Cartridges with that musical coherence - having heard it, I need to learn more


Once you hear "better", you can't un-hear it. Oh, what a slippery slope it is to hear better gear. Ask me how I know.

Ok. First - I recently rolled new tubes into my phono stage. Vintage Amperex JAN 7308s. Also tried the white-label PQ 7308s. Holy smokes. Sounds like I've got a whole new phono stage. So that's what everybody's been talking about. Holy cow. I get it.

Enough. I'll get right to the point. I just borrowed (and soon expect to buy) a friends Shelter 901 cartridge. It's an original Mk I, so it's really old. But it's been sitting unused for many years. Initially I was very skeptical - wouldn't the suspension have dried out? Maybe it would collapse on the record surface when I played it. Wouldn't sound very good.

The 901 replaced my Dynavector 17D3 on my lowly Jelco 750L/Garrard 401. Holy... uh... where do I start? The Dynavector has been very good. But the Shelter makes sense of what's going on in the recording on a whole 'nother level. Finally, I can hear the musical sense of *why* the musicians are doing what they are doing. All of a sudden I *get* what reviewers and others have been talking about for years. Until I heard it I *thought* I understood it, but now I really get it. It's not "musicality" at the expense of detail. The fine detail is there. But it's revealed in a way that I've never heard before from *any* vinyl playback system.

And I suppose, like other characteristics, this coherence thing also exists on higher and higher levels with better and better cartridges. That should probably read "more and more expensive cartridges".

So my question is to those of you who've trod this path before me. Especially those of you who've used the Shelter 901. Given the unknown hours on the specimen I'm using I'm wanting to learn about other cartridges that possess this quality of coherence. In your experience, what other cartridges do this?
128x128markusthenaimnut
The ZYX Universe Optima is sublime

You will hear depth,  detail and emotion
The air of the studio, tautness and subtle variations in a drummers microdynamics, voice and acoustical instruments in the most life like way.  It’s one of those mega expensive cartridges
Soundsmith, I have a Carmen 2 great top to bottom, images like crazy I can just imagine my what the more expensive smiths be sound like.
Surprised no one has mentioned Miyajima.  My Miyajima Premium has an incredible coherency.  It is a mono cart though.
Surprised no one has mentioned Miyajima. My Miyajima Premium has an incredible coherency. It is a mono cart though.


I can confirm that Miyajima stereo carts are excellent, but almost every reviewer praised Shilabe or Kansui. In my old thread another (cheaper) Miyajima has been mentioned.