Cartridge Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jul 05, 2019  |  28 comments
The first item up for bids today on “The Price is Right” is Gold Note’s Donatello Gold moving coil cartridge! Vacuous bimbette hostess, tell us all about it!

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 20, 2019  |  17 comments
Any resemblance between Sumiko’s $899 “Songbird” high output moving coil cartridge and the rest of the Reference line’s “bird” cartridges—the $1249 Blackbird (available in both low and high output versions) and the new $1899 “open architecture” flagship Starling is strictly intentional. Sumiko has been in the cartridge business for decades and these are all made in the same reliably high-quality factory that I visited a few years ago.

Malachi Lui  |  Jun 17, 2019  |  16 comments
Though my initial February review of Ortofon’s $999 MC Quintet Black S cartridge was quite favorable, one part of my system wasn’t best optimized for the cartridge: the Rega RB330 tonearm’s lack of adjustability meant that my VTA was off by two degrees (90 degrees instead of the preferred 92-93). To combat this issue, AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer and I installed Acoustic Signature shims underneath the back of the Rega tonearm. However, with sufficient shims installed to increase the VTA to 92 degrees, unless the tonearm was raised from the record surface, the dust cover wouldn’t close. Since in my house a dust cover is absolutely necessary, I sacrificed having ideal VTA and we only ended up installing a set of 1mm shims to increase the VTA by half a degree.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 28, 2019  |  26 comments
The cartridge featured "blind" in the recent post titled "How Much Would You Pay for This Cartridge?" pictured above is "The Vessel" A3SE, which sells for $99.00.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 26, 2019  |  33 comments
The picture purposely obscures this moving magnet cartridge installed in the Rega Planar 8 tonearm plugged into the Graham Slee Accession. That's because I don't want you to know its identity. Rather, please listen to the file and tell everyone how much you'd be willing to pay for it and how you think it sounds.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 22, 2019  |  40 comments
Denon's 103 cartridge originally introduced in the 1960s for radio station vinyl playback is still in production and now has achieved near-mythical status. A few body upgrades are available, most of which require the motor to be removed from the less than rigid body. However, this one costing $85 with the not particularly clever name Aluminum Body Cap is one you can easily add yourself to your existing 103.

Malachi Lui  |  Feb 04, 2019  |  44 comments
“The next piece you need to upgrade is your cartridge,” my editor repeatedly reminded me for months. After receiving my Rega Planar 3 from a generous AnalogPlanet reader, I felt perfectly content with the pre-mounted Rega Elys 2 MM cartridge, as my new system (complete with AudioQuest speaker cables) was already a large improvement from my Audio-Technica LP120 turntable connected to a Panasonic home theater system. However, I researched cartridge upgrades nonetheless and came up with three potential moving coil choices ranging from $524 to $795, but I eventually settled on the $999 Ortofon Quintet Black S.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 23, 2018  |  17 comments
Sumiko has been shucking these Oyster moving magnet cartridges for many years. They've mostly been entry level products aimed at getting one started in the analog world, placed on a budget turntable and priced accordingly. The least costly $79 Oyster sported a spherical stylus that didn't deliver much in the way of detail but made set up easy and got the job done.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 16, 2018  |  12 comments
This revolutionary cartridge comes in two flavors: plain and peanut. When the stylus wears out instead of having the cartridge re-tipped, you eat it. It melts in your mouth, not in your hands. Best for “mint” LPs, etc.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 11, 2018  |  29 comments
In a recent issue of Stereophile, Analog Corner covered a number of products including two very expensive cartridges: the Transfiguration Proteus D ($10,500) and the Kuzma CAR-60 ($12,995). Both feature diamond cantilevers but that doesn't mean they sound at all alike.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 25, 2017  |  28 comments
File 1 is the Hana SL. File 2 is the Ortofon Quintet Black "S".

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 20, 2017  |  64 comments
Here are two great, "reasonably" priced, superbly built cartridges that I've chosen to review together while giving you the opportunity to "hear" both!

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 28, 2016  |  26 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.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 19, 2015  |  4 comments
California-based Triangle ART manufactures five gleaming chrome and gold plated high mass turntables as well as its own tone arm. The 'tables weigh from 40 to 850 pounds. Recently, Triangle ART introduced the Zeus MC phono cartridge, thus completing mechanical part of the analog playback.

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