Your Favourite Cartridge...Past or Present.
I'm slightly embarrassed by the shear number of cartridges that have been through my paws over the years but of those (many) only two really stand out as remarkable in their own way:
1. Sumiko BPS EvoIII
2. Shelter 5000
The first is a HO MC design and unlike with its predecessors, Sumiko finally managed to address the pretty awful flux damping to get rid of the renowned shrill upper register of earlier Blue Point models. I'v read many rave reviews on the original versions, mainly state-side, but all I can say is they must need their ears de-waxed, because there's very little to recommend an early Bluepoint, especially when put up against something like a Denon DL110 or DL106.
The unusual thing about the BPS EvoII is the variation that can exist between carts depending upon how they were wound, but get a good one and you're in for a treat. Think Lyra presentation and clarity for a fraction of the cost...they can be that good. I found though that they're pretty fussy to set up and benefit from a slightly tail down mounting and VTF set on the heavier side of the recommended scale. Detailed and atmospheric with the right material and something of a bargain at just over £200 these days.
The Shelter's in another league completely. In fact it's almost in a league of its own. At £1700 it isn;t cheap, but neither is a Zyx Airy or a Koetsu Black. Anyone familiar with the 501 will know just how beguiling Shelter carts can be. The 901 was famously the subject of a bitter lawsuit in the USA when it was re-branded and sold under a different name at twice the cost of the genuine one....Shelter won that case I believe. Its the measure of just how good it was, and still is. The 5000 takes the best bits of the 501 and the 901 without adding any of the colouration the former was known for and offers one of the most, if not the most dynamic MC cartridges made today. It;s dynamic range and frequency response are staggeringly good and it tracks as well as the best of the rest. It remains my all time favourite moving coil cartridge and I reckon is set to become a future classic.