Some ears like MC, others MM.
One thing is for certain. MM and MI cartridges are extremely under rated. Because MC cartridges have become the fad, pushing prices up into the patently ridiculous zone MM and MI cartridges are a much better value and the do some things better than MC cartridges. I might prefer a MC cartridge on chamber music and string quartets but for large and loud symphonic pieces like Beethoven's Fifth or Stravinsky's Firebird a MM, MI cartridge may well be superior. There have been several respected mastering engineers that have related that MM cartridges sound more like their master, more accurate. Accurate does not necessarily mean sound better. I have a preset that I boosted 6 kHz over one octave just 2 dB. I can switch immediately from flat to the rigged response. I just ask which do you think sounds better? Every unsuspecting last person I have pull this trick on says the rigged response sounds better. Louder and brighter always seem to sound better. Brighter is not accurate. It works on some recordings but on most it makes voices seem smaller and more distant. It does not take more than a couple of dB here or there to change the character of a system. This is why people gravitate towards certain speakers as there response pattern varies quite a bit as does individual taste and what the person is use to listening too. If the person has a bright speaker he or she is going to think a neutral speaker sounds dull.
The same holds true of cartridges. For a time MC cartridges were getting the best styli and cantilevers but that has changed and there are many MM, MI cartridges with the best styli and cantilevers. IMHO these cartridges are just as detailed and in some instances, like with rock and fusion jazz definitively produce a more dynamic performance.
There are many fine MC cartridges out there but IMHO Koetsu is not one of them. But, it is probably psychological because I think their thing with a multitude of stones and finishes (Using exactly the same motors) is silly.
They certainly are not the best trackers and yes, I have owned one, a Rosewood Signature Platinum which I sold because I discovered low compliance cartridges and monster arms were not my thing. Actually, multiple cartridges is not my thing anymore. I find that I only listen to the one I like best so now I keep only two cartridges, the last one I liked best for backup and my new favorite. The others get sold off ASAP.
@mijostyn, which MI cartridge(s) have you listened to? I have a Soundsmith Sussurro Mark 2 ES currently, mounted on an SME 312s. It’s by far the best I’ve heard so far, besting my previous Benz Ruby 3, and Kiseki Purpleheart. It tracks as well as my Shure V15 5 MR, throws a huge wide soundstage, and extracts loads more detail than all the others. I’m not sure how you get more accurate and satisfying than this, unless you go to the Hyperion, which is next on my list, if I can ever spring for it. Classical is mostly what I listen to. The lower resonance of the cactus stylus is very intriguing, which supposedly results in even more detail extraction and natural sound.
earthtones, I have the high output version of the Sussurro, the Voice. I have had several Grado's. Could not agree more. But, I would hop over the Hyperion and look at the Strain Gauge. It is on my mind but I won't buy it without hearing it first. My daughter lives in NYC so Peter's shop is sort of on the way. I plan on stopping by. He keeps a strain gauge set up.
All his cartridges are great trackers due to low moving mass. In comparison MC cartridges sound thin which I think some people mistake for more detailed. From what I have listened to they are not more detailed than the best MM/MI cartridges at all just a lot more expensive due to the market and less dynamic. The Sussurro/Voice combo is a perfect example. They are literally the same cartridge. The Voice just has more windings on it's fixed coils but it is $2000 less expensive. I asked Peter why this was and his reply was, "The market. People with high gain phono stages like to use them and they are willing to spend more on cartridges." Audiophiles have to learn that prices are market driven and that more expensive does not mean better. In Audio more expensive means almost nothing. I know of $3000 DACs that perform just as well as $12,000 DACs. The same is true of professional audio vs consumer audio. Pros will not spend big money on equipment. Benchmark is a great example. They are primarily a Pro brand and their equipment is an amazing value. Not only is it less expensive but it is beautifully made and everyone raves about their gear. I have an ADC 1 which digitizes my phono stage so it can run through my digital preamp.
The new current mode phono stages with ultra low impedance cartridges may turn this upside down. From what I have read these are much more dynamic and perhaps more detailed. When I do another MC cartridge I plan on going this route probably with a Channel D Lino C and a low output Lyra. That is if I do not go for a strain gauge.
Whether you're talking about opera or "pure classics" there is usually more complexity going on in classical music than in other kinds. An orchestra of 100 or so, singers chorus, etc. So my view is that cartridges that provide the maximum detail of what is going on is the key. That means, I think, low output MC with some sort of fine line stylus; there are many types. Same in digital; I do not look for "laid back".
IMO, for the money these days you can't beat Audio Technica cartridges. They come in enough varieties to satisfy any budget. I use an AT Art 9 which has a lot of advocates around here.
@anthonya No-one has figured out a way to make any sort of hifi equipment favor a certain format. What's good for classical music is good for jazz, rock, folk, metal, electronia, you name it.
The idea that a certain speaker or amplifier might be best for classical as opposed to some other genre is purely myth.
totally agree about genre @atmasphere
with low gain cart
classical, live music especially where there is alot of hidden background sound pops out. making this kind of recording way more interesting.
with high gain cart. the macro pop out more. and this more saturated.
this is what I noticed.
I always wondered about this debate which is 'better.'
at one stage.. the MM got better than Mc.
then after slowly reviewing the whole system.. slowly improving different aspects.. oh okay.. the advantages of 'mc' appears. my friend uses 2 Lyra and 1 goldring mm and 1 audio technica mm.. then i myself tried Mc and Mm low gain.. oh okay similar results. never at his 80k hi end system system venue with custom room.. archieve 3 layers of clarity width and depth. saturation space. like a very good digital setup .. he say man.. been doing it wrong for 40+ yrs.. old dog got schooled.
But still not final conclusion. there is still something better about high gain mm, it's simply more natural . we know better now not to argue which is better.
Joe Grado who invented the moving coil cartridge gave up on it. I believe his argument was that there was no way to get the moving mass low enough resulting in resonance inside the audio band. But given modern materials, lighter cantilevers, smaller diamond it is now possible to keep the resonance above the audio band. It still requires a stiffer suspension.
When I finally get my turntable I will certainly give my impression on the Voice. I also have a Clearaudio Charisma and that is a rockin cartridge for sure. It is very similar in design to the dual magnet Audio Technica cartridges but I have confirmed that it is designed and made by Clearaudio. It has the stylus and cantilever of the Goldfinger. Will I like the Voice better? It certainly has a lower moving mass and an advanced stylus and cantilever. The cantilever is the finest I have ever seen. It is scary thin. Everything is aligned perfectly. I can't believe it would not track better than perhaps any other cartridge I have ever used. Patience is a virtue.
@mijostyn super jealous. I am eyeing on the aida myself as the final few and last cart I own.
I read through all the articles. the advantages of low impedance and low gain. as I experienced is indeed the ability to extract low level informations. however the downside is price and difficulty in getting it right. it can sound horrible without the right support piece.
so I think it's really a series of compromise and budget.