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.



Without being able to measure the response, are you sure that you are finding the Lyra better meets the loading of your phono input?  You might want to explore both capacitive and resistance loadings on your cartridges to determine if, for example, you can make your older cartridge sound more like the Lyric.  From my own experience with moving coil  cartridges over the years, getting extended flat frequency response without any/much high frequency peaking below 20-25k seem to be a key to "more realistic" sound, including kettle drums and cymbals.

@rauliruegas , I hope you did not take my Mexican comment seriously. But, to get a French Cab better than Say a Duckhorn or Rombauer you would have to spend a fortune. For most people the above wines are a fortune. The problem for us is much of the best French wines stay in France. We shall see as the wife and I are going to cycle through Provence next Summer. And, buy the way, everything the French know they were taught by the Italians and my absolute favorite wine is the Antenori Tignanello. I do not think you can touch a bottle for less than $125 now.

Digital rules, but analog is fun (if you have the money.)

As for our ears I disagree with that analogy. Yes, the individual hair cells are an on or off proposition. Each one contributes to a voltage. The Voltages are added up to make an analog wave form. They do not trigger a one or a two. If anything it is more similar to pulse width modulation. 

@dover , Speak for yourself. I can listen to a fax tone for hours:-)


nothing personal regarding my dropping out of this discussion.

i simply do not see the value to me in this thread. unfortunately a frequent Audiogon experience. and honestly the Audiogon interface is very frustrating to navigate compared to any other forum. too much noise, not enough signal, to hold my attention.



"But the apex of lunacy arrived when he advertised a "real" Dynavector Karat Nova 13D here on audiogon with the cartridge mounted in the unique headshell upside down."


it's nice to see credit still being given where its due.

When it comes to audio ingenuity often goes hand in hand with innovation.


Unfortunately, most of the time, not always successfully.



i simply do not see the value to me in this thread.


Well, these 'what's best' questions have never once led to a definitive answer in my opinion.

If only they did, wouldn't life be so much simpler?

I remember back in the day when there were only 3 turntables to consider, only 3 amps to bother with, and just half a dozen speakers.


Or so I was led to believe, until eventually it all turned out to be opiniated rubbish of course.

I shall now answer the OP's question. The best cartridge in the world is always the one I have mounted at the moment.