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  1. After going through this exercise, which was essentially "How much can you rely on manufacturer's websites for information when you can't audition.", I would say the answer is only a few are useful and that they tend to be more useful at the lower end of the market. If I was wanting to invest in what I consider to be a decent MC cartridge and couldn't audition I think I would purchase something cheaper to tied me over until I could audition.
  2. Yes interesting, I didn't include any cartridges labelled as for DJ use to try and keep numbers more manageable, but that's not to say it couldn't be used on domestic turntable, it certainly has a high output which could be useful to some people.
  3. Andy, The premise of the thread is what information/resources would you use if you couldn't listen. Do you have anything to contribute?
  4. It wasn't intended as a critique on sound, the law of diminishing returns was used where the manufacturer's own data didn't explain a significant performance increase associated with a large price increase. I'm not advocating that people shouldn't listen if they can or seek knowledgeable advice, just comparing information provided by manufacturers.
  5. The point of the thread was what information do you use when you can't listen, not a rating of equipment. Some manufacturers do provide information that differentiates their cartridges, others don't.
  6. I fully agree you should listen yourself, but what do you do when that's not possible? That was the intent of the thread. Personally I would set an upper limit of what I would pay unheard.
  7. Probably very true. But I also suspect that some of the exotically priced cartridges just wouldn't stand up under scrutiny, even against lower priced models from the same maker.
  8. So if your old faithful cartridge is no longer made and you need a replacement, you're in lock-down and can't audition, on-line/magazine reviews are all overwhelmingly positive and comparative reviews between brands are limited to individual's opinions on an internet forum, how do you decide what model to buy? Phono cartridges can have a wealth of data on design attributes (mass, compliance, output, etc) materials of construction and performance (frequency response, channel separation & balance, tracking ability), but they also vary enormously in price. If you want value for money and know enough about mass and compliance to match a cartridge to your tone arm, which manufacturers provide the best quality information to let you make an informed decision? To a certain extent this is a comparison of website quality as much as it is cartridge quality, but when that's the only tool you have you have to use it. For the purposes of this exercise I have reviewed 283 phono cartridges advertised by 57 Australian retailers with an AUD price: No overseas retailers or on-line market place stores. Standard half inch mount hifi stereo cartridges only, no Mono, 78 rpm, DJ, P mount, PnP, SPU, strain gauge or optical types or superseded models. Only one model counted where there are higher or lower output variants of the same model. Specifications collated from manufacturer's web sites for current models only, in a few cases retailers web sites were needed to augment details. Direct comparisons between manufacturer's data are fraught with potential for error, specifications are often based on differing standards (output, compliance) and many lack tolerances (frequency response). Data bases such as Vinyl Engine can help with this information, but the aim here is to compare different models from the same manufacturer to get a picture for each manufacturer of what benefits you get as you progress up the model chain. Better stylus types, cantilever materials, coil wire, magnet types etc. and improving performance specifications. It's basically a subjective assessment of objective data, should please everyone. Prices are the cheapest advertised, a few low flyers were filtered when it was not clear if the model was superseded or not. MM = Moving Magnet MC = Moving Coil MI = Moving Iron VR = Variable Reluctance Mainstream Manufacturers Manufacturer Models/Price Comments Ortofon 8 MM $49 - $1799 11 MC $449 - $13859 Comprehensive specifications, most material details for MC's, less for MM. Improvement in design and performance commensurate with price, except for top MC Exclusives models. Most widely distributed brand in Australia. Audio Technica 12 MM $55 - $1199 8 MC $420 - $6999 Comprehensive material details and specifications, except for Tracking Ability and lack of Frequency Response tolerances. Improvement in design and performance mostly commensurate with price. Goldring 7 MM $119 -$695 5 MI $395 - $1320 4 MC $895 - $1800 Only manufacturer providing MM, MI & MC types. Performance specifications mostly the same within each product range, stylus type and cantilever material (where stated) presumably responsible for model differences and price premiums. Rega 3 MM $59 - $539 4 MC $879 - $6295 Second most widely distributed brand in Australia but provide minimal information on performance specifications and attributes. If the maker won't quantify how good they think it is ... Clearaudio 7 MM $345 - $3495 9 MC $1495 - $23395 An exemplar of the law of diminishing returns, price ranges in each type cover an order of magnitude, but apart from MC body materials varying, the stylus & cantilever are mostly the same within each type. Balance & separation do progress slightly as price increases, presumably because they measure and grade the same MM design as different models. Sumiko 6 MM $169 - $1099 7 MC $799 - $7999 Not a great deal of difference between adjacent models despite the price ranges. Performance improvement with price is pretty flat, the 11 most expensive models share 4 stylus types and 2 cantilever materials. Gold Note 3 MM $195 - $650 6 MC $1250 - $13500 MM stylus types more expensive than rivals. MC models design materials and channel separation improves up the model range but other data lacking, otherwise the law of diminishing returns comes into play. Shelter 1 MM $325 4MC $1500 - $6300 Lower three model stylus types more expensive than rivals. No performance data. Grado 14 MI $139 - $16999 The base three “Prestige” models are each graded to provide a tighter performance specification and more expensive model, but what is measured is not stated or quantified. “Timbre” and “Lineage” series cover a huge price range with seemingly the same stylus type and only two channel separation levels, other data lacking. Local distribution is restricted to a single retailer. Soundsmith 16 MI $699 - $14670 No cheap entry level model but the lower half of the range shows progression with materials and performance. At the upper end slight increases in channel separation come at great expense. Nagaoka 7 MM $189 -$1069 MM specialist manufacturer. Improvement in design and performance mostly commensurate with price. Not widely distributed. Garrott Brothers 6 MM $210 - $1725 MM specialist manufacturer and Australian based. Stylus types and cantilevers step up with price but little difference in performance specifications. Other construction material details lacking. London 5 VR $1720 -$5280 Variable reluctance design, not a lot of design or performance data available at all, especially from the manufacturer. Mobile Fidelity 3 MM $349 -$1295 Stylus type improves with price, no useful performance data. Vertere Acoustics 2 MM $550 - $1695 1 MC $4295 MM stylus types more expensive than rivals. Performance data too patchy to compare. Moving Coil Specialists With a few exceptions most of the moving coil models in the table below are priced well above what most people would consider expensive for a phono cartridge. If you are seriously considering purchasing one you need to have a great HiFi system that can do it justice and either know exactly what you are doing or have a trusted advisor who does, or you just have a lot of money and want to make a vanity statement. Manufacturer Models/Price Comments Koetsu 17 $3800 - $ 20400 No stylus information, no difference in performance where stated or not stated at all. At the upper end it's just a different type of stone body, internals are apparently the same for 8 models. You pay for mystique. Van den Hul 11 $1749 - $11990 Many sub-variants available with differing body & coil materials, and output levels. Most models on their website have specifications “To follow”, so not a lot of information for a well established brand. Benz Micro 9 $579 - $6000 Lower models are price competitive with mainstream manufacturers. All but base model have the same stylus, little other design data and no performance specifications. ZYX 8 $1470 -$15830 Lower models are price competitive with mainstream manufacturers. All but base model have the same stylus and performance specifications are comprehensive, but they are all the same. No better frequency response, channel separation or balance for a ten fold price increase. Zu Audio 8 $750 - $2580 Modified Denon DL103 & DL103R models, graded on performance into four levels, so design is the same for all four within each model group. The top model is the most expensive conical/spherical stylus based cartridge on the local market. Dynavector 7 $995 - $9995 Materials improve with price and there is some improvement in performance as well, although this flattens off for the top three models. Phasemation 5 $1499 -$7300 Only the lowest model differs slightly in materials and performance. Top four models have the same stylus and other materials and the same performance specifications. EMT 5 $2700 - $8300 Some progression of stylus type and cantilever materials with price but frequency responses all the same and no other performance data. Kuzma 5 $2920 - $23150 Some improvements up the range but very much diminishing returns. My Sonic Lab 5 $5850 - $16100 Entry level is high. Same stylus for all models and only minor construction material differences, no performance data. Hana 4 $755 - $6200 Relatively new manufacturer with lower three models competitively priced, stylus type and performance commensurate with price. Lyra 4 $2600 -$15600 Little difference in top three models other than the alloy for the body, no difference in performance specifications but over $10,000 in the price. Kiseki 4 $3094 - $6295 Not much difference in design other than body material, only the top model marginally betters the cheapest on performance specifications. Denon 3 $389 - $549 Featuring a conical/spherical stylus on two models they at least have the virtue of being affordable for MC's. Virtually no design data, performance or other attributes information on the website. Michell 3 $1500 - $5000 Stylus type, cantilever material and performance specifications improve with price. Charisma Audio 3 $1795 - $3150 Same stylus type for all models, cantilever materials differ and slight improvement in performance with price. Miyajima Lab 3 $2800 - $5100 Cheapest model has a bonded stylus, no channel separation or balance data to assess performances. Top Wing 2 $12300 - $16500 Body material differs, no performance data. X-Quisite 2 $12950 - $18050 Coil and body materials differ, no performance data. Single models for various types are available in Australia from Acoustical Systems (MI & MC), Cambridge Audio (MC), Dual (MM), Jico (MM & MC), Linn (MM), Project (MM), Shelter (MM), Tech DAS (MC) & Thorens (MC). Obviously no intra manufacturer comparison is possible.
  9. In answer to the OP's redefined question: As mentioned above different distributors operate different business models. Anecdotally I suspect that also where a product is more widely distributed to local retailers the price is more likely to be closer to overseas prices. Where there is less retail competition, more likely further up the scale, there is a greater likelihood that the local price will be significantly higher.
  10. MM diy ESP P06 phono stage. MC Aspen Paris Head Amp.
  11. I'm with Nelson Pass on this one: "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we would let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment." Single Ended Class A article, http://www.firstwatt.com/articles.html
  12. And Australian speaker manufacturers: Billie Jorgen Brigadiers Audio Creation Audio Dana Electro Acoustics Lenard Audio Neudrum NovaVoce Acoustics Tube Sound Audio Wyndham Audio
  13. Hi Snoop, I think you can add the following Australian amplifier manufacturers, although it's always difficult to know how much is Australian made. Aspen Amplifiers Hugh Dean's amplifiers Burson Audio pre-amps, headphone amps, DACs Heschl Audio Labs amps McChanson valve amps OAD Ultrafidelity amps ValveAudio valve amps
  14. A general comment without have watched the video: The Rega carts have a three-point fixing which with a Rega arm and turntable makes set-up a bit more straightforward. But any half inch mount cartridge can be attached with two screws to a Rega arm, you just have to set the overhang and alignment (as well as stylus pressure). There are plenty of you tube videos and alignment protractors available with instructions.
  15. Output is stated at 3.8 mV @3.54cm/s. This is a typical MM output and an MM phono stage will have sufficient gain. MC cartridges are typically less than 0.5 mV.
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