"Harder" cartridge recomendation

After some time with EMT TSD15SPH, which is basically my first serious cart (along with it's EMT930 platform and 929 arm), I comeback to the question of finding something faster, "harder", more transparent perhaps but I do like "bigger sound". I'm mounting a second arm on 930: SME3012R and I'm looking for a fast cart in 1-1.2kEU range. Phono is a diy 834 with Tribute nano crystal SUT's.

I've been looking at SPU Royal N, but IIRC EMT somehow derives from the SPU family, so it may or may not be what I have in mind.

Any opinions? Thanks,
If you like the SPU style carts, why not engage Ortofon in deciding which one would suit you best. They are a major investment so I would want to get there advice and possibly a trial run of some sort before the deal is finalized. I may be living in a fantasy world but who knows? If you establish yourself as a serious customer what kinds of accomodations may be offered?
Let me pharase it differently: is there any interesting cart in the 1-1.2kEu range which would: 1) match SME3012R 2) be "harder", more agressive than TSD15?

You may also consider the FR 7 series (7,7f,7fz). Some
respected members are very impressed (Dertonarm,Halcro,etc)
while they are a kind of bargain. Besides can be retipped
by Axel with even better styli.
Nandric, they are available only used right? This is something I'd like to avoid...just like buying used underwear ;) What is sort of surprising is that it seems
there is little verbalized experience on TSD vs SPU carts. Or does it confirm that sonically both families are relatives so there is nothing to talk about?
Bydlo, 'used underwear' may appeal to some persons but I
don't believe that any person who buy second hand carts
has this assotiation. The FR-7 series are made to last.
But of course the stylus need to be substituted from time
to time. You may be interested inwhat Halcro has to say about his which is just retipped by Axel in Germany (MM thread, Halcro 04-27-12)
Used underwear?........I dunno.
Used Classic car?.........oh yeah!,
I bought my 1963 Porsche 356B Super 30 years ago and drove it every day to and from work for 25 years.
It is the best car I have ever driven ( and I have had current Mercs. BMWs, and Audis also for 30 years).

I bought an FR-7f which had a poor stylus and had it replaced by an expert in Tokyo who replicated the original conical configuration.
Setup in an FR-66s tonearm......it bettered all my previous high-end (expensive) cartridges except for the ZYX UNIverse.
When that new stylus inexplicably exploded one day......I sent the cartridge to Axel who recommended replacing it with a nude line contact pressure-fitted into an aluminium cantilever.
The performance of the FR-7f with this stylus easily exceeded the previous original one and can be heartily recommended.
Well, I don't know if the automotive analogies, which seem to be a kind of standard here, are applicable and for sure do not appeal to me. Let me explain.
I have no problem with old used cars, or used TT's (mine 930 has worked in Yugoslavian radio for example). We all know
what a "programmed obsolescence" is and it has become a modern standard, but anyway with carts I do not feel safe buying 2nd hand. Carts are obviously much more delicate and the precision scale is orders of magnitudes higher than cars. Buying 2nd hand one never knows what the previous user(s) was doing with the cart, how are the magnets, suspension, etc etc and the stylus condition is only one but not the only one variable. So the bottom line is that there would be no warranty that the cart is within it's original specs (save the stylus). I have no experience with FR7 so judging by ear if the cart is as is should be would not be possible.

An eventual rebuild is also a tricky business.
Even well established cart manufacturers do have problems here. I sent my TSD15 to EMT for a complete rebuild and it came back tracking and distorting worse than a DJ cart abused all it's life with scratching! They had to rebuild it 2nd time...
Halcro, yes VW's have always been reliable, simplicity is the key. I would rather have your 356 than any 911. I ran an Audi Quattro Turbo Coupe ( the real one ) for a few years and it handled way better than anything they make today apart from maybe the RS4.
Cartridge that is fast, has a big sound and better than TSD15 under 1.2k Euros ? I do not know of any modern cart that fits all these criteria, but pleeeese if you do find one, dont forget to post it here on the thread. I will also love to own a cartridge with similar sonics. Seriously!
By the way, what do you think of the TSD15 super fine line version ?
Pani, "better" is a very tricky word here. What is better for me may be worse for you, you know. One candidate I was looking at was SPU Royal N (without the resonating box which may or may not be responsible for upper bass/lower mids colour), but again since EMT derives from SPU how different it would be?

Halcro, there is now FR7fz on the known site. Imagine I'd like to buy it. What should I look at to see if the cart is as it should be? What are the checkpoints? Also, how would it fit SME3012R?
You might consider a decca MI (or an ikeda cart, which are based on the same design principles as the deccas) - as fast and dynamic are what these carts are renkowned for.

Not sure how well it might match the 3012R though...
There has been a strong second hand market for the FR-7 range of cartridges for some time now.
The good ones seem to be sold to waiting buyers without much advertising?
Having been through the process myself......I really wouldn't worry too much about the condition of the stylus or cantilever?
If the price is right........I would snap it up and send it to Axel who will install a new nude line contact stylus pressure-fitted into a new aluminium cantilever for EUR160.00.
The 7Fz differed to the 7f by having an elliptical stylus rather than a conical one I believe........so I think you'll be pleased with the results?
You of course do need an appropriate tonearm to handle one of these beauties?
Good luck.
Bydlo, The right persons for this peculiar question are:
Dertonarm, Thuchan and Syntax. Probable Raul also but I am not sure if he owns /owned the FR-7fz. Our brilliant Aussie owns the 'lesser' FR-7f. I think that FR-7fz has also a higher output: 0,24 mV. However 'our Aussie' consider his FR-7f as one of the best in his 'exclusive' ranking of 5 in his (huge) collection .
Halco, Nandric, I have no idea about the persons you are mentioning, apart from one of them kindly sending me some useful info via PM and then asking not to ask him any Q's again as he will not reply... IIRC, he was/is some automotive consultant, hence the automotive analogies???
(BTW, I do not deal with underwear...used nor new ;-))

Anyway, it seems that getting FR7 is sort of an underground activity in some gnostic circle...Again, having a cart in my hand how would I know if it's ok or I'm being fooled?
Also, what is the right price?
Halcro, my arm is SME3012R. So, hypothetically thinking, would it be "appropriate"?
Bydlo, The person who asked you not to ask any Q's should
induce you to think about yourself. You are difficult to
satisfy , obviously. Like a public servant who invents
contra questions for any question asked. You should buy whatever cart on ebay and pay via paypal. You will get ebay protection this way. Not sure about the USA but in
Europe this work this way. The payment is blocked for 21
days to give the buyer the time for complaint. This of course means that the 'protection' is at the cost of the seller but is good ad for ebay.
Though it is not my thread if Bydlo doesnt mind, can someone please describe the signature sound of FR7/f/fz carts ? I tried googling for a review but just couldnt find any and these cartridges are very expensive even in the used market so it is not even a case where one can buy to try out. In the end there is definitely some risk in buying a cartridge which is no more in production but still some useful user reviews can always make for a better buying decision. Anyone please ?
Nandric, I think you are very much off the topic of the current thread and I have no idea what made you start this personal attack. Perhaps you should think about your very self?
I group the Q's which popped up within the thread, perhaps there is somebody who may know something, unlike you obviously:

--how does one recognize that a given FR7 specimen is within it's specs, not being familiar with FR7 sound?
--does FR7 match SME3012R?
--what would be aright price for a good FR7?
--how does SPU and TSD families relate sonically, esp. Royal N vs. TSD15SPH, if anything is known?

If they are self-serving "contra Q's for each Q" or "peculiar", I leave to judge the others.

Ahh, and thank you very much for your advice with using Ebay & Paypal...indeed ingenious!

BTW The person I mentioned started his PM with the quoted statement. I did not ask him any hard Q's nor actually wanted to. I've found this behavior sort of bizzare, but I do not care...everybody has his/her own style.

Pani, not at all: my topis is general as it's stated in the 1st post. I'd be somewhat interested in those sonic impressions too.
Bydlo, You get advice for free but you think that you can
demand the answers according to your own preference. Like
the public 'servant' I already mentioned. You can ,you know what...
Dear Nandric, I have no idea what makes so angry and why you insist on deviating from the subject. I do not "demand" anything, I'm simply curious. If there are no answers to my Q's, ok, no problem, it means there are some gaps in the common pool.
If you feel that I should kiss your ... for you generously posting in this thread, then thank you very much and maybe do not post?
Byldo, by 'deviating from the subject' you of course mean as deviating from the subject as teterminated by you which means for me: I rest my case.
I have no experience with the SME 3012R arm so cannot comment on its ability to handle the FR-7 series cartridges.

Please don't be upset with my friend Nandric.......he is Balkan.
That should explain everything?!
He is blessed/cursed with a sense of humour which is sardonic, sarcastic.....but inevitably keen and meaningful.
Perhaps it also suffers slightly from the translation to English?
I'm sure he will be mad at me for suggesting that mostly........he doesn't mean to offend anyone?
Dear Halcro, the Dutch have this proverb:'protect me my
Lord from my friends I will protect myself from my enemy'.
U picku materinu, Balkan am I not, but I do know a few tasty phrases in Serbo/Croato/Bosnian (how do you call this language after the fall of Yu?) and Bulgarian, so Nandric beware ;-)

Comming back to the subject (which is carts and not personal attacks, Nandric): the obvious canon seems SPU-SME and FR-FR.
I briefly tried simulating 3012-FR7 interaction via this great tool:


I get something: a peak at 7.7Hz, OK, an alert that VTF should be 3.17g instead of 2g...a bit of a mess...
I have been following this thread for a few days. My first reaction to your post, Bydlo, is that you are asking the wrong question. By starting with the EMT turntable, tonearm, and cartridge, you were bound to end up with their combined sonic signature on your music, for good or ill. (I make no judgement at all; I have never heard any of those products.) Then, by using the EAR 834 phono stage, you have stamped the sonics with the euphonic sweetness of that device. It is my second hand impression that the EMT stuff may also be a bit on the euphonic side. That may be the crux of your "problem". IMO, there is a good chance you will not get where you want to go, if you insist on the EAR 834 as your phono stage. At least I recommend try another more neutral phono stage (borrowed?) before you spend on a new cartridge. If a known more neutral phono stage does not help, then you can look farther back up the chain toward the cartridge/tonearm/turntable. Apparently you like vintage stuff. I do, too. Was there some reason you chose the SME 3012R as your second tonearm?
Hi Bydlo, your Serbo-Croation is much better then your carts understanding. BTW never thought about to test or check any cart by listening to it? Ostensive investigation
make only sense regarding the (broken) cantilevers and (wear out) styli. You may need a magnifting glass btw.
You, I assume, know that all FR-7 kinds are second hand?
Aka: 'used underwear'. Look in your Serbo-Croatian dictionary under 'fetish'.

Lewm, perhaps I did not say it explicitly, but what I'm thinking of is to try to mix the oposites: euphonic pre with a "harder" cart. I do like 834. I want to see
what it does with a more agressive cart. If this approach is a dead end or not I do not know. I hope not.

"starting with the EMT turntable, tonearm, and cartridge, you were bound to end up with their combined sonic signature on your music"

This is exactly something I'm trying to diversify by mounting the second arm and the cart. My vision is to have 929 + TSD15sph as a sort of "romantic" combo and a second combo, more ...hmm...complex let's say. For the 2nd arm, the 930 will serve only as a table, there will be no more EMT stuff in the chain. Why 3012R? Simply by reputation, reasonable price, and an occasion to buy one in a perfect shape.

Borrowing parts...albeit living in one of world's most well known cities, I feel like I'm in a sort of a technological desert ;) What I do think of doing is to try different SUT's, e.g. Dave Slagle
It would take a truly annoying cartridge to reverse the romantic slant of the other stuff in your signal chain is perhaps a simpler way of re-stating my thesis. The most neutral cartridges I have heard are the TOTL Transfiguration cartridges, the Temper, Orpheus, Phoenix. But those are very neutral, not "hard". Great products, IMO. You might get a Phoenix within your price range, used. Don't include the Glider in your shopping list; it's not in the same class with the others, IMO. On the MM side, you might find an Acutex to your liking, also very neutral.

By the way, this can go on forever. We pitch cartridges, and you hit them out of the park, along with the advice. But that's your privilege.
Lewm, thanks. I'll take a look. Yes, with the 2nd arm I'd like to proceed by contraries. Apart from Transfiguration, any interesting cart in the Shelter and Benz families?

BTW, why you guys want to behave like primabalerinas and get offended if your advice is not received kneeing is only known to you...I'm grateful, but not uncritical. I cut my system to my taste. The only cart which has been proposed was FR7 and my objection was that it's 2nd hand which I wanted to avoid if possible, which I tried to explain why.
Finally, I started thinking more seriously about it but it seems that i) there is no experience on how it matches SME3012R
and ii) how to recognize if the cart is in a good shape. To me both things seems logical.
What other carts have I "hit out of the park" (whatever) God only knows.

Bydlo, picka ti materina! There is one FR-7fz on ebay.uk
for 1090 GBP. Looks like the underwear of Michelle Pfeifer.
Item nr.150862965820. If you are not satisfied you can object
by ebay with the argument: 'not as described' (by some Serbian).
Bydlo, another cartridge I am seriously considering and think will suit your requirement very well is the Yamamoto YC-03s. Please read about it. You can buy brand new within your budget.
An FR-7f is for sale from Tommy at TopClass Audio who sells only the best of items and checks them all out.
This cartridge has been checked by Ikeda himself who states it is in excellent condition.
Unfortunately....you must pay for this consideration?
Halcro, Syntax..others, can someone please describe the sound signature of these high end FR cartridges ? How do they compare to the current Lyras and ZYX ? Any opinions ?
Pani, click on 'search' and write FR-7 or search for the
'Fidelity Research cartiridge' thread.
Leaving aside my preferred MM cartridges and comparing my FR-7f (Axel modified) to the 10 or 11 LOMCs I have heard in my system.......I would say that the FR-7f is my 'go-to' cartridge when I wish to listen to a MC.

For 6 or 7 years.......the ZYX UNIverse was my favourite LOMC (and I'm on my 3rd one).
The UNIverse has few faults and one doesn't tend to segregate its sound into the famous three divisions of Bass, Midrange and Treble when listening to it, such is its neutrality.
Above and beyond this near perfect frequency response......is the UNIverse's ability (rare amongst any cartridges)......to emotionally connect to the music hidden deep within the vinyl grooves.
The Dynavector XV1s is a good cartridge IMO......but it doesn't posses the neutrality nor the purity of the UNIverse. Nor does it connect as deeply with the emotion of the music. But it can sometimes impress by deceit?

The FR-7f(Axel modified) sounds almost identical to the UNIverse with just a hint more excitement and high-frequency extension.
Whilst its soundstage can be wide.....there is a slight lack of depth if that is important to you?
And its bass.....whilst all there....is not as tight or controlled as some other cartridges.
The original FR-7f with the conical stylus (which I had before the Axel modification)....had all the sonic characteristics described above but without the ultimate finesse, extension and clarity.
This put it....in my ranking....just behind the UNIverse whilst the Axel modification places it just ahead of the UNIverse in my system.

With an output of just .18mv.....you need a phono stage with plenty of gain and those who prefer their valves can reach Nirvana with an appropriate SUT.
A heavy cartridge with low compliance.......the FR-7 series requires a high-mass ultra-rigid arm with perfect bearings and negligible friction.

Beloved by those German and Japanese audiophiles in the know......some would say that with the FR-7f, one can close the chapter on phono cartridges?

I however....have heard the celestial sounds from the mountain peak and consequently maintain an open book?
Dear Lew, 'somebody' made a category error. You, as singer,
may be called 'Prima donna' while your dancing capability
is totally unknown.
Nandric, Who said I can't dance? Baryshnikov?

I have been wondering how those few "in the know" would compare the other Holy Grail of no longer available cartridges, the Technics 100C MkIV, to the Mk7f. But that is OT, and I apologize for bringing it up.

Halcro, Top Class want ~$2000US for that Mk7f. More than most eBay prices. But if it's as good as you say, after the massage from Axel, then surely it is worth it when one considers the cost of any modern TOTL MC. On the other hand, you did infer that your true current favorites are MM types, which likely cost a lot less.
Dear Lew, your capabilities are incredible. Like Diogenes
to Alexander I can only say: 'move a little bit out of the son'.
BTW I am sorry for you and Halcro but some LOMC's are better than whatever MM cart there are. Among those I rank Takedas's Miyabi Standard as the best I know. Deed you btw know that the Serbians are not only the 'born warriors' but
also the 'born dancers'? In this sense the qualification 'primabalerina' can be used by Bydldo.
What? I'm not attacked and you started to talk +/- about the subject? I'm surprised!

Halcro, thanks for the input, both on ZYX comparison and pointing to Topclass. I understand that a peace of mind costs, unlike buying on E...y, so if Topclass is trustworthy, that would solve my objections on cart condition. I was trying to find some info on 3012R-FR7 eventual match, but with no success, so if anyone has any experience please speak up. Also, physical connection of this long cart to the arm seems non-trivial. What is the connector type?

Pani -is it the same Yamamoto as the one making teflon tube sockets?

As for Michele Pffeifer underwear, Nandric, ti glupy seljak, I know how to use "search" on E...y....and if you dance like you discuss then I do not want to be in 10km radius from where you dance :P
Dear Bydlo, Your are obviously a Kantian with your a priori
knowledge about dances and carts. No need btw to
insult Serbian farmers because of me. Besides it is some kind of
a permanent illusion that to pay more for whatever item
iply 'better', 'security'... or a smart decision.
Ok, it seems that there would be a precedence on 3012R + FR-7: A fellow called T_bone mentioned that

"I have not found an FR-7fz, but I am happily using an FR-7f on an SME long arm now. "

Would be interesting to learn what longer SME he used/uses and what the combo was able to offer.

Also someone on hifiwigwam, post #287


and the same person on AA


So at least some people did try it...
Hello Bydlo,

Since T-bone was living in Japan and his real name is Travis ........

BTW, if T-bone says it's a good combo, it is. Maybe he will see your question and respond.

Good luck in your search!
While there are different 'series' of the SME 3012 version one can always find extra weights on ebay.uk. So whatever of Ortofon SPU carts or the FR-7 kinds , the cart weight should cause no problem.
My advice would be: buy the cheapest FR-7 you can find and post this cart to Axel and ask for the line contact stylus pressure fitted in the (new) aluminum cantilever. To 'retip' an old FR-7 means to glue whatever stylus in the existing cantilever. Whatever glue between the stylus and the cantilever is a suboptimal solution.
Nandric, "some LOMC's are better than whatever MM cart there are".

Would you let anyone else get away with such a permeable blanket statement? I think not. Anyway, in defense of Henry, I am sure he means that among cartridges he owns or has heard in his system, he prefers one or more MMs to any of the MCs. This does not rule out the proposition that there is a superior MC somewhere in the universe. In defense of myself, I never made any statement at all regarding the universal superiority of MM/MI cartridges (or if I did, I was insincere). Still, my question is: has anyone compared Technics 100C MkIV to FR Mk7f? I am sure Raul has done this comparison and would likely go for the Technics.

On a serious note, what is "Takeda's Miyabe Standard"? In the US, I do not recall that there is a Miyabe referred to as "Standard". You must have come upon it recently, since you were heretofore immersed in the MM world.
Can anyone direct me to the post by T_bone (Travis)? He and I were in direct email contact for a couple of years. Last year, he told me he was moving to Hong Kong from Tokyo. I was in touch with him during the moving process, and now he seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. For the past several months or maybe a year, I have had zero response from him, nor has he been posting either here or on Audio Asylum. If the post about 3012 + Mk7 is old, it probably would not help to find him. There is another guy who calls himself Tbone, without the underscore. On one or the other site, he used "Travisty".
Dear Lew, My 'blanket statement' was made in the context of
my own experience so no 'universal statement' was made in
the logical sense . My was made by induction from a limited number of carts that I own while any 'universal statement' should be made without such a restriction. In this unrestricted sense only can an universal statement be treated as a premisse for deductions. Syntax and Thuchan were my 'sources' for the Miyabi . The 'Standard' version is so called, I assume, to discriminate from 47 (plastic)
version. I hope Syntax will help his Balkan friend out from this precarious situation? Where Thuchan is I have no idea at present. But if he still pretend to have good ears
he may accompany Syntax by a possible explanation.

Hello Lewm, I thought because "Travisty" was from Tokyo that it was T_bone. I am sorry if I was incorrect and they are different people.

The post from T_bone (Travis) was from Bydlo on 7/30.
in defense of Henry, I am sure he means that among cartridges he owns or has heard in his system, he prefers one or more MMs to any of the MCs. This does not rule out the proposition that there is a superior MC somewhere in the universe.
It also does not rule out the proposition that H's system is so coloured, bleached out or grainy that in that particular system MM's are a better match as they tend to be more forgiving through the mid to top end. Whilst we do not want to bag other systems and I respect H's input into the forums, we must look at context. The system in question is located in a small room with hard stone floors, a massive glass coffee table in front of the listening position and speakers jammed into the corners. I would expect that this environment would be very unforgiving of any forwardness in the mid to top end.
I would expect that this environment would be very unforgiving of any forwardness in the mid to top end.
Only a fool or a genius would believe he can predict the sound of an ‘unheard’ system by ‘expectation’?
From your history of postings on this Forum……I don’t believe you’re a genius?
Most intelligent contributors here, never criticise another’s system yet you seem to enjoy doing exactly that?

You have absolutely no idea what my speakers sound like as they are not commercial products and if you had any knowledge of acoustics…..you would know that the ‘volume’ of a space is a more determining factor than the ‘area’?
The ‘volume’ of my listening space is 90 cubic metres(3,178 cu.ft) which is equivalent to a 20x20x8ft listening room but in my experience…….a smaller floor area with a higher ceiling than 8ft generally sounds better?

I would venture that you have never heard a ‘nude’ Victor TT-101 turntable with any of the arms or cartridges I have…..yet you presume to ‘predict’ the sound of such a set-up?

Whilst you carefully avoid listing your own ‘System’ with photos of your listening room and set-up…..your bombastic self-anointed ‘expert’ status on this Forum is rather tiresome.