I feel like a leper in the world of High-End Audio.
I prefer the sound of MM cartridges to that of LOMCs……but the MM cartridge is definitely viewed these days by the modern ‘true’ audiophile, as somewhat ‘Mid-Fi’?
35 years ago I started off with MM cartridges like the Nagaoka MP11 and Stanton 681EEE before meeting the famous Garrottt Bros and mounting their eponymous Garrott P77.
At the time….I had an Electrocompaniet preamp with only a MM phono input and when I changed to a valve Kebschull preamp with both MM and MC input in the late 80s, I couldn’t wait to try out the LOMCs which were getting all the press in the Hi-Fi magazines from England and USA.
There followed a succession of cartridges like the Symphonic Line (aka VdH Grasshopper), Koetsu Urushi, Clearaudio Concerto and Insider Gold, Lyra Helikon and Titan i before I settled on the ZYX UNIverse as the best I had heard (I am on my third one of these).
I have since added the Dynavector XV1s and a vintage Fidelity Research FR-7f with new conical stylus and now an FR-7f with a new Line Contact stylus.
It was 5 years ago that I returned to MMs for the first time in 20 years….and was astonished at the sound compared to that which I had now become accustomed?
With guidance and much reading…I quickly found cheap vintage MM cartridges from the 70s and early 80s…..the ‘Golden Age’ of analogue.
Models from Empire like the 1000ZE/X and 4000DIII/Gold.
Fidelity Research MMs like the FR-5E and FR-6SE.
The Garrott P77 with a modern Jico SAS stylus implant becomes even greater than the original.
The Audio Technica AT-155Lc and Signet MR-5.0Lc are both quite delectable.
The Shure ML140HE is worthy as are some modern MMs like the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood (Black) and Audio Technica AT-150ANV although I have found.….that none of the ‘modern’ MM cartridges can really compete with the great classic vintage samples, and perhaps the greatest range of these IMHO is the Signet line of TK-3E and 3Ea, TK-5E and 5Ea and the greatest….the TK-7E and 7Ea.
Now the Signet TK-7E with the No.3 Signet stylus becomes the TK-7SU (Shibata) whilst the TK-7LCa (Line Contact) is perhaps the finest sounding cartridge in my possession?
Now many of these great Signet cartridges do not possess their original styli in good condition so a transplant of the AT-155Lc stylus into the Ea versions (don’t forget that Signet is manufactured by Audio Technica) actually improves the already fine performance capabilities.
In fact…..because the TK-7LCa is virtually unobtainable in original condition…… a TK-7Ea with a 155Lc stylus gives 95% of the performance of the original.
I actually have 7 samples of the 155Lc stylus which has a nude Line Contact with a beryllium cantilever and is close to my favourite stylus configuration.
This post was written by our friend HF from Sydney, Australia