Stereo Sound cart rankings

Here’s Stereo Sound’s 2008 cart rankings, regardless of price range. The 103R still in TOP 10 after all these years!!!

14pts = Phase Tech P3G = 115,000yen
11pts = Lyra Skala = 320,000yen
10pts = Ortofon SPU Synergy = 170,000yen
9pts = My Sonic Hyper Eminent = 460,000yen
8pts = My Sonic Eminent = 300,000yen
8pts = Ortofon Winfield = 400,000yen
5pts = Phase Tech P3 = 85,000yen
5pts = Audiocraft AC03 = 160,0000yen
4pts = Denon 103R = 33,000yen
4pts = Lyra Helikon = 220,000yen
4pts = Benz-Micro Ruby = 300,000yen
3pts = Ortofon Jubilee = 220,000yen
3pts = Benz-Micro LP Ebony = 380,000yen
3pts = Lyra Titan = 450,000yen
2pts = AT-33 mono, Ikeda 9C-V, Denon DL-S1, Phase Tech P1, Audiocraft AC03 mono, Benz Ref. 3 silver, EMT JSD5
1pt = Denon DL-102, Yamamoto YC03S, Lyra Dorian, Clearaudio Symphony, Ikeda 9 Supremo, My Sonic Eminent Solo, Haniwa HCTR-01, Audio Note IO-M
Denon DL103R also ranked within top 10 in 200~2004 ranking.

I wonder whether there was any influence from Denon. ;-)

Linn Sondek LP12-v ranked number 1 through all years.
Nice to see Clearaudio Bluemotion ranked 7 in 2004.
CMK: I think that your list is from the Best Buy section. Keep in mind that in this section the price vs. performance ratios figure heavily in the voting.

The Grand Prix section is much more about absolute performance, and is where the real action and prestige is. Among LP-related products, the Spiral Groove SG-1 turntable was awarded a Grand Prix this year. No cartridge received enough votes to earn a Grand Prix award. However, IIRC (I don't have that Stereo Sound issue at hand), the two top-ranking cartridges were the Ortofon Winfeld and my own Skala.

rgds, jonathan carr
Anyone have a webpage link so I can peek at these rankings?

JCarr - I love my Skala :)
gotta be kidding. not a single dynavector, miyabi, koetsu, vdh, zyx in the lot.
Jonathan, thanks for the correction, I knew it was too good to be true, but yes on a performance/$ ratio, the 103R should still rank highly.

I've heard the Titan a number of times and was always impressed, but not the Skala. You must have done something right with the Skala. Could you share the key differences between the 2 in terms of design and sonics?
Who is Stereo Sound and why does their editorial opinion matter any more than does that of S'phile and TAS or any other mag? It seems highly unlikely that any one person on the staff of SS could have carefully evaluated this many cartridges, not to mention all the other products they apparently rated,so what we must have here is a kind of group-think result. Of interest to me however is that they rate highly a few cartridges that I never knew existed.
Stereo Sound is to the Japanese audiophile what Stereophile/TAS is to the American audiophile.

As in all things audio, it is an opinion based on tastes and musical biases. Nevertheless, they put that in print and are willing to critique, and likewise by criticised for their opinions.

These are just another point of view from the other side of the world. Some of the carts are exclusive to the Japan domestic market and are therefore not exported, but one or two of these could potentially be undiscovered gems which haven't been discovered by the rest of the audio world.
without system matching it's likely out of context as well, although associated components are likely published within their demographic.
Just quickly scanning the list, 3 great cartridges that would easily outperform just about any of the listed (from my own humble experience)- Koetsu (any stone) platinum diamond, ZYX Universe, Dynavector XV-1s. Makes you wander how are those guys making their selection...
Cmk, I'd be very interested to know which among some of those esoteric brands of cartridge are worth further consideration, e.g., what about Phase Tech and MySonic? From my several visits to Tokyo in 2007, I came to believe that the Japanese (at least the affluent ones who live in Tokyo) are on average more "into" things audio than we are.
Frankly I'd like to find some gem myself. A friend, who's ears I trust, mentioned that the Phase Tech P3 was special. At the price point its worth just buying to try, or just go for the P3G.
Hmmmm no mention of Jan allaerts. This list fails.
FWIW, I've listened to nearly every cartridge listed as a favorite by contributors to this thread, and I'm pretty sure that at least some of the cartridges on the Stereo Sound list are better than anything that most of you may have experienced (and not necessarily my own designs, either).

So no, the Stereo Sound list is not a failure, rather a different culture, different environment, different sonics likes and dislikes, and different product experiences. And if anything, it is good to be exposed to the opinions of other cultures, especially when you consider that Japan is the home of Air Tight, Dynavector, Koetsu, Miyabi, ZYX and other highly esteemed cartridge brands (^-^).

regards, jonathan carr
On my system starting to realize 103r is amazing.
It looks like the budget list to me too and besides, who gives a rip how some audiorag rates cartridges. Most of them have an agenda, can't hear or both.
Rfogel8, I think you must have missed my other post clarifying the matter, it is a value for money list, so obviously some are budget carts, while others aren't(Titan, MySonic Eminent). Perhaps you can share your views of which carts you consider to represent high value?
It's hardly a "budget" list.

Take some time and look more closely.
Dear JCarr, During my visits to Tokyo, it is always surprising to me that the average Japanese audio salesperson has barely any knowledge of the Koetsu line, especially since they are made right there. (This knowledge was gained by having my son present to interpret for me. He is quite fluent in Japanese.) To buy a Koetsu in Tokyo, one must order it and wait a couple of weeks for delivery. Similarly, I have never seen a Miyabi cartridge in even the highest of high end stores. On the other hand, Dynavectors and ZYXs and of course Denons are commonplace. You probably know much more about the whys and wherefores of this situation than I; what's the deal?
Cmk, I did miss your "clarifying" post. For the money the 103R is probably the one to beat.

A good friend has two Denon 103's, one being the R version. After break-in and getting familiar with the sound, he went with one of the after-market wood body "upgrades" which further improved the sound.
Koetsu is handled by a few dealers - I think that the dealer advert section in Stereo Sound should list some. You can also occasionally pick up a used or B-Stock piece from the likes of SIS Audio or Hi-fi Do.

Regarding Miyabi, you can again peruse through the dealer adverts in Stereo Sound or Stereo. You could also call up one of the Audio Union or Dynamic Audio dealers and see if they have what you are looking for, or would be willing to direct you to someone else who does (which would be true for Koetsu, Miyabi, or any other interesting brand). Also since 47 Labs does a version of the Miyabi, if you contact 47 they should be able to direct you to a dealer (although I think the number of dealers will be less than for Koetsu).

Note that the Miyabis are all made by one person only (which is a different situation from Koetsu, AFAIK), and therefore the production quantity is limited, which means that the number of dealers must also be limited.

I also use one builder only (with the sole exception of the Dorian), and his maximum yearly output is less than 1000 cartridges total, including all rebuilds, OEM work and new cartridges - and that's with him quite overworked.

Mind you, the Japan of today is not like the audio heydays in the 80s and early 90s, when many dealers had all kinds of exotic gear. Today audio is very much of a small niche market; some of the former premier audio dealers have gone out of business (like Yamagiwa), and because of dwindling income and profit, many larger dealers have been forced to divest their shelf space for audio lines in favor of home-theater and flat-panel displays, computers and cellular phones, where market interest remains high.

Nonetheless, if you exclude the big boys like Accuphase or Luxman (not to mention Denon, Pioneer, Sony et al), Japan still has many tiny manufacturers that have quite interesting products. The dedicated, progressive Japanese audiophile will research the magazines, on-line forums, contact dealers (that they may or may not have a relationship with) and gradually find out how to contact the manufacturers or ferret out where their dealers are. I have my own network of audiophile buddies, and we trade tips on dealers, LP stores as well as gear. I think that more and more today you need that kind of network if you want to find interesting gear in Japan (in the countryside, the dealers tend to become a focal point for the local audio communities - kind of like audio clubs).

Today's situation compared to years past of course makes it considerably harder for foreign visitors to find interesting things. Unfortunately.

regards and hth, jonathan carr