Using an Empire 1000 ZE/X

I have bought a NOS stylus and Empire 1000 ZE/X and tried it on my three arms (Ikeda IT-407; Morch DP6 red point; Audiocraft AC-3300). It performs best on the Morch but still lacks the definition and drama afforded by my standard-bearing Nagaoka MP-50 cartridge.

Can anyone advise how I might get better performance from this former top of the range Empire? I would particularly appreciate any advice from actual owners (few as they seem to be) on the perfect set up - including tonearm, SRA, VTF etc.

I really hope to get firmer imaging and presence nearer to that offered through my Nagaoka. The Empire's midrange is phenomenal as is its staging but imaging and dramatic contrast need help.

Thanks in advance (and hope)


I also admire the 1000ZE/X, having used it on more modest arms--a Jelco, and a mildly modified Thorens TP13A. The things that struck me first about its performance were its speedy bass, macro-dynamics, and neutral/beautiful midrange tone. A terrific music-maker but I agree with you about its initial imaging skills. I didn't fully break in the NOS stylus, I'm certain.

If you have an owners manual on the cartridge you've probably noticed that it recommends a widget that I presume had been enclosed with the cartridge, to hold the cartridge a bit nose-down in its mount (from parallel to the arm). Presumably to make VTA adjustments easier with most arms. I don't have the widget.

Not having the widget and not wanting to fabricate one right now I decided to leave further experiments for another day. Waiting for it's place back, in my case instead of your Nagaoka, was an Empire 600LAC...

I know this doesn't directly address your questions, but perhaps someone else will dive in?


Many thanks for your response. I have a widget from an Empire 999XE/X that I also bought recently. However, I'm not sure if this fits on the 1000ZE/X, which has a plastic frame attached with mounting holes. The 999 XE/X has no frame and so needs that clip on one. I am not certain if that is the widget that you mean or if it is something else.

Can you go into a little more detail?



Sure, now that I've looked at the owners manual the widget is called an "auxilliary mounting bracket" and you can see a drawing of it on the last page of the owners manual (you can download the manual from Vinyl Engine). It also says "under certain conditions the height of the tonearm or the record stack may necessitate use of the auxilliary mounting bracket to ensure proper angle of tracking." It looks like it works as a wedge under the front of the mounting surface that points the cartridge in a more nose-down position. It's not the snap-in mount that was for certain kinds of headshells. I thought about just laying a piece of thick copper wire underneath the front to do the same thing, and will probably try that the next time I feel like futzing.

Thanks Jim,

Let me know if and when you do try it. I'll need some time to really play and audition the changes anyway and so can wait until inclination and circumstance allow you the chance to try it out.

I've already got the Vinyl Engine download but am not certain if its the same one as you've got. Does the one that you're referring to have a speaker and tonearm details on the same document. If it is, I cannot understand the purpose of the plate other than as a quite mounting method.

Forget it. The Empire 1000 cart had no highs unless you turned up the treble control to max. And it had a very high compliance which made for a very fragile stylus assembly that after some use and often new out of the box, the cartridge body would bottom out (contact the record). It had an elipitical stylus which is nowhere remotely as good as a shibata or shibata knock-off. If you want to try a really decent vintage Empire out, try a model 4000D/I, II or III. They are quad carts with a bi-radial stylus, one shibata knock-off type. Much better sounding and the treble although still rolled off, it's not as bad and the sound is terrific if you jack the treble control up a lot.

Also try and find a Pickering XSV-4000 or 5000. They have shibata knock-off stylus too, a stereohedron. And also look for Pickering's qud cart, the model number of which I don't remember. Pickerings always have elevated treble response. And that shorter cantilever helps delivers clearer sound. But they can cause more record wear than the Empires.

Many thanks for your kind feedback. However, I have already exchanged my 1000 ZE/X with another Agoner for his Audio Technica AT20 SLa. I was unsatisfied with the 1000 ZE/X but that might have been due to system dependency or faults with the actual cartridge, which I bought in "used" condition.

I'm now listening to the Glanz G5 as my top MI cartridge and things have moved on in the MM/MI world for me. I note most of the developments on my Sytem ('Essential System') page here on Audiogon, if you have time to take a look.

The Glanz shares features with the Astatic MF100 but exceeds its performance on several fronts, I believe. For stellar treble response, you could do worse than the Glanz, Nagaoka MP50, B&O MMC2, Ortofon M20 FL Super or Andante P76. I have not knowlingly listened to the Pickering and so I will keep an eye/hear out for one in the future. Have you tried any of the above cartridges and, if so, what is your view on their performance?