Just arrived: Allnic Rose MC cartridge

montesquieu

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Jan 27, 2019
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#1


Arrived today - Allnic Rose. One of two Puritas successors - Amber (boron cantilever) and Rose (aluminium cantilever).

Compliance of 10 x 10-6 which is broadly similar to my Miyajima Madake, so suitable for a greater range of tonearms than the Puritas (7 x 10-6). Suspension has been majorly reworked, not sure of any other changes.

In process of setting up, will post listening impressions later. Stereo comparisons here include Madake, Fidelity Research FR-7, assorted SPU, SAEC C1, Ikeda 9TT. 0.35mV output should make it a nice match for the HA5000 head amp.

Sound apart - it's a stunning looking thing and nicely (but not extravagantly) packaged too. First impressions certainly positive.

 

tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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#2
Does it retain the same construction as the Puritas where the coils are closer to the stylus and the coils are circular on two magnetic circuits?

Allnic Puritas construction.jpg
Picture from the Puritas manual.

Looking forward to your sonic impressions!

Edit: Looking at the Alnic Web site I think the answer is: Yes. Similar Construction and very similar description as the Puritas.

1585961223301.jpg
http://allnicaudio.com/product/amber/

2nd Edit: reinsert photos dropped during site upgrade.
 
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montesquieu

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Jan 27, 2019
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#3
Yes indeed .. the cartridge is an evolution of the Puritas 'cutter head' design approach, though as I understand it the suspension is new (based around new damper compounds).

I had started to write, but as I get some hours on it (about 10 hours now between yesterday and today) I have detected some changes that have required further setup tweaks. The sound is becoming fuller and richer as the hours get added and break-in continues. So far performance is impressive.

Sorry for the suspense .. full details to follow.
 

montesquieu

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Jan 27, 2019
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Well first proper listening impressions … short version: this is an impressive performer.

My benchmark for the last four years or so has been the Miyajima Madake. I have had quite a few other stereo cartridges to hand over that period, notably the Ikeda 9TT and earlier cantileverless 9C III, Ortofon SPU Royal N and vintage SPU Gold, the delightful SAEC C3 and C1 (a pair of little known vintage gems made by Excel, latterly creators of Etsuru), Fidelity Research FR-7 (in musicality, a better cartridge than the current 9TT), Audio Note Io2 – and probably a few others I’ve forgotten. These in general are all very low or fairly low compliance and suit rather well my Schopper’d TD124/Ikeda IT-407 arm setup. (I also run an Ikeda IT-345 dedicated to mono).

As a classical musician myself (organist, harpsichordist, sometime choirmaster and Lieder accompanist) I tend not to be too impressed by ‘hifi’ attributes. A cartridge can provide floods of ‘detail’ and a near-‘holographic’ soundstage, and fail to move me. Many Lyras fall into that bucket for me – I owned a few in my detail-chasing days. On the other hand, some others seem to extract emotion wonderfully and get the listener’s body in sympathetic motion, but can be missing some of the detail you know is on the disc - some of the best MM cartridges are in this bracket. An antidote to both extremes, the Madake has been my go-to cartridge since I bought it, having previously owned Miyajima Shilabe, Takumi and Kansui (as well as several Miyajima monos) – you could say I’m a Miyajima fan. The Miyajimas don’t major on hifi fireworks but somehow communicate music in a coherent and integrated way that can be quite extraordinary. For me this extends to their step-up transformers. The Madake is also the most silent cartridge I own in the groove.

Sometimes though, you want a little more air, a little more zing, a little more sense of sound waves crashing into each other and filling the room. When I sit down at my harpsichord and play, I have a strong sense of sound production being a physical process, taking a while to start and stop – I can feel the jacks pluck and reset, I can hear the strings sound, the felts start to work as the key releases and they fall but take a moment to have their full dampening effect. It can take me aback at the end of a piece just how long the sound takes to die off. Something that can communicate that feeling, that liveliness of an instrument or set of vocal cords vibrating in physical space, not just rhythm and timbre but the overall kinetics, and convey, too, the musical intent and the unspoken communication between multiple performers – for me that’s what it’s all about.

I had high hopes for the Allnic Rose in this regard, positioned as a slightly more laid-back alternative to the Amber, an alternative take on the Puritas rather than a direct descendant or replacement. The Puritas had a bit of a reputation as a dramatic musical performer, but also as a bit of a thoroughbred, hard to tame and sometimes used in inappropriately light tonearms for its low compliance (hence gathering extremes of opinion). For some reason, I had a good feeling about the Rose, having discussed its characteristics with David Beetles of Hammerton Audio, who was heavily involved in KS Park’s multi-year development project to create a successor to the Puritas (more than one as it turned out).

A favourite alongside the Madake is my Audio Note Io2 – used with the Miyajima ETR-Stereo SUT as the 1:100 step-up ratio required is beyond the range of the Allnic HA5000 head amp. While the Madake majors on musical cohesion and timing, the Audio Note provides more detail and treble headroom, while at the same time being a bit more neutral and dispassionate. I previously owned one, with a matching Kondo-era AN-S6c SUT, for about four years, sold up about 7-8 years ago in frustration not with its hifi performance – which is impeccable in every tick-box regard – but with its utterly competent but slightly bloodless take on things. It's only relatively recently I acquired another.

Would the Allnic provide something close to the emotion and corporeality of the Madake, with some of the neutrality and detail of the AN Io2? I had high hopes as I’ve been increasingly impressed with KS Park’s approach, having bought over the last year and a half the H7000V phono stage (part of a project to replace my EAR 912), and subsequently the HA5000 head amp – the latter not so much a replacement for my Miyajima SUT but as an alternative. There’s a coherent philosophy in KS Park’s approach that I’m quite attracted to. The H7000V in particular was the final stop in auditioning close to a dozen phono stages.

Setup on the Allnic Rose was a little trickier than I anticipated, and changed over time. Initially I was struggling a bit with aggressive strings and not-quite realistic pianos, as the suspension took a few hours to settle down. I would say it took a good four hours of twiddling to get sorted, though I think part of this was just being new out of the box - so perhaps much of the fiddling was simply premature. I would encourage anyone who gets hold of a Rose (also, I suspect, an Amber) to give themselves a bit of time to shake out the newness – otherwise you are shooting for a moving target.

After 4-5 hours of random play, I decided to hone the setup on one of the toughest records I know to get right, but also one of the most rewarding: the 5-LP box set of Schubert Lieder, recorded by Gundula Janowitz and Irwin Gage in 1978 (rather hopefully labelled Volume 1 but there was, sadly, never a Volume 2). Plucked from relative obscurity in her early 20s by Herbert von Karajan, Janowitz was as the solo soprano in the 9th symphony vocal quarter in his first stereo Beethoven cycle recorded in 1961 and 1961. Janowitz was 41 and at the height of her powers in 1978, when she recorded the Lieder set, intended to be a riposte to the monumental three-volume 27 LP ‘complete’ Schubert set recorded some years previously by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore, containing those Schubert songs definitively for female voice. Janowitz’s voice has exceptional beauty and purity (fans of The Shawshank Redemption will have heard her duet with Christina Ludwig, an aria from the Marriage of Figaro, played over the prison loudspeakers), but it’s the space where that beauty meets her interpretive ability, alongside Gage’s thoughtful accompaniment, that is what makes the set something rather special. I don’t think her Du dist die Ruh, Gretchen am Spinnrade or Der Hirt auf dem Felsen have been bettered, while when it comes to Richard Strauss, her Vier letzte lieder is up there with Schwartzkopf’s as one of only two essential versions in anyone’s collection.

Getting that vocal purity at full amplitude without distortion is quite an ask though, especially with a cartridge that’s new out of the box. In the end, it was was accomplished by lifting the VTF from the recommended 2.0g to something around 2.4g, reduced to 2.3g as the hours clocked up beyond 8-10. In this time I was also playing from the wonderful Argo Haydn string quartet project which in the mid-70s was the first to record all of the quartets. Until setup was complete, strings were a bit ragged, but they too eventually snapped into place.

So where am I now about 15 hours in? Well any raggedness or lack of top end control has gone, replaced, not with a bland smoothness, but with a confidence that is reassuring. Timbre is spot on, width as it should be, depth apparent but not exaggerated, bass seemingly unlimited, percussion sparkling, spatial presence wide and realistic. But it’s also communicating emotion very well indeed.

A futher dimension is the difference in presentation between the HA5000 head amp and my Miyajima SUT. The head amp is a fantastic match, doing that magical thing of pressurising the note and allowing the full dynamics to come flooding out. I find the head amp needs at least 0.2 mV minimum to really sing, which makes the Madake borderline on 0.23mv, but on 0.4mV, the Rose is in its element. By contrast though, while undoubtedly a shade less dynamic, a touch more beauty comes through with the SUT (on similar gain to the head amp of 1:33). My sense is that this cartridge shines with either, though listening impressions might vary between the two.

I’ve switched from classical to jazz this evening – album entitled Chachaito by the eponymous bass player – I think the technical term is awesome. The percussion in particular just puts a smile on my face.

Supposedly the boron cantilevered Amber gives a bit more (of what, I guess it’s up to others to say, since I don't have one for comparison), but I would say for mainly classical listeners, I wouldn’t overlook the Rose.

I won’t ramble on any more but I’m well impressed, 15 hours in. I’ll report back as things develop but my sense is, this cartridge is going to cause a bit of a fuss in the not too distant.





 
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tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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#6
A fine post and pictures montesquieu, thank you. I have a Puritas (from David) that I've not mounted in a while and now maybe I'll do that. Kuzma 4Point is an excellent match for it.

I love the duet from Le Nozze with Kiri Te Kanawa and Lucia Popp; Solti with London Phil.
 
Likes: montesquieu
May 29, 2019
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#7
excellent write up Tom. looks like another top performer in the stable
 

108CY

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#8
Very well written and informative, anyone would think you have a lot of experience in writing reports Tom :D
 
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Kcin

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Mar 27, 2016
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#9
My local dealer who is a big Allnic proponant- has both the Rose and the Amber mounted to the same table same arm going through the 7000 series phono and line stage for comparsion.

Hope to listen soon. He is quite excited about these new cartridges. He has the ablilty to mount the client's own cartridge on one of these arms and do an A-B C - this is something I hope to do by bringing in my GFS or Atals/Etna SL to try. Should be interesting
 
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kodomo

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#10
Well, this could be interesting as I also ended up with a Miyajima Madake after trying other and more expensive cartridges. Madake sounds just right to me. I had cartridges digging deeper and being more dynamic (soundsmith strain gauge), ones with a lots of detail and highs (VdH MS Sig Strad), good all rounders (Kuzma 40 and 50) but Madake sounds right and cohesive without pulling any fireworks and lets me get into music more. My only concern with Madake is the shibata stylus and some problems it sometimes bring at the innermost groove. I was looking at Miyajima Destiny but it seems Allnic may also be worth a try.

Thanks a lot for sharing!
 
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cjfrbw

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Apr 20, 2010
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#11
I think the aluminum cantilever gets a bad rap, for being 'ordinary' and not exotic enough, or for not giving that spiky last bit of possible detail. I have the original Allnic Veritas as well as the original Puritas. The Veritas nearly gets a '12 inch tonearm/low compliance type sound' from a medium compliance shorter tonearm. I think I like them both equally for different strengths. The Veritas for smooth and rich, the Puritas for air and detail.

I think the Puritas needs re-tipping, I used it for years when listening to vinyl nearly every day when I was working. Veritas still has a good bit of mileage left. I will probably re-install the Veritas when I finally wear out my Benz MC-3, and send both the Benz and Puritas in for re-tipping.

I hate changing cartridges and just like to use whatever for as long as it will last.

Very nice review, montesquieu, that was high end connoisseur feedback.
 

montesquieu

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Jan 27, 2019
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#12
Well more than a month on, and several hours a night of listening, I must be close to 100 hours or so on the Allnic Rose, and break-in seems to be complete. So I thought I would report in.

First of all, things have progressed according to my general rule of thumb that unless something isn’t quite right in matching of components, high-end cartridges once broken in and set up properly tend towards a convergence point where they start to sound more like each other than not, and differences are usually experienced only in very small degrees of finesse here or dramatic capability there, not necessarily audible on all material.


And that, in a nutshell, is precisely how things have unfolded over the last few weeks. While on the one hand the Rose's tracking and confidence-generating ability has grown even further, some of initial initial brightness has mellowed into a more organic feel, closer to what I enjoy about the Madake. Indeed replacing the Rose with the Madake a night or two ago revealed a kindred feel that to some extent surprised me. This is a good thing in my view. As an emotional communicator the Rose has moved closer to the Miyajima, while at the same time, with material that calls for it, it still brings a shade more air, sparkle and absolute dynamic capability. In short, with break-in complete, what's left is a cartridge that has developed from a straightforward, highly dynamic detail-meister in precisely the soulful direction that I had hoped it would.

Nevertheless, the differences remain illuminating and the Madake is probably still (just) my go-to cartridge for Lieder, or for a solo lute or clavichord recording, while the Rose has it for, say a big warhorse piano concerto, or Art Blakey kicking off. One area where the Madake continues to score highest in direct comparison is in groove noise suppression. Then again, it has always been the best cartridge I have ever owned in that department, but to be fair I can’t say that the Rose is too far behind, still an achievement given its Gyger S stylus profile as opposed to the Shibata in the Madake - the Rose's enhanced ability with detail being the flip side of that equation.


What I can say for sure is that the Rose has all the makings of a satisfying long-term keeper alongside the Madake - and I’m jolly glad I have both for use when the mood strikes me.
 

kodomo

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Apr 26, 2017
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#13
Thanks for the report. I am keeping my Madake for sure but I am now even more curious about Miyajima Destiny!
 

montesquieu

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Jan 27, 2019
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#14
Thanks for the report. I am keeping my Madake for sure but I am now even more curious about Miyajima Destiny!
Around a year ago I did manage to hear in my system the Miyajima Saboten L which uses a nude line contact tip, similar to that in the Destiny. I wasn't over-impressed with it and preferred the Madake. Perhaps the Destiny will be a more successful implementation.
 

Solypsa

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#15
Well more than a month on, and several hours a night of listening, I must be close to 100 hours or so on the Allnic Rose, and break-in seems to be complete. So I thought I would report in.

First of all, things have progressed according to my general rule of thumb that unless something isn’t quite right in matching of components, high-end cartridges once broken in and set up properly tend towards a convergence point where they start to sound more like each other than not, and differences are usually experienced only in very small degrees of finesse here or dramatic capability there, not necessarily audible on all material.
..
Eloquent description of break in!
 

kodomo

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Apr 26, 2017
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#16
Around a year ago I did manage to hear in my system the Miyajima Saboten L which uses a nude line contact tip, similar to that in the Destiny. I wasn't over-impressed with it and preferred the Madake. Perhaps the Destiny will be a more successful implementation.
When I contacted Noriyuki Miyajima san, he told me he thinks destiny betters the Madake, hence my curiosity. Like you I am very fond of Madake.
 

montesquieu

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Jan 27, 2019
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#17
When I contacted Noriyuki Miyajima san, he told me he thinks destiny betters the Madake, hence my curiosity. Like you I am very fond of Madake.
I had planned a trip to Japan in April this year, including a visit to Fukuoka where I was planning to drop in on Miyajima-San ... unfortunately cancelled because of C19 but maybe next year ... my plan in advance of that is to upgrade my two Zeros (1.0 and 0.7) to an Infinity ... they have a new rival in my system in the form of a My Sonic Lab Eminient Solo mono (which actually just pips both - something to be the subject of a future thread) hence my interest in pitting it against the Infinity.

So far as I'm aware I haven't heard of a Destiny in the UK yet though perhaps this thread may flush one out!

Of course the way things are going I might just divert via South Korea to meet KS Park ...

Incidentally I found out in the last week or so that Mr Park has made some videos to accompany the launch of the Amber/Rose ... probably not a huge amount of new info to the fairly clued-up clientele of this forum but interesting discussion to follow nonetheless:



 

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