New Air-Tight PC-1 Magnum Opus Debuts at RMAF

Demoed at previous shows in a “mock up” body, Air-Tight’s new PC-1 Magnum Opus made its final-form debut at RMAF mounted on a Graham Phantom Elite installed on a Transrotor turntable in the room of importer Axiss Distribution.

The new top of the line Air-Tight cartridge has a steep $15,000 price. I reviewed it recently in Stereophile and found build quality superb, with the cartridge producing very close to the desired 92 degree SRA (stylus rake angle) when the arm was parallel to the record surface and greater than 30dB channel separation with less than 2 dB discrepancy between the channels with the cantilever perpendicular to the record surface.

One of the things you should insist upon (and should check by measuring) when you spend this kind of money on a phono cartridge is superior build quality that produces these kinds of measured results.

Like previous Air-Tight cartridges and the MySonic Labs line, both of which are manufactured in Japan by Matsudaira-san, the PC-1 Magnum Opus produces a smooth, lustrous overall sound and a “burnished” top end that many find appealing, though “detail freaks” and those who prefer the last word in transparency and top end extension will probably be happier elsewhere.

When you discuss this with individuals in the two opposing “camps” the “burnished” sound lovers scorn the transparency and extension cartridges as being “overly analytical” while the “detail freaks” dismiss the “burnished” sounding cartridges as opaque and thick sounding.

While analog detractors see this as proof that record playback is fraught with colorations and “distortions” enthusiasts appreciate the ability to tailor the final sonics to their listening tastes—much as the mastering engineers often do likewise when the do final EQ on both analog and digital productions.

“Why be wedded to that person’s taste?” is what analog devotees would say and of course I concur!