Next MC Cartridge Advice/Recommendations

Hello All, 

I'm currently running a Kiseki Purpleheart on a Technics 1200 GAE turntable. I have two separate phono preamp options (Manley Chinook and Doge Clarity).  

The Kiseki is running fine but is arguably racking up the hours.  My system is really pleasing with vinyl so I put some real mileage on the Kiseki Purpleheart during the pandemic!  I lent my backup (Audio Technica ART9) to a friend who broke it.  Needless to say, I want to get my next cart in the house before the Purpleheart gives up on me. :)

I really love the balance of smooth v. detail on the Purpleheart.  At times it reminds me of reel-to-reel.  It is on the warmer side of things and can sound lush. 

Any advice on the following cartridges?  Have you heard any and what have you compared them to?  

  1. Ortofon Windfield TI
  2. Audio Technica 1000
  3. Dynavector XV-1S
  4. Clearaudio Stradivari v2
  5. Lyra Kleos (both regular and super low output)
  6. Hana Umami Red

My system is all tube (pre, power, phono pre(s)) and horn speakers (Cornwall IV). 


Consider adding a Charisma Audio Signature One to your list. Check out the reviews from reliable sources. This cartridge is hard to beat at the price.

Dodgealum, can you describe your experience and what you compared it to?  


Same thing rsf507.  Any of the SoundSmith seems very, very broad.  Can you describe any of their sonic signatures for me?  

Thank you!

All the cartridges on your list are worthy. And you’d probably like them all. Ortofon and Lyra do not have a reputation for warmth, if that helps.

Dear @jbhiller : I own/owned and listened aall them and are very fine performers. My advise is to go for the Ortofon, Dynavector or this one by Benz Micro ( this seller has too a new Dyna at good price too. ):

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,



You can’t go wrong with either that you can mate really good with your TT/tonearm and the rigth headshell where you have to test which one helps to the cartridge can shows at its best.


Of course that the headshell wire connectors makes a difference too and when you are talking of this kind of quality level those headshell wires are way important. Latter on you can think to make an internal tonearm re-wiring. Good luck in your hunting.

Thank you LewM and Raul! 

Yes, I want to retain some warmth; I don't want it to be too clinical or analytical.  Detail is great but not at the expense of warmth for me. 

Raul, I have bought from that seller before.  He's awesome. Quick question--do you think the Benz is too heavy for my Technics 1200 GAE arm?  I have the stock magnesium arm.  I think it's a very underrated arm. 


+1 @lewm & @rauliruegas

I owned the benz Ebony L which I believe is a tier down from the LPS. It was very good, IMO. Smooth warm detailed presentation  I got the itch and replaced it with a Zyx 4D. Even better than the Ebony L. It just dug out more info from the grooves. I believe better dynamics too. I would not call the Zyx necessarily warm but certainly not cold or analytical either. Mind you, the differences were not night & day but enough to notice readily. SoraSound usually has them for $3495 (maybe a demo. Don’t remember)

I would give some consideration to sending it to Andy Kim (or your re-tipper of choice) for an inspection and possibly re-tipping it if you like what you have.

I have owned the Purple Heart and currently have an Windfeld Ti.  They are very different presentations and I am not sure how one would replace the other well.  The Windfeld Ti has many excellent attributes and is slightly warmer than some of the other Ortofons, but I personally could not have it as my only option.  I originally had the two simultaneously and the Purple Heart, still performing well in a close friends system, was actually replaced by a Miyajima Madake.  The Miyajima provides the warmth of the Purple Heart along with appropriately increased detail and soundstage depth.  Other Miyajima cartridges may be something to consider in your search.

Used ATOC9/ART9 and heard the 1000.I wouldn't hesitate getting the ART1000. That would be AFTER putting a nicer arm on the proven Technics foundation. Your ART9 would have been in a different league with a Kuzma or whatever.

Have you considered the ART9XA?(Low output) More refined presentation compared the the .5mv . 1000 still has all the AT traits, but yet another level of refinement expected for a "super cart"

Any of the upper level Soundsmith carts should be included inyour final lineup. The Susurro is in the same price point as ART1000. Rebuild is the plus over the rest.

I've repeatedly(like a broken record) mentioned hearing the lineup and keep a $400 entry level Otello as a backup. I hear a midrange presentation unlike others. My reason for suggesting SS.

Presently using Kiseki Blue. 

Flying under the radar, particularly their lower priced offerings, but perhaps consider the My Sonic Lab line . I just bought the Hyper Eminent, and am enjoying it very much. I also heard the Ultra, which is their next model up. That leaned a bit toward the linear/neutral side, with tight (well defined) bass, and more extended highs. The Hyper is just a tad fuller, and gives up the Ultra's bass definition in favor of more bloom. In my setup, and my taste, I preferred the Hyper over the very formidable Ultra. There is also the base model Eminent EX which I have not heard. After the above 3 models, the remaining 2 models are reference level, and much more expensive. But don't forget MSL. I play a lot of pop/rock, vintage pressings. Not so much audiophile fare, which the Ultra certainly did shine with. Both wonderful cartridges for which only personal taste could decide between them. 


i have a lyra delos and it is so much better than other cartridges in its price class including ortofon cadenza and soundsmith mimc.  huge dynamics and great timing, huge soundstage, very refined and detailed, smooth tonal balance once it hits 50 to 100 hrs. 

never heard the upper lyra range but if their sound improves from the delos, which is already better than my very good digital sources, they should sound amazing.  

JB: I will only comment on those heard in my system, though I have experience with nearly everyone on your list. To me the Charisma has no shortcomings, draws no attention to itself whatsoever, gives you what is in the groove without any distortion. If there is any sonic signature it would be a very slight warmth that gives texture and body that make strings, voices, and horns sound absolutely real. The closest I’ve had in my system was the ART-9, but that was lightweight and threadbare by comparison. The Soundsmith MIMC Star was slightly less good, having somewhat papery highs that did not extend or shimmer when they should. None of the Dynavectors I ran (XX-2 Mk2 or the DV-20 series were all that impressive by comparison. All I can say is that in my system the Sig One moved the needle toward the best playback available from LPs. Hope this helps.

Thank you all! 

On the retip option, that's definitely a potential.  I'm probably a year away from that (minimum).  I don't dislike retyping altogether but it's not typically ideal.  That said, I'd probably do it just to keep the Kiseki in the stable. 

Thanks above for describing the Winfield.  It could be a good fit since I do have lots of warm and cuddly tubes in my system.  

Avanti1960, someday I do want to to try a Lyra in the system.  

Miyajimas are very compelling, yet a bit tough to find. 

I decided to grab that Benz Micro LPS given I scooped it at a great deal and I've bought from Kron before with great results (he sold me my Purpleheart).  

Thank you all for chiming in.  I think phono cartridges are likely the least reviewed items and, undisputedly, the most difficult to audition hands down.  You all have helped considerably. THANK YOU!

Avanti's take on the Delos has me really intrigued. My Ortofon Cadenza Black has a lot of life yet, doubt I'll make a change till it's time but that could change.

@jbhiller Awesome table and arm. You brought up a good point in that the Technics arm is a touch light for a number of the typical MC cart candidates. With that in mind you might look into the Sculpture A carts that are a house brand of the wonderful analog nuts ( and cart repair experts ) at Ana Mighty Sound. Compliance and weight is oriented towards what you need. another 2c among some great recommendations.

I went with the Benz Micro LP-S.  I'll need 40 hours of break in per Benz.  Things sound just great out of the box. Setup was not too bad.  I did, however, have locate my supplemental tonearm counterweights as this guy is beefy at 16.2 grams. 

This is a wonderful cart and the price was super.  Kron (Audiogon seller in Hong Kong) is awesome--this is my second purchase from him. Got to Chicagoland from Hong Kong in just two days and only $40 shipping.  Amazing. 

I'll need to cozy up to the Benz before being able to understand it all.  It's definitely got a big, robust sound and has dynamics in spades.  I think it has a bit more definition than the Kiseki Purpleheart but equals it in warmth and smoothness, which makes me happy.  I didn't want to get into a clinical sound.  There's an increase in the space around vocals and instruments, which may be tricking me to think it's more detailed.  Not sure.  

Carts like these send my brain the message that I just can't get this from digital.  Lovely.


After wearing out my Kiseki PH stylus, I switched to a Hana Umami Red and loving it! I have had it only for about a week and more break-in is likely needed to get its full measure, but it’s definitely more extended in the upper frequencies and more open sounding. The Stereophile review is also close to what I am hearing, especially the lyrics being more intelligible.

I have a new Acoustic Signature (AS) Neo Hurricane turntable and Kuzma 4Point9 tonearm, so it’s not an apples to apples comparison between the cartridges. The more extended and solid low frequencies I think are largely due to the heft of the turntable and tonearm. (I was hoping that I could continue to use the Kiseki for a direct comparison.).I had the Kiseki on a Well Tempered Versalex with Symmetrix LTD arm, which was a very solid performing set up. However, the AS and Kuzma are in a different league, as they should be since they cost so much more than the Well Tempered.