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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: Buying a last cartridge.
Post Subject: Buying a last cartridge.Posted by Romy the Cat on: 9/5/2008

This kind of freakish subject and the title of this thread is most likely is very misleading. Commonly the term “last something” is used as “best of the best” after which there is nothing else to explore. This definition grotesquely stink with heavy marketing smell and in a way semi-foolish, still it is heavily used.  I would like to feel my definition of “last something” imply not the top of the line but rather my ABSENCE OF DESIRER to peruse anything beyond of that “something”. So, in context of this thread, or in context of my entire site, the use of “last of something” has no other meaning then indicates my long-term comfort with this “something”. How this “something” relates to artificial hierarchy of the best out there I do not particularly know, nether too much care.

So, after straggling with the dilemma with my beloved Shelter 901:

(Look at the Second Page of the following thread: )

I concluded that my Shelter, even though it’s needle still in a good shape, is die somehow. So I need to buy another reference cartridge. When I thought about it the word “need” got my in trouble. I have no “need”. My second beloved MC Stereo cartridge is Ortofon SPU Classic in old SME arm. I adore what it does but I also would like at my reference arm to have more stupendous bass, preferably a different “complex” profile of needles and much more “high-tech” performance all around. The Shelter 901 did it wonderfully but now it is looks like dead…. My condolences…

My initial sentiment was to buy another Shelter 901, in fact it is my sentiment now, but then looking for a large amount of different cartridges that were released recently, particularly from Shelter, I was wonder if it worth to look around for a while before to buy the thing. Money is not the subject that makes me to be worry with my selection of a new cartridge. What makes me “anxious” is the fact that it will be the last cartridge. Let me to explain.

My attitude toward analog changed.

I do not use LPs to explore musical culture and to learn about music and about audio. I do not buy a lot of records, I do not spin a lot of records and if I do spin then they are much targeted and I very much know what I would like to get from it. So, I played much less records let say a dozen or two dozen records per month. I also have 4 arms, that makes the Reference Arm to play 25$ or less of all records I play. I also play on Reference Arm only records in perfect condition.   With this load a new cartridge might last for 30 years. Well, I am 40 now, do the math…

So, I would like to buy a good “high-tech” contemporary cartridge and combining of with my current Ortofon SPU Classic and Ortofon SPU MONO to close my book of interests about the whole world of cartridges. Frankly speaking if I do not have this became-empty Reference Arm with all of it “reference setting” (my best tonearm, my best low voltage Dominus cable, best location on my TT and so on) then I would just live with my Ortofons –they do just fine, but I also have witnessed what the contemporary Shelters can do – quote amassing his I can tell you.

So, I kind of looking around what is out there became available, since I found my piece with Shelter 901 slightly less than 10 years ago and stopped looking. The Shelter come up with 90x, 5000, 7000, 9000, Harmony cartridges.  Dynavector released a number of new 8-coiled models - I have the very first one and it was very nice. There is a newcomer out there ZYX cartridges – I know nothing about them besides that each single person why I believe is clawless about analog have bough and use ZYX cartridges. Koetsus suck, I do not like them. Clearaudio too high-fiish and too annoying to my taste. The Benz Micro, Transfiguration and Sumiko are not really the needles of level that I am looking for. I never understood Lyras – they always play out of phase to what I expect them to play. Ortofons introduced 3-4 new top of the line cartridges that I do not know.  There is an army of small brands that do good MC cartridges; particularly there is a lot of Asian cartridges. I have no idea about them also.  I might go on and on….

You see the problem with cartridges.  I do not think that there is a framework how we the users can buy cartridges. If I have an interest in a cartridge then I cannot juts borrow and to try it. Dealers do not lend cartridge and I perfectly understand them.   All that I left to me is to read/hear somebody else comments about cartridges but I have a problem: I do not give a shit what others say or think about audio.  Even doing to other listening rooms and listing the setups with the cartridges of my interest is not work out to me as I do not like the Sound in those listening rooms…

I spoke with a new dealer recently who specialized on cartridges. He proposed me to demo for me a few exotic cartridges with a condition that he would do demo himself and setup cartridges himself on my TT. The price he asked was 50% more then I would pay normally elsewhere he also insisted that I will buy a cartridge from him after the demo. I asked him why the prices include the amount enough to fly Tokyo, by this needle in Akihabara and return back. He suggested that I should not worry about it because in his price included his education how to properly setup cartridge and to get best his cartridge with my playback. I proposed his to go fuck himself, so he went…

Anyhow, it is not that I am running around trying to buy my next and hopefully last cartridge, but I do keep my options open and my attention alerted.  I do have some incantation to stay with Shelters – juts love the Shelter 901, but I have no loyalty to anything. It is very possible that Shelter 901 that was 10year back is not the same as it is now. You never know unit you know….

The caT

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