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). 


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.