The Cartridgeman Isolater.

This device get sandwiched between the cartridge and
the arm and could potentially bring down the noise floor
by 3db.
Has anyone here tried it ?
I woud be curious to know about the specific qualitative
influences it might had brought to your sound.
I also wonder what is the principle at work.......
There are several principles at work. IMO most of them are flawed.

A loose connection between cartridge and headshell will allow unnecessary movement. This will sap bass strength, reduce peak amplitudes, slow transient responses and generally suck the life and dynamics from the music.

Putting a lossy compound next to a cartridge doesn't eliminate stray energy. It simply stores it and feeds it back, out of phase, at unknowable frequencies. Result: sonic mud.

Glueing my cartridge to *anything* - well - that ain't ever gonna happen.

I haven't heard the "real" Isolator but I've demoed a friend's DIY version (attached with headshell screws, not glue.) The results were as predicted above. Two VA inmates demoed the real Isolator last year (kindly provided by a dealer). They used lower resolution systems than mine, but reported similar results. Neither kept the Isolator even though it was offered as a freebie.

If a cartridge, tonearm or TT do not handle stray mechanical energies properly, the solution is to replace the faulty component(s). Band-aids are not the path to high resolution, accuracy or a lower noise floor.

My $.0002 - fire away!!! ;-)

I would fire away Doug, but I would only shoot myself. I agree with everything you've posted.

A strong, stiff mechanical connection between the cartridge and headshell is an absolute necessity to achieve the ultimate in analog performance.

In fact, It would probably improve performance even more to super glue the cartridge to the headshell prior to torquing the mount screws. This process would prove ugly when the cartridge needed to be removed, but I'm making a point of extremes.

I remember a test some years ago where our audio group experimented with removing the clear plastic washers out from under the cartridge mounting screws in our (then) pivot design arm. Everyone in attendance was surprised at the improvement.

The only downside is the headshell is gouged pretty good by the screw heads, particularly if you torque them down tight enough to achieve maximum performance.

Ever since that test, I've never installed another washer. I simply close my eyes to avoid seeing the scars and enjoy the music :^).
i have tried it and it was mounted on my kuzma airline airey 3 for less than an hour, it robbed the life out of the music , dynamics etc were robbed, also it looks like a DIY job, piece of junk !!
Still around Dougdeacon........that's good news, was
always interesting to read what you had to say when I used to come to this forum more than a year ago......nice to see that you are still coming here shipping out those 2 cents of yours around.
The points you are making conscerning the Isolator are instructive and reasonable yet for now I still believe that the product could have some merits and that someone might come and report some positive experiences with it.
Of course two audio writers have already done so in Stereotimes and 6moons......this allied with
my impression that the Cartridgeman wouldn' t just put out a silly product out there,... makes me think that there might be more to it than just '' sonic mud ''.........well...we shall see.
I'm about to send a 2" x 2" x 3/4" block of non resonant, Caribbean Moca wood to a moderator in another audio forum. He's going to cut 1/8" thick pieces and install them between headshell and cartridges. That's going to be real interesting. Four of those blocks improve the performance of an amplifier, a whole 11" x 19" slab is simply amazing under a transport, turntable or my Clear Image T4 isolation transformer/filter array. A 1/8" thick board coupled to a small mechanical device like a cartridge should provide stunning improvements in clarity and dynamics. Moisture absorption would be my only concern.

Another of these small Moca blocks is shipping to Europe. This particular audiophile makes his own wood cartridge bodies and will try Moca with a high performance, low output MC.

No Voodoo here, just plain ol' mother nature...

Maybe Albert and Doug could give this wood a try later on.

With psychic power and primal intensity,
"A 1/8" thick board coupled to a small mechanical device like a cartridge should provide stunning improvements in clarity and dynamics."

Tangram (Andrew)

I have a record of every Isolator customer in North America and I cannot find your name. Could you explain further?

I'm not disputing your results, just curious about the purchase history.

It's easy to criticize a product you haven't tried. It's already occurred twice in this thread.

Thank you.
It doesn't make any (mechanical engineering) sense. And certainly ruins any relationship one is trying to establish between cartridge compliance and tonearm effective mass. Especially after all the effort in recent years that cartridge makers and tonearm designers have made to machine the bottoms of headshells and tops of cartridges perfectly flat!

If a headshell spacer is required, it should be metal, of the same material as the headshell. First, so there is no differential expansion between the two parts with changes in temperature. Otherwise the bolt tension could become reduced over time. Second, wood is a cellular material and not dimensionally stable as metal, which is a crystalline material and can be machined to precision tolerances.

Putting a hard plastic washer on top of the headshell (under the mounting bolt head, or under a metal washer if the bolt head is too small in diameter) is actually a good thing Martha, and won't compromise the tight joining of cartridge to headshell. Instead, it allows for applying maximum torque to both bolts equally, with much less danger of stripping threads -- especially since so many cartridges are pre-threaded now and some of them have plastic bodies too (yikes!)

When I attended that little technical school in Cambridge, my acoustics professor, Robert Newman, had a favorite saying, "Sound is Round, and Wood is Good." But I believe he was referring to halls and instruments, not tiny mechanical devices.
Nsgarch. I agree with most of your post except to say that Schroeder makes an excellent arm from wood. Also, headshell screws may be tightened and loosened to affect changes in dynamics. I have especially noticed this with the Schroeder arm.
Just because a person isn't a registered buyer of a product certainly does not mean they haven't tried the product. There are such things as friends, relatives, spouses and, a used market (where in addition to being the location of worthwhile items, is often an outlet for gadgets tried and dismissed). And, the fact that such a list is being kept and a person would be publicly exposed (or unexposed) using same list is yet another reason NOT to buy one, there, Audiofeil (Bill, Mustang, 101, whomever).
Doc, the Schroeder (and the old Grace wooden arm) use wood for the armwand which (along with carbon fiber armwands) is a perfectly acceptable material for that purpose. However, in both cases, the actual "headshell" or fitting, to which the cartridge is attached, is made of metal firmly mated to the wooden armwand.

If you notice the dynamics change with different tensioning of the mounting bolts, I would suspect that has more to do with the cartridge (body) design than with the tonearm design -- that's just my opinion though. I can't prove it ;--)
I have used super glue to firm up the various joints on my Maplenoll arm, including the headshell/cartridge interface. In each case, (I listened before and after each application) it improved tracking/clarity.

The advantage to using super glue in this instance is that the capillary action pulls the glue into the joint very effectively. Super glue is not as permanent as one might think and I have never had a problem removing my cartridge. If a joint needs to be taken apart and disconcerting resistance is met, applying a bit of heat to the metal part or parts invoved will encourage the glue to let go. A hot soldering iron is very effective in safely transfering heat in this situation.

Incidentally, all applications of super glue were done with the joints in their final position, ie. with headshell screws firmly in place. The glue then handily fills whatever gap is left rather than creating a new one. I very cheap, accessible and effective tweak.

I will say that I have alot of experience with fine workmanship and using super glue. I do not recommend doing this unless you are rightly confident with the process.
Have I seen cartridge bodies made of wood in pictures Maybe on a Schroeder arm. Or was that just a cosmetic acoutrement.(smirk)


Groovey Records

Listening to
The Four Seasons - Amsterdam Guitar Trio RCA HRC1-5466
Red Seal Digital Vinyl

I believe you. I'm not that brave but it makes sense. Super Glue Gel might work even better. Unlike regular Super Glue it's actually designed to set up a bit slower and fill gaps and voids. Please don't sue me if it turns out to be permanent though.

Come to think of it, isn't the Graham Nightingale a commercial example of the same principle?
Piedpiper...Dooudeacon; well wouldn't you know by chance I have coming to market in about 2 weeks 2 formulations of CA (super glue). One is low oder and the other is flexiable. I'll get a few samples of this out to you boys if you want. Certainly not my market but if can help anyone's vinyl rig I am glad to help.

BTW I have an isolater, bought off 'gon on my Pro-ject 9 arm and my MMF-7. Works for me here but just abo\out anything you can do to this rig helps IMO. I would not think I would use it on a higher end arm and table.

Cheers all

the whole advantage, as I see it, of the normal super glue is that it is very thin and effortlessly gets drawn into whatever gaps are present. In other words, it automatically creates the perfect bond. If the gaps are too big a second application will fill them while still making use of the capillary action of being drawn into the joint.

In my case, I applied the super glue through the headshell slots quite easily. The other joints were also very simple, although the Maplenoll isn't exactly intimidating in this regard.

I'm not sure how the Nightingale relates.


there are actually many cartridges with wood bodies: all the reference Grados, the upper Benzs, the Cardas Heart, some of the Clearaudios, some of the Koetsus, the Sumiko Celebration, the new Phase Tech P-1 and others.
Nature will beat Cartridge man. Moca wood will win. automatically creates the perfect bond.

I find it hard to believe that anybody on Earth can make a claim like this. What's with these crazy "facts?"

It does seem logical that a little bondage between cartridge and tonearm would be beneficial, though.

I don't claim to "know" what the truly "perfect" bond would be, but relatively speaking, the super glue automatically is drawn into the joint to fill any gaps, without introducing another interface between the cartridge and the headshell which mate directly. It dampens without dampening, as it were, since the super glue hardens rather than staying semisoft like contact cement would. Intuitively, this seems ideal to me. It also sounds better (cleaner, not brighter) to me, on my table/arm/cartridge.
audiofiel, there is life outside the usa , if you care, to make my point valid, i can send you a photo with the piece of junk sitting on top of my kuzma headshell !
I thought I would take the risk and buy a Cartridge Man Isolator. This is now on my VPI HRX with 12.6 arm. It seems that this product has a lot of skeptics (not many who have actually heard a real one thou) and several positive reviews in the press. Well, in an age of $1800 LP demagnetizers, $150 is not a lot of money to blow I thought. The Australian dealer offered a money back guarantee as I was leaning towards the skeptic’s side.

The new/current isolator model looks quite good with its rounded corners. The isolator material is soft and spongy so with all things related to cartridges, be careful. It is very easy to install the isolator. I agree that the older model looks 3am bush pig ugly.

I put the isolator between my 12.6 arm and the Koetsu Rosewood for 2 main reasons. 1st due to the fact that the rosewood was all ready on my spare arm tube. 2nd I was not that happy with the sound I was getting out of the Rosewood. I thought I would try the isolator before I put the Rosewood up for sale, and then try it on my dyna XV-1 or Clearaudio concerto.
The rosewood had a somewhat bloated ill defined bass, coupled with slight reticence in the treble region and some brightness in the lower treble - overall not very musically convincing. Nice mids thou.

To cut to the chase, in my system the isolator is SUPERB.

It brings a whole new level of relaxed coherence top to bottom. Bass is better defined and controlled, the mids are just super transparent and you can see deeper into the soundstage and the top end is more extended and detailed, but not due to the effect of adding brightness.

This new found relaxed musical presentation does not equate to rolled off highs and slow ponderous bass. Just the opposite in fact, but it just sounds more relaxed and easier to listen to. I can seem to hear instruments start and stop a lot easier (especially noticeable in the whacking of hi hats) which adds tonal meat to the bone as well as allowing you to hear more instrumentation from the performance.

The koetsu now sounds great with pop, rock, blues, jazz, electronica, and alternative. I have not listened to any classical but it sounds great with all music.

Bottom line for me I am no longer selling the Koetsu Rosewood as it now sounds as good - albeit slightly different to my dyna XV-1. Every performance parameter of the Koetsu sounds better and that makes for a musically convincing and enjoyable increase in satisfaction of listening to vinyl.

I am not taking the isolator off the Rosewood it sounds that good now. I don't even want to go back to my dyna XV-1 after living for just over a week with the isolator/rosewood combo.

I will soon buy another Isolator to put onto my dyna XV-1. I just hope the VPI VTA tower can cope with the extra 5.5mm height adjustment. I’ll give some follow up comments after that.

For any VPI owner I would say am must try as in my system it transformed it. For other arms I would give it a try as well as it does what it is claimed to do for my ears.

Five Stars from me and finally something that adds really musical value at a reasonable price.

I would like to hear from other owners to hear their thoughts.

Happy listening
To add to this discussion, I have two words: RS-A1 tonearm. Altho the cartridge bolts to its headshell, the cartridge/headshell combo are deliberately decoupled from the tonearm in all planes of motion. Shouldn't work well or even decently, but does sound fantastic and has especially amazing bass response.

I bouught the Isolator about a year ago and mounted it on my Transfiguration Temper V. At the time, I really found it to boost the performance of my analog system a lot, and I really could not detect any drawbacks. So I would recommend the Isolator highly. However, sometimes you have to change things back and forth some times to really get to the bottom of the sonic differences. Since it's glued to the cart, it's very difficult to take it of whithout ruin it. That's not so good I think, because as with everything else in HiFi, a suppose the benifit of the Isolator is system dependent. I really think the Cart Man should put a couple of those double-sided adhesive tapes inside the box, so it would be easy to use it on several cartridges.

hi all
iv'e used the isolator on my three carts that i have owned and found it only improved the performance of one
However it did not adversly affect the performance of the other two at all.
in certain circumstances this little tweak works and is a real improvement for a quite small outlay
but it is very unpredictable.
worth a gamble
all the best
I don't want to sound critical of the isolator but the Koetsu cartridges love mass. The isolator does just that and it makes a huge difference. It is a wonderful solution when the tonearm is not the right match for the cartridge. I placed my Koetsu in the Ikeda and that accomplished the same. I also used some blue tak and it accomplished the same. A much less expensive solution.
Hi Dgad.

The Isolater will add a very small amount of mass, and that may have some sonic advantages with some carts. However, what I heard when using the Isolator was the result of the decoupling. So I don't think adding blu-tak will have the same effect.


I know the Koetsu's luv mass. I had a 3gm headshell weight on prior to using the 2gm isolator. The added mass has nothing to do with the big change the isolator brought to the musical equation.

I have also played around with blu tack extensively, on the headshell and strategically placed along the arm tube. It does make a differences but only in certain frequencies and is cartridge dependant. It added bass weight to my system, however also made the tempo more clumsy and lumpy with the koetsu.
The isolator changed all the frequencies for the better and has made the top to bottom coherence so much musically better.

funny I have now received my 2nd isolator to put onto the other arm wand with my dyna xv-1. BUT I am in no hurry to do it. the system is sounding that nice with the isolator/koetsu combo.

Anyway, it is very easy for all of us to be critical of something seemingly simple that many of us can "somewhat replicate" at home.
For me proof is in the listening and the isolator is THE BEST $150 I have ever spent on my hi fi.
With all the money we spend on out hi fi, especially cables and tweaks, the $150 on the isolator is trivial if it works in your system - like it has for me.


If anyone wants to see the new version of the isolator see attached link of it with my Koetsu.

I wonder what the isolator would sound like with the Denon 103?
There have been many reports that the Denon benefits from less than rigid coupling - ie only tightening mounting bolts just enough to hold the cartridge in position.
Any isolator users tried this cartridge?
I'll try my 103r with an isolator in the next few weeks and advise. If it does the same for the denon that it did for my Koetsu the denon will sound sensational. But, then again it may not.
How bout you try one on your jubilee and let me know. I don't want to take it off my Linn / naim arm as the naim arm is too small for the isolator,

You have me slightly convinced. Can you get a Jade to try with it on a non unipivot arm. Just kidding. I stopped listening to Vinyl recently. Breaking in my EMM CSSAse. Much better now after a lot of play time. Still not Vinyl. I need to break in my 103R but I love the SQ Universe combo way too much. I will check w. TW re: some feedback on the isolator as he tried it as well. I like that it will allow me to change my VTA and raise up my arm giving me some additional latitude.

There seems to be an interest renaissance in the 'isolator'. From another post elsewhere, I read someone googled 'micro-spiralex' and came up with almost zilch. I don't want to undermine anyone's effort to make money for himself @ 150 bucks a pop....BUT several things bother me with this device: All positive comments about it have come from users or reviewers, so all said or written is or was subjective and without any MEASURED PROOF UNDER LAB CONDITIONS as to what this thing actually does. The maker of the device is an old hand at 'musicmakering'. Surely somewhere in his country is an acoustics measuring lab where he can get lab-controlled measurements done and supply the results to his buyers or dealers. Wellknown reviewers have given this device glowing praise without informing their readers anything at all as to WHY this device 'improves' what their users hear or HOW it does it. Is buying this device an acknowledgement that phono cartridges generally are not fully developed for optimum performance?

Many years ago, in the Netherlands - there was an episode to do with tulip bulbs. No-one questioned anything about what was happening at the time. I am NOT saying two stainless steel plates and a sliver of 'micro-spiralex' sandwiched between them will not get you closer to vinyl nirvana. I just want to know WHY.

Before I conclude this rant, I'd like to mention a dear friend who dabbled in needle experiments and fancied himself as a wannabe maker of transducers. He toiled for years to make a needle and periodically, called his friends to his listening room to hear if what he had made, met with their approval.

Each time the poor guy was disappointed as his friends tut-tutted in sympathetic condemnation. After more time, the guy became computer literate and suddenly, he had the whole world as a research oyster for what he was trying to make. Very quickly, He produced something his golden- eared friends applauded enthusiastically.

Thinking about commercial success, he took himself and his needle off to an acoustics lab. First they spun some music and the lab technician's jaw dropped. Then, the professional test discs and meters came out. The verdict? Very poor channel separation and completely inappropriate frequency responses throughout the test bands. But what the dear friend made, still sounded most pleasing to himself and his golden-eared friends.

Rant ended.


Hi coneflap

I too was a skeptic, until that is after I actually listened to the isolator. I take it that you have not, so you are just "ranting" which is OK in this free democracy. The made from "micro spiralex" came from the reviewer at Stereo Times.

In the spec sheet that comes with the isolator it states the construction is " 2 x 0.2mm stainless steel plates and a closed cell, cross linked ethylene copolymer structure. cartridge fixing : high specification 3M glue film".

If you google " ethylene copolymer" you get 1,240,000 hits. Does that make you feel better??

I would assume the main reason why the isolator works is that is isolates to some extent non audio frequency resonances etc from the LP to the carridge but stops it going up the arm and from the arm itself to stop it going back into the cartridge. Sounds reasonable to me with all the other isolation devices that are sold for all other parts of the audio chain.

Tubes measure poorly compared to SS, however most of the time they sound a lot more musical - how do you explain that?


At least I have got you thinking. THat is my only point in this excercise. better than guys passing negative comments who have not heard the device.
If you send me your raven, tomearm and Jade, I will gladly test the isolator :)

Yea, I know what you mean re not having enuf time to listen to cartridges. If you have more cartridges than arm's, some cart's sit in their box for ages. that is happening with my 104r at the moment as well.

Did u ever upgrade your VTL 7.5 to V2?? better sounding??

06-09-07: Downunder
I'll try my 103r with an isolator in the next few weeks and advise. If it does the same for the denon that it did for my Koetsu the denon will sound sensational. But, then again it may not.
How bout you try one on your jubilee and let me know. I don't want to take it off my Linn / naim arm as the naim arm is too small for the isolator,

Shane I'm curious enough to get one of these isolators. Don't think it will be any good with the Jubilee though - those ridges on top will prevent good contact with the adhesive layer. I'd have to file the ridges off....yikes!
In any case the jubilee's already tall body means I would run out of vertical arm adjustment with the Graham (in my setup).
The Denon has a fairly flat top and and about 5mm shorter than the jubilee - so it should work ok.
Did you get yours from Decibel HiFi?
I have to disagree with many of the posted comments, just based on listening (but not measurements). After speaking with Pierre at Mapleshade, who suggested I loosen the cartridge bolts to just finger tight, I tried it on my Technics 1200 and Audio Note AQ-II. Without a doubt, the sound was more dynamic and there was less of a spitty character, especially to vocals. Same with my new Clearaudio Maestro on the same table, although truthfully it's not fully broken in. Too loose caused mistracking but that was easily corrected. As others have pointed out, this is all about cartridge-headshell-arm-table resonances and frankly it has got to be more complex than simple platitudes that a more solid interface is better. So, something like the Isolater may work in some cases, but so might just loosening the bolts or trying Moca wood or Blu-tack as suggested.
Hi Downunder

I ranted, granted, hehe.

I also use tubes and I know they measure badly. I also use 'isolation' - under and around my tt's armposts and above, below and around my tt's legs. The isolating material is called 'butyl'which I got from someone who brought it from Belgium. The stuff is compressable but not a 'closed cell foam'.

I also admit I have not heard the "Isolator' and my modest opinion or prejudice is just as subjective as yours. I will not go as far as the brave men who superglue their carts to headshells though, but for the life of me, I cannot see the benefit of introducing yet another compliance in the cart-to headshell-to arm chain. While being driven from side to side and up and down a gazillion times per second, the cantilever already has a tough-enough time to accurately decode those grooves. I guess the same effect could be introduced for less than $150 by cutting your armtube halfway between the h/shell and the pivot and re-joining the two pieces with a rubber bung. Would this however, make sense?


I did some further research into people who tried the isolator. It appears to be very tonearm & cartridge dependant. I think that it will benefit some on using the VPI arm, depending on the cartridge. The Phantom most likely wont benefit on most cartridges. It really has a lot to do w. how the turntable & arm deal w. resonance. If the turntable can dissipate resonance well and so can the arm it shouldn't be needed. I myself am just trying my best to explain what I have been explained from memory. I have not tried it and now don't plan on trying it.
Hi Paul

Yes thinking about the jubilee, it would probably be a waste of time. I forgot about the ridge!!.
I am like you re the vertical height with my dyna XV-1. I think I will be close to teh top of my VTA tower.
If I don't have enough play, I'll put it on the denon 103r after that.

Yes I got it from Brian at decibelhifi. he seems like a nice guy.

I will be interested in seeing how it goes with a graham arm.
Oh come on Darren

I don't dissagree with you. But $150 bucks is chicked feed to what you have invested in your system. It would be a bit of fun, you don't even need to disconnect your cartridge leads. And you may see an improvement :)

What arms do you have these days??

I honestly am not fidling around in vinyl as much these days. Once I get the Phantom I will start again. The Schroder SQ definitely does not need it. Nor does the Phantom. As for the Ikeda, I spent too much on some headshells already but lets see.
Pretty new to this forum, but I would like to comment on the concept of isolators, which judging by this forum may be a bit contrary to most folks views.

First up agree with the sentiments here that the isolator is very overpriced, but while I have not used the cartridgman isolator I have done a DIY version of my own with intersting results.

You can have a look at my DIY cart and isolator here:

Now this is a little different to the cartridgmans in that the material is double sided foam tape, so its performance is likely somewhat different.

I have used this on three carts and in all three the results were the same, lower surface noise, clearer highs and smoother vocals.

I realise that the general feeling is that it would kill the dynamics and I suspect that probably is the case with the cartridgman isolator , it just looks too thick and spongy not to. But I can swear on a stack of bibles that in this case the opposite is true, and there is no loss of bass impact at all.

The reasons are that I feel the tape has no movement laterally and can only be compressed vertically, which I feel softens vertical impacts, ie surface noise, dust etc without effecting the wiggling motion of the stylus in the groove that drives the sound we want.

Another issue in my case is that the platter mat is not a mat at all but rather a hard 12 inch 78 glued to the platter, there is a tube of the bottom of the main bearing and it inserts into a sand trap. Overall this means that energy is sunk out of the record interface via the platter mat and sand trap rather than going into the arm. There are other mods on the cart, like the longhorn mod and these also work in sympathy to stabilize the cart in the lateral plane.

So overall I feel isolation can work and work really well, but it needs to be done in conjunction with a few other things, but don't spend $150.00 doing it!

Cheers Zero One