Your Favourite Cartridge...Past or Present.

PACPAC
edited February 2012 in Analogue
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.

Comments

  • When working without hum (it's not at the moment) my rebuilt and retipped Decca Maroon with Deccapod is the best I've had in my system by a long way.

    The lowly Denon 103 also shows up many more expensive cartridges. It's my backup, but at the moment it's my main until I get the Decca serviced.

  • edited February 2012
    Koseiki Blue Circa 1985 wrecked when wife dropped a Radford Valve Amp on top of the Dais Turntable then a Decca London, devoiced wife soon after.
  • =))

    Did you ever manage to ressurect the squished "Blue" Colin?..and theamp/TT arm for that matter?!
  • Probably a Kiseki Agate Ruby, though Van Den Hull MC2 was lovely too.

    Paul.

  • edited February 2012
    =))

    Did you ever manage to ressurect the squished "Blue" Colin?..and theamp/TT arm for that matter?!
    The amp was fine the Strachan arm was dead, tt built like a tank 50lb plater perfect, but I needed pennies and sold along with 2000+ LP's 

    Kiseki that the one thanks paul





    :-< :-< :-((
  • Another vote for Decca's I am afraid. My current Mark 4 C4e with fine line stylus has none of the over exburance of my SuperGold just incredible dynamics and realism.

    Previous favourite was Technics 205C Mk4 till the stylus sadly wore out. Shows how refined a MM can be.

  • edited February 2012
    I was about 10yrs Old , My granddad took me in the garden where he broke of a rose thorn. We took the thorn to his workshop and he made a paper cone fixed the thorn to the end.
    Got Nan,s old clockwork HMV 78 player and he lower the cone and thorn on to a the revolving 78. Holst, Planet Suit Mars blurted from the cone, ok no deep base but has a kid I was hooked for life. 
    Try it show your kids, you never can tell you may have another Julian or Ivor hidden at home, and be thank full it not a Colin.
    =))
  • That is cool - I would love to try that.

    Similarly, I believe one can make a speaker of some kitchenfoil and a paper plate. There is a youtube somewhere...
  • edited February 2012
    Interesting to see some familiar cart's up there. I enjoyed my Sumiko BPS Evo3 too. =D> In fact I bought a replacement after the exposed cantiliver of the first has a little...ahem...accident. :-((
    I think that was bettered by a Dynavector DV20XH, which was luverly. Very fulfilling.
    Now using a Decca SG which is extremely revealing, and so is a PITA to set up. It took ages for me to get it sounding as I wanted it. The best I've used by some margin.
    There are steps of £200 between these cart's, and I've been satisfied that they've all been worth what they cost. In fact I think at these prices I can hear differences/improvements between cartridges more than I do between different types of any other component in my system. It always seems money well spent.
    :-*

  • I managed to ruin both my BPS EVO's!  Both snagged on a jumper sleeve!  Its the one drawback which prevented me buying another.
  • Nagaoka MP50 boron was a super MM cart, I wonder if the new MP500 is the same thing rehyped and dearer.
    love the Ortophon SPU GT with VDHul tip
    thouroughly enjoyed the Dynavector 10X5
    Audio technica AT24 is delicate
    Thought the Ortophon MC30 super was boring until I heard it through the Albarry MCA 11 phono stage, now it's fantastic!!
    I do fancy a Benz Micro Glider or a Dynavector 17d3
    regards Al
  • edited March 2012
    My nomination for MM goes to the Goldring G900IGC and G910IGC.
    These were the first cartridges in the uk to sport the then new VDH stylus.

    I think these models (910 is just a lower compliance version) better the later 1000 series and sound beautifully open and sweet in a good low-lowish mass arm. I like them so much that I have four, and three of them NOS :)

    Audio Technica AT33PTG is my current MC and is probably the most competent cartridge I've ever used. It performs very well in all areas and I cannot find any fault. That's rare, because usually there is always something that spoils things. I think it (now in mk2 form) is very good value at £400 and comparable to anything out there if you value neutrality and fidelity. There are more characterful cartridges around for sure.

    Close second to the AT I'd place the Dynavector Karat family.
    Loved the old Karat Ruby back in the day and the current DV17 is also excellent. Probably the closest a phono cartridge gets to sounding like good digital replay and that isn't everyone's cup of tea.

    Denon DL110

    Probably the best bargain of any cartridge. Not the best by any means but it gives more than a taste of a high-end MC while being technically excellent, for less than £100. No Planar 3 should be seen without one and it absolutely crushes the Rega MMs.

    I'd also put in a word for the Lyra range. The three models I've heard (and owned an Argo) had stunning dynamics and clarity, albeit coupled with a brightly lit top end that requires careful system matching.

    Finally, another word or praise for Audio Technica who've just released two brand new models to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The new AT150anv MM looks especially interesting and is possibly the most expensive MM I've ever seen at £950. Titanium body, sapphire rod cantilever, Micro Line diamond - all good stuff and good to see AT still producing new models.


  • Just got hold of an esco retipped ArkivB & it's sounding about as good as good can be with my Orbe/Ekos combo. Very happy with it!
  • The Denon 304L took me to a very different level in LP replay from my previous MC30 Supreme. My Current DV20XL is better to my ears and am looking to upgrade to upgrade soon (ish)
  • Just picked up a Denon DL110 for my 401/3009 combo and must say I'm mightily impressed with the sound for such a budget HOMC cart.  Much better than I was expecting and more than a match for the Goldring MM cartridges IMHO.  Careful set up seems to pay dividends with this cart.
  • Not heard a 110 but I've enjoyed every Denon I've heard.
  • I used 17D2s, then the D2.5 (had a slightly higher output) and then a 17D3 for about 15 years. Loved it - very magical on the end of an Aro. Now have a Te Kaitora, which is just a bit more laid back, but incredibly transparent.

    The one MM i really liked was the Rega Exact...

  • Bps EVO ii used one on a gyro very nice, trie all the top linn's of the time troika arkiv but replaced those with a dv xx1 l . Much prefered the later, had an xx2 on a well tempered Amadeus very very good and also a dl304 much under rated. Must go back to vinyl when finished messing with the house :)
  • Bps EVO ii used one on a gyro very nice,
    I once had an EVO 3. Good value cartridge. Probably my first decent cart' actually. Tho' I managed to trash 2 due to their exposed cantilever (plus my shambolic clumsiness of course...). Never heard the ii.
    Luckily the Decca SG that I use now doesn't really have a "cantilever" so I haven't managed to destroy it. Yet. Touch wood. Oh bugger, why have I just typed that...?
  • Now running  Shure M95HE with a NOS HE stylus and very impressive it is (think V15III and its so close as to be indistinguishable to my ears).  Cost was about £70 used (body) with all tools and the He stylus so something of a bargain.  

    The bar has been lifted though for the "best" cart I've encountered recently.  I had always rated the Shelter carts, in particular the 901 and newer 5000/7000 as being truly stunning in terms of dynamics and FR, but heard a few decks recently graced with AN IO carts.  They, without a shadow of a doubt, exhibit possibly the most neutral sound I've so far encountered from any cartridge but without sacrificing much in the way of dynamics.  I still think my Shelter 5000 pips the AN IO in the ay it handles transients, but the IO isn't quite as rosey in the mids.
  • edited December 2012

    Well, I've been a member of Chews for ages, but never really contributed much for some reason.

    So I may as well start again, here and now!

    My current choice of cart, and a long-lived one it has been, is a Zu-ed Denon 103 with an elliptical tip.

    image

    It sure is purdy to my humble eye! :x

    And the sound is also most pleasing - it has the bounce and enthusiastic energy of the basic 103, but with extra solidity, sophistication and refinement.

    I keep trying others, but always return to the Zu 103.

  • It is purdy. You're right there!

    Welcome back ;-)
  • Also Jerry, well done for getting an in focus image of a cart'. I always have to shoot several dozen until I get lucky...!

    :(
  • edited December 2012

    hey - you want some nice pix of carts? -- here's some of mine from the last year or 3 ---

    image

    image

    image

    image

    image

    image

    image image

     

    :)
  • Standing a bit close ain't ya Jerry? You haven't got the whole TT in any of them.

    ;-)
  • Ooh. Cartridge porn. Where's a mod?
  • I used a Clearaudio Stradivari, then an Transfiguration Phoenix, after that ZYX 4D. I then bought Mijajimas Shilabe (my fav) but right now I use Kuzmas KC1 at home. Also in shop we use right now, Lyras new one and Goldrings Legacy. Goldrings all models, Regas MM pickups, some Grados, -In the old days I used an Ortofon MC30 and not long ago I played around with the MC20 compared to the MC30. Yes, I had a godd AKG P8 ES in the late 80:ies too..

    In shop we have had all Sumikos pickups and also some Dynavector, like DV17 mk2 and 3. 10x4 and more. In these days we use all Benz-Micro picups, we just tested the LP with Kuzma player...

    Ortofon Bronze has passed through,also the horrible OM-series från Ortophon, among others Brinkmanns Pi, Transfigurations old models and Lyra Titan has all been tested by me and I must say, to sum up, Shilabe does somethings extra that I like..

    1) Shilabe
    2) LP
    3)Phoenix
    4) 4D
    5)Titan..updated to Titan i now..
    -Offcourse all depends on enviroments like arm/turntable/riaa and so on,,,but still I think this is my best ones, so far..
  • Let's keep the vinyl up the top of the charts then guys !

    My fave continues to be the Denon 103R . I prefer 'Music' carts rather than 'HiFI' carts if that means anything ...
    There are many ways to make a 103R sound bad , tizzy resonant arms being a very good way. There are a few ways to make it sound glorious , I find my best shot yet is to take a Mayware formula IV unipivot and add about 6g of lead to the headshell, run the cart into 100R and weight it at 2.35 to 2.4g . I believe the Morsiani unipivots or Schroeder are magic with the 103R , but I'd probably make one before trying to save that amount of money .

    I've tried a number of expensive carts on this arm or my previous OL Illustrious , and they all fell short : Koetsu Red, Zyx R-1000 Airy, Dyna XX-1L, and Dyna XX-2 II ( this one was very close ) . I wish the top-end of the XX-2 was as nice as the XX-1L , but it's a bit 'HiFi' to my taste .

    I always hear good things from Ortofon SPU's , one day I will 'move up' , just need to check the re-tip costs as I put a lot of hours on the system - 700 to 800 per year .

    The plain 103 is pretty good , but doesn't have the clarity of tone , particularly in the treble, that the 103R has.
  • I used a Clearaudio Stradivari, then an Transfiguration Phoenix, after that ZYX 4D. I then bought Mijajimas Shilabe (my fav) but right now I use Kuzmas KC1 at home. Also in shop we use right now, Lyras new one and Goldrings Legacy. Goldrings all models, Regas MM pickups, some Grados, -In the old days I used an Ortofon MC30 and not long ago I played around with the MC20 compared to the MC30. Yes, I had a godd AKG P8 ES in the late 80:ies too..

    In shop we have had all Sumikos pickups and also some Dynavector, like DV17 mk2 and 3. 10x4 and more. In these days we use all Benz-Micro picups, we just tested the LP with Kuzma player...

    Ortofon Bronze has passed through,also the horrible OM-series från Ortophon, among others Brinkmanns Pi, Transfigurations old models and Lyra Titan has all been tested by me and I must say, to sum up, Shilabe does somethings extra that I like..

    1) Shilabe
    2) LP
    3)Phoenix
    4) 4D
    5)Titan..updated to Titan i now..
    -Offcourse all depends on enviroments like arm/turntable/riaa and so on,,,but still I think this is my best ones, so far..
    I have liked the Ortofon, Sumikos and Dynavectors that I've owned, maybe I should go shopping at your place!
  • I'm disappointed that there are no pictures of an SPU, I adore the vintage looks of the thing. I remember Gromit posted some pics about four or five years ago and it looked gorgeous! He takes a good picture as well.
  • Two very musical pickups is Shilabe and even more perhaps Allaerts pickups. On the other end, more HiFi-pickups are Ortofon, Lyras, a little better Transfiguration and even more music gets from ZYX.. Well, thats my findings, perhaps thats why I like the old Goldring Eroica in right systems too...Or is it a matter of age, perhaps?? :-)

  • It's your ears, mate :-)
  • My favourite cart of all time is the Decca SC4E a truly astonishing transducer, and can be got relatively inexpensively , but you will have to have it rebuilt!  It is one of the most realistic carts I have ever used, it tracks at between 1.5 and 1.7 grammes although the arm mass has to be adjusted to about 19 grammes to get the best from it, and be careful about the arm as well. As it doesn’t have a cantilever there is lots of transferred energy to the arm tube/ bearings.
    S
  • For me it has to be a VDH tipped, Boron cantilevered Ortofon SPU, I didn't try many cartridges because the SPU gave me years of musical enjoyment.

    I'm about to have another one rebuilt to go on my thorens td 124/ AT 1503mk3 combo., should be pretty good.

    regards  Al
  • Another vote for Decca's I am afraid. My current Mark 4 C4e with fine line stylus has none of the over exburance of my SuperGold just incredible dynamics and realism.

    Previous favourite was Technics 205C Mk4 till the stylus sadly wore out. Shows how refined a MM can be.
    Stick some bluetac between cartridge and holder should sort out the SuperGold.  Basically the two cartridges are the same just the gold didn't have the massive plastic body of the C4E from what I can see.
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