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Thread: Cartridges - The Pleasures Beyond...

  1. #1
    [Industry Expert] ddk's Avatar
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    Cartridges - The Pleasures Beyond...

    I love the analog disc and there's no other playback system as rich and varied as a turntable. You can pick your spinner, choose your arm and tailor the sound for your pleasure with the cartridge. Swapping cartridges was a joyful and regular activity, everyone I knew had 5-10 cartridges. Why get stuck with one when there were so many great cartridge manufacturers, each with their own unique and wonderful house sound? It's really a no brainer when one can easily transform the sound of a system in a few minutes with great and varied pleasures. For the most part it wasn't even that expensive, cartridges didn't cost what they do today and the tonearm designers built them to simplify this natural activity. Unfortunately for most, somewhere in the 80's the western audio media and their drones came together and in their collective ignorance hatched the idea of "The Cartridge" and the "Fixed Tonearm". The 80's was also the moment that influence of these so called mavens peaked. The Chief Drones spoon fed the public their misguided, self serving agenda and force fed it to the industry. Sadly for all "The Cartridge" belief is stronger today in high end than ever.

    I face a dilemma when asked about "The Cartridge" A vs B and the right answer is neither. Its almost taboo to recommend a great cartridge matching their needs but with a lower price to the man fixated with "The Cartridge". Strangely, the fixated audiophile is happy and willing to spend thousands on an unknown "The Cartridge" based on the say so of a total stranger but takes it as a personal insult to spend a few hundred and try it for themselves.

    I have nothing against "The Cartridge" when the system warrants it and have a few of them myself but why limit the pleasure to one? If you want new Ortofon, Denon, Audio Technical and Shure all offer excellent products below $1k, you'll be surprised how close some of them get to "The Cartridge"! Then there's the internet our online treasure trove for vintage and used cartridges. You can choose from decades and decades of fine cartridges built by masterful people, some are real hidden gems by any standard. All you need to taste this great variety of rich flavors is a good arm or a wand (calling Bob Graham!) with bayonet, the rest is easy. Here are some of my favorites, most of these cartridges can be had for a few hundred dollars, nothing in silly money of today's high end.

    I think that Ortofon's been at it longer than any other company today and with the most number innovations and diverse product lines. You won't go wrong with anything they made/make but its the SPU that stood the test of time. Its the Porsche 911 of the cartridge world, you can find as many different vintage SPU's and 911's from various era and like Porsche, Ortofon continues to produce and expand the SPU family today.SPU is known for its wonderful musicality and balanced, full bodied sound.


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    There are varieties of SPU, here's a very rare mono & stereo pair designed by Andreoli of the Magic Diamond fame;



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    Next is EMT, get yourself a stereo, a mono or two and one for 78's! A complete musical chain with the EMT arm. The can be called cousins of SPU but still different in character to warrant owning both. Set the arms once for each EMT category and swap out as needed without touching the arm again.



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    Deccas are detailed light and airy, but very solid and natural. A totally different presentation than the latter two yet just as musical… You'll need a Decca arm or adaptor to play some of their early cartridges.



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    Continued…
    Audio Industry Affiliate:Lamm, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformers, Pheonix Engineering.
    Specialty & Unique Offerings: Vintage horn speakers, Vintage and Modern Turntables, Analog Accessories.

    System 1: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 1
    System 2: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 2- Near field setup

  2. #2
    [Industry Expert] ddk's Avatar
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    There's an abundant of different cartridge types and brands available for sale on the net, even some of the Japanese exotics can be picked up for next to nothing.



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    Don't forget the moving magnets, many excellent examples can be found for next to nothing. They don't need extra amplification, track great, some are even as a good as some of the better MC ones.

    Experiment and enjoy the abundance, everything to gain and little to lose...




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    david
    Last edited by ddk; 06-21-2015 at 01:31 PM.
    Audio Industry Affiliate:Lamm, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformers, Pheonix Engineering.
    Specialty & Unique Offerings: Vintage horn speakers, Vintage and Modern Turntables, Analog Accessories.

    System 1: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 1
    System 2: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 2- Near field setup

  3. #3
    very impressive collection / post; at present I have but two working carts (benz ruby, nagaoka mp50s) and a damaged mm(shurev15mr5). I regret tossing many of my old worn carts - which I'd re-tip today.

  4. #4
    [Industry Expert] ddk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBone View Post
    very impressive collection / post; at present I have but two working carts (benz ruby, nagaoka mp50s) and a damaged mm(shurev15mr5). I regret tossing many of my old worn carts - which I'd re-tip today.
    Its cheaper to buy some of them in good used and original condition, or try something new, Ebay's a good resource. NOS V15 replacement needles regularly found on there too.

    david
    Audio Industry Affiliate:Lamm, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformers, Pheonix Engineering.
    Specialty & Unique Offerings: Vintage horn speakers, Vintage and Modern Turntables, Analog Accessories.

    System 1: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 1
    System 2: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 2- Near field setup

  5. #5
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Really a lovely collection. Your advice about eBay sourcing rises a question - do you have experience with independent companies that re-tip and re-built cartridges, such as Northwest Analogue, Soundsmith , Van den Hul or Thomas-Schick?
    Under construction around a pair of Wilson XLF's, an Audio Research Anniversary preamplifier, TA OPUS MM2, Shunyata Denali/Sigma and a DCS Vivaldi 2.0 stack ...

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    David, any thoughts on Straingauges? Either the current Soundsmith models, or NOS Panasonics?
    I've gone 'round the houses, from the Roksan Shiraz, to Lyra Clavis, then Lyra Parnassus, followed by Transfiguration Temper Supreme and Orpheus, a sideways shunt to the Zu Denon 103, now settling on my current Soundsmith Straingauge SG200, powered by battery Red Wine Audio Black Lightning psu.
    I find the Straingauge captures the warmth of the Parnassus, the verve of the Zu Denon 103, the accuracy of the Orpheus. Neutrality and involvement, enhanced by getting it off the grid via the batt psu.
    Trans Fi Salvation tt & Terminator arm/Soundsmith Straingauge SG200 cart w.Red Wine batt psu/Eera Tentation cdp/Nat Audio Utopia line stage & SE2SE SET monos w.NOS '48 GE tubes/Zu Definitions 4 spkrs w.Duelund caps & Lundahl transformers/Symposium Isis & Rollerblocks isolation/Sablon Reservas ic's, sc's & pc's/Westwick 8kVA balanced pwr, Oyaides dedicated lines w.Furutech US sockets/Entreq Silver Tellus & Olympus Minimus ground boxes, Silver Cleanus passive filter, Apollo ground leads

  7. #7
    [Industry Expert] ddk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by microstrip View Post
    Really a lovely collection. Your advice about eBay sourcing rises a question - do you have experience with independent companies that re-tip and re-built cartridges, such as Northwest Analogue, Soundsmith , Van den Hul or Thomas-Schick?
    Thanks Francisco. I have purchased a couple of vintage Van den Hul refurbished Orotofons in the past and they were wonderful but different from the actual vintage ones but never sent anything in myself to any of the above. Basically a dead cartridge for me is just an opportunity to try a different one.

    david
    Audio Industry Affiliate:Lamm, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformers, Pheonix Engineering.
    Specialty & Unique Offerings: Vintage horn speakers, Vintage and Modern Turntables, Analog Accessories.

    System 1: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 1
    System 2: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 2- Near field setup

  8. #8
    [Industry Expert] ddk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spiritofmusic View Post
    David, any thoughts on Straingauges? Either the current Soundsmith models, or NOS Panasonics?
    I've gone 'round the houses, from the Roksan Shiraz, to Lyra Clavis, then Lyra Parnassus, followed by Transfiguration Temper Supreme and Orpheus, a sideways shunt to the Zu Denon 103, now settling on my current Soundsmith Straingauge SG200, powered by battery Red Wine Audio Black Lightning psu.
    I find the Straingauge captures the warmth of the Parnassus, the verve of the Zu Denon 103, the accuracy of the Orpheus. Neutrality and involvement, enhanced by getting it off the grid via the batt psu.
    No, I never had a Straingauge Marc but am familiar with some of the other ones you owned, you made some nice choices.

    david
    Audio Industry Affiliate:Lamm, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformers, Pheonix Engineering.
    Specialty & Unique Offerings: Vintage horn speakers, Vintage and Modern Turntables, Analog Accessories.

    System 1: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 1
    System 2: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 2- Near field setup

  9. #9
    I am sure its nice to be able to choose from different Flavors but due to financial restraints i have always had to put everything i have into the best cart i can afford. Still think this is the way to go for many...
    Analog: Acoustic Solid Wood MPX Reference Microcontroller, SME M2-12, Ortofon Cadenza Bronze
    Digital: Rega Apollo, Chord 2 Qute
    Amp: Roksan Caspian M2 + DX-2 Ref Phono
    Speaker Kef-LS 50
    Cables: all MIT Magnum M3, M1 Phono, Magnum AC1

  10. #10
    [Industry Expert] ddk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Shears View Post
    I am sure its nice to be able to choose from different Flavors but due to financial restraints i have always had to put everything i have into the best cart i can afford. Still think this is the way to go for many...
    I don't disagree and not everyone's interested in different flavors.
    david
    Audio Industry Affiliate:Lamm, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformers, Pheonix Engineering.
    Specialty & Unique Offerings: Vintage horn speakers, Vintage and Modern Turntables, Analog Accessories.

    System 1: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 1
    System 2: Horns+Tubes+Vinyl and digital too- Listening Room 2- Near field setup

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