Cartridge Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Aug 23, 2018  |  18 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  |  26 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  |  26 comments
File 1 is the Hana SL. File 2 is the Ortofon Quintet Black "S".

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 20, 2017  |  61 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.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 09, 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.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 07, 2014  |  47 comments
What happens when you install in a $70 M97xE a $179 Jico V15xMR stylus replacement?
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 20, 2014  |  7 comments
I reviewed the Transfiguration Phoenix for Stereophile five years ago. This is not really the same cartridge though it retains the same name. In 2012 the low output moving coil cartridge was updated to include larger gauge pure silver coil wire wound on the square permalloy core used on the now discontinued top of the line Transfiguration Orpheus. The revised Phoenix also shares the Orpheus's damping system and uses a variant of the Orpheus's yoke less, double ring magnet technology featuring a powerful neodymium ring in the rear and a samarium cobalt one in front.
Michael Fremer  |  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.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 05, 2014  |  6 comments
The moving coil cartridge advantage comes in great part due to its far lower moving mass. A relatively light-weight coil moves and reacts faster than a far heavier magnet. The lighter the coil, the less the mass.

Over the past few years, thanks to improved magnets and coil and former materials as well as how they are implemented, designers have found ways to increase output efficiency. Thus fewer turns of wire are required to produce a given voltage output.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 22, 2013  |  85 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.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 18, 2013  |  33 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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