My personal journey to MY SONIC LAB

shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
866
924
315
Cologne, Germany
Just looking at a couple of your tts, AF3P & MS DDX1500 isn’t a question of differences in sound there’s a big delta in performance, abilities and quality between the two, how does this come into play when you’re tuning the cartridges?

My work horse to compare Carts is the TechDAS AF3P , the most of my other turntables are for collector purposes, like DQX 1000.


Please expand on this strategy. I realize tonearms, headshells and cables have a direct effect on final sound and very few are neutral. Are you saying that you play around until you a find a pleasing combination for a cartridge which may or may or may not be neutral? These decisions are system dependent as well and with an eclectic collection of gear such as yours where do you start?

I start with Cartridge and try to understand the DNA and the Designers goal of the concept.

For example, Matsudaira is voicing his carts with the material of the base plate and the house.

looking into the physics, any vibration frequency and energy, any resonance is changing, if they do a transfer from one material to another material. This is the main cause, that a Cart can be voiced with the usage of different materials.

( I know, that this is not new to you at all, but may be interesting for some readers)

For resonance control, the headshell has to fulfill 3 main objectives.

- The Designer of the Cartridge likes to have a energy transfer into a headshell material,
that supports his Cart voicing and the energy / damping needs of his Cartridge.
Y Matsudaira produces a MSL own headshell and he gives to his customer the code of the aluminium he is recommending.
P Ledermann likes wood headshells and tonearms with wood armwand,
so he is offering one under the Soundsmith brand a boxwood headshell

- The Designer of the Tonearm likes to see a headshell, which does not transfer too much energy into his tonearm,
also he likes to see a headshell, which is able to compensate the energy, which is coming back from the bearing to the headshell.On cheaper arms you will find between headshell und Tonearm a rubber ring to have an easy damping between Headshell and Tonearm

- every cartridge prefers a dedicated effective mass of a tonearm. The Headshell is the most easiest way to customize the effective mass


For this purpose I do have some different headshells available und choose the "best" compromise.

If you cannot choose from different headshell material to get the best match between Cart and Tonearm, may be , because you have a fix headshell, you can influence the energy transfer with different distance plates and mats (material and size).

Or you can choose a vdh Colibri, which you can order with baseplates made from:

- Plastic
- Titan
- steel
- different kinds of wood
- or even Amber

or you can choose a Koetsu with all kind of different bodies to meet your tonearm needs.

The combination of Cartridge, Headshell and Tonearm is a challenge and I like to try out different alternatives to create my personal best pairing or I like to follow others best practices, like the WBF
standard you have given to us:

- SME 3012R
- original headshell
- original wiring
- vdh Colibri Master Signature XGW (wood base)

The best match of Tonearm and Turntable continues the story.

You mentioned cable choices play a part for you too, MIT & NBS each have their own very strong characters and color, I can see throwing the latter in to boost the lackluster bass performance of the MS but on the AF3P and which one of your arm and phono combinations the boost becomes an exaggeration so you have to compensate yet with other pieces of gear.

Before I start comparing Carts, my set up must be tuned to play "neutral". For this purpose I prefer digital with less variables as a striating point. The set up must sound in balance, even when playing music from Tidal. I have often visitors and I do visit other people to listen to their gear. I tend to have, as a matter of personal taste , a little leaner bass and a more neutral (not warm) higher frequency voicing.
My speakers are like 2.5 to 3 meter from every wall, listening distance is nearly 6 meter.Listening position is nearly 2 meter from the rear wall.

Moving over to analoge, I do use the AMG Viella turntable, AMG 12J turntable and the AMG Teatro cartridge on the AMG/HRS M3X platform.
This analog "out of one manufacturer hand" set up should sound similar in tonal balance to my digital set up.

The AF3P has in overall a better performance as the AMG,
so the TechDAS turntable should show this with all compared combinations in competition to the AMG,
which is my "reference point"

I bring this up because of your last comment about making a Koetsu and Colibri sound similar so people understand that it’s not just a simple case of setup but you’re actually changing and coloring the sound to your taste otherwise the cartridges are nothing alike in nature or tonal balance. I’m not judging what you’re doing but pointing out that there’s a difference between assessing cartridges based on their qualities in a neutral setting and painting a sound.


It is difficult to answer, as it is indeed a short step between a neutral setting,
showing the character of a cartridge and to blend or to paint a sound.

One of the most controversy discussed cartridges are the Koetsu stone bodies. Some like them, some do not like, some feel just bored, some hear only coloration. But there are also some, who have heard them on a very high level, showing a performance, which is reflecting their high RRP.

Decoding their DNA as a nearly 4 decades old construction, designed in the time of heavy Japanese Tonearms, the birth of "High End" silver wiring and exotic heavy headshells
(like the contemporary ceramic Designs from SAEC, the heavy and robust Clearaudio Stability headshell and so on)

would lead us to combine a Koetsu stone body with such classic gear. But nowadays we are very much interested to measure compliance and effective mass and combine accordingly. So many Koetsu stone bodies ended up in light or medium heavy tonearms, like SME V, which is (at least for me) not the best combination.

Fitting a Koetsu stone body in an old Fidelity Research FR64 s or 66s plus heavy headshell (like Yamamoto Titan), maybe choosing the silver wire version of this tonearm plus "good" silver leads for the headshell will show a performance of the Koetsu Stonebody, which is far away from the peoples expectation. Showing dynamic, resolution, punch plus beautiful voices.

Is such a combination a "neutral setting" or is this "painting a sound" .

For me it is difficult to finally judge.

Many vdh Colibri users do have a problem with the tonal balance of the Colibri, being very prominent on the top end, casing a lot of sibilant problems on critical records if not properly set up.

Voicing such a set up into the darker side to get a more relaxing sound will please many Colibri users, but this is for me definitely "painting a sound" . The Colibri Carts are voiced with SME tonearms, so we can see this as the reference point. you can get them play warmer and darker, but than you are not listening any longer to a real Colibri :)

Unfortunately for many carts this reference point is not well known. So I love to visit fairs and to speak to Cartridge Designers about their Tonearm preference and reference.

Matsudaira is clearly saying in the MSL manual, that he likes stiff, rigid "simple" tonearms without exotic material usage to avoid any kind of voicing. But such a clear statement is not often heard from a cartridge manufacturer, as this might limit their sales potential.
 
Last edited:

shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
866
924
315
Cologne, Germany
There are two different resistance/impedance values in play. One is the DC resistance (DCR) of the SUT's windings. This should be relatively well-matched to the cartridge's internal DC resistance in order to not affect measured performance. The other is the load impedance reflected through the SUT to the cart. Values of 430 ohms must be the load impedance. 31.5 Ohms could be either/or, but I assume to also be the latter. It's more sensitive because it has a higher windings ratio, which in turn reduces the reflected load impedance. Tuning a cart via loading is common practice, but selecting a SUT whose DCR is a mismatch for the cart is not the right approach. So, IMO, take the SUT-cart matching out of the equation entirely, and then tune loading to taste (exception being the Hyperion; see below). This is why simply selecting a SUT from the same manufacturer can solve problems.

The MSL Platinum has a very low internal resistance at only 1.4 ohms, and should be mated to a similarly low resistive SUT. Below 5 ohms would be best. However it also specifics load >100 ohms. This is a good place to experiment and find the best result to one's ears. When I heard the MSL Platinum, we were using a suitably low impedance SUT, and 470 ohm load.

The Hyperion has internal resistance around 10-12 ohms, and is ideally suited to a different SUT. You'll also not want to go higher than a 1:10, with 1:7 likely being the best bet with Hyperion. The MI inductance is very high, and measured response will be poor when connected to a standard 47k phono through a SUT greater than 1:10. Even at 1:10, we should expect some high frequency rolloff, thus the recommendation for ~1:7. At that point, no loading should be used with this particular cart -- the Hyperion. Since load resistors are typically applied as parallel to the primaries, they can only reduce the reflected load to the cart. You don't want this with Hyperion.

Thank you for your explanation, which exactly shows the problems of a proper step up combination.

Matsudaira recommends in his manual any transformer between 10x and 20x step up ratio. Murasakino and My Sonic Lab are offering 26db, 20x step ups under their brand. Both with slightly different technical data, but it looks like, that both do use additional parallel resistors.

I agree on Hyperion. 7x might be perfect. 10x with a parallel resistor does not work at all.
10x in direct connection works fine, but could be bettered, I am sure.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
5,076
1,918
720
Utah
My work horse to compare Carts is the TechDAS AF3P , the most of my other turntables are for collector purposes, like DQX 1000.




I start with Cartridge and try to understand the DNA and the Designers goal of the concept.

For example, Matsudaira is voicing his carts with the material of the base plate and the house.

looking into the physics, any vibration frequency and energy, any resonance is changing, if they do a transfer from one material to another material. This is the main cause, that a Cart can be voiced with the usage of different materials.

( I know, that this is not new to you at all, but may be interesting for some readers)

For resonance control, the headshell has to fulfill 3 main objectives.

- The Designer of the Cartridge likes to have a energy transfer into a headshell material,
that supports his Cart voicing and the energy / damping needs of his Cartridge.
Y Matsudaira produces a MSL own headshell and he gives to his customer the code of the aluminium he is recommending.
P Ledermann likes wood headshells and tonearms with wood armwand,
so he is offering one under the Soundsmith brand a boxwood headshell

- The Designer of the Tonearm likes to see a headshell, which does not transfer too much energy into his tonearm,
also he likes to see a headshell, which is able to compensate the energy, which is coming back from the bearing to the headshell.On cheaper arms you will find between headshell und Tonearm a rubber ring to have an easy damping between Headshell and Tonearm

- every cartridge prefers a dedicated effective mass of a tonearm. The Headshell is the most easiest way to customize the effective mass


For this purpose I do have some different headshells available und choose the "best" compromise.

If you cannot choose from different headshell material to get the best match between Cart and Tonearm, may be , because you have a fix headshell, you can influence the energy transfer with different distance plates and mats (material and size).

Or you can choose a vdh Colibri, which you can order with baseplates made from:

- Plastic
- Titan
- steel
- different kinds of wood
- or even Amber

or you can choose a Koetsu with all kind of different bodies to meet your tonearm needs.

The combination of Cartridge, Headshell and Tonearm is a challenge and I like to try out different alternatives to create my personal best pairing or I like to follow others best practices, like the WBF
standard you have given to us:

- SME 3012R
- original headshell
- original wiring
- vdh Colibri Master Signature XGW (wood base)

The best match of Tonearm and Turntable continues the story.



Before I start comparing Carts, my set up must be tuned to play "neutral". For this purpose I prefer digital with less variables as a striating point. The set up must sound in balance, even when playing music from Tidal. I have often visitors and I do visit other people to listen to their gear. I tend to have, as a matter of personal taste , a little leaner bass and a more neutral (not warm) higher frequency voicing.
My speakers are like 2.5 to 3 meter from every wall, listening distance is nearly 6 meter.Listening position is nearly 2 meter from the rear wall.

Moving over to analoge, I do use the AMG Viella turntable, AMG 12J turntable and the AMG Teatro cartridge on the AMG/HRS M3X platform.
This analog "out of one manufacturer hand" set up should sound similar in tonal balance to my digital set up.

The AF3P has in overall a better performance as the AMG,
so the TechDAS turntable should show this with all compared combinations in competition to the AMG,
which is my "reference point"




It is difficult to answer, as it is indeed a short step between a neutral setting,
showing the character of a cartridge and to blend or to paint a sound.

One of the most controversy discussed cartridges are the Koetsu stone bodies. Some like them, some do not like, some feel just bored, some hear only coloration. But there are also some, who have heard them on a very high level, showing a performance, which is reflecting their high RRP.

Decoding their DNA as a nearly 4 decades old construction, designed in a the time of heavy Japanese Tonearms, the birth of "High End" silver wiring and exotic heavy headshells
(like the contemporary ceramic Designs from SAEC, the heavy and robust Clearaudio Stability headshell and so on)

would lead us to combine a Koetsu stone body with such classic gear. But nowadays we a very much interested to measure compliance and effective mass and combine accordingly. So many Koetsu stone bodies ended up in light or medium heavy tonearms, like SME V, which is (at least for me) not the best combination.

Fitting a Koetsu stone body in an old Fidelity Research FR64 s or 66s plus heavy headshell (like Yamamoto Titan), maybe choosing the silver wire version of this tonearm plus "good" silver leads for the headshell will show a performance of the Koetsu Stonebody, which is far away from the peoples expectation. Showing dynamic, resolution, punch plus beautiful voices.

Is such a combination a "neutral setting" or is this "painting a sound" .

For me it is difficult to finally judge.

Many vdh Colibri users do have a problem with the tonal balance of the Colibri, being very prominent on the top end, casing a lot of sibilant problems on critical records if not properly set up.

Voicing such a set up into the darker side to get a more relaxing sound will please many Colibri users, but this is for me definitely "painting a sound" . The Colibri Carts are voiced with SME tonearms, so we can see this as the reference point. you can get them play warmer and darker, but than you are not listening any longer to a real Colibri :)

Unfortunately for many carts this reference point is not well known. So I love to visit fairs and to speak to Cartridge Designers about their Tonearm preference and reference.

Matsudaira is clearly saying in the MSL manual, that he likes stiff, rigid "simple" tonearms without exotic material usage to avoid any kind of voicing. But such a clear statement is not often heard from a cartridge manufacturer, as this might limit their sales potential.

Thank you for the thorough explanation Shakti, I can understand your process and your goals now.
david
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
7,527
2,781
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North Shore of Boston
Shakti, your post number 21 was superb. Thank you very much for taking the time to explain your process. Lots of great information.
 

maxson

Well-Known Member
Aug 12, 2015
2
0
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David, I'd be interested to hear how you voice a cartridge or system in the same detail as Shakti has given. I know your goal is a "natural" presentation. How might this relate to what Shakti calls "neutral"? Do you take similar steps as he does to arrive at a "natural" sound?
 

Aj123

Member
Jan 6, 2019
3
1
8
54
Thank you for the thorough explanation Shakti, I can understand your process and your goals now.
david
Is that a J Sikora reference turntable that you are using? How does it compare with the AMG Viella?
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
5,076
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720
Utah
Is that a J Sikora reference turntable that you are using? How does it compare with the AMG Viella?
That’s Shakti’s tt not mine.
david
 

shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
866
924
315
Cologne, Germany
Is that a J Sikora reference turntable that you are using? How does it compare with the AMG Viella?
J Sikora Reference and AMG Viella are different in sonic signature,
AMG is very vital, fast, dynamic (like Brinkmann Balance). Sikora is more rock solid, deep base, wide stage type
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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J Sikora Reference and AMG Viella are different in sonic signature,
AMG is very vital, fast, dynamic (like Brinkmann Balance). Sikora is more rock solid, deep base, wide stage type

BB is also rock solid, deep bass, wide stage. I have never heard AMG outside a hifi show. I have heard the Sikora reference a few times though never compared
 
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shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
866
924
315
Cologne, Germany
Today is a rainy Thursday in Cologne, the ideal weather to deal with the sound differences between the

- My Sonic Lab Signature Platinum

And the

- Murasakino Sumile

To deal with.

The choice for comparison much on the following tonearm:

- Glanz MH-124 S

The two pickups are in separate

- Acoustical Systems Arche L Headshell

assembled.

Turntable is the

- TechDAS AF3 Premium

The Tonearm is with a Glanz tonearm cable on the classic

- Jeff Rowland Synergy Phono Preamp

Connected.



Both pickups are very similar due to their design because they come from the same production line. If the base plate of the Signature Platinum is made of titanium, the base plate of the Sumile is made of solid steel, which makes the Sumile approx. 4g heavier. The sumile is still a bit quieter, but this reads on paper as a bigger difference than how it is felt when listening.

Mr. Daisuke Asai, the very young developer of the Sumile, worked and learned with Mr Matsudaira in the My Sonic Lab production for some time.

The idea has matured into its own pickup, which sees itself as a personal phrasing of the My Sonic Lab Signature Platinum approach.

If you want to compare these two pickups, the first thing you notice is how similar they are. If you do not mount the pickups precisely with regard to the critical parameters, you actually only compare the inaccuracies in the installation.

Luckily, the VTA and Azimuth can be precisely adjusted with the Arche Headshell so that the tonearm can remain unchanged with regard to these parameters.

After a few records in turn, the following characteristics emerge in the comparison of the systems:

My Sonic Lab Signature Platinum:

sonorous emotional voice reproduction, somewhat fuller basic tone, very musically involved, deep space, the details are transmitted a bit more reserved, rhythm & timing invite you to dance (I just got some new Tone Poet LPs from Blue Note, these "swing" wonderfully),


Murasakino Sumile:

sounds very similar at first, tonality is a little bit more on the neutral side, a little more precise, a little more details, a little more precise contours, a little less "swinging", with voices the articulation from the throat is emphasized more than the full tone from the chest.


The differences are really very small and have no relation to the differences that exist, for example, to a vdh Colibri or Lyra Atlas.

If you like to put the differences in a relationship, it is like sweetening your cafe / tea with white crystal sugar or brown cane sugar.

The difference between the two types of sugar will not change the original taste of the cafe / tea, but will give it a slightly different flavor.


So Asai gave the sumile the freshness of the clear crystal sugar on the way, Matsudaira the MSL Signature Platinum the somewhat more mature and full taste of the brown cane sugar.

Both are very close to each other and yet distinguishable in direct comparison.

However, I am not sure whether I would hear a difference between, for example, Hyperion and MSL or Hyperion and Sumile, which of the two pickups above described is currently playing in comparison to the Hyperion cartridge.
 

Tango

VIP/Donor
Mar 12, 2017
4,169
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615
Bangkok
Today is a rainy Thursday in Cologne, the ideal weather to deal with the sound differences between the

- My Sonic Lab Signature Platinum

And the

- Murasakino Sumile

To deal with.

The choice for comparison much on the following tonearm:

- Glanz MH-124 S

The two pickups are in separate

- Acoustical Systems Arche L Headshell

assembled.

Turntable is the

- TechDAS AF3 Premium

The Tonearm is with a Glanz tonearm cable on the classic

- Jeff Rowland Synergy Phono Preamp

Connected.



Both pickups are very similar due to their design because they come from the same production line. If the base plate of the Signature Platinum is made of titanium, the base plate of the Sumile is made of solid steel, which makes the Sumile approx. 4g heavier. The sumile is still a bit quieter, but this reads on paper as a bigger difference than how it is felt when listening.

Mr. Daisuke Asai, the very young developer of the Sumile, worked and learned with Mr Matsudaira in the My Sonic Lab production for some time.

The idea has matured into its own pickup, which sees itself as a personal phrasing of the My Sonic Lab Signature Platinum approach.

If you want to compare these two pickups, the first thing you notice is how similar they are. If you do not mount the pickups precisely with regard to the critical parameters, you actually only compare the inaccuracies in the installation.

Luckily, the VTA and Azimuth can be precisely adjusted with the Arche Headshell so that the tonearm can remain unchanged with regard to these parameters.

After a few records in turn, the following characteristics emerge in the comparison of the systems:

My Sonic Lab Signature Platinum:

sonorous emotional voice reproduction, somewhat fuller basic tone, very musically involved, deep space, the details are transmitted a bit more reserved, rhythm & timing invite you to dance (I just got some new Tone Poet LPs from Blue Note, these "swing" wonderfully),


Murasakino Sumile:

sounds very similar at first, tonality is a little bit more on the neutral side, a little more precise, a little more details, a little more precise contours, a little less "swinging", with voices the articulation from the throat is emphasized more than the full tone from the chest.


The differences are really very small and have no relation to the differences that exist, for example, to a vdh Colibri or Lyra Atlas.

If you like to put the differences in a relationship, it is like sweetening your cafe / tea with white crystal sugar or brown cane sugar.

The difference between the two types of sugar will not change the original taste of the cafe / tea, but will give it a slightly different flavor.


So Asai gave the sumile the freshness of the clear crystal sugar on the way, Matsudaira the MSL Signature Platinum the somewhat more mature and full taste of the brown cane sugar.

Both are very close to each other and yet distinguishable in direct comparison.

However, I am not sure whether I would hear a difference between, for example, Hyperion and MSL or Hyperion and Sumile, which of the two pickups above described is currently playing in comparison to the Hyperion cartridge.
Although we have different gears, your description of the MSL Plat is pretty much the same way I hear it. It is like a very good idler tt.
 
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Yakamozan

Member
Jul 23, 2019
20
26
20
Jumping in with a question regarding the differences between the Eminent GL and the Eminent Ex ( not Ultra )
Would be nice to get some insights as i could not really figure out what is what and where the Eminent Ex places itself. Anybody who compared these two cartridges ?
 

shakti

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2015
866
924
315
Cologne, Germany
I had not the chance to compare the carts, but I did realize them during my research.

What I found out is, that GL and EX are basically the same!

Depending on importers wish, you can order the original Japanese portfolio (means the GL) or the Ex Export portfolio, which includes Eminent EX, Ultra Eminent EX and Hyper Eminent EX.

All specifications (Cantilever, diamond, coils, magnets, house, base plate) are the same

For the Eminent EX a different color scheme is chosen. The EX Version still have the colors of the former original Eminent.

I believe, that the EX versions are chosen from importers to safe their marketing price position and to avoid (or to identify) direct imports from Japan

In Europe both line ups are in the market, depending on the individual EU country.
The US for example is offering the EX Export line .
 
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Yakamozan

Member
Jul 23, 2019
20
26
20
I had not the chance to compare the carts, but I did realize them during my research.

What I found out is, that GL and EX are basically the same!

Depending on importers wish, you can order the original Japanese portfolio (means the GL) or the Ex Export portfolio, which includes Eminent EX, Ultra Eminent EX and Hyper Eminent EX.

All specifications (Cantilever, diamond, coils, magnets, house, base plate) are the same

For the Eminent EX a different color scheme is chosen. The EX Version still have the colors of the former original Eminent.

I believe, that the EX versions are chosen from importers to safe their marketing price position and to avoid (or to identify) direct imports from Japan

In Europe both line ups are in the market, depending on the individual EU country.
The US for example is offering the EX Export line .

Many thanks for the feedback Shakti !
 

Aj123

Member
Jan 6, 2019
3
1
8
54
J Sikora Reference and AMG Viella are different in sonic signature,
AMG is very vital, fast, dynamic (like Brinkmann Balance). Sikora is more rock solid, deep base, wide stage type
Thanks Shanti, looks like like I made the right choice.
J Sikora Reference and AMG Viella are different in sonic signature,
AMG is very vital, fast, dynamic (like Brinkmann Balance). Sikora is more rock solid, deep base, wide stage type
thx v much for the feedback, Shanti. I was considering the AMG v12, but chose the J Sikora max version with their Kevlar arm.. and the sound is just like how you describe it. :)
 
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montesquieu

Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2019
127
190
48
59
Fascinating thread here and awesome info on the My Sonic Lab approach.

I have been really intrigued about the MSL cartridges ever since I picked up a MSL Eminent Solo Mono. This joined a largish stable of mono cartridges including 1.0 and 0.7mil Miyajima Zeros. While the Zeros have a solidity and coherence that I think is a particular characteristic of single coil mono cartridges, the MSL mono is an asbsolutely stunning performer, a much more a 'modern' sound than the Miyajimas, throwing a massive deep (and wide) picture and digging out more detail. I'm currently gathering info to do a write-up.

This experience has led me to ponder purchase of a stereo MSL ... my budget really only stretches to the Eminent Ex or Hyper Eminent - which from my experience with the Eminent Solo Mono should provide an interesting contrast to my current two main stereo cartridges, a Miyajima Madake and a fairly recently acquired Allnic Rose. The latter is currently getting most play time.

From the specification, it seems that the Ex has all the main characteristics of the more expensive models, without boron cantilever or, as seems particularly pertinent, the special materials used in body construction. Very little written up on these 'entry level' models though (if you can call £3k-£4k GBP entry level ... though I suppose it is in these parts!).
 

goldeneraguy

Well-Known Member
Dec 11, 2012
71
8
238
Shakti, Thank you for sharing your experience.
Your incredible knowledge and the ability to explain what you hear is amazing.
As music lover and happy owner I find the Sumile to be everything I would want or expect from a cartridge.
I look forward to your future posts
 
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