Phono Cartridge Reviews

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J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 09, 2019  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1962  |  1 comments
Editor's Note: This is the very first equipment report that was written by J. Gordon Holt for Stereophile, then called The Stereophile. The venerable JGH appended the following warning: The writer of this report was employed by Weathers Industries during the time when the product in question was undergoing development, so in view of this past association, and the doubt it may cast upon the writer's impartiality, this report probably should not be published, even though the writer left Weathers Industries over a year ago and is not bound by any obligations thereto.
J. Gordon Holt  |  May 30, 2019  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1963  |  10 comments
The 880P is a moving-magnet stereo cartridge for use in transcription arms and the few high-quality record changers now available, such as the Garrard Model A and the Lesa units. It has standard ½" mounting centers, and the pickup requires the 47k ohm termination provided by most preamplifiers. The 8mV output, too, is about ideal for nearly all preamps.
Art Dudley  |  Feb 19, 2019  |  9 comments
Easy pickup: Art’s Dog, Chatter, cozies up to Leif Johannsen of Ortofon A/S and Dee Hustinova of Ortofon USA. (Photo: Art Dudley)

According to the 2018 edition of the UN's World Happiness Report, Denmark is the third-happiest nation on Earth, trailing only its neighbors Finland and Norway.

I heard that yesterday afternoon, on NPR. The reporter even spelled out the word used by Danes to describe their feelings of happiness: hygge. Apparently, at present, Denmark is positively rotten with hygge.

Herb Reichert  |  Dec 13, 2018  |  5 comments
I needed one black tiddledywink (not provided) to use Dr. Feickert Analogue's three-speed, two-motor, two-armboard Blackbird turntable. The tiddledywink was for covering the Blackbird's painfully bright power-on LED so that it didn't blind me when I cued up a record. The first night, in my dark listening room, this tiny indicator sprayed the wall behind and the ceiling above with more light than a bright-emitting 845 vacuum tube.
Art Dudley  |  Dec 06, 2018  |  32 comments
Although my house is now home to a borrowed pair of DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 loudspeakers—a loan I gratefully accepted early this year, when my 1966 Altec Flamencos proved a bit too large for my new listening room—it's a matter of pride that I own almost everything else in my playback system, cables included. So it's with no small discomfort that I acknowledge having nearly $30,000 worth of borrowed phono cartridges scattered around my living and dining rooms. (The former is where I listen to them, and the latter—the sunniest room in the house—is where I install them.)
Herb Reichert  |  Oct 04, 2018  |  2 comments
The days were long, the strawberries ripe, but it wasn't quite summer. It was, however, a perfect night for Otis Redding and Carla Thomas singing the Lowell Fulson–Jimmy McCracklin classic "Tramp," on a 7" 45rpm single (Stax 45-216).

Otis: What you call me?

Carla: Tramp! You don't wear continental clothes, or Stetson hats.

Jim Austin  |  Aug 21, 2018  |  45 comments
I listen to music in all formats, but my most ecstatic home listening experiences have always involved vinyl. It's probably something to do with the fact that, like most people my age and older, I grew up listening to LPs—in my case, played on a Technics SL-210 turntable, and through an Aiwa receiver with beautiful green tuner lights and a pair of early Polk Audio studio monitors. I'm drawn, surely, to an improved version of the sound I heard back then. It's a powerful sentimental connection.
Art Dudley  |  May 22, 2018  |  4 comments
In the early 1960s, young people who were anxious see the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show had to first sit through a seeming eternity of bad comedians, bad puppet shows, and acrobats spinning dinner plates to the tune of Khachaturian's Sabre Dance. So it is here: Before I can get to the Miyajima Saboten L phono cartridge, I have to report on something I left out of my April 2018 column, which was devoted to Zu Audio's modification of the classic Denon DL-103 cartridge. And since this is information I've been holding on to for almost a year, I suppose I also left it out of my August 2017 column, which was devoted to the MusiKraft Audio's own modification of the Denon DL-103.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 29, 2018  |  6 comments
On at least one occasion that I can recall—in 1996, in the early days of Listener magazine—a US publicist for the Japanese manufacturing company Denon told me that they planned to discontinue their DL-103 moving-coil phono cartridge, an enduringly popular model that had been in production since 1962 (footnote 1). At the time, neither the DL-103 nor any of their other cartridge models appeared on Denon's US price lists, and neither English-language promotional materials nor even a basic spec sheet was available to American consumers or press.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 05, 2017  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1989  |  1 comments
666mc500.promo.jpgThe Genesis 500 ($650) is the baby brother of Monster Cable's top-of-the-line Genesis 1000 cartridge. It is almost identical in physical appearance, differing only in its use of green body trim (the 1000 sports red pinstripes). All of the functional differences appear to be in the stylus and cantilever. The cantilever of the 500 is a hollow sapphire rod tightly attached to an inner aluminum tube (the 1000 has a diamond-coated boron tube cantilever). Its stylus is a 6µm x 35µm line-contact (3µm x 60µm for the 1000). Monster claims a stylus life in excess of 600 hours for the Genesis 500, more than 1000 hours for its higher-priced sibling.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 27, 2017  |  3 comments
How can you tell a classic product from the hi-fi hoi polloi? One sure sign is when third-party developers spring up around the thing, offering parts and service intended to maximize its performance—or just to keep it on the road. Thus regarded, a few true classics emerge: Quad's ESL and ESL-63 loudspeakers. Altec's 802 and 806 compression drivers. The Linn LP12 and Garrard 301/401 turntables. The Rega RB-300 tonearm and its direct descendants.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jul 05, 2017  |  First Published: May 01, 1974  |  0 comments
If you have read my reviews of the Ortofon M-15, the Shure V15-III, and the Decca Mark V, you have probably formed a pretty firm impression of which of the three contenders for the title "Best Pickup" is the winner. In case you haven't, though, here's a capsule wrap-up of our reactions to the three phono cartridges reviewed in May 1974.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jun 08, 2017  |  First Published: May 01, 1974  |  0 comments
The Decca Mark V is the latest version of that English firm's unique "tip-sensing" stereo-matrix-ing pickups. The "matrixing" apellation refers to the fact that the Decca pickups do not use 45°–45° sensing coils, but use instead a combination of vertical and lateral-sensing coils. There is a single coil for lateral sensing, with its pole pieces brought down next to the tip. This is the tip-sensing feature, whose major attribute is that the stylus motions don't have to be conveyed along the length of an armature before reaching the transducing pole pieces. Thus there is virtually no possibility of the stylus vibrations being modified through flexing of the armature prior to their transduction into audio signals.
J. Gordon Holt, Others  |  Jun 08, 2017  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1975  |  2 comments
This low-output moving-coil cartridge can be fitted with different styli. The basic DL-103 has a 0.5-mil spherical tip, the DL-103S a Shibata tip. As of the spring of 1975, the '103S is being imported by American Audioport, Inc., in Columbia, MO. the '103 is being brought in directly from Japan by a few dealers. Our '103 was loaned by Music & Sound of California, the '103S came from Audioport.

They are not too similar in sound. The DL-103S is incredibly clean-tracking, with a light, airy high end, a subtle zizz on string tone, and a very slightly withdrawn quality similar to the sound of the Supex 900E, but not as overly rich-sounding as the Supex.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jun 01, 2017  |  First Published: May 01, 1974  |  4 comments
The M15 Super is the first high-output pickup to come from Ortofon. Previous ones required either step-up transformers or a booster preamp, and it is only fairly recently that either kind of step-up device was available with high-enough quality to avoid a noticeable degradation of the sound. Early step-up transformers muddied the bass, and previously-available booster preamps added noise or hardness or both to the sound. Now that there are excellent transformers available from Ortofon and other sources, and at least one extraordinarily good booster preamp (the Mark Levinson, at an extraordinarily high price—$170), Ortofon's latest and best pickup doesn't require the use of either.

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