Empire EDR9 users: Need advice

Since yesterday, I am also on the Empire club. Just received my NOS EDR9 cartridge. Needless to say I was inspired by Raul's thread. Unfortunately I dont have a phonostage to support 100 kohm loading impedance, mine is standard at 47 kohm. I am tracking at the recommended 1.5 grams. I have set the phonostage gain for 5mv. Am I doing okay with all these settings ?

What is the break-in period for this cartridge (it was bought NOS) ? Currently it sounds nice but closed-in.
About 30 hours and then fine tune the adjustments. Mine worked best at around 1.2 to 1.3 grams, too much force and it dulls the sound too little and it sounds raged or fuzzy. My sample was very sensitive to azimuth and antiskate too.

Check that the stylus fit is snug, I had samples of Empires that had loose fitting stylus assemblies, this will degrade the sound, a tiny bit of super glue can be used to fix that problem and removing that stylus guard also improves the sound quality. Good Luck!
Dear Pani: In its time the EDR.9 was Empires's top of the
line, I think retailed around 250.00

I tested several months ago and I can't remember for sure
how I loaded on capacitance that's an important factor to
attain the best on any cartridge. About load impedance I
think was 47K.

What I can remember is that needs more playback hours to
settle down than other " similar " cartridges, I
think over 50 hours but then and due to its vintage
condition all depend on each cartridge sample and you will
know when is " there " because that " closed-
in " characteristic that you are experienced just

This is something that I found out in an old thread about
this cartridge:


03-16-07: Ctm_cra
Cardani - The "NOS" EDR.9 I received was claimed to be
unused and sat on the shelf for 20+ years. As it turns out
its arrival came a few days before Raul's visit to our area.
It was a pleasure to meet him in person and to hear his
Essential 3150 in a number of systems in town. The details
of these terrific 4-5 days with Raul and his preamp will be
posted in a separate thread.

During one of many of our analog listening sessions, we
heard several recordings using a Miyabi/47 Labs MC (100 Ohm
load), JMW 12.5, and VPI Extended Aries 1 through at least
three phonostages. A nice feature of the JMW arm is that it
makes it easy to compare cartridges if you have multiple arm
wands. I surprised the group by showing them the EDR.9
already mounted (with VTF and azimuth already set) on
another JMW arm wand. This cartridge had not seen a groove.

Out came the arm with the Miyabi, in went the wand with the
EDR.9 and the Essential 3150 phonostage was set to MM. For
starters, the VTA was quickly adjusted to a "neutral"
position. This was done using a VDH spirit level aligned on
top of the headshell, parallel to the tangential line along
which the cartridge tracks the groove. [I have found that
using this inexpensive tool leads to more repeatable VTA and
azimuth settings than the standard eyeball methods.] So now
we were ready to hear this oldie. Except for the MM setting
and the SPL level, all other parameters were equal -- TT,
arm, wire, IC, etc.

We listened again to the last LP heard through the Miyabi --
Eagles' Hotel California on the When Hell Freezes Over live
album. The first task was to try and match the volume level
to that of the Miyabi/MC setup. I can't remember if we did
or not [likely not]. Instead what I remembered most was how
the four of us were all taken by the quality of the music
that came through. OK so the Eagles album is not acoustic
and is far from a minimally mic'd recording. So we put on
Rutter's Pie Jesus of Reference Recordings and we continued
to smile.

No, the EDR.9 did not outperform the Miyabi. In all of the
parameters mentioned below the Miyabi was more refined and
was at a higher level of performance quality overall. But
the differences between them were not night and day and the
EDR.9 VERY impressively held its own. It immediately called
attention to itself with its terrific tonal balance with
convincingly natural timbral presentation of instruments and
voices. It had acceptable dynamics & articulation while also
having relatively smooth presentation (see below for more
details). It was resolving and had good image focus with
convincing layering, depth and overall scale of soundstage.
We continued to smile...

The HF playback of the EDR.9 was the only area that stood
out as not getting near enough to the Miyabi's performance.
It just did not have the smoothness and tended to be on the
brittle & hashy side (not in a dramatic way, only enough to
be noticable). This was particularly evident in cymbals and
sibilances. To these observations Raul replies, "BUT
went on to recommend at least 50-100 hours of break in
before it "settles".

So you can see how why we never got to exactly matching the
volume levels. We were so taken by the music the EDR.9
delivered. So what if we were missing the last 5% or so
(hypothetical only with no quantitative basis) of what the
top cartridges can do. It simply does not matter with the
EDR.9. So what if you break the cantilever. The stylus
replacement cost is around $55-60 USD + shipping. ;-)

Wanna continue to enjoy your LPs and increase the life of
your MC's and bring them out only for special listening
sessions or for critical listening? You can with the EDR.9.
Thanks Raul for introducing me to this cartridge.

[Note: As an FYI, I consider the Miyabi/47 Labs MC to be
among the top MCs I have heard. It is different in
construction and in sonics from prior Miyabi MC versions,
including those made with other manufacturers' label.

Other favorite MCs of mine are:
1) the Colibri - no two I have seen/heard are alike and you
really have to know your system and your listening
priorities well to appropriately place an order for one, and
2) and XV-1S.

All three of the above I own and I have compared and prefer
them over the Condor, Universe, Rosewood Signature Platinum,
Shelter 9000, or Jubilee. These five cartridges I prefer
over the likes of Shelter 901, Koetsu Rosewood signature,
and Celebration. I have not heard the Transfigutation Temper
or Orpheus, Titan, Allaerts, Shelter 90X, or other Zyx

I have not yet compared the EDR.9 to my other cartridges. It
would also be great to compare other quality MM to it, so
stay tuned.] .


The Travbrow advise is overall a good one. Btw, I think that
you are lucky to own it.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Thank you Raul and Travbrow.
My phonostage has a fixed capacitance of 150pf. I have set the gain for 5mv.
BTW, is there a better Empire out there ?
Dear Pani: Well, through the years Empire marketed several cartridges in different cartridge series on each one of those series exist very good performers, one of them is the 4000D3 that's an older model than the EDR.9 but is really good.

You can read something on that cartridge here:


Regards and enjoy the music,
Thanks a lot Raul.
Have you tried comparing these vintage MM carts to the new age Ortofon 2M Black or Clearaudio Virtuso ?
Hello Pani, here is a link to Raul's review of the Virtuoso, found in the review section.

Virtuoso review

I can't believe you haven't tried the Benz LPS.....the best cartridge I have ever heard.
Hello Pani, Is the Empire EDR9 sounding better, or still closed in? I have not heard that particular Empire.

Another very good Empire is the 1000ze/x. I got mine for around $150 from a Balkan friend ;^) . The Empire 4000dlll can be found every now and then for $300 to $400 but getting more expensive due to its well deserved reputation.

Good luck,
I purchased the EDR9-COPY which uses the OEM body with a JICO stylus (model 239-DSH) with a bonded Shibata tip. It can be assumed this replacement stylus does not have the sophisticated internal "tuned tube" to mechanically compensate for the system resonance. I want to shed some light on some issues I discovered while setting up this cartridge with this replacement stylus.

I used the Mint protractor to accurately align the EDR9-COPY on a Technics 1200MKII arm (w/KAB fluid damper and silver internal wire). The tracking force was at 1.2g. I was less than thrilled and after a run-in of about 25 hours, declared the cartridge not worthy of company to my DL-160, MMC2, 681EEE-III. I experienced diminished bass, harsh highs, IGD, narrow soundstage yet a small band in the mids showed promise.

After several months I tried the EDR9-COPY again. This time, I focused on why I was getting poor tracking and breakup on the lead-out grooves. VTA is where I began and I noticed two things. I very closely inspected the vertical tracking angle and stylus rake angle. The cantilever looked to be at 40 degrees instead of 20-25. The diamond tip (stylus rake angle), instead of 90-92 deg. was actually more like 110 degrees. The other thing I noticed was that at 1.2 grams tracking, the cantilever hardly budged when lowering the needle. This cannot be close the the OEM's compliance.

I dropped the arm height all the way (now it is noticeably tail-down) and tried VTF at 2.2 grams. I now have a totally different cartridge - for the better. I ended up with VTF at 2.5 and will gradually lower it after more break-in.

Before, I had a noisy cartridge without "body" and tone, weak drooping bass, limited and hazy highs, and a lack of coherence. Now, I have a cartridge that is quieter in the groove than my AT33PTG/II and MMC2. It is now coherent from deep bass (that showed up to great effect) through the upper limit of my (~16,500 Hz) hearing. No sibilance at all. The midrange is very smooth and engaging. Transparency is happening in a big way. I was ready to sell this cart...now I cannot.
Still working to get the best sound from this cartridge. More time spent spinning vinyl has left me frustrated. I slowly lowered the VTF since the upper bass was too dominant and finding the highs recessed. When I reach VTF around 1.7 the bass starts weakening and the hazy highs return. Sibilance starts to creep in ever so slightly.

I have concluded two possible explanations: this cart is not a good match with my arm AND/OR the stylus is manufactured improperly. The rake angle is severe on this sample.

The only two options I have are to mount the cart on a different arm and shim the cart in order to attain a SRA closer to 90-92 degrees.
The EDR9 is a nice MM cart. However I didnt have the right tonearm for it. My 47 Labs tonearm is too heavy for this cart. Next I plan to install a Naim ARO. Hope that will do better with EDR9.

One thing I agree in general, there is a grace that MM carts present with music which MC carts lack!!
I need to try a Decca London sometime.