Is there a "World's Best Cartridge?"

PeterA

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Professors like to lecture. When I was studying architecture and ready to really learn, the teacher presented himself. His name was Tadao Ando. He taught me how to think about form and light, and the spirit of a building.

Years later after flirting with audio for a while, I went to Vienna and was again ready to start learning. Once there, the chief archivist of the Vienna State Opera became my mentor and taught me how to listen to the instrument’s energy in the concert hall.

Ten years later, I stagnated and needed a new way to think about my system. David Karmeli taught me how to improve my set up. I started to experiment and began to learn again.

I welcome learning from others who understand things at a deeper level than I do. The good teacher suggests new ways of thinking about things and encourages one to dig deeper. He will encourage the student to learn by doing.

In each case, someone planted the seed, but I did the learning myself. These are people who have ideas and are willing to share them. The recipients are the lucky ones.

Interestingly, both Dr. Poltun in Vienna and David Karmeli in Utah like early Ortofon cartridges and certain vdH Colibris. I am glad I listened to them.

There is definitely a world’s best cartridge. It is the one that enables the listener to have a similar experience at home that he has in the concert hall. The challenge is identifying that cartridge and then being able to get it.
 
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kodomo

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Professors like to lecture. When I was studying architecture and ready to really learn, the teacher presented himself. His name was Tadao Ando. He taught me how to think about form and light, and the spirit of a building.

Years later after flirting with audio for a while, I went to Vienna and was again ready to start learning. Once there, the chief archivist of the Vienna State Opera became my mentor and taught me how to listen to the instrument’s energy in the concert hall.

Ten years later, I stagnated and needed a new way to think about my system. David Karmeli taught me how to improve my set up. I started to experiment and began to learn again.

I welcome learning from others who understand things at a deeper level than I do. The good teacher suggests new ways of thinking about things and encourages one to dig deeper. He will encourage the student to learn by doing.

In each case, someone planted the seed, but I did the learning myself. These are people who have ideas and are willing to share them. The recipients are the lucky ones.

Interestingly, both Dr. Poltun in Vienna and David Karmeli in Utah like early Ortofon cartridges and certain vdH Colibris. I am glad I listened to them.

There is definitely a world’s best cartridge. It is the one that enables the listener to have a similar experience at home that he has in the concert hall. The challenge is identifying that cartridge and then being able to get it.
You studied with Ando san! Very lucky, I wish I had the chance but I got the books and visited the buildings he made, it was the best I could do. He is a hero of mine in architecture.
 
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Ron Resnick

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There is definitely a world’s best cartridge. It is the one that enables the listener to have a similar experience at home that he has in the concert hall.

Even though we are all hearing substantially the same thing in the concert hall, because audio reproduction components are imperfect (we don’t achieve 100% suspension of disbelief) each of us chooses components that re-create those particular attributes of sound we hear in the concert hall which subjectively maximize our personal suspension of disbelief. This is why our different stereo systems sound different.

How each of us chooses to replicate at home with an audio system an experience similar to the experience in the concert hall is subjective. This is why there is no one, same “world’s best cartridge” for all audiophiles.
 
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PeterA

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How each of us chooses to replicate at home with an audio system an experience similar to the experience in the concert hall is subjective. This is why there is no one, same “world’s best cartridge” for all audiophiles.

I can claim the best, and so can you. I never said we had to agree. It is pretty interesting though that all of the experienced visitors who compared ddk’s five amazing turntables during their visits all preferred the exact same turntable/arm/cartridge combination according to the many reports.

We all have our best and it is what drives this forum. On occasion, there is even consensus.
 
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Ron Resnick

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I can claim the best, and so can you. I never said we had to agree.

Yes; each of us can claim the best. (It is not intellectually honest if each if us is claiming the best as some kind of objective truth, but, yes, we can claim it.)

And this is what suggests, if not proves, that the process is subjective.
 
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PeterA

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There is definitely " the World's Best Cart." Keep moving up the ladder and find it. It is not about preference. Once you hear it you know it is better and not just different.
Yes; each of us can claim the best. (It is not intellectually honest if each if us is claiming the best as some kind of objective truth, but, yes, we can claim it.)

And this is what suggests, if not proves, that the process is subjective.

I agree with Tang here. I just can’t prove it. Nor is it necessary to do so. The interesting thing is how quickly today’s “best“ changes from month to month or year to year while some of the rare and coveted items of the past remain so.

What does that say about subjective or objective?
 

ddk

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Dear Ron,
Allow me a counter;
Even though we are all hearing substantially the same thing in the concert hall, because audio reproduction components are imperfect (we don’t achieve 100% suspension of disbelief) each of us chooses components that re-create those particular attributes of sound we hear in the concert hall which subjectively maximize our personal suspension of disbelief. This is why our different stereo systems sound different.
This argument doesn’t preclude a best because some fail to see it and/or lack the experience to judge things.
How each of us chooses to replicate at home with an audio system an experience similar to the experience in the concert hall is subjective. This is why there is no one, same “world’s best cartridge” for all audiophiles.
The presumption that all choose their systems knowledgeably is a fallacy, too many systems are utter failures and their owners too clueless to be any different. Many component/system purchases are made without any understanding of even basic good sound. All audiophiles aren’t on the same footing and there’s also a herd mentality in the community. The question is what’s best and not what’s best to all audiophiles.

david
 
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Audire

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Dear Ron,
Allow me a counter;

This argument doesn’t preclude a best because some fail to see it and/or lack the experience to judge things.

The presumption that all choose their systems knowledgeably is a fallacy, too many systems are utter failures and their owners too clueless to be any different. Many component/system purchases are made without any understanding of even basic good sound. All audiophiles aren’t on the same footing and there’s also a herd mentality in the community. The question is what’s best and not what’s best to all audiophiles.

david

David,

I apologize but this argument still isn’t clear to me. Even among shall we say the golden ears of the hobby there are differences of opinion as to what the best is. I believe there are numerous golden ears right here on this forum, but not all of them have the same TTs, carts, systems, etc.

Thus, Ron‘s point of subjectivity stands IMO.
 
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John T

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Interpretation, Subjectiveness, is as defined. As is light/form/perspective. I work in abstract sculpture, what I see is quite different from what others see. Neither is right or wrong but I expect a certain confinement of "interpretation". Audio "Interpretation/Subjectiveness is quite similar. Without specific application of system this discussion has no finality. The whole subjective nature in what we do and the small world in which we do it has far too many variables...
 

ddk

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David,

I apologize but this argument still isn’t clear to me. Even among shall we say the golden ears of the hobby there are differences of opinion as to what the best is. I believe there are numerous golden ears right here on this forum, but not all of them have the same TTs, carts, systems, etc.

Thus, Ron‘s point of subjectivity stands IMO.
I’m not arguing against subjectivity but disagreeing with Ron that all subjective and even objective opinions have the same value. There are different levels of objective experience and understanding behind a subjective opinion, they’re not all equal even if they all agreed.

Consensus doesn’t mean truth nor does diversity of systems imply total lack of agreement in the group. Guarneri and Stradivarius are deemed the best but only a very small group have access to them and even fewer have the ability to play them at a level of distinction does that make them any less great?

david
 
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Audire

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Guarneri and Stradivarius are deemed the best but only a very small group have access to them and even fewer have the ability to play them at a level of distinction does that make them any less great?

david

Thanks. While I agree with most of what you said, even your example speaks of “some” of the best and not a definitive “the” best.
 

ddk

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Thanks. While I agree with most of what you said, even your example speaks of “some” of the best and not the definitive “the” best.
The example is limited to two nominated as the best not some of the best. I'm not arguing brands and products my only point is that subjective opinions have value and they aren't equal.

david
 
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morricab

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The example is limited to two nominated as the best not some of the best. I'm not arguing brands and products my only point is that subjective opinions have value and they aren't equal.

david
Talking about violins now, David? What practical experience do you have with Guarneri and Stradivari violins? You know they are the best or have been told they are the best? I have actually held both in my hands (although I sadly can't play them) and heard them played back to back (along with an Amati and a Guadagnini). The Strad projects the most and so is best for a large concert but the Guadagnini is more beautiful sounding... I might add for the examples that were at my ex's disposal at that time. Perhaps like VdH cartridges, the variability is quite high now given the passage of time.




 
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Audire

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The example is limited to two nominated as the best not some of the best. I'm not arguing brands and products my only point is that subjective opinions have value and they aren't equal.

david

I most definitely agree that “subjective opinions have value and they aren't equal.” For instance, I’d trust your opinion of carts over mine 24/7.

What I’m having problems with is saying a cart is a definitive “the” best or “world‘s“ best. As I pointed out in post #4 there are just too many variables in systems to say one cart is “the” best.

I think it is proper to say it’s “the” best for my system that I’ve heard. But even with this someone else might say they enjoyed another cart more on the very same system. So, we may have absolute favorites on a particular system, but I wouldn't say it’s a definitive “the” best. And add to this that I know of no one that has heard every cart ever made (you might be close) so again a “world’s” best cart is just too definitive IMO.
 

ddk

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Talking about violins now, David? What practical experience do you have with Guarneri and Stradivari violins? You know they are the best or have been told they are the best? I have actually held both in my hands (although I sadly can't play them) and heard them played back to back (along with an Amati and a Guadagnini). The Strad projects the most and so is best for a large concert but the Guadagnini is more beautiful sounding... I might add for the examples that were at my ex's disposal at that time. Perhaps like VdH cartridges, the variability is quite high now given the passage of time.




Not all Brad, you ought to read and understand what I wrote instead of exploding like this!

Since you brought up the subject what's your practical experience with these instruments? Having a girlfriend who played the violin doesn't qualify. :)

david
 

morricab

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Not all Brad, you ought to read and understand what I wrote instead of exploding like this!

Since you brought up the subject what's your practical experience with these instruments? Having a girlfriend who played the violin doesn't qualify. :)

david
She played THESE violins...and in my presence. I should add that the fact that she had them for some time in her possession is proof enough of her prowess on the instrument...they aren't given out lightly.
 
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ddk

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I most definitely agree that “subjective opinions have value and they aren't equal.” For instance, I’d trust your opinion of carts over mine 24/7.

What I’m having problems with is saying a cart is a definitive “the” best or “world‘s“ best. As I pointed out in post #4 there are just too many variables in systems to say one cart is “the” best.

I think it is proper to say it’s “the” best for my system that I’ve heard. But even with this someone else might say they enjoyed another cart more on the very same system. So, we may have absolute favorites on a particular system, but I wouldn't say it’s a definitive “the” best. And add to this that I know of no one that has heard every cart ever made (you might be close) so again a “world’s” best cart is just too definitive IMO.
I made no nominations of the best Joe and you're welcome to phrase it anyway you want if you like something, I won't object :).

david
 
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ddk

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She played THESE violins...and in my presence.
And? I've attended concerts with a Guarneri and Strad that's practical experience for you? Anyway don't know what your argument is here I wasn't commenting on violins.

david
 
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Ron Resnick

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This argument doesn’t preclude a best because some fail to see it and/or lack the experience to judge things.

The presumption that all choose their systems knowledgeably is a fallacy

Many component/system purchases are made without any understanding of even basic good sound. All audiophiles aren’t on the same footing and there’s also a herd mentality in the community.

I’m not arguing against subjectivity but disagreeing with Ron that all subjective and even objective opinions have the same value. There are different levels of objective experience and understanding behind a subjective opinion, they’re not all equal even if they all agreed.

Consensus doesn’t mean truth nor does diversity of systems imply total lack of agreement in the group.

david

Dear David,

This is not a “counter”; this is an important and valid clarification and addition to my view. Yes, you are absolutely correct that different audiophiles have radically different levels of high-end audio experience. The different levels of live music experience, the difficulty of even finding components other than popular ones from the most advertised brands, the difficulty of auditioning individual audio components in an analytically valid way, the difficulty of attributing sonic attributes to particular components, etc., all conspire to make this whole endeavor very challenging.

There is a huge problem of people not knowing what they don’t know — and not being introspectively aware of this. And if someone learns a little more, he/she still doesn’t know what he/she doesn’t know. Analytically valid experience to aquire more knowledgeable is not easy to get.

What this means is that there will be greater dispersion in the sounds of the resulting systems then there should be if the average audiophile had a higher level of experience and knowledge. This is why our resulting audio systems sound more different system to system than what we can largely agree we all are hearing in the concert hall.

This also means ineluctably that not all opinions have the same value.

PS: I’m excited that you and I have had this breakthrough in mutual understanding and mutual agreement!
 
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Don_Camillo

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I believe that a cartridge and a speaker, by far, contribute the most to SQ.
I´d add room and phono stage/cartridge load to that list

There are some phono cartridges out there that are capable of providing a linear frequency response when loaded correctly. Those might not promote heights as some of you obviously do like best and some of them will only show that amount of bass that´s on the medium and consequently won´t be credited by some of you but exactly those are the best phono cartridges out there.;)

Furthermore those phono cartridges might even not differ noticeably in how much bass or heights is put out but how they manage and present details, sonic shape, coloration, spatiality and dimensions. But some of those aspects won´t even be detectable with audiophile and digitized or non digitized re-relases of your hackneyed and boring all time favorites but with classical recods or records with real hand made music and well produced at long gone former times only. Thus some of you even won´t have the appropriate album at hand and will never ever recognize "the best"cartridge of all :cool:

P.S.: But as long as the scene insists on judging everything by ear only and negates the basic principles of physics, there will be millions of supposedly best cartridges out there and heavy arguments about them will be inevitable.
 
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