Phono Cartridge Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Dec 28, 2021  |  3 comments
Ortofon had hoped to introduce its new MC Verismo phono cartridge "in person" at one of last fall's North American shows, but those shows never took place. COVID necessitated instead an October 30 live Facebook introduction, the company's first such premier. The next day, AnalogPlanet posted an exclusive interview with Leif Johannsen, the cartridge's designer and Ortofon's chief officer of acoustics and technology.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 30, 2021  |  0 comments
So glad to be back in business with superclean electricity! Especially having spent the last few weeks listening to the remarkably pure-sounding Analog Relax EX1000 cartridge ($16,000).

The brochure asks, "Have you heard of YAKUSUGI Cedar?" No. I had never heard of Analog Relax, either. If you have heard of it, you're at least one step ahead of me.

Herb Reichert  |  Nov 04, 2021  |  17 comments
In the household I grew up in, telling a lie was a death-penalty offense—worse than murder or leaving crumbs on the kitchen counter. So, believe me when I tell you that way more than a year ago, Musical Surroundings' Garth Leerer sent me DS Audio's lowest priced optical cartridge, the DS-E1 ($2750 with energizer/equalizer, footnote 1). He said, "You need to know about this." Then every few months he would write and politely inquire how I was liking it. Each time I would write back saying, "I'm sorry Garth, I haven't tried it yet, but I'll install it right after deadline."
Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2021  |  7 comments
I don't like being pigeonholed as a reviewer of exclusively expensive audio components—because I'm not, as anyone who regularly peruses Analog Planet knows. So, to ease the pain of reviewing the half-million-dollar Air Force Zero turntable—you'll find that review elsehere in this issue—I figured I'd cover some more reasonably priced analog gear here in Analog Corner.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 30, 2021  |  19 comments
In my world, the quiet ritual of choosing a record and placing it carefully on the platter is always followed by a sequence of three rough sounds.

With the volume at listening level, I hear the bristle-by-bristle rasping of my stylus brush as it drags across the exposed tip of the cartridge cantilever. Next, as I dip the diamond in Onzow gel, I hear a little suction cup pop and feel the compliance of the cantilever's rubber-tire suspension. Finally, my brain registers that sizzle sound as the stylus contacts the grooved surface. These sounds are tattooed on my brain. They "cue up" my consciousness, preparing it for attentive listening.

Michael Fremer  |  May 25, 2021  |  4 comments
Almost exactly a year ago to the day that I'm writing this—March 11, 2020—the WHO officially declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. If you weren't paying attention, maybe you didn't see it coming (incredibly, some still deny the pandemic's existence), but I had already canceled a March 14, 2020, flight to Atlanta to speak to the local audiophile society. I'd made the plans for that visit at the Florida Audio Expo a few weeks earlier. Remember hi-fi shows?
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 20, 2021  |  4 comments
"I got some Audio-Technica ATLP120X turntables in the other day, which had been back ordered for maybe 6 or 7 months, so I called to see if they had more. I was told there were 17,700 of that model on back order," a dealer I know told me recently in an email.
Herb Reichert  |  Apr 07, 2021  |  22 comments
At the end of Gramophone Dreams #46, I was lost in the pristine beauty of Decware's 25th Anniversary Zen Triode amplifier driving the DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 speakers. That was an extremely enjoyable system, and I was hoping to keep it intact for another month. My plan was simply to morph into my long-postponed opus on tube rolling using the Zen Triode as well as Ampsandsound's Bigger Ben headphone and loudspeaker amp. Both are single-ended triode, no-feedback designs and therefore perfectly suited for tube-swapping comparisons.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 01, 2021  |  57 comments
I'm an audiophile and live in North America—seems like a perfect fit for the Facebook group Audiophiles - North America, right? Wrong!

On my first visit, I noticed that a group member had asked for speaker cable suggestions. Another member posted a picture of a 100' spool of 16-gauge lamp cord costing $14, accompanied by the suggestion "This is all you need." The implication: That's all anyone needs, because cables are "snake oil.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 19, 2021  |  7 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.

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  |  39 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  |  Aug 19, 2020  |  4 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.
Herb Reichert  |  Jun 02, 2020  |  22 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.

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