New Zirconia Pipe Cantilever .. What's up with that ?

Reading Namiki website i discovered new type of cantilever available today:

Zirconia cantilever (Pipe) , well this is the only pipe cantilever (except for aluminum) available today to my knowledge, correct me if i’m wrong. This is something new.

"Because the material’s relative density is comparatively high at 6.0, we make full use of our technology to process it into a pipe shape. This cantilever plays a charming sound that is different from other materials."

Physical properties for currently available cantilevers described here.

**Any new cartridges with Zirconia Pipe cantilever available on the market ?

BTW: Browsing Namiki website, to my surprise, on top of the page i recognized that "unique cantilever" of my ex ZYX Premium 4D cartridge. In many of my posts i have mentioned this construction as something special, because the MR diamond is press-fit and the cantilever described by ZYX as Boron. Now i think that joint pipe for stylus tip (press-fit) was made of Zirconia and the rest is Boron Rod.

Since they are both hollow PIPES (black color) i assume they are Zirconia (no other black pipes from namiki).
This is what Nakatsuka-San using in Airy III and Premium 4D ZYX models (owned both models).

10076406 d6c5 4854 a751 76cefa9d8a70chakster
From the web about material:

Zircon, zirconia and zirconium - what's the difference?

Zircon, zirconia and zirconium are similar sounding and sometimes confused. What are they and what are the differences between them?

1) Zircon ****

The primary mineral is zircon, which is a co-product from the mining and processing of ancient heavy mineral sand deposits. It’s also referred to as zirconium silicate and has the chemical composition ZrSiO4. Zircon is mined mainly in Australia and can be used either in its coarse sand form or milled to a fine powder, which is referred to as zircon flour. Zircon sand is used in the casting and foundry industries, whilst zircon flour is primarily used as an opacifier in the ceramics industry. Over half of the zircon produced globally is used within the ceramics industry.

Like most rocks and minerals, zircon is a naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) as small amounts of radionuclei became ‘locked’ in the zircon crystal structure when the earth was formed billions of years ago. Natural radiation from zircon is extremely low and similar to that of other naturally-occurring sources such as granite.

Zircon has several derivatives, created by modifying zircon chemically.

2) Zirconia and cubic zirconia ****

Zircon can be processed to create zirconia by melting the sand at very high temperatures, typically above 2,600oC, in an electric arc furnace to form molten zirconia, also known as zirconium oxide (ZrO2). The cooled and crushed zirconia is then used in many different applications including in advanced ceramics and biomedical implants.

There is, of course, the more widely known cubic zirconia. Often referred to as a synthetic diamond, cubic zirconia has become a popular gemstone due to its optically clear single crystals and its high refractive index. Zirconia also occurs naturally as the mineral baddeleyite.

3) Zirconium ****

Zirconium, another derivative of zircon, is the chemical element Zr in the Periodic Table and takes the form of a silvery grey metal. It is typically produced by the reduction of the chemical zirconium oxychloride (ZOC), where the ZOC itself is produced by a complex process of chemical disassociation of zircon (zirconium silicate).

Used mainly as an alloy in the nuclear power industry, zirconium can also be added to aluminium alloys and steel to improve mechanical properties and corrosion resistance. Zirconium chemicals are used in a vast array of applications from catalysts to paper coatings and cosmetics.

If you kind of love your turntable, get her a cubic zirconia lol!
For "her" diamonds or rubies are preferable
Names have emotive meaning but referential function. So
Shakespeare asked the question: ''what is in a name?'' While
other were talking about ''nice'' and ''ugly names''. The best
illustration was by washing powder. Some producer packed
the same washing powder in much smaller pack but for twice
the price of the bigger one. The smaller pack sold much better. 
We all know ''emotive meaning'' of aluminum cantilever :
 ''worthless''. But nobody uses aluminum as such for cantilevers
but ''endless'' variations of alloy's and constructions. So no
wonder Reto Andreoli, ''our'' Dertonarm, Ikeda and Takeds san
used (some) aluminum alloy for their carts. 
So new names try to generate interest as function of curiosity
about  their ''meaning''. BTW ''nice names'' those ''Zirconia'' variations (grin).
I use 'zircon encrusted tweezers' to attach the lead wires to my cartridges. You won't believe the difference.... 😅

This is all just marketing BS. If a cartridge tracks well and sounds right (I like mine neutral) I could care less what it is made out of. Having said this it is interesting to note that all my current cartridges have boron cantilevers. The phonograph cartridge is a rather simple device. There is not a whole lot you can do to separate yourself from the pack. Unfortunately, some companies and/or marketing firms will come up with a BS story to try and separate themselves from same. IMHO tracking ability is the most important spec followed by a nice flat frequency response curve. Some people look at cartridges like wine, each one has a special character good for playing certain genre of music. IMHO the best cartridges are neutral and play everything well.
Where is marketing here? Namiki supply materials (cantilevers) for cartridge designers, not for the users. Every cartridge designer must have a choice, nowadays the choice is limited. No more boron pipe, no more beryllium, no more ceramic.

Boron Rod is the most expensive nowadays after exotic Diamond. Aluminum is the cheapest.

Seems like Ruby is something in the middle, very popular (remember SoundSmith), Sapphire is less popular, but almost the same.

But Zerconia is pipe and it’s something new from Namiki.

Jico will offer Zerconia cantilevers as far as i know, who else? Retippers?

I’ve mentioned ZYX as a combination of Zecronia Pipe and Boron Rod.

I believe cantilever material has probably the least impact on cartridge performance.  Stylus geometry and cartridge type I.e. MM, MI or MC, output and compliance are much more important. If all else is equal, I seriously doubt anyone could distinguish boron from diamond from ruby.
I believe cantilever material has probably the least impact on cartridge performance. Stylus geometry and cartridge type I.e. MM, MI or MC, output and compliance are much more important. If all else is equal, I seriously doubt anyone could distinguish boron from diamond from ruby.


You’re wrong, but it does not surprise me that we are know nothing about cartridge design, i am more surprised that people don’t want to learn and try to understand the basic principle of cartridge design. Stylus profile is very important and moving mass is important ... but ... 

Let me quite a cartridge designer Jonathan Carr (Lyra) from another thread on audiogon, this statement was made in 2013:


"Changing only the stylus will alter the sound less than if the cantilever material is changed. When a cartridge is designed, the designer will consider the moving mass (sum of the stylus, cantilever and coils), the resonant character of the cantilever, and the (sonic) propagation velocity of the cantilever (affected by the cantilever’s mass and rigidity), then choose the suspension and dampers accordingly. If you change the cantilever material, you are effectively throwing the original designer’s calculations away. There is much more (far more than what I have written above) to rebuilding a cartridge than affixing a new stylus or altering the cantilever. In over 30 years of involvement in the phono cartridge industry, I have not seen one retipper who has presented the entire story, who has effectively said "Here are the all of the considerations. Here are the cons as well as the pros. Make a wise choice that is best for you" ... " (J.Carr, 2013)


Also i want to add another quite where Jonathan Carr explains why some cantilevers designed exclusively for certain cartridge manufacturers and not available for anyone else separately.


" Namiki, Ogura or Gyger can and will build completed cantilever assemblies. But regarding the designs of the cantilever assemblies that can be delivered, although these can be straight out of the catalogs (in which case retippers can buy the same item as the cartridge builder), there is a good chance that the designs may be unique, in which case no cartridge builder nor retipper is able to obtain the item other than the original designer.

In the case of a Titan, for example, I design the stylus shape and specify the block dimensions and angles, I make the drawings for how the stylus should be affixed to the cantilever (including the adhesive specifications), and I make the drawings for every other bit of the cantilever assembly, too. I supply various components and raw materials to Ogura (cantilever itself, coil former, suspension wire etc.), and have Ogura build the cantilever assembly using my materials and my drawings.

Since neither the design nor many of the subcomponents and materials are Ogura’s, Ogura cannot deliver this cantilever assembly (nor the individual bits and pieces) to anyone other than us.

And yet I see no retipper pointing out that the included angle of the stylus affects the life expectancy, that ruby or sapphire has close to double the mass of boron, or other such considerations. We used to build cartridges with ceramic whisker-reinforced duraluminum cantilevers (with much closer mass compared to boron than sapphire’s mass is to boron), and when we changed our cartridges over to boron cantilevers, we redesigned the entire damper and suspension system - materials, shapes, number of dampers, everything.

In my experience, to take an aluminum or boron-cantilevered cartridge and change the cantilever to sapphire or ruby is heavy-handed in the extreme (grin). " (J.Carr, 2013)


His post about retipping was very informative too:


"Also keep in mind that, if you use a retipper rather an ZYX, the dimensions of the stylus block as well as how the stylus block is affixed to the cantilever will differ, along with the shape and dimensions of the stylus sections that contact the LP groove.

In the ZYX cantilevers and stylii (made by Namiki), the end of the cantilever rod is planed down to an acute angle (less than 30 degrees), creating a flat surface which is what the stylus block is bonded to. The stylus block can be both small and short, and therefore of very low mass.

In the Ogura-made cantilevers and stylii, a longitudinal, vertical slot is cut through the end of the cantilever rod, and the stylus block is inserted into that slot and bonded in place. In recent years, some manufacturers have added a thin metal plate to the slot to reinforce the bond. In this type of design, the stylus block is longer than the Namikis (since it has to reach through the cantilever), but the stylus block width is generally a small fraction of the cantilever diameter (less than 1/2), so the stylus block mass can be of fairly low mass.

In many recent cantilevers and stylii of European origin, the end of the cantilever rod is chopped off at a right angle, leaving a flat round surface to which the stylus is bonded. In these designs, the stylus block is long (since it has to reach through the cantilever), and it is also as wide as the cantilever rod, so the mass of the stylus will be higher than with either the Namiki or Ogura designs.

To retip a cartridge that was originally equipped with a stylus made by one manufacturer with one made by a different manufacturer is like rebuilding a Porsche engine with Jaguar pistons and crankshaft - the components used for rebuilding may be of high quality, but the design philosophy is rather different from the original. "
(J.Carr, 2013)


I’d like to add link to Ogura too, check this out (physical properties)
They are making styli and cantilevers.

Namiki is another manufacturer with slightly more info on their website regarding physical properties of the cantilevers and more important how it transmit the sound: " A variety of materials such as aluminum, sapphire, beryllium and boron are used to make cantilevers of different shapes and dimensions. The lighter and stiffer the material, the better and more accurately the cantilever can transmit vibration. "

Aluminum Pipe:

Aluminium has a low relative density, and the stylus tip is press-fit, so it picks up the groove vibrations with a stable and accurate trace performance.

Boron Rod:

Large elastic modulus, high specific rigidity, and speedy sound transmission. The tip is fixed with adhesive due to fragility and limits in processability. Cost performance is outstanding.

Zirconia Pipe:

Because the material’s relative density is comparatively high at 6.0, we make full use of our technology to process it into a pipe shape. This cantilever plays a charming sound that is different from other materials.

Sapphire Rod:

Because the sapphire cantilever is very rigid, it accurately transmits the vibration of the stylus tip and, compared to metal cantilevers, a clearer sound can be enjoyed.

Ruby Rod:

When part of Al3+, the main component of sapphire, is replaced with chromium, the jewel reflects the red color that makes it a ruby. While ruby is similar to sapphire in terms of characteristics, it is also used for its visual aesthetic.

Diamond Rod:

Diamond, the hardest material on earth, is possibly the best material for use in audio equipment. It does not easily deform when force is applied, and the sound transmission speed is overwhelmingly faster than other materials. When playing a record, the stylus tip/cantilever traces the groove with great precision.

Regarding diamond (gemstone) cantilever it is much more complicated, it can be very short and does not even looks like "normal" cantilevers like Boron Rod or that modern Diamondc antilever from Namiki.

Here is a nice interview with Dr Tominari of Dynavector Systems, who designed the first gemstone cantilever cartridge and later designed fabulous XV-1 and DRT XV-1. In this interview you will find more about Te-Kaitora cartridges, Karat Nova series and many more amazing products of that era.

here is a bit from the interview:

RG. The first Dynavector product I became aware of was the original Karat cartridge, with its solid ruby cantilever. Were you the first person to employ gemstone cantilevers?

Dr. Tominari: Absolutely. I get my gemstone cantilevers from Namiki, and the first time I asked them about constructing one they couldn’t understand what I wanted such a large stylus for! But I was convinced that you should use as short and stiff a cantilever as possible. This was quite widely recognised but no one believed that the technology existed to create such a short gemstone cantilever. They thought it was impossible but I dared to try it. It was a very unusual solution at that time. In order to achieve it we had to develop a parallel technique that enabled us to wind incredibly fine wire for the coil. Our wires are only 11 microns in diameter. Every other cartridge uses at least 20 microns.

RG. Why do the fine wires help you use in using a short cantilever?

Dr. Tominari: At the end of the cantilever is the armature. On the very short gemstone cantilevers there is no space, so the armature must be much smaller than normal. Unless we use the fine wire for the coils there will be insufficient windings for a working output level. We did this twenty years ago, and are still the only company who can use such fine wire. Eric Rohmann, who was president of Ortofon until some years ago, even tried to buy one of our machines. Incidentally, you are aware that Ortofon and Grado hold all the patents on moving-coil cartridge designs. Dynavector was the only Japanese company that ever paid the licence fees. (Laughs)

The good doctor wants the cantilever to be a short stiff post.  The gemstone cantilever is good for this.  It allows for thinner wires, different suspension, different armature, a larger stylus etc.  This is all great.  I merely believe that ruby vs diamond vs boron are not the most important aspects in choosing a cartridge and would be difficult to distinguish if all else is equal.  I run a SoundSmith Boheme MI cartridge with a ruby cantilever.  I like it. Peters website on choosing a cartridge emphasizes stylus tracking the groove and various electrical characteristics hi output and low output etc. 
I recall a tv commercial in which a well heeled woman asks a clearly successful innovative architect to design her house around a water faucet.  
With all my respect to SoundSmith this is not the last brand in the world, i have far more interest in vintage cartridges from the giants of industry and their own research made when analog was a king (not digital). Most of them stopped making cartridges or completely disappeared from the market along with those special cantilevers like Boron Pipe or my favorite Beryllium (or exotic Ceramic pipe), but NOS cartridges are not disappeared from the market and i'm happy about it.   

But it is interesting to see something new from Namiki or Ogura, finally, like the Zirconia Pipe Cantilever. Seems like nobody knows what i'm talking about :( 

Even Titanium Pipe is no longer available? 
Even if someone would like to design a cartridge using much wider choice of materials it is simply impossible today, but it was possible 30 years ago.    

I can't remember any cartridge from my 50 samples of different design (MM,MI,MF, LOMC, HOMC ...) that does not track well, except for some SPU and probably Ikeda cantilever-less design (if the record is not flat). I test them with Hi-Fi News Test LP, 99% of my cartridges are fine on all high modulated grooves. 

Most people think that the answer for everything is SoundSmith and his Ruby cantilever with optimized Contact Line stylus (mounted instead of any other cantilever when it't time to retip a worn cartridge or replace a bent cantilever). J.Carr explained why it's not always good idea. Peter himself will give you very diplomatic answer and will never tell you what it better (fair enough), you can only decide for yourself (i prefer originals). 

Since i'm not in America it's must easier for me to buy another NOS vintage cartridge with some great cantilever (often not available from Namiki or Ogura for modern cart manufacturers anymore) and top class stylus instead or refurbishing any of my old ones with SoundSmith in USA. 

For me, personally, the world of cartridges is much wider/deeper than just one great manufacturer from USA. 


Essentialist world view think in terms of parts and their importance.
The opposite view is the so called ''holistic''. There are no ''essential
parts'' but all parts together make the whole while whole is ''more''
than the parts. ''More'' is meant in metaphorical sense. 
I did not mean to suggest that Peter is the “last word” if such a thing exists.  He is however an authority and I mentioned him only because I happen to have one of his cartridges with a ruby cantilever.  I did not buy it for the cantilever.  Nor did I buy it for ease of stylus and cantilever replacement. That was not the topic of your thread.  I prefer originals as well.  
To me tracking ability is more than staying in the groove of a warped record. It is all about responding to the modulations within the grooves.  I believe stylus, suspension and compliance are more important in this regard. 

My original reply to your thread was a reaction to the different physical properties of minerals used to make the cantilevers, the short stiff posts. My opinion is this difference is way down the list of what makes a good cartridge. You  are emphasizing that it is a new pipe construction which to me is a different issue. Fine.

You have more knowledge and experience with cartridges than I, so I defer.  However I doubt that you organize and rate your fifty transducers based on which mineral is used to construct the cantilever. This is the point I was trying to make.

Finally, why is it currently impossible to make the vintage type of cantilevers that you admire?  Seems odd to me.

All the best.

Finally, why is it currently impossible to make the vintage type of cantilevers that you admire?  Seems odd to me.


1) I wish to know why, before Zicronia Pipe appeared in the list of available cantilevers from Namiki and Ogura there was a Boron Pipe in the 70's, as you might know Technics P100c mk4 has ultra low moving mass.

This is what Technics invented in the 70's and improved in the 80's making cartridges like 205c mk4 (my pair) with very special Boron Pipe cantilever. It's nothing but a grown crystals of Pure Boron into a pipe configuration. A tip mounting hole made using a laser beam. This is pretty much the same that another Japanese company made with Grace LEVEL II but with at least one serious advantage over the Technics. The difference is the type of the low mass stylus tip. Grace LEVEL II BR/MR is Boron Pipe with MicroRidge. When you comparing Elliptical with MicroRidge you know that Elliptical simply can't win. Furthermore, type of the cantilever and the whole moving mass is very important according to this Technics research: "Somewhere in the high frequencies, every cartridge has an undesirable resonance point. Undesirable because there the frequency response curve climbs a sudden peak. If that peak is in the audible range, your records sound not as intended. That resonance frequency is determined by the total effective moving mass of the vibrating system - the summed masses of the diamond stylus and, most importantly, the cantilever and magnet, etc. To shift that harmful resonance frequency up into the high supersonics, the effective moving mass must be reduced to the lowest possible minimum. Also, too much effective moving mass increases the mechanical impedance, thereby negatively affecting the cartridge's tracing ability." Cartridges i am talking about are both have very low moving mass and similar exotic hollow pipe cantilevers. But Grace LEVEL II has much better suspension/damper compared to Technics 205c mk4 or 100cmk4 (technics damper material became very soft in time and i've seen about 7 samples with this disease). But i never seen any bad sample of Grace LEVEL II, damper is always fine! Grace has a much better LC-OFC coil wire (utilized in LEVEL II or F14 models). 

2) The reason why Beryllium cantilevers are no longer available is this:

"According to NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2011), "workers exposed to particles, fumes, mists and solutions from beryllium-containing materials may develop beryllium sensitization or chronic beryllium disease, a potentially disabling or even fatal respiratory disease."

In top top-10 cartridges i have many with beryllium cantilevers like Victor X-1II or Pioneer PC-1000 mkII and AT-ML180 OCC (rare beryllium version). 

Let me quote another member regarding Audio-Technica cartridges: 

There was a thread on Audiogon quite a while ago in which a former engineer from Audio Technica was participating. He wrote a rather in depth post as to why Beryllium was the go to material for cantilevers and the panic that ensued at AT when the EPA came down with the order that it no longer be used due to the dangerous toxic dust released when machining the material. He stated that the engineering department underwent a lot of R&D to find a suitable replacement material and Boron was what they determined would be closest, however it was still a compromise. Apparently Beryllium allows for the largest frequency excursion without distortion and also permits better channel separation and signal to noise ratios. This is why it was so good." - @simpikins5

@nandric is right that  parts together make the whole while whole is ''more'' than the parts. We like vintage MM and MI cartridges because of the sound, not because of the parts. But when we think why they are better than others we can't ignore parts when it's clear that some of those parts are no longer available (such as different cantilevers made of beryllium or boron pipe ... and more).   

If the cartridge tracks well and is neutral I could care less what it is made of. Having said this I will side with Johnathan Carr on this one. Rigidity balanced with low mass are the hallmarks of a good cantilever. Anything heavier will play havoc with tracking. Titanium would make a lousy cantilever It is way too springy. I could not be used for bicycle forks for this reason. Could you make a cantilever out of carbon fiber? I'm not sure you could make fibers that small. 
You can keep your NOS cartridges. I'll take the new ones thank you. 
I tried many new cartridges up to $5000 price like this, no thanks. 

More happy to pay $1000 for some very interesting models (NOS). 

A cartridge with Titanium Pipe cantilever is very nice: Victor X-1IIe 

You know, i trust more to the companies like JVC Victor, those guys actually changed the whole hi-fi landscape in this world. There was a reason for use Titanium Pipe, Beryllium cantilevers and so on and on.

When everything is digital the choice is getting limited as the public demand for analog cartridges is not that big anymore. 

I am grand those cantilever manufacturers trying to invest something new! 

If someone is happy to stick to the 5 modern cart manufacturers i have no problem with it. Leave the rest for people like me, i will be happy to buy NOS vintage cartridges, the best of them. But i see so many other people who're biding on them on auctions and they know why.   
Dear @flatblackround :  Certainly that the cantilever or stylus are not the most importante characteristic inany phono cartridge.

I participated in that thread where J.carr posted and in that thread the subject was something that I always supported and supports: that top LOMC cartridges must be re-tipped by the cartridge manufacturers and not retippers, retippers are for MM/MI and low level MC cartridges and nothing more.

I always support too that the most important part in any cartridge is its cartridge motor that's the one that makes " the differences ". Yes, cantilever and stylus are important too but never at the cartridge motor levels. 

Of course that always are persons as the OP that never learn and that are they whom understand nothing about cartridge designs and not people like you, me and several other gentlemans out there.

The OP is a dedicated vintage seller and he promotes what can gives the opportunity to take money from any one in this and other forums.

It's false too that hollow cantilevers are better than rod ones. Things are that through my adventure in this thread:

I found out an unexpected seller of 7-8 NOS Technics EPC100CMK4 stand alone top MM vintage cartridge, so I posted there and some of us  bougth it. I bougth two samples.
By design that cartridge came with boron hollow cantilever and one of my samples collapsed after a few hours and I sended to VdH to fix it and he did it and between other things he changed the catilever for a boron rod one. In the mean time I was listening to my other sample and when I made it the comparison in between the one with boron rod  rod outperformed the original sample with hollow boron cantilever. Any change in a cartridge will sounds different to the original but here sounds better not only different.

One truly important issue to make audio item evaluations/comparisons is to have a very high resolution room/system and to know what to look for and the OP system is far away from there.

Anyway, the issue is that cartridge motors is the most important characteristic in any cartridge.

If you read this thread:

that cartridge, that's a " pain in the ass " to make the rigth set up for the cartridge really shines and can shows at its best, is really old with a truly humble cantilever and stylus shape however its quality level performance is way higher and it's because its cartridge motor design ! ! ! 

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Post removed 
I stopped responding to the rude M.......n egom....c long time ago and life is much better when i ignore all his messages. What i’ve noticed long time ago is that i like cartridges and tonearm that he does not like (and i have what he likes too, but i don’t like it), so i don’t care about his opinion at all. I do not use any other forums and i can sell my spares anytime i want to, just like anyone here, so please go away with your poin......s comments.

I have no income in this pandemic period and i am not crazy to buy those multi thousand dollar modern cartridges.

Vintage cartridges are always cheaper and most of them are better, i believe we have many rational people in this hobby, not just rich over 60s club who can retip their Technics cartridges with VdH for higher prices than a cartridge itself. If Technics motor is the best then buy Jico SAS and 205 series and go on. It’s obvious that Technics motor is not the best at all (i tried them all). I’m s....k of that richness, people buying $5000 - $20000 cartridges.... This is not the world i’m living in. Promote it in the circle of your rich friend and tell them cartridges are better each time you pay more for them.

*to all:

This thread is about Zirconia Pipe Cantilever cantilever, but none of the posters here provided any useful information about this NEW TYPE of cantilever for MODERN CARTRIDGES! I am very disappointed.

It’s like every thread on audiogon that going off-topic after first few posts.

I always happy to share some high resolution pictures of exotic cartridges from my collection, some stuff that i really like myself!

I have nearly all type of cartridges i was looking for, and Boron ROD is not better, all Boron is Rod nowadays, who cares ?

Even if the rob is best for Lyra there are many other cartridges, but none of them can use any other Boron than Rod, simply because Boron Pipe is not available anymore from Ogura or Namiki.

For me it’s more an academic research, i do not sell Zirconia or Boron Pipe.

Actually i don’t care Boron or not.

I see what’s new on the market, but i’m not gonna buy any modern MC or MM cartridges anyway. After i bought Miyajima Kansui i’m done with modern cartridges.

Your Lyra, latest Dynavector, ZYX ... everything over $1.5k is waste of time and money in my situation, because in this price limit vintage NOS always better (if you know what to look for). And i will never ever spend even $3k on a phono cartridge, no matter what your reviewers bla-bla-bla about it (same about turntables).

I agree with you @chakster about expensive cartridges and notice some people having too strong of opinions criticizing others preferences in what they enjoy. I am experiencing difficulties too with my business. But I try to be greatful for what I have. Any of us that are talking about affordable  $1000 cartridges should realize we are the wealthy and be greatful for that. Especially when some of us own a few of these. Most people around me are looking at extreme  difficulties. I own a gym and don’t know what the future will be for the Fitness industry. But even if it fails I know that I won’t loose my house and my family won’t  go hungry. For that I am greatful. And, I have my expensive audio equipment to sell if it came to that. Thanks @rauliruegas for getting us onto affordable mm cartridges. That may be all that we can afford in the future.
There has been some discussion by various users of the new cantilever used in the SAS line. Results are mixed But it does appear there is a resonance at 10 to 12k that cannot be resolved. Some feel boron is still preferable.
Thanks for the link @neonknight

They are testing various JICO replacement styli on Shute MM:

Thomas_AA (from Sweden) said:

"Here is the comparison where the boron is in black and the zirconia in red. This is white noise from the Elipson test record. The loading is 130 pF and 47 kOhm. As seen the zirconia has a high Q resonance but then also keeps level after the resonant peak. A bit odd and not the same behaviour of the boron rod.

My favourite loading for the boron is however 600 pF and 36 (or 33) kOhm, seen below. I do loose >16 kHz, but then I can’t really hear those frequencies. The benefit is a less dip in the 2-8 kHz region and a dampened peaking. This setting gives -0.5/+2 dB up to ca 16 kHz, which is good for me. Note that the colors are switched, the boron is red and the zirconia is black. I cannot really dampen the hump in the zirconia with this loading.

If you like a bit brighter sound, you would benefit with a zirconia stylus.Tracking and distortion appears to be on par with the boron and better than my original MR stylus ever was.

Now, if there only was a way to get hold of BORON TUBE cantilevers, JICO would be able to push the resonance just a bit higher."

I see the logic of zirconia in hollow pipe - far stronger structure than a solid rod. But are we talking the metal (zirconium) or the ceramic (zirconia) - Zirconia is often used in bearings (i know this from radio control car racing)
My point being that ceramics are a more crystalline structure and can shatter (it can happend with zirconia bearings) - the zirconia is often used just as a coating. If it is zirconium alloy - how much is zirconium. Titanium is a funny material for cartridges and tonearms - the reason being that it is resilient and bendy - know this from mountain biking - that's why titanium front forks are rubbish as they don't give precise handling - that said when used in the main frame they are very light and comfortable.
i am late to this thread.  the links to photos of Jico styli traces in dropbox.  the images are no longer available - can someone post a saved copy here?