AudioCircle

Audio/Video Gear and Systems => The Vinyl Circle => Topic started by: TheChairGuy on 27 Sep 2006, 10:35 pm

Title: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 27 Sep 2006, 10:35 pm
Don't know why no one had not thought of this before...but this could be a nice resource for us vinyl-istas.

No bickering or fighting in this topic (tho I've found vinylista's to be a bit milder in temperment than the average audiophile)...it's all opinion and synergy, anyways.

Here's the start of my list:

ADC LM-1 - Circa 1977.  Attached to my JVC belt driver back then, I was too young a dumb to know if it was any good or not.

Shure M95HE - My next cartridge on the JVC, I don't remember it sounding any better than the ADC.  Maybe a bit better as hazy memory goes, but maybe not.

Grace F-9E - Pure pleasure with this one...either on my JVC or my next turntable, a Thorens TD-316.  It was so good I still have it, bent cantilever (no replacements now) and all.  I think I'll die with it in my pocket...pure musical pleasure for what was a lot of money as I remember it back then...over $100.00.

More to come as I can gather my thoughts and find more time in my day - everybody, please chime in on your fave, or dud, cartridges you've experienced  :)

Somewhat aside, if you are looking for quantitative information on thousands of cartridges, this website is invaluable:

http://www.cartridgedb.com/

Whoever runs it seems to keep up with it nicely, but could probably use help in filling in some blanks on cartridges he does not have firms specs on. You can fill in vital info on cartridges that you have specs on right online to fill in the blanks.

John / TCG
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: anal.log on 28 Sep 2006, 04:29 am
Some sort of Audio Technica with my Rega-don't really remember how it sounded.

Grace F9- came used with my Oracle sounded fine but was well used so I don't have a real good opinion on this one.

Goldring G1020-great cartridge fairly flat but a little light on the upper mids. Now has a broken cantilever

Denon DL-80A-high output moving coil, excellent budget cartridge very nice top end. Ended up selling it with my TT.

So now I'm stuck with an Ortofon OM5E- average-(came OEM with my Pro-ject TT)

Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: bboru on 29 Sep 2006, 02:11 pm
Just a few hints:
I have owed/own the following and I only mention those which have been good - the following:
ORTOFON SPU/E:  Get rid of the works headshell and make one from the purest finest grain solid carbon.  And do glue with hard epoxy the leadout pins esp. if you use tight clips to the tonearm,,,the pins DO pull out and leave a very fiddly soldering job!!  These hints applie to ALL low imped./compliance MCs.)  A wonderful cartridge by any standards.
Fidelity Research 7 series.  Again excellent.
Original Kondo Audionote Io - This is my alltime favourite and has been back to Japan 3 times for refurbishment.
Probably the best was the Be Yamamura solid carbon specified Audio Teckne (Be MC1) but I also tried his sharks oil which rotted the stylus:cantilever joint!!
All of these were in either a highly modded FR64S or a home made carbon Unipivot and on a Technics SP10 (Highly modded) or GArrard 301.
No combination under £30,000 ($50,000) gets close with a good horn system for sheer emotion, impact, emotion.
Hon. also rans incl.  ADC 25, various earlier Denons, original Koetsu red but all were difficult....esp the ADC!!!
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 4 Oct 2006, 09:45 pm
Shure V15VxMR- Tried only in my Thorens TD-316, I could not make that baby sing - ever.  Boy, did I ever try.  A complete waste of $208.00 (from J & R Music on sale) to me.

Ortofon X5-MC - My first stab at a moving coil, and not a bad one at that.  Very clear, amazing imaging, extended high frequencies...it does all the hi-fi things right.  Unfortunately, it is so lean that it doesn't make my head bop.  Good for classical, light jazz due to extra ambiance that moving coil provides, but let's down on the fun factor.  The stero separation is poor - probably due to the meavy mass tip (0.75g) - making it probably a great candidate fora re-tip in the future, tho. In all, not a bad cartridge for the $200.00 paid.

Audio-Technica AT-440ML/OCC - Out of the box quite strident; needed 30+ hours to break in.  The line contact stylus profile was a bit tweeky, but once dialed in and given that 30 hours - more pleasure than I ever thought possible for under $100.00.  Absolutely stellar stuff - very clear, dynamic....marred only by a brittle/fake sounding treble and notable imaging deficit versus the Ortofon.  Otherwise, an amazing effort for under $100.00.  Better value than even the Grace of years back I think.

van den Hul re-tipped Sumiko Blue Point- My second stab at (HO) moving coil.  Not as clear as the Ortofon, with a more clearly tipped up treble response, and a bit lean.  A great $300.00 vdH boron cantilever is probably largely wasted on this cruddy cartridge.  No matter how it is dialed in on VTF, VTA, azimuth, etc. the same conclusion is reached: a better stylus cannot make a lousy cartridge sing. 

EDIT: the vdH Sumiko needed about 1.2 gram tracking force....the 1.6 or so I had been using was painful to listen to.  After adjusting it downward, it started to take on that MC 'magic' without undue strain....but it's still got zingy treble and somewhat unpleasant midrange.  Not among my faves, to be sure.   Further, the cartridge mounting tabs are so thin that they break easily...making good, sturdy mounting long term almost impossible  :(

Low output moving coil sounds kinda' interesting, but given my experience (both here in my room and at shows) with moving coils (too 'hi-fi, but not enough swing to them) I'll probably end up with a moving magnet next time.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: djbnh on 4 Oct 2006, 11:53 pm
Don't know why no one had not thought of this before...but this could be a nice resource for us vinyl-istas.
John / TCG
Interesting comment.  :duh:  Please go to this thread (http://www.cartridgedb.com/main.asp) for a nice cartridge database (plus a cartridge resonance evaluator). Also, check The Vinyl Engine for numerous cartridge comments.

Additionally, Arthur Salvatore's comments about cartridges (http://www.high-endaudio.com/RC-Cartridges.html) are worth reviewing.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 7 Oct 2006, 03:59 pm
Here's another good research tool for pickups (and other analog gear):

http://audiotools.com/
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: avahifi on 7 Oct 2006, 05:54 pm
I e-mailed the cartridge database a .pdf file about the Longhorn stabilizer bar modification including construction details.

What are the chances that they will actually try it or post it there?

In my experience, not good.

Frank Van Alstine
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 8 Oct 2006, 04:13 am
I e-mailed the cartridge database a .pdf file about the Longhorn stabilizer bar modification including construction details.

What are the chances that they will actually try it or post it there?

In my experience, not good.

Frank Van Alstine

I suppose they could add it...as Cartridge Man has a similarly re-engineered Grado listed there (albeit, with a new line contact stylus fitted)

I just bought my first Grado yesterday, a Green, and fitted the Longhorn stabilizer and damped the coils per Frank's suggestion immediately (didn't want to go thru hassle of AB'ing with and without...I know the modification works from other cartridges).

Only 3 hours or so on it, but quite nice already - none of the sibilance some speak of and tracking seems quite good (due to Longhorn and silicone damping trough, no doubt).

Oh yeah, and NO hum whatsoever, even on my 'shaker' table. Filled with 9 lbs of Plast-i-Clay inside and out, set up on quite effective deadening squishy puds on each corner, added silicone damping trough and damped the oft microphonic Grado internal coils...it's, in fact, as quiet a playback as any cartridge I've owned has offered up   :D
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: ohenry on 24 Oct 2006, 03:31 pm
Adcom SXC-VDH Out of production, but worthy of mention.  High-output (a little over 2 mv), moving coil, sapphire cantilever, and $450 twenty years ago.  Once in a while you may see one offered as NOS for sale, grab it and give it a try.  I really liked this one on a Sumiko MMT mounted on a VPI HW-19 (yes I still have the table :P).  Tonally balanced having great, tight and dynamic bass.  It just sounded right to me.  I wish I had another...
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Redhanded on 1 Nov 2006, 02:12 pm
You mean people remember?

First cartridge: A giant Stanton with a BRUSH attached to the front of it. It was huge and probably formed of steel stampings, but then, the tonearm I used it on was about the size and shape of a caveman's club. Together they ate records.

Second: No memory whatsoever. It was a Dual 1229 I saved all summer for, cutting lawns. The identity of the cartridge is lost to history. Loved it, though. Even though I may not have known any better.

Third: On a beautiful rosewood Luxman D-D TT that never sounded all that good, I bought a then-fancy high-output moving coil, paying the ungodly-for-1981 price of $600 for it. I'm sorry to say I no longer remember the name of that one either, although I'm sure I should. (It ended up getting stolen.) The turntable itself (PD-272 maybe? Those letters and numbers arise out of the haze of memory) should be in a museum of industrial art somewhere--but in a static display, please.

[Skip first 15 years of the CD era, during which I had no TT.]

Egged on by Fremer et al. and the fact that my then-new integrated amp had a phono section, I bought a new Music Hall MMF 2.1 turntable with a cheap Goldring Elan cartridge. The table/arm/cart was rough but lively, broke up during loud passages but had a lot of...well, elan. Liked everything about the 'table, the cartridge, and vinyl.

Became a Convert.

Having decided on the basis of the MMF 2.1 that I wanted to get back into vinyl, I bought a beautiful VPI HW-19 Jr. with a Mk. III platter, AQ arm, and a custom walnut base (gorgeous). First I tried a Shure V15 on it (I forget the rest of the alphanumeric designation, but whatever was current in 1999). Totally hated that cartridge. Smooth, yes, but utterly synthetic-sounding. Might as well listen to music from inside a cardboard box. Next, again based on the vague consensus recommendation of the Zeitgeist, bought a Sumiko Blue Point Special. It was even worse than the Shure! More life and dynamics than the Shure, which isn't hard, but NO bass. What came out was "kin to music" but not very near kin. Tinny, harsh, totally a-musical. Sounded, in fact, very much like early CD. It's no wonder people got out of vinyl if they were listening to garbage like the Blue Point Special. I managed to damage it after excising it from my tonearm, so, unable to resell it in good conscience, I decided to back over it with the car. Smushed the loathesome little piece of scrap in my driveway like a wayward beetle.

Both of these "popular" cartridges are inferior to the cheap Goldring Elan, which had obvious flaws but at least was fundamentally musical.

Finally, remembering my experience with the Elan, I bought a Goldring 1042. It's an okay-sounding cartridge, but even very carefully set up it rides so low and close to the surface of the record that the cart body touching the record is a common occurrence, especially at the beginning of sides. The best way I can describe the 1042 is that it's sort of like a Toyota Camry. It aspires to modest competence and acheives...adequateness. But it's also inherently unexciting and never rises above its nature. I wouldn't buy it again.

And there you have it, a lifetime's worth of cartridge experience in ten pithy paragraphs.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: shep on 3 Nov 2006, 09:52 pm
In for a penny...this is really a long senior moment! lots of the damn things (Grace, cheap Audio T's, a Fidelity Research something, Shure, a couple of decent Orthophone's, a Roxan Chorus Black (search me) and I especially remember a series of Grado Sig 8's, none of which would work or sound right. I drove Grado crazy sending them back. I think I was at fault. I was trying to make them sing on the infamous (and loveable) Souther linear tracking arm. That is a story in itself! No there was a gentleman of the old school.
I gave up, moved to CD, never looked back. Well...if you gave me ten grand I could be tempted. I know how good the damn records CAN sound but I'm getting to old to get off the sofa every 27 minutes to turn them over. (maybe if I just touch the VTA a little...help!)
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: NealH on 3 Nov 2006, 11:20 pm
Many moons ago I owned a couple of the Fidelity Research cartridges (MC-201 and, 202) along with some others (Blue Point, Sure, Grado, AT, etc).  But, it's the FR that will forever be ingrained in my mind.  Seductively beautiful sounding, it produced a rich midrange and extended treble that defined the term "analog".  Not the most pronounced bass but, the moment the needle hit the groove there was never anything lacking.  Smooth, even, rich with a methodically continuous flow to the music that virtually left one in a trance.

Truly the antithesis of digital.   
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 11 Dec 2006, 08:27 pm
Hey, this is a fantastic resource I stumbled on recently...it's apprently from a hi fi mag in the UK some 25 or so years ago...in the golden age of vinyl.

Note the extraordinary amount of objective testing that went on back then - nowadays all you seem to get is opinion/subjectivity  :( 

Hope you all find something of value in this...I know I did:

http://www.vinylengine.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2224
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: marknoir on 27 Jan 2007, 09:20 pm
Hello, I' a newbi to this, but an interesting thread...

Been playing with vinyl since 1977, so had literally a ton of carts.

Inexpensive Shure in 1977, so-so, replaced by then current Grado - opened my eyes.
Then the following went in rapid siccession: Grace 9, Rega, Shure V (all were good in mid-fi systems that I had then). Then I met Steve Ziptser, who worked for Liryc Hi-Fi in Mnhattan (sadly, deceased), who introduced me to real hi-end, and... Money was gone as soon as it arrived... First I had Dynavectors 23R and 17D, both sounded very good with DB Systems step-up and preamp. Then I had a whole bunch of different Koetsus and Kisekis: big body Rosewood was seductive and as real as I could get then, but literally had zero tracking ability and had a huge over-the-top midrange. Later versions ( I had about three) were all better trackers and a bit more neutral). A couple of Koetsu Blacks - reasonably neutral but sort of "simple" sounding. Kiseki (Purple Heart) was sort of Koetsu sounding, but lucking excitement. My preamp by then was a Meridian 101. Then I switched to Paragon 12, and some step-up devises. Paragon souded great with a regular Shure V15VMR. That same time I also tried a Transfiguration Esprit (High Output MC) - excellent cartridge, if a bit light in bass area, and Glider H, which was also very good but not as smooth, and wanting in high frequencies. Then I got a Melos GK1+1, which sounded great with Blue Point Special. Everything in audio is about synergy, so Melos darkness worked very well with BPS brightness. Then I had a Melos 111B with Grado Sonata, which worked well together, but the other way! Then I finally graduated to an MFA Luminescence, a couple of different versions, and in a succession to Oracles Delphi Mk I, II, III, Premier, and, finally - Goldmund Studio, which was the best table I've had. Some serious listening was done. Regular Koetsu Onyx (good, much better than Rosewood, but also kinda deadish), Krell - specked Koetsu Onyx Sapphire - great cartridge, a bit too forward, but excellent otherwise, bad tracker as usual. Cello made by Ikeda, similar to Decca cantilever-less design, but MC. Hugely expensive, never could get it to work right, finally worked on my friend's huge FR-66 arm and EMT table. Cello Chorale, same as later Mark Levinson and Red Rose cartridges, built by Miyabi, excellent sounding, but can be bright in some systems. Problem - a low rider to the point of actually chirping on some albums' surface. Shelter 901 - very good cartridge but I was not as impressed as Arthur Salvatore. Monster Cable - -very nice, has to be loaded correctly or will have a reduced midrange and hot highs. Audio Technicas - never liked any of their MMs, OC-9 is good, but kinda bland and non-inspiring, excellent tracker though.

Now for the cartridges that I liked best:

1) a SECRET ENTITY, which I will not disclose until I find another one. It will sound rather bad into most phono stages, especially directly into MC solid state or into so-called High-gain tube units (like CAT). I personally had three of them before, actually attended a premier at Liryc 20ys ago and was not impressed. As I mentioned before, it all has to do with synergy, things have to fall into the right places. Right now I'm using it with home built step-up using two tiny vintage Beyer Dynamics microphone transformers, 3.2 ohm prymary, 3.7 Kohms secondary (no, not the ones on E-bay lately, and it was the only time that they really worked this well, and the only time a have heard this cartridge (or any other) truly open-up and present REAL music, not a bunch of frequencies), my trusty Lumi, and VPI HW-19 with MG-1 air-bearing arm, and I have NEVER heard anything like this in my room. I have a HUGE soundstage, with REAL instruments and people inhabiting it, it is never bright, it disects LP into multitude of different sounds, instead of congesting it (which manifests itself as nagging midrange and brightness), it has tremendows extention on top together with WEIGHT and color to cymbals, bass is full and yet delineated, so you can actually almost tell the brand of instruments being played. It tracks as well as Shure V, and surface noise is nearly null. I have to say though, that my sample seems to be a pre-production model with no serial #, so I have to investigate further...
 
2) Goldbug Mr. or Mrs. Brier
3) Ortofon 2000
4) Cello Chorale
5) Koetsu Onyx Sapphire


Some general thoughts that I gathered from my experience (others may disagree)

1) MCs are better than MMs
2) the lower the output of MC, the better it will sound (generally speaking), provided you have enough gain
3) loading either cartridge itself or transformer in parallel with existing 47K (or other value resistor already in the phpno stage) is NOT recommended, IMHO
4) excellent tracking ability is a must


Hope my gibberish will be useful to somebody... :-)))
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: marknoir on 28 Jan 2007, 11:11 pm
OK, so I got another one, so Mistery Cartridge that I like the most - Madrigal Carnegie One. There!
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: movingcoilguy on 1 Feb 2007, 04:57 am
Hello, sure no problem Sorry! BUT for reference out of all the vintage mc cartridges I collected and listened to last year by far the best of the lot was the Spectral MCR signature. The soundstage is very complex and huge with great depth and dimension. The instruments are very nicely spaced out in the music or soundstage making one feel that the musicians are right in front of you. Notes from chimes and other instruments linger in the air  very well as the music continues like no other cartridge I have heard. It tracks better then anything else I have used except for my Highphonic MC 15D. Its extemely fast and can attack passages like you wouldn't believe. Mated to the Spectral 10 preamp set to 47K its truly wonderul. The MCR seems to play well at all settings. Apparently it even sounds better nude but I have yet to tackle taking the body off, but maybe in the not so distant future. Its worth a listen if you can find someone who will part with theirs? I have had Koetsu's but the older Rosewoods will put you to sleep as they a are very warm , Monster Alpha Genesis 1000 -2000. AC3 was a great cartridge, I also like very much the Transfiguration Spirit, Lyra Clavis, ANd though some my find this odd but if you want to take a ride and experience a cartridge that has something that cant be explained look for a Shinon RED Boron as it has the ability to play music with a punch like very few others! Its very 3 diamentional and has great imaging,its effortless to listen to and the way it attacks music is just plain fun. Sorry if this is a bit of untechnical but I 'am really not up on my reviewers terms but I know what I like.movingcoilguy
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: marknoir on 3 Feb 2007, 11:33 pm
Miscellanious ramblings.

My favorite cartridge status has shifted from Nadrigal Carnegie One to ZYX R1000 Airy 2. It is an AMAZINF tranzducer! BUT (there's always a BUT): It absolutely shines on great records, but bad ones are somewhat unlistenable... Always a trade off, but what it does on excellent records is simply amazing.

Something about MC step-ups: While ZYX shines with a VAC MC transformers, it is only good with my home - made Beyer Dynamics. On the other hand, Carnegie is at it's best with Beyers and only so-so (as usual) with VAC.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 13 Feb 2007, 06:28 am
As of 2/12/07, this is my pecking order of the cartridges I now own:

1.  Grace F-9e (with Plast-i-Lator)

2.  Grado Green (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)

3.  Ortofon X5-MC (with Longhorn)

4.  ADC TRX-1 (with Longhorn)

5.  Audio-Technica AT440ML/OCC (with Longhorn)

6.  vdH re-tipped Sumiko Blue Point (with Longhorn)
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: beachbum on 15 Mar 2007, 01:28 am
been playing lps since the mid sixties. moms fisher console started my turntable life. then i went with a dual 1218 audio technica cartridge, uncle sam sent me to europe thank god and there were audio clubs with super deals on the air bases, picked up a thorens td 125 sme 3009 two arm, i had that table till katrina took it, i was still using it and it still played great,
had a list of cartridges i used with it, a number of ortofons, a moving iron decca london red this was in the mid seventies. b and o sp 6 and 8, i had a blue point special on it when the water came in, i use the platter for manual lp cleaning put it on a lazy susan and spin away.
when i started my rebirth system got a music hall mmf 7 with the included goldring eroica ho cartridge. that was ok but i wanted more,
vpi aires three 10.5i arm first cartridge was dynavector 20xl a sweet cartridge with great sound.
i wanted more zyx airy three xsbl, this was a huge upgrade to the 20xl resolution, and air is what zyx brings to the table along with mr mehran one of the best people in audio.
had a problem my cause with the airy 3 and mr mehran made me a very happy man with a zyx universe xsbl the most out standing cartridge my ears have had the pleasure to hear, detail, micro dynamics, imaging, and that famous zyx air and soundstage. expensive but well worth it.
the most important thing you can do if you are taking vinyl serious clean clean and clean, it does not touch the table until i use my disc doctor manual cleaning system. thanks to chair guy i have a KAB EV-1 coming going to see if it beats my manual method, cleaning your lps and using a dry brush after each side along with magic earaser will extend cartridge life.
                                                                                     mike
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 6 Jun 2007, 04:39 pm
Thought I'd re-visit this as I bought (or have been graciously loaned) a bunch of cartridges over the past 4 months....

1.  Pickering XLZ-7500-s mk. II (requires step-up, etc.)

2.  Grado Green (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
2.  ADC XLM Mk. III Improved

3.  Grace F-9e (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
3.  Grado G1+ (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)

4.  Ortofon X5-MC (with Longhorn)
4.  Benz-Micro MC-3 (requires step-up, etc.)
4.  Denon DL-160vdH

5.  ADC TRX-1 (with Longhorn)

6.  Audio-Technica AT440ML/OCC (with Longhorn)

7.  vdH re-tipped Sumiko Blue Point (with Longhorn)

Holy crap - I now own 11 cartridges.  They multiply like rabbits around here.  One more on it's way to me soon...a Stanton CS-100  :o

Price has little to do with performance for me (or MC vs. MM vs. MI, I think).....I could have stopped at the Grado Green for $60 (a damped arm and Longhorn are essential) a year ago as it turned out and been pretty happy. It actually sounds a bit more like music than the Pickering....but the Pickering pips it in resolution/clarity, lack of confusion during vibrant, strong passages (tracking performance and reduced coil/wire saturation allows more signal thru) and a bit more transparent (lower inductance = less veiling).

The ADC has better front to back imaging...the Grado has better soundstage width.  Depending on phono pre used, one can sound better than the other. Channel balance off by 2db on the ADC...which tells me quality control was probably an issue...so, I might just have otherwise gotten a good unit from the manufacturing run (except for the channel balance issue)

Seems to me that during the years between Prestige and G-series Grado cartridges there have been motor and or mechanical changes for the better.  As the G1+, with superior Shibata tip, doesn't sound quite as vibrant as the Green does.

Swapping out the Shibata tip for the Green's standard (cheap) elliptical helps tracking performance a bit, the treble is a bit improved....but it's still deficient to the Pickering in key electrical areas (impedance and inductance) and one can't really get around that.

A cartridge is mostly an electrical device...yet it's mechanics and one's subjective opinions can sway the final results  :D

Again, all of this boils down to my tastes, so please don't look at this as any definitive guide if your a newbie (or, returnee) to vinyl.

Peace / out,  John

Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: mcrespo71 on 8 Jun 2007, 11:45 pm
Cartridges I have owned over the past 12 years.

1) Grado Reference Platinum HO- This cartridge has such a beautiful tone and organic quality to it.  It track that well, but I really loved it.
2) Grado Reference HO- big step up from the platinum and one of the best I have used.  Get a lot more resolution and the stage opens up tremendously- more agile bass as well.
3) Benz Micro Glider HO- Nice nude design.  A little less organic sounding than the Grado's, but has more resolution.  Also, pretty smooth.
4) Denon DL-103D- Great at the price.  Perhaps a bit too smooth and laid back for me, which is why I like the snap of the Dynavector 10X5 better at around the same price.  Extremely LO.  I can understand why some may love this cart, but it didn't do it for me.
5)Dynavector 10X5- For me, this is the best $300 something cartridge out there.  With Dynavectors, it's all about balance and tunefulness.  I guess some could find the lower models slightly dry (10X5 and 20XH), but I still like them.
6) Dynavector 20XH- A step up from the 10X5 in most parameters, but sounds slightly drier to me, but with more resolution.  I think one is better served finding the rare, but awesome, Dynavector Karat 19A or buying a Dynavector 17DII or III.
7) Dynavector Karat 19A LO- I still own this and it is awesome.  More tonal richness than the 10 or 20 and rhythmically fast.
8) Ortofon Kontrapunkt B- this was one of the two most resolving cartridges I've owned.  It was neutral as hell, tuneful, and a bit too cold for me, though I can totally understand why some may totally love it.
9)Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua- aside from the Dynavector XV-1S which my friend has, I have not heard a better cartridge than this.  It is musical and warm, while still being resolving and quick as hell.  I love it and will keep it for quite some time.

I hope this was helpful for someone, but this has been my experience. 
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Daverz on 7 Jul 2007, 09:17 am
I owned a couple B&O cartridges in the 90s and enjoyed those.  Don't remember the numbers.  More recently
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: andyr on 6 Aug 2007, 08:35 am
Hello, I' a newbi to this, but an interesting thread...

Been playing with vinyl since 1977, so had literally a ton of carts.

Mmmm ... interesting.  I had my first deck in 1971 and I guess I have only had, maybe, 6 cartridges since then!  Some of them retipped several times of course!  :D  For the last 18 years or so, I've been using Benz cartridges - currently (and for the last 5 years) an Ebony LP.

Some general thoughts that I gathered from my experience (others may disagree)

1) MCs are better than MMs
2) the lower the output of MC, the better it will sound (generally speaking), provided you have enough gain
3) loading either cartridge itself or transformer in parallel with existing 47K (or other value resistor already in the phono stage) is NOT recommended, IMHO
4) excellent tracking ability is a must

I agree absoloootely with #s 1, 2 & 4 ... however #3?  IME, the cartridge must be loaded with another res in parallel with the 47Kohm res which is standard in most phono stages.  47K is the "standard" for MMs - but even so, some MMs sound better at a lower load - but each MC has a different optimal load.  Denon 103s seem to like 100ohms ... I run my Ebony LP at 1.5Kohms.

Regards,

Andy
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: marknoir on 3 Sep 2007, 09:09 pm
My nomination for best cartridge I've listened to is now Jan Allaerts MC-1B. I'm floored, but aout of my reach financially...
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: JackD201 on 9 Sep 2008, 07:50 am
Greetings guys. I'm Jack and I'm from the Philippines a beautiful country with friendly people halfway around the Planet. I saw this thread and thought I'd post the ongoing omnibus reviews I've posted in our local forum here. Please excuse the interjections or euphemisms in our native tongue scattered albeit sparingly throughout the text. I am a moderator there and have made many friends and acquaintances. I have been enjoying learning from all of you here in the Audio Circle and hope that even in small ways I can "give back".

I am a certified recording engineer, post production engineer for TV and film and also hold a certificate for design and construction of critical listening environments. I no longer practice however as I got drafted by my political party to run for a congressional seat seven years ago. I ran and won and have been re-elected twice. Music and its proper reproduction is still my passion however so I along with my friends decided to take on rolls in the retail side of the industry. having said that, none of the cartridges below are dealt by us. They are my personal collection and the opinions are based solely within the system(s) I have used them in. I hope you find this enjoyable.

Jack


_______________________________________ __

One time Big time as they say :)

Hey guys, you’ve probably gotten to know me a bit over the years and I do get a bunch of PMs asking me about everything from acoustics to fuses. Lately I’ve been asked a lot about the carts I currently use.

First let me categorically state that I am not an expert. I just happened to like music a hell of a lot and take my listening and gear very seriously. It is an outlet that even my beautiful and loving wife condones because it is the only thing other than perhaps a very good round of golf scoring in the seventies (I don’t remember the last time I did that!) or breaking the 200kph barrier on 2 wheels or 4, that can get me into a good mood. Since doing it on 2 wheels is out of the question and doing it on 4 requires a northern destination, music is simply the most accessible.

The most common queries of late aside from the Von Schweikert stuff has been about the carts I use. So here we go!

Ortofon Concorde

I use “Konks” on my SL-1210 M5Gs. The Sls are my DJ rig and serve as my form of active pressure release. Mixing and sometimes recording the mixes on CDR requires full attention and an altogether reptile compartmentalized mindset. It is most fun with lots of friends over but it is also great for friends to receive copies of these sets to play in their cars or rip into their iPods and such. I used to use Black S styli but have switched to Nightclub E styli as I preferred the sound when I heard them at Tonydog’s and David J’s. The E’s (elliptical) are altogether more refined than the S (spherical although less weighty down below). I also use Sls for more beat up records and records that are poorly recorded.

There is a reason the “Konks” are the world standard for DJ carts replacing the Shures of old. They are durable as hell, track like nothing else, and will sound strong, clean and clear even through a Gazillion watts of Public Address stacks playing in Wembly Stadium. Hot swapping is also a breeze because these carts are pre-aligned for SL-1200 arms. Think of them as Ortofon OM-30s on steroids and with no need for any headshell. Sure they don’t have the refinement, deep silences, and timbral prowess of the MC carts I’ll mention later on but then again these aren’t designed to please the audiophile gods. They’re designed to make you wiggle n’ shake your booty. These they do and do well.

Dynavector 20xL - **Sold along with the Clearaudio Emotion** -  

This is definitely not a budget cart, but still an affordable little do-gooder and a very good value. My 20x lives on my CA Emotion and is bumped up to Line Level with a Dynavector P-75 phonostage. The Emotion is in turn on a Symposium Svelte Shelf which as an aside I must say does wonders for isolation even with DB-99s or VR-1s augmented with VR-S/1s doing House Music.

My Dynavector carts are my Do-It-All cartridges. The 20x has a relaxed character that actually gives up very little in terms of detail or space. It is coloured but only slightly with some burnt orange mid bass warmth and the bass while solid again reminds me of those people on the street not rushing with the flow of the crowd but are content to follow their own personal paces. Fortunately the 20x albeit not a PRAT champ (see the Titanium below) seldom if ever gets left behind. When hooked up to SS or PP amps they are very well balanced performers again not pulling your attention to any particular area of its performance. When the lair’s System 2 is configured for what I call “Rainy Day” duty, using VR-1s with 300B or 2a3 SETs the 20x allows the same mood to shine through.

I chose this cart knowing full well that in the Lair’s small room it is everything but the front ends that will be rolled to achieve different results. The small room is also now the showroom primarily for the VSA line (VR-1 to VR-4jr) so we wanted to provide guests with an equipment list that’s in the same budgetary ballpark. The 20x’s do-it-all performance within the context of its price (and I think can challenge some more expensive carts out there) that had me choose it as the cart for which our speakers can strut their stuff. If that isn’t a strong endorsement I dunno what is. VPI later contracted DV to build a version of the 20 for their Scoutmasters and Aries 3s. Gaya gaya talaga sila  


Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: JackD201 on 9 Sep 2008, 07:52 am
continued......

Denizens of Draco’s Lair

This is my sanctuary that also doubles as the show area for the Premium line. In this system we have striven for a mix of neutrality and musicality that we hope allows listeners to fall into the music on both a mental and emotional level. In this system we’ve worked to remove variables through system synergies and as a result all anyone really has to do is roll the front ends. Change the cart and you will almost think you’re listening to a different system altogether. There are many carts in the Lair. Swappable via removable armwands on the Graham Phantom equipped VPI TNT-HRX table. Here they are.

Dynavector XV-1s

Balanced is as Balanced does. This is the National Geographic beauty of a documentary of the bunch. Take the 20x and bump up the performance parameters through the roof. From effortless highs to deep bass, the XV-1s is, I feel, the most natural sounding cart I have ever heard to date. What can I say? It sounds real. There is so much detail but none of it is thrust at you. Just as if you were watching a band live and un-amplified you may want to or have to strain to here that little thing the guitarist may be doing with his thumb. Try and you really will hear it. Given good recordings Brass sounds like brass, wood like wood and a person singing like a person singing. It can make great recordings sound great but bad ones will sound bad. I sense, however, that the XV-1s natural nature may forgive more than some other “Hi-res” carts. It does one thing that is something none of the other “super” residents of the Lair can do. The sound is so airy and open up top that it makes my sidewalls disappear. It couples the room tone of the recording with the actual room tone so well that you will be fooled into thinking you were someplace larger (or smaller for that matter). It makes one hell of a strong case to buy speakers that can go up to 40kHz. In truth I could live with this and be perfectly content but what can I do? I want more!

Clearaudio Titanium

Want to show off? Welcome the boisterous extrovert of the crew. It is the Hollywood Steven Speilberg Blockbuster albeit more Empire of the Sun than E.T. With mids more similar than different from the XV-1s, the difference lies in range and bombast. The CA Titanium puts you on the stage with the performers instead of in the best seat in the house like the XV-1s does for me. Feel that kickdrum. Splash those cymbals. If you are into Dynamics, the high output Titanium may be the one. If your system needs some life grafted onto it the CA will do the trick. I found the titanium a giant jump upwards from the Stradivari especially in the midrange department. Though still a bit hot up top in direct comparison with the other denizens but silky smooth next to the strad, the much improved midrange resolution coupled with the tight powerful bass makes it my choice for minimally mic-ed classical recordings. Spinning Disco and Dance music is likewise a treat but electric guitars with gobs of pedal work will make me reach for an Advil quicker than you can say “Call 911!”. Then again in all honesty, I only really enjoy heavy rock in Lo-Fi. Meaning I love rock on my iPod, Car Stereo, Boom Box, or in friggin concert. I just do not want to hear INTO it. Just hearing it will do.

It is the type of Cart that will wow you and your guests. On the flipside, when played softly it can be insightful,calm and pure. At low levels it can give you the clearest view into the workings of any musical piece. If you are also a fan of virtuosity aka taking apart performances of your fave artists. It would be hard to beat the Titanium.

Word of advise. Adjust your listening levels. The extremely wide dynamic range and clean presentation will tempt you to crank it up. If you do make this mistake it will sound really hot. Placement of instruments with High Level HF transients within the soundstage will likewise be displaced. We don’t want that. It is exciting enough on its own, it does not need high SPLs to open up.

Koetsu Urushi Wajima - **Traded in for Koetsu Jade Platinum below**

This is the latest addition and most probably the last. (**boy was I wrong :lol:**) This is that dramatic foreign film you saw while switching channels that you were just so glued to that you didn’t even care if you had to read subtitles. Remember when I said “Rainy Day”. I transform System 2 by using SETs. In the Lair, the Usrushi does the trick. With only 4 hours on it I already know that it is so. Screw neutrality and precision. If Gaugin were to design some carts this would be one of them. A lot of people say that the Koetsu bass is loose. Mmmmmm. Nope. I’d call it a plumpness that extends up into the midbass. It is a full round sound just like those Polynesians in the paintings. It is this very roundness that makes the Urushi so romantic and involving. I would say that in a weird way it is actually the Koetsu’s strength. Yeah sure it doesn’t make my walls disappear or make me wanna pee my pants when the cannons go off, but again this is rainy day time. Cocoon time. If the XV-1s is like “being” and the Titanium is like “doing” then the Koetsu is like “succumbing”. Vocals are the forte of the Koetsu. The running joke was how wet the singer sounded. It, through the deep crimson color engineered into it, does that weird butterfly in your tummy feeling when certain notes are hit. With a flair for melodrama the Koetsu lives up to its billing as a true subjectivist’s cart. This is not to say that it lacked in ultimate terms any of the usual audiophile criteria such as dynamics, soundstaging, tone, timbre, PRAT and whatever “eck-eck”. What it has is surpluses. Its emphasis is on timbre and thus musical events tend to pulsate and resonate. The musical envelope seems extended somewhat with sustains and decays that linger as more of a physical memory than as an aural one contributing to the surreal effect. This is the cart for the touchy feely mood and the cart I will probably put on when with the wifey. Ingat lang baka masira yung family planning!

Koetsu Jade Platinum

Ok. I'll be frank anyway I'm only speaking for myself and my taste and opinions can be the total polar opposite of many of you who take the time out to read this. Of the three main MC carts posted above I did have a favorite. The XV-1s has stayed on my table longest. As much as I love the Urushi exactly for what it is (see above) I did find that I almost always missed the XV-1s' virtues of speed and unforced inner detail. I simply found that my listening habits where I jump from genre to genre (mostly instrumental at that) made me go for the XV-1s more often. I would like to emphasize that the Dynavector was my favorite because it allows me to keep on spinning without distraction and not because I think it closer to the fallacy called "The Absolute Sound". Although I do believe in an absolute sound I do not believe one exists for everybody and that instead it is unique to each and every music lover.

Disclaimers aside my goal had become to find a cart that could be as flexible as the XV-1s yet sound different enough to merit owning it. My goal is to have carts that can stay on my arm indefinitely where the urge to switch would be borne of whimsy and not necessity.

I have found this in the Koetsu Jade Platinum. Yes guys it is a Koetsu and it still sounds like a Koetsu. It still possesses that artistic license of "more is better". It is still an impressionist. Perhaps while the Urushi is akin to Gaugin in Tahiti the Jade Platinum is most definitely Alfred Sisley. Finer brush strokes with vibrancy brought forth with both texture and light as well as a more visually truthful perspective that respects the vanishing points predetermined by the artist. With Koetsus it really is “all about the color”. The Jade is a prism for the music. You simply will not find any white while listening with this cart unless of course you happened to have nasty tweeters or ribbons. This is probably the cartridge equivalent of a really good acid trip. For you guys who grew up in the sixties we can only live vicariously through you. :D

I wont go on at length about the tonal balance except to say it has excellent treble extension, excellent pace, deep TIGHT bass, and a coherence that matches the XV-1s even as dynamics suffer in comparison only in certain ranges. I’m happy to say that I have found what I was looking for. I just wish I could have justified keeping the alnico based, woody bodied Urushi and the raw emotion it brings to the table. We live in the real world though and we can’t have it all at once.

If the XV-1s lets me see deeper into myself and the connection I make with the music, the Jade affords me to radiate how it makes me feel. It is most definitely a hedonists delight!

I now have favorites



Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: JackD201 on 9 Sep 2008, 07:53 am
last part sorry!

Added: Enter the Koetsu Step Up Transformer for use with the Jade Platinum.

I've had this SUT for a couple of months now and feel I can now comment properly on it. SUTs are strange beasts prone to external disturbances specifically RFI and EMI. I have seen SUTs placed in the darndest places sometimes in contorted poses like a Cirque acrobat who's just had an aerial accident hanging by the ICs. In my case the hum came in below line frequency. To my ears around 50 Hz and a subsonic at around 35 Hz. I'm no stranger to this at the Lair which is ungrounded and within a stones throw of 3 AM radio stations and DOTC's headquarters across the Golf Course. When I first installed the SUT the ground loop disappeared when I'd hold the ground wire and return when I let it go. I tried to put it everywhere the chords could let it and settled on a spot where it was no longer an intrusion with music playing. A week or so later however Joe3rp upon hearing of my situation, gave me a ground hunter. He made a series of cables terminated with alligator clips so I could see what path to use without having to go through the ordeal every point. In the end clipping some clips together in a cloverleaf flyover fashion pretty much exorcised the hum. Analog mysteries at work. Thanks Joey!!!!

Enough already what did it sound like? Nothing. That's a good thing! I would have been upset if it changed the Jade's character. It just made the Jade Platinum's gain go up an equivalent of a couple of notches. Tonally the Jade stayed it's non-fatiguing prismatic self but the extra gain served to open up the soundstage even at low levels. I'd call this mission accomplished!!!! I know that when the Lair moves to its new home hum will not be a problem at all. Sugano and sons are perfectionists and the synergy between these two products bears proof of their artistry.

Graham Nightingale from Immutable Music

Immutable Music from Japan has always been in the elite circle of cartridge makers by virtue of their Transfiguration sub brand. It was with great curiosity then when Bob Graham maker of my arm commissioned them to build a cartridge for him. The sticker price of the Nighty is less than any of the MC carts in Camp Big Falcon's missile bay. It's half of the Titanium putting it in Stradivari territory. Performance wise I would also put it in that same bracket. This is not to put down the Nighty but to illustrate that Bob is indeed an honorable guy and did not use his brand's cache just to make a buck. His pricing is reflective of the performance.

Having said that while not being in the exotica territory of its stablemates this level is still kicking and suffers only by direct comparison. The nighty deserves its monicker. It is a very sweet cart with lush mids. I've written elsewhere that it has the deepest soundstage of all the carts here unfortunately what it gives in depth it loses in width and height. This makes it a perfect candidate for nearfield listeners who value front to back layering as sitting closer negated this shortcoming when I tried it. On adagios there's the feeling of suspense akin to peering down an unexplored cavern by torchlight as you wait for the next bars to be played. The depth of image is also wonderful as layers begin to build and crash on each other.

I've already ordered another Phantom and this cart will accompany it in the Ambience/all tube Lamm system in the Lair part 2. I definitely enjoy this cart and I know I can squeeze more out of it. To fully enjoy it though I think it best to have some distance between it and its brothers the Titanium, XV, Jade and Airy S where its sweet song can be best appreciated.

Review in the works pending burn in

ZYX Airy S 3


Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: MGDeWulf on 27 Oct 2008, 07:49 pm
I've been using a variation of the Miyabi Standard for a few years now.  Very fast and dynamic. At first it strikes you as almost digital sounding, at least in terms of its timbral balance.  Over time I have realized that the cart has superb noise characteristics as well as a midrange and upper midrange that few other pick-ups can touch.  What it lacks that so many audiophiles lust for is the bloom in the lower mids that adds richness and warmth.  Highs could be airier.  Very dimensional.

Marty
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 21 Nov 2008, 06:52 pm
I see it's been 18 months since my last update on my faves...and do to the good grace of a buddy or two that has loaned me a couple cartridges to evaluate, and purchases of a few more, I have expanded my list.

In order of preference (generally tried on at least 2 decks, with and without damping, loading plugs or other resistive loading method employed and the in the veteran hands of a vinyl enthusiast for nearly 30 years....so set-up can't be too terribly off :wink:)

1.  Pickering XLZ-7500-s mk. II (requires step-up, etc.)

2.  ADC XLM Mk. III Improved w/ Astrion nude stylus

3a.  Grado Gold (with Longhorn, shibata tip, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
3b.  Grado Green (with Longhorn, shibata tip, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
(very, very slight preference for the Gold model - with the purer copper coils)

4.  Grace F-9e (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
4.  Grado G1+ (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
4.  Denon DL-160vdH

5.  Blue Angel Olive Mantis (a $4000 LOMC requiring step-up...price ain't everything)
5.  Ortofon X5-MC (with Longhorn)

6.  Benz-Micro MC-3 (requires step-up, etc.)
6.  ADC TRX-1 (with Longhorn)

7.  Stanton CS-100 

8.  Audio-Technica AT440ML/OCC (with Longhorn)

9.  vdH re-tipped Sumiko Blue Point (with Longhorn)

I don't think much about each cartridge....mostly I'm concerned with how enjoyable I am listening to each.  If my head bops to the music, as with the top 3 finishers most definitely do, then I listen for naturalness.  The Pickering likely beats out the other top two due to it's lower DC resistance and inductance figures...giving it a little more effortless and nuanced presentation.

At the price today to buy the Pickering XLZ-7500-s from the US (to the UK, where they are sold), it makes for one very attractive value if you have 60db of gain or so at hand already.

Of those, the Sumiko and the AT are virtually unlistenable to after 10 minutes (tho the fantastic tracking virtues of the AT do shine thru).  I might be able to stomach the Stanton CS-100 for an album side....amazing as the same stylus can be employed on the top-of-the-line Pickering XLZ-7500-s (so it's an internal issue, it seems).

The ADC TRX-1 is simply outclassed by it's older stablemate, the vaunted XLM Mk. III Improved (with or without the Astrion fine-line stylus).

Among cartridges I owned once, and no no longer (and not included in the above)...I thought the Shure M95HE was better than the last V15 cartridge they made....and the lowly ADC LM-1 (my first cartridge) was a firecracker, too, back in 1976 or so.

That's my current story and I'm stickin' to it (even tho I realizes a lot of this comes down to subjectivity in the end) :thumb:

John
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Browntrout on 28 Dec 2008, 01:31 pm
Hello I've owned...
                     GRADO REFERENCE SONATA 5.Omv and found it to be very nice indeed highly musical and extremely well balanced tonally.
                     GRADO REFERENCE THE REFERENCE 5.0mv This is what I  listen to now and find it quite wonderfull still perfectly balanced but with wonderfull insight into a recording. I experience the ambience of the venue and mood of the performer.
                      ORIGINAL SUMUKO BLUE POINT SPECIAL 2.5mv This has a reasonable amount of detail retrieval but the balance is all wrong. When listening to this (it came fitted to my turntable) I am forever being drawn to specific instruments or sounds in the music purely because they stand out for being unharmonious and unatural compared with the rest of the sound. Not a good cartridge if you like music in my opinion.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: JCC on 28 Dec 2008, 03:51 pm
I used a ZYX RS-10-02H for a few years, and never liked it.

I sent it off to The Soundsmith and had the cantilever replaced. Now it is a ruby cantilever with a nude contour diamond.  What a difference. Now this cartridge really sings. I have detail that I didn't have before.

I wonder how many expensive cartridges could be improved with this modification? I also wonder how much of the difference is in the cantilever and the diamond?

Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: BobM on 28 Dec 2008, 04:04 pm
I've enjoyed this thread immensely. Some good budget picks and some great writing on the expensive bunch. I've only really used 2 cartridges in the last 5 years. A Grado Platinum (which was lush and fat sounding with a warmth that was a bit too much but just made you smile, but not truly revealing) and a Dynavector 20X-H (which gave the speed and detail that was lacking in the Grado Platinum and kept the good feeling without being overly warm sounding).

I would love to step up the line to a LOMC (a Karat or better would be nice), but am leary of the step up transformer, and all it implies, that would be needed to do so. Oh yeah, the price of what I want is also prohibitive. Is there a better HOMC than the 20X-H that is below $1000? Anything that approaches the better $3000+ LOMC cartridges out there or only ones that are subtly different but not substantially "better" than the 20X-H? Detail and warmth are what I am looking for here - the kind of stuff that makes you smile.

Bob
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: twitch54 on 28 Dec 2008, 04:56 pm
Like BobM I too am happy with what I've ben listening through the past two years.....

VPI / DynaVector 20x (1 mV output) - musically neutral, open with good freq definition at both ends.

Prior to that for two years.......

Benz Micro Ace 'M' - slightly warmer that the VPI/DynaVector and slightly 'less stout' in the bottom end.

prior to that......

Grace F-9e 'super' - maybe my favorite mm of all time, it has achived legitimate cult status for which it is deserving, IMO !
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: GregC on 29 Dec 2008, 03:55 am
This list represents more than a decade of cartridges (and I obviously remember the more recent ones better), but here goes...

Sumiko Blue Point No. 2
- Decent entry-level, high output cartridge that tracked well, sounded well balanced, and got me back into vinyl.

Dynavector DV 20 XH
- Very good cartridge that sounded good from top to bottom, but maybe sounded a bit lean.

Dynavector DV 20 XL
- Sounded better than the DV 20 XH with a little bit more low level detail and micro-dynamics.

Shure V15MxR
- A budget priced cartridge that gave the Shelter 501 a run for the money.

Shelter 501
- A very nice sounding and balanced cartridge that excelled in mids and highs.  The cartridge had decent bass, but not quite as articulate as some higher end cartridges I heard.

Shelter 901
- An excellent performer from top to bottom.  This is good enough that it still resides in my secondary bedroom system.

ZYX 3X-SB
- This is an excellent cartridge that tracks true and quiet and extracts virtually every detail. 

ZYX Universe X-SB
- Now we are talking.  This is has all the virtues of the 3X-SB but is on an entirely different level.  The boundaries around the instruments and the front of the stage disappear.  The Universe extracts every detail and particularly shines on orchestral music.  If you have a bad recording do not expect the Universe to hide that fact.  My only criticism is the Universe may have sounded ever so slightly lean.  This is a world class cartridge and was my reference until I finally found my current reference. (drum role please...)

Miyajima Labs Shilabe
- This is hands down the best cartridge I have ever heard. It does everything right and conveys emotion like no other cartridge I have ever heard (while maintaining accuracy across the musical spectrum).  It extracts the emotion of a Koetsu and the details of a ZYX Universe, while maintaining a level of musicality that has to be heard to be believed.  This is my reference cartridge for life!
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: lonewolfny42 on 29 Dec 2008, 05:37 am


Miyajima Labs Shilabe
- This is hands down the best cartridge I have ever heard. It does everything right and conveys emotion like no other cartridge I have ever heard (while maintaining accuracy across the musical spectrum).  It extracts the emotion of a Koetsu and the details of a ZYX Universe, while maintaining a level of musicality that has to be heard to be believed.  This is my reference cartridge for life!

A nice review.....here... (http://www.10audio.com/miyajima_shilabe.htm)

(http://www.robyattaudio.com/images/Shilabe.jpg)
Shilabe African Blackwood Cross Coil Moving Coil Cartridge... $2,800.00
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: GregC on 29 Dec 2008, 06:28 am


Miyajima Labs Shilabe
- This is hands down the best cartridge I have ever heard. It does everything right and conveys emotion like no other cartridge I have ever heard (while maintaining accuracy across the musical spectrum).  It extracts the emotion of a Koetsu and the details of a ZYX Universe, while maintaining a level of musicality that has to be heard to be believed.  This is my reference cartridge for life!

A nice review.....here... (http://www.10audio.com/miyajima_shilabe.htm)

(http://www.robyattaudio.com/images/Shilabe.jpg)
Shilabe African Blackwood Cross Coil Moving Coil Cartridge... $2,800.00

Thanks Chris, I saw the review.  Actually it was Jerry who suggested I check out the cartridge at RMAF and I bought the one that Robin was using in his room.  I think Jerry did a good job of describing the cartridge in his review.  This one is a definite keeper.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: twitch54 on 29 Dec 2008, 02:16 pm
GregC, what are you using for a phono-pre ??
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: GregC on 2 Jan 2009, 03:26 am
GregC, what are you using for a phono-pre ??

Dave,

I am using a Modwright SWP 9.0SE Phono Stage with cryoed 5687 tubes and a 1960s Mullard 5AR4 rectifier tube.  I have an Origin Live Resolution Mk 2 table with an Illustrious Mk 2 arm.  I am very happy with my current setup.

Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: analognut on 31 Mar 2009, 04:21 am
I have a Denon DL-103R I use with my Sota Star/ SME V combo.

Yesterday I mounted the Ortofon X5-MC, which I've had for a number of years, on the SME V to compare them.

I loaded the Denon with 100ohm on the MC section of my preamp, and ran the Ortofon into the MM side of it, at 47Kohms. (X5-MC is hi-output MC @ 2mv). The sound spectrum of the two was very close, with X5MC actually having a more pleasing tone to me. X5MC was very well balanced, with DL-103R having a more tipped up hi-end.

But DL-103R seemed alive and X5-MC seemed dead!

Or put another way, if hearing and seeing were the same, then Ortofon was like looking at a nice painting on a wall, and Denon was a 3-D view out of your window.

Could the suspension on the Ortofon be worn out after 8 years, but only around 700 hours? The Denon is 3 months old and has 240 hours on it. I don't know. :dunno:
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Alonski on 15 Apr 2009, 05:57 am
Opinions please:

Back in the late 80's, I invested $1295 in a remarkable Mark Levinson designed, low output (.28mV) MC cartridge called the Carnegie One, by Madrigal Labs. I haven't been in the market for an upgrade in a while, since this thing seems to outperform (to my ears) units that cost considerably more.

This baby has served me well and will wear out eventually...

If you're familiar with the Carnegie One's richly detailed, musical, open and airy sound (which are attributes I'd like to keep) -- please suggest an upgrade. How much will I need to set aside in today's dollars to surpass the sound of this gem?

As you can probably tell, I'm a bit attached to it. Can I still get it re-tipped somewhere?
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: ricmon on 16 Apr 2009, 08:35 pm


Miyajima Labs Shilabe
- This is hands down the best cartridge I have ever heard. It does everything right and conveys emotion like no other cartridge I have ever heard (while maintaining accuracy across the musical spectrum).  It extracts the emotion of a Koetsu and the details of a ZYX Universe, while maintaining a level of musicality that has to be heard to be believed.  This is my reference cartridge for life!

A nice review.....here... (http://www.10audio.com/miyajima_shilabe.htm)

(http://www.robyattaudio.com/images/Shilabe.jpg)
Shilabe African Blackwood Cross Coil Moving Coil Cartridge... $2,800.00

It's interesting that the reviewer mentioned the Ortofon Bronze as I have been listing to one of late and I'm really starting to like this cart.  I bought it while the Blackbird is out for repair.  Since the reviewers taste seem to be in line with mine I may have to save some bucks and maybe give the Shilabe a try.  Thanks for sharing this cart with us.

Ric
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Walterwalter on 26 Apr 2009, 03:47 pm
Very interesting and detailed site of Miyajima. Any suggestions and impressions of Empire series 2000 and 4000 vintage cartridges?
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Walterwalter on 22 May 2009, 08:21 am
Hi again. Let me again put a question concerning vintage Empire carts. I still hope someone has experience with them, and may share it with us. Why Empire? As example, some of their 4000 series were worth almost $500 in 1978, that is half of Nakamichi 1000 deck price! :scratch: So, I wonder how good were those 4000 and other Empires , should be real hi-end due to their price.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: exurbia on 3 Oct 2009, 10:21 am
 This is my first post on the circles, I have been a reader for years but lacked the motivation to reply, until now.
There is a new favourite in my life apart from Nigel (my cat) and the Beer Midget, the rather fabulous Allnic Verito Z. Previous cartridge was the Allnic Verito which was also a real stunner. The Z occupies pride of place in tonearm #1 an ET2, arm #2 is a super modded Rega RB300 with a Benz L2 these are on a heavy plinth with a JVC TT71 motor.
The Allnic Z is by far and above the best allrounder I have ever used. Cavernous bass, midrange to die for and so clear in the top. It also tracks at a measly 1.3 Grammes, no hassles at all, it tracks everything.
I still have a few other carts that I want to use but I'll have to wait for my new(old) Sony 8000 motor unit to get here. I plan to put three arms onto that one including one of the ET2's.
My other carts in order of likeyness, Kiseki Goldspot Blue, Linn Klyde, AT 33Eprestige
If anyone is in or passing through Kununurra they are welcome to come for a visit. Just mail me and give me some notice.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: jsaliga on 13 Oct 2009, 07:34 pm
Here are the MC carts I have tried or am using in the order of preference.

1. Ortofon Jubilee - My current favorite.  It tracks true and is very, very detailed.  Mids are lush and it has that wee bit of high end sparkle that is missing from the best of the Kontrapunkt line.  The best jazz cartridge I have ever heard.

2.  Benz Wood M2 - I got a great deal on this fine cartridge on Audiogon.  Used it for about a year and then the cantilever suddenly gave out.  However, the cartridge was a great all around performer while it was in service and I wasn't motivated to change things until I had to.

3. Ortofon Kontrapunkt A - I bought this when my Benz failed because it was a good match for my tonearm and I found it for a great price brand new on eBay from a dealer.  This is another all around great cartridge.  It might not excel in any one particular area but does everything very well and is a nice, musical sounding cartridge.  If I had to pick between a Benz Wood (or Glider) and the Ortofon I would probably take the latter by a slim margin.

4. ZYX Airy3 - This cartridge is relatively new (I bought it and a ZYX R100 Fuji) but I have put considerable hours on it and still sounds like it isn't quite broken in.  I had a similar experience with R100.  It took as much as a few hundred hours before the R100 really came into its own.  The Airy3 is getting close to that point but isn't quite there yet.  I hear a lot of great things from it though.  It tracks just as good as the Ortofon but is considerably quieter but doesn't quite have the bass and lower midrange articulation of the Jubliee.  UPDATE: I recently came to the conclusion that neither ZYX cartridge was really my cup of tea and ended up selling them both.  They had some nice attributes but the long and short of it is that I felt other, less expensive cartridges such as the Ortofon Kontrapunkt A did a better job across the board than either ZYX cart.  The lower midrange and bass just never seemed to come alive on the ZYX carts.  I know they have a strong following, but I'm not a fan.  For the price of an Airy3 I think one can do much better.

5. Benz Glider H2 - This cartridge came with a Rega P7 that I bought used.  Very close to the performance of wood bodied Benz carts at an attractive price.

6. Denon DL-103 - I wanted to see what all the talk was about so I tried one and wasn't at all impressed.  Compared to even the Benz Glider the Denon was lifeless and simply lacked energy.  I'm guessing that it might have been due to a compliance mismatch with my arm.  I ended up giving the cartridge away to someone who really wanted one.

IMO it is really hard to seperate the performance of a cartridge from the turntable and tonearm.  The carts that I really like today might not sound as good on a different table and arm combination.  When I think of turntables I think of it as a complete system.  There are a few cartridges that I want to try but haven't got around to it yet, such as the Grado Statement Reference and Koetsu Rosewood Signature.  I am certain I'll get to them eventually.

--Jerome
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: david12 on 21 Oct 2009, 08:02 pm
 I have owned so many cartridges over the years, many bought second hand. I know many will be horrified by second hand buys, but when you can retip them, why not.

  Before I give my list, a tip, the Expert Stylus company in the UK has been providing a superb service for 20+ years. They charge ?25 to check the cartridge and give an honest opinion. a clean and retip costs about ?200, they can realign and replace cantilevers too. My Onyx listed below cost ?298 about $400, including postage. They even touched up the gold paint on the base plate and it sounds... well see below.

  My cartridges in order of preference:

 1)  Koetsu Onyx, a clear winner and it cost ?500 + the cost of rebuild. The Koetsu mid frequency magic, but more neutral, better base, than the Rosewood.  currently using

 2) Benz Micro LP,  nearly as good as the Koetsu and much cheaper over here in the UK about ?1500. Great tracker, very neutral, but musical and dynamic sound, compared with the Zyx.   Back up

 3) Koetsu Rosewood Signature. I bought it second hand on the Gon, used it 3 years and got my money back. Such a musical cartridge, warm lush midrange. It made listening to music such a pleasure, you forgot about the frrquency extremes

 4) Zyx Airy 3SB silver high output, I know people love Zyx, but I just did'nt get it. Yes it was neutral and tracked well, like the Benz, but it was slow, lacked any drive, made music boring to me.

 5) Ortofon Kontrapunkt B a good tracker and neutral, not far behind the Zyx at a fraction of the price.

 6) Dynavector D17  A steal at its low price, yes it lacked base, but so quick and musical. A great cartridge at the price.

 There were others, a Shure, Denon, but I can't remember them well enough. I guess I am just sold on the Koetsu magic.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Quiet Earth on 22 Oct 2009, 01:41 am
  I guess I am just sold on the Koetsu magic.

Is there any particular table/arm you recommend to get the most out of a Koetsu?

Would a Koetsu Black Goldline do well on a Nottingham Spacedeck?
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: david12 on 22 Oct 2009, 08:02 am
I used the Tonearm cartridge data base as previously shown on this thread, but I will give it again

    http://www.cartridgedb.com/

  I use an Ortofon 309D, which is not in the area of an ideal match with any Koetsu, on the above site. The stone cartridges are quite heavy. I took a chance anyway, as the Onyx went cheaply, it still sounds excellent to me on my TW Accustic Raveon one. Ideally though, I would follow the advice of that site as to suitable arm cartridge matching. I don't believe there is a cartridge table matching issue at all, so the Nottingham should be fine.
   David
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Quiet Earth on 22 Oct 2009, 04:25 pm
I didn't get anything meaningful out of the calculator :scratch: , but thanks for your personal notes  :thumb:.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: AudioSoul on 3 Dec 2009, 10:08 pm


   Hey ChairGuy, you didn't mention that Decca cart. you loved so much....he,he,he......
  My two favorites are: Denon DL-301mk2 (bridges the gap between MC and MM)
 Another is a Signet TK7e. I liked it so much I purchased two original NOS stylus for it....... 8)
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 3 Dec 2009, 10:39 pm
Hey ChairGuy, you didn't mention that Decca cart. you loved so much....he,he,he......

Allright, almost one year later to the day, I'l update my list then :wink:

As you can see below, I didn't hate the London Decca Jubilee...I merely think it's hideously overpriced for what it does...

In order of preference (generally tried on at least 2 decks, with and without damping, loading plugs or other resistive loading method employed and the in the veteran hands of a vinyl enthusiast for nearly 30 years....so set-up can't be too terribly off :wink:)

1.  Pickering XLZ-7500-s mk. II (requires step-up, etc.)

2.  ADC XLM Mk. III Improved w/ Astrion nude stylus

3a.  Grado Gold (with Longhorn, shibata tip, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
3b.  Grado Green (with Longhorn, shibata tip, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
(very, very slight preference for the Gold model - with the purer copper coils)

4.  Grace F-9e (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
4.  Grado G1+ (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
4.  Denon DL-160vdH
4.  London Decca Jubilee (@ $2895 list, unconscionably poor value)
4.  Grado Master

5.  Blue Angel Olive Mantis (a $4000 LOMC requiring step-up...price ain't everything)
5.  Ortofon X5-MC (with Longhorn)

6.  Benz-Micro MC-3 (requires step-up, etc.)
6.  ADC TRX-1 (with Longhorn)

7.  Stanton CS-100 

8.  Audio-Technica AT440ML/OCC (with Longhorn)

9.  vdH re-tipped Sumiko Blue Point (with Longhorn)

I don't think much about each cartridge....mostly I'm concerned with how enjoyable I am listening to each.  If my head bops to the music, as with the top 3 finishers most definitely do, then I listen for naturalness.  The Pickering likely beats out the other top two due to it's lower DC resistance and inductance figures...giving it a little more effortless and nuanced presentation.

Yes, I liked the Longhorned (plastic-bodies) Grado's with G1+ shibata stylus better than the (then) $1200 'Woody' Master.

The Sumiko and the AT are virtually unlistenable to after 10 minutes (tho the fantastic tracking virtues of the AT do shine thru).  I might be able to stomach the Stanton CS-100 for an album side....amazing as the same stylus can be employed on the top-of-the-line Pickering XLZ-7500-s (so it's an internal issue, it seems).

The ADC TRX-1 is simply outclassed by it's older stablemate, the vaunted XLM Mk. III Improved (with or without the Astrion fine-line stylus).

Among cartridges I owned once, and no no longer (and not included in the above)...I thought the Shure M95HE was better than the last V15 cartridge they made....and the lowly ADC LM-1 (my first cartridge) was a firecracker, too, back in 1976 or so.

That's my current story and I'm stickin' to it (even tho I realizes a lot of this comes down to subjectivity in the end) :thumb:

John
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: BobM on 14 Feb 2010, 11:54 pm
Here's my newest acquisition ... a Transfiguration Temper. This is the cats meow, for sure. A wet dream cartridge. It's got everything going for it. Detail, texture, slam, inner and outer dynamics, extension at top and bottom, smoothness, overall evenness of tone, a little to the warm side but very neutral in general.

(http://cgim.audiogon.com/i/vs/i/f/1266189659.jpg)

I had a Dynavector DV XX-1, which was probably one of the best high output moving coils ever made. It is out of production for some time now, replaced by the XX-2. Overall the XX-1 was very detailed with great texture, but it lacked dynamics. A trade off from the cartridge that preceeded it in that it was more organic, but didn;t have the old cartridges slam. The cartridge that preceeded it ...

... was a Dynavector 20X-H. High output moving coil. This is a great cartridge that many people know about, have heard and own. It does have a tendency to  be a little bit like a loudness button though. More prominent on the top and bottom than the mids, and so not completely even. Still, it does have a dynamicv that is hard to beat at this price point, but it can be a little hard compared to the better cartridges in the line.

My original cartridge was a Grado Platinum wood body. Very warm and lush, just like you would expect from a Grado. Not the end in detail, but a cardtidge that makes everything sound nice.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: earwig on 15 Feb 2010, 01:30 pm
I still have my old Ortofon 1983 mc 30 sitting in a box,(wonder what I should do with it?) it was low gain a bit laid back,darkish.My favourite was a Supex 900 super for moving coil ,it resembled a more expensive Koetsu.Now I use a Grado Platinum mm cause I didnt want the hassle of a head amp anymore.Though I did notice the high frequencies was so airy atmospheric that not even a cd player can hear it.I miss my old Supex.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: TheChairGuy on 2 Jul 2010, 04:58 pm
I recently had the opportunity for an extended audition of 2 weeks with the top-of-the-line Denon DL-S1.  It fared well in my book :thumb:

It's been about 6 months since my last update - so, here goes:

In order of preference (generally tried on at least 2 decks, with and without damping, loading plugs or other resistive loading method employed and the in the veteran hands of a vinyl enthusiast for nearly 30 years....so set-up can't be too terribly off :wink:)

1.  Pickering XLZ-7500-s Mk. II (requires step-up, etc.)

2.  Grado Gold (with Longhorn, shibata tip, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
2.  Grado Green (with Longhorn, shibata tip, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
(very, very slight preference for the Gold model - with the purer copper coils)

3.  ADC XLM Mk. III Improved w/ Astrion (nude, fine line stylus)
3. ADC XLM Mk. III Improved (stock)

4.  Grace F-9e (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
4.  Grado G1+ (with Longhorn, damped coils and Plast-i-Lator)
4.  Denon DL-160vdH (a DL-160 with a van den Hul boron, fine line stylus grafted to it)
4.  London Decca Jubilee (@ $2895 list, unconscionably poor value)
4.  Grado Master
4.  Denon DL-S1

5.  Blue Angel Olive Mantis (a $4000 LOMC requiring step-up...price ain't everything)
5.  Ortofon X5-MC (with Longhorn)

6.  Benz-Micro MC-3 (requires step-up, etc.)
6.  ADC TRX-1 (with Longhorn)

7.  Stanton CS-100

8.  Audio-Technica AT440ML/OCC (with Longhorn)

9.  vdH re-tipped Sumiko Blue Point (with Longhorn)

I don't think much about each cartridge....mostly I'm concerned with how enjoyable I am listening to each.  If my head bops to the music, as with the top 3 finishers most definitely do, then I listen for naturalness.  The Pickering likely beats out the other few two due to it's lower DC resistance and inductance figures...giving it a little more effortless and nuanced presentation.

Basically, my primary barometer for success is naturalness (piano is often the arbiter of this..ie, sounding like the real event or instrument) and ease of listening (this is probably lack of grain or sibilance). A lot of it is indexed against current (very good) playback quality of even the cheapest digital devices.  The #1-3 choices are clearly leagues ahead of any digital playback I've heard...the #4's are just slightly so...and those #5 and down one might better have only digital as your front end.   

Yes, I liked the Longhorned (plastic-bodies) Grado's with G1+ shibata stylus better than the (then) $1200 'Woody' Master.

The Sumiko and the AT are unlistenable to after 10 minutes (tho the fantastic tracking virtues of the AT do shine thru).  I might be able to stomach the Stanton CS-100 for an album side....amazing as the same stylus can be employed on the top-of-the-line Pickering XLZ-7500-s (so it's an internal issue, it seems).

The ADC TRX-1 is simply outclassed by it's older stablemate, the vaunted XLM Mk. III Improved (with or without the Astrion fine-line stylus).

Among cartridges I owned once, and no no longer (and not included in the above)...I thought the Shure M95HE was better than the last V15 cartridge they made....and the lowly ADC LM-1 (my first cartridge) was a firecracker, too, back in 1976 or so.

That's my current story and I'm stickin' to it (even tho I realizes a lot of this comes down to subjectivity in the end) :thumb:

John
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: jmac7 on 28 May 2011, 03:28 pm
I started with a Shure V15 type III which I used for years. I got away from vinyl for some time, and when I decided to rejoin I had a Rega turntable with a Dynavector 10x3, moved to a Denon DL-103R. I now have a VPI Scout with an old Medusa Goldbug which has been reworked by Soundsmith. I am very pleased with my current setup and I hope to enjoy it for a good while.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: BPoletti on 21 Sep 2011, 03:47 pm
My current $000,000.02 worth...

I'm using a 10 year-old Lyra Clavis da Capo that I find satisfying.  It will wear out eventually, but until then, I'm enjoying it.  Lots of detail, great soundstage and imaging, very good dynamics at every level.  Very open and extended at both ends of the audio spectrum.  Down side is that for some it may sound a bit thin.  Definitely NOT warm.  Sorta the opposite of the "Koetsu" sound. 

I also have an AT-OC9 that is sitting in the shadows waiting to be used.  It performs close to the Lyra CdC but has slightly less soundstage information and less precise imaging.  It is a little warmer, but not so much so as to be considered fat.  Just precise.

Equipment used: "Modified" VPI TNT, Jelco SA-750D; VPI HW-19 III, Premier FT-3; Herron VTPH-1MC, Herron VTSP-1a, (2) Herron M-150.  Various speakers.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: troutnut68 on 11 Oct 2011, 08:00 pm
I have had various MM cartridges, Grado, Ortofon OM-10/30, but when I moved to a MC(Audio Technica OC-9) I knew I would never go back to MM ones.  I now use a Denon 103-R which in my opinion is just musically right.  The same goes for the Denon 103 which is less refined.  The OC-9 dug out incredible detail due to its Line contact stylus but was more audiophile and less musical IMHO than the Denons.  This does not apply to the latest OC-9's however as I have not heard them.  The Denons are more neutral as well - the OC-9 that I used tilted up the treble a few decibels.  The point is, graduate to a MC if you are able.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: JoshK on 5 Jan 2012, 02:02 am
I read this thread recently as well as a few other sites.  It seems like the Miyajima Labs Shilabe cart is a pretty good performer at its price point.  $3k is a bit more than I am comfortable paying....I may consider stretching to $2500, however if it is worth it, it may be worth it.

I won't pull the trigger until everything is setup and a get a feel for my new phono, table and space.  Right now I am during my homework.  I'll have a better idea of my desires when I setup to the DV20XH in the new setup.  However, I'd still be intrigued to hear opinions on carts in the $1200-2500 price point new or used, or even if it is worth stretching a bit in the long run.

My considerations so far:
Dynavector DRT XV1S (used)
Transfiguration Pheonix (prob new)
ZYX UNIverse or Aries XX (used)
Miyajima Labs Shilabe (maybe new)

Others maybe:
Dynavector XX-2 (newish)

Considerations:
1) I like rock, but many of my recording are hit and miss...some are fantastic on LP (Tool, Wilco, Porcupine Tree) while others are shit. 
2) I hate bright sound. 
3) I don't want a cart that is too easily damaged, if I am spending this kinda bucks.
4) I prefer a tiny bit of extra warmth to a tiny bit of extra detail on the side of all things neutral and an audiophile's wishlist.

Any opinions?
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Ericus Rex on 5 Jan 2012, 01:15 pm
I've got a ZYX Fuji and, while I like it, the ZYX sound may not be what you're looking for.  It's more on the brighter than warmer side of things and I feel it does classical and small scale folk much better than rock.  The Benz sound might be more of what you're looking for.  You can get a new S series wood body for around $1500.  They have a nice warm sound with full, hefty bass.  No experience with your other options.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Æ on 6 Jan 2012, 06:49 pm
Not even one mention of Micro-Acoustics? Technologically advanced, with a carbon fiber body, a beryllium cantilever, a nude laser aligned stylus, gold plated pins, internal gold wiring and something altogether different, neither a moving coil or moving magnet, an electret! How did they sound? I don't know, I never auditioned one.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: BaMorin on 8 Jan 2012, 05:21 pm
Not even one mention of Micro-Acoustics? Technologically advanced, with a carbon fiber body, a beryllium cantilever, a nude laser aligned stylus, gold plated pins, internal gold wiring and something altogether different, neither a moving coil or moving magnet, an electret! How did they sound? I don't know, I never auditioned one.

I own a MA 2002.  Considered a top shelf cart in its day. I also owned a Sonus Blue at the same time.
Both got parked by a Grado. I moved the Sonus over to the PS-X7 table for the wife to use. That cart along with the table are now distant memory. The MA requires a very light arm.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: rubidium7 on 9 Jan 2012, 04:38 am
I am just getting back into Vinyl after a 20 year gap. Since there is so much interaction between arms and cartridges, I will list the arms I have used with the cartridge.

I am currently evaluating several cartridges (and some from Memory).

1) Denon DL-103D in Signet XK50 tonearm...this is a classic Denon from 25 years ago. At the time I had this, I had access to a stereo store stock and could try out lots of cartridges. The 103D is a different animal from most of the 103 line. For a MC, many times you can get a hot high end, with the Denon that wasn't there, although it definitely was quick. The midrange was the most pronounced feature to me (I used Magneplanar MG-III and Apt preamp back then) and was fantastic. The Deep bass was just a bit lacking (besides the speakers) but overall was my favorite cartridge back then.

2)Signet TK5 in Signet XK50 tonearm...this was very fast, but  the highs were too harsh (sibalant?) for my taste.

3) AT20SL in Signet XK50 tonearm... this was a good combination...lacked the midrange warmth of the Denon DL103D.

Now fast forward 25 years:

4) Denon DL-304 in Linn EKOS SE Arm....took about 100 hours to break it in but WOW, what inner detail and accuracy. Good bass without being heavy, very good imaging and soundstage. Would have kept it except looking for what I rememebered that DL-103D midrange to be.

5) Denon DL-304 in VPI 10.5i tonearm (on VPI table)....still sounded great, but lost some of the life the Linn LP-12 gave it. Felt it was less "modified" than the Linn though. Still wanted better midrange.

6) Dynavector 20XL in VPI 10.5i tonearm (on VPI table)....Definitely lost a lot of the innner detail and microdynamics of the DL-304, but got the midrange. Bass is good and the highs are there, just not as accurate (cymbals have a bit of sibalance).

7) Lyra Delos in VPI 10.5i tonearm (on VPI table)....I heard this at a stereo store and decided to buy one to try it. Will post impressions once it is broken in....at the store it was very good to my ears.

I have found the MC preamp to also affect the sound (everything does). There are so many variables. This is a never ending quest, I feel :)
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: DaveyW on 9 Jan 2012, 08:43 pm
Hi & Welcome Rubidium,

Nice selection of carts - both back then and now  :thumb:

Are both the Dyna and Denon newish with equal mileage?
I actually found the Dyna to be a bit more dynamic than the Denon and just as crisp up top?
Currently running the Denon DL-S1 and prefer the fuller sound over the 304.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Lyra.

Cheers
Dave

Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Trover on 24 Jan 2012, 07:57 pm
Ortofon X5 MC (original lower tip mass version, later versions increased tip mass) nice balance detail and imaging, bass competent, fairly typical HOMC treble rise coupled with a slightly lean tonality, good tracker, occaisional wind instrument difficulties. Worked magic in my warmish system of the time.

Benz Glider- very good but I was expecting a huge jump from the ortofon X5 and did'nt really get it, which told me how good the Ortofon was, a very good cartridge though. Output level wasnt quite enough for me. The most expensive I ever bought.

Dynavector 20XH- For an HOMC a pretty warm and full balance. Bass strong with a thick lower mid/upper bass, treble well behaved, maybe even a little softening going on (the "softened magnetism"?), wide stage. Not as detailed as X5MC.

AT 440ML- Great tracker, somewhat recessed mid allied to slightly bright treble and a bass that is less than full. It was very nice with rock and classical, I did'nt like it for jazz, especially trumpet and saxophone. An excellent value nontheless.

At150mlx- At's MM statement is nothing to sneeze at and offers performance and sound quality you would expect from a top Japanese MM. Better w/ used vinyl surface noise than Ortofon 2M's.

Goldring 1042- God damn that thing is a bitch to mount. Excellent all around performance, plays noisy on used Lp's.

Roskan Corus black- way easier to mount than goldring, ditto everything else.

Rega Exact- Good dynamics, a tiny bit warm while remaining an exciting listen. soundstage is smaller scaled and less open than an ortofon. Little bit of hum.

Ortofon 2 M black- Very detailed with excellent imaging. Foward balance. This thing really pulls the information off the groove. One reviewer called it "forensic". I agree and it will find any imperfection on the vinyl surface also. Healthy output. Maybe one for a tube phono stage?

2M Blue- Good "modern" sounding cartridge. Surprising bass reach and grip at the price. I preferred overall to 2 M black. Good value.

Ortofon OM20- little bright, other than that very good performance in every area, good value.

Ortofon OM 40 ditto 20 except increased imaging and detail, as well as less "forgiving".

Grado Gold- Nice tonality. excellent midrange. Open but not obviuosly so. Only fair tracker, can be succeptible to hum w/ some set ups/tables. Forgiving of less than NM condition LP's as well as less than stellar recording quality-
Grados sound good and are good value.

Ortofon MC3 Turbo- Less bright than X5 MC, Bass stronger, maybe too strong w/ some Lp's. More "relaxed" than "analytical". Never offensive, polite sound. A little more output than other HOMC's, PDG cartridge at the price.

Grado gold Longhorn- Ditto grado gold, add improvement in bass "tightness", and imaging. Minus a little midrange warmth of stock grado.

Shure M97xe- Took me a long time to get around to try a Shure (too bad I never got a V15). The packaging, performance and build quality of this thing is astounding at its 58 dollar "street price".


Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: DaveyW on 25 Jan 2012, 12:41 pm
Hi Trover,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a nice selection of carts  :thumb:

So what's your top 3 and why?

Cheers
Dave
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Trover on 30 Jan 2012, 05:52 pm
Hi Trover,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a nice selection of carts  :thumb:

So what's your top 3 and why?

Cheers
Dave

If I had to pick just 3, I'd say-
The ortofon X5MC
It was the first real "high end" cartridge I used (not that I think "high end" or more expensive is better). I have fond memories of the whole experience. A friend who worked in the business at the time brought it over and aligned and installed it for me, I had a listen, then I wrote him a check for the cartridge. It worked excellent in my system of the time and I'd still recommend it for any warm leaning set up- providing a little over 2mv output is'nt a problem.

Grado-
Because Grados sound good and are a good value.

Shure M97Xe -
Because it is among the all time audio bargains IMO (at the 58 dollar "street Price"). As far as getting the thing and seeing how well it is packaged and accessorized and how well it performs, it was one of the more satisfying cartridge purchase experiences I've had at any price. For contrast the 600 dollar Dynavector 20XH had cheaper packaging and was not even supplied with a screwdriver! I did not have any quality control problems with the Shure as far as channel balance and whatever else.

Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: DaveyW on 30 Jan 2012, 07:14 pm
Thanks Trover

Do you still have the DV 20XH?
If so I'd heartily recommend trying it at a lower resistive load if you can.
I too found it a little fat and lacking refinement at 47k ohms, running it at 1k transformed it on my rig.

Cheers
Dave

Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: jtwrace on 30 Jan 2012, 07:53 pm
Has anyone used the Zu Audio Denon 103? 
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Trover on 31 Jan 2012, 06:00 pm
Thanks Trover

Do you still have the DV 20XH?
If so I'd heartily recommend trying it at a lower resistive load if you can.
I too found it a little fat and lacking refinement at 47k ohms, running it at 1k transformed it on my rig.

Cheers
Dave

I sold it quite awhile ago, wish I had known about that as I did have an adjustable stage then. I didnt learn about the effect of loading (despite what is recommended in the owners manual) until later. It was also the older elliptical stylus non threaded body version.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Doctor Fine on 11 Feb 2012, 09:53 pm
At Least 50 carts.  First high end purchased in 1963 was 1962  Weathers FM Capacitance complete with oscillator box mounted on Micro-Touch tone arm and (AR turntable-like) Weathers table.

It was "like new" and the entire rig---table/arm/cart cost $25 at HiFi Associates in Coral Gables, Fl.  Tracked at one gram, first mini motor table made, no rumble, sounded lean and very very clean.  Response to 30,000Hz!

Frankly the ones that stand out in memory are the really outstanding for the price ones.  The ones you told your friends to try as a cheap "upgrade."  These are:

SHURE M95.                   Simply a great full sounding all round high output MM.

ORTOFON 10-20-30.       Similar to Shure but treble becomes more evident as you go UP.

                          And Best Deal Of All:

DENON DL-103.              This is absolutely worthy of legendary status IF you run it on a heavy arm so it has something to "push" against.  You can add weights to a Technics SL1200 for instance putting them on the headshell and the counterweight too.  This will help get the mass UP and lower the resonant frequency down to 10Hz.  You will need a direct drive table to pull the darn thing through the grooves otherwise your motor will wobble and create wow if you use a rubber band type belt-driver.

Sound is basic no-frills-added reference quality without any distracting shortcomings.  Perhaps not very zingy sounding or brilliant but very satisfying and lively with fair amount of "bloom."   Excellent power, drive and tight clean bass. 

Try Lundhal step up transformers from K & K if you want to keep on a tight budget.  My rig has zero hum at full volume you have to press you ear up against my mains to know they are even on.  I am running four subwoofers.   It took a while to track down all the hum initially, some was in the transformer setup, some due to nearby wall warts, and some was simply a matter of re-orienting the trannies for quiet. 

Anyway these are the carts I would take to the bank.

I could easily find reasons to upgrade the Denon for more detail and "bloom" but this rig already easily outperforms almost five grand worth of digital front end.  I love Vinyl.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: felixscerri on 5 Apr 2012, 07:55 am
G'day all, an interesting thread.  Well being the poor pensioner that I am, my favourite cartridge is the humble Shure M97xE with a close second being the Audio Technica AT95E that I dearly love with Classical music for the beautifully colourful sound picture that it paints. 

However the M97xE is my general purpose 'workmans' cartridge.  I've had a lot of fun with this cartridge.  As others have also realised, it does not show its best at 47 k, although 47 k with the recommended 250 picofarads of shunt input capacitance, sounds quite good. 

I use 62 k resistive loading with low input capacitance (150 picofarads or less).  As I DIY build my own phono stages, customising the input loading, is easy for me and the treble really opens up beautifully at 62 k.  I also have a Jico SAS stylus for my M97xE's which a very precise and detailed stylus working at 47 k, however if anything the standard Shure stylus working at 62 k sounds more like 'the real thing', if that makes sense!  Superb tracking at 1.25g and if the general set up is optimal (cartridge overhang/alignment etc), it is an excellent and musically satisfying phono cartridge.  Regards, Felix.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: ferrari458spider on 20 May 2012, 06:12 am
I own both a Shure V15 III and Shure V15v xMR used in an SME 3009 SII Improved detachable H/S arm fitted to a Linn Sondek LP12. I think both are amazing cartridges - the V15v is slightly smoother/warmer whatever than the V15III but I'd happily listen to either.

A great pity that Shure stopped producing these wonderful cartridges.

I also have a Bang & Olufsen MMC2 fitted to a Beogram 6500 tangential turntable - like all B & O catridges it is very susceptible to the slightest imperfection/dust mote on a record which can make listening a somewhat trying experience. A beautiful piece of design but give me either of the Shure V15s any day.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Gothover on 16 Aug 2012, 02:55 pm
I am rather new to vinyl, but have tried several tables and cartiges.

Started with a Project Debut III with Ortophon Red... Lowsy sounding cart lean and lifeless.

Upgraded to a Grado Gold on the same table, found this cart was an improvement, lots of body however still lifeless flat sounding.

Next I tried the Shure M97XE found this to be a well balanced cartridge good response nice sound, although not overly holographic.

At this juncture I upgraded my Table to a Project 6.1SB, and retested several of the previous cart and got the near identical impressions.

Next I tried a Sumiko Blue Point and Blue Point EVO Special both carts were a serious improvement over the M97, which is expected due to the price bump. I found both Blue points easy to live with , nice tonal balance good imaging and occasionally surprising.

My next venture was a clean used Benz MC20e2, this cartide although a bit leaner than the Blue point EVO had improved hf nice midrange good imaging and balance, overall a great cart for the $$$.

Lyra Helikon-Retipped by Soundsmith, this is perhaps my favorite cartridge, phenominal imaging holographic, good tracking however is a bit thin, however is great on my system. I really can comment on the sound of this with the original boron cantilever because it was on a different system though I do recall it sounded great on that one as well.


Next I made a table and Phono stage upgrades , some comparisons were done while I had both tables.

Phono stage PS-Audio GCPH
Table Basis Signature 2001 with Grahm 2.2 arm

Grado Reference Sonata, this is a fantastic reasonably priced cart, this cartrige offers great detail, full sound, nice balance and imaging, not as detailed as the Lyra but sounds more romantic. I was pleasantly surprised how much I like this Grado. I honestly gave up on Grado's due to my dislike for the Gold....Big mistake.

Its a toss up whether I prefer the Reference Sonata over the Helikon, however I wouldnt pay the price for the Lyra knowing the Grado for 1/4 the price is such a fine piece.

While I have both tables, I did several comparisons, and noticed very little difference, the largest improvement from table to table were the cart changes. The Basis table with the Grahm arm is much nicer to setup, and obviously my preference, however I was very happy with my Project table.

Dave
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: lakeallen on 16 Sep 2012, 09:07 pm
My first rig after getting back in (went cassette then CD starting in the mid 80's, came back to vinyl in 2008) was a Project with a Sumiko pearl. Sounded OK but not great. Next was a Rega P3-24 and a new cartridge, which I'm still using, a Benz H2 wood. I enjoyed this table then got a P7 6 months ago. I just had the Benz retipped (http://www.phonocartridgeretipping.com/index.html) by a guy here in the Seattle area who's great, and fast. The P7/Benz combo is outstanding though just a bit ripe on the bottom because of my phono stage (EAR 834P).
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Ericus Rex on 17 Sep 2012, 12:39 am
I've got the medium output version of that cartridge, the M2.  It really is an overachiever, isn't it!  Thanks for the link too.  Good to know folks other than Soundsmith (no issues with Soundsmith, just sayin') that offer retipping.  I like that he also works on watches and clocks.  What are his prices like?
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: go4vinyl on 23 Oct 2012, 11:50 pm
Another music enthusiast here - mostly 70s hard rock and prog style...

Various Rega MM carts on my old Rega Planar 3 with RB300, which is a good match of course...all great value for money.

Denon DL-110 and 160 - awesome value for money, both were an obvious step up from the Rega carts on the Rega TT.

Denon DL-304 - very low output but one of the best carts I've heard for rock and jazz, also on RB300 and RB700. It has a very thin and frgaile stylus (I read somewhere that it's especially good with MFSL pressings, and it sounded stunninf for sure...)...

Dynavextor 10x5 - I preferred any of the Denon carts, but understand why people think it's great.

...and my pride and joy - Shelter 7000 - a little better on everything than even the DL-304, and the best I've heard (although I haven't heard THAT many)...subltle and abrupt dynamics, palpability, imaging...I think it has some similarities with the feel of the Denons...it's getting a bit long in the tooth so looking to have it rebuilt (by Soundsmith or similar). It was an awesome match with the RB700 (which is the best value tonearm ever, IMO), but sits in a Morch DP-6 12 inch red dot / Teres 255 with Signature motor and makes wonderful music.

I am curious to try DL-103r (which would be in the TT while sending the Shelter for rebuild) - I already have the alu-body :-)
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Soundminded on 29 Dec 2012, 01:40 pm
I favor MM cartridges with their ultra high compliance, ultra low dynamic mass, very low tracking force requirement, excellent trackability, flat frequency response, high output (relatively speaking) and low cost. They have it all. Mostly I stick with Shure and Empire. My most used cartridge is Shure V15 type V MR. Next is Empire 4000D/III. Also Empire 999VE and 999T/EX. I've got others including Shure V15Type II improved. I note that according to Wikipedia, when Shure discontinued production of the V15TypeVMR, The Library of Congress bought up all their remaining stock. I'd also buy TOTL ADC cartridges if they were still on the market. They can require equalization to sound flat for a paraticular recording in any given sound system and I have no problem with that. Their other advantages far outweigh this minor drawback. After all, you have to apply 40db of RIAA equalization to begin with. What's a few more one way or the other?
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Elizabeth on 29 Dec 2012, 03:10 pm
First cart Shure M55E back in 1965
Various Shure, then Shure V15Vxmr
Now I use Benz Glider and Dynavector17D3
I also have a backup Dynavector Ruby23
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: wushuliu on 10 Apr 2013, 12:38 am
Just put an 8MZ stylus onto a used Grado F1+ cart I pulled of a table I acquired. And it is AMAZING!!!

I can only compare it to other 'entry level' carts I've used like Soundsmith Otello, DL 110, AT440ML, Digitrac 300SE, Goldring Elektra aka MG-29E, and others. The F1/8MZ combo presents a vivid, rich, and clear window into the music with a mezmerising midrange. High and low frequencies are extended and tight so far with only 1hr on the cart. Tracks great so far with my Kyocera PL 701 table. For the $100 cost of the stylus and <$50 cost for a used Grado body, I am very very impressed. From what I am hearing so far it is another league beyond the Otello and DL 110. :o
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: whiznant on 14 Jun 2013, 04:46 pm
Hi all great thread! I've just bought a dynavector karat 19a to replace the clear audio virtuoso ebony wood that came stock on my marantz tt-15. This will be my first MC cart and I'm wondering what difference ill be noticing comparatively? My phono pre is a f117 nighthawk. Btw does anyone know how much gain and load I should be using with the ebony wood? (Or the dynavector for that matter)
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: jimdgoulding on 2 Aug 2013, 01:43 pm
A Tale of Two Cartridges . .

I recently purchased a Shelter 501 Mk II and as my tonearm has a removable headshell I am able to compare it with my old Koetsu pretty quickly.  I have two of the same headshells.  The effective height of the two cartridges is virtually the same.  I say effective because while the Koetsu has the taller body, the Shelter has a more radical angle to its cantilever, so it sits taller in the saddle making the VTA nearly the same w/o my having to adjust tonearm height.  All I have to do is take a moment to re-balance the weight or tracking force. 

The Shelter is the more incisive cartridge.  Imagery outline is sharper and instrumental separation cleaner.  On a particular recording of female vocal and piano, the singer's head is more compact and clearly defined in space as are the piano notes.  This is very nice and tonality sounds very flat here.  With the Koetsu her image and voice are more saturated or liquid but not as defined.  A little darker tone, too.  The Koetsu has a fuller lower midrange/upper bass which likely accounts for that along with a more gentle high end and serves tunes like "Cowboy Movie" from David Crosby's fabulous "If Only I Could Remember My Name (1970) very satisfactorily.  The Shelter is a little light in the behind here.  Also, the Shelter can be whiter sounding if you know what I mean.

The Shelter sounds flatter, sharper and the more neutral of the two.  Quicker, as well.  Art Blakey's "Live at Keystone 3" (Concord Jazz) flies!!!  His drum kit and cymbals in the background (unlike his Blue Note recordings) are more subdued with the Koetsu and a little less defined comparatively.  Mine is an original Black, btw, like 25 yrs old.  I believe that Koetsu has moved nearer neutrality in later models.  I love the Shelter here. 

I expect to continue to experience greater emotion with the Koetsu with it's richer and fuller sound with most of the music I play, but love the quickness, agility and imaging of the Shelter!  I'm happy to have both and have a pretty good idea of which to use for what music. 
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: sebrof on 3 Aug 2013, 02:08 pm
All on a Rega P3 with RB300 arm

Grado Black - Good cart, not a lot of detail but not offensive
Grado Red - See Grado Black. I didn't put a whole lot of effort into determining differences and none jumped out at me
Denon DL-103r - Sometime very nice, sometimes not so nice so I determined it was not a good match with the RB-300 arm. I have a Musical Surroundings Nova with many dip settings so compatability with the pre was not the issue IMO
Nagaoka MP-200 - Nice, well balanced, good detail and nice bass
Nagaoka MP-200 with the MP-500 stylus. See MP-200 but a nice upgrade in all areas, keeping in mind the MP-200 stylus had some miles on it and the 500 was brand new. I think the Nags are a good match for the RB300 arm
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: stanwal on 1 Jan 2014, 07:47 pm
Since I go back to the early 60s I have had more than I can remember. My current cartridge is an AT MC. Sorry, I had a brain tumor recently and have lapses in memory on occasion. It is the one above the OC9 and which retails for $750 or so. A friend compared it to his Koetsu and it was not embarrassed by the comparison. Not that it was as good but was still musical etc. J&R have had them on occasion for very good prices. Phono stages are very important if you want to get the sound your cartridge is capable of. I have a Naim Superline now and love it. I am using a Teddy Pardo power supply which is much more reasonable the the Supercap and gives excellent performance. Not as flexible as the ASR I use to have but easier to use and an equal but different sound quality.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: pcollis on 16 Jan 2014, 08:28 pm
too many to mention all of them.

blue point special on a rega p-3.  excellent but a little bright.

benz glider - one of the best I've ever had.

benz micro L0.2 - good detail but a little dark

dynavector karar ruby - great all arounder

dynavector 17d3 - not used yet

current:  EMT - TU2 on a rega p25.  best I've ever had.

others.  sumiko blue point, denon 301d, grado sonata etc.

Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: wrat on 21 Feb 2014, 07:36 pm
Grado Green on a pro-ject 1.2 LONG time ago did not have it long
Grado Reference Platinum on a Pro-Ject 1.2 it was a good budget entry level set up. I forget what Phono stage I was using maybe the one in my counterpoint SA3000... no hum no real issues had it a VERY long time
Dynavector Karat 19A mkII Black had this on a rega P3 very nice cart but it aged quickly.

Current cart
Transfiguration Orpheus on a Nottingham Analog Interspace ,ridiculously expensive but I got a phenomenal deal on it...BEST cart I have had and one of the best Ive heard
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Teflonscoundrel on 15 Jun 2014, 06:26 pm
Audio Technica AT95E - I think it's a great starter cartridge. Sounds pretty well balanced except for a little brightness and gives you the fundamentals at an inexpensive price.  I used it on a couple of vintage tables, a Kenwood from the 70s and an MCS table from the early 80s with good results on both.

Ortofon 2M Blue - A significant step up from the AT95E in terms of detail and also extends higher in the treble and lower in the bass.  I find it to be a really good cartridge for the money.  I find that music sounds more natural and cohesive.  I'd say the sound quality is forgiving of worn out vinyl in that any distortion a don't seem to be emphasized. Very enjoyable to listen to. I use it with my Rega RP3.

Soundsmith VPI Zephyr - This cartridge is another step up in every area over the 2M Blue.  I'd say it's a true audiophile cartridge in that it passes along quite a bit more detail and low level info in the music.  It won't hide any wear or smooth out poor recordings, but you'll hear the good stuff in the grooves. It too, seems to be very well balanced across the frequency range and instruments and voices are quite lifelike.  It's a very neutral cart.  I've used it with my VPI Scout.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Meles on 9 Oct 2014, 02:44 pm
Benz Ruby H, earlier version before the Ruby 2, still own.
This cartridge has double the output of the Ruby, 0.5 versus 1.0 mv on 5 cm/s scale.
I upgraded from the Glider and it was pretty amazing
Has the Gyger stylus. Great, great bass in comparison to Glider (Med. output which is about 1.2 mv)
Great on rock in comparison which I did not expect.
I still use this cartridge, but may have to retip as Benz is done due to long term illness of technician.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: ACHiPo on 2 Nov 2014, 12:14 am
Sumiko Blue Point Special  eh, it was ok, especially for the money (I think $200 at the time), plus I was using an Onkyo receiver's internal phono stage, and it was on a Pro-Ject turntable, so maybe it wasn't just the cartridge :lol:

Lyra Lydian on WTT Reference into a BlackCube feeding a PSE hybrid pre.  Very satisfactory--worked great for 15 years until it finally gave up the ghost.

Lyra Decca on WTT Reference into a BlackCube or Jeff Rowland Consummate phono stage into a Consummage pre.  Loving life, especially the JRDG phono stage, but the cartridge mates very well on the WTT Reference table.  The system is musical, detailed, and mid-range is fantastic.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: ACHiPo on 2 Nov 2014, 07:20 pm
I didn't see a link to Michael Fremer's digitized cartridge comparison.  Interesting to be able to compare a bunch of cartridges below $1k without having to set them all up.

http://www.analogplanet.com/category/vote

He has similar digital download comparisons of preamps, recordings, etc.  Kinda fun to do a little blind testing in a very easy way.
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: stevoz on 24 Nov 2016, 12:01 pm
Hi there, new to this site, and this seems like a good thread to start with. Since getting back into vinyl/analogue about a year back, I have replinthed and modified a TT (CEC BD3200), added an excellent phono-stage (Vincent PHO-8) and bought five carts to add to my original Grace F8C, bought back in the late 70's when I was a teen :). I am totally hooked, my music has never sounded so good, after nearly thirty years of fooling myself that digital was king! My carts, in order of preference, though they're all great in different ways, are: 1; Grace Level ll RC (rare ceramic cantilever), Eq2; Denon DL 103 & Grace F8C, 4; Grace F8L, 5; ADC XLM mk ll (would be better with a lower mass arm), 6; Shure M97xE not far behind. While, as I said, they're all great, it is clear to me that the Grace Level ll RC is a cut above the rest. It is the most refined, accurate and detailed cartridge of my collection, an absolute pleasure to listen to, delicate but dynamic, wide and airy soundstage, emotionally engaging, it is hard to fault in any way. A recent and fortunate purchase that has taken my music to another level...... Here's some pic's  :)
(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=153965)

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=153966)

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=153967)

Cheers... :thumb:
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: Nick77 on 24 Nov 2016, 01:17 pm
Currently using an Ortofon Quintet Bronze with standard preamp setting of 100 ohm, any recommendations or advise?
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: ear4audio on 5 Feb 2017, 03:13 am
In order of preference.   I like the sound that comes out but it changes depending on the record that is being played.

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=157413)

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=157414)

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=157415)

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=157416)

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=157417)

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=157418)

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=157419)

(http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=157420)
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: S Clark on 5 Feb 2017, 02:09 pm
Currently using an Ortofon Quintet Bronze with standard preamp setting of 100 ohm, any recommendations or advise?
Recommendation:  Enjoy it.  That's a really nice cartridge.  :thumb:
Title: Re: Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it
Post by: GregC on 6 Feb 2017, 11:38 pm
Obviously cartridge preference will depend on the synergy with the other system components.   Here is a list of the cartridges I have owned in my life in the order of preference.  The ZYX Universe and Shilabe are both superb (a tie for the best I have heard), but the Shilabe is slightly more forgiving at the expense of the final bit of detail in my system.

Miyajima Labs Shilabe
ZYX Universe SB
ZYX Airy 3 SB
Shelter 901 MK II
Shelter 501 MK II
Shure V15VXMR
Dynavector 10x5
Sumiko Blue Point #2