Is There An "Absolute" Best Cartridge?

Dear friends: We can read through different threads/posts in this forum that people always want/ask to know for the " best " " audio item " that IMHO and till today does not exist in " absolute " meaning.
Well I already have and I'm " living " a unique experience that makes me to share with all of you what IMHO could be in Absolute terms " the best cartridge ever ".

Please read this Technics EPC-P100C-MK4 information that could help you for you can share with us your experiences/thoughts on the subject of this thread:

Thank you in advance.
Regards and enjoy the music,
"Best" is in the eye/ear of the beholder.
I know what it is but if I told you I would have to kill you.
Curiously, I HAVE actually read through most of that thread recently. I want to THANK YOU Raul for your serious effort and dedication in persuing that gargantuan task.
I have to say though, that I love my moving coils.. The 25 year old Dynavector Ruby 23 a coworker gave me, and a new Benz Glider.
Thanks again for your work in producing and co-writing that huge and interesting thread.
Got one for sale????
The "Absolute best of" Posts are ridiculous!

There are only "very good" products that are widely recognized as very good ("above the norm"), such as moving coil cartridges.

Price plays into this, in a large part, because of "diminishing returns", and the fact that you can always get state of art at less than ridiculous prices.
Hi: Maybe is more easy that you read that Technics cartridge link here:


Dear friends: This is really a review, I’m not so good writing an audio item review but this time IMHO I think that this Technics MM phono cartridge deserve some one that can “ speaks “ on it and well I’m here to do it and “ looking “ for your experiences and feedback on the Technics cartridge subject, I know there are owners of the EPC-100C I really appreciate your contribution as the contribution of all of you that help to enrich the whole thread title subject.

The name Technics is a very well respected and old name in audio, a manufacturer that belongs to Panasonic group and then to the electronic gigantic Matushita I think that in the analog area Technics is very well know for its turntables where I think the most popular is the 1200 model(s) but in the high end the Technics name had/have a Reference products status like TT’s that are a challenge to even today TT designs through its DD designs SP10-MK2 and MK3 designs. Other analog area where Technics was/is a “ reference “ is on tonearm design through the EPA-100, EPA 500 and the EPA100 MK2.

Less know it for its cartridge designs otherwise Technics build/design either MM and LOMC cartridges and in both cartridge technologies made it at top level.
The Technics philosophy was/is be second to none and the EPC-P100 MK4 is a good example of this Technics philosophy.

Its latest and top of the line LOMC model was the EPC-305MC MK2 and its latest top MM cartridge was the EPC-205C MK4.

Why make a review on an audio item that is out of production and hard to find?, if you read the Audiogon MM/MI thread you can find that almost all the cartridges that many people are enjoying today are “ out of production “ ones and where we can buy it only second hand, sometimes in NOS condition and many times really second hand meaning and the important/critical subject about is that several of these out of production cartridges are and have very high quality performance against any today cartridge standards in either design: MM/MI or LOMC, we have to think that all of us can/could take advantage that today we have better quality audio systems than 30 years ago that help for these cartridges shows its real today very nice performance. This Technics has not only that kind of quality performance level but additional performance characteristics that makes me be here in the review.

For many years I was looking for this Technics cartridge with out luck, I find the EPC-100C MK4 two times but this one is an integrated headshell model and I don’t want it because it does not permit to test/match the cartridge with the right headshell/tonearm in my system, it does not permit too to mount but only in a removable headshell design, and IMHO the cartridge internal wire connections were good in its time but not today .

Finally more than six months ago and thank’s to an Agon friend I find a source with a NOS of this P-mount EPC-P100C MK4.

The cartridge appear in the audio market in November of 1982 .

The cartridge was and is still today a cartridge reference for a few pro-audio reviewers, recording producers and even cartridge manufacturers/designers like Dr. Van denHul.

As you read this cartridge sample is the MK4 latest EPC-P100C version, many years ago I had the opportunity ( but not the money to buy it. ) to hear the original one.

This P-mount cartridge comes in a small box with the external Technics ad nomenclature writes in the box. Inside we find a plastic “ box “ where the EPC-P100C MK4 comes mounted and fixed through a screw in an item that looks like a especial plastic headshell that protect against any bad handling box. We find here the hardware that we need to mount it like: an “ open frame “ P-mount universal adaptor, screws, headshell wires ( these has especial connectors due that the cartridge pins connectors are very think against the pins connectors in a normal ½” cartridge. ), two screwdrivers: one to fix the cartridge to the mount adaptor with the dedicated screw and one ( small one. ) to fix the cartridge stylus ( through a thin philips type screw. ) to the cartridge body, a warranty card . a operation manual and frequency response/crosstalk charts/diagram of my specific cartridge sample.

The cartridge it self is beautiful made in champagne color with rear plate in black. The Technics people was really especial,, in the left cartridge body side we can read: type of cantilever, cartridge recommended VTF and Matushita Electronics/Made in Japan.

Build/design cartridge characteristics and specifications:

It is a moving magnet one-point suspension with “ all HPF core, precision ground finish “, the cantilever is pure boron tapered pipe with a TTDD ( Technics Temperature Defense Damper ), the magnet is a Disc-shaped samarium-cobalt with (BH) max=30 MG . Oe, the stylus tip is a especial linear elliptical stylus, with an effective moving mass of 0.055 mg. ( please don't ask what means these Technics propietary " cartridge design/build " characteristics: I don't have idea yet. )

Frequency response: 5 Hz- 120,000 Hz
20 Hz- 20,000 Hz +,- 0.3 db ( **** )
15 Hz- 80,000 Hz +,- 3 db

Output voltage: 1.2 mV ( * )
Channel separation: more than 25 db.
Channel balance: within 0.5 db
Compliance: 12cu ( 100 Hz, dynamic. )
DC resistance: 30 Ohms ( ** )
Inductance: 33 mH
Recommended load
Resistance: 10 kohms to 1 Mohms!
Recommended load
Capacitance: less than 500 pf. ( *** )
VTF: 1.25 +,-0.25 g.

( * ): both channels measure the same output voltage with out any measurable difference!!!!!
( ** ) both channels in my sample measure the same: 37.3 Ohms with out any measurable difference!!!!!!!
( *** ) the Technics chart measures states that they use 100 pf. I’m using 150pf.
( **** ) each one Technics chart channel frequency response shows “ identical “ with no “ visual “ deviation for both channels!!!!!!!

The stylus replacement model is: EPS-P100ED4.

As we read it this Technics cartridge was made with an envy great and unique precision, I name this: perfect design/execution build quality “ cero tolerance “ people oriented!!!! Proudly to be part of this great audio item.

Cartridge set up:

Normally the MM/MI cartridges are user friendly on tonearm and set up, well this one is not an easy set up one especially on VTA/SRA. I mounted in my Audio Technica AT-1503 MK3 with an original magnesium Nagaoka headshell and did not like it so I change it to an aluminum heavier headshell and in this one is how I'm listening it, latter on VTA/SRA set up.

Technics leaves at random almost nothing, the P-mount adaptor that comes with the cartridge is an open frame design ( unique and different from any adaptor I know or have. ) and this means that there are no adaptor pin connectors where the cartridge pins are connected and where the cartridge signal has to pass on ( in addition to the cartridge " normal " pin connectors. ) and where that signal suffer an important degradation.
This open frame design comes with the usual 1/2" mount headshell holes threaded and the usual P-mount design adaptor/cartridge hole that fix through a screw the cartridge to the mount adaptor.

Instead of the normal adaptor for P-mount cartridges that comes with pin connectors Technics build and design its own headshell wires, at one end these headshell wires ( four color coded. ) are like any other headshell cartridge wires/connectors/clips but at the cartridge end there is a small plastic ( clear ) box where the four wires are placed in exactly the right position to connect directly to the cartridge pin connectors that are a lot tinner ( tiny ) that a normal/non P-mount cartridge pin connectors.

With this headshell wires especial aditament Technics solve two critical subjects in favor to maintain the integrity of the cartridge signal: first eliminate the P-mount adaptor pin connectros ( one less stage where the signal must pass on. ) making a direct connection with the cartridge and second they choose a better quality headshell wires than stock ones ( obviously that today we have even better headshell wires, so I don't use the Technics ones but my normal silver Audio Note . ).

The VTF was and is working at 1.25grs and the load impedance is set to 100kohms along a total capacitance of 150pf. I don't use anti-skating and the cartridge comes with removable stylus guard.

The cantilever/stylus assemble in a MM/MI cartridge is the smaller one that I know other than my Nagatron 350 and is dead center on the cartridge body like no any other cartridge I know. This is my first cartridge ( I can't be sure but maybe along my AKG P100-LE ) where the Azymuth has to set up with out any center deviation.

Due to its extraordinary performance characteristics the VTA/SRA sweet spot is extremely wide and IMHO a challenge for any one.: this cartridge refuse to sound “ bad “ at any usual/unusual VTA/SRA set up!!!!! .

After 12 hours the cartridge almost settle down and I begin to find out its “ average “ best sweet spot VTA/SRA position that was/is almost even/level in parallel to the record. To made/make this set up I now appreciate not only my audio music experience and audio system high resolution but that fortunately I have and use ( for the last ten years. ) the same 10 tracks on different recordings as my cartridge tests to cartridge set up, I think that maybe with out these recording tests could never achieve the “ best “ quality performance of this especial and unique cartridge , you can read something about these test tracks here:


As some of you can read one of my test recordings is the Janis Ian tracks 1 and 2 in side B, well when things goes difficult I use too the Gold Edition CD of this Janis Ian recording to check in CD ( 7 ) a battery part ( middle of the track (drum.). ) that belongs to mid-range and in the ( 8 track. ) for bass near the end of this track. Well, this Janis Ian digital recording is really good and at least in the bass better than the LP where in the mid-range ( especially the test part I use. ) is similar in both. For the very first time I heard trough the Technics cartridge the bass on the LP with the pitch/tightness/no-overhang/no-coloration/no-lush/no-bloat-bold but the right bass!!

As better the audio system as better the cartridge quality performance, IMHO this cartridge is a challenge to almost any good audio system ( cartridge limitations?, only the self audio system limitations. ), its specs are more electronic of an audio item “ oriented “ than usual cartridge specs!!


What makes the quality performance differences against any other ( MM/MI/LOMC ) cartridge I heard?, well what distinguish a good or very good audio item to an excellent one: frequency extremes performance! along music dynamic handling, only this? Well not exactly but mainly.

Dear friends, this is the first cartridge in the last ???…ever that let me hear “ sounds “ in recordings that I know well in deep that I never was aware exist in those recordings and let me not " heard/hear " ( well not heard. ) “ things “ that are mere colorations in other cartridges, it is not that with the Technics sounds different or better NO are “ new “ sounds!! that no other cartridge in any other system I heard produce or at least its performance does not permit goes out with the SPL need it to my ears/brain detect in precise way like in the Technics cartridge performance.

One example of that you can find it in the Patricia Barber ( Cafe Blue ) recording through the track 2 ( Nardis. ) side B where in the first 2-3 minutes we can hear the Patricia voice, well with almost any other cartridge I can " count " four times that the microphone takes the Patricia " breath " and with the Technics I can detect six times that breath/respiration in Patricia performance. You can check and see what you hear about.

This cartridge is very good tracker like almost all MM/MI cartridge but this in especial and I think due to its very high quality performance the " normal " inner groove distortion does not exist in anyway. I test this playing the recordings from inner track to outer track looking for that " inner distortion " or quality differences and my ears can't detect any where in other cartridges I can hear a difference in the highs with more brightness that IMHO only tell me more distortion and not better quality performance.

Frequency extremes performance: IMHO the high and bass frequency range quality performance is what has the biggest influence in the whole recording/track performance. As better these frequency ranges as better the recording quality performance in any single recording frequency range: mid range/low treble/mid-bass/soundstage/layering/detail/etc., etc. and as I say along how well the cartridge/system handle the music dynamics.

IMHO this cartridge sets new frequency extreme ranges quality performance and dynamics. The bass in cartridges like the Azden YM-P50VL or the Allaerts Formula One ( that are extraordinary in this regard. ) with that bloom/lush even a little/tiny " rounded " impact/power in the bass is only that a very good but " colored " bass performance.

How is in the EPC-P100C MK4?, disappear that " rounded "/bloom type bass response and instead of that we have not more bass quantity but better bass quality ( even deeper. ) with precise control on the bass musical notes and with less a lot less coloration/distortions: no overhang, no bloom, no round response ( only when is in the recording. ), no false response ( because we can't hear it in that way in live events. ) with false " excess " of bass ( a halo around the bass. ). The speed in transient response in the bass ( well over the frequency range. ) and fast/precise time decay on musical notes made/makes that the " normal " colorations/distortions almost disappear leaving nothing but the music.

Recordings like D. Bowie Cat People ( 45rpm. ) or Firebird ( Mercury Living Presence. ) are two examples of the “ true “ low bass in those recordings against the bass performance with other cartridges. In the Bowie track not only shows the bass range improvement but now the Bowie voice is clear/pristine and more “ Bowie voice “ with lower “ size “ and less darkness and bold/bloat.
In the Firebird score ( side B. ) it is amazing to enjoy/hear the whole sound that produce that bass big drum, I mean as whole sound the different “ sounds “ inside/out with only one player hit on the drum, we can detect so vivid “ what is happening “ inside on that big bass drum and OH! that lovely first double-bass pizzicato at the very begin on this side B track that you can touch/cut. In the other side now I can hear very clear the harp on this score. Everything is “ cleaned “ with this bass level performance!

The Power and the Majesty ( Mobile Fidelity. ):

this is perhaps the best real/live recording/performance that I heard. Well with this cartridge we can “ live “/hear the most “ vivid “ experience that I never heard before in my place or any other place.

If we take the side A this is a Storm recording. Recorded just from the begin when we can hear not only the first and “ slow “ fall water drops but the thunderstorm far away from the recording place ( a house. ), suddenly the storm begin with fierce precede of a near big thunder that if you are unaware of it then you just jump from your seat, this big thunderstorm is in your face with all real/live power as you can hear in a live storm, it is something incredible the way this cartridge produce the right thunder sound from the start transients to the end of thunder sound: a learning experience that maybe you can understand in a precise way when you have the opportunity to hear it.

After this big thunder the rain falls abruptly and now you can hear how the rain drops hits the window and how the water falls from the roof-house and how hits the floor out side the house. This rain fall has a very wide frequency range of sounds where IMHO only first rate systems can discern on that wide range of those sounds.

Well, it happens that just behind my speakers the room has a big glass-window and when you are hearing this storm recording I can say to you that is almost impossible to say if the rain drops hitting the window in the recording are a recording or a real-live rain drops hitting my window: you must hear to believe it!!!!, what a experience!

In the first track side B we can hear the sound of an old locomotive in motion and we heard it starting when the locomotive is far away from us and distinguish only the sound of its whistle and some " sounds " of the wood/camp environment but when this railroad is at a few meters from us the whistle and metal sound of the motion on he rails are impressive ( for say the least ), you can think the whole train be pass over you: your instinct makes that you made a " step back "!!!!, it is the train that is passing from left to right in your " room "!, better yet you are transported where things are happening!.

Mozart/ChopinHandel ( Kabi Laretei ( player ) ATR Mastercut recording ) and Shumann ( John Lill ( Piano player ). Greenpro label. ):

This sweden pianist/player is very good as is the recording. What I want to high light here is that along the Shuman ( different recording ) recording how well we can identify ( similar piano instruments: Steninway’s. ) the microphones used: B&K ‘s on the ATR and Neumann’s on the Shuman one, I prefer the vivid/life like tone on the B&K against the little " softness " in the Neumann's. Both performances are great and both recordings remember me that ( for my taste ) the piano is the “ Instrument “, a glorious one.

The Power and the Glory ( Direct to Disc M&K recording ):

For the people that does not know about this recording here are some high lights: three Organs at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles being played by the Master Lloyd Holzgraf. The two big Organs were separate by 198 feet played antiphonally and blended: 11,848 pipes/32 foot fundamental pipes and high pressure trumpets!!!!

who owns the Vol.1 of this great recordings knows that is not easy to achieve high quality performance on it especially a " clean " performance, this means with very low distortion. Here the Technics shows its capacity to track in exemplary way, mantaining always contact and " minute " contact always with the grooves where other cartridges fail to do it at the Technics precise level, the Technics almost no distortion performance comes as a result of its great tracking capacity.

Well, the second track on side A ( Vivaldi: Largo in D minor. ) ( first track and just splendid: Bach, Toccata and Fuga in D minor. ) has so deep/low bass organ notes that we can't hear it but only feel it. I try these track with different cartridges and in all of them the organ vibrations that you feel over your body ( over all system room. ) are the same but the ones coming from the Technics: can you believe this?, I was in doubt for what I was feeling on these Technics vibrations so I repeat 3-4 times the track to be absolutely sure of what I'm " hearing ": is not only that you feel the vibrations on the body but that you can discern very well on those vibrations and its intensity and quality because in the Technics you " feel " less distortion.

Eva Cassidy ( Songbird. ):

Tracks 1 and 3 in side A shows the beauty of Eva Cassidy voice, through the Technics you can attest the real ( or near real .) the formidable and marvelous Eva voice: so distinctive, so demanding, so fullness, so melodic, so precise and involving, so emotional that I can't understand and miss her young lost.

Shehrezade ( Reiner and the Chicago.):

My only comment: that concertino finale, always sounds excellent but through the Technics it is an “ endless love “ experience.

I use several other recordings knowing and enjoying this cartridge.

At the other frequency extreme the over-brigthness performance almost disappear ( even at high SPL like 94db's+. ), we have only the natural agresiveness of the music with out any edginess or colorations that could stress or fatigue our ears through hours of playing time. In this frequency range the differences are big too and the transparency/detail/natural auidiophile music words takes a new dimension that only if you hear it can understand it ( I have no words in English to explain in precise way, maybe because is a totally new experience. ). Many times ( like in the PB Nardis track. ) the sound of cymbals ( especially when the player hits at the outer cymbal ring. ) we heard are something like a soft white noise with out definition with this Technics cartridge there is no “ white noise sound “ but the metallic distinctive cymbal sound with the precise hearing when the player hits the cymbals, you can hear very clear the fundamental, harmonics, rhythm and decay of the sound.
This cartridge has great capacity for discerns/differentiate/distinguish every nuances in every recording like no other analog source ( save for a master tape. ) I heard/know. Other important characteristic is that with this cartridge does not exist the " overhang " that is so common with other cartridges in every frequency range, with the Technics the music note end in precise way like we heard it in a good live event.
All these cartridge unique characteristics are what makes the difference.

With this frequency extreme great quality performance the low treble/mid-range/soundstage/inner-detail/etc, takes new meaning where the overall performance put us not near on the recording but " on the recording ". After the first few cartridge playing/hearing hours and after the big “ surprise “ on its quality performance level and after understand that almost what we already heard through almost any cartridge in almost any audio system was almost “ wrong “ and after accept this new quality level performance: The transparency, clarity, accuracy, precision, natural music agresiveness ( with no false mid-range lush. ), feeling and emotions that involve you and that flow all over your skin as you are hearing the recording then your next thought is that you want/need that that pleasure and music enjoy never end.

Nothing disturb you, nothing between you and the music, nothing between the music pleasure and your brain/sense, nothing to worry about but the big joy and happyness that only the music can, what you are hearing always " move " you even if it is not the kind of music you like.
Maybe many of you can say that what I posted here through hearing those ( an a lot more ) different recordings is what you are hearing at your place, certainly you did/do but IMHO not at this quality top level: this analog source is something especial.

Dear friends: IMHO different cartridges " paint " the music in different Colors.

The EPC-P100CMK4 has the capacity to Color the music with the right tone, with the right lights and shadows and with the right color intensity that the recording is asking for through the whole recording/music composition.

The recording is a paint in white and black and the cartridge ( well the whole audio system. ) the painter: from this " point of view " the Technics full-fill its true Color on each single " space " in that paint where other cartridges/painters not only are less refined painters but leave " spaces " with no Color.

A unique an enjoyable musical experience. IMHO nothing comes close to it. Yes I'm a proud owner of this cartridge like several other owners but with a little of patience you can find a cartridge sample over the Net ( especially in Japan , Hong Kong or Europe. ).

Can any one ask for more?, maybe but for me is good enough today and really I can't imagine how to improve this kind of performance where I can't detect any single drawback. Of course that I'm always in the audio Nirvana quest a who knows what the future has to all of us.

Are there serious contenders to the Technics cartridge?, not really: I like a lot Allaerts Formula One, Goldbug Ms. Brier, Audio Technica ATML 180-OCC, Azden YM-P50LV, Ortofon A-90, Lyra Olympos, Sonus Dimension 5, Van denHul Colibri, Dynavector XV-1s , Grado Amber The Tribute, Coralstone, Signet TK10 ML-Mk3 or Grado RS II ( I don't heard/hear yet the XV-1t. ) but IMHO no one of them ( unfortunately ) share the Technics cartridge performance new level characteristics., maybe the AKG P100-LE could share “ something “ with the Technics but this I can corroborate when I receive it from Van denHul where is now for a “ refresh “ cartridge service.

My high and only hope is that in a very near future the cartridge designers/manufacturers can come with new cartridge designs ( either LOMC or MM/MI. ) that can even or better yet that can beats this today unique, great, formidable and marvelous EPC-P100C MK4!!

Yes, this cartridge is a unique and precision musical instrument : an authentic piece of “ art “.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Rauliruegas (System | Answers)

The 205 was one of the best , if not the best MMs ever built. I still have a couple that need rebuilding. But I never heard of ANY p mount cartridge that could compete with a good standard mount given the compromises necessary by the mounting system.
Thank you Raul for a superb review.

Although English is not your first language, the time and effort you have devoted to describing in minute detail the attributes of this incredible cartridge have paid dividends in communicating to the readers, every nuance you are hearing.

I too am awaiting a renaissance in the MM/MI cartridge making skills which the industry obviously once possessed.

Thank you again for initiating this 'crusade' for without you, many of us would probably not have had the 'guts' to revert back to our old MM 'friends'.

Kind Regards
Could it be that Keep it simple is indeed correct. Less preamplification on the MM's could be a reason for this thinking. However we've been down this road have we not?
LOMC are always superior (in long term listening) to MM/MI when the arm that is used has an "indexed" micrometer head height adjustment and the operator knows how to "fine" tune the arm.
Here we go again, another of Rauls posts where HE ALLREADY KNOWS THE ANSWER. He has thankfully told us early on, so we can all leave now... because, our opinions do not matter!

The only thing we can hope for is that he designs a world beating cartridge himself. Then we can hear about that for another 500 self absorbed, chest beating posts. Where there is no alternative to Rauls absolute.

"Are there serious contenders to the Technics cartridge?, not really: I like a lot Allaerts Formula One, Goldbug Ms. Brier, Audio Technica ATML 180-OCC, Azden YM-P50LV, Ortofon A-90, Lyra Olympos, Sonus Dimension 5, Van denHul Colibri, Dynavector XV-1s , Grado Amber The Tribute, Coralstone, Signet TK10 ML-Mk3 or Grado RS II ( I don't heard/hear yet the XV-1t. ) but IMHO no one of them ( unfortunately ) share the Technics cartridge performance new level characteristics.,"
Regards and enjoy the music,

If the first 100db suck, why continue?
I'm all the more inclined to accept Raul's discernment of Technics in view of his long restraint in crowning a winner through some 1800 posts to his MM/MI thread. Of course one must judge these things for oneself. It is therefore unfortunate that few will be able to acquire and compare Technics. IMO the only controversial point is whether it is worth writing a painstaking & thoughtful review of a collectible classic rather than a current product. However to this point, many other top NOS MM/MI cartridges are still available for those who trouble to seek them out at a fraction of the cost of a top MC. Raul, thanks for your archeological dig of analog history! To the majority who will never cross this psychological devide, spend money to express yourself!

Raul, a point you make that I particularly grasp is that after all their virtues are considered, most MM/MI remain challenged (relative to MC) to produce realistic tonality and delineation of deep LF. Of my samples top Azden does the least harm in this area. If Technics equals Azden in other respects while surpassing it in LF repro then it must be great.
Raul constantly says to try these things yourself and is open to other peoples input.
of course there's not... unless we're all going to buy the same source components, same amplification components, same speakers, same cables and set up in the same room. Oh yeah, and I guess we'd have to clone Raul's auditory cortex and transplant it into each of our temporal lobes...

There are so many variables in audio, ESPECIALLY analog! I have no idea how anyone deems anything as "absolute best".

Here's the thing - and I've expressed this before to Raul directly - I applaud what he's done. He's brought to light a ton of older MM/MI cartridges that most have forgotten and given detailed reviews of what he hears from each of them. I get that and appreciate it.

What I don't get is how so many people can line up and just accept it all as gospel. Again, I'm not denigrating the great work Raul has done - I'm just saying, if I'm going to separate my cash from my bank account on an audio purchase, I make damn sure I've got more than one person giving me an opinion on the item.

When I read dozens of people saying "the Shure V15-VMR has a razor flat frequency response" that gets my attention. When I get one person declaring something as being the "best ever, period" that gets me shaking my head in wonder.
Raul - the only logic answer to your original question in this thread is: NO.
The things that make me wonder,why some of the new "state of the art" cartridges are not much better than some of "state of the art" models from 20-30 years ago,according to some who can actually afford to buy the new top models.If CD would have been introduced ten years later, I wonder how much more cartridge technology would have advanced.Why should one have to spend $4K + to hear a current state of the art cartridge?Why would it be hard to believe the Technics EPC-P100MK4 could be one of the best ever produced?Its a shame Technics/Panasonic doesn't produce these fine cartridges anymore.
03-09-10: Stanwal
"The 205 was one of the best , if not the best MMs ever built. I still have a couple that need rebuilding. But I never heard of ANY p mount cartridge that could compete with a good standard mount given the compromises necessary by the mounting system."

I own a 205, and it is a stellar cartridge that competes even with the $5000 MC I have.

First, how does one separate the sound of the cartridge from that of the arm/table?

Second, I think what HP said many years ago in one of his cartridge surveys still applies today. To paraphrase HP, if all these cartridges are supposed to represent the real thing, then how come they all sound so different. I think that just like humans, each cartridge has its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. The trick is as cartridges get better, for them to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

I have to say that I've recently heard many cartridges that I'd like to hear in my system such as the Clearaudios, ZYX, Ortofon, etc.

Hey and if you're happy with your rig, all the power to you! Many people spend their entire life searching for the Holy Grail :)


The "best" doesn't even interest me. How does one determine the "best" food? Yes, I do see audio in food analogy and, to me at least, much more fun that way as a hobby. This over-determination of looking for the "best" component has given us some of the most flavorless sound imaginable. Is it any wonder that in Asia people are having more fun than in the States that Asians, in the pursuit of quality up to a certain point, also want variety? Compare their magazines to The Absolute Stereophool variety in the States and you can see why. This audio asceticism is the reason younger people see audiophiles as nuts and very soon the kids and spouses no longer want to be in the same room with them. It's time to espouse to the kids and novices that audio can be fun again, or else the hobby will die.... slowly. Bring back the fun! Good luck with your quest.

Dear Tpreaves: In some ways you are right till you find " something " that break your everyday paradigms and this Technics cartridge break audio paradigms and myths.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Elizabeth: Maybe could be time to try " new " alternatives.
For many years all of us already have " right in front " other analog source choice and because we are accustom to the same audio paradigms we don't even " look " at " left side ", never is to late to begin with.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear SiddH: If you find it please let me know.

regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Stanwal: I own too the Technics EPC 205C MK4 that is one of my favorities and I agree that is a great cartridge ( either MM/MI or LOMC. ).

As good the 205MK4 it is a little short against the P100C MK4 ( even both cartridge specs are different and in favor of the P100C MK4. ), we have to remember that this cartridge was the Technics " master piece ": nothing less.

+++++ " But I never heard of ANY p mount cartridge that could compete with a good standard mount given the compromises necessary by the mounting system. " +++++

please re-read my Technics review where I be very specific on that mounting " compromise " you name it and that fortunately is solve: no compromises at all.

If you want a first rate MM/MI alternative that happen is a P-mount design ( where you can attest or not about your concern. ) you can get ( by " cents ". ) the Azden YM-P50VL in NOS condition ( that I name it in the review. ) here with Nick:

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Don_c55: +++++ " The "Absolute best of" Posts are ridiculous! " +++++

maybe yes and maybe not, it depend of what audio item we are talking about, what surrounded that audio item, whom are talking about and why are talking about ( between other things ).

This is what I posted in the thread: +++++ " to know for the " best " " audio item " that IMHO and till today does not exist in " absolute " meaning. " +++++

so in principle/beginning I agree with you but the world as life and everything that surrounded us ( including audio ) in more or less way is changing in a constant way.

I like to ask me " stupid " or unorthodox questions: hey what happen if instead to use a " normal/usual " VTA/SRA set up I change for an unusual ( very high. ) one ? hey what happen if instead to use the " normal " ( rule ) load for MM cartridges at 47K to 100K? hey what happen if I don't use any plinth with my TT? and many other questions and you know what I always discover/learn something for the better or wrong that when " for the better " many times goes against the usual " paradigms/myths "/establishment in audio even against Theory.

This thread is more to ask to every one of us to leave behind us those old paradigms/myths ( not all of them. ) that could stop growing the high end audio industry in detriment/against of the music enjoy.

This Technics cartridge is IMHO a very good example that could give us the opportunity to be and think not only different but oriented to improve faster what we have on hand today. I will try through this thread along other contributors to explain that almost always exist the " best of.." audio item.

+++++ " LOMC are always superior (in long term listening) to MM/MI " +++++

That the Technics cartridge is a MM design it does not have importance and the thread is not the place to analize LOMC against MM , if you want to know more about please go to that long MM/MI thread where you can find several answers/experiences from many people that think in different way you do even they think the subject is " the other way around "!

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Halcro: Thank you. I think that we can grow up faster if we take out/off the very old " spider's web " we each one has at the " ceiling ".

If each one of us almost always are on the quest of better home audio system quality performance then it makes sense to use and ask and try every " road " we think could/can help to be nearest to that target quest, even " crazy/stupid " ideas!: Henry I learn that not all are/is already writed on high end Audio! and we are so fortunate to be part of the " future " writings because we are actors not mere spectators.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Alun: IMHO any additional gain stage like is need it in LOMC cartridges only can makes a signal degradation, normally in audio " less means more " but this is not what or can tell the whole " history ", maybe in other thread we could discuss deepest that subject.

Thank you to been here. What do you think on " the best " cartridge ever? makes sense to you?

regards and enjoy the music,
I guess I will find out.

Got one of Raul's worlds best cartridges - Technics EPC-P100C-MK4 in transit.

Will be fun comparing it to my Ortofon A90 after it arrives.
Now Downunder - THAT is the best post here so far !
Dear Raul +++I learn that not all are/is already writed on high end Audio!+++

I think it is - problem is that it was written before the world wide web became second life for most audiophiles. Tons of invaluable technical information about audio related issues and topics have been written by dedicated gifted engineers and pioneers of audio during a time when high end was still the profession as well as the object of research and development of legions of trained and highly educated engineers and technicians.
And with the huge man power and financial resources of large companies behind them.
Those technical essays and papers are only in fragments and small portions available on the web so far.
Thus comes that many "facts" known 4 and 5 decades back are today in parts "new discoveries" by heroic audio afficionados today.
Open wide all doors of voodoo and niche-guru-ship.
The global village and its online platforms giving each and every audio voice its speaker's corner freely is no good substitute for the printed papers of the 1940ies - 1960ies.
There is no new in analog audio.
Everything was written already.
Much is lost and forgotten.
And most orchestras today do indeed manoeuvre in the dark ............ while believing that the dense fog around them is clear light leading to audio heaven.
Raul, As you know, I like what you are doing. And thru following in your footsteps (to a degree but making my own choices along the way), I am having more pure "fun" than ever with this hobby. I will always be grateful that you stimulated me/us to take a second look at this great class of cartridges. But any decent philosopher past or present would tell you that it is folly to argue from first principles what is "best". So I am kind of not with you in this case. (Also, I am jealous because I don't own a EPC P100C and can no longer get one.) It's perfectly ok to say that the Technics is the "best you have ever heard in your system". Why not leave it at that? What happens if you now audition the AKG P100LE (for one example, and which you told us you own but have not heard) and find it to be superior to the Technics? There are also some purportedly great Stanton/Pickering ultimate "low output" MMs that I don't think any of us have heard. I guess this is why Don Quixote did what he did.
Dear Dgarretson: +++++ " To the majority who will never cross this psychological devide, spend money to express yourself! " +++

this is part of what I want to talk in the thread: that part of the audiophile/audio high end establishment that almost never change.

Btw, yes this Technics cartridge is better in the bass frequency range that the Azden and this means a lot.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Vinyladdict: +++++ " that gets me shaking my head in wonder. " +++++

this is all about. Before we can have precise " conclusions " we need to shake a little our brains.

Btw, ++++ " I make damn sure I've got more than one person giving me an opinion on the item. " +++++

I remember that I recomended the Azden for you and told you that read the MM/MI thread where not me but others can give an opinion about. Please don't reat all of us that are participating in the MM/MI thread ( and many others that choose not participate but that are testing MM(MI's. )like " childs " that does not have each one criterion, all of us are adult people with knowledge in audio/music and with the desire to achieve better ways to enjoy music.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Travbrow: ++++++ " The things that make me wonder,why some of the new "state of the art" cartridges are not much better than some of "state of the art" models from 20-30 years ago.. " ++++++

there are many reasons ( each one of us have an opinion ) about from the " who cares " audio industry on the customers needs, poor voicing audio items design, only commercial oriented products, " corrupted " professional reviewers, non know-how, audio establishment, no research any more, etc, etc of course there are exceptions ( designers, reviewers, etc, etc ) to those facts. We need a new thread only to try to have answers precise answers to your critical question because this happen not only with cartridges but with other audio items/links that conform the audio chain.

+++ " Its a shame Technics/Panasonic doesn't produce these fine cartridges anymore. " +++++

agree and I can add that it is a shame that other manufacturers already " disappear " and that some great audio item designers already almost lose the " emotion " and old attitude that when they start theirs " history " in the audio industry, not all of course but many. Same for pro-audio reviewers.

In many ways I think that always ( time to time ) is important to think/return to our " roots " to remember why we are HERE and what put me HERE.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Mosin: +++++ " I own a 205, and it is a stellar cartridge that competes even with the $5000 MC I have. " +++++

well I appreciate that people like you take the time to try old analog source alternatives like the MM/MI one.

That the audio establishment already preclude its existence does not means it is not there alive and waiting for all of us to give each one great rewards.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Even if there was an "absolute" best cartridge, we couldn't agree on it anyway. When it comes to audio, there are no "absolutes" that I am aware of that all audiophiles would agree on. The only thing I *think* that you could get audiophiles to agree on is that if you are dead, you are absolutely dead and even this is doubtful.
Hey Raul,

You have devoted a lot of time in these threads about MM cartridges, I tried to read the "who needs an MC when we have MM thread", but I just can't follow this, too many variables and I do not have time. From what I see in this posting, is this a sidestep to regenerate a similar thread? I state this because you have already referenced the original thread several times and this appears to be a form of circular news posting about the merits of MM.

Don't get me wrong, from I have read from you, you provide a lot of technical information. From an fellow agoner though, I am pretty sure we don't need another thread started with the same information that is already posted in the other thread. I think that for reference purpsoses, as you have done, that is okay, but I would like to see a valid thread about the best cartridge in the world, and if you are going to argue that it is an MM, then this thread will be the same as the other thread.

All that being said, my MC is WAY better than your MM! I know because I am using an MC it and it sounds absolutely beautiful and.......blah blah blah.
Dear Audioquest4life: Certainly not. I give answer according what people posted.

You can read this ( in the thread ) in one of my posts/answer that confirm which is or not the thread subject:

+++++ " That the Technics cartridge is a MM design it does not have importance and the thread is not the place to analize LOMC against MM. " +++++

I have to answer six other posts more thread subject oriented.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Rauliruegas writes:

Certainly not. I give answer according what people posted.

That could be misinterpreted.

Dear friends: IMHO in every area/product/service of whatever surround our life almost always exist the " best ". As a fact this " the best " is what impulse the same " the best " company and its competitors to offer/design/build a new service/item/product that can even and beats " the best ".

I think that we don't " grow up and improve " only by " magic " but on purpose and with precise targets to be/attain " the best ".

Of course that several " companies " even us does not care or just can't or don't have the know-how or financial resource or whatever to aspire to the " best " top step.

Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Ferrari, BMW, MB, etc, each one in his market " niche " " fight " to be the best to increment its sales or by be recognise on a top " status " level.

Lakers, Celtics, Yankees, Dodgers, Dolphyns, Steelers, etc, etc, works/fight to be " the best ".

M. Streep, J. Bridges, T. Cruise, K. Bacon, R. Williams, S.J. Parker, W. Smith, M. Ryan, N. Watts, R. Redford, Scorssece, DD. Lewis, H. Ford, J. Foster, etc, etc every one in his/her respective movie genre fight/works/improve to be " the best ".

The best is IMHO a synonymous of an attitude in constant action to achieve hard/especial targets to be " the best ", it is a challenged/competitive attitude that with out that we can/could live in the mediocrity where many companies and people belongs.

Nothing of these facts are un-familiar on the audio industry where things take action in the same way.
If you ask to an audio item designer/builder if he design to attain a product that can be know it like " the best " in its audio area, some of them ( designers ) will answer you that they want to be there: " the best ", that their hard work design, research, execution, etc are win that prize.
Some of them meet that target and several fail on that " quest ": maybe next time!

Deny that exist " the best " on audio is like deny our each one existence and IMHO makes non-sense.

That is really unusual to find " the best " does not means " the best " does not exist.

How the audio industry and in specific the high end audio niche grow up and improve with out existence of several " the best " through all these years? just by " magic " ?, certainly not: the high end industry has/own a very strong deep attitude on " the best " subject that gives the impulse to not only grow up but to improve over the time, it is what move/action the whole high end audio industry where we all ( one way or the other ) belongs, the audio industry area is not an island and not aisle from the " gravity laws " that command the Universe!!, no we are not so especial I can tell you.

Now, how I see this controversial " the best " subject:

all the " ones " ( like us. ) that belongs and live inside the high end audio " learn ", grow up and " think " according the high end audio establishment where exist several no write specific rules and myths that function like the four wall of the high end audio " room " and like attitude/behavior that norm the " life " in that room, these " rules " are the ones that permit to move inside the " room " at specific speed in a specific direction: are the " way of life "! .

part of these rules and myths in that high end audio establishment can/could be:
- tubes are the right " road ".
- SS technology is analytical, cool an un-involving.
- SE tube technology is the " heaven ".
- SUT are better for LOMC cartridge.
- analog source: only LOMC ones.
- TT's. the right road are BD designs.
- and if the Platter TT weights a " ton " the better.
- digital source is " untouchable ", does not exist.
- MM/MI cartridges: what is that?, has no quality status.
- amplifier output impedance: can I eat it?
- there is no " best ", does not exist.
- everything is system dependent.
- our earth planet is " flat/plane ".
- tonearm/cartridge resonance must be 10hz.
- Koetsu myth
- Gigant-killer: Denon 103
- etc, etc.

Who “ invent “ all those rules and false myths? Who cares!, we are here to write the history, our best time history.

we almost can't express something against the establishment because almost every one can/could stop you by the " rules " with out real additional arguments that can support those " rules/myths ".

what happen with our each one self audio/music education that we cultivate with care by 20-30+ years? what happen with our " restlessness " in different audio topics/areas where we want not only hear music through each one audio system but to enjoy it at " the best " by any standard.

All of us has very specific personal audio/music characteristics that shows as " good things ( virtues ) and bad things ( defect ) ", these virtues/defects are our each one audio luggage that grows through each one audio/music life experiences ( for the good or bad. ) and that conforms our each one learning curve audio/music ladder.

This audio/music each one knowledge/training is ( mainly ) what distinguish one each to other. Some are experts on tubes, other on TT's, others on quality performance audio system detection, others in cartridges, technical subjects, in all?, in music, etc, etc.

All of us own audio systems that ( in many ways and in different levels ) are more similar than different, why? we own it to enjoy music through system performance.
The link that gives sense to the high end audio and that join all of us is: MUSIC and the pleasure to hear it.

There are some characteristics that help for we can say: this is " the best ", one of those characteristics is an audio system almost free of quality performance limitations: this fact is a must ( many of you own this kind of audio home system. ) because you can't find " the best " if the system limitations stop/preclude that that " the best " shows you why is " the best ".

So only a few people can have the opportunity to hear " the best "?, IMHO NO every one has that opportunity what only a few people can is to find out " the best ": thank's to its knowledge, no-limitation audio system, non-establishment attitude , passion for music, desire to share it with us and no compromise but the MUSIC and how achieve “ the best “ to enjoy it.

The best always has top demands: demands from your music knowledge, demands from the audio system, demands that you don’t give up, demands that first “ understand “ it, demands to you can discern if is “ the best “, demands on the right and precise set up, etc, etc, demands " the best " of you!

“””””””””” A Ferrari Testa Rossa owner is speaking with a Honda Civic owner and is telling him that his Ferrari can run to 200 mph. Then both take a road with speed limit at 75mph. The Ferrari owner never can show the Civic owner those 200mph. When the Civic owner come back home he told his wife: “ hey our Honda Civic is like a Ferrari because today the Ferrari can’t pass my Civic on road and I’m running at 75mph!!! “””””””””””

What happen if you go and test that Ferrari at Maranello own speedway where the Ferrari can show you why is “ the best “ and where the Honda Civic shows all its limitations.

Got that?

This is exactly what happen when we have “ the best “ and we even know it because our system limitations and when we compare that true “ the best “ against what we own we think that “ the best “ only even what we have or even we think that what we have is better yet! This happens every single day.

So “ the best “/Ferrari demands/a must the Maranello speedway/audio system and who can drive it ( fine tunning at its needs. Not what I like but what it needs. ) ).

The Technics EPC-P100C MK4 is not the best I heard but IMHO “ the best cartridge ever “. Many of you that can drive the “ Ferrari at Maranello needs/status “ knows almost immediately when you are in “ front “ of not a better or excellent product but in front of “ the best “, well this cartridge belongs to that top status. Lewm don't worry for the next " the best " cartridge that is part of the audio fun!

Of course that if you don’t want or care about even if you can “ drive it “ you never find out!

Am I against the establishment or against whom support that establishment?, NO I’m with the high end audio establishment but thinking in a different way to find out the real and true “ the best “ and not what the “ establishment “??? Want to makes me think.

Gentleman I’m not anymore prisoner of that high end audio establishment.

Regards and enjoy the music,
This 'car' analogy with audio has very short legs IMHO.

Surely the sole purpose of an audio system is to produce the best (most accurate?) sounds possible from the various forms of software?

Is the sole purpose of a car to produce the best acceleration, highest speeds, highest G forces, best cornering and best braking?
I suspect that this is the aim of 'performance' cars and in that respect the Ferrari Testarossa would look fairly stupid against Formula 1 cars or in fact any racing cars open or closed wheels?
So is the 'best' car a 'racing' car?

The problem of course is that there are many diverse requirements for a car:-
Can granny get inside?
Can I fit the 3 kids as well as the wife?
Can I park it easily?
Can I steer it easily?
Will it be nice and cool inside?
Will it be quiet and relaxed on a long trip?
Can I get it over that hump in my driveway?
Will it keep the rain off me?

It's really hard to find an analogous product that has a 'singular' purpose (like audio) without requiring the talented input of a human to extract that potential performance I think?
It seems like this cartridge is no where to be found. Just wondering if the Technics EPC-P100C-MK4 can be built again, I couldn't be the first to ask that question. It just makes sense that if it is the best cartridge ever made which I trust it is or is close to, that surely it'll turn a profit. Can the industry build these again??
Perhaps someone might want to try Technics current top of the range cartridge. Technics EPC-U1200.

Now that would be a fun review :-)

Raul, you up to it?
Hi Downunder,I think the EPC-U1200 is just a DJ cartidge,not a hi-end model.The EPC-100MKIV was the best cartridge Technics ever produced.I read they sold for $600.00.At the time American audiophiles would not spend that kind of money for a MM when they could buy a MC which certainly would be better?The EPC-100 cartridges were mostly sold with the SP-10 and SP-15 turntables here in the US,I think.Someone correct me if I am wrong.

Audio-Technica,Sure and Ortofon all made some better(top of the line)MM cartridges in the past than what they offer now.Is it because MC now dominates the market?
The EPC 100C was first sold in 1976, meant to be sold with the Technics SP-10Mk2 when it came out. The cartridge cost 60,000 yen at the time, which was less than $600. However, that was when the EPA 100 tonearm which was also meant to go with the SP-10Mk2 was also retailed for 60,000 yen. It was not a cheap MM cart - probably costing twice as much as the next best at the time.

The EPC 100CMk2 came out a few years later at 65,000 yen. The Mk3 was in silver in 1981 at 70,000 yen (I have yet to see one of these), and the Mk4 came out in I think 1982 with the SP-10Mk3 when it came out. Each successive version got the cantilever and magnet lighter and lighter, with each successive version seeing lower and lower output. The 100C is 1.5mV, the 100CMk2 is 1.3mV, the 100CMk3 is 1.2mV, and the 100CMk4 also 1.2mV.

FWIW, the EPC-101C came out in 1979 at the same price as the then 100CMk2, and the main difference between the two was the cantilever material - the 100C had a boron cantilever, and the 101C a tapered titanium nitride cantilever. Both sound very nice.

As far as I know, the EPC 205CMk3 also came out in 1979 as a lower-cost version of the 100C. It was a built, I believe, as a cross between the 205CII and the 100C, again with a boron cantilever.

Until this recent flurry of activity, I had never actually seen a picture of a P-mount 100C. The vast majority still floating around are integrated headshell versions (overhang and azimuth can be adjusted, but if the cantilever is off kilter, you're out of luck...).
Dear Halcro: That was only an example and the Formula 1 maybe was an over-kill to a humble Civic.

The example was to understand in more easy way the whole subject, only that.

+++ " and who can drive it ( fine tunning at its needs. Not what I like but what it needs. ) )." ++++++

that is more or less what you posted ( it is critical an essential. )

+++++ " requiring the talented input of a human to extract that potential performance " +++++

++++ " Surely the sole purpose of an audio system is to produce the best (most accurate ) " +++++

This cartridge shows from its specs and measures that its accuracy is second to none and this accuracy shows it again when " ride " the recording grooves.

It is a pity that is not a current model.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear T-bone: Yes the EPC-P100CMK4 comes out in 1982.

Now, as I point out in the Technics review the EPC 205C MK4 IMHO was the latest " top of the line " ( only down the EPc 100C MK4 ) that Technics build/design in 1984, I own it and is a winner too and more " easy " to find than its big brother.
The 205 was build in three different " presentations ": in integrated headshell, P-mount design and normal 1/2" mount cartridge ( this is the one I own. ). Btw, its output level is higher at 2.5mv.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Pedrillo: That " call " is for Technics.

Today we have several cartridge designers and as I told in the cartridge review my highest hope is that some one of them take " his time " to design not only a cartridge that can even the quality performance of the Technics one but that beat it.
Only the times to come could tell if this can be a reality.
In begin I think that sooner or latter will appear a new today cartridge design that deserve to be name it " the best ".

Regards and enjoy the music,
Hi Raul,it would be nice,but then most of us couldn't afford it,unless Technics would design one or make the EPC-100MKIV again,maybe it would be more affordable for the average audiophile?

Would there be enough gain in a 40dB MM phono stage (like youe Essential 3160) to handle the EPC-P100CmkIV's 1.2mv output? Or do you run the cartridge into a MC phono stage with 54dB gain?
Dear Driveman: Enough gain with no noise/distortions. Even the Essential 3160 can handle even a little lower MM/MI output level designs through its MM phono stage.

You don't need the MC dedicated stage not only because of gain but because the MM dedicated stage was designed to cope the MM/MI specific/precise needs that are different from the LOMC needs.

Regards and enjoy the music,