Phono Accessory Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  May 24, 2022  |  3 comments
The stylus that cuts the grooves in your favorite records is best described, in simple terms, as "chisel-shaped." The most accurate playback styli—the "extreme" ones that extract the maximum amount of information from the grooves—have a similar shape, with sharper and more severe contact edges than a standard elliptical stylus, itself an advance over spherical styli.
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 27, 2022  |  2 comments
Let's get right to it: The best way to set azimuth, as I recently wrote in this space, is to measure crosstalk using either a high-quality voltmeter or a digital oscilloscope and a good test record like Analogue Productions' The Ultimate Analogue Test LP (AAPT1). The traditional, qualitative procedure—setting the headshell so that it's parallel to the record surface—assures only cosmetic satisfaction.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 29, 2022  |  6 comments
What? Suddenly a new Japanese cartridge manufacturer? That's what I was thinking when Mockingbird Distribution's Phillip Holmes dropped three cartridges on me from DYLP Audio. Never heard of them—but then I'd not heard of MuTech either when Holmes sent me one of that company's $4500 RM-Kanda (now Hyabusa) moving coil cartridges, which I reviewed in the March 2019 issue's Analog Corner. If that cartridge is not on your moving coil radar, you ought to put it there.
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  |  Jul 20, 2021  |  13 comments
Held every November in normal times, the annual Warsaw Audio Video Show is among the world's largest. I first attended a decade ago, in 2011, and was amazed by both the number of attendees—more than 10,000 people—and demographics that skewed young and included many families. That show was bigger and better-attended than any I've been to in America.
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  |  Nov 03, 2020  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2019  |  23 comments
Back in the 1990s, my friend Nick Despotopoulos and I published an article in The Tracking Angle titled "Zen and the Art of Record Cleaning Made Difficult," describing author Michael Wayne's record-cleaning methodology. That regimen, like the article itself, was the most comprehensive one I knew of at the time.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 27, 2020  |  17 comments
In place of my usual Wilson Alexxes, a pair of small (though very fine) two-way speakers has been in my system this past month: the Marten Oscar Duos I review elsewhere in this issue. Without my usual reference speakers in the system, I didn't feel comfortable covering anything that affects sound quality for this column, so, with the exception of one item—the first—this column covers accessories that don't require sonic evaluation.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 22, 2020  |  11 comments
Ever since I stopped using my Audio Research SP10 preamplifier in the early 1990s—its eight phono-stage tubes used to get too noisy too quickly—I tried a variety of standalone phono preamplifiers. Seeing the most service through the 1990s and 2000s were, first, a Mod Squad Phono Drive EPS, then a Linn Linto, both of which I purchased. But when I measured Channel D's Seta Model L, which Michael Fremer reviewed in the August 2010 issue, the Linto was pushed to one side. The battery-powered Seta L (footnote 1) had the lowest noise and distortion I had encountered in a phono preamplifier, and I eventually bought the sample I had been sent for a follow-up review in 2013.
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.
Art Dudley  |  Aug 20, 2019  |  22 comments
This is a story about a $1375 commercial turntable accessory and a free tweak—the latter discovered while installing the former, although the two things exist quite independently of one another.

Here's how it all went down: Earlier this year, I was sent a review sample of a perfectionist-quality platter bearing called the Buddha Bearing, intended for Garrard 301 and 401 turntables. I was happy to receive such an interesting product but slow in trying it, partly because my record player sounded so good at the time that I didn't want to go tearing it all apart, and partly because there were other review samples in line ahead of the Buddha Bearing.

Art Dudley  |  Oct 30, 2018  |  25 comments
I have flip-flopped between these points of view: that some audio products or technologies are better suited than others to specific styles of music, and that any good product or technology should be equally at home with rock'n'roll, chamber music, large-scale classical, hard bop, techno, ragas—even George Crumb.

At age 19, in my first job as a hi-fi salesman, I was asked to adopt the first of those views. The shop I worked in carried only two loudspeaker lines—EPI and Ultralinear, both long gone—and the owner urged me to push the former on lovers of classical music, and the latter on rock fans. So I did. To paraphrase Jiang Qing, I was the shopkeeper's dog: What he said to bite, I bit.

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