Phono Cartridge Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jan 19, 2021  |  6 comments
I feel compelled to repeat here an eerie occurrence I related a while back on AnalogPlanet. I reviewed, in the February 1999 Analog Corner column, the Cartridge Man's Digital Stylus Force Gauge, which back then sold for $299.

I still have it, but a decade ago, the battery stopped taking a charge. I put it aside, planning to replace the battery someday.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 05, 2021  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2019  |  2 comments
Haniwa's Dr. Tetsuo Kubo is an interesting fellow. If you go to shows, domestic or overseas, you've possibly encountered him in his room a space known for being strewn, shrine-like, with LPs that once belonged to The Absolute Sound's founder, the late Harry Pearson: Dr. Kubo was a fan.
Herb Reichert  |  Dec 28, 2020  |  28 comments
Someone once asked me, "If I buy your $90,000, 25W amplifier, what will I get that I am not getting with my $2000, 200W amplifier?" My answer was simple: "Goosebumps, tears, and smirking." Great, well-tuned audio systems, at all price levels, give their owners less of the annoying and distracting stuff and more of the exciting and engaging stuff. Great systems offer more opportunities for smirking pridefully while listening to great recordings.
Michael Fremer  |  Dec 21, 2020  |  35 comments
Cavitation revolutionized record cleaning more than a decade ago, when Reiner Gläss's Audiodesksysteme introduced its original fully automatic machine. Mr. Gläss's innovative machine, which automatically spun the record in ultrasonically cavitated water, then dried it with fans, at first was plagued with reliability issues, and because it is sealed, it was not easy to repair.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 13, 2020  |  First Published: May 01, 1966  |  0 comments
One of the best pickups we've heard to date, the Grado A was introduced with some fanfare in the fall of 1964 (footnote 1) and then, for no apparent reason, was withdrawn just one year later. It is probably still available, though, either used or, discounted, as new stock at some dealers.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 09, 2020  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2019  |  4 comments
AVM Audio, which has been in business since 1986 (footnote 1), chose last year to enter the turntable market with two models that reflect the company's brushed-aluminum/blue LED visual aesthetics.

It doesn't take a forensic turntable scientist to figure out who manufactures both of those turntable models. Clearly, Pro-Ject does (footnote 2)—although some audiophiles might recognize only a few key parts. Other elements, especially the two different tonearm models, may appear unique to AVM, having been built to their specs.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 07, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2020  |  3 comments
We're 30 years into a cartridge design revolution, particularly at the top end of the market, where manufacturers charge upward of $10,000 for their best efforts: prices that well-off consumers have amply proved they are willing to pay. There doesn't seem to be an innovation end in sight.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 19, 2020  |  6 comments
How goes your quarantining? Honestly, my life hasn't changed much here. I'm locked in the basement as usual, happy to have a good audio system and overwhelmed by my musical choices. Other than minimizing shopping expeditions and wearing a mask, the biggest change in my life is a spike in requests from readers for upgrade advice. I've never been so busy answering reader emails.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 04, 2020  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2020  |  6 comments
Lately, current amplification–based moving-coil phono preamplifiers have gotten a great deal of well-deserved press. For years, Haniwa's Dr. Kubo has been designing and selling super–low-internal-impedance cartridges because such cartridges work best with such devices. He has also been designing and selling his own current-amplification phono preamplifier.
Guy Lemcoe  |  Jun 04, 2020  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1989  |  4 comments
The Talisman S represented, ca 1983, the top of Sumiko's moving-coil cartridge line and shared its design philosophy and external appearance with the Talisman A and B, the remaining two cartridges in the Talisman family before the introduction of the Virtuoso line. The three differed only in cantilever material and stylus shape. The A, the least expensive, had an aluminum alloy cantilever and an elliptical diamond stylus.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 03, 2020  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1999  |  50 comments
How can two meticulously built, high-technology, high-performance, premium-quality moving-magnet cartridges that measure so well (according to their manufacturer-supplied specs) sound so different?
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 02, 2020  |  24 comments
My most cherished intangibles—love, beauty, glimpses of higher realms—enter my awareness only after I prepare my psyche to receive them. Extended bathing, lighting candles, making tea, and preparing food are ritual work forms that prepare my senses to accept both pleasure and illumination. In like manner, collecting LPs and storing them properly, setting up turntables, aligning cartridges, and cleaning styli are ritual actions that prepare me for the high moments of focused musical pleasure only a black disc can provide.
Sam Tellig, Anthony H. Cordesman, Michael Fremer  |  May 05, 2020  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1984  |  14 comments
I was all set to give up on moving magnets until the new Shure VI5-VMR (MR stands for Micro-Ridge stylus) arrived. In a word, it's terrific. I was slightly disappointed with the original V15-V: I just didn't think it was a significant improvement over the Type IV. What I missed was fine detail—especially in the high frequencies and during heavily modulated passages. The original V was not quite up to the sound of certain moving coils. Which is not to say the original V was a bad buy: moving coils cost twice the price and you need a stepup. I could recommend the original V without hesitation.
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 18, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2020  |  52 comments
Lately it seems that the more Rega charges for one of its turntables, the less you get—and from Rega's performance perspective that's a good thing.

While some turntable designs pile on the mass, hoping to tame resonances and better isolate the record from the outside world, Rega has long advocated ultralow-mass designs. What's up with that?

J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 10, 2019  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1980  |  15 comments
A couple of issues back, we mentioned in passing that the Fidelity Research FR-1 Mk.3F was the only moving-coil cartridge we had heard (as of then) that we would give house room to. (The others had frequency-response problems which so colored the sound that their other strong points were not worth the tradeoff.) That first observation about the FR-1 was based on a couple of hours' listening. Now that we have had an opportunity to live with one of them for a while, we can essentially confirm that first reaction, but with a few added qualifications.

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