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

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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. 


I owned a couple B&O cartridges in the 90s and enjoyed those.  Don't remember the numbers.  More recently
  • Clearaudio Aurem Beta: cold, dry, cramped, lean and harsh.  Got a B rating from Stereophile!
  • Dynavector 10x5: after the above, this cartridge made me very happy.  Spatious, warm sound, good bass, and quieter than the Aurem Beta.  Unfortunately, after a couple months I clumsily broke the cantilever off.
  • Benz Wood L2.  Very clear, neutral, and quieter still.  I don't really have any adjectives for this one, which I think is good.


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.




My nomination for best cartridge I've listened to is now Jan Allaerts MC-1B. I'm floored, but aout of my reach financially...


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.


_______________________________________ __

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  



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


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


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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.



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 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 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:

« Last Edit: 2 Feb 2009, 12:22 am by TheChairGuy »


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.


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?


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.



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 !


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.

- 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!


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  • Speakers....What Speakers ?

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

Shilabe African Blackwood Cross Coil Moving Coil Cartridge... $2,800.00


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

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.


GregC, what are you using for a phono-pre ??


GregC, what are you using for a phono-pre ??


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.


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:


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?