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.



@pindac why are you ’wed to Ortofon'? If the following is true ( your statement ) then any cart having a few of the basic ingredients might be fine?

It is no secret; I have been an advocate of the method of using a Third Party rebuild service, I find the method totally satisfactory, and know there are numerous other that are satisfied too

as far as balanced cables the only way to go with analog signals, that is a silly thing to say. who has heard all the non balanced choices?



You don't need to hear all the single-ended cables to know why balanced is better. You do have to understand something about balanced line operation though, that there is a standard which must be observed to obtain the benefit.

The benefit is neutrality; the cable won't have an artifact. By artifact I mean 'sound'.

As single-ended cables evolve and improve they begin to approach the neutrality of balanced operation. But since there's no standard for single-ended operation, results are all over the map.

Since the advent of hifi, commercial recordings have all embraced balanced operation. Its how Mercury was able to park their recording truck behind Northrup Auditorium in Minneapolis and run 150' mic cables to it and still get high fidelity. EMI hung their mics in Kingsway Hall; I have to assume they were a good 150' too. Single ended semi-pro audio equipment really didn't start showing up until about the mid 1970s so we have a 20 year period of classical, jazz, blues and rock that demonstrates what balanced operation can do. The fact that the better you make your system, the better these recordings sound should tell you something.

Balanced line operation was the first exotic interconnect cable industry/technology. Unlike what has evolved in high end audio where money is often thrown at the problem, the idea behind balanced operation and its standard is that if the proper drive and reception exists in the source and what ever its driving, the interconnect can be inexpensive, whatever length is needed and no artifacts from it.

In high end audio, little of the gear supports the standard, so there is little benefit. That is why audiophiles have such variable results. If its done right though there is no going back.

A LOMC cartridge can drive a balanced line exceptionally well since it is a balanced source with a very low impedance. So the connection can be exceptionally neutral. This is very difficult to do single-ended!




yada, yada, yada.

your love affair with balanced circuits is legendary. are you wrong about them? no. are balanced circuits the ’main thing’ about how circuits might perform? no.

balanced circuits = one advantage....but not the whole ball game....which is what you are saying. and that cannot be known. we all can have an opinion about it though.

the best performing systems i have heard up till now have not used balanced circuits. which proves nothing either. since that aspect of a system is not dominant in it’s performance....one way....or another.

As for me, I have no objection to any kind of cartridge, no matter how derived or how modified. My only point was there is little to be learned at a distance from anonymous reports on how cartridges, especially modified ones, sound.

By the way, thanks to Mel Brooks’ movie “Young Frankenstein “, we do know that Frankenstein’s anger apparently was due to his having a brain taken from Abby Normal.

just curious. where did modified cartridges come into this thread? what are people referring to with that idea?

i missed it evidently.

if the manufacturer made it as a product, are we still referring it to be modified?