- Luxman PD-444 (direct drive turntable)
I have a pair of Luxman PD-444 turntables here at the Shingaling Lab. With my collection of different tonearms and cartridges this is the best turntable for my needs, a workstation that allows me to mount and adjust almost any tonearm quickly and easily.
- Stereovox Firebird (speaker cable)
Nice speaker cables by Chris Sommovigo
- ZYX Pre-Preamp (Headamp) CPP-1
Battery powered headamp with special resistors that looks like an MC cartridge coil (I was shocked to see that). Resistors made by ZYX to transfer the output signals with no noise and no inductance at all. They are made of pure coil wire of MC cartridges, cryogenic purified. I remember it was highly regarded by Arthur Salvatore who compared it to some of the best SUTs ever made.
- Gold Note PH-10 and PSU-10
I was lucky to buy my Gold Note gear directly from Italy for a decent price (without VAT) and when I'm busy with different MC cartridges this phono stage is so user friendly with so many optional settings (loading, gain, curves). Each input can be adjusted for MM or MC - this is an amazing feature for me because I have two tonearms on each of my Luxman PD-444 turntables. Great phono stage, especially for LOMC carts. I like the design of these boxes.
- First Watt F2J (current source power amp)
Ever heard about current-source power amps suitable for crossoverless speakers? Nelson Pass made only 100 units and I'm a proud owner of one of them. Low power First Watt amps and high efficient Zu Audio speakers are made for each other! This amplifier replaced my cute little tube WLM Minueta push-pull integrated.
- Zu Audio Druid mk IV (full range crossover-less speakers)
I bought my Druid speakers over 10 years ago in Finland, later I purchased official Upgrade Kit from Zu Audio, so I got the latest driver and the latest super tweeter, speaker cabinet was modified too.
More about upgrade kit from Zu:
"This kit includes everything you need to retrofit a pair of Druid Mk.I through Mk.IV/08 loudspeakers to the latest and greatest. Tools and a table to work on are not included. Kit replaces the full-range drivers, the tweeter driver, tweeter lens, high-pass tweeter filter network, internal able assembly, backplate/binding post assembly, internal acoustic damping, and adds QuietCoat to the cabinet. Take your old Zu Druid loudspeakers [original Mk.I through Mk.IV/08 (2001—2008)] from a neoclassic to modern hotness, and with minimal effort and no engineering or fitment issues on your end. All kits are purchased direct from Zu Audio Ogden, Utah—U.S.A. Kits are designed and priced to be done as a matched pair (left and right).
We worked on the new Druid Mk.V for over four years and during that time we have learned a ton of new tricks—just look at Dominance and our new Definition Mk.IV loudspeakers. This kit is all about giving you as much of what’s hot in the new Druid Mk.V as possible and in a user doable upgrade retrofit kit that keeps your hassle low, investment paying and satisfaction high. Druid is our most important and iconic loudspeaker, representing our vision of fidelity, architectural style and art. And with well over a thousand happy Druid customers, and a desire to make them even happier we present The Druid Mk.IV/2013 Retrofit Upgrade Kit."
- Stereovox Colibri (interconnect cable)
I bought my first Stereovox Colibri interconnect cable over 15 years ago and was shocked by the improvement in sound quality in my previous system. Stereovox cables designed by Chris Sommovigo.
I asked Joe (JLTi) for a special mode and he was happy to make it for free! Now I can change the loading for my MM cartridges, I often prefer 100k Ohms for MM/MI. Actually the range from 47k to 100k Ohms was always recommended by the manufacturers in the '70s/'80s for some of the best cartridges that I have now in my collection. In my opinion JLTi (with this mod) is the best inexpensive phono stage for MM cartridges. JLTi is great for LOMC cartridges, but I mostly use it for MM or MI.
- Pass Labs Aleph L (passive/active preamp)
I have a rare version of Aleph L preamp, only this version have an active gain stage when you need it, the active gain activated ONLY when the volume control knob turned to 3 o'clock or higher. If the volume control knob is in lower position then this is a passive preamp. Previous versions of this preamp are all passive, they don't have an active gain stage option. In fact I never used an active gain with my gear, but it's nice to have it as a bonus feature. Another great feature is two line outputs.
- First Watt (buffer preamp) B-1
Excellent little buffer from Nelson Pass for those who prefer passive preamps without impedance mismatch problems. Two line inputs with switch on the front panel.
This is one of the rarest Grace with Boron Pipe cantilever and Micro Ridge stylus. Some more decent NOS cartridges on this image are Pioneer PC-1000 mkII (MM) and Grado Signature XTZ (MI).
- Vicoustic (room treatment) Wavewood panels
After receiving my first bunch of 10 x Wavewood panels in 2018 (from the manufacturer in Portugal) I decided to go for a complete Room Analysis. According to the plan I need a lot of different acoustic panels for my room, so I've been adding them step by step over the years. I will show you a bit of this process.
- Vicoustic (room treatment) Multifuser DC2 panels
Excellent diffuser from Portugal, each panel is 600 x 600 x 147 mm.
- Fidelity-Research FR-64s with B60
High mass tonearm for my low compliance MC cartridges. For this classic tonearm VTA of the fly B60 base is a must have!
- WLM Minueta (integrated push-pull tube amp)
This push-pull tube integrated amp with remote control is so cute. Special feature is Triode vs. UltraLiner mode. My choise was triode mode with NOS Telefunken military tubes (ecc81s and E84L). The amp was made in Europe by Trafomatic Audio for WLM (Austria). It was my working horse for a long time.
- WLM (phono preamp) Phonata Reference
Reference MM/MC phono preamp from WLM Acoustics (Austria) is another workinh horse in my system, I like it for the deepest bass response and zero background noise. The PHONATA works with two-stage amplification: 1) An inductive voltage amplification stage with built-in professional step-up transformers for MC cartridges 2) A solid state current amplification stage, using specific MOS-FET transistors with
tube-typical harmonic distortion characteristics.
- Stereolab (phono cable) Master Reference
Steveovox was rebranded to Stereolab and it was their top of the line PHONO RCA cable. This is the most expensive cable in my system, luckily I did not pay retail price, it was puirchased used here on audiogon long time ago. Still in my system! Great interconnect (phono) cable. Designed by Chris Sommovigo.
Thanks to my buddy Nandric on audiogon, he motivated me to search for FR-7f and later FR-7fz cartridges. Those are the finest low compliance MC. Thanks to Jonathan Carr (The Lyra) who provided more information about those carts. Before spending multi thousand dollars on modern MC cartridges please do yourself a favour - check the Fidelity-Research FR-7f. Like Koetsu or Miyabi cartridges, the FR-7f series is the pinnacle of Japanese Moving Coil design. Fidelity-Research FR-7f is a true moving coil cartridge designed by Isamu Ikeda in the '70s.
- Micro Seiki ST-10 (matte finishing, slim version)
This is a very rare matte finishing slim version of the famous Micro Seiki disc stabilizer (record weight) ST-10. Made in Japan in the '80s. This version is slightly lighter than the classic thick and glossy ST-10.
DV-30A (with Nude Shibata type III stylus) was released in Japan 1 year before the Karat series and 4 years before the fabulous Karat Nova. The first high output Moving Coil Dynavector DV-30 series.The 30th series was introduced in 1978 with 3 different models DV-30A, DV-30B and DV-30C. Till the early 80s it was top of the line Dynavector series! Dynavector 30 series cartridges feature the very attractive integrated headshell. The effective length and the azimuth can be adjusted. Recognized as the absolutely top class, DV30A high output MC cartridges are renowned for their accurate music reproduction. Unlike other types, their output voltage is the direct result of a coil moving in a very strong magnetic field. The advantages of this system, are extended dynamic range, wire, flat frequency response and improved transient response. The secret lies in the micro proportions of the coil. A coil frame of mere 1,8mm square contains over 400 turns of ultra-thin 11-micron meter wire wound at 90 degrees to one another. The micron precision gives the high output type MC cartridges an output voltage of 1,8mV. Dynavector DV-30 series of cartridges are computer-designed. The high performance characteristics of their unique cantilever and stylus assemblies have won Dynavector MC cartridges world acclaim. The DV 30-series possess ultimate phase characteristics and tracking ability.
- Audio-Technica AT-ML180 OCC (Gold-Plated Beryllium Cantilever)
This is a legendary high-end model from AT. Seriously, you can find only positive feedback from many experienced users of the AT-ML series. Sadly this is a discontinued series, those cartridges were made at the peak of analog technologies back in the '80s. Some samples have been in the shops till the '90s. Now they are all gone and for this reason became very rare and hard to find, especially New Old Stock samples. The price also dramatically increased in the past 5 years, but still reasonable for such an outstanding MM cartridge with the most advanced MicroLine stylus and Gold-Plated Beryllium cantilever. Beryllium is no longer available for ANY cartridge manufacturers today! You can't buy a new cartridge with Beryllium Cantilever, also you can't even refurbish your cartridge with Beryllium Cantilevers, simply because there are no suppliers of Beryllium Cantilevers in the world today. Serious cartridge collectors and audiophiles hunting for the top models from the past. There was a thread on Audiogon quite a while ago in which a former engineer from Audio Technica was participating. He wrote a rather in depth post as to why Beryllium was the go to material for cantilevers and the panic that ensued at AT when the EPA came down with the order that it no longer be used due to the dangerous toxic dust released when machining the material. He stated that the engineering department underwent a lot of R&D to find a suitable replacement material and Boron was what they determined would be closest, however it was still a compromise. Apparently Beryllium allows for the largest frequency excursion without distortion and also permits better channel separation and signal to noise ratios. This is why it was so good. MicroLine (or Micro Ridge) is truly a high-quality stylus that enables enhanced performance and high-fidelity sound reproduction. Carefully-selected, natural octahedral single crystal diamond is precisely processed after determining the exact crystal axis. The ML stylus has a micro curvature radius that picks up the smallest signals and plays them back. The belt-like (microline) contact shape has a uniform, few-micron width and suitable height. Audio-Technica invented the MicroLine stylus shape. The AT-ML180 OCC Cartridge was top of the line MM cartridge in the 80's. The unique MicroLine shape of the stylus enables microprecision processing, and accurate production of a very small curvature radius not possible with conventional styli. This is the best and the most expensive precision stylus profile available today. The MicroLine stylus allows for undistorted playback of high frequency sound and high dynamic range.
- Fidelity-Research FR-64fx
The “fx” from the ‘80s is new generation of FR64s from the ‘70s. Main features: mix of materials, higher damping, different anti skating, better tonearm base, better tonearm lift. Available in black and silver (rare), also available in FX-PRO version (very rare). Heavy counterweight (W250) and arm stabilizer nut (N60) are optional (a must have in my opinion). Great tonearm!
My third SPU cartridge and my first Ortofon with Replicant 100 stylus. Great combination of the classic SPU design and modern ultra high-end stylus profile that can work with slightly lower tracking force than the rest of SPU cartridges.
- Radian (High Frequency Compression Driver) 850PB - 8 Ohm
A part of the Zu Audio upgrade kit for Druid speakers. You can see two super tweeters with machined aluminum lenses made by Zu Audio in Utah, the biggest are for Radian used in Druid speakers since the mk5 version. The small ones are from the older mk4 version. I will post more images about this upgrade kit soon.
Legendary Garrott P-77 Dynamic Coil cartridge from Australia made by Garrott Brothers in the ‘80s.
- Matsushita (pinched waist tubes) 12at7WA Gold
These are very interesting preamp tubes from Japan (new old stock from the ‘60s). The wonderful "sleeper" in the world of 12AT7s for me are old Japanese tubes. National is a trademark of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. If you're set on the sources and still want more tubosity- nothing beats old National (Matsushita) with pinched waist glass and gold pins. The most well known pinched waist tubes are from Philips Heerlen and Valvo Hamburg. They were made mid to end ‘50s and have the glass pinched around the top mica spacer. I assume this was done to fight microphony. Pinched waist tubes have an indented ring around the middle portion of the glass tube. They're quite expensive, but not overpriced like Mullard or Telefunken tubes from the same era. I've noticed that tubes from 1958 and earlier have a bigger pinch then tubes from around 1960. Personally. I haven't seen tubes after 1960 with a pinched waist. Picture taken here at the Shingaling Lab
Do you know who designed this Grace Level II (Ruby) cartridge in the 80's? You'll be surprised, same guy worked for Nakamichi back in the days. His new brand called the Top Wing and it's all about ultra high-end phono cartridges. The man is Hiromu Meguro, former design assistant of the Grace F-8 cartridge and principal designer of the F-9 cartridge when he was with Shinagawa Musen Co. Ltd Mr. Meguro worked on the basic designs of the Nakamichi TX-1000 and Dragon CT players and on the design of the Center-Search mechanism during his time at Nakamichi Corporation. Remember Nakamichi cassette decks? I'd like to buy one... Now his new coreless straight-flux Top Wing cartridge also allows stylus replacement just like any MM (but only at the factory and for 10% of the cartridge retail price which is too much), the initial technical scope is surely promising something unique, but the price for a brand new Top Wing Blue Dragon cartridge from a former Grace engineer is $12 000, oops !!! I'd rather spend $1200 on a whole new Grace cartridge than on Top Wing stylus replacement alone. His previous design for the Grace is 10 times cheaper, still highly regarded and absolutely fantastic high compliance MM cartridge with Ruby cantilever. The Grace LEVEL II series (much better than F8 & F9, it’s equal to F14 model). However, this beautiful round shaped plastic stylus insert is not even the latest LEVEL II insert, it was upgraded a bit later in the mid ‘80s with the next generation square shaped insert called Ruby EXP which is very rare (I will show it it my system later).
- Argent MC500HS (HOMC with Sapphire cantilever)
The brand Argent is virtually unknown to most of the audiophiles nowadays. I tried to find out who was the manufacturer of the beautiful and extremely rare Argent MC phono pickups. One of them is a high output 1.9mV MC500HS with Sapphire cantilever and Hyper-elliptical 0.3x0.6 stylus tip. Until the mid 90’s the Argent was a trademark of Direct Sound Corporation filed as a Domestic Business Corporation in the State of New York and is no longer active. This corporate entity was filed on Monday, August 9, 1982 and expired on Wednesday, March 13, 1996 as recorded in documents filed with the New York Department of State. On June 5, 1996 the Argent Audio, Inc. was born as recorded in documents filed with the New York Department of State. Chief Executive Mr. James T. Laudeman. Current entity status is inactive. Their latest product was called The Argent Room Lens ($395 each) for Acoustic Room Treatment. The last review dated May 11, 1999. Argent Audio closed the business in 2003. Mr. Ric Cummins was a designer of the fabulous Argent Room Lens. Mr. Cummins is a sculptor by trade. His name is related to another company called Argent Cable - manufacturer of the speaker and digital cables. It’s easier to find reviews about Argent cables and Room Lenses than any info about mysterious Argent cartridges! Who actually designed and made those obscure Argent cartridges? The answer is Excel Sound Corporation (Japan). Japanese Excel Sound has more than 50 years of cartridge-making experience, much of it OEM work for other companies such as Argent in USA, SAEC in Japan and others. Nowadays Excel Sound Corporationis the manufacturer of ETSURO and Hana cartridges.
- Luxman SQ-N100 (integrated tube amp with phono stage and headphones output)
This little push-pull amp with remote control was in my main system for a short time, it was purchased for my second (small) system. Headphones output was a nice feature. MM phono input is another great feature, it's a cool amp for small high efficient monitors, but even in my main system it was nice with Zu Audio Druid. This is a super cool heavy metal unit, the build quality is superb, my sample was Made in Japan! Find review on 6 moons if you want.
- Denon DP-80 (Direct Drive turntable)
This is my Denon Direct Drive turntable (NOS). I'm so excited that I bought one in immaculate condition before covid madness. Absolutely stunning!
- Glanz MFG-61 (Moving Flux cartridge with Boron cantilever)
It's time to spread the light on some of the very best Moving Flux cartridges made by Mitachi Corporation in Japan. This cartridge is the Glanz MFG-61 with Boron Cantilever and special design "PH" stylus tip. This is not a typical vintage MM/MI or MC, the patent for unique Moving Flux technology belongs to Mr Tsugikuma Minamizono (Japan). Mitachi Corporation made some very nice MF cartridges in the 70s/80s for US/Canadian brand Astatic, for French Jamo and for Italian Azzurra. But for the domestic Japanese brand, technical engineers of Mitachi Corporation designed the ultimate Moving Flux model in 1982. The Glanz MFG-61 is stand alone cartridge, the most prestige model among Glanz MF cartridges, employs BORON cantilever in order to achieve maximum efficiency at the electro-magnetic mechanism, where characterized most advanced feature of MF cartridge, when the energy is converted from mechanical vibration system to electric vibration system. BORON is considered as an ideal material of cantilever in its character that transmits sound as fast as 7 times than Aluminum, due to its large young rate and small specific gravity. With use of Boron cantilever, the signal picked up from disc to specially designed PH stylus tip is faithfully transferred to the conversion system, and hi-fidelity sound reproduced. The rest of the MF cartridges made by Mitachi for other brands do not have such cantilever and diamond. This fact makes my Glanz MFG-61 highly collectible. This is the best sounding Moving Flux cartridge.
- Tannoy NFM-8 DMT (professional near field studio monitor)
These little Tannoy monitors from the '80s were so cute, so I immediately bought them, it was my first Tannoy. I fell in love with Tannoy sound and quickly upgraded to a bigger vintage Tannoy monitors that you will see later in my present system. These are my old with dedicated Luxman SQ-N100 push-pull tube integrated amp.
The Karat 23RS MR phono cartridge from Dynavector Systems, Ltd., is a further developed version of the original low-output, moving coil designs first introduced by the Japanese audio company with its DV Karat and Ruby models in 1979. The more evolved 23RS MR improved on this approach with new features designed to produce minimum dispersion, widest frequency response, and more superior tracking ability at a reasonable price. It's solid, tapered ruby cantilever provides better tracking at lower moving mass than the conventional 23R model. Iits uniquely shaped Micro Reach stylus maintains the same contact radius with a record's grooves over long playing times, with no change. The resulting sound reproduction is characterized by extremely high definition and wide dynamic range coupled with low distortion.
- Victor UA-7082 (long tonearm)
Long tonearm from Victor Laboratory in pristine condition, beautiful engineering, great tonearm for MC cartridges. Today it’s hard to find the UA-7082 without serious damage of the rubber grommet that should support the counterweight in a straight position parallel to the plinth, but my sample is perfect. I’m a big fan of Victor cartridges (MCL10, X1II), turntables (TT-101) and tonearms (UA-7082 and UA-7045).
- Grace LEVEL II (Boron/MicroRidge) LC-OFC coil wire
This is a holy grail of Grace cartridges. Extremely rare LEVEL II model from the late 80's. MicroRidge stylus tip mounted through a tiny laser drilled hole in the Hollow Pipe Boron cantilever. Moving system has extremely low mass. This is a high compliance cartridge (42cu at 10Hz) with amazing tracking ability and extended frequency response. The LC-OFC version is virtually unknown and impossible to find. Coil wire and cartridge signal pins are all made of super high quality pure LC-OFC copper. This is state-of-the-art design, the MicroRidge stylus tip has the longest life span (up to 2000 hrs max).
The advantage of the Pure Boron Pipe Cantilever: Somewhere in the high frequencies, every cartridge has an undesirable resonance point. Undesirable because there the frequency response curve climbs a sudden peak. If that peak is in the audible range, your records sound not as intended. That resonance frequency is determined by the total effective moving mass of the vibrating system - the summed masses of the diamond stylus and, most importantly, the cantilever and magnet, etc. To shift that harmful resonance frequency up into the high supersonics, the effective moving mass must be reduced to the lowest possible minimum. Also, too much effective moving mass increases the mechanical impedance, thereby negatively affecting the cartridge's tracing ability. This is why GRACE LEVEL II, in its top grade cartridge (BR/MR), uses a Pure Boron Pipe cantilever. Pure Boron, because among all feasible materials Boron has the optimum combination of hardness (close to diamond's), lightness and rigidity.
LC-OFC is not a new mantra or an illicit drug. It stands for linear crystal-oxygen free copper utilized in this Grace LEVEL II cartridge coil wire and terminal pins. High technology finally flatters humble copper. Copper ranks behind gold and silver as a conductor of electricity. Unfortunately, gold and silver, being precious metals, generally are far too expensive for electronic use. As electronic circuitry becomes increasingly sophisticated even the quality of wiring becomes important. The LC-OFC was patented by Hitachi in 1975. Frequently dubious innovations come from unknown companies in West Podunk, but the fact that one of the world`s largest corporations produces LC-OFC lends credibility. Hitachi occupies roughly the same niche in Japan as General Electric does in the U.S. When viewed at a microscopic level, copper appears as a series of crystals. The boundaries between these crystals detour audio signals. A standard 1-meter length of copper wire contains 150,000 boundaries. Oxygen free copper, a refinement, reduces the number of boundaries by two thirds. Linear crystal-oxygen free copper contains only about 20 boundaries per meter! Almost a decade of research led to these revelations. In ordinary copper, the space between the crystal boundaries creates a microscopic vacuum. This muddies audio signals and alters high frequency response. Oxygen free copper removes the rectifiers but leaves the capacitance. LC-OFC eliminates all interference, allowing the audio signal to meet only simple resistance and has little effect on the sound quality. Some major audio companies voiced their belief in the superiority of LC-OFC by incorporating it in their products. For example, the line of Grace LEVEL II and F-14 high-end cartridges incorporates LC-OFC in their top models.
- Reed tonearm 3p "12 inch Cocobolo
Ultra high-end modern 12 inch tonearm from Lithuania with unique Azimuth On The Fly and many more great features. Cocobolo wood armtube, Cryo Treated Copper Wire with WBT RCA. Find more about this model on the manufacturers website.
From the English manual of SAEC SS-300 (read below):
The conventional turntable mat is made of soft material such as rubber, in the belief that soft cushion will effectively filter out vibrations between the turntable and puck-up stylus.
*A lesson from an old tradition:
In certain Buddhist ceremonies a bell or wood block is used which sits on a cushion. The cushion, being softer than the bell or wood block, does not prevent the instrument from ringing when it is struck. It merely dampens the vibrations somewhat so that they are of shorter duration (that is, they decay faster) than in the case of a bell or wood block suspended in the air.
The record disc and turntable platter used in conjunction with a soft mat are in state resembling that of the bell or wood block on a cushion. As the stylus oscillates in the record groove, the disc having a certain elasticity, it causes it to vibrate slightly. Depending on the size and other physical properties of the disc, these pulsations vary in frequency from 100Hz to 400Hz. If the turntable mat is softer than the record disc, it will deform along with the vibrations of the disc. The Sympathetic vibrations are of sufficient amplitude to cause an audible low resonance peculiar to record playing. Likewise the turntable platter, when a soft mat is used, vibrates sympathetically and contributes to the problem of low resonance.
*A classically simple solution:
After two years of development, the audio engineers at SAEC have produced a completely new turntable mat which solves the problems of the conventional soft mat. The new SS-300 Solid Mat is of material harder than any record disc. Placed directly on the turntable platter, the Solid Mat by its mass and hardness cancels sympathetic vibration of the platter. Likewise a record disc in immediate contact with the Solid Mat is prevented from vibrating. Whereas the conventional soft mat merely damps sympathetic vibrations, the Solid Mat reduces these vibrations by 10 to 15dB compared to the conventional mat, thus effectively eliminating the problem of low resonance.
*We did it our own way:
This new component brings us an important step closer to realizing a technical ideal of record-playing. For a record to be reproduced perfectly, the stylus and its cantilever must oscillate with no interference from vibrations of the other record-playing components. Thus not only the headshell and tonearm but also the turntable platter and record disc itself should be completely oscillating. SAEC has turned conventional wisdom on its head to solve the problem of record and turntable resonance.
Technics EPC series is legendary, especially mk3 and mk4 models. I think it will be fair to say than mk3 with is the most beautiful in EPC100 series, perfect match for Technics EPA-100 tonearm (same color).
- Dynavector KARAT 17DS SUPER
It was my first cartridge with GEMSTONE cantilever. This model (17DS SUPER) is quite rare!
- "D" is for diamond cantilever.
- "MR" is for "Micro Reach" aka Micro Ridge stylus profile.
- "S" is for special calibrated models as far as i know
Tominari-San (founder of Dynavector) explained in the interview: "At first when I tried short cantilevers I worked in sapphire or ruby and their resonance dictates a length of 2.5mm. But in Diamond, it is possible to use 1.7mm. We even made a very special product for the US high end market with a cantilever only 1.3mm long, and called the Karat 13D. It was our flagship model and sold nearly 60 pieces in America. The 17D was the first diamond cantilevered cartridge that we made, and the 13D was a very special development of it, using a special body and headshell arrangement... I get my gemstone cantilevers from Namiki, and the first time I asked them about constructing one they couldn’t understand what I wanted such a large stylus for! But I was convinced that you should use as short and stiff a cantilever as possible. This was quite widely recognized but no one believed that the technology existed to create such a short gemstone cantilever. They thought it was impossible but I dared to try it. It was a very unusual solution at that time. In order to achieve it we had to develop a parallel technique that enabled us to wind incredibly fine wire for the coil. Our wires are only 11 microns in diameter. Every other cartridge uses at least 20 microns."
Victor MC-L10 was direct successor of the MC-1 which was the first Moving Coil cartridge with unique printed micro-coil made by IC lithography process, and sitting near the stylus to maintain phase coherence. Victor corporation invented Direct Couple type in the ‘70s and soon made 3 remarkable models (MC1, MC-L10 and MC1000). They apparently couldn't get the production right twice, such was the difficulty of the design. A real shame because the concept has obvious potential for even greater performance (than the top MC-L1000 in the ‘80s). New Old Stock samples today are extremely rare. Luckily in 21st century the Audio-Technica engineers introduced their high-end ART-1000 cartridge inspired by old Victor Direct Couple design. But retail price of the new Audio-Technica top of the line ART-1000 cartridge is about $5000 and this is why Victor MC-L10 is still a good alternative for much lower price (only if you can find it in perfect shape). This is my NOS sample.
- Victor (Direct Drive) TT-101
Enough said on audiogon about this one. Victor tt-101 is still one of the best Direct Drive turntables ever made. Especially after refurbishing and calibration at the Fidelis Analog by JP Jones in USA.
- Stanton 980LZS (Low Impedance, Low Output MM)
Walter Stanton believed to his dying day that NO moving coil cartridge could ever be any good. Stanton's 980 LZS cartridge was designed to be used in stereo systems which have high gain, low impedance MC inputs or use external head amps with input impedance of 100 Ohms or higher. Since the output of the 980 LZS cartridge is .06 mv /cm/sec, 20 dB minimum of additional gain is required to step up the voltage to the level of the conventional MM cartridge. The 980 LZS features extremely low dynamic tip mass (resulting in rise time of 100 micro sec.), high compliance (30cu), replaceable stylus assembly designed with samarium cobalt magnet. The 980 LZS has the most advanced stylus shape called Stereohedron which is achieved by grinding four flat surfaces on the diamond at precise angles to each other and their intersection creates areas used to contact the groove. The advantage of the Stereohedron stylus is that because of it's long and narrow contact surfaces it tracks high frequency modulation minimizing groove wear.
"Aficionados of moving-coil (MC) cartridges will be surprised and pleased to learn that 980LZS is indistinguishable from the very best moving-coil (MC) types in the most rigorous laboratory and aural tests. Stanton's is an impressive dual achievement. I was continually aware that 980LZS sounded like a moving-coil (MC) cartridge. The bass was well defined and tight with good sonic clarity, as well as transient response and applause definition. Transparency of sound was excellent when reproducing the high recorded levels present on most direct-to-disc recordings. At no time did I notice any coloration of the music. The 980LZS is also one of the very few phono cartridges that can cleanly reproduce the cannon fire on the Telarc DG-10041 recording of Tchaikovsky's 1812." - B.V.Pisha (Audio Review, Feb.1982)