Review: Miyabi 47 Labs MC Cartridge Cartridge

Category: Analog

Miyabi/47 Labs Moving Coil Cartridge Review

Introduction: Having lived with this cartridge now for several months I thought I would write a short review with some comparisons and contrasts with my other two most recent cartridges the Benz LP and Transfiguration Temper Supreme. The Miyabi is a very musical MC cartridge taking some of the best elements of the Temper Supreme and the Benz LP creating a hypothetical blend of both.

Construction: The Miyabi/47 labs version has a .3 mv output with a very short aluminum alloy cantilever. Its appearance is rather non assuming in fact compared to my much more polished looking Benz LP the Miyabi looks rather cheap with its black plastic body lacking a fine fit and finish one would expect from a $3950 retail price moving coil cartridge. It does not have a threaded top plate to secure to two screws to the head shell of my Basis Vector tonearm instead two long screws with very small nuts create a side mount feature that is some what more time consuming to install but otherwise poised no problems.

The Sound: Any reservations I had because of the Miyabi appearance were quickly dissipated once the stylus hit the vinyl. After a 100 hour breakin process and going back and fourth between my benz LP and Miyabi/47 labs cartridge I can say with total confidence that both are very fine examples of what is possible today in vinyl playback and represent the top of the quality pyramid in MC technology. My Temper Supreme I sold several months ago had the best transparency, resolution and bottom end bass extension of any cartridge I tried but has somewhat of a "leanish" character to it which I do not find in live music so I would therefore place it slightly behind both the Miyabi and Benz LP in total sound quality but still a very fine cartridge indeed. The Miyabi takes most of the tempers speed, resolution and extension while also taking some of what I call the "swell effect" of the Benz Lp, that is to say more midrange fullness and body for which the Benz can do so well. The Miyabi/47 labs version cartridge has a much fuller and richer sound than the Temper Supreme but has improved resolution and greater clarity compared to the Benz products. When I played Norah Jones "Don't' know why" record on by basis Debut Vacuum turntable with the Miyabi cartridge her voice sounded so clear, clean and natural I could swear she was in the room. When I played the same record with the Benz LP cartridge the music swelled even more from left to right providing a fatter and richer sound with a very high level of intimacy and musicality although it lacked the pristine clarity and transparency of the miyabi. I have gone back and fourth over the last several months between the two and it is so close I believe its more of a matter of preference than saying one is better that the other. The Miyabi strikes a very good balance between the Temper Supreme and the fine Benz lp. The Miyabi had grater speed and tempo compared to the Benz so with complex jazz material the Miyabi probably has a slight advantage. The Benz LP with vocal material sounds so dynamic with such great presence I believe it has the slight edge in this regard to the Miyabi. Despite their differences the two cartridges actually have so much more in common than not that in side by side comparisons with excellent source material it really is quite close.

Conclusion: If I had to pick one cartridge to take with me on a desert island today I would probably choose the Miyabi/47 labs for its overall balance and greater resolution although I could also be very happy with the Benz LP also. The Miyabi has the rare ability to combine the strengths the the top Japanese cartridges (speed, inner detail, bottom end extension, great resolution) with "body and soul" so often sadly lacking with other German and Japanese products on the market today. I suspect only the Dynavector XV1s also has these great qualities and tonal balance to match the Miyabi. It is fun to listen to music with the Miyabi and Benz Lp cartridges and both would be given a letter grade of "A" in my view.

Associated gear
Basis Debut Vacuum turntable, Basis vector Tonear, Hovland HP-100 preamp with Dynavector Headamp, Convergent Audio JL2 Amp, Merlin VSM speakers with Rel Stentor III subwoffer

Similar products
Benz LP
After living with it for slightly more than one and a half years, I found that Miyabi47Labs cartridge has a better matching with 47Lab Phonocube than with the ASR basis exclusive phonostage. I found that this combination surpasses in all musical terms the Transfiguration TemperV and the Whest P2.0, which also happens to receive a review in these pages by another A'goner. In this aspect, it has all the best of what TemperV can do but it does it even better with the microdynamic and micro details it can derive from the grooves. This combination is better as compared to matching it with TomEvan The Groove phonostage. It also won over the presentation by the Koetsu Urushi with 47Lab phonostage which was to me, so lifelike. So far, it is a combination that i love so much. The rest of the cartridges which I own currently are Koetus RSP, Koetsu Urushi, Koetus Coral, Lyra HeliconSL, Lyra Titan i, Benz LPEbony, Transfiguration TemperV and Orpheus, PhaseTech P-3, Denon DL-103R
Hi Vincent kkho,
Interesting that you mention the Whest PS.20 Phonostage, as this is what I have, and don't really want to change it considering I bought it recently. Would you say that the Miyabi47 cartridge really should be used accompanying their 47 Lab Phonocube to get the most out of it...? Or will I still be happy using my Whest PS.20 Phonostage if I don't try to listen to the better option? Otherwise, I'm thinking of the Dynavector Te Kaitika Rua as a more affordable option. Cheers. SP
Hi Scarletpimpernel,

Would you say that the Miyabi47 cartridge really should be used accompanying their 47 Lab Phonocube to get the most out of it...?

So far, in my system, it seems to be the case. 47LabPhonocube comes with zero impedance setting. But for the interconnect from the phonostage to preamp, I found a better match with Nordast QuattroFil than the Valhalla for my case.

I am trying now Miyabi47 cartridge with Whest Phono stage. Due to limited choice, the setting is 100ohm with the plugs provided. For this case, I found a better match with Nordast Valhalla interconnect from my phonostage to preamp. I find overall presentation is tag more "HiFi"ish, of course all the basic fundamentals of Miyabi47 remains unchanged. I still find the first combination is more musically satisfied.

Thanks and enjoy!