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.




Is the Kontrapunkt B, the ’World's Best Cartridge’ ?

Was the Kontrapunkt B, in its modified guise, the Best Cartridge heard in an individual’s World on the day of the event, for a proportion of the attendee’s, it is a possibility this was the case, if stimulus produced was the basis for the judgement."

You make me smile. I'd like to know about the modifications involved. I have not heard a 'B' but have a 'C' which was just above it in the Ortofon range in those days. Maybe we are all listening to little differences and there isn't any great difference to be heard once you get beyond a certain point in cartridge build quality?

I imagine we have all had one of those wonderful experiences where you suddenly hear something so much better that it changes the way you do things thereafter? But once you have got there, are there further similar revelations or are we quibbling about the chauvinism of small distinctions?

If ten of us sat listening to the same system with the best Lyra, Ortofon, Soundsmith, DA Audio, DaVa, AT, Dynavector, Clearaudio (add your favourite) carts, would our preference just be individual and not generally reproducible? And if we knew that such results were not to be generalised among all listeners, we would simply be happy with what we liked and not feel the need to impose our preferences on others. That sounds like hi-fi heaven to me!

Dear  @mikelavigne  : Thank's. I already knew all what you posted and I can see you don't have answer about the differences between all that longng travdel of the cartridge signal inside the Phono Corrector + SUT + Dartzeel line preampg agains t what I posted:


"  your Dartzeel is a high gain active phonolinepreamp: CONNECT THE CARTRIDGE SIGNAL USING ONLY ONE IC CABLE nothing added to preserve the cartridge signal integrity at to stays nearer and truer to the recording. "

I don't question what you like beut I'm severely questioning not only those LFD items but those tubes and SUTs vs the great direct exceptional Dartzeel SS linepreamp.

I don't care what the other wbf gentlemans say on all their congrutalations to you and what they are listening through those LFD cables. I care only about you and that severe change you did it from pure SS high gain active unit to separated tubes RIAA + SUT + a line preamp. 

That's what does not makes sense to me: why return to the past instead to follow with the best proved today technology that degrades the less the cartridge signal, no matters what?

Yes, it is what you like and obviously is up to you. But this followed saying something wrong is down there:

"is unique to that particular place and beyond my understanding. " The key word in your statement is that you don't care about and me from the outside just like to understand the whole issues that LFD Mick and EMIA just " dead silence " and is obvious their silence because you are very good customer.

Thank's again for your patience and answers .






fundamentally using an SUT potentially brings a musical touch, inner artistic view and envelopment that high gain phono preamps such as the darTZeel can’t quite do in the same way. this effect varies with actual execution of the phono and SUT.

my experience is that the silver wound EMIA phono and SUT is very special in this regard. but hard to make an objective case.....it’s purely experiential. like......music.

certainly the best high gain phono’s have their own attributes which i enjoy when i choose to use that approach. it’s good to have that choice.

@dogberry I am wed to the Ortofon Brand as a Cartridge, even though over the past few years, I have been able to have certain Ortofon Cart's compared to a few other Brands, using the opportunities as made available to attempt to define where the separations are through the using the differing design intents and technologies.

This same experimentation through listening within the Ortofon range only, has also been given a fair amount of time allocation, to learn where there are differences to found between various Cart's from different Marketing Levels.

The Windfeld and Vienna have been the Benchmark used on a Bespoke Design Tonearm.

The Kontrapunkt B in original guise, is owned between a selection of individuals within my HiFi Group and there are redesign / rebuild variants of the K'b as well.

My experience of the K'b in use is quite regular and I have heard it on various Tonearms in various systems, as well as having it demonstrated on the same system in comparison to a selection of other Cart's.

I have learned from this that if the Arm/Cart' are correctly matched, there are still variables in the impression made from a replay.

It could be claimed that the differences in devices used within a system can be responsible for this, and I won't stand in the way of such a pattern of thought, it is one that is presented in many discussions seen.

My encounters and following assessments lead myself to a different approach of thought, I am convinced the  K'b is a not too attractive Cart' when used on certain Designs for a Tonearms and can be underwhelming, even though replaying the music in a manner that can be enjoyed. The K'b is a Jekyll and Hide, as when used on another Design of Tonearm, the Design is quite capable of excelling, and becoming very attractive in use. When partnered with a Tonearm of a certain design, the K'b has proven itself to compare very favourably to much more expensive Brand family members, leaving not too much amiss in the comparative performances.

It is the experiencing of the above, that has led me to adopt the thought, where the Trinity of Ancillaries required for Vinyl LP Replay, i.e, TT>Tonearm>Cart' will be with an obvious weakness if the Tonearm is not able to allow the Cart' to perform at its optimum.

It is also the experiencing of the above, that has led me to be quite sure that my there are Downstream Devices underperforming as a result of not being sent a Signal from an optimised interface upstream.

The Redesign / Rebuilt Cart' inquired about in use, has a Boron Cantilever and FGS Styli. This has been a method used by Cadenza Black owners wiith a very good follow up report. I would also believe the technician gave the under the hood of the K'b a little bit of their special attention, even if only a thorough clean. 

My K'b redesign / rebuild is a little more advanced in ideas, as it has a upgraded internal from the upper range of Ortofon, with a FSE and WRD used as well.

It also veers from materials usually selected by Ortofon, as it has a Beryllium Cantilever and Ogura Vital S+ Styli.

I have heard much of the Ortofon Family since the release of the Models from the Millenium and onwards, of which a selection has been heard in systems that are very familiar.

I have yet to hear a Ortofon with detail retrieval like the rebuilt one I am using, and am not too sure if any Ortofon Model I have listened to in a familiar set up, has shown it a clean set of heals, more like the differences detected is a different sprinkle of seasoning.

My gut feeling is that if Aucurum was the coil material on my rebuilt K'b, it would be without doubt, out there with the best.

Aucurum is my next line of investigation and I do have a rebuild designed and to be carried out on a Cadenza Black Donor Cart' for this reason.    


@pindac That's very interesting. You may have gathered I'm wedded to my London Deccas, but I know I must be prepared for their demise and unrepairablity after John Wright retires at the end of this month. The Kontrapunkt C has been a welcome surprise when taken out of my stash of older cartridges, and while I had thought I would replace it with something like a Cadenza Black when the stylus goes, I'm now thinking I might be better off sending it for a re-tip to VAS or Soundsmith. I can see myself getting very comfortable with it: when you keep equipment a long time because it suits you, your tastes change to align with what you hear. It's like a comfortable pair of well-worn shoes, where both shoe and foot adapt to each other. You get to a point where your system, which may not be the objective best around, still sounds 'right' to you. I think this is rather desirable to a pragmatic audiophile, as it gets you off the treadmill of constant upgrades and dissatisfaction, and lets you get to the point where you are happy with (and a little proud of) what you have, and you can settle down to listening to the music, not the equipment.