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.



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.

Dear @mikelavigne  : " amp linearity is not an issue. "


Certainly not and that was not my point.. You missed the main issue in my post. You said that at the same SPL the cartridge shows higher  " signal energy ".


A good amp ( like yours. ) just amplify what comes at its input with almost no modifications. The amp does not knows if are incoming musical information only or if that musical information comes with high integrated/added distortions ( developed in other system chain's links: cartridge/tonearm/phono stage and the like. The system electronics can't fix those distortions and the best it can do is to reproduce it that way. ) and when amplify the digital signal this signal truly comes with way lower added distortions and that's why lower watts peacks when the analog/cartridge high distortions provoque those high watts peacks. The higher the distortions coming in to the incoming signal amp the higher the amp watts peacks. 

This is not just an argument but something you have to understand because you just did not what I explained before. 

" digital rounds off the top of the transient compared to the analog..."


that goes totally against what normally happens that's the other way around. Almost all LP lovers make a negative critic of the HF agresiveness of digital  even hardness or brithness down there. Did you directly made the digital transfer?, the latest CD came from 2013  and as almost everyone know the original Pablo recording came from sept. 1974 and you know that are a lot of analog and digital re-issues.  Analogue Productions has 4 LP re-issues, I own the HQ and the original Pablo label.





Dear @mglik  :  Channel D is a very good full SS design and wil makes your Grado shines better than ever. Good move.

Then you already " married " with the Grado. Must be something unique and obviously something to experienced.

Btw, along with a better phono stage unit I told you that could be a good idea to mate/test the Grado with a different tonearm and there are several options about like Reed. 

Now, could be a quality improvement with a different tonearm?, wel I don't know for sure it's a " move " that has to past the listening tests. There is no other way but if you try it could or not find out that quality improvement level performance and if not then you confirm that what you have rigth now is the " one " couple in your system and that meet your Music/audio priorities.

Only thinking " loud ".




You have now posted thousands of words on this thread over the past month but have still not answered the OP's question.

Did you understand the original question.