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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: Buying a last cartridge.
Post Subject: Transducers: The First and Last Word (aaarrrggg...)Posted by Paul S on: 9/6/2008
I remember the old Decca cartridges as quite maddening, a real love/hate connundrum.  Unrivaled, totally addictive  "immediacy", and dynamics that made anything else sound muffled and plain wrong, but also about as user-unfriendly and unreliable as could be.  Do they still have the adjustable suspension screw to compensate for climate and/or aging?

When I got my Ortofon MC3000II, I was "warned" that it was "too neutral" and "too tape-like", which at the time I took as strong recommendations.  Of couse, it's never so simple.  There are always trade-offs, and nowhere more so than cartridges, IMO.  So I am also weighing whether to take a last chance to repeat a known 95%-er that is being discontinued or take a chance on a new sound that is, in-and-of-itself, "more involving".

Another cartridge of interest might be the Air Tight PC-1, which I have been told has something like the London "alive-ness" in a more useable package, along with a somewhat better tonal/timbral rendering.

It's just so damned hard to figure out cartridges in another system, and especially so in the "high end" systems that they put the expensive cartridges in in salons.  Generally, I think I'd actually rather try them in their "mid-fi" systems.  Not to mention the fact that, out of the many cartridges I have listened to in salons, only a couple were ever set up correctly to begin with.

Because cartridges and speakers ARE, more than other components, going to sound very much like "something" (as opposd to "nothing"), they are the hardest components to choose, IMO.  And since "loaner cartridge" is pretty much an oxy-moron, cartridge selection winds up being a very special agony.  Given the general perceptions/prorities/direction of the high end that spawns these expensive cartridges, and the difficulty in setting up meaningful comparisons, it seems like a good task to take one's time with, for sure.

Of course the best situation, by far, is the multi-arm/cartridge set-up, where the well-heeled audiophile can rack up and enjoy cartridges like fine Burgundies.

Paul S

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