra Kleos Cartridge was billed back in 2010 as a replacement for the Helikon. The Kleos is a much better sounding cartridge in every way. It maintains and actually ups the Helikon’s detail resolution, while adding the more expensive Skala’s smoothness and midband warmth.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 19, 2007 1 comments
Back in 2000, when Lyra introduced the Helikon moving-coil cartridge, which replaced the then six-year-old Clavis D.C., the company inexplicably retained the Clavis D.C.'s retail price of $2000. This was inexplicable because the Helikon's revolutionary design was new from the ground up, and because audiophiles—like most, if not all, consumers—perceive price to be a reflection of quality and performance.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 19, 2013 32 comments
The listening has been completed to the nine moderately priced cartridges for this survey. The cartridges are: The Audio Technica AT95E, the AT 95SA, the Ortofon 2M red and 2M black, the Grado Prestige Gold 1, the Sumiko Blue Point Special EVO III, the Audio Technica AT7V and AT150ANV and the Nagoaka MP300.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 23, 2013 83 comments
First of all thanks to everyone who participated. More did than we initially expected. This is a learning experience for sure. Future such surveys will feature “normalized” files so levels will be equal. I’ll be far more careful about clipped files too.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 25, 2008 3 comments
The audio industry may have lost a legend and a prolific innovator in Henry Kloss a few years back, but it still has another affable, creative eccentric in Peter Ledermann. In the mid-1970s, Ledermann was director of engineering at Bozak, where, with Rudy Bozak, he helped develop a miniature bookshelf speaker and a miniature powered subwoofer. Before that, Ledermann was a design engineer at RAM Audio Systems, working with Richard Majestic on the designs of everything from high-power, minimal-feedback power amplifiers and preamplifiers to phono cartridge systems. He was also an award-winning senior research engineer at IBM, and the primary inventor of 11 IBM patents.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 23, 2011 1 comments
Strain-gauge phono cartridges are rarely made and seldom heard; for most vinyl fans, they are more myth than fact. Panasonic once made one, as did Sao Win, but those were decades ago. I've heard about those two models for years but have never seen, much less heard one.

As if he's not got enough to do building his extensive lines of moving-iron cartridges, preamplifiers, amplifiers, and speakers, Soundsmith's Peter Ledermann also makes a full line of strain-gauge cartridge systems available with a choice of six user-replaceable stylus profiles. I believe the Soundsmith is the only strain-gauge cartridge currently made anywhere in the world. Ledermann says it takes him a full day to build one.

Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 29, 2016 Published: Apr 28, 2016 25 comments
Soundsmith’s Peter Ledermann has been designing and building “fixed coil” cartridges for many years, beginning when he was asked by customers to “back engineer” a B&O design used in that company’s “plug in” cartridge tone arms.

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