Phono Cartridge Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Sep 30, 2007  |  First Published: May 01, 2007  |  0 comments
These are great times for analog, and I'm happy to have played a small part in the revival, but recently the demand for some products has outstripped supply; getting review samples has been next to impossible. I've requested an Audio Research PH7 phono preamplifier for literally years now, but ARC can't build them fast enough, so they don't need a review. The more they sell, the greater the buzz, and the greater the buzz, the more e-mails I get from readers asking for a review. It's not nice to not be needed.
Michael Fremer  |  Dec 21, 2020  |  40 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.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 11, 2022  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2017  |  0 comments
Ortofon (footnote 1), which turns 100 in 2018, launched the original Windfeld cartridge nearly a decade ago. Named for cartridge designer Per Windfeld—who had just retired at age 75, after 30 years with the company—that top-of-the-line cartridge cost $3400 at the time of its introduction.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 14, 2022  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2017  |  1 comments
Brooklyn-based Grado Labs has been in business for 64 years, manufacturing moving-iron phono cartridges, headphones, and, for a while, even a unipivot tonearm with a wooden armwand, as well as the sophisticated, S-shaped Signature Laboratory Standard arm.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 08, 2022  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2018  |  1 comments
In 1964, Shure Brothers shook up the cartridge market by introducing the original V-15 moving-magnet cartridge, which then cost $67, equivalent to about $530 today. It came packaged in a deluxe, wooden, jewelry-style box—common practice for today's cartridges, but back then unheard of.
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 08, 2022  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2018  |  4 comments
At Stereophile, we don't generally allow Mulligans—review do-overs. Usually, we take a second look at a product we've reviewed only when the first sample turns out to have been defective, especially if it was damaged in shipping—and we rarely do even that.
Michael Fremer  |  Jan 11, 2022  |  First Published: May 01, 2018  |  36 comments
Peter Ledermann, founder and chief designer of Soundsmith, Inc., began his adventures in phono cartridges by reverse-engineering Bang & Olufsen's Moving Micro-Cross moving-iron cartridges for customers B&O had abandoned when it got out of the LP player business, and putting them into production. The B&O cartridges were of the direct plug-in variety; once they were no longer made, a worn or broken B&O cartridge would render a B&O turntable unusable.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 12, 2021  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2018  |  4 comments
Among the electrically connected, the phrase short circuit induces panic and horrific images of tripped breakers, blown fuses, acrid blue smoke, and melted circuit boards. Nonetheless, near short circuits are becoming popular among the analog set. Moving-coil cartridges of an inductance and impedance so low they're nearly short circuits are now more common, thanks to powerful neodymium magnets that help produce more and more electrical output from fewer and fewer turns of coil wire. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is the Haniwa HCTR01 Mk.II cartridge, which has an internal impedance of 0.4 ohm and an inductance of 0.3µH.
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 09, 2021  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2018  |  7 comments
Despite one website's recent claim that "Vinyl's Revival Is Already Fading," Nielsen SoundScan recently announced that vinyl sales for the first half of 2018 were up 19.2% over 2017, led by Jack White's Boarding House Reach, with 37,000 copies sold so far (and we know that N/S misses a great deal of the action). While on the West Coast looking for business, a friend of mine who's about to open a major vinyl-pressing plant on the East Coast was told by everyone that they're experiencing "double-digit vinyl growth." No one was seeing a slowdown ahead.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 08, 2021  |  First Published: Jan 01, 2019  |  2 comments
How do you like your tangential-tracking tonearm: with a captured air bearing? If so, a stationary bearing and moving rail—or a moving bearing and stationary rail? A hovercraft-style air bearing? Trolley-wheel or servo-mechanical bearing? Or pivoted, with some kind of offset at the pivot or the headshell—or both? In today's crowded market of analog playback, you can buy whatever type of tangential tracker you prefer, from Bergmann, Clearaudio, Kuzma, Reed, Schröder, Thales, and others.
Michael Fremer  |  May 04, 2021  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2019  |  5 comments
Lately, there's been too much gear worth covering and not enough space to cover it in. So this time . . . less think-piece filler and more hardware!
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 26, 2021  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2019  |  1 comments
Something's definitely happening at the house of Yoshio Matsudaira. The legendary gentleman, whom I've never met or corresponded with, manufactures cartridges for his own brand, My Sonic Lab, as well as for others, including Air Tight. Over the past few weeks, more than a few readers have asked me to review or at least listen to the latest My Sonic Lab cartridge, the Platinum Signature.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 09, 2021  |  First Published: May 01, 2019  |  37 comments
For a phono cartridge to generate current and voltage, something must move: a coil of wire (as in a moving-coil cartridge), or a magnet (as in a moving-magnet type), or a tiny piece of iron (a moving-iron type). In those rare cartridges that depart from the electricity-generating principle of the ones described above, it can be a displacement-measuring device in which a moving shutter modulates a light source to vary a supplied voltage (as in an optical cartridge), or one in which voltage is modulated when a tiny chip of silicon crystal is squeezed by a moving element, which varies the chip's electrical resistance (as in a strain-gauge cartridge). But regardless of what it is that moves in a cartridge, something has to.
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 01, 2021  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2019  |  6 comments
As I was doing a final edit on this column, I received very sad news from Leif Johannsen, the chief officer of acoustics and technology for cartridge manufacturer Ortofon A/S: Kim Petersen, described by Johannsen as his "right hand and new cartridge design and listening partner" and the company's "top cartridge expert," passed away suddenly at age 52.
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.

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