The two biggest design challenges in a hi-fi system are at opposite ends of the hi-fi chain – components which employ transducers: cartridges at one end, and speakers at the other. There are brilliant designs in both component categories, but whenever you’re converting electrical energy into mechanical (or vice versa), addressing resonant coloration is one of the biggest challenges in audio design.
Our recommendation is to take advantage of this, and to use your cartridge as a system tuning element:
- Use the most neutral sounding turntable and tonearm.
- Create a short-list of cartridges whose compliance is compatible with your tonearm’s effective mass and energy dissipation characteristics.
- Select the cartridge from this short list which compliments the tonal balance of your system.
These are only general guidelines. Assuming you are comfortable with your digital playback chain, our general recommendation is for you to configure your analog front end to have a similar tonal balance – making corrections as you see fit of course.
Contact us to discuss the best match for you and your system, as well as for cartridges not listed below …
Ortofon moves forward into the 21st Century without forgetting their past.
Their line is split into modern cartridges (Anna, A95, Windfeld Ti, Cadenza, etc.) and the mythical SPU line.
If you have a significant collection of 1950’s stereo or mono records, you can’t beat an SPU! “Naked” versions of the SPU (without an integreated headshell) are available for compatibility with fixed-headshell tonearms.
Whether you have a tonearm with a fixed or removable headshell, the SPUs are best matched with high mass tonearms, due to their low compliance and high tracking force requirements. You don’t have to break the bank for your second rig, and a 12″ Jelco arm (whether Jelco branded or Ortofon branded) is a great match for the SPUs (especially with our interconnect).
With respect to a second arm/cartridge combination, we’re moving toward stereo cartridges over mono – not because mono records played through a mono cartridge can’t be magical (they most certainly can be) but because a stereo cartridge provides access to mono records, early issue stereo records as well as to those “modern” stereo records you previously considered to be unplayable.
Old faithful …
Dynavectors paint the music with bold, broad brush strokes but are never lacking in rendering fine detail and nuance.
If your stystem is a bit too “polite” (lacking in dynamics), Dynavectors are an excellent choice.
Truth and honesty is Lyra’s calling card
One of the most beautiful upper frequency presentations we’ve ever heard.
They are honest however, so don’t shoot the messenger, and don’t expect a Lyra to “fix” problems elsewhere in your system. They’re a “thinking man’s” cartridge, but a cartridge that conveys emotion at the same time.
In earlier years, we always thought the frequency balance of Lyras to be a bit lacking in bottom end authority. The past two generations coming from Lyra have solved this problem and they are now perfectly balanced, and with this, the emotional content of the music is powerful.
With a Lyra (set up correctly, of course) you’ll hear a perfect balance of notes – from initial attack through decay. You’ll unravel complex, interweaving musical lines which may (for the first time in your experience) be intelligible.
Contact us to discuss the best match for your musical aesthetics, and what works best for your system.
Sugano-san’s tradition lives on through his son. These cartridges speak for themselves. Lean and mean is the antithesis of the Koetsu philosophy, and they direct your focus to the midrange – where the music lives.
Do we really need to say more?