My Sonic Lab Platinum v Gold Signature

Has anyone compared them? I’m tempted by the Platinum but a little concerned it might edge into hyper-detail, which is not my happy place. The Gold reputedly has more body, but I’m wondering whether this comes at the expense of hard-won things like nuance and dynamics.

From what I can tell the main, perhaps only, design differences are cantilever and body material. The Platinum features a boron cantilever and titanium body; the Gold sports Duralumin, a form of aluminum, for both. Myself, I’ve never heard an aluminum cantilever that didn’t color or soften the sound somewhat, but then I’ve never heard one on a top flight cartridge like the MSL. Both have a DCR of 1.4 ohm and an output of 0.5mV.

The tonearm is a Graham Phantom Supreme; the phonostage is an Allnic H3000, probably via its 13x SUT. Based on MSL’s recommendation, the ideal load impedance is around 3-400 ohms (surprising for such low DCR), so this ratio should get me pretty close to what either one needs. Turntable is an Artisan Fidelity SP10R. Music is mostly jazz.

I'm especially interested in direct comparisons, but I also welcome experiences with either cartridge, and thoughts on how they might mesh with my arm and 'table.

Thanks in advance.



I own the Gold on the TriPlanar U12 SE and have absolutely no complaints. I don’t find it to be too warm, but I am pairing it with the Simaudio Moon 810LP, which will be much more neutral compared to your Allnic H3000. I also know two people who own the Platinum and have heard the cartridge on their systems. I never found it to be too hyper-detailed. Of course, their system’s components are different, but also yield wonderfully holographic results. With the refined nature of the Allnic H3000, I would swing for the Platinum. It will deliver slightly improved delineation that would likely be synergistic with the refined nautre of your phono stage. 

I haven’t a clue as to which you would prefer, but the inner vocal detail with the Platinum is impressive. I find my system to be quite musical and not fatiguing, but my MA12000 probably isn’t the most revealing preamp/amp and my tonearm isn’t of the same quality as Juan’s in the post above.  

I was looking at the two MSL cartridges below the Gold and Platinum. The Hyper and the Ultra Eminent. I may have the model names off, but the former is $5500, and latter $8,000 US dollars. I found the Hyper did give up some detail to the Ultra. But I found the bass on the Hyper to be more satisfying for my taste. The Ultra was more detailed in the mid- bass, while the Hyper was a bit more fleshed out with more overall punch. They are both excellent cartridges but I chose the Hyper.

I've heard both the Gold and Platinum at my dealer but not at the same time maybe 4 - 6 weeks apart. Both were stunning wish I could afford either but with that being said the Gold just moved me had a more musical presentation. Maybe the Platinum wasn't fully broken in it was only about 3 weeks new. Just my own view and experience.

Good info, guys, and just the kind of feedback I was hoping to get.

@blisshifi, I can certainly understand why you would think the Platinum could be a better match with my phono stage. The Allnic H3000 is refined in nature, as you say, and most people describe it as being on the warm side of neutral, attributes that could synergize well with the Platinum's higher resolution. But after nearly a decade with the Allnic, I can say that the disconcerting thing about it is the extreme degree to which its sound is dictated by its external power supply. Rolling the rectifier can radically change almost every aspect of its sonic presentation. And the warmth people hear? A lot of it comes from the rubber footers on the PS. Not the phono stage itself, mind you, but the footers on the PS! I actually don't love the H3000 with the stock footers on the PS, finding the sound a tad bloated in the midbass and closed-in on top. Replacing those stock footers with Stillpoint Ultra SS (only on the PS), however, really opens it up, increasing HF detail, air, and neutrality, and thinning the bloat. Albert Porter turned me on to this tweak and he was so right. It's the only place I've ever liked Stillpoints. The improvement is big but not without cost: some of that desirable warmth and bass-weight is lost; and the overall tonal character shifts upward a bit. All this is to say, given the way my H3000 is tuned, I am a little apprehensive that the Platinum could tip it a little further in that lean and revealing direction. The Gold, with its musicality and body, and perhaps minor softening of edges, might turn out to be the better compliment,

@wrm57 Fair points. In all honesty I’m 100% satisfied with my Sig Gold. I’m happy that it costs a bit less as well. :)

I have a thought on the Gold that is a bit off topic of this thread, so I will message you directly. Look out for that if you can. 

@vonhelmholtz , Some years ago I owned Mac 501 monoblocks and a C2300 tube preamp. Driving PMC IB2i monitors (big things with transmission line woofers), the sound was rich and musical. I've never heard the M12000 but it looks to be similar in concept: a preamp based on 12AX7 tubes, with beefy solid state amplification based autoformers. I can imagine the higher resolution of the Platinum being spot on for the alluring Mac sound.

@wrm57 - you and I remain doppelgängers in so many respects. I have never used the MSL though had a few Airtights back in the day. When I finally visited Albert in person-- long overdue- he had two 14 inch Kuzma 4 Pts set up on his tweaked out SP-10mkiii. One had a Blue Lace, the other the Airtight Opus. The latter sounded more linear but the wood from the drum sticks was lifelike on the Blue Lace. Easy to hear the difference given Albert’s set up which allowed us to switch back and forth between arms/cartridges playing the same record simultaneously.

I can’t answer your question. I know @mijostyn is a big proponent of the MSL line (not sure which model he prefers).

FWIW, I stuck the same Stillpoints under my Allnic phono power supply with the same results. (Currently using a GEC u52 cup base rectifier, which seems to voice "just so" with my system as presently set up). So much has to do with the overall voicing of the system that what works well in one system may not be the right answer in another.

best regards,

Bill Hart

@fjn04 , @rsf507 , I'm starting to think the Gold might be the way. What you described is pretty much what I'm after.

Hey @whart , I was hoping you might join in, given our Allnic and other similitudes, and your history with Airtights, which are MSL siblings. I almost mentioned you regarding the Stillpoints, since I knew you had been using them under your PS, too. So you've moved on from Airtight to Koetsu? Jeez, I guess that means I have to think Koetsu now if we're to remain ghostly doubles.:)

While you're here, a quick question about your Airtight/Allnic experience: were you running into the 20x step up at 47K? I seem to recall the PC1 had a little lower output than the MSLs I'm considering, which on paper would seem to like 13x.

Good to hear from you!


@wrm57 - I’d have to look at the unit or a drawing of it to tell you but with the Airtight Supreme I think the setting was roughly 82 ohms [oops, I checked the drawing I think it was 70 ohms] on the "primary" side (if that is the correct way to describe the transformer). I found, with the Koetsus (stones, a Jade and a Tiger Eye), they liked closer to 100 ohms. I guess I start with the rule that the setting should be 10x the internal impedance of the cartridge, but I then try different settings, which as you know, is pretty simple on the Allnic.

The Koetsu gives my system something it lacked- gravitas and a very "filled in" sound in the bass. I always found that to be a weakness with the Avantgarde Duo, so maybe I’m just offsetting one compromise with another. But it works! (I also added 15 inch subs and a cheap little DSP unit- the sub system does not interfere with the main amps or speakers but runs from a separate line out from the line stage).

Good to see you, buddy!


To concur with some of the others’ statements, I also went from an Airtight PC-1s, which was a considerably warm cartridge, but almost equally as magical as the Sig Gold. I found the Sig Gold to be just a little less bloomy and much better in terms of dynamics and detail. It is still slightly on the warm side of neutral, but it’s exactly what is needed given the neutrality of the remainder of my system. 

So @blisshifi , if the Gold is slightly on the warm side of neutral, would the Platinum be on the cool side, or right at neutral itself? I’m trying to get an idea of its relative position on this scale as you hear it.

I am yet to get a demonstration of these Cart's. It is on a Bucket List which also has the Mutech Hayabusa and Ortofon Verismo as well.

When investigating the MSL's, I discovered a report from a individual who I have followed for quite a few years and have come to trust.

The report shares about MSL Cart's and the Mutech Hayabusa. As a result of using the Cart's, it is making it known the Hayabusa is offering much of everything the MSL Cart's are offering, with its own variance and the Mutech Hayabusa Cart' is usually found at a more affordable price.

I have put a Link to this report recently in another Thread.   

Not at all @wrm57. The Signature Platinum is a very easy going cartridge. It is very detailed but never edgy. I do not think there is ever too much detail if the cartridge is neutral.  It is easy to give a false sense of detail by jacking the high end but that is not the case here. The Gold is said to be warmer. I would think with all that Mac equipment you are already warm enough! I have not had a Gold in my system so I can not comment directly. I can tell you that the Signature Platinum is an easier going cartridge than either the Lyra Atlas Lambda SL or the Ortofon MC Diamond and it benefits from a much higher output than either. My goal has always been neutrality. I want what is in that groove, no more and no less. 

@pindac , I almost purchased a Hayabusa but elected not to after looking at it under the microscope. The level of care in construction is not up to any MSL cartridge or the Verismo which I have not seen but I suspect is every bit as good as the MC Diamond which I have. This says nothing about the way the Hayabusa sounds. I can not say as I never mounted it.

The Topic of this thread type does get my attention.

The Verismo, MSL's and Hayabusa has been a priority investigation as I am working my way towards the time I will make a decision on a final MC Cart' Purchase, which will be an indulgence and what ever the method used to acquire the MC, this one will be kept for Special Occasions, rare find Albums and friends around and such. To be fair to the Cart' I will probably attempt to use it for 100ish hours annually.

I am fortunate to have been offered a Demo' of a Verismo in a owners home system, where there is also a Anna. I will revisit this offer very soon.

There will be a transition at some point to the revisit of owned stored away Cart's and where the activity will commence for the tiring out of owned LOMC's, HOMC's, MM's and other oddities which have created an interest. There is to be second system, which my Wife is very comfortable with using and she can have a Two Tone Arm Deck to extend the Cart's usage. There will be plenty going on to keep the Phon's engaged in their work.

During early investigations there was a substantial Jump in purchase price between the Hayabusa and MSL's. More recently the MSL's are seen to have decreased in asking price and are not too far separated from the Hayabusa.

Price or Marketing Spiel does not drive my decision to pull the trigger on a purchase, it has evolved to be the impression the device can produce through being given a demonstration. With the right set up, supporting ancillaries and environment. I can work out where there are attractors to be found and if I feel these are the ones I want to exploit when reproduced in my own system. Hence, I don't look to be given demo's at large organised commercial event anymore, I find the environment fails the demo's on offer, and much that is encountered is tolerated for very short durations. Interestingly some fall in love and get the cheque book out without hesitation. Horses for Courses I suppose.

@mijostyn , thanks for the detailed report on the Platinum. Neutrality is a good thing, and something I strive for in my systems. I'm pleased to be hearing from you and @blisshifi that the Platinum does not stray toward brightness and edginess.

BTW, I have not owned Mac gear in more than a decade! It was a brief phase in search of warmth to offset the brightness in a pair of PBN Montana speakers I bought on a whim and quickly sold.

@pindac , The Anna is no longer available. It's replacement is called the MC Diamond, a fine cartridge but I am not sure it is a significant improvement on the Verismo. Both are very low output. You have to make sure your phono stage is up to it. I own the MC Diamond and frankly, with my phono stage, I prefer the MSL and the Lyra Atlas Lambda SL. This is only because of the signal to noise ratio and not the sonic imprint. 

@wrm57 If neutrality is a trait that is to seriously considered the Options are to be from a broader Palette. Certain Ortofon Cart's are more than able to perceived as having this trait.

I have been demonstrated Ortofon's and a Sumiko Pearwood in consecutive demo's. The Pearwood has been capable of making a very good impression on quite a few occasions. This Cart' presents in a way I would claim is leaning toward neutral, it is certainly not one with a Rich Tone, even though a Wood Body will suggest a Rich Tone is to be encountered. 

@pindac , yes, I agree about Ortofons. I have a long history with the A90, which I bought upon its release and played so much that Ortofon has rebuilt it for me twice already. It might be on the cold and detailed side of neutral, at least more so than what I’m seeking in my next purchase. The titanium-bodied Verismo is reputedly closer to neutral and would be sorely tempting, as well as a relative bargain (if one can say that with a straight face about a $7K cartridge), except that its electrical characteristics might make it a sub-optimal mate for my phono stage, which is entirely based on SUTs. At 7 ohms DCR with a .2 mV output, it would seem to work with the Allnic’s 26X SUT but the load impedance seen by the cartridge, 70 ohms, is likely to be a bit low. I say this with some confidence because I have an Ortofon SPU Royal GM II with similar electrics at 6 ohms, .2 mV, along with the same Replicant stylus, and I have to run that one through a different phono stage, one that won’t be available for this new purchase, to get it just right. At 26X through the Allnic, I find the top end on the Royal to be closed in, and I suspect the Verismo would be similar. Ortofon seems to like this combination of electrical traits now; the Windfeld Ti is 7ohm/0.2mV, too. The A90 at 4 ohms/0.27mV is ideal into the 20X option, which is one reason I’ve stayed with it for so long. I’m splitting hairs here, of course; but, hey, isn’t that what this hobby is all about? :-)

I appreciate the recommendation of the Sumiko, and looked it up. Unfortunately, I think its combo of 0.5 mV output at 30 ohm DCR could make my Allnic pretty unhappy. I’d have to try it to see.