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.



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.




Dear @mglik  : For your OP you are " biased " to your new Grado cartridge.

In the lst weeks made you a Lyra come back to listen it and makes a comparison again in between? and if yes then your Grado preference is still there?


Thank's in advance,


Hi Raul,

The difference between the Lyra Atlas SL and the Grado Epoch3 is pronounced and obvious. And it is especially good with my Quad 57s.


The Lyra is sold.

The Grado is orders of magnitude more ‘real” sounding.

And am buying a Channel D Seta H which seems to be the best dedicated phono stage designed specifically for MM and MI.

Grado is now testing the Seta H in order to recommend it for their Lineage Series cartridges of which the Epoch3 is the top.


i changed my mind. had something to say, so i said it. and i deserve flack for being a putz. bring it on.😀

as far as digital ’smears peaks’ what i mean is that in a relative sense, digital rounds off the top of the transient compared to the analog original. so the ’peak’ of the horn blat is rounded, does not quite get reproduced with the same level of energy, and we hear the difference as a difference in the liveness and realism. the pressing sounds ’real’. it hits you. the digital is relatively tame in direct compare. not as real life.

normally we might just relate our personal view of what we heard. but if you have a peak output device on your amps, you can read the number. and hard to argue the number. even though i know you will write another 4 paragraphs with an argument.

as far my amps distorting, not very likely. they do 450 watts into 8 ohms. the passive towers of my speakers are 97db, 7 ohm....so a very easy load. and under 40hz i have active powered bass towers with 2000 watts on each tower. amp linearity is not an issue.