Phono Cartridge Reviews

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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.
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 07, 2020  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2020  |  2 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  |  Feb 18, 2020  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2020  |  56 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?

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.

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.
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.
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.
Herb Reichert  |  Jul 30, 2019  |  4 comments
We were playing some old, cherished black discs when my partner, bb (the 6'-tall Aries artist), declared, "With records you hear touch, and you are not alone." Long pause. "Just holding the cover brings back memories—that's their humanity."
Art Dudley  |  Jul 25, 2019  |  4 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.

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  |  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  |  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!
Art Dudley  |  Feb 19, 2019  |  7 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.

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.

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