Cartridge Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Mar 22, 2019  |  34 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  |  43 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  |  13 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  |  28 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  |  63 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  |  May 07, 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?
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 07, 2014  |  47 comments
What happens when you install in a $70 M97xE a $179 Jico V15xMR stylus replacement?
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  |  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.
Michael Fremer  |  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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