Cartridge Database - what have you used/owned and your opinion of it

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ricmon



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...


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

Walterwalter

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 15
Very interesting and detailed site of Miyajima. Any suggestions and impressions of Empire series 2000 and 4000 vintage cartridges?

Walterwalter

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 15
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.

exurbia

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 1
 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.

jsaliga

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
« Last Edit: 8 Nov 2009, 04:48 pm by jsaliga »

david12

 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.

Quiet Earth

  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?

david12

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

Quiet Earth

I didn't get anything meaningful out of the calculator :scratch: , but thanks for your personal notes  :thumb:.

AudioSoul

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 164


   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)

TheChairGuy

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

BobM

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.



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.

earwig

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.

TheChairGuy

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

jmac7

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.

BPoletti

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.

troutnut68

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.

JoshK

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?

Ericus Rex

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.

Æ

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 859
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.