A Story about a Defective Signature Platinum

Last week I was listening to music at a healthy volume while sitting at my computer. I have an auto lifter (Little Fwend) and after the arm lifted I noticed a static noise with occasional popping coming out of the left channel about 40 dB down. At first I thought it was a bad tube but it disappeared when I turned the volume down. It is in front of the Preamp. None of the other sources had the noise. Swapping tonearm cables did not seem to change the sound but then I noticed that the sound was also in the right channel just farther down. Disconnecting the tonearm stopped the noise. I change over to an MC Diamond, no noise. Same with the Atlas, no noise. Swapped back to the MSL, noise is back.

The cartridge is exactly one year old but it rotates with two other cartridges and might have 75 hours on it. I called the dealer who told me to contact MoFi distribution, the US agent for MSL. Turns out the cartridge only has a 90 day warranty and I was told I would have to send it in for a rebuild for $6000! Can't they just fix the problem for maybe $500, No. Can't I just send it in for evaluation?  The stylus and cantilever are brand new. No, a rebuild is the only option and you have to do that through the dealer, click!  Most very expensive cartridges have a 2 year warranty on them not to mention that most companies would cover such a defect even off warranty as in the absence of physical damage it is obviously a manufacturing defect, a bad solder joint or maybe just two wires rubbing together. This is very disappointing and as far as customer service goes Home Depot is better than MoFi, Sears is better than MoFi! MoFI is right up there with Anthem Blue Cross! The service rep could have offered to look into it. Maybe communicate with MSL and get their opinion. I am sure if MSL knew about it they would gladly fix it and actually be embarrassed. The Japanese are like that. There is no way I can find to get directly in touch with MSL.   

$6000 is not an option. I am not going to throw good money after bad. I am also not going to off a defective cartridge on someone else. I am going to take the cartridge apart and reflow the solder joints and make sure the wires are separated. If that doesn't fix it, it goes in the trash.

Mistakes and defects happen, it is what you do about them that counts. MoFi failed dismally in this regard. MSL makes a fine cartridge but I would only get another one if they changed agents and increased their warranty. Obviously, I will avoid buying any other MoFi products myself and warn others about their customer service. I have no further use for the dealer who did nothing to help. I have had superb service from Musical Surroundings, Soundsmith, B+H Photo and the Cable Company. All handled issues with ease. Has anyone else had trouble with MoFi? What companies have provided you with excellent service when the sh-t hit the fan?




Who's the dealer?

Rather than attempt a DIY repair, I'd suggest you send it to an expert for evaluation. You can't do better than Steve Leung.

+1 for Steve Leung of VAS. He may not have the exact stylus, but he should be able to inspect and repair, and he does an incredible job - sometimes even better than most factory repairs. I use a MSL Signature Gold now that he never retipped, so thanks for the guidance, but he did retip an Air Tight PC-1s that I owned prior. If he can do Air Tight, he can do MSL. 

Sorry to hear about your troubles. I’ve heard several MSL cartridges and they have sounded fantastic it is one that someday will own. As for MoFi I agree their customer service/support is nonexistent. Will not get into details but I’ll not do business with them directly.


Then MSL cartridges are out until they change agents.


The stylus is essentially brand new and it is definitely not the source of the noise. I expect to find a cold solder joint.


Thanks for the recommendation. I visited his web site and sent him an email explaining the problem.

@cleeds ,

I forgot to mention. The dealer is a small establishment and I have had good service from him before. I care not to damage his reputation unlike MoFi, a huge establishment that really underperformed inexcusably. They are the ones really responsible for handling this problem as MSLs representative.  

And if it’s a cold solder on a teeny tiny joint, how do you plan to diagnose and repair that? I agree with others who advise sending it to an expert, Leung or other.

So sorry to hear this, Mike. I must say, it makes me reconsider the purchase of an MSL, if only because of MoFi and the short warranty period, and I was on the verge.


Sorry to hear about your cartridge.  I had a very similar incident with a nearly new Rega MC cartridge a few years ago:  the left channel just went blank.  What have you used to clean the stylus?  

@Mijostyn-sorry to hear this. I'll also echo the use of Steve Leung- he's good and his turn-around time is usually really fast. I would call him first and talk to him about the issue and see how busy he is. Peter L. is great- I had him replace the worn stylus in my old Airtight Supreme but it took a while b/c he did it personally, that was the year he got sick during Covid, shop wasn't fully staffed b/c of pandemic issues, etc. I've dealt with MoFi Distribution on Koetsu and they were good- yeah, it costs and yeah, one year of barely playing it makes it worse. Who decides the warranty period?- I would assume it is the manufacturer, not the distributor. 

I know you have mad skills as a wood worker- doing cartridges is sort of like watch repair. 

Always Wondered how 2Juki can sell a Rosewood Signature Platinum for $3900 or a Blue Lace Platinum for $5880. With a 90 day warranty from the US distributor and a price 3X higher than a verified eBay seller I fail to see any incentive to buy from anyone else.

Hi Mijo:

Rather than problematic solder joints, it is more likely that the issue that you are experiencing is caused by (very small) pinholes in the insulation of the coil wire.

The armature onto which the coils are wound, moves together with the cantilever as it follows the LP groove, and due to cuing the cartridge up and down.

If there is a pinhole in the coil wire at a location where two windings contact each other, or where the coil wires touch a metal object (such as the polepieces or cartridge body), the coils can momentarily short out, which can alternately trigger a reduction or loss of output, or noise.

I suggest that, whoever you send the cartridge to, they should be capable of rewinding the coils, or redoing the coil leadout wires (if the issue is caused at the points of contact between the leadouts and the polepiece or cartridge body).

Dear @mijostyn  : Please check this alternative that if necessary he can recoil your MSL sample. I recpmmended:


Audiogon Discussion Forum


and you can check the link in this post, J.Long can help you:



Audiogon Discussion Forum






It totally blows that we have to pay such high prices for cartridges and then there is very little support if a cartridge gets damaged or is faulty. Shame on Mofi, This is what's wrong with the highend audio world.  I'm going to stick to cartridge manufacturers like Soundsmith and Lyra that have better customer support.  

Speaking of msl signature platinum. I have my msl platinum signature mounted on a Durand tosca arm. Playing dire straits , brothers in arms mofi 45 rpm, the cartridge is not able to track certain songs with loud bass passages . My Lyra atlas lambda sl has no problem tracking the same tracks . Has anyone else had similar problems with the msl.

J Carr's input is invaluable. Talk to Steve about this and see if he can address it. 

The question of warranty duration remains: is it the manufacturer or the regional distributor? 


Consider Grado. Comparing the Diamond Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum with the Grado Epoch, the Epoch is just better. More resolving, smoother, better tracker. 

Sorry you are getting nowhere with them.   Thanks for the heads up, I wouldn't touch MoFi after reading this and that they also have a batch of noisy tables they are sticking people with.

Thank you all for responding.

@lewm, real simple, a microscope. microtweezers (I used them to pull out splinters) and a Weller soldering station with the smallest tip on. The back plate is held on by one screw. I can inspect the solder joints and lead out wires. I will not go any farther. 

@jcarr  Thank you so much for responding. No surprise you are the first one to have plausible explanations for the problem. I am definitely not getting involved with the coils, lead out wires maybe , but not the coils. One person suggested that it was a cracked diamond 😆 Do you think the coils can be adequately replaced by local techs?

@whart  Given that it is virtually impossible to get through to MSL you can bet that MoFi is setting the warranty. The Japanese culture would never allow this sort of treatment. If I can get an address for them in Japan I will send them a letter explaining the situation. Companies that I have dealt with who handled this type of issue beautifully include Soundsmith, Musical Surroundings, Clearaudio, Elusive Disc, B+H Photo, Atma-Sphere and The Cable Company. These are only the ones I have had direct experience with. I'm sure there are a lot of others. 

For those interested in the diamond (don't know it this is going to work)

"C:\Users\mijos\OneDrive\Documents\MSL AP.jpg"   and 

"C:\Users\mijos\OneDrive\Documents\MSL Lat.jpg"

@newtoncr  Does that refer to Newton Center, MA? I have not heard the Sig Platinum mistrack in the bass and I have boosted subwoofers. Check your tonearm setup and make sure the stylus is absolutely clean UNDER MAGNIFICATION. You would be surprised at the stuff that styluses can collect especially with some record cleaning solutions. You can not tell with the naked eye.  I use an artist brush with the bristles cut 1/2 way back. Many mild stylus cleaning solutions will not work. There are times when you have no choice but to use 50% ethanol is water. If the stylus is clean and your setup is good you have a defective cartridge in which case you are in the same boat I am in.

Good to know you would stop short of trying to repair or re-wind a coil in a LOMC cartridge.

Just my own personal view on turntables and cartridges. First, I am not dexterously endowed… nor do I have a lot of patience with little stuff. So, I always purchase my analog end from a dealer. I never touch it, but to use it. He comes to my house, sets it up, and typically… I have it for a decade or two.

I would not (this is me) touch a $10K cartridge. I would snap the cantilever off in five minutes.

If I were living where there was no dealer I would order a system that was completely set up and adjusted with the cartridge of my choice.

I agree, cartridges and stylus are too fragile for me to invest heavily in.    Maybe that's why i like a good MM that I can replace the stylus on.  My table sounds very good with a 2M Bronze.    Where I will go from there , I'm not sure ....  MC ?  Not so sure I want to spend $1000 or $1500 on something that needs to go to a pro to re-tip.... nevermind 10k

In such a niche market for that kind of money you should get concierge level service.     

Not to hijack this thread , but I recently bought a new integrated amp that would not let me perform a firmware update and was acting weird.   Cyrus UK got back to me within 12 hours and had me up and running.   Their support was the difference between me calling for a return RMA and keeping it.    Turns out I love it.   

Support has a lot to do with my buying decisions    


A mans got to know his limits:-)


I have been taking things apart since I was four years old. One of my mother's favorite stories was about me taking apart a broken electric can opener fixing it and putting back together. She says I was 6 at the time. Whenever anything broke I was put into action. My father did not know which end of the screwdriver to use. I have no idea how I got this way. I am not worried about taking the back cover off the cartridge at all. The magic to doing things like this is holding the object in a fixed position, in this case a model maker's vise. Then the right lighting and finally the right tools. I will also be using very strong loops. Working under magnification is magic. Working with tiny little things is easy. 


This is Newton from Cleveland, Ohio .

I cleaned the needle, checked the tonearm set up again, but the mistracking still happens. My friend gary, who also has the msl set up on a Kronos discovery tonearm, has the same problem with the same track in the mofi , brothers in arms album.

I am inclined to think the problem is with the record and the Lyra is an exceptional tracker .

good luck with your project fixing the cart . Please do keep us posted .

@mijostyn Presumably you bought the MSL from an authorized dealer?

If so, this is where I think the ’pressure’ has to come from...and not from you dealing with MoFi ( the distributor). When I had a problem with my new Lyra, my dealer was all over it, and at the time, Audioquest were pro-active about the issue...so no problem for me.

If your dealer is unwilling to go to bat for you, then I think you need to find another dealer.

One more thing...

It is this, I believe that the mark-up on Japanese cartridges when sold in the US and in a number of other countries is---outrageous! 



Shipping expense cannot explain any of the added costs. Simply pure profiteering. IMHO. For MoFi or any US Japanese cartridge dealer/distributor to throw a consumer under the bus as they are apparently doing to you, says a lot about these folks!

Dear @newtoncr  : It's not only a coincidence that you and your friend Gary share the same problem on tracking where the MSL compliance is at the lower range value of medium compliance with 10cu.


The PC-1Coda is  same design than your cartridge and in 2021 M.Fremer reviewed and measured the cartridge tracking abilities and found out this:


" The cartridge weighs 12.7gm, and the recommended vertical tracking force (VTF) is 2.0–2.2gm. At 2gm, the PC-1 coda couldn't get past the 50µm-peak track on the Ortofon Test Record. At a VTF of 2.2gm it could cleanly negotiate the 60µm peak (track 11), but it literally slid off the 70µm peak (track 12). In short, the PC-1 coda's tracking abilities are only moderately good, "

No, it's not the MoFi recording but the cartridge low tracking abilities. 

I'm questioning my self why @mijostyn  that's anal on the tracking issue bought a cartridge with lower trackin abilities that not only 80u that's the minimum value accepted by him when his and yours cartridge not even pass the 70u  ! ! 


Yes, Lyra always shows very good tracking abilities and your has around 18cu in compliance, obviously way superior in this regards than MSL.



OP… mister handyman,


You are fortunate then that you can competently fiddle with tt’s. One advantage I would have in this situation would be I would only need to call up my dealer and he would fix the issue at no cost or effort on my part..

That's a lot of companies to have had the opportunity to fix a problem for you! You must be awfully unlucky. 


No, I buy too much stuff and I am 70 years old giving me a lot of time to buy too much stuff. 


I have not heard the MSL mistrack at 2 gram VTF. I have not run it on a test record yet either. I will when I get it set up again and let you know.

That is a truly awful story. Sympathy.

Like MSL apparently, Koetsu likes to hide. Maybe a cultural thing - so what? The effects are the same as ill will. That was part of my decision to buy more locally this time, and Grado is mightily accessible and mightily good to deal with. Great product, too.

That’s an awful story. Very sorry to hear this happen to you.

Shame on MoFi! This makes a case that the traditional distributor / dealer model for cartridges is broken. One of the worst "middle man" arrangements in this hobby. Huge (multi -$K) markups simply for the privilege of routing an 8 ounce package to a buyer, with NO support & service heroics? No thanks. Completely needless. Of course your complaint against MoFi is not isolated -- it makes me sad they’ve gained such a prominent role in our hobby. I certainly avoid them for large purchases, and try to avoid them on small stuff too. Anyways, the dealer and manufacturer shouldn’t totally be off the hook here, either.

I agree with others -- don’t toss the cart out. It still has value. Besides the usual SoundSmith and VAS suspects, there are also other talented cartridge rebuilders. Take some time, look around. A good one should be proud of showing off their work. Ana Mighty Sound (France), Delta667 (Russian guy on the vinlyengine forums, though you can’t get to him these days), and Sửa Kim Than Cartridges (Vietnam, found him on Facebook) have all shown very impressive work IMO.

Like MSL apparently, Koetsu likes to hide. Maybe a cultural thing - so what? The effects are the same as ill will. That was part of my decision to buy more locally this time, and Grado is mightily accessible and mightily good to deal with. Great product, too.

I haven’t dipped into Grado cartridges yet, but what I have seen from them (I started in headphones), I have 100% confidence they would make things right in the situation OP describes.

One more anecdote. I have a local friend who made a HUGE stretch purchase for a brand new Ortofon Jubilee MC while we has working & still going through college. This was ~1- years ago. He wore a fuzzy sweater one winter day, and well wouldn’t you know it -- snagged the stylus right off. Almost in tears, he was ready to write it off as a complete loss. At our dealer’s insistence (sadly this dealer is no longer in the business - I miss him) he sent it back to Ortofon to "look over" and see what they could do (note: this was before Ortofon offered rebuild services). A few/several months later (Euros love their vacations haha) he got back a BRAND NEW Jubilee MC, no charge. Ortofon looked over the cartridge, and determined that the glue had failed before the cantilever, which is not how they’d intended it to fail. Or maybe they just decided to be nice and made up that bit about the failure mode :) So they replaced it under warranty! Shout out to Ortofon and Louis on that one.


I had the stylus disappear from the cantilever of a Clearaudio Charisma. I took a microphotograph off the cantilever and emailed it to Musical Surroundings. I had a brand new cartridge and a shipping label for the old one in four days. Fortunately, the stylus on my MC Diamond has remained resolutely in place and it just played a Nickelback record :-)


Koetsu is also distributed by MoFi. 

The links to my stylus pictures did not work. Anybody know how to cut and paste a Photograph? I have seen it done.


I had the stylus disappear from the cantilever of a Clearaudio Charisma. I took a microphotograph off the cantilever and emailed it to Musical Surroundings. I had a brand new cartridge and a shipping label for the old one in four days. Fortunately, the stylus on my MC Diamond has remained resolutely in place and it just played a Nickelback record :-)

@mijostyn  Nice! I forgot to mention my own experiences with Musical Surroundings have been extremely positive. They’ve gone to bat for me in the past, and I think they’re an example of a great distributor.

For posting pics here - I’ve hosted images on my imgur account and and then inserted image links to that. Haven’t gotten images to embed & host themselves on agon yet, but haven’t tried in a while either.

Correct you must post you photo on an open site… for me I use my Flickr account / site. Then copy the url to that photo and paste that here.


I think that is to prevent this site from ballooning in disk space from all the photos embedded directly in the forum.



Here are the pictures of the MSL Stylus which is a nicely polished symmetrical fine line. It is in perfect shape (no cracks)

The links to my stylus pictures did not work. Anybody know how to cut and paste a Photograph?

While I have not done it myself, I know that people upload image to a sharing site like imgur. Then they copy that link into that space when you click the "image" icon (rectangle box with sun and mountain) in the tool bar of this response box.


I had one of the very first Rosewoods and did not like like it. I had a Grado Statement and it was much better, so I am sure you are right. The Epoch is on my short list including the Hyperion and DRT-XV-1T. My current favorite is the Lyra Atlas Lambda SL. 

I will also note that MoFi is owned by Music Direct. Who I am going to send a polite letter.

@wrm57 , @ghdprentice , @mulveling ​​@rauliruegas , @drbond ​​@newtoncr ​​@wrm57 @rsf507 

I have a friend in Japan. He tried to get through to MSL and could not! He kept getting bounced to distributors like MoFi (Music Direct). If I had known this I never would have purchased this cartridge. Customer support is nonexistent.  

@mijostyn , Such a drag. I hope MoFi hears the footsteps and does the right thing. For my part, moved off the MSL idea entirely, and I was just about to order one. Looks like a Lyra is in my future. Looks like MoFi is not. Thank you for the timely cautionary tale, although I know that's cold comfort.

@mijostyn   I still have not heard why you did not involve your selling dealer more. This is where the push back against the distributor needs to come from. Is your dealer actually a MSL rep?


Sure, I went through the dealer and he did not get any further than I did. He is an approved dealer. Warranty is three months and that is it regardless. 

I wish to remind everyone that MoFi is now owned by Music Direct. Since I have so many other reliable options I will not be doing business with either company from now on.


I have an Atlas SL and it is certainly a wonderful cartridge. I have no doubt given jcars involvement in this forum that Lyra would never do this to one of its customers.  

I opened the MSL up and did not find anything easy to fix, the interior workmanship is beyond reproach however, The shell is rather thin metal and leaves a rather large interior cavity. It does not look this way from the outside. I think the Lyra, Verismo, Van den Hul style of construction makes more sense. 

@mijostyn Depending on what state you live in, warranty laws may be applicable to you as to the minimum lengths acceptable. IOW, even though MD state what they do, you may have legal recourse regardless.

For a company to sell a $11K cartridge with a ninety day warranty is more than weak IMO. Particularly since this cartridge can be bought in Japan for less than half of that amount!!


I agree. 3 months for an $11,000 cartridge is worse than weak and I believe this policy is being set by Music Direct. My only recourse (NH does not have minimum warranty laws.) Is to let everyone I can know and avoid Music Direct and any of their subsidiaries like the plague. Not knowing the Warranty before I purchased the cartridge is on me. Assumptions are the mother of all F-ups. 


I sent the cartridge to Steven and we will see what he can do. If he has to rewind the coils he will have to get ahold of the unusually thick wire MSL uses to maintain the low impedance. I'll test it and listen when I get it back. If I do not like it for some reason I'll sell it as a rebuild for a couple of grand. There are two cartridges I have my eye on, The Soundsmith Hyperion and the Grado Epoch. I am very comfortable with Soundsmith's quality and support. I have not had a chance to handle or listen to a recent Grado. My old Statement was fine. I never had to test Grado's support but I have never heard a bad comment.