Audio-Technica AT-ART9 phono cartridge


Anyone using this cartridge? I'm on my second AT-OC9-III and really like the cartridge. The ART9 is twice the price and I'm thinking it would be a nice upgrade. Any input is appreciated. Thanks ...
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128oregonpapa
I am using it. I was about to write a review about it but anyway since you have asked, all I can say is go for it! I have owned many cartridges in the last few years. Some carts costing up to $5k, the only cartridge that I felt worth owning was the Audio Technica ART9. It combines some of the best attributes of all the carts I have heard and some. Yes, it sounds better than many $$$ cartridges. It is supremely neutral with a terrific flow to the music. Dynamics are as good or better than my earlier Miyabi 47 cartridge. I have heard the OC9 MK2, it is also nice but it ultimately sounds like a great budget cartridge. There is something that the more expensive cartridges (starting from the Lyra Delos and above) offer especially in the areas of resolution and dynamics which the budget carts only hint but dont quite get there. This "something" just makes for a more complete presentation. Listening to a Lyra Delos or Dynavector XX2 mk2 would be a good introduction to this completeness. However a Delos or an XX2 would very soon also convey their weaknesses. Once the honeymoon is over the weaknesses are easily known and those weaknesses are solved in the higher range cartridges of these very same brands. With an ART9 you will be hard pressed to find any weaknesses! Very rare in our hobby but it happens sometimes. Your appreciation for this cartridge will actually increase with time, in a way the honeymoon period is very very long :-). In every listening session a sense of "wow!" is conveyed.

Anyway I want to keep some things to write in my first ever review :-). IMO, dont waste time if you are looking at an ART9. If it was not a consumable it could potentially have been the last time you shopped for a cartridge
Pani,

Hello. I have ordered a AT ART 9 and will be looking for your 1st review. I also have many high priced M/C cartridges. The Krell KC100 (Mayabi) being one of them. Another being the Benz Micro LP S.
Keep us posted. I will add anything I can when mine finally arrives.
Regards,
I'll be interested in following this thread. I've been happily using an AT OC9MLII on my VPI Scout but am interested in the potential jump in performance that the AT ART 9 might offer. Can anyone comment on the differences between the ART 7 and ART 9? Just wondering whether much of what can be had from the 9 is found in the less expensive 7. BTW: I ran a bunch of Dynavectors before the OC9, including the XX2MKII, and found the OC9 very competitive with them. Also considering a Soundsmith MI as a possible upgrade path but those have gotten VERY pricey, thus my interest in the new ART 9. Finally, I know the OC9 can be found discounted if you look around a bit--anyone found a less expensive source for the ART 9? Thanks!
Griffithds, please note, the ART9 needs 150 hours of burn in to settle down completely. Initially it could sound a bit bright or thin. It happened on mine. As it settles down you will be amazed by the combination of liquidity, resolution and dynamics. Another thing, it needs to be very well aligned with correct anti skate, VTA and VTF. All these adjustments may take some time but every little adjustment in the right direction will put a big smile on your face. I finally got mine settled after I had the Mint LP protractor specifically for my tonearm (SME M2-12) and ART9.

Dodgealum, I did some research on ART9 before buying. According to an insider at Audio Technica (Japan) the ART7 is more for classical music because it has better micro layering of soundstage. ART9 on the other hand is a much more of an all rounder because it has a very powerful presentation which suits Jazz, Rock and Pop along with classical. ART7 doesnt have the macrodynamic force that the ART9 has. Moreover ART7 is an extremely low output cart making it a difficult cart for phonostage matching. The ART9 is much more friendly in its output voltage and matches with any decent phonostage. The loading needed for ART9 is between 100-120 ohms.

I do not know what price you are expecting for an ART9, on ebay it is mostly listed for $1 -1.2k. I have never seen it cheaper. In fact Audio Technica has been very silent about these carts. There are no known reviews of it. In Japan though it has received many awards and it was one of the Japanese audiophiles who told me that it is one of the super cartridges out there. While insiders know about ART9, outside Japan it is a mystery.
Hey Pani, I've been patiently waiting for someone to post some meaningful insight to my next cart purchase.

Nice review that speaks to me.

I've lived with an OC9III after trying a couple of popular 1K MC's-Sumiko Blackbird and Benz Glider.While each cart has their particular strength,the OC9 has enough of both carts along with being HALF the price. . My table and downstream components would justify such extravagance as a 2K+ cart, but not my wallet.While the OC9 doesn't match what the others have, it gives enough relative to the price.

If the ART9 follows the same performance/value thread as the OC9, seems exactly what I'm expecting from the ART9.

I would try the ART 7 if it had a bit more output. 1.2mv would be a stretch for my 60db phono without an additional transformer.
Thanks, Pani. That is very helpful. What arm and table combinations are you guys using with this cartridge? Pani, can give us some further perspective on the weaknesses of the XX2MKII and Delos relative to the ART9? I know the XX2MKII well so that might give me a sense of what the ART9 has to offer.
Dodgealum, both the xx2 mk2 and Delos are relatively coloured in the tone and timbre when compared to a master tape like neutrality of the ART9. The xx2 will also sound veiled compared to the ART9. The Delos is transparent but it is not as fluid. The ART9 reveals more micro details than either, sounds more sparkling and pure than either. I already said that it is one of the most fluid sounding cartridges I have heard. In that regard it is like a Nude SPU which I had for some time. If you compare an xx2 to a Delos, you will find that the Delos has more bass power, goes bit higher in treble but it doesnt sound as integrated as an XX2. These are all weaknesses that is addressed in the Kleos (as per a audiophile friend). The xx2 of course has a more coherent presentation than the Delos which makes it a bit more musical but probably not as much sparkle or dynamic range as the Delos. Going to a higher Dynavector removes the veil that I had mentioned earlier and improves the dynamics over all. These weaknesses are apparent when you live with these cartridges and hence the upgrade path is available. I do not feel an iota of upgraditis when listening to music on an ART9. It just feels like a great balance of all the musical and audiophile attributes we look for.

Tablejockey, the performance/value of ART9 is extremely high. Compared to the OC9 mk2 you will hear a huge leap in dynamics and resolution if your phono and amplifier is up to it. ART7 needs an appropriate SUT, no point even trying it with an active MC phonostage.
I forgot to mention, my turntable is a Nouvelle Platine Verdier (Auditorium 23 revision) with SME M2-12 tonearm, Naim Superline + Supercap phonostage.
Pani, I have two active phono stages with over 76db gain(Pass XP-25 and modified hybrid Atma MP-1) that are excellent matches to ART7 without a SUT.

In fact both phono stages work well with a .05mV Ortofon MC2000, albeit with a bit of tube rush from the Atma LS at high volume.

The ART7 has similar qualities as ascribed to the ART9 and no short-fall of dynamics. It also took 100+ hours to reveal its best. FWIW, in a race between LOMC cartridges with non-permeable coil formers(e.g. ART7, DL-S1, MC2000) I do favor the old MC2000, notwithstanding background noise that becomes imperceptible the moment the needle drops.
Dgarretson, I have not heard the ART7 so I cannot comment on its sound per se. Its heartening to know that it can be amplified without SUT. Here is an email that was sent to a friend of mine by Audio Technica:

Mr. Rodrigo Thomaz from Audio Technica send me follow reply to this question:

Hello,
if you prefer to listen to multiple orchestrate classical music, we
recommend the Non-magnetic Core Moving Coil cartridge AT-ART7.
It can reproduce more sensitive sound of each instrument.
However
if you prefer more dynamic music like jazz/pop music, we recommend you
use the Magnetic Core Moving Coil cartridge AT-ART9. It will deliver
much more presence with rich low mid frequencies.
Hope this can help. Kind Regards, Rodrigo Thomaz
I have limited edition dual-coil Audio-Technica ART-2000 MC (only 1000 made for Japan market 15 years ago, refference line). It's one of my favorite MC cartridge along with much higher priced ZYX Airy 3S and Zyx Premium 4D X.
Pani,
Your time with the ART9 is encouraging. I am have been eliminating other contenders from my buy list and saving at least $700+ going with the ART9.

The ART9 just may be the cart that stays mounted on the VPI for more than a year.

Guess I will need to hit the "buy now" and report back.

I don't find my OC9III particularly fussy regarding setup, are you noticing anything requiring extra attention?

The only thing I find odd about AT carts are the lack of threaded holes in the body.
Thanks for that. I think there's an ART9 in my future. It's too tempting to miss comparing it to the 7.
Thanks, Pani. Were you able to make comparisons between the ART9, the XXIIMkII and the Delos in the same exact system--i.e. without any downstream changes? I only ask because your comments and my experience with the OC9MLII are causing me to give serious consideration to an upgrade to the ART9 however I will have to base my decision on very limited information (i.e. your comments) because there are no reviews and I will not be able to demo the cartridge (and even if I could it would be in a completely different system). Also, would you mind sharing the rest of your system just to get a better idea of what you are running and how that might factor into the differences you heard between the carts? Sorry--no Spanish Inquisition intended here just trying to get as much info as possible from limited sources before making a pretty expensive purchase.
Dodgealum, I have heard the Delos and ART9 in my own system but not the xx2. I had the Dynavector 17D3 in my system but that was no where in comparison.
Regarding review, you probably wont get to read professional reviews of ART9 unless you understand Japanese and can dig out some Japanese audio magazines. The way AT is marketing their top end carts, it is almost like a product that is meant for internal (meaning Japanese) consumption only.

My system is
Nouvelle Platine Verdier turntable
SME M2-12 tonearm
Naim Superline + Supercap phonostage
Lamm LL2 preamp
Wavac EC-300B amplifier
Tannoy Turnberry SE speakers
Cables are a mix of ASI Liveline, Auditorium 23 and Mogami 2803
Thank you Pani for an excellent response to my opening post. You've pretty much made the decision for me. I love the sound of my OC9 Mk III, so a step up to the ART9 should be just the ticket. As a side note, the OC9III is superb on mono records. I'm a jazz collector and have many ... MANY mono jazz recordings.

To quote you: "Dynavector 17D3 in my system but that was no where in comparison."

How did the Dynavector compare with the ART9 in your system? I have a friend who raves about the neutrality of the 17D.

Thanks again for responding.

My system:

Well Tempered TT modified.
ARC REF-75
ARC REF-3
ARC PH-8
ARC CD-7se
Legacy Signature III's
Oregonpapa, what I meant was the Dynavector 17D3 was not even comparable to the ARt9. It was far behind. By the way 17D3 is not neutral. It has a bit of a rosy midrange and it tries push music to your face. Not very elegant.

Tablejockey, regarding the setup, I just meant that the ART9 is more sensitive to setup than some of the other cartridges I have used (Miyabi, ZYX, Ortofon Kontrapunkt, Denon 103). The ART9 really rewards you when you make an adjustment in the right direction. For example I increased the anti-skate by just 1 slot on my SME tonearm and I heard a much more transparent presentation with clearer and tighter timing of notes. Similarly even a 0.5mm increase in VTA is audible. It is like playing with a high precision microscope.
BELOW IS THE ART-9 SPECS FROM THE AT WEBSITE. LOOKS AS IF IT HAS A 12OHM IMPEDANCE WHICH SHOULD WORK WELL WITH MY SUT. VERY INTERESTING, THANKS FOR THE TIP.
Specifications
Type: Magnetic Core Moving Coil
Frequency Response: 15 to 50,000 Hz
Channel Separation: 30 dB (1 kHz)
Channel Balance: 0.5 dB (1 kHz)
Coil Impedance: 12 W (1 kHz)
DC Resistance: 12 W
Force d’Appui: 1.6 à 2.0 g (standard 1.8 g)
Tracking Force: 1.6 to 2.0 g (standard 1.8 g)
Vertical Tracking Angle: 23 degrees
Recommended Load Impedance: Min 100 W
Coil Inductance: 25 mH (1 kHz)
Static Compliance: 35 x 10 – 6 cm / dyne
Dynamic Compliance: 18 x 10 – 6 cm / dyne (100 Hz)
Output Voltage: 0.5 mV (at 1 kHz, 5 cm/sec)
Stylus Shape: Special Line Contact Stylus
Cantilever: 0.26 mm Ø solid boron
Stylus Construction: Nude square shank
Mount: 1/2” centers
Dimensions: 17.3 (H) x 17.0 (W) x 25.6 (L) mm
Weight: 8.5 g
Accessories: 1 non magnetic screw driver; 1 brush; 2 washers; 2 x 12 mm mounting screws; 2 Nuts; 2 x 18 mm mounting screws; 1 plastic protector; 1 set of PCOCC Lead Wires (AT6106)
Any new thoughts, buyer's remourse, etc. on this cart? I'm close to pulling the trigger and would appreciate an update. I see them on eBay for $950 from Japan & HK. Any experience with those vendors? Any consensus on ideal impedance. I see the spec at100>; and one recommendation at 120. 

All comments welcome.

Thanks,

wanders ...

No regrets at all. The cartridge is wonderful. Highly recommended. 

Sorry, no experience buying from Japan. Got mine from LP Tunes. 

Please let us know your experiences with the ART-9. 
You can refer to this thread for a detailed discussion on ART-9:
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/pani-new-art-9-up-and-running
" I see them on eBay for $950 from Japan & HK. Any experience with those vendors?"
No personal experience, but 2juki in HK has been praised by many in the Asylum. Do a search there. I’m thinking of getting an Art-9 and would buy from him.
@melm I think your only issue with buying from them is you have no US support for warranty, meaning AT US will not honor any warranty.
@catcher10

1. As for a warranty on a cartridge, I think if it looks right and sounds right from the get-go you’re good to go for the duration. Given proper treatment I’ve never seen a cartridge fail. Have you?

2. The last cartridge that I bought from Japan directly had a defect that was visible. I found the Japanese merchant (EIFL) extremely helpful and an exchange was effected very quickly. Ebay offers additional confidence, as does purchase by credit card.  I have bought other, non-audio, items directly from Japan and find their business ethics quite high.

3. If you look at the AT USA site you will not find the Art-9. That suggests to me that the model is not distributed in the US except as a grey market item. If I am correct, AT USA is free not to honor the warranty even though purchased from a US dealer. If presented to AT USA they could either fix it, fix it for a fee or not fix it. It can always be sent to Japan for repair--not such a big deal these days.

4. In any event, if anything goes very wrong, and for retipping, you still have Soundsmith.
FWIW, I had a good experience purchasing an ART7 from 2juki and an AT33MONO from a Japanese Amazon seller.  In the latter instance I didn't go for rock bottom price, but rather chose a vendor with good Amazon ratings.
Catcher 10

AT will not only provide no support for warranty repair but will provide not support of 'ANY' repairs if the item was not bought from an authorized US supplier.  This is even if you agree to pay all charges. I find this a bit strange but I do understand them supporting their sales staff.  Thankfully we have aftermarket re-tippers who are willing to take our money.
Regards,
Wanted to report; I ordered the art9 through eBay, last Monday, from 2juki - the Hong Kong vendor. I received a confirming email the next day; couple of days later I got shipping status and tracking number; on Saturday a messenger service showed up and delivered the cart. The box was sealed and, after inspection, there was no apparent damage.

Even though I had my turntable off-line for re-capping and service (thought delivery would take at least two weeks), I was able to get the cart mounted on a headshell and playing to verify that it was fully functional. The eBay guarantee assures that the item arrives as advertised. Perhaps if there is some down-the-line problem with it, I would regret not buying through a US source, but for now I'm pleased.

As to performance, even after a hasty setup and limited listening, the art9 is clearly a high-end performer. I'll report my listening impressions on the other thread later; but I wanted to let readers know about my buying experience.
Excellent, wanders ... 

It's a wonderful cartridge ... especially after 50 hours or so. 
A communication from Audio Technica has confirmed that LP Tunes is an authorized dealer.  Very strange marketing on the part of Audio Technica USA which doesn't list the Art-9 among its offerings in North America.  Seems to me that biggest advantage of buying there would be a trade-in for a replacement when the stylus has worn.  Does anyone who has bought from LP Tunes know what the terms are for that?
No problem dealing with 2juki, ebay (buyer protection) always on the buyer side if something wrong with the cartrige, but he sell (for example) ZYX with fake serial numbers, i mean someone replaced the serial numbers makes them looks like it’s factory serials buy they are clearly not!

It’s a tipical grey market dealer’s trick to manipulate with serials, so indeed no support from the official dealers or manufacturers. It’s grey market war... Anyway it’s a strange feeling when you have a cart with fake serial number.

Melm,

LpGear/Tunes often imports items not usually sold in this market.  I believe a MC can be sent to an AT service center for trade-in.  In Europe an ART9 trade-in costs 611 euros.  Their prices for AT are generally higher and I'm not sure about price or procedures. 

LpGear is pretty bad with email. If you registered with them I think you'll get a response.  At this point it might be better to go through the dealer. They have stock.

Regards,

If AT recognizes LP Tunes as an authorized dealer then it is likely AT-US that imports the cartridge.  Normal business practice is that if a dealer imports an item directly, that is gray market, for that would cut AT-US out of a mark-up.

Actually, German dealers like hifisound and Thakker in Germany advertise the Art-9 for as little as 881 Euros (ex-vat) which is about $960.  The Euro trade in is at 60% of the Euro list price which is 1101 Euros.

The question remains as to the trade-in price (if available) in North America, for there is no such information on the AT-US site as there is on the European site.  A good trade-in price and policy, if there is one, would be the best reason for buying in the US even at a higher price than Europe or Japan.  
Is anyone in a position to compare the ART9 to an AT20SS?
smctigue1, I have an ART7 that I compared awhile back to my NOS AT20SS.  The ART7 was better: more refined treble, fuller-bodied midrange and LF, and generally more natural.  I would assume the same for the ART9. 
Gotta say ... I moved up to the ART-9 from a AT-OC-9mkIII. The ART-9 is in a different league ... but BOTH are absolute killers on mono records. For someone like myself who has been collecting jazz records since the 1950's, that's a very important feature.
Greetings all, I've been lurking and signed up to see if anyone had any suggestions on a headshell for the ART9.  I just received the new SL1200GAE and have pretty much decided on the ART9 based on many of your comments and my own experience with the OC9mkII.  I have a magnesium Jelco HS25 on order.  This new Technics also has a magnesium arm but I don't know the mass.  Thank you for all the thoughts on the ART9.
^^^ I can't speak for head shells, sorry. I can speak for the ART-9 though. It replaced my OC-9 MK III almost exactly a year ago. Over the past year, I've made some real significant improvements to the system. Just multiply everything I've previously said about the ART-9 by a factor of ten. Its WAY better than I thought ... and I was amazed by it before. Its a real sleeper and a great value. You're making a good choice, unless you want to get into the $5.000 range. 
Thank you for your reply ORpapa.  I brought vinyl back to my system a few years ago with the last of the SL-1210M5G and an AT440MLA.  Moved on to a DL-103R.  Then a friend gave me a broken OC9.  For a reasonable fee AT replaced that with the MKII.  Great sounding cartridge.  Added a Bob's Devices Cinemag Sky 30 and a Libertyaudio B2B-1.  The sound of vinyl is amazing.  This really is a journey.
^^^
I've looked at that Bob's Devices product at the Newport show over the past few years.  I've been tempted. I have a very good phono stage (ARC PH-8). I was wondering if I could make an improvement by adding the Bob's Devices unit to the system that would justify the price.  The ART-9, at .05 output works perfectly in the system. What improvement could I expect with adding the Bob's Device, if any? Any ideas?
ARC makes such nice gear.  I'm not familiar with the PH-8 but I've seen where ARC sometimes goes hybrid or used an internal SUT for moving coil but that's just from memory.  My B2B-1 is FET and it is very quiet even with the extra stage for MC.  Having said that the SUT results in even quieter operation.  I haven't made any measurements beyond cranking the line stage up and listening for hiss and power supply harmonics.  The SUT seems to bring something special to the party.  I hear no roll-off in either frequency extreme.  The B2B-1 designer suggested that it might be a little less dynamic with an SUT in place.  He's a great deal more experienced than I am but I can't hear that with my particular setup.  The sound of the SUT is just a little different.  Bob's Devices gives you 14 days to listen risk free.  His confidence is justified.  I never looked back.  To be fair, these are fairly recent purchases and I need to go back and listen the B2B-1 in MC mode without the SUT.  Will do that soon since I have a second TT now.  My old Aragon 28k has a great phono section but I can't get the hum out in MC mode.  MM is just fine so it works great with the SUT.  I'm going to run one TT straight to the B2B-1 in MC mode and the other through the SUT into the 28k.  I'll update after I've had a little listening time.  I'd certainly do business with either Bob's Devices or LibertyAudio again.  Great companies!
^^^

Thanks for the response, aragon ...

I've spoken to "Bob" a few times at the Newport show. Nice guy and a real enthusiast too. 

I had a slight hum in my vinyl rig too. I solved the problem by attaching a ground wire to a screw on the outboard motor of my Well Tempered TT and then just letting it hang loose behind the equipment rack. I have zero hum now. Funny how a little fix like that can make such a difference. 

OP

Yeah, when you have so much gain and so many sources of mains noise it gets interesting.  My 28k is quiet in MM mode but I get mains hum in MC mode.  The outboard power supply is plus/minus 24V.  I used 4 lead-acid batteries for power with zero change.  Then I shorted the inputs with zero change.  That's when I ordered the SUT and the B2B-1.

I'm an EE and I have the parts here to build a choke filtered regulated supply but I just haven't had the time.  No project is as fun as audio.  Homebrew electronics!
Thanks again to all who offered opinions on the ART9.  I installed mine a few days ago and it's excellent.  I didn't know how it could improve upon the OC9ii but it did.  The mids are so nice.  Ordered from the highly regarded seller in HK on a Thursday and it was delivered the following Tuesday.  I never purchase items like this without researching online.  This thread made me confident to place this order.

Also, I spoke with ATUSA and they do indeed support the ART9 in the US.

Cheers all.
^^^ It will improve with a little age.  I heard a mega-buck system over the weekend with three turntables sporting a total of four tonearms, one of which had the Lyra Etna on it.  Great cartridge to be sure ... but I really didn't feel I was missing much at all, especially in the area of correct tonal balance.