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.



Comaring versus ''attributing ''  property to wahtever objject..

The later has the grammar form: ''x is P''

The former has more ''subjects'' than one: John is longer than Peter''.

We get in trouble when x state that John is longer than Peter but y

state the othee way round or state that Dover is even longer than

both mentioned (grin).

In all coutries implicite ''longer than relation'' is transformed in

names for properties. Say Stefanos is large and Miotakis short or small.

But when Stefanos moves to Holland he loses the property LARGE

because the Dutch are longest people in the wolrd.

How than can Stefano's lose the property ''large'' if he ''has the

propertt large''? Because of the grammar ? 

No because sentence form ''x is P'' is not suiitable for comparisons. 

Frege started from there when he wanted to invent languge suitble

for science. That is that accordidin to him ''ordinsry llanguge'' is not

suitable for science. He is called ''father of modern logic''.

In this thread members try to put their opinions in ''x is P'' form

not realizing that comparisons can't be put in this grammar form. 

To know which cart is ''world's best'' one would need to compare

all carts ever produced.but than ''rank them'' according to his subjective

preference. We will than get that, say, accoridng to Raul C is the best

which will be denided by dover because according to him D is the best.. 

Assuming ordening according to:  a,b,c,... n'' conditions. 

@solypsa, again, this is my personal experience and guides my own cartridge purchases. I have had two wooden bodied cartridges and their sonic performance was not as good as (read colored) the best metal units and their construction quality was not as good. Wood is not a good substrate for a cartridge. Unless it is resin treated wood is not stable, it expands and contracts with humidity. An ideal cartridge body has to be dense, stable and non resonant. Even resin treated wood is not dense enough. If you had to make a wooden cartridge Lignum Vitae would be the best choice and no one uses it!  Using a "tone wood" is a huge joke as in cartridge profile wood has no tone, that is it's advantage, it does not ring unless it is planed very thin. 

Our definition of a cottage industry differs. It is easier to define not cottage industry as larger, well established companies with a long history of making highly rated cartridges with mature technology. This does not guaranty fine performance, nothing does. As an example, DS Audio does not qualify in my eyes because I do not think it's technology is mature yet. In my eyes Lyra and Soundsmith are not cottage industries. I should also note that it is possible for a cottage industry cartridge maker to make a fine cartridge. IMHO just less likely. I am not going to plop down 10 large on less likely. 

@larryi , given the right circumstances the old 57 could be a fine performer. The Levinson HQD system was the first system that I would qualify as SOTA in it's day. It's main problems were reliability and durability. It was neither. 

Tubes may in some people's minds sound better but it is relatively rare for them to be more accurate. Human's are instinctively drawn to fire and light. Fire and light are safety and security. I am not kidding. Human behavior frequently has an instinctive basis. Women like SUVs because they place them above the traffic. They like being up higher. Higher is safety. You can see your enemies coming and hide your children. My pack rat mentality in an instinctive behavior. You never want to run out of ammunition. 

i think it's a mistake to use generalizations about materials to be the final arbiter of choice. it does take the pressure off actually investigating with an open mind and ears. i do respect it is simpler just to read specs and throw out pronouncements.

there is this thing called listening. we can listen and look at the components of the cartridge, but unless we could listen with various different material choices we don't really know what is causing what.

i have opinions about materials, but am not religious about it. 

we all have our own approach. and result. YMMV.

Hi rauoliregas

I know - by your standards I am maybe a subjectivist eating bananas. And I have not heard a lot of top notch carts. Although we disagree on some points, I appreciate your comments, and your search for more objectivity. I agree that analog is truncated, limited and problematic in many ways. It is amazing that it is still competitive. But to my ears, there are digital problems too, often larger than the analog problems (even if the gap has narrowed). Digital is still not "perfect". Likewise, my 'purist' tube system may introduce distortions you would not like, but then again, I lived with top solid state for many years, and don't miss it. Or - truth to be told - only a little bit ; -).

I was asked about my music reference. I go for the best sound I hear, regardless of format. No prejudice. Sometimes the CD sounds great, better than the LP, or the streaming, or the sacd or dvd-audio - and so on. Probably mainly because it was mastered and cut more precisely to the specific format, or they had a lucky day, or whatever. But in general, AAA (all analog recorded) LPs are my choice cuts. But also more processed recordings. I go for the best sound. Not just acoustic or vocal but full scale prog rock or classical also. world music. Lots of references.

Like one bought just now, Toure, Al Farka, with Ry Cooder: Talking Timbuktu - 2 x 180g, World circuit 2015 - marvellous guitar sound and string interplay. For female vocal, Rosalia: Motomami on LP is superior to digital in my system. And for a "fat" prog rock sound - Deep purple: Whoosh, Ear music 2020 - try ’Man alive - likewise the LP version sounds better. To my ears in my system.