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.



Some of my European Classical albums from the 70s and 80's are fabulously quiet and are great recordings. I can not imaging new releases being any better.

QRP (Acoustic Sounds) has succeeding in making LP surfaces that are about 10-15 dB quieter, FWIW.

An “order of magnitude “ is generally taken to describe a 10-fold difference, so the energy storage advantage of digital over analog is thousands of orders of magnitude, but for the purpose of this thread, who gives a s**t? 

i listen to Dizzy Gillespie’s Big 4 lp pressing on the DaVa Reference cartridge. then listen to a digital transfer.

with the Lp Dizzy’s trumpet hits 95 watt peaks on my dart 468 monoblocks. at the same SPL’s the digital hits 45 watt peaks. the DaVa also sounds more real and life like....but that is subjective, the peak watts are an objective measurement of signal energy.

i can cite many similar occurrences.

btw; the DaVa also surpasses other cartridges too, but not nearly by as much. just more energy.

i love digital. but it cannot do some things analog can do. it smears peaks. still sounds wonderful. but it is not the same.



Oh, this is an easy one: The London Reference. And priced at $5295 retail, a bargain ;-) .

Dear @mikelavigne : I missed this post.


" 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. "


It’s something a little " weird " that in a thread even with no personal value you posted : 19 times.

I don’t questioning you but for me any single audio thread has an inherent value. Your be-loved Studer’s were severely questioned that today are not any more a reference and was fully explained why. If I were you I will take more serious that subject and think to change all your references around your R2R units. That " think " has a value for me but not for you and is up to you.

I think that you should know by years now that the worst cartridge design to track and pick-up the higher recorded information from the LP grooves are the cantilever-less designs and even that not only bougth it that kind of cartridge design but touted on its quality performance level even that its tracking issues because it’s not only that can’t pick-up average recorded information but that additional to that those kind of cartridge designs develops higher tracking distortions and yes you are happy with. Again, is up to you.

I think that you have some level of mix-up or at least is what in this thread showed when said that digital is no reference at any reproduction step for be incomplete and in other thread you posted that’s " complete ". Additional I can’t understand what means that " complete " and you " refuse " to explain it.

You just posted , good.




" with the Lp Dizzy’s trumpet hits 95 watt peaks on my dart 468 monoblocks. at the same SPL’s the digital hits 45 watt peaks. ,...... the peak watts are an objective measurement of signal energy. "

That’s can confirm what I said about " higher distortions " during LP tracking. That signal energy with the cartridge came with way higher distortions NOT musical information and distortons counts for those higher SPL high peacks. Yes, you love those distortions.

From there you conclude that digital " smears peacks " and truly your conclusion makes no sense .


Do you know why amplifiers can go into clipping stage. what helps to goes to that clipping stage? developed DISTORTIONS through the system ( not only in this range but mainly in the H: range. ) and in your specific case by the cartridge. Digital? well is the new reference with way lower distortion levels and for whatever reasons you listen digital the 70% of your listening time, I repeat: for whatever reasons .

and that’s what you like, fine with me.