What is the “World’s Best Cartridge”?

I believe that a cartridge and a speaker, by far, contribute the most to SQ.

The two transducers in a system.

I bit the bulllet and bought a Lyra Atlas SL for $13K for my Woodsong Garrard 301 with Triplanar SE arm. I use a full function Atma-Sphere MP-1 preamp. My $60K front end. It is certainly, by far, the best I have owned. I read so many comments exclaiming that Lyra as among the best. I had to wait 6 months to get it. But the improvement over my excellent $3K Mayijima Shilabi was spectacular-putting it mildly.

I recently heard a demo of much more pricy system using a $25K cartridge. Seemed to be the most expensive cartridge made. Don’t recall the name.

For sure, the amount of detail was something I never heard. To hear a timpani sound like the real thing was incredible. And so much more! 
This got me thinking of what could be possible with a different kind of cartridge than a moving coil. That is, a moving iron.

I have heard so much about the late Decca London Reference. A MI and a very different take from a MC. Could it be better? The World’s Best? No longer made.

However Grado has been making MI cartridges for decades. Even though they hold the patent for the MC. Recently, Grado came out with their assault on “The World’s Best”. At least their best effort. At $12K the Epoch 3. I bought one and have been using it now for about two weeks replacing my Lyra. There is no question that the Atlas SL is a fabulous cartridge. But the Epoch is even better. Overall, it’s SQ is the closest to real I have heard. To begin, putting the stylus down on the run in grove there is dead silence. As well as the groves between cuts. This silence is indicative of the purity of the music content. Everything I have read about it is true. IME, the comment of one reviewer, “The World’s Best”, may be true.



Analog can't compete against it and I don't have and even do not read yet any real/true evidence in favor of analog/tape vs digital:

@rauliruegas @mikelavigne 

Raul, you seem to be missing something here. Clearly, analog has been competing 'against it' for a very long time.

You don't have to know anything technical to understand this statement! All you have to know is that tape is still being made for analog recorders, that used quality analog recorders command prodigious prices, that new titles are being issued on reel to reel tape and what people say about the tapes and their machines.

If analog could not compete quite simply we wouldn't be having this conversation! Instead it would simply be gone and no further talk about it other than historical context.

It really is that simple.

@atmasphere  : Just as I posted: you are here againand I can see that you dig/rummage each single word in my posts but : do you know what?


Analog can't compete with digital for one simple reason: both are way different mediums under recording and playback proccess: WAY WAY DIFFERENT. 

The only point where both coincide is that both mediums makes some kind of " sound " but that's all.  Even that digital is recorded in a tape what's in that tape is way way different: the digital signal is " immune " to all tape drawbacks where the analog is heavy degraded in that recording proccess and if we go to the playback proccess we can confirm that just can't compete: WAY WAY DIFFERENT proccess .

You have a confusion/mix-up between " oranges and bananas ".


Please do it a favor your self and stop to dig/rummage my  posts, obviously that you can following and is up to you,





In my own world objectivity leads to the best subjective results. The problem with strict analog paths is that every step degrades the end result.


watch the video. Bernie agrees with you about every step degrading. so best to master as direct as possible. which in no way favors digital.

But, once the music is in numbers no further degradation occurs until the last analog step.

Bernie feels every digital step also degrades things compared to the original native source format. any manipulation degrades. digital plug in tools degrade. some recordings need fixing, and some artists want particular results that might not deliver the best sound to all listeners. so digital manipulation is done for a variety of reasons.

but what might Bernie Grundman know that you don’t know? we all might have our own opinion about that.

personally, my own opinion is that i love to listen to digital, especially native great digital recordings. with great performances. not mucked with. i hear what Bernie hears. i prefer analog when done right, but feel digital can be exceptional when done simply, or a mess on some level when processed.

music is wonderful, and recordings can tell us that if we let them. or we can strangle the music too.

Dear @mikelavigne : " Bernie feels every digital step also degrades things compared to the original.........."

" He feels " and that what’s means? other than a " feeling ".


" any manipulation degrades. digital plug in tools degrade. some recordings need fixing, and some artists want particular results that might not deliver the best sound to all listeners. "

well, you need to add: " any manipulation to an analog signal ..." and that kind of manipulations as " some artist want particular results... " could be a signal degradation because the artist WANTS it, the " degradation " is made in PURPOSE and not at " random and certainly not developed by digital enviroment domain.

Digital plug-in are " transparent " for the digital signal . If you want to change in anyway the digital signal you can do it through a DAW ( Digital Audio Workstation ) that makes the job in the digital domain and everyting is transparent for the digital signal we want to be modified, an example could be equalization of the original signal and that eq. proccess works totally in the digital domain. Digital can makes " MAGIC " that you or any one can detect or be aware of it, it’s that transparent.

You have to think that all the very special effects in any movie picture is mading through computers that works in the digital domain but when you seen in the movie theather you detect nothing about and the same for the sound.

But what if Bernie not just " feel " but can prove the digital signal degradation?

Well in that hipotethical scenario we can ask: in a normal analog or digital recording proccess how many steps the signal microphones pick.up must pass in either proccess? and in the playback proccess. How many degradation steps in either native domain ?

Any sound detected by our whole body ( not only ears ) is transmited by electric impulses in digital way for the brain can function as a transducer, I already posted in this thread about our ADC,


Again, I’m not talking on what I " prefer " but what is wrong, rigth or in between.

You insist in what " we like, what each one prefers " and this is not the whole issue.

I don’t know if you are " subjectivity " by convenience because what we like is a personal an unique privilege where no one can touch us. I hope you don’t but I can’t see yet signs of objectivity through your posts in this thread.


Btw, "" but feel digital can be exceptional when done simply, or a mess on some level when processed. ""

Could be but not because digital per sé but because that " proccessed " was a choice by recording/producer gentlemans " mistakes ": they are the culprit not because digital. That " mess " it happens too with analog because those " mistakes " made it by those gentlemans or by the artist.






I have terrific sounding recordings in both digital and analogue format, so I am not taking sides.  But, the notion that digital is so deleterious that it is unlistenable is ridiculous.  On a Chesky test CD/Jazz sampler, they have a music recording which has been converted between digital and analogue 100 times; listen for yourself to see how much progressive damage has been done by digital encoding and decoding.