Dear friends: This is my first review, I’m not so good writing an audio item review but this time IMHO I think that this Technics MM phono cartridge deserve some one that can “ speaks “ on it and well I’m here to do it and “ looking “ for your experiences and feedback on the Technics cartridge subject, I know there are owners of the EPC-100C I really appreciate your contribution .
If one of you have an Audio/Stereo Review magazines review of this old cartridge please let us know about.
The name Technics is a very well respected and old name in audio, a manufacturer that belongs to Panasonic group and then to the electronic gigantic Matushita I think that in the analog area Technics is very well know for its turntables where I think the most popular is the 1200 model(s) but in the high end the Technics name had/have a Reference products status like TT’s that are a challenge to even today TT designs through its DD designs SP10-MK2 and MK3 designs. Other analog area where Technics was/is a “ reference “ is on tonearm design through the EPA-100, EPA 500 and the EPA100 MK2.
Less know it for its cartridge designs otherwise Technics build/design either MM and LOMC cartridges and in both cartridge technologies made it at top level.
The Technics philosophy was/is be second to none and the EPC-P100 MK4 is a good example of this Technics philosophy.
Its latest and top of the line LOMC model was the EPC-305MC MK2 ( that I own too. ) and its latest top MM cartridge was the EPC-205C MK4.
Why make a review on an audio item that is out of production and hard to find?, if you read the MM/MI thread you can find that almost all the cartridges that many people are enjoying today are “ out of production “ ones and where we can buy it only second hand, sometimes in NOS condition and many times really second hand meaning and the important/critical subject about is that several of these out of production cartridges are and have very high quality performance against any today cartridge standards in either design: MM/MI or LOMC, we have to think that all of us can/could take advantage that today we have better quality audio systems than 30 years ago that help for these cartridges shows its real today very nice performance. This Technics has not only that kind of quality performance level but additional performance characteristics that makes me be here in the review.
For many years I was looking for this Technics cartridge with out luck, I find the EPC-100C MK4 two times but this one is an integrated headshell model and I don’t want it because it does not permit to test/match the cartridge with the right headshell/tonearm in my system, it does not permit too to mount but only in a removable headshell design, and IMHO the cartridge internal wire connections were good in its time but not today .
Finally more than six months ago and thank’s to an Agon friend I find a source with a NOS of this P-mount EPC-P100C MK4.
The cartridge appear in the audio market in November of 1982 .
The cartridge was and is still today a cartridge reference for a few pro-audio reviewers, recording producers and even cartridge manufacturers/designers like Dr. Van denHul.
As you read this carttridge sample is the MK4 latest EPC-P100C version, many years ago I had the opportunity ( but not the money to buy it. ) to hear the original one.
This P-mount cartridge comes in a small box with the external Technics ad nomenclature writes in the box. Inside we find a plastic “ box “ where the EPC-P100C MK4 comes mounted and fixed through a screw in an item that looks like a especial plastic headshell that protect against any bad handling box. We find here the hardware that we need to mount it like: an “ open frame “ P-mount universal adaptor, screws, headshell wires ( these has especial connectors due that the cartridge pins connectors are very think against the pins connectors in a normal ½” cartridge. ), two screwdrivers: one to fix the cartridge to the mount adaptor with the dedicated screw and one ( small one. ) to fix the cartridge stylus ( through a thin philips type screw. ) to the cartridge body, a warranty card . a operation manual and frequency response/crosstalk charts/diagram of my specific cartridge sample.
The cartridge it self is beautiful made in champagne color with rear plate in black. The Technics people was really especial,, in the left cartridge body side we can read: type of cantilever, cartridge recommended VTF and Matushita Electronics/Made in Japan.
Build/design cartridge characteristics and specifications:
It is a moving magnet one-point suspension with “ all HPF core, precision ground finish “, the cantilever is pure boron tapered pipe with a TTDD ( Technics Temperature Defense Damper ), the magnet is a Disc-shaped samarium-cpbalt with (BH) max=30 MG . Oe, the stylus tip is a especial linear elliptical stylus, with an effective moving mass of 0.055 mg. ( please don't ask what means these Technics propietary " cartridge design/build " characteristics: I don't have idea yet. )
Frequency response: 5 Hz- 120,000 Hz
20 Hz- 20,000 Hz +,- 0.3 db ( **** )
15 Hz- 80,000 Hz +,- 3 db
Output voltage: 1.2 mV ( * )
Channel separation: more than 25 db.
Channel balance: within 0.5 db
Compliance: 12cu ( 100 Hz, dynamic. )
DC resistance: 30 Ohms ( ** )
Inductance: 33 mH
Resistance: 10 kohms to 1 Mohms!
Capacitance: less than 500 pf. ( *** )
VTF: 1.25 +,-0.25 g.
( * ): both channels measure the same output voltage with out any measurable difference!!!!!
( ** ) both channels in my sample measure the same: 37.3 Ohms with out any measurable difference!!!!!!!
( *** ) the Technics chart measures states that they use 100 pf. I’m using 150pf.
( **** ) each one Technics chart channel frequency response shows “ identical “ with no “ visual “ deviation for both channels!!!!!!!
The stylus replacement model is: EPS-P100ED4.
As we read it this Technics cartridge was made with an envy great and unique precision, I name this: perfect design/execution build quality “ cero tolerance “ people oriented!!!! Proudly to be part of this great audio item.
Cartridge set up:
Normally the MM/MI cartridges are user friendly on tonearm and set up, well this one is not an easy set up one especially on VTA/SRA. I mounted in my Audio Technica AT-1503 MK3 with an original magnesium Nagaoka headshell and did not like it so I change it to an aluminum heavier headshell and in this one is how I'm listening it, latter on VTA/SRA set up.
Technics leaves at random almost nothing, the P-mount adaptor that comes with the cartridge is an open frame design ( unique and different from any adaptor I know or have. ) and this means that there are no adaptor pin connectors where the cartridge pins are connected and where the cartridge signalhas to pass on ( in addition to the cartridge " normal " pin connectors. ) and where that signal suffer an important degradation.
This open frame design comes with the usual 1/2" mount headshell holes threaded and the usual P-mount design adaptor/cartridge hole that fix through a screw the cartridge to the mount adaptor.
Instead of the normal adaptor for P-mount cartridges that comes with pin connectors Technics build and design its own headshell wires, at one end these headshell wires ( four color coded. ) are like any other headshell cartrridge wires/connectros/clips but at the cartridge end there is a small plastic ( clear ) box where the four wires are placed in exactly the right position to connect directly to the cartridge pin connectors that are a lot tinner ( tiny ) that a normal/non P-mount cartridge pin connectors.
With this headshell wires especial aditament Technics solve two critical subjects in favor to mantain the integrity of the cartridge signal: first eliminate the P-mount adaptor pin connectros ( one less stage where the signal must pass on. ) making a direct connection with the cartridge and second they choose a better quality headshell wires than stock ones ( obviously that today we have even beter headshell wires, so I don't use the Technics ones but my normal silver Audio Note . ).
The VTF was and is working at 1.25grs and the load impedance is set to 100kohms along a total capaciance of 150pf. I don't use anti-skating and the cartridge comes with removable stylus guard.
The cantilever/stylus assemble in a MM/MI cartridge is the smaller one that I know other than my Nagatron 350 and is dead center on the cartridge body like no any other cartridge I know. This is my first cartridge ( I can't be sure but maybe along my AKG P100-LE ) where the Azymuth has to set up with out any center deviation.
Due to its extraordinary performance characteristics the VTA/SRA sweet spot is extremely wide and IMHO a challenge for any one.: this cartridge refuse to sound “ bad “ at any usual/unusual VTA/SRA set up!!!!! .
After 12 hours the cartridge almost settle down and I begin to find out its “ average “ best sweet spot VTA/SRA position that was/is almost even/level in parallel to the record. To made/make this set up I now appreciate not only my audio music experience and audio system high resolution but that fortunately I have and use ( for the last ten years. ) the same 10 tracks on different recordings as my cartridge tests to cartridge set up, I think that maybe with out these recording tests could never achieve the “ best “ quality performance of this especial and unique cartridge , you can read something about these test tracks here:
As some of you can read one of my test recordings is the Janis Ian tracks 1 and 2 in side B, well when things goes dificult I use too the Gold Edition CD of this Janis Ian recording to check in CD ( 7 ) a battery part ( middle of the track (drum.). ) that belongs to mid-range and in the ( 8 track. ) for bass near the end of this track. Well, this Janis Ian digital recording is really good and at least in the bass better than the LP where in the mid-range ( especially the test part I use. ) is similar in both. For the very first time I heard trough the Technics cartridge the bass on the LP with the pitch/tightness/no-overhang/no-coloration/no-lush/no-bloat-bold but the right bass!!
As better the audio system as better the cartridge quality performance, IMHO this cartridge is a challenge to almost any good audio system ( cartridge limitations?, only the self audio system limitations. ), its specs are more electronic of an audio item “ oriented “ than usual cartridge specs!!
What makes the quality performance differences against any other ( MM/MI/LOMC ) cartridge I heard?, well what distinguish a good or very good audio item to an excellent one: frequency extremes performance! along music dynamic handling, only this? Well not exactly but mainly.
Dear friends, this is the first cartridge in the last ???…ever that let me hear “ sounds “ in recordings that I know well in deep that I never was aware exist in those recordings and let me not " heard/hear " ( well not heard. ) “ things “ that are mere colorations in other cartridges, it is not that with the Technics sounds different or better NO are “ new “ sounds!! that no other cartridge in any other system I heard produce or at least its performance does not permit goes out with the SPL need it to my ears/brain detect in precise way like in the Technics cartridge performance.
One example of that you can find it in the Patricia Barber ( Cafe Blue ) recording through the track 2 ( Nardis. ) side B where in the first 2-3 minutes we can hear the Patricia voice, well with almost any other cartridge I can " count " four times that the microphone takes the Patricia " breath " and with the Technics I can detect six times that breath/respiration in Patricia performance. You can check and see what you hear about.
This cartridge is very good tracker like almost all MM/MI cartridge but this in especial and I think due to its very high quality performance the " normal " inner groove distortion does not exist in anyway. I test this playing the recordings from inner track to outer track looking for that " inner distortion " or quality differences and my ears can't detect any where in other cartridges I can hear a difference in the highs with more brightness that IMHO only tell me more distortion and not better quality performance.
Frequency extremes performance: IMHO the high and bass frequency range quality performance is what has the biggest influence in the whole recording/track performance. As better these frequency ranges as better the recording quality performance in any single recording frequency range: mid range/low treble/mid-bass/soundstage/layering/detail/etc., etc. and as I say along how well the cartridge/system handle the music dynamics.
IMHO this cartridge sets new frequency extreme ranges quality performance and dynamics. The bass in cartridges like the Azden P50VL or the Allaerts Formula One ( that are extraordiary in this regard. . ) with that bloom/lush even a little/tiny " rounded " impact/power in the bass is only that a very good but " colored " bass performance.
How is in the EPC-P100C MK4?, disappear that " rounded "/bloom type bass response and instead of that we have not more bass quantity but better bass quality ( even deeper. ) with precise control on the bass musical notes and with less a lot less coloration/distortions: no overhang, no bloom, no round response, no false response ( because we can't hear it in that way in live events. ) with false " excess " of bass ( a halo around the bass. ). The speed on transient response in the bass ( well over the frequency range. ) and fast/precise time decay on musical notes made/makes that the " normal " colorations/distortions almost disappear leaving nothing but the music.
Recordings like D. Bowie Cat People ( 45rpm. ) or Firebird ( Mercury Living Presence. ) are two examples of the “ true “ low bass in those recordings against the bass performance with other cartridges. In the Bowie track not only shows the bass range improvement but now the Bowie voice is clear/pristine and more “ Bowie voice “ with lower “ size “ and less darkness and bold/bloat.
In the Firebird score ( side B. ) it is amazing to enjoy/hear the whole sound that produce that bass big drum, I mean as whole sound the different “ sounds “ inside/out with only one player hit on the drum, we can detect so vivid “ what is happening “ inside on that big bass drum and OH! that lovely firt double-bass pizzicato at the very beguin on this side B track. In the other side now I can hear very clear the harp on this score. Everything is “ cleaned “ with this bass level performance!
The Power and the Majesty ( Mobile Fidelity. ):
this is perhaps the best real/live recording/performance that I heard. Well with this cartridge we can “ live “/hear the most “ vivid “ experience that I never heard before in my place or any other place.
If we take the side A this is a Storm recording. Recorded just from the begin when we can hear not only the first and “ slow “ fall water drops but the thunderstorm far away from the recording place ( a house. ), suddenly the storm begin with fierce precede of a near big thunder that if you are unaware of it then you just jump from your seat, this big thunderstorm is in your face with all real/live power as you can hear in a live storm, it is something incredible the way this cartridge produce the right thunder sound from the start transients to the end of thunder sound: a learning experience that maybe you can understand in a precise way when you have the opportunity to hear it.
After this big thunder the rain falls abruptly and now you can hear how the rain drops hits the window and how the water falls from the roof-house and how hits the floor out side the house. This rain fall has a very wide frequency range of sounds where IMHO only first rate systems can discern on that wide range of those sounds.
Well, it happens that just behind my speakers the room has a big glass-window and when you are hearing this storm recording I can say to you that is almost impossible to say if the rain drops hitting the window in the recording are a recording or a real-live rain drops hitting my window: you must hear to believe it!!!!, what a experience!
In the first track side B we can hear the sound of an old locomotive in motion and we heard it starting when the locomotive is far away from us and distinguish only the sound of its whistle and some " sounds " of the wood/camp environment but when this railroad is at a few meters from us the whistle and metal sound of the motion on he rails are impressive ( for say the least ), you can think the whole train be pass over you: your instinct makes that you made a " step back "!!!!, it is the train that is passing from left to right in your " room "!, better yet you are transported where things are happening!.
Mozart/ChopinHandel ( Kabi Laretei ( player ) ATR Mastercut recording ) and Shumann ( John Lill ( Piano player ). Greenpro label. ):
This sweden pianist/player is very good as is the recording. What I want to high light here is that along the Shuman ( different recording ) recording how well we can identify ( similar piano instruments: Steninway’s. ) the microphones used: B&K ‘s on the ATR and Neumann’s on the Shuman one, I prefer the vivid/life like tone on the B&K against the little " softness " in the Neumann's. Both performances are great and both recordings remember me that ( for my taste ) the piano is the “ Instrument “, a glorious one.
The Power and the Glory ( Direct to Disc M&K recording ):
For the people that does not know about this recording here are some high lights: three Organs at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles being played by the Master Lloyd Holzgraf. The two big Organs were separate by 198 feet played antiphonally and blended: 11,848 pipes/32 foot fundamental pipes and high pressure trumpets!!!!
who owns the Vol.1 of this great recordings knows that is not easy to achieve high quality performance on it especially a " clean " performance, this means with very low distortion. Here the Technics shows its capacity to track in ejemplar way, mantaining always contact and " minute " contact always with the grooves where other cartridges fail to do it at the Technics precise level, the Technics almost no distortion performance comes as a result of its great tracking capacity.
Well, the second track on side A ( Vivaldi: Largo in D minor. ) ( first track and just splendid: Bach, Toccata and Fuga in D minor. ) has so deep/low bass organ notes that we can't hear it but only feel it. I try these track with different cartridges and in all of them the organ vibrations that you feel over your body ( over all system room. ) are the same but the ones coming from the Technics: can you believe this?, I was in doubt for what I was feeling on these Technics vibrations so I repeat 3-4 times the track to be absolutely sure of what I'm " hearing ": is not only that you feel the vibrations on the body but that you can discern very well on those vibrations and its intensity and quality because in the Technics you " feel " less distortion.
Eva Cassidy ( Songbird. ):
Tracks 1 and 3 in side A shows the beauty of Eva Cassidy voice, through the Technics you can attest the real ( or near real .) the formidable and marvelous Eva voice: so distinctive, so demanding, so fullness, so melodic, so precise and involving, so emotional that I can't understand and miss her young lost.
Shehrezade ( Reiner and the Chicago.):
My only comment: that concertino finale, always sounds excellent but through the Technics it is an “ endless love “ experience.
At the other frequency extreme the overbrigthness performance almost disappear ( even at high SPL like 92db's+. ), we have only the natural agresiveness of the music with out any edginess or colorations that could stress or fatigue our ears through hours of playing time. In this frequency range the differences are big too and the transpaency/detail/natural auidiophile music words takes a new dimension that only if you hear it can understand it ( I have no words in English to explain in precise way, maybe because is a totally new experience. ). Many times ( like in the PB Nardis track. ) the sound of cymbals ( especially whenh the player hits at the outer cymbal ring. ) we heard are something like a soft white noise with out definition with this Technics cartridge there is no “ white noise sound “ but the metallic distinctive cymbal sound with the precise hearing when the player hits the cymbals, you can hear very clear the fundamental, harmonics, rhytm and decay of the sound.
This cartridge has great capacity for discerns/differentiate/distinguish every nuances in every recording like no other analog source ( save for a master tape. ) I heard/know. Other important characteristic is that with this cartridge does not exist the " overhang " that is so common with other cartridges in every frequency range, with the Technics the music note end in precise way like we heard it in a good live event.
All these cartridge unique characteristics are what makes the difference.
With this frequency extreme great quality performance the low treble/mid-range/soundstage/inner-detail/etc, takes new meaning where the overall performance put us not near on the recording but " on the recording ". After the first few cartridge playing/hearing hours and after the big “ surprise “ on its quality performance level and after understand that almost what we already heard through almost any cartridge in almost any audio system was almost “ wrong “ and after accept this new quality level performance: The transparency, clarity, accuracy, precision, natural music agresiveness ( with no false mid-range lush. ), feeling and emotions that involve you and that flow all over your skin as you are hearing the recording then your next thought is that you want/need that that pleasure and music enjoy never end.
Nothing disturb you, nothing between you and the music, nothing between the music pleasure and your brain/sense, nothing to worry about but the big joy and hapiness that only the music can, what you are hearing always " move " you even if it is not the kind of music you like.
Maybe many of you can say that what I posted here through hearing those ( an a lot more ) different recordings is what you are hearing at your place, certainly you did/do but IMHO not at this quality top level: this analog source is something especial.
Dear friends: Different cartridges " paint " the music in different Colors.
The EPC-P100CMK4 has the capacity to Color the music with the right tone, with the right lights and shadows and with the right color intensity that the recording is asking for through the whole recording/music composition.
The recording is a paint in white and black and the cartridge ( well the whole audio system. ) the painter: from this " point of view " the Technics fullfill its true Color on each single " space " in that paint where other cartridges/painters not only are less refined painters but leave " spaces " with no Color.
A unique an enjoyable musical experience. IMHO nothing comes close to it. Yes I'm a proud owner of this cartridge like several other owners but with a little of patience you can find a cartridge sample over the Net ( especially in Japan , Hong Kong or Europe. ).
Can any one ask for more?, maybe but for me is good enough today and really I can't imagine how to improve this kind of performance where I can't detect any single drawback. Of course that I'm always in the audio Nirvana quest a who knows what the future has to all of us.
Are there serious contenders to the Technics cartridge?, not really: I like a lot Allaerts Formula One, Goldbug Ms. Brier, Audio Technica ATML 180-OCC, Azden YM-P50LV, Ortofon A-90, Lyra Olympos, Sonus Dimension 5, Van denHul Colibri, Dynavector XV-1s , Grado Amber The Tribute, Signet TK10 ML-Mk3 or Grado RS II ( I don't heard/hear yet the XV-1t. ) but IMHO no one of them ( unfortunately ) share the Technics cartridge performance new level characteristics., maybe the AKG P100-LE could share “ somethings “ with the Technics but this I can corroborate when I receive it from Van denHul where is now for a “ refresh “ cartridge service.
My high and only hope is that in a very near future the cartridge designers/manufacturers can come with new cartridge designs ( either LOMC or MM/MI. ) that can even or better yet that can beats this today unique, great, formidable and marvelous EPC-P100C MK4!!
Yes, this cartridge is a unique and precision musical instrument : an authentic piece of “ art “.
Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul.Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products
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