FR64 cartridge suggestions

Been out of the loop for quite a few years due to some 'life' events, with system in storage.

I have been able to pull my system from storage, and last year worked enough overtime to upgrade or purchase new equipment, but I have not upgraded my turntable/tonearm/cartridge yet.

My turntable is a Technics SL1000 MKII which for those not familiar, is the Technics SP10 MKII turntable mounted on a factory plinth.
I have two Technics B-500 bases with an 'E' armwand and 'H' armwand that I don't use.
The tonearm I do use is a Fidelity Research FR64, so I need a low compliance cartridge.
The cartridge I used last is a vintage Fidelity Research FR-1 MK3 F, which needs to be re-tipped, and I will do so once I get a replacement.

The rest of the system includes:

Zesto 1.2 Andros tube phono stage
Zesto 1.5 tube preamp
Quicksilver V4 tube amps (new KT150 version)
Green Mountain Audio Continuum 3 speakers
JL Audio 113 Fathom subwoofers (pair)

Curious what cartridges other high mass tonearm owners are using, especially those who use Fidelity Research FR64/66 tonearms.

Looking for cartridges under $2000 USD at most.. probably should spend half that.

I have over 20K records, so I am very anxious to get this back into service.

Really curious about suggestions and thanks in advance.

Ag insider logo xs@2xrich121
Fidelity-Research PMC-3 is reasonably priced alternative to more expensive FR-7f, both are made for your tonearm, i’ve been using those on my FR-64fx along with Ortofon SPU Royal G mkII (one of a few SPU with Replicant 100 stylus, the best stylus profile ever). They are all fairly low compliance LOMC cartridges perfectly matched for your high mass arm. 

PMC-3 is much better then your ex FR-1 MK3 F, so instead of re-tip why not just try a different cartridge?

It is surprising how many different types of cartridges can work with the FR-64, despite its heavy effective mass. An obvious first choice would be the FR-7 series. You can get an early (silver) FR-7 for around $1000 and the improved FR-7f for around $1500. The FR-7fz and the final MC-702 variations are superior still, but have become quite rare and expensive.

But if you don't fancy hunting down such vintage systems (with all the risk that goes with that territory) I would strongly recommend the Phasemation PP-300 (or earlier P-3G), which you can buy new for around $1500. Truly a marvelous cart and a great match with the FR-64S.

 Keep in mind that one reason the FR tonearms have such a high effective mass is because their headshells are quite heavy, as headshells go. Therefore you can reduce the effective mass of the tonearm by using a much lighter weight headshell. For example, I don’t recommend it, but I am using an Acutex LPM 320 in a dynavector headshell on my FR 64S. The Acutex has a stated compliance of 42, so this combo shouldn’t work well, but it does. This is to say that you need not feel terribly restricted by the high effective mass.
Stay with FR-3Mk3F and buy a first class diamond for it from your retipper.
It is a top cartridge when done right.
+1 syntax! Keep the FR-1 mk3F and have it retipped! Truly excellent mc cartridge - I have owned several! Easily competitive with far more expensive mc's!
The cartridge I used last is a vintage Fidelity Research FR-1 MK3 F, which needs to be re-tipped, and I will do so once I get a replacement.

The OP is looking for replacment while his FR-1 mk3 will be off for re-tip.

@rich121 i think you have to read this thread first of all:

Simply read J.Carr’s comments

If you really like FR sound then Fidelity-Research PMC-3 is the one to look for until you will find FR-7f or FR-7fz which is the ultimate. 

My suggestion: search for Ikeda 9 series , the so called

cantileverless kinds. To paraphrase the description of Sumiko

800 ''the arm'' as ''better Breur'' I would say this Ikeda is ''better


My suggestion is to search for Ikeda 9 , the so called ''cantileverless

kinds''. To paraphrase the description of Sumiko 800 as ''better

Breuer '' I would say ''better Decca''.

These days, any of the "best" FR cartridges that aren’t broken will cost at least $1500-$2000, based on current eBay "buy it now" advertisements. At that price point, there is some pretty serious competition. As I have never heard any of the FRs, I'd like to know whether the fans of those cartridges believe that a well preserved or recently re-tipped sample can compete at that level? It’s one thing to say they are excellent and quite another to place them in terms of value. For comparison, many/most of the best MM/MI alternatives that we generally agree upon can be had for less than $1000.
I will be able to compare FR-64fx to FR-64s tonearms in my system. While i really like the FR-7fz (and my ex FR-7f was also great) with original diamonds, i love my rare vintage MM of another level. Life is much easier with MM and some of the vintage ones are absolutely amazing, the rest is just curiosity and hobby. 

But i won't give up, at least i have to try that FD-64s that so many people in love with. Wish i could find B-60 base for reasonable price. 


Thanks to the fact that many, like Lew, have no idea about the

FR cartridge's those  can be get for very modest price. I just got

 Ikeda 9 REX for $2000. On Jauce site. One of the best ever

FR-7fz I got for $1500. However one need to find them first.

Over the years i've seen about 5 different IKEDA cantileverless models, some of them are headshell-integrated as one piece, some can be removed from the conventional headshell. All of them are probably extremely close to the record surface in operation. Very little info availabe online about those different models. I think some of them are made by Ikeda himself and not new, some newer are made by someone at his company. Would be nice to learn more about the difference between them.  
Nandric, You didn’t really answer my question directly, but are you inferring that the FR7fz, etc, are worth the prices you cite (and I’ve seen too) in comparison to the best vintage MM/MI and even some other used LOMC types, many of which can be had for far less cost?

i personally won’t pay that much for a 30+ year old cartridge coming from a foreign country, sold by someone I don’t know. I’d buy one from a trusted friend, only, preferably after an audition in my own system.
Il mio suggerimento è di cercare Ikeda 9, il cosiddetto "cantileverless"
Ikeda 9 too many problems, it's a miracle when the channels are perfectly balanced.
@best-groove i really like how you transform us to italian speaking persons :) 

Rich, I purchased a replica B60 base, possibly from the same source, a few years ago. It is now in use with my FR64S. I have no complaints. It’s very well made. However, subsequent to my purchase, someone posted here (Audiogon Analog Forum) that he was disappointed in the replica B60 that he had more recently purchased. In particular, he denigrated the quality of construction, as I recall. So, I don’t know whether this is a case of a cranky perfectionist sounding off, or whether there are two different sources for the B60, one good (mine) and one bad (whatever the dissatisfied person bought). I looked at your photos, and I would have to go and carefully examine mine in order to discern whether the one for sale is exactly like mine, or not. Certainly the two are very close.

I found the old thread.  It was Nandric who complained about his sample of the replica B60.  It wiggled, side to side and up and down, even in set mode.  That, of course, is not acceptable.  That was in 2014.  Maybe Nandric can comment on what he thinks now.  My guess is he sold it. (Sorry to have referred to you as a "cranky perfectionist", Nikola.)

I think that thinking is not possible without some assumptions.

But as logic ''prescribes'' if the assumptions are false then

all deduced statements irrespective of their ''logic'' will be

also false. As is, I assume, well known ''our Lew'' has always

some assumptions irrespective of his ''familiarity'' with the

given ''subject matter''. I have no idea why he assumed that

I sold my B-60 replica. The case is that I bought two samples

after my email exchange with the seller. My problem with my

sample was the ''steel pin'' which lead the up and down movement

of the construction. I asked the seller (producer) if I can get

this ''pin'' little bit bigger and made from ''gun metal'' . By his

answer the seller also told me that he will stop with production

because no profit whatever he could made. I got my ''gun metal''

pins bu also bought his last sample. So I still own two samples.

I changed the steel pins for ''gun metal'' kinds and also substituted

the sticky synthetic oil for (smooth) grease.

So thanks to my own improvement I am now satisfy with both my

samples (grin).

One of our most eloquent member ddriveman wrote this

article under title ''MC cartridge mini-shootout: SPU,KOETSU,

FR, IKEDA''. Together with three of his friends they compared

the mentioned carts + SPU (Silver Meister, GM, GOLD GM,

Royal GM) ; Ikeda 9CIII , FR- 7FZ; Koetsu Onyx Platinum and

Coral stone Platinum. Publishing
 time: 09-28-2014.

For the article I need to refer to the writing time. What  I want

to mention are the winners of this ''contest'' : ex aequo Coral

Stone and FR-7 fz.

As far as I know those are the owners of this remarkable

FR-7 fz: Dertonarm, Syntax, Don (Griffiths), chakster,

nandric and ddriverman. Neither of them had any problem

with suspension or other problems.

According to his buying ''philosophy'' Lew would never buy such

an old cart. He would  probably prefer the Coral Stone (grin).


I'd buy one from you, Nicky.  I was referring to the notion of sending US$2000 to some stranger living in Europe or Asia who is selling an FR-7fz on eBay, where the condition of the cartridge is typically described only as "used".  That's not much to go on for $2000.

I'm glad you ended up happy with your replica B60.  I'm happy with mine as well.

Dear Lew, I knew that you are sportsmanlike. I may be able

to post to you my Ikeda 9C,mk 2 to try. If the REX is better that

is. In about 10 days I will know. You get your best possible

scenario. First listening and testing than deciding.

Thanks for the thought, Nikola, but my current curiosity is mainly about the FR 7FZ.
Wow... so much knowledge out there... love these posts!

I'm learning and having a good laugh at the same time... some very interesting personalities here  :)

Keep the posts coming!

My experience echos others vis a vis effective mass- the fr64s is surprisingly flexible with carts of various compliance/weight. I have an fr7 and it is very nice but not fantastic. (Never tried better versions, have wondered about retipping mine with different styles profile). I got mine for well under $1k and it's musical and nice to listen to.
Since I import the Sensitive Sound carts I've tried the lighter ART series as well as the heavy weight bigger brothers and am quite pleased with the arm match to both...
So....if you're retipping your FR cart maybe decide if you want a different flavor, or maybe a mono cart? Variety is nice :)

My buddy Don mentioned to me that  ddriveman wrote an update to

his ''mini-shootout'' . Don provided the reference but I was not able to

find this post. Well for such search one need to search in  the right

place. I assumed ''of course'' that this update was published in our

MM thread. However  this update is published in the ''old Fidelity

Research'' thread. In the mini-shootout the (collective) reviewers

were not able to  adjust Ikeda 9C,mk 3 optimal So while very

promising  this cart was not a real contender. Later on ddriveman

was able to provide Ikeda heashell and Ikeda headshell wire.

This resulted in an ''curious'' finding: he now prefers Ikeda 9C

above FR-7 fz. I would prefer if he had found that both are

equal  fantastic. So, dear Lew, you can change your mind and

 still accept my offer (grin)

BTW the update can be found by FR thread :  07-20-2018 .

What is the opinion of either the SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC Star or the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze for the FR64s?

Which would be more lively and dynamic?
The Cadenza Bronze matches superbly with the FR64fx. Different setups, (actually the FR64fx is on the much cheaper table) but I definitely think it sounds better there than on my Graham Phantom (and it sounds pretty damn good on the Phantom too) - seems like there’s some extra synergy here. Haven’t tried it on the 64S yet, but I would expect the synergy to continue there too? The Bronze is really a different animal than the Ortofon Jubilee (predecessor of Cadenza Black) and Windfeld MC, which felt a bit off on the FR64fx.

The Bronze is extremely musical and dynamic in that setup; very impressive for the price. I'm now attempting to displace it with a new Shelter Accord, and that's certainly got some more burn-in and tweaking to go. 
Which would be more lively and dynamic?
London Decca Jubilee or London Reference.  Both are the lively and dynamic cartridges I have ever heard and are a great match for the FR-64.  Note: I have never used (or heard) a London Decca cart mounted on a DD turntable.  But I see no reason why it wouldn't work.

George told me the 15K Ohms impedance setting on the moving magnet switch in his Zesto Andros phono amp was put there specifically for London cartridges, a fair number of his friends and Zesto owners using it with that cartridge design.
lewm and nandric

I bought 2 of the same B-60 bases that you did, from ’Tien’ for both of my FR64S’s.

One of the bases slides up and down tightly, with no play...the other is similiar to what nandric reported, it has some side to side movement.

Tien responded to this by telling me that the base with play needed more silicone oil, which he would mail, and he would send me a video on how to maintain and use the B-60.
I also asked for the ’gun metal’ screws that nandric requested from Tien, but I received no tonearm mounting screws with the 2 B-60 bases.

Tien says he will send the oil and that it was lost in the mail... hope so, as I cannot use the bases without the screws and need some help with the oil, as I didn’t even know they used oil.
Heavier silicone won't help your b60 clone with the side movement- it is the tolerance of the guide pin. Ask me how I know :)
If anyone has extra guide pin screw (of the correct dimensions) I'd love to get one...

@rich121 & solypsa , Is Mr. Tien still in business? I thought he ended his B-60 adventure because of insufficient profit. The ''guidepin'' as solypsa called the thing is actually an ''old-fashioned screw''. I asked Tien to substitute his steel sample for ''gun metal'' kind because of my assumption that this ''metal'' (alloy) will glide better ''against'' steel ,er, glide. Metallurgy  seems to be more art then science while both are ''uneasy domeins '' to me. The same reason(gliding) caused me to substitute silicone oil for grease. I still have the ''old steel kinds'' and checked them in order to refresh my memory. I have no idea how the instrument with which thread is cut is called but assume that the thread is not cut with the right dimension/ tolerance . Aka ''fraction smaller'' then needed. This then causes ''side movement''. Any ''mechanics'' with a late should be able to produce the right ,er, ''screw''.

nandric , solypsa :

I believe I purchased his last two B-60 clones for my FR 64s’s.... One slides up and down, nice and tight and no side movement... the other, has slight side movement.
Which I could know what needed to be fixed and knew where to take it... Not much for ’intricate’ machine shops here... larger production stuff.
Yes it is a screw...if memory serves (it has been several years since I had mine apart) the very tip of the screw is machined smooth to form a pin that extends into a vertical slot in the inner piston. Maybe I forgot the detail.

Anyway mine is too small allowing movements horizontally when the inner piston travels vertically- as is the case with others as well. So screw needs to be correct length, fit the threaded outer body and fit the inner slot tightly.

Anyone want to make some :)

Solypsa, ''Those damn details'' (grin). My theory was that the

(cut) thread on the screw was the ''guilty party'' but it is ''your

very tip on the screw'' . Aka ''the nose'' on the screw. Considering

the fact that only few complained about its dimensions this

imply that they are not equal. Some are smaller then the other.

This is an huge error for an ''exact replica ''.

Yes it needs to be machined to very exact tolerances...or many extra made and then hand selected for 'fit'.
Another question.....

I have both the FR64 and FR64S

The FR64 has a round disc shaped 'Lateral Balance' weight, which is smaller in size/mass (and different) than the long cylinder shaped Lateral Balance weight used on the FR64S.

Because of this and other differences, does the FR64 have significantly less Effective Mass than the 35 grams of the FR64S?

I have sent the FR64S to Ikeda for rebuild and silver internal wire replacement.
Would the FR64 have near equal performance as the FR64S, but with the ability, if it does have less Effective Mass, to work better with cartridges of slightly higher compliance?
If so, I will have the same rebuild done to it.

I have recently purchased the SoundSmith Sussurro II ( 10μm/mN compliance) and just got back my FR-1 MK3 F from SoundSmith which had ruby cantilever/retip and last week sent them my FR MC201 to have the same done, they are both also 10um/mN compliance.

Would the FR64 be a better match for these cartridges than the FR64S?
Do you have both counterweight of the different mass for your FR tonearms or they are all have the same big and heavy counterweight ? 

If the compliance is 10μm/mN @ 10Hz then it's fairly low conpliance and heavy mass is what you need. But if the compliance measured at 100 Hz then your cartridge is twice as much in compliance. So you have to ask them to make sure! 

Actually i'm surprised if the SoundSmith cartridges have such a low compliance as 10cu ... (it's a bit old fashioned for a modern cartridge designer). Not sure how heavy is your headshell to balance with the tonearm counterweight. 

BTW: How did you sent then to Ideda Sound Lab ? Do you have direct contact ? 
Nandric knows this through my personal communication with him, but after I stated that my B60 was functioning perfectly, I found out two things about it: first, mine also can move back-and-forth a few millimeters in the horizontal direction, but thankfully it is tight and stable in the vertical direction, at least. Second, therefore I also need a new set screw. In reading the latest posts on this subject, I am thinking that I know a very fine machinist who has an audiophile bent. This is Colby Lang whom some of you may also know. He lives in Oregon. It may require me to send my B60 to Colby so he can make a perfect screw, if you pardon the expression, but I am willing to do that. First, I will contact Colby and see whether he is interested in this little project. Meantime, if you guys tell me whether you do or don’t want such a screw I can probably get a group price from Colby. He doesn’t work for free.
Forgot to say, happy new year.
I have 2 counter weights, one is 175 grams, which was used on the FR64 and  the other is 250 grams, which I'm hoping to be able to use with the FR64S.
I'm hoping I will be able to get balance close to the bearing so as to lower the seen Effective Mass, but won't know if it works until I get the tonearm back from Ikeda, which I just shipped on Monday, they will completely disassemble the tonearm, clean it, check for any issues, repair/relube and then replace the existing silver wire with new Ikeda silver wire.

I was planning on using a carbon fiber Yamamoto HS4S headshell... it is only 10.7 grams (compared to the 20 grams of FR headshell used when rating the FR64S @ EM of 35 grams) and the leads on the headshell are 6N copper leads, next I would like to find a similar headshell with 6N silver leads.

I talked with Peter Green of SoundSmith and he said that the 10um/mN @ 10Hz rating on their cartridges is a good match for up to around 29 gram Effective Mass on a tonearm. Actually most of their cartridges fall into this range.

Rich, You can buy silver cartridge leads on eBay. They are a product of either Yamamoto or Oyaide; in other words, the source is reputable. No need to purchase an entire headshell. In fact, I don’t know of any of the better Japanese-made headshells that come with silver leads. Most use high quality copper. I have an HS4S, too. On that one, I think the leads are hard-wired. You cannot easily replace them with silver leads. On the other hand, the elimination of one physical connection in the signal path is worth that sacrifice, IMO. Great headshell, by the way.

I am currently finding my Ortofon MC2000, which has the lowest output of any cartridge I know about, to sound surprisingly great through my Manley Steelhead while riding in an HS4S on a Dynavector DV505.  (No SUT needed.) I think this only works well because the Beveridge direct-drive amplifiers must have a very low input sensitivity. (Meaning, they don't need much signal voltage to drive them pretty hard.) I want to put the MC2000 on my FR64S, but the high-ish compliance of the MC2000 matched with the high mass of the FR64S gives me pause.  However, the low weight of the HS4S makes it worth a shot. You've convinced me.

Sounds like a great idea.

Also, so you know, I have been in contact with Tien, the person we bought these from, and he says that new screw guides are being made and will be done in a week or so.
I know Colby is very capable, I have seen much of his work in person, he has built quite a few HEAVY turntables, etc.
This might be something that each individual B60 may need 'custom tuning'... not sure if the tolerances of each were close enough for a universal part and that that is why we are having these troubles? Just as in the 2 examples I have, one has no vertical or lateral play, while the other has quite a bit lateral play.
Colby did make me the SP-10 MK3 center disc removal tool, thanks for the suggestion.
When I did the 1600 mile round trip from WA state to CA about a week ago, I was supposed to stop by Colby's new place on the way back (I live less than 200 miles from him, and have only visited him at his previous home, have not seen his  new acquisition) but I had drove straight, without sleep and needed to get home... won't do that again... 36 hours straight with only a couple 'cat naps' to keep me refreshed enough to drive.
I got the SL1000 MK3 home safely and it is in very nice condition.  Unused for the past 20 years and light use before that time.  When funds allow, will be shipping off for complete refurb with Krebs mods... but will have to wait, as I have spent WAY too much $$ in the past month or so.
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I will hold off on bothering Colby, if you think Tien will get it done.  How do I get on his "list"?
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email sent.

Not sure if Colby wouldn't be the best bet, but still hope that Tien will come thru... I have been pressing for a fix for quite awhile and my patience is waning....