Proteus compared to MSL ultra eminent ex

Hi Everyone,

Hoping to find some folks who have experience with both of these cartridges. I already have a Proteus, which I love. I have another, different, excellent cartridge with which I'm having some problems, and I am looking for a low internal impedance (<5 ohm) reasonable output cartridge (> .2-.3 mV) to replace it. As low noise as possible. I am just wondering whether the ultra eminent EX from my sonic labs would sound very similar to the Proteus that I already have. If so, I would probably consider getting something with a slightly different sonic signature. Thanks in advance for your opinions.
Well, it doesn't get much better than the Proteus if you value things like soundstaging, inner detail retrieval and refined and open treble extension. Bass is deep, strong and tuneful too. Only when it comes to dynamic jump and mid bass slam you can do significantly better.

But I doubt the MySonic will fit that bill. I own Matsudeira's previous Audiocraft AC-03, which by some accounts is not that different from the later models under the MySonic Labs banner. The AC-03 is a very good performer, but in my opinion no match for the Proteus.

Thanks edgewear. I appreciate your comments. The Proteus really is great. For my system, a cartridge with the type of specs I noted, like the Proteus, seems to work well. Hence my interest in MSL.

What cartridges do you like in terms of having better "dynamic jump and mid bass slam"?
In my experience the best in this regards would be the original Ikeda 9 series, the ones without cantilever. It has the most explosive dynamics I've ever heard. Lots of references to it here, just do a search. The 9 Rex is considered the top of the tree. But this is a very hard to find 'old' cartridge and no longer available new.

Also very strong in dynamics is Ortofon A90, which also fits your requirements. The A95 is very similar and even a bit more refined, but has a slightly higher impedance. Both have been deleted, but they're less hard to find and Ortofon still offers complete rebuilds for them. Another strong contender for dynamics would be the vdHul Colibri, but it has an even higher impedance.

I have no further knowledge of current top MC's, as prices have gone insane.

Speaking of the Proteus, what’s happened to TransfIguration the brand in the US?
I've read reports that Transfiguration has folded, so the Proteus is now out of production. But it seems there's still some stock floating about, so grab em while you can!

Yes, the company has folded. 

Arsh, I think edgewear was on to something with the A95. The Windfeld Ti is the A95 in a body. It has a 7 ohm impedance and 0.2 mv output.
This is a great cartridge. It is a fine tracker and is as neutral as they get.
Now, if you really want mid bass slam and snare drums that snap get a Clearaudio Charisma V2. I have never heard a moving coil cartridge punch the way this thing does. I listened to the Chilli Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik  last night. Flea's bass jumped out of the speakers. 
It tracks like a bandit. It has exactly the same stylus and cantilever as the Goldfinger. I had not purchased a MM cartridge since the late 70's. After reading some reviews I got a wild hair and bought one. Comparing it to the Windfeld Ti, the Windfeld has less punch and is more neutral where I think the Charisma is a little more tilted towards the bass. Both are very quiet trackers. Both have perfectly aligned cantilevers and beautifully mounted diamonds. I get the feeling that the Windfeld has darker backgrounds and perhaps it is a little more detailed but the real eye opener is the dynamics of the Charisma. Some of this may be due to the phono amp. Very quiet phono amps with more gain may bring out dynamics in moving coils better. All this is no reflection on the Windfeld Ti. It is just that the Charisma is that good. If Rock and Roll is your thing this is your cartridge. 
My Sonic Labs makes an excellent cartridge. I have heard the Signature Platinum through a CH Precision Phono amp through a set of medium sized Wilson's (don't remember the model.) and it was beautiful. I would not pay that much for it. The only $10,000 cartridge I would go for would be the Lyra Atlas. The Ultra Eminent Ex is a similar design with an even lower impedance and different body material. It has to be a better value. It is just about the same price as the Windfeld Ti. 

Some day some smart wealthy audiophile is going to buy one of every cartridge out there and rent them for a week at a time. When you return it safely your card gets refunded. If you buy the cartridge the rental fee is deducted.  Elusive Disc and Music Direct should start offering such a service. I would use it in a heartbeat.
I always go by a guideline that says to buy the second costliest version of any line of similar product from any one company.  The second costliest is usually quite a bit less expensive than the top of the line and usually has all of its major features, minus a cosmetic doodad here or there.
I would wager that Transfig will re-emerge under a different name, or it already has done so.  If you take the long view of Japanese phono cartridge development, this happens all the time.  Anyway, I hope the brand does make a comeback, even under another name, because I agree they made some fine stuff.
Thanks miljostyn. Really appreciate your perspective. I have never heard a clear audio cartridge or the Winfeld. I think seven ohm internal impedance is probably higher than I want if I do wind up changing the cartridge. From my reading, it seems like the my sonic labs or the air tight cartridges are among the best options for very low internal impedance with a reasonable output.
Just in general, Ortofon over Clearaudio.  But that's just me.  The Ortofon cartridges in general give you a better bang for the buck, tend to be more neutral in tonal balance.  The better CA cartridges are expensive and tend (I say "tend") to sound a little top heavy to these ears.  None of this is absolute fact.
FYI, the Air Tight and MSL cartridges are both designed by Matsudeira (if that is the correct spelling), as was the aforementioned Audiocraft AC-03 and even earlier models like the Entré EC-30. Based on my own personal experience with the last two and various reports about the first two, there appears to be a clear family resemblance.

By improving on his design and using new materials, Matsudeira has managed to bring down internal impedance and increase output. So at least in theory the latest Air Tight and MSL design are superior. I don't know to what extend this translates to better sonics, but again I've read reports that the MSL's don't sound very different from the previous Audiocraft AC-03. If that is correct, these are bargains on the 'previously cherished' market. I found an 'as new' sample for around $1000 and at that price you won't be able to do much better.
interesting. I will have to read about the Audiocraft. I don't know anything about it. Appreciate the info!
To be clear, I don’t think you can say that low signal output per se is a goal of a moving coil cartridge designer. It’s more like that is a byproduct of designing the cartridge to have very low moving mass and very low internal resistance, both of which are desirable in a moving coil cartridge. Unfortunately, it is hard to achieve those goals or move toward them without also ending up with a low signal voltage output.
I have an early proteus, I think there were two revisions after mine the second being the diamond cantilever. It’s 5 years old now and seen a lot of vinyl so I started to look for a replacement. I was also on the verge of retirement so rebuild costs of any replacement become more important. Before the Trans I ran a series of Dynavector 17Ds and moving to the proteus from a 3 I didn’t miss anything of the Karat’s speed and gained more body to the sound, and improved dynamics, that was on a Naim Aro.  I didn’t want a lesser Proteus or I could go back to my part worn DV or the newer Dx. I was considering whether it was time to try a Koetsu and had picked out the Vermillion as the most likely candidate but ideally I’d prefer not to spend that much this time. Somehow the thought arrived that an SPU Royal N would make an interesting experiment, different enough from the Proteus that it was unlikely to be less of the same. The tracking force looks alarmingly high at 3g but the stylus isn’t as fine as a Proteus’ so pressure on the grooves probably not too much higher. My current arm, purchased after I’d started using the Proteus, is a Schröder Reference with an effective mass of 13g using an aluminium cartridge mounting plate, change it for a brass one and that goes up to 18g plus a bit for moving the counterweight further back. With the Royal N that’s quite a long way back.
So to my impressions, there was yet another increase in substance to the sound, orchestral music had more depth and a greater sense of scale and it seemed notes were being strung together in a more meaningful fashion. It’s all a bit more relaxed than the Proteus and detail not as prominent but on the whole I think I prefer it. I do get a bit more static build up from playing a disc.

Ana Mighty Sound in France will rebuild a Proteus and I had a quote just pre lockdown for about the same cost as a new Royal N but haven’t yet followed it up, I think I will though as I’m wondering if I’ve just got better at setting up the arm since I installed the Proteus.

I also have a certain curiosity about the Ortofon Anna with the same stylus profile but selected styli and more sophisticated materials than the Royal N but would it keep what I like about the SPU? The idea of a Koetsu Vermillion hasn’t entirely gone away either but both of those options might be unsustainable past the first rebuild.
yeti42, assuming that the SPU's stylus is OK to run at 3 grams because it has a different shape is a mistake. I do not know what the difference in record wear is but it is certainly higher than the Proteus. 
You have a wonderful arm but it is too light for either the SPU,  Koetsu or Anna. This will effect tracking and low bass performance.
The Proteus is a good match and Ana has a great reputation. I would certainly consider getting it rebuilt. You want to stick to cartridges with compliances in the 12 to 20 um/mN. Your cartridge mounting plates will work great in this range. The Lyra cartridges are a great choice. The Ortifon WIndfeld Ti, any Clearaudio MC cartridge would also work. From a value perspective given your apparent preferences the Kiseki Purple Heart would be perfect.
Thanks guys. Interesting discussion. I would love to hear more comments, especially from anyone who has had the opportunity to actually hear the Proteus and the ultra eminent EX in some sort of comparison. I realize that will be tough but I welcome any and all opinions. Thanks again.
Arsh, both Proteus and Ultra EX are excellent carts. I had them both and can tell you that they sound similar. Ultra EX is better cart for my ears - better dynamics and bigger soundstage. MSL makes one of the best carts on the market, maybe second to none. To answer your question - if you want sound different than Proteus you should go to different direction than MSL...
Surprised no-one has challenged the misinformation on the MSL. The MSL Ultra Eminent Ex is of a much, much later generation - more than 20 years later - than the Audiocraft mentioned, while the specs are nothing like it at all. I doubt the cartridges have much in common other than that the same bloke was involved in designing them, between 20 and 30 years apart.

I have been pondering the Ultra Eminent Ex after I purchased the My Sonic Labs Eminent Mono, which is a truly stunning performer, upstaging my long-term, much-loved Miyajima Zero. It manages to be revealing, detailed, composed, warm and full all at the same time. It’s had me pulling out mono recordings from rack after rack. Great match with my Allnic HA5000 head amp/H7000V phono stage too - plenty of gain to play with.

I currently have some very nice stereo cartridges, most notably the new Allnic Rose (which is really quite something incidentally and well worthy of consideration), and the Miyajima Madake. I moved on my Ikeda 9TT as in my setup it was a bit clinical, and have also moved on all my SPUs in recent times. Nevertheless another high-spec cart is always welcome.

At the moment I’m swithering between two options: the MSL Ultra Eminent - which is supposed to be an out and out detail meister with incredible dynamics - and the Hyper Eminent, slightly higher impedance (just over 1 ohm, not the 0.5 ohm of the Ultra) and supposed to be a shade warmer/a bit less about huge dyamic swings. I’m expecting to pull the trigger in the next week or two - should be an interesting addition to the stable.
Incidentally I heard the Proteus a few years back and, capable as it sounded, I was underwhelmed - though it may just have been a synergy thing as others have reported being impressed. Of course Transfiguration are no more so caution is advised if looking for a long-term purchase.

Thanks Vuckovic and Montesquieu. Very helpful info. I love my Proteus, but getting another very similar sounding cartridge may not be the way to go. Not sure. But the specs and descriptions of sound that I've read for the Ultra Eminent EX are very compelling.
When I bought my Proteus they were £2900 in the UK, the US price was $6000. It faced tougher competition in the US at that price.
I haven’t seen mention of which arm the OP is using but assuming it’s medium mass the Winfield Ti might be a good choice that gives a different flavour to a trans but I’ve no direct experience. With a higher mass arm the Anna comes into play.
I did hear my Proteus on a WT Versalex, when a friend replaced his Radikalised Linn with one and before I bought the Aretmis/Schröder. On the Versalex a Dyna DRT VX-1t was hard to forget, the Proteus wasn’t.

Despite Mijostyn’s opinion I find the Royal N surprisingly good considering its price, with no tracking issues yet encountered nor lack of bass. My arm at 18g plus the Royal N with its cheese at 16g gives a mass of 34g total, an Ortofon TA210 has an effective mass of 5g without a headshell, an SPU G type weighs in at 30g, so only a gram more in total than I have. Frank Schröder, when supplying the brass mounting plate, did suggest I could double it up with the aluminium one if necessary but I find no need to. What there was a need for is fine adjustment of VTA and VTF and I’m glad I went for these options when commissioning my arm but it’s still a sensitive blighter to set up, every screw tension seems to make an audible difference.
Thank you yeti42. I am using a VPI Fatboy gimbal 12" arm on VPI HW40 turntable. 
Arsh, that is VPI's best arm. It is very light considering it's length. EF is 12.5 gms about the same as the SME V 12. You can put pretty much any modern cartridge on it. For most MC cartridges you will have to add some mass which is never a problem you just need a good test record with resonance tracks on it and a set of head shell weights and screws.
Dear @arsh : I love Transfiguration that I started  with the Temper V and other models and I had the opportunity to listen the Proteus in very good system that I know very well and I had experiences in my system with MSL. Both very good performers.

But you are looking for a different " signature " then my take is for something that in some ways outperforms even the Proteus and this is the vdH Colibri ( I owned/own 3 samples. ) in specific the 0.22mv model and the non wood cartridge body.

The Colibri makes good match with your tonearm and has excellent tracking abilities very hard to beats. You can't go wrong with.

I hope you don't own/have any tube in your system because you are looking for a first rate cartridge that can honor MUSIC.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Thanks Raul. I think the Colibri has a much higher internal impedance, doesn't it? 
@rauliruegas   Please tell us why you are suggesting no tubes in a system?? I find your statement about tubes to be very odd!
Dear arsh : the low output model has lower internal impedance, I don't have on hand the value but you can ask vdHul.

In the other side why is so important that cartridge parameter for you, i it because your phono stage design? Can you explain it about? thank's in advance.

Hi Arsh,
Have yet to see a Colobri with less that 14ohm. Also its a leaner sounding cartridge to what you have. Also helps if you have a very flexible/configurable phono in terms of loading & gain. Not sure if you enjoy fine tuning catridge setup especially VTA and Azimuth as you will need to put in some hours. 
I believe these things to apply to all carts with varying degrees of importance.
I love the Colibri and have had a few, and it taught me a lot about setup. Just found it to be a great stepping stone cart at best, yes it does some things better that most carts I have heard. Just somehow wouldn't recommend it as the only cart to have mounted on the TT.
Dear @vusi_khumalo  : "  and it taught me a lot about setup. "

Yes, the Colibri ask for a little patience to been " there " but it's worth the effort because as you said it:

"  Just found it to be a great stepping stone cart at best, yes it does some things better that most carts I have heard. ""

When the Colibri return from vdH to its owner after those 300 hours of play  and vdHul already fine tunned its quality level performance is really great.


Raul, the reason I'm looking for a very low impedance cartridge has to do with a noise issue. After I rearranged my equipment on a new, custom rack system that lowered the overall height of the components, my higher internal impedance (10-11 ohm) cart picks up some sort of high frequency noise that, while very faint and intermittent, bothers me. It didn't do so on the old rack with the turntable higher up and farther away from the other components (amp in particular). My Proteus, with 1 ohm internal impedance, remained dead silent--no noise, and still sounds awesome. I have done every troubleshooting maneuver and rearrangement short of raising the system back to its previous height. I want to keep the arrangement I have now. My options seem to be : 1) revert to old setup with higher rack between speakers; 2) move turntable and phono stage to side wall, requiring 4-5 m long interconnects and new power arrangement; 3) sell the higher internal impedance cart and buy another very low internal impedance cart like the Proteus that rejects noise better. 
Because I find slightly better imaging and soundstage with the lower height setup, and because I don't want to spend a ton on very long interconnects and installing another dedicated circuit to move the table and phono stage to the sidewall, I think I'd rather get a different cartridge to alternate with my Proteus when I want a change. I have other carts on other turntables, but this is my main system and I want a great cartridge for it.

For what its worth I also found some magic lies with low impedance MCs, but I dont know why exactly. Your explanation above is appreciated. I actually mistook the magic to be brought by low output, which usually is found with low impedance carts. Have been using a Benz Ebony TRS (1ohm) for over a year with great results. It has added body and weight to my system, making many LPs in my collection enjoyable again. 
Thanks vusi. That's really helpful information. I appreciate it. I have not really looked at Benz, thought they were difficult to find?
The Benz has a low 1 ohm internal impedance, but at the cost of the output, which according to the specs is only 0.1 mV, half that of the Proteus. Considering your noise issues this might be a risky choice.

It seems I’ve been accused of misinformation about the relationship between the Audiocraft AC-03 and MSL cartridges. If my information is correct the AC-03 dates from 1998, while MSL was founded in 2004 with the introduction of the Eminent Ex. I have not compared them myself, but have read reports they have a similar sound. This doesn’t seem far fetched with only a 6 year interval (and not 20 as was suggested).

I also mentioned that the MSL cartridges have superior specs, due to the introduction of a new core material which has enabled fewer coil windings (resulting in very low internal impedance) and still produce a very healthy output of 0.4 mV. I have no doubt this will translate to better sonics, with potentially a lower noise floor and more dynamic slam.

I took the AC-03 for a spin to refresh my memory. As I previously stated it is not nearly as refined as the Proteus, but it sounds much more powerful than I remembered with a huge soundstage, very strong bass and a highly rhythmic presentation. So it does present an interesting alternative to the Proteus sound and I suspect the MSL’s will be as well. At least the Ex and Hyper Ex, which have the same cantilever/stylus assembly as the AC-03. The Ultra Ex has a boron cantilever, which might change the sonic presentation considerably and perhaps might bring it closer to the Proteus.


Most Ikeda phono cartridges have an impedance less than 5 ohms, and have outputs in the .16 to .30 range. I have an Ikeda cartridge, as well as Benz LPS and EMT. The Ikeda is a great sounding cartridge.

Good luck with your search

Jim Perry
IMO if to use external dedicated SUT noise isn't an issue. I do use external SUT - the first one which had such was FR XF-1L now I use custom built 1:25 ratio which is also dead silent.
I do listen only MC's up to 3 ohms impedance and I don't have any issue with noise.
Output figure depends on measurement technique so they are not always comparable between manufacturers, be careful.
Edgewear, thanks for the follow up. I am leaning toward the MSL Ultra Eminent...

jperry, thanks for the tip about Ikeda. I'll check them out.

bukanona, thanks also for your comments...why have you limited yourself to cartridges with internal impedance below 3 ohms? Thanks.
arch, low output and low ohms - that is real music on the output for me :) Also it’s not easy to buy suitable SUT which is very important part of music presentation. I have owned 4 before the last one and it was always step forward.
Dear @arsh  :  "  Because I find slightly better imaging and soundstage with the lower height setup .  ""

After the LP the cartridge is the source of what you are listening in your system. The recording microphones normally are " seated " at near field where those imaging and soundstage alost does not exist. What you are listening is in reality an artefact created by your room/system.

If for you those listening characteristics are so critical the  you can follow looking for that "   I want a great cartridge " but then you avoiding a lot of higher impedance cartridges that performs even better than some of the low impedance ones like the Allaerts Formula 1 or the Colibri or the GFS  or the Anna diamond and many more to name it here.

Yes, I know that you want to stay with your lower heigth set up so be that way.

Btw, thank's for your answer that I never imagined the " trouble " down there.


Thanks Raul. I don't think I followed all of your comments, but I definitely do get the point that this choice to go with lower impedance cartridges would eliminate  a lot of others from consideration. However for this set up what I want is two excellent cartridges that I can alternate from time to time. I am not the type who is going to buy lots of different cartridges to try every so often. I love my system, it's very stable, and I love the Proteus that I already have. I just want a cartridge that will work regardless of the way I have things set up and make beautiful music without my being distracted by various noise and other problems. I know, that's what everybody wants.