Who needs a MM cartridge type when we have MC?

Dear friends: who really needs an MM type phono cartridge?, well I will try to share/explain with you what are my experiences about and I hope too that many of you could enrich the topic/subject with your own experiences.

For some years ( in this forum ) and time to time I posted that the MM type cartridge quality sound is better than we know or that we think and like four months ago I start a thread about: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1173550723&openusid&zzRauliruegas&4&5#Rauliruegas where we analyse some MM type cartridges.

Well, in the last 10-12 months I buy something like 30+ different MM type phono cartridges ( you can read in my virtual system which ones. ) and I’m still doing it. The purpose of this fact ( “ buy it “ ) is for one way to confirm or not if really those MM type cartridges are good for us ( music lovers ) and at the same time learn about MM vs MC cartridges, as a fact I learn many things other than MM/MC cartridge subject.

If we take a look to the Agon analog members at least 90% of them use ( only ) MC phono cartridges, if we take a look to the “ professional reviewers “ ( TAS, Stereophile, Positive Feedback, Enjoy the Music, etc, etc, ) 95% ( at least ) of them use only MC cartridges ( well I know that for example: REG and NG of TAS and RJR of Stereophile use only MM type cartridges!!!!!!!! ) , if we take a look to the phono cartridge manufacturers more than 90% of them build/design for MC cartridges and if you speak with audio dealers almost all will tell you that the MC cartridges is the way to go.

So, who are wrong/right, the few ( like me ) that speak that the MM type is a very good alternative or the “ whole “ cartridge industry that think and support the MC cartridge only valid alternative?

IMHO I think that both groups are not totally wrong/right and that the subject is not who is wrong/right but that the subject is : KNOW-HOW or NON KNOW-HOW about.

Many years ago when I was introduced to the “ high end “ the cartridges were almost MM type ones: Shure, Stanton, Pickering, Empire, etc, etc. In those time I remember that one dealer told me that if I really want to be nearest to the music I have to buy the Empire 4000 D ( they say for 4-channel reproduction as well. ) and this was truly my first encounter with a “ high end cartridge “, I buy the 4000D I for 70.00 dls ( I can’t pay 150.00 for the D III. ), btw the specs of these Empire cartridges were impressive even today, look: frequency response: 5-50,000Hz, channel separation: 35db, tracking force range: 0.25grs to 1.25grs!!!!!!!!, just impressive, but there are some cartridges which frequency response goes to 100,000Hz!!!!!!!!!!

I start to learn about and I follow to buying other MM type cartridges ( in those times I never imagine nothing about MC cartridges: I don’t imagine of its existence!!!. ) like AKG, Micro Acoustics, ADC, B&O, Audio Technica, Sonus, etc, etc.

Years latter the same dealer told me about the MC marvelous cartridges and he introduce me to the Denon-103 following with the 103-D and the Fulton High performance, so I start to buy and hear MC cartridges. I start to read audio magazines about either cartridge type: MM and Mc ones.

I have to make changes in my audio system ( because of the low output of the MC cartridges and because I was learning how to improve the performance of my audio system ) and I follow what the reviewers/audio dealers “ speak “ about, I was un-experienced !!!!!!!, I was learning ( well I’m yet. ).

I can tell you many good/bad histories about but I don’t want that the thread was/is boring for you, so please let me tell you what I learn and where I’m standing today about:

over the years I invested thousands of dollars on several top “ high end “ MC cartridges, from the Sumiko Celebration passing for Lyras, Koetsu, Van denHul, to Allaerts ones ( just name it and I can tell that I own or owned. ), what I already invest on MC cartridges represent almost 70-80% price of my audio system.

Suddenly I stop buying MC cartridges and decide to start again with some of the MM type cartridges that I already own and what I heard motivate me to start the search for more of those “ hidden jewels “ that are ( here and now ) the MM phono cartridges and learn why are so good and how to obtain its best quality sound reproduction ( as a fact I learn many things other than MM cartridge about. ).

I don’t start this “ finding “ like a contest between MC and MM type cartridges.
The MC cartridges are as good as we already know and this is not the subject here, the subject is about MM type quality performance and how achieve the best with those cartridges.

First than all I try to identify and understand the most important characteristics ( and what they “ means “. ) of the MM type cartridges ( something that in part I already have it because our phonolinepreamp design needs. ) and its differences with the MC ones.

Well, first than all is that are high output cartridges, very high compliance ones ( 50cu is not rare. ), low or very low tracking force ones, likes 47kOhms and up, susceptible to some capacitance changes, user stylus replacement, sometimes we can use a different replacement stylus making an improvement with out the necessity to buy the next top model in the cartridge line , low and very low weight cartridges, almost all of them are build of plastic material with aluminum cantilever and with eliptical or “ old “ line contact stylus ( shibata ) ( here we don’t find: Jade/Coral/Titanium/etc, bodies or sophisticated build material cantilevers and sophisticated stylus shape. ), very very… what I say? Extremely low prices from 40.00 to 300.00 dls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, well one of my cartridges I buy it for 8.99 dls ( one month ago ): WOW!!!!!!, so any one of you can/could have/buy ten to twenty MM cartridges for the price of one of the MC cartridge you own today and the good notice is that is a chance that those 10-20 MM type cartridges even the quality performance of your MC cartridge or beat it.

Other characteristics is that the builders show how proud they were/are on its MM type cartridges design, almost all those cartridges comes with a first rate box, comes with charts/diagrams of its frequency response and cartridge channel separation ( where they tell us which test recording use it, with which VTF, at which temperature, etc, etc. ), comes with a very wide explanation of the why’s and how’s of its design and the usual explanation to mount the cartridge along with a very wide list of specifications ( that were the envy of any of today MC ones where sometimes we really don’t know nothing about. ), comes with a set of screws/nuts, comes with a stylus brush and even with stylus cleaning fluid!!!!!!!!!, my GOD. Well, there are cartridges like the Supex SM 100MK2 that comes with two different stylus!!!! One with spherical and one with elliptical/shibata shape and dear friends all those in the same low low price!!!!!!!!!!!

Almost all the cartridges I own you can find it through Ebay and Agon and through cartridge dealers and don’t worry if you loose/broke the stylus cartridge or you find the cartridge but with out stylus, you always can/could find the stylus replacement, no problem about there are some stylus and cartridge sources.

When I’m talking about MM type cartridges I’m refer to different types: moving magnet, moving iron, moving flux, electret, variable reluctance, induced magnet, etc, etc. ( here is not the place to explain the differences on all those MM type cartridges. Maybe on other future thread. ).

I made all my very long ( time consuming ) cartridge tests using four different TT’s: Acoustic Signature Analog One MK2, Micro Seiki RX-5000, Luxman PD 310 and Technics SP-10 MK2, I use only removable headshell S and J shape tonearms with 15mm on overhang, I use different material build/ shape design /weight headshells. I test each cartridge in at least three different tonearms and some times in 3-4 different headshells till I find the “ right “ match where the cartridge perform the best, no I’m not saying that I already finish or that I already find the “ perfect “ match: cartridge/headshell/tonearm but I think I’m near that ideal target.

Through my testing experience I learn/ confirm that trying to find the right tonearm/headshell for any cartridge is well worth the effort and more important that be changing the TT. When I switch from a TT to another different one the changes on the quality cartridge performance were/are minimal in comparison to a change in the tonearm/headshell, this fact was consistent with any of those cartridges including MC ones.

So after the Phonolinepreamplifier IMHO the tonearm/headshell match for any cartridge is the more important subject, it is so important and complex that in the same tonearm ( with the same headshell wires ) but with different headshell ( even when the headshell weight were the same ) shape or build material headshell the quality cartridge performance can/could be way different.

All those experiences told me that chances are that the cartridge that you own ( MC or MM ) is not performing at its best because chances are that the tonearm you own is not the best match for that cartridge!!!!!!, so imagine what do you can/could hear when your cartridge is or will be on the right tonearm???!!!!!!!!, IMHO there are ( till today ) no single ( any type at any price ) perfect universal tonearm. IMHO there is no “ the best tonearm “, what exist or could exist is a “ best tonearm match for “ that “ cartridge “, but that’s all. Of course that are “ lucky “ tonearms that are very good match for more than one cartridge but don’t for every single cartridge.

I posted several times that I’m not a tonearm collector, that I own all those tonearms to have alternatives for my cartridges and with removable headshells my 15 tonearms are really like 100+ tonearms : a very wide options/alternatives for almost any cartridge!!!!!!

You can find several of these MM type cartridges new brand or NOS like: Ortofon, Nagaoka, Audio Technica, Astatic, B&O, Rega, Empire, Sonus Reson,Goldring,Clearaudio, Grado, Shelter, Garrot, etc. and all of them second hand in very good operational condition. As a fact I buy two and even three cartridges of the same model in some of the cartridges ( so right now I have some samples that I think I don’t use any more. ) to prevent that one of them arrive in non operational condition but I’m glad to say that all them arrive in very fine conditions. I buy one or two of the cartridges with no stylus or with the stylus out of work but I don’t have any trouble because I could find the stylus replacement on different sources and in some case the original new replacement.

All these buy/find cartridges was very time consuming and we have to have a lot of patience and a little lucky to obtain what we are looking for but I can asure you that is worth of it.

Ok, I think it is time to share my performance cartridge findings:

first we have to have a Phonolinepreamplifier with a very good MM phono stage ( at least at the same level that the MC stage. ). I’m lucky because my Phonolinepreamplifier has two independent phono stages, one for the MM and one for MC: both were designed for the specifics needs of each cartridge type, MM or MC that have different needs.

we need a decent TT and decent tonearm.

we have to load the MM cartridges not at 47K but at 100K ( at least 75K not less. ).

I find that using 47K ( a standard manufacture recommendation ) prevent to obtain the best quality performance, 100K make the difference. I try this with all those MM type cartridges and in all of them I achieve the best performance with 100K load impedance.

I find too that using the manufacturer capacitance advise not always is for the better, till “ the end of the day “ I find that between 100-150pf ( total capacitance including cable capacitance. ) all the cartridges performs at its best.

I start to change the load impedance on MM cartridges like a synonymous that what many of us made with MC cartridges where we try with different load impedance values, latter I read on the Empire 4000 DIII that the precise load impedance must be 100kOhms and in a white paper of some Grace F9 tests the used impedance value was 100kOhms, the same that I read on other operational MM cartridge manual and my ears tell/told me that 100kOhms is “ the value “.

Before I go on I want to remember you that several of those MM type cartridges ( almost all ) were build more than 30+ years ago!!!!!!!! and today performs at the same top quality level than today MC/MM top quality cartridges!!!!!, any brand at any price and in some ways beat it.

I use 4-5 recordings that I know very well and that give me the right answers to know that any cartridge is performing at its best or near it. Many times what I heard through those recordings were fine: everything were on target however the music don’t come “ alive “ don’t “ tell me “ nothing, I was not feeling the emotion that the music can communicate. In those cartridge cases I have to try it in other tonearm and/or with a different headshell till the “ feelings comes “ and only when this was achieved I then was satisfied.

All the tests were made with a volume level ( SPL ) where the recording “ shines “ and comes alive like in a live event. Sometimes changing the volume level by 1-1.5 db fixed everything.

Of course that the people that in a regular manner attend to hear/heard live music it will be more easy to know when something is right or wrong.

Well, Raul go on!!: one characteristic on the MM cartridges set-up was that almost all them likes to ride with a positive ( little/small ) VTA only the Grace Ruby and F9E and Sonus Gold Blue likes a negative VTA , on the other hand with the Nagaoka MP 50 Super and the Ortofon’s I use a flat VTA.

Regarding the VTF I use the manufacturer advise and sometimes 0.1+grs.
Of course that I made fine tuning through moderate changes in the Azymuth and for anti-skate I use between half/third VTF value.

I use different material build headshells: aluminum, composite aluminum, magnesium, composite magnesium, ceramic, wood and non magnetic stainless steel, these cartridges comes from Audio Technica, Denon, SAEC, Technics, Fidelity Research, Belldream, Grace, Nagaoka, Koetsu, Dynavector and Audiocraft.
All of them but the wood made ( the wood does not likes to any cartridge. ) very good job . It is here where a cartridge could seems good or very good depending of the headshell where is mounted and the tonearm.
Example, I have hard time with some of those cartridge like the Audio Technica AT 20SS where its performance was on the bright sound that sometimes was harsh till I find that the ceramic headshell was/is the right match now this cartridge perform beautiful, something similar happen with the Nagaoka ( Jeweltone in Japan ), Shelter , Grace, Garrot , AKG and B&O but when were mounted in the right headshell/tonearm all them performs great.

Other things that you have to know: I use two different cooper headshell wires, both very neutral and with similar “ sound “ and I use three different phono cables, all three very neutral too with some differences on the sound performance but nothing that “ makes the difference “ on the quality sound of any of my cartridges, either MM or MC, btw I know extremely well those phono cables: Analysis Plus, Harmonic Technologies and Kimber Kable ( all three the silver models. ), finally and don’t less important is that those phono cables were wired in balanced way to take advantage of my Phonolinepreamp fully balanced design.

What do you note the first time you put your MM cartridge on the record?, well a total absence of noise/hum or the like that you have through your MC cartridges ( and that is not a cartridge problem but a Phonolinepreamp problem due to the low output of the MC cartridges. ), a dead silent black ( beautiful ) soundstage where appear the MUSIC performance, this experience alone is worth it.

The second and maybe the most important MM cartridge characteristic is that you hear/heard the MUSIC flow/run extremely “ easy “ with no distracting sound distortions/artifacts ( I can’t explain exactly this very important subject but it is wonderful ) even you can hear/heard “ sounds/notes “ that you never before heard it and you even don’t know exist on the recording: what a experience!!!!!!!!!!!

IMHO I think that the MUSIC run so easily through a MM cartridge due ( between other facts ) to its very high compliance characteristic on almost any MM cartridge.

This very high compliance permit ( between other things like be less sensitive to out-center hole records. ) to these cartridges stay always in contact with the groove and never loose that groove contact not even on the grooves that were recorded at very high velocity, something that a low/medium cartridge compliance can’t achieve, due to this low/medium compliance characteristic the MC cartridges loose ( time to time and depending of the recorded velocity ) groove contact ( minute extremely minute loose contact, but exist. ) and the quality sound performance suffer about and we can hear it, the same pass with the MC cartridges when are playing the inner grooves on a record instead the very high compliance MM cartridges because has better tracking drive perform better than the MC ones at inner record grooves and here too we can hear it.

Btw, some Agoners ask very worried ( on more than one Agon thread ) that its cartridge can’t track ( clean ) the cannons on the 1812 Telarc recording and usually the answers that different people posted were something like this: “””” don’t worry about other than that Telarc recording no other commercial recording comes recorded at that so high velocity, if you don’t have trouble with other of your LP’s then stay calm. “””””

Well, this standard answer have some “ sense “ but the people ( like me ) that already has/have the experience to hear/heard a MM or MC ( like the Ortofon MC 2000 or the Denon DS1, high compliance Mc cartridges. ) cartridge that pass easily the 1812 Telarc test can tell us that those cartridges make a huge difference in the quality sound reproduction of any “ normal “ recording, so it is more important that what we think to have a better cartridge tracking groove drive!!!!

There are many facts around the MM cartridge subject but till we try it in the right set-up it will be ( for some people ) difficult to understand “ those beauties “. Something that I admire on the MM cartridges is how ( almost all of them ) they handle the frequency extremes: the low bass with the right pitch/heft/tight/vivid with no colorations of the kind “ organic !!” that many non know-how people speak about, the highs neutral/open/transparent/airy believable like the live music, these frequency extremes handle make that the MUSIC flow in our minds to wake up our feelings/emotions that at “ the end of the day “ is all what a music lover is looking for.
These not means that these cartridges don’t shine on the midrange because they do too and they have very good soundstage but here is more system/room dependent.

Well we have a very good alternative on the ( very low price ) MM type cartridges to achieve that music target and I’m not saying that you change your MC cartridge for a MM one: NO, what I’m trying to tell you is that it is worth to have ( as many you can buy/find ) the MM type cartridges along your MC ones

I want to tell you that I can live happy with any of those MM cartridges and I’m not saying with this that all of them perform at the same quality level NO!! what I’m saying is that all of them are very good performers, all of them approach you nearest to the music.

If you ask me which one is the best I can tell you that this will be a very hard “ call “ an almost impossible to decide, I think that I can make a difference between the very good ones and the stellar ones where IMHO the next cartridges belongs to this group:

Audio Technica ATML 170 and 180 OCC, Grado The Amber Tribute, Grace Ruby, Garrot P77, Nagaoka MP-50 Super, B&O MMC2 and MMC20CL, AKG P8ES SuperNova, Reson Reca ,Astatic MF-100 and Stanton LZS 981.

There are other ones that are really near this group: ADC Astrion, Supex MF-100 MK2, Micro Acoustics MA630/830, Empire 750 LTD and 600LAC, Sonus Dimension 5, Astatic MF-200 and 300 and the Acutex 320III.

The other ones are very good too but less refined ones.
I try too ( owned or borrowed for a friend ) the Shure IV and VMR, Music maker 2-3 and Clearaudio Virtuoso/Maestro, from these I could recommended only the Clearaudios the Shure’s and Music Maker are almost mediocre ones performers.
I forgot I try to the B&O Soundsmith versions, well this cartridges are good but are different from the original B&O ( that I prefer. ) due that the Sounsmith ones use ruby cantilevers instead the original B&O sapphire ones that for what I tested sounds more natural and less hi-fi like the ruby ones.

What I learn other that the importance on the quality sound reproduction through MM type cartridges?, well that unfortunately the advance in the design looking for a better quality cartridge performers advance almost nothing either on MM and MC cartridges.

Yes, today we have different/advanced body cartridge materials, different cantilever build materials, different stylus shape/profile, different, different,,,,different, but the quality sound reproduction is almost the same with cartridges build 30+ years ago and this is a fact. The same occur with TT’s and tonearms. Is sad to speak in this way but it is what we have today. Please, I’m not saying that some cartridges designs don’t grow up because they did it, example: Koetsu they today Koetsu’s are better performers that the old ones but against other cartridges the Koetsu ones don’t advance and many old and today cartridges MM/MC beat them easily.

Where I think the audio industry grow-up for the better are in electronic audio items ( like the Phonolinepreamps ), speakers and room treatment, but this is only my HO.

I know that there are many things that I forgot and many other things that we have to think about but what you can read here is IMHO a good point to start.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Ag insider logo xs@2xrauliruegas
I have been useing my Andante P-76 alot recently.I still like it.Seems more involving to listen to than my Technics 205CII cartridges,a more dynamic sound with more high frequency extension.I think the Technics has a more natural overall tonal balance though.Campared to my Signet TK10ML,I think the Signet is more precise at picking out details,and cleaner sounding.They all have decent bass response and plenty good soundstaging in my set up.

Now the Azden,I didn't spend alot of time listening to it yet,but my first impressions of it are it seems to combine the strengths of my favorite cartridges,and actually do some things better than any of my other cartridges.I do think the Azden has a better midrange presentation and a tighter bass response than any of my other cartridges.It's definitely a keeper.

I am useing 100k loading,VTF is set at 1.25g,a slight amount of positve VTA,antiskate set at 1 on the Technics EPA 500 tonearm.I can't easily adjust azimuth,so I don't worry with that adjustment.I use a Mint LP best tractor to alighn my cartridges.

Tim (Pryso), Thank you for calling that to my attention; I had not previously noticed that you provided a link. Based on the page you referenced, my headshell is either a PCL4 (Alu) or a PCL7 (Mg) in terms of shape. (It has that characteristic crimp that runs longitudinally from front to rear.) Based on the weight, I would guess that mine is a PCL7. I dunno what that means, but that's what I must have.
I own both Andante P-76 and a retipped Grace Ruby. The P-76 sounds very good, but it's missing that lush and sweetness of the Ruby. I am very happy with both purchases, P-76 was only 70$ and I bought the ruby with a broken stylus and had soundsmith retip total of $450.
Regards, Travbrow: I read your post with interest, relating to both the Azden and your comparisons of cartridges. Capable tonearm, too.

No mention of hf response for your Azden. FWIW, my 50VL's upper mids/highs seem more influenced by VTA and VTF than capacitance. Increasing positive VTA and reducing VTF to 1.1gm @ 100k Ohm load and 300pF total cap. resulted in crisper response and added hf apparancy but with a consequent (slight) loss of the glowing tonality which makes the Azden such an enjoyable performer, it seems exceedingly SRA sensitive. Still dialing it in, I anticipate when these factors are balanced the humble 50VL will move almost all my other MM/MI cartridges to the "to be neglected" bin. Convinced to the point of corresponding this weekend to secure a second, just in case I fumble the platter weight again.

Anyone with an opinion about Acutex cartridges?


this is a thread that I'm starting with.

Things are that first I try ( along Agon staff. ) to post this cartridge information as a Review but was imposible to do it, then I try to start a new thread with that Title but again was not possible: Agon site does not permit it, not that the Agon moderators impede that but the Agon site/computer does not let me do it.
That's why I have to post first here and then I will post this link on the starting new thread to analize that interesting analog source subject.

Btw, I give my rating to this Technics cartridge, a solid: 10+.



Dear friends: This is really a review, I’m not so good writing an audio item review but this time IMHO I think that this Technics MM phono cartridge deserve some one that can “ speaks “ on it and well I’m here to do it and “ looking “ for your experiences and feedback on the Technics cartridge subject, I know there are owners of the EPC-100C I really appreciate your contribution as the contribution of all of you that help to enrich the whole thread title subject.

The name Technics is a very well respected and old name in audio, a manufacturer that belongs to Panasonic group and then to the electronic gigantic Matushita I think that in the analog area Technics is very well know for its turntables where I think the most popular is the 1200 model(s) but in the high end the Technics name had/have a Reference products status like TT’s that are a challenge to even today TT designs through its DD designs SP10-MK2 and MK3 designs. Other analog area where Technics was/is a “ reference “ is on tonearm design through the EPA-100, EPA 500 and the EPA100 MK2.

Less know it for its cartridge designs otherwise Technics build/design either MM and LOMC cartridges and in both cartridge technologies made it at top level.
The Technics philosophy was/is be second to none and the EPC-P100 MK4 is a good example of this Technics philosophy.

Its latest and top of the line LOMC model was the EPC-305MC MK2 and its latest top MM cartridge was the EPC-205C MK4.

Why make a review on an audio item that is out of production and hard to find?, if you read the Audiogon MM/MI thread you can find that almost all the cartridges that many people are enjoying today are “ out of production “ ones and where we can buy it only second hand, sometimes in NOS condition and many times really second hand meaning and the important/critical subject about is that several of these out of production cartridges are and have very high quality performance against any today cartridge standards in either design: MM/MI or LOMC, we have to think that all of us can/could take advantage that today we have better quality audio systems than 30 years ago that help for these cartridges shows its real today very nice performance. This Technics has not only that kind of quality performance level but additional performance characteristics that makes me be here in the review.

For many years I was looking for this Technics cartridge with out luck, I find the EPC-100C MK4 two times but this one is an integrated headshell model and I don’t want it because it does not permit to test/match the cartridge with the right headshell/tonearm in my system, it does not permit too to mount but only in a removable headshell design, and IMHO the cartridge internal wire connections were good in its time but not today .

Finally more than six months ago and thank’s to an Agon friend I find a source with a NOS of this P-mount EPC-P100C MK4.

The cartridge appear in the audio market in November of 1982 .

The cartridge was and is still today a cartridge reference for a few pro-audio reviewers, recording producers and even cartridge manufacturers/designers like Dr. Van denHul.

As you read this cartridge sample is the MK4 latest EPC-P100C version, many years ago I had the opportunity ( but not the money to buy it. ) to hear the original one.

This P-mount cartridge comes in a small box with the external Technics ad nomenclature writes in the box. Inside we find a plastic “ box “ where the EPC-P100C MK4 comes mounted and fixed through a screw in an item that looks like a especial plastic headshell that protect against any bad handling box. We find here the hardware that we need to mount it like: an “ open frame “ P-mount universal adaptor, screws, headshell wires ( these has especial connectors due that the cartridge pins connectors are very think against the pins connectors in a normal ½” cartridge. ), two screwdrivers: one to fix the cartridge to the mount adaptor with the dedicated screw and one ( small one. ) to fix the cartridge stylus ( through a thin philips type screw. ) to the cartridge body, a warranty card . a operation manual and frequency response/crosstalk charts/diagram of my specific cartridge sample.

The cartridge it self is beautiful made in champagne color with rear plate in black. The Technics people was really especial,, in the left cartridge body side we can read: type of cantilever, cartridge recommended VTF and Matushita Electronics/Made in Japan.

Build/design cartridge characteristics and specifications:

It is a moving magnet one-point suspension with “ all HPF core, precision ground finish “, the cantilever is pure boron tapered pipe with a TTDD ( Technics Temperature Defense Damper ), the magnet is a Disc-shaped samarium-cobalt with (BH) max=30 MG . Oe, the stylus tip is a especial linear elliptical stylus, with an effective moving mass of 0.055 mg. ( please don't ask what means these Technics propietary " cartridge design/build " characteristics: I don't have idea yet. )

Frequency response: 5 Hz- 120,000 Hz
20 Hz- 20,000 Hz +,- 0.3 db ( **** )
15 Hz- 80,000 Hz +,- 3 db

Output voltage: 1.2 mV ( * )
Channel separation: more than 25 db.
Channel balance: within 0.5 db
Compliance: 12cu ( 100 Hz, dynamic. )
DC resistance: 30 Ohms ( ** )
Inductance: 33 mH
Recommended load
Resistance: 10 kohms to 1 Mohms!
Recommended load
Capacitance: less than 500 pf. ( *** )
VTF: 1.25 +,-0.25 g.

( * ): both channels measure the same output voltage with out any measurable difference!!!!!
( ** ) both channels in my sample measure the same: 37.3 Ohms with out any measurable difference!!!!!!!
( *** ) the Technics chart measures states that they use 100 pf. I’m using 150pf.
( **** ) each one Technics chart channel frequency response shows “ identical “ with no “ visual “ deviation for both channels!!!!!!!

The stylus replacement model is: EPS-P100ED4.

As we read it this Technics cartridge was made with an envy great and unique precision, I name this: perfect design/execution build quality “ cero tolerance “ people oriented!!!! Proudly to be part of this great audio item.

Cartridge set up:

Normally the MM/MI cartridges are user friendly on tonearm and set up, well this one is not an easy set up one especially on VTA/SRA. I mounted in my Audio Technica AT-1503 MK3 with an original magnesium Nagaoka headshell and did not like it so I change it to an aluminum heavier headshell and in this one is how I'm listening it, latter on VTA/SRA set up.

Technics leaves at random almost nothing, the P-mount adaptor that comes with the cartridge is an open frame design ( unique and different from any adaptor I know or have. ) and this means that there are no adaptor pin connectors where the cartridge pins are connected and where the cartridge signal has to pass on ( in addition to the cartridge " normal " pin connectors. ) and where that signal suffer an important degradation.
This open frame design comes with the usual 1/2" mount headshell holes threaded and the usual P-mount design adaptor/cartridge hole that fix through a screw the cartridge to the mount adaptor.

Instead of the normal adaptor for P-mount cartridges that comes with pin connectors Technics build and design its own headshell wires, at one end these headshell wires ( four color coded. ) are like any other headshell cartridge wires/connectors/clips but at the cartridge end there is a small plastic ( clear ) box where the four wires are placed in exactly the right position to connect directly to the cartridge pin connectors that are a lot tinner ( tiny ) that a normal/non P-mount cartridge pin connectors.

With this headshell wires especial aditament Technics solve two critical subjects in favor to maintain the integrity of the cartridge signal: first eliminate the P-mount adaptor pin connectros ( one less stage where the signal must pass on. ) making a direct connection with the cartridge and second they choose a better quality headshell wires than stock ones ( obviously that today we have even better headshell wires, so I don't use the Technics ones but my normal silver Audio Note . ).

The VTF was and is working at 1.25grs and the load impedance is set to 100kohms along a total capacitance of 150pf. I don't use anti-skating and the cartridge comes with removable stylus guard.

The cantilever/stylus assemble in a MM/MI cartridge is the smaller one that I know other than my Nagatron 350 and is dead center on the cartridge body like no any other cartridge I know. This is my first cartridge ( I can't be sure but maybe along my AKG P100-LE ) where the Azymuth has to set up with out any center deviation.

Due to its extraordinary performance characteristics the VTA/SRA sweet spot is extremely wide and IMHO a challenge for any one.: this cartridge refuse to sound “ bad “ at any usual/unusual VTA/SRA set up!!!!! .

After 12 hours the cartridge almost settle down and I begin to find out its “ average “ best sweet spot VTA/SRA position that was/is almost even/level in parallel to the record. To made/make this set up I now appreciate not only my audio music experience and audio system high resolution but that fortunately I have and use ( for the last ten years. ) the same 10 tracks on different recordings as my cartridge tests to cartridge set up, I think that maybe with out these recording tests could never achieve the “ best “ quality performance of this especial and unique cartridge , you can read something about these test tracks here:


As some of you can read one of my test recordings is the Janis Ian tracks 1 and 2 in side B, well when things goes difficult I use too the Gold Edition CD of this Janis Ian recording to check in CD ( 7 ) a battery part ( middle of the track (drum.). ) that belongs to mid-range and in the ( 8 track. ) for bass near the end of this track. Well, this Janis Ian digital recording is really good and at least in the bass better than the LP where in the mid-range ( especially the test part I use. ) is similar in both. For the very first time I heard trough the Technics cartridge the bass on the LP with the pitch/tightness/no-overhang/no-coloration/no-lush/no-bloat-bold but the right bass!!

As better the audio system as better the cartridge quality performance, IMHO this cartridge is a challenge to almost any good audio system ( cartridge limitations?, only the self audio system limitations. ), its specs are more electronic of an audio item “ oriented “ than usual cartridge specs!!


What makes the quality performance differences against any other ( MM/MI/LOMC ) cartridge I heard?, well what distinguish a good or very good audio item to an excellent one: frequency extremes performance! along music dynamic handling, only this? Well not exactly but mainly.

Dear friends, this is the first cartridge in the last ???…ever that let me hear “ sounds “ in recordings that I know well in deep that I never was aware exist in those recordings and let me not " heard/hear " ( well not heard. ) “ things “ that are mere colorations in other cartridges, it is not that with the Technics sounds different or better NO are “ new “ sounds!! that no other cartridge in any other system I heard produce or at least its performance does not permit goes out with the SPL need it to my ears/brain detect in precise way like in the Technics cartridge performance.

One example of that you can find it in the Patricia Barber ( Cafe Blue ) recording through the track 2 ( Nardis. ) side B where in the first 2-3 minutes we can hear the Patricia voice, well with almost any other cartridge I can " count " four times that the microphone takes the Patricia " breath " and with the Technics I can detect six times that breath/respiration in Patricia performance. You can check and see what you hear about.

This cartridge is very good tracker like almost all MM/MI cartridge but this in especial and I think due to its very high quality performance the " normal " inner groove distortion does not exist in anyway. I test this playing the recordings from inner track to outer track looking for that " inner distortion " or quality differences and my ears can't detect any where in other cartridges I can hear a difference in the highs with more brightness that IMHO only tell me more distortion and not better quality performance.

Frequency extremes performance: IMHO the high and bass frequency range quality performance is what has the biggest influence in the whole recording/track performance. As better these frequency ranges as better the recording quality performance in any single recording frequency range: mid range/low treble/mid-bass/soundstage/layering/detail/etc., etc. and as I say along how well the cartridge/system handle the music dynamics.

IMHO this cartridge sets new frequency extreme ranges quality performance and dynamics. The bass in cartridges like the Azden YM-P50VL or the Allaerts Formula One ( that are extraordinary in this regard. ) with that bloom/lush even a little/tiny " rounded " impact/power in the bass is only that a very good but " colored " bass performance.

How is in the EPC-P100C MK4?, disappear that " rounded "/bloom type bass response and instead of that we have not more bass quantity but better bass quality ( even deeper. ) with precise control on the bass musical notes and with less a lot less coloration/distortions: no overhang, no bloom, no round response ( only when is in the recording. ), no false response ( because we can't hear it in that way in live events. ) with false " excess " of bass ( a halo around the bass. ). The speed in transient response in the bass ( well over the frequency range. ) and fast/precise time decay on musical notes made/makes that the " normal " colorations/distortions almost disappear leaving nothing but the music.

Recordings like D. Bowie Cat People ( 45rpm. ) or Firebird ( Mercury Living Presence. ) are two examples of the “ true “ low bass in those recordings against the bass performance with other cartridges. In the Bowie track not only shows the bass range improvement but now the Bowie voice is clear/pristine and more “ Bowie voice “ with lower “ size “ and less darkness and bold/bloat.
In the Firebird score ( side B. ) it is amazing to enjoy/hear the whole sound that produce that bass big drum, I mean as whole sound the different “ sounds “ inside/out with only one player hit on the drum, we can detect so vivid “ what is happening “ inside on that big bass drum and OH! that lovely first double-bass pizzicato at the very begin on this side B track that you can touch/cut. In the other side now I can hear very clear the harp on this score. Everything is “ cleaned “ with this bass level performance!

The Power and the Majesty ( Mobile Fidelity. ):

this is perhaps the best real/live recording/performance that I heard. Well with this cartridge we can “ live “/hear the most “ vivid “ experience that I never heard before in my place or any other place.

If we take the side A this is a Storm recording. Recorded just from the begin when we can hear not only the first and “ slow “ fall water drops but the thunderstorm far away from the recording place ( a house. ), suddenly the storm begin with fierce precede of a near big thunder that if you are unaware of it then you just jump from your seat, this big thunderstorm is in your face with all real/live power as you can hear in a live storm, it is something incredible the way this cartridge produce the right thunder sound from the start transients to the end of thunder sound: a learning experience that maybe you can understand in a precise way when you have the opportunity to hear it.

After this big thunder the rain falls abruptly and now you can hear how the rain drops hits the window and how the water falls from the roof-house and how hits the floor out side the house. This rain fall has a very wide frequency range of sounds where IMHO only first rate systems can discern on that wide range of those sounds.

Well, it happens that just behind my speakers the room has a big glass-window and when you are hearing this storm recording I can say to you that is almost impossible to say if the rain drops hitting the window in the recording are a recording or a real-live rain drops hitting my window: you must hear to believe it!!!!, what a experience!

In the first track side B we can hear the sound of an old locomotive in motion and we heard it starting when the locomotive is far away from us and distinguish only the sound of its whistle and some " sounds " of the wood/camp environment but when this railroad is at a few meters from us the whistle and metal sound of the motion on he rails are impressive ( for say the least ), you can think the whole train be pass over you: your instinct makes that you made a " step back "!!!!, it is the train that is passing from left to right in your " room "!, better yet you are transported where things are happening!.

Mozart/ChopinHandel ( Kabi Laretei ( player ) ATR Mastercut recording ) and Shumann ( John Lill ( Piano player ). Greenpro label. ):

This sweden pianist/player is very good as is the recording. What I want to high light here is that along the Shuman ( different recording ) recording how well we can identify ( similar piano instruments: Steninway’s. ) the microphones used: B&K ‘s on the ATR and Neumann’s on the Shuman one, I prefer the vivid/life like tone on the B&K against the little " softness " in the Neumann's. Both performances are great and both recordings remember me that ( for my taste ) the piano is the “ Instrument “, a glorious one.

The Power and the Glory ( Direct to Disc M&K recording ):

For the people that does not know about this recording here are some high lights: three Organs at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles being played by the Master Lloyd Holzgraf. The two big Organs were separate by 198 feet played antiphonally and blended: 11,848 pipes/32 foot fundamental pipes and high pressure trumpets!!!!

who owns the Vol.1 of this great recordings knows that is not easy to achieve high quality performance on it especially a " clean " performance, this means with very low distortion. Here the Technics shows its capacity to track in exemplary way, mantaining always contact and " minute " contact always with the grooves where other cartridges fail to do it at the Technics precise level, the Technics almost no distortion performance comes as a result of its great tracking capacity.

Well, the second track on side A ( Vivaldi: Largo in D minor. ) ( first track and just splendid: Bach, Toccata and Fuga in D minor. ) has so deep/low bass organ notes that we can't hear it but only feel it. I try these track with different cartridges and in all of them the organ vibrations that you feel over your body ( over all system room. ) are the same but the ones coming from the Technics: can you believe this?, I was in doubt for what I was feeling on these Technics vibrations so I repeat 3-4 times the track to be absolutely sure of what I'm " hearing ": is not only that you feel the vibrations on the body but that you can discern very well on those vibrations and its intensity and quality because in the Technics you " feel " less distortion.

Eva Cassidy ( Songbird. ):

Tracks 1 and 3 in side A shows the beauty of Eva Cassidy voice, through the Technics you can attest the real ( or near real .) the formidable and marvelous Eva voice: so distinctive, so demanding, so fullness, so melodic, so precise and involving, so emotional that I can't understand and miss her young lost.

Shehrezade ( Reiner and the Chicago.):

My only comment: that concertino finale, always sounds excellent but through the Technics it is an “ endless love “ experience.

I use several other recordings knowing and enjoying this cartridge.

At the other frequency extreme the over-brigthness performance almost disappear ( even at high SPL like 94db's+. ), we have only the natural agresiveness of the music with out any edginess or colorations that could stress or fatigue our ears through hours of playing time. In this frequency range the differences are big too and the transparency/detail/natural auidiophile music words takes a new dimension that only if you hear it can understand it ( I have no words in English to explain in precise way, maybe because is a totally new experience. ). Many times ( like in the PB Nardis track. ) the sound of cymbals ( especially when the player hits at the outer cymbal ring. ) we heard are something like a soft white noise with out definition with this Technics cartridge there is no “ white noise sound “ but the metallic distinctive cymbal sound with the precise hearing when the player hits the cymbals, you can hear very clear the fundamental, harmonics, rhythm and decay of the sound.
This cartridge has great capacity for discerns/differentiate/distinguish every nuances in every recording like no other analog source ( save for a master tape. ) I heard/know. Other important characteristic is that with this cartridge does not exist the " overhang " that is so common with other cartridges in every frequency range, with the Technics the music note end in precise way like we heard it in a good live event.
All these cartridge unique characteristics are what makes the difference.

With this frequency extreme great quality performance the low treble/mid-range/soundstage/inner-detail/etc, takes new meaning where the overall performance put us not near on the recording but " on the recording ". After the first few cartridge playing/hearing hours and after the big “ surprise “ on its quality performance level and after understand that almost what we already heard through almost any cartridge in almost any audio system was almost “ wrong “ and after accept this new quality level performance: The transparency, clarity, accuracy, precision, natural music agresiveness ( with no false mid-range lush. ), feeling and emotions that involve you and that flow all over your skin as you are hearing the recording then your next thought is that you want/need that that pleasure and music enjoy never end.

Nothing disturb you, nothing between you and the music, nothing between the music pleasure and your brain/sense, nothing to worry about but the big joy and happyness that only the music can, what you are hearing always " move " you even if it is not the kind of music you like.
Maybe many of you can say that what I posted here through hearing those ( an a lot more ) different recordings is what you are hearing at your place, certainly you did/do but IMHO not at this quality top level: this analog source is something especial.

Dear friends: IMHO different cartridges " paint " the music in different Colors.

The EPC-P100CMK4 has the capacity to Color the music with the right tone, with the right lights and shadows and with the right color intensity that the recording is asking for through the whole recording/music composition.

The recording is a paint in white and black and the cartridge ( well the whole audio system. ) the painter: from this " point of view " the Technics full-fill its true Color on each single " space " in that paint where other cartridges/painters not only are less refined painters but leave " spaces " with no Color.

A unique an enjoyable musical experience. IMHO nothing comes close to it. Yes I'm a proud owner of this cartridge like several other owners but with a little of patience you can find a cartridge sample over the Net ( especially in Japan , Hong Kong or Europe. ).

Can any one ask for more?, maybe but for me is good enough today and really I can't imagine how to improve this kind of performance where I can't detect any single drawback. Of course that I'm always in the audio Nirvana quest a who knows what the future has to all of us.

Are there serious contenders to the Technics cartridge?, not really: I like a lot Allaerts Formula One, Goldbug Ms. Brier, Audio Technica ATML 180-OCC, Azden YM-P50LV, Ortofon A-90, Lyra Olympos, Sonus Dimension 5, Van denHul Colibri, Dynavector XV-1s , Grado Amber The Tribute, Coralstone, Signet TK10 ML-Mk3 or Grado RS II ( I don't heard/hear yet the XV-1t. ) but IMHO no one of them ( unfortunately ) share the Technics cartridge performance new level characteristics., maybe the AKG P100-LE could share “ something “ with the Technics but this I can corroborate when I receive it from Van denHul where is now for a “ refresh “ cartridge service.

My high and only hope is that in a very near future the cartridge designers/manufacturers can come with new cartridge designs ( either LOMC or MM/MI. ) that can even or better yet that can beats this today unique, great, formidable and marvelous EPC-P100C MK4!!

Yes, this cartridge is a unique and precision musical instrument : an authentic piece of “ art “.

Regards and enjoy the music,