Phono Cartridge Reviews

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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.
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  |  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.)
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.

Art Dudley  |  Jul 25, 2019  |  5 comments
Products come and go. Some impress more than others, and in our little world, the ones that impress the most wind up in Class A of our semiannual "Recommended Components" feature.

After a product makes it to that list, if Stereophile's reviewers go more than a few years without hearing it again—in a home system or a dealer's showroom or even at an audio show—that product falls off the list, usually quietly. Thus, if a reviewer is maximally knocked out by a piece of playback gear, yet the fates allow neither a purchase nor an extended loan, he or she or someone else on staff must endeavor to borrow it again so it can stay recommended.

Art Dudley  |  Oct 02, 2019  |  35 comments
Godzilla and I are precisely the same age: We were both born in 1954, Godzilla as an expression of the postwar fears of a nation uniquely aware of the horrors of nuclear armaments, I as an expression of the postwar comfort felt by an American veteran fresh from foreign wars. We both dislike being awakened from our slumber, and we're both unusually handsome.
Art Dudley  |  Sep 22, 2008  |  0 comments
Janet watched the record spin wildly, mildly awestruck. She nodded its way—a gesture that took in all the other 78rpm discs piled nearby—and asked, "How long have you had those?"
Art Dudley  |  Dec 28, 2008  |  0 comments
I'm old enough to remember when "Made in Japan" was an insult. As a child, I saw that phrase on only the cheapest or craziest toys—some stamped out of tin and cupped together by a tab with a fiendish edge, some molded from a distinctively smooth, brittle plastic. The latter included a wind-up bunny on wheels that my father brought home one day: my favorite toy, ever. (It came with a double-barreled dart gun that I seldom used, partly because I loved the bunny too much to shoot it, and partly because the suction-cup darts didn't stick to that kind of plastic in the first place.)
Art Dudley  |  Apr 26, 2009  |  1 comments
"Glory to the genius of Edison!"—Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Martin Colloms, Michael Fremer  |  Jun 20, 2012  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1995  |  0 comments
London phono cartridges still carry the famous Decca name (even if only in parentheses), but they are now produced by John Wright, a precision engineer and ex-Decca employee. Wright (not to be confused with his IMF and more recent TDL loudspeaker-designer namesake) was assigned the rights in 1989 by Decca's Special Products division (footnote 1), when the company's new owner, Racal, decided that they didn't want to be involved in the manufacture of audio equipment. Wright worked for 20 years in Decca's phono-cartridge division, where he gained a wealth of experience. As well as manufacturing the current range of London cartridges, he is also responsible for servicing and overhauling older Decca models.
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 14, 2013  |  First Published: May 01, 2012  |  5 comments
At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, I spoke with Lyra's Jonathan Carr about the Atlas. He told me that, rather than having started as a blank sheet of paper, the Atlas is an outgrowth of the Kleos ($2995), which I reviewed in January 2011, when I thought it Carr's best balanced design yet, even if it didn't have quite the resolution of the Titan i. Like the lower-priced Delos ($1650, reviewed in August 2010), the Kleos included Carr's New Angle technology, which mechanically aligns the coils to be perfectly positioned relative to the front and rear magnets when the stylus is in the groove.
Michael Fremer  |  Jan 02, 2017  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2017  |  8 comments
My 0.56mV-output Lyra Atlas moving-coil cartridge ($11,995) has put in four years of heavy-duty use. But not long ago I began to hear some problems with sibilants from records that previously hadn't given me trouble in that department. Lyra's Jonathan Carr and Stig Bjorge suggested I bring my Atlas to the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, held last January in Las Vegas, where they would exchange it for a new one.
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 02, 2007  |  First Published: Apr 02, 1996  |  0 comments
Scan-Tech builds low-output moving-coil cartridges for a number of companies, including AudioQuest, Linn, and Spectral (footnote 1). It also markets its own line, under the Lyra brand name (Lydian, Clavis, Parnassus), which is imported and distributed by Immedia out of Berkeley, CA.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 05, 2014  |  2 comments
Is the high-performance audio industry stagnating? Are designers simply repackaging the past? Cynics claim so, but to me it seems that making that case gets harder by the day, as a parade of veterans continue to produce their best work.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 11, 2006  |  First Published: Oct 11, 1998  |  0 comments
What makes a phono cartridge worth $3500 or $4000? Pride of ownership? Snob appeal? Sound? Tracking ability? Exotic materials? Styling? Labor cost for skilled artisans? Special ether? Cool wooden box? All of the above?

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