Celebration vs Blackbird

Has anyone heard these carts. side by side? Are they voiced similar.
I am using a Sonic Frontiers SFP-1 signature phone preamp and according to an early review of this pre, it suggests that sonically the MM stage is superior to the MC. If this is the case I may opt for the Blackbird and use the MM. However it's pretty good in MC and I would hate to miss out any performance by NOT buying the Celebration.
Also a review on the Celebration suggests that it isn't a great tracker, any comments?
Can you point me to the Celebration Review?

I am running the Celebration in an older WTT classic table with black platter.

I find it to be outstanding, but of course have not heard any other high end carts recently. It was replacing a Crown jewel SE in my system, and can sayafter break in it sounds wonderful. Analog has never sounded do good in my system.(I used to have a CLavis- but that was long ago). The thing I like about it is it seems to be designed so that you dont need a perfect setup to extract maximum sonics. I just personally dont think the WTT allows one to set up at critically as other tables might, and honestly I dont spend the time
adjusting tracking force and VTA to exact the highest standards. I pretty much set up the way the manuf. suggests, play with VTA a little till balance sounds right and enjoy.

I am thinking about upgrading to a higher end table/arm, but obviosly we're talking 6-10K to better the sound of the WTT, so I have to research and save more money before upgrading. Again, I always felt like I was never really hearing LP's at their best because I wasn't able to set up/tweek the wash it should be done (ociliscopes, etc), but now I don't worry, I just enjoy.

I also like the fact that the suspension is really designed for long life.
Hi there, sounds like your pretty happy with your setup, congrats!
Here is the review on the Celebration:
I guess I'm kinda wondering whether it is worth the substantial investment over the Blackbird.
Thank you for your response
Oh yes, I did see that review, but didn't remember it talking about less than stellar tracking.

I never heard the blackbird, so I can't comment.

I do believe that sumiko will give you an allowance with trading in an older sumiko cart. Check it out - also Needle Doc seemed to offer good deals on the Celebration.
My mistake, the tracking was mentioned in Absolute Sound!
Dear Alun: I don't know nothing about your phonopreamp, so I can't tell you if it is true that the MM stage is better than the MC stage on it, other than if the MC stage use internal step up transformers then it is better if you go for the blackbird.

The Celebration is a better quality sound performer with the right gain ( with out external/internal SUT ) phonopreamp and I never had any tracking problem with it in any record.

Now, in my opinion, the phonopreamp is the most important link on an analog rig, if you want to take out the best of your analog rig you have to put your money in the best phonopreamp that you can buy on your budget. You will be rewarded if you do so.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I don't believe that the sfp-1 uses transformers. I think it adds a FET stage to apply gain.
I've used this pre for a couple of years now in MC mode with my Benz Gold and I don't really notice any tube noise or distortion so it could be that the signature version (which I have) is a much better performer than the standard version.
Thank you for your response Raul, always a pleasure to hear your opinion, but I am having trouble believing that the phono stage is the MOST important piece in phono playback. I can't say however if there is a most important piece in the phono chain as they all seem to support each other. An excellent phono stage will not help a poor cartridge IMO.
Just FYI I just got the PS Audio GCPH gain cell phono stage and it is excellent, and reasonably priced, and can be audiotion for 30 days in home. Just burn it in first. search for inverse RIAA on the vinyl asylum - I have some files online for burning in phono stages.
Dear Alun: +++++ " An excellent phono stage will not help a poor cartridge " +++++

No it not help to the cartridge, it will help to you telling you that that cartridge is a poor performer, in a normal phonopreamp ( not an excellent one ) maybe you can't know that that cartridge is a poor performer because it have not the quality resolution for to " tell it ".

Some other time we can talk about: this is a critical subject in the anolog music sound reproduction and like I already post and in my experience the phonopreamp is the most important link in the analog reproduction, yes I know that every single link is important but the phonopreamp task is a very special and critical one.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I understand what you are saying Raul as it does make sense. System hierarchy is definately an interesting subject regarding vinyl playback and would be a good thread starter (if it hasn't already been done!). I could suggest though that if muscial truth is found higher up the chain then one could only conclude that the speaker is the final and most influential component in the audio chain, as it allows us to hear what is happening further up. I think that David Wilson is also a believer in this theory.
BUT... a good tracking/sounding cartridge will allow the listener to enjoy a broader range of recordings regardless of the superiority of phono stage, no? If something is too revealing then it would also show all the defects in the vinyl and recording event thus creating a poorer listening experience.
I personally can't stand mistracking and groove distortion, however I appreciate the detail and ambient space provided by LP over CD. Surface noise on an LP can be really frustrating and judging by many of the complaints lodged on this forum regarding noise it is also something of an issue for many others.
One of the main reasons for looking at the Sumiko line is because many users seem to be happy with the overall sound and lack of having to tweek the tonearm to the n'th degree just to get the cartridge to make music. My ETII tonearm is fussy enough and I figured the Sumiko's may be more forgiving in the matter of setting VTA,Azimuth etc just right. Many audiophiles are masters of setting up a cartridge and tonearm and I'm certain you are one of them. I can assure you that I am not a master at this science and probably never will be. I hope I am buying one of my last cartridges for a looonggg time.
Thank you for your input and suggestions, now if only I could get that Aesthetix Rhea!
The Sonic Frontiers is no slouch, and NOT a budget phono stage which must be replaced instantly: Sonic Frontiers is a very serious, respected name, and the SFP-1 Signature is a true high-end item even by lofty Audiogon standards. There will ALWAYS be better phono stages out there, at least in some respects (very rare to be better in all once you hit a certain level of quality), so no need to be advising him to ditch it and and stampede out to his nearest high-end audio dealer. I'm with you on your rationale re. the Celebration - btw, did you buy it yet? - as I too favour cartridges which reliably sound musical on ALL (at least most) records, and which reduce surface noise. The issue of whether super-radical sylus profiles ultra-sensitive to VTA and dirt are more trouble than they're worth - i.e. being forced to change VTA for each record, having to clean each LP before play, etc., which would personally have me take out a hammer to destroy the offending item - has arisen in this forum before. I've had my eye on the Celebration for quite some time now, would love to read a mini-review by you! A classic low-output MC in the mold of the Celebration (which follows in its inspiration such classics as Supex, Koetsu, Kiseki) pays enormous dividends, in a certain ineffable reproduction of sound which is more akin to sampling fine wines (flavour and beauty as opposed to the cold technical perfection of so many transducers today), and in longevity: I've had my Kiseki for 15 years now, and though it isn't set up at all times, it certainly has very many hours on it, and still performs as it did in its early days. This is a common experience too with Koetsus. Buy it, set it up once, and enjoy! Then get back to us. I may be following in your footsteps, as an alnico-magnetted MC certainly tickles my fancy.
I haven't purchased one yet as I'm still trying to make up my mind between the Blackbird and Celebration. I am leaning towards the Celebration however but I'd really like to hear my SFP-1sig in MM mode just to make sure it is being used to it's fullest.
Thanks for your opinion on the SFP-1 sig, it makes me feel that I'm still ok for a bit even though I do agree to some level what Raul was trying to say. I really like the Aesthetix and would like to hear it in my system but my Benz Micro gold would be wasted on such a beast!
I'll post an honest review on whichever cartridge I choose.
Well, I finally got my Celebration set up and about 10 hrs on it.
I'm hooked, as is my wife! This thing is simply amazing and without a doubt a HUGE step up from my baby Benz.

Setup was very easy and well documented and it sounded great right out of the box.

No problem with the SFP Signature+ phono stage and my passive line stage.

So far we have been enjoying LP's we previously couldn't play due to poor sound quality. The Celebration runs down the groove without a hint of trouble. No mistracking or inner groove distortion to ruin the last song on the lp. It's tremendous bass is a bonus with the sometimes light bottomed ETII tonearm.

I can't speak highly enough of this baby and it's a sure bet. Probably one of the biggest upgrades EVER in my system.

Thanks to all those who helped us out.
Dear Alun: Congratulations!!!!!

Yes, the Celebration is a great performer. Good news for you: after 100 hours this " baby "really shine, you will see.

Till to now I'm always post that the Celebration is the " century bargain " an outperforms several of the very top high/price cartridges out there.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I had an SFP1 Siggy for a time and enjoyed it immensely (replaced it with an SF Phono 1). This is an excellent sounding phono stage however there is one small thing to watch in the setup between MM and MC. The MC mode inverts absolute phase where the MM mode does not. You may find a difference in your sound if you correct for this somewhere in the signal path. Just a suggestion.
Actually, I am interested in your impressions of this cartridge as I am playing with the idea of changing my own.
Thats correct Dukester, I have found that it does invert phase and it really messed me up about a year ago when I found my CD player did the same!