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.


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Dear @mikelavigne : " 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........ the silver wound EMIA phono and SUT is very special in this regard. but hard to make an objective case. "


Well, believe it or not I try in all what I posted to you been " polite " against how I normally am: direct and now I will be just DIRECT to you.

Objective not necesarily means that always needs measurements even if are desired, objective has another characteristic too: COMMON SENSE and additional if we can a decent knowledge levels.


Well your audio objective knowledge levels is to low and you showed in this and other threads in wbf/agon. One gentleman here told me by email that due that you are heavy entilted with your 100% subjective opinion then I just left you that way but I can’t do it because every audio forum is not only for gentlemans as you or several of us but arrive several " new comers " that are looking for advise or looking to learn reading what other audiophiles do or their opinions .


I already told you that in the past the people like me had you as a leader to follow in audio subjects and audio items but from 2-3 years ( maybe more ) now you shifted to be just a follower. I told you that wbf already damaged you and contaminated you in bad ways.

I was banned not only one but twice from that forum ( the owners dislike my comments about tubes because they are tube lovers and elevctronics distributors too. One of them dies for the IO phonolinepreamp that guess what? each time you change the SPL that unit change the FR too: crazy for say the least. Tey told me that I'm a troller, could be. ) and certainly I’m not talking on because of that. WBF is and " stampede " place where people make " things " with out no sense ( like a real stampede. ): Dava is n example, SME 3012 too, Stradivarius VDH too, Lamm, American Sound, etc, etc and the like and same with the LFD that perhaps is the Century Stampede and other like you are proudly because the time delay to get the item is over a year and in the Dava 8 moths ! ! ! go figure. I appreciated Peter A, an ex-Agoner, where there he changed his Magico for a vintage horns, his excellent amp by Lamms, his SME 30 for the terrible RX-8000 and obviously the 3012 plus the 0.7+ mv Stradivarius following the " advise " of the seller that's a way active posting member in that forum, pity.


Common sense says, to all gentlemans but you and your wbf audio friends, that talking of analog rig in specific of the cartridge signal preservation integrity EACH ADDITIONAL JOINT ( that I already explained to you as modulations too. ) IN THAT CARTRIDGE SIGNAL PATH NOT ONLY CAN´T HELP TO IMPROVE THE CARTRIDGE SIGNAL QUALITY  PERFORMANCE  BUT THE OTHER WAY AROUND IT : D E G R A D E S  THE SIGNAL,  SO ( everything the same ) AS SHORTEST THE CARTRIDGE SIGNAL PATH THE BETTER. Period.

Obviously that you have not the common sense to understand it or at least is what you showed in your posts after I gave you not one but at least twice wide same  explanations.


Mike your approach of Phono Corrector + SUT + " thousands of cables and wires + linepreamp is TOTALLY WRONG, no matter what against the SS active high gain balanced phonolinepreamp your own: Dartzeel.

Because your low knowledge levels on what @atmasphere posted ( I’m in agreement with him about and about SUT too that’s the wrong way to go because I already explained is not a passive item. ) you posted:


"balanced circuits = one advantage....but not the whole ball game... and that cannot be known. we all can have an opinion about it ...........the best performing systems i have heard up till now have not used balanced circuits .. "


Mike the balanced electronics design is not about " opinion " as you said, you just did not know what you are talking about and that’s why your thrid statement : "  the best performing systems ". Mike do you already took in count that your system electronics are BALANCED ?  so what are you talking about.

The Dartzeel RIAA measured FR deviation is 0.5db and the bandwindth is 1hz- 1 Mhz. noise level 80db with out " a mile " of silver wires and other by cooper and aditional solid metal raptor and the like: Dart needs only one balanced IC cable from the tonearm to the phonolinepreamp and that’s it ( @lewm, is an active high gain design. ). Do it you a favor ( as with the Dava spec FR 6db dviation. ) and ask the EMIA designer the RIAA spec /noise for the PC and FR/noise of the SUT and its bandwindth even if you don't care about.

What you like or what I like it does not matters in absolute with the issues we are talking not even your audio targets or mines that at " random " mates that common sense. I'M NOT TALKING OF WHAT EACH ONE OF US LIKE IT BUT WHAT IS RIGTH OR ITS WROGN, THAT'S IT.  Got it?


So, are you in favor of those 158 joints of your approach or in favor of less than 10 joints between the cartridge signal and the Dartzeel amplifier. ? What means your common sense?


An audio wbf friend is active part of that no sense wbf characteristic stampede and this confirmed:

" visit where he preferred DaVa + Thorens 124 to Etsuro + Continuum " and after been with you guess what? he ordered the Dava and others your beloved LFD and dongles.

I think that Mick of LFD ( not Lavigne. ) said that " the proof is the listening " because not even they know where they are " seated " there are no measurements exactly as the undisclosed ones on the Dava till 2 weeks ago.


Btw, you said you can't " understand " ( your words. ) why that black output cable in your phono corrector but I know by first hand experiences that that cable is a wise decision and what I don't " understand " is why the designer of your PC don't by-passed the output connector and soldered directly to the board as a dedicated output. Yes, it's that good enough for that.








ok, Raul. i'm sure you have things exactly right. sorry to have not measured up to your expectations.

I just sold my EMIA SUT. Not that I did not like it: it is a great piece, albeit it make my soundstage a bit more forward; and quite frankly, it was also a bit "bombastic", larger-than-life in a way (interacting with Dave Slagle, however was a wonderful experience). Before I had bought the EMIA I had the EMT Auditorium in my system for a test run: that one made the music even more bombastic, or rather, put me in the conductor's position, almost in the middle of the orchestra (Wagner, Das Rheingold). That was simply way too much. 

I sold the EMIA because I am about to receive a Supratek Grange any time now, after having placed my order last November. The Grange is a phono/pre-amp in one, and does not come with a  47K Ohm input, in other words, MC only w/o SUT, and no London Reference, unfortunately.

I am looking - like the gentleman who started this thread - for my future cartridge to be paired with the Grange. I currently use a Benz Micro LPS-Ebony with Gyger stylus on a ProJect 10-Carbon TT. It's a great cartridge for all styles of music, but somehow, it does not bring me to tears or gives me goosebumps. So, for a year now, I am looking for an alternative in the same price range (4 - 6K), that would create that elusive gasp, w/o having to discuss next year's finances with my wife. I was intrigued by the Tzar DST cartridges, because of the revival of the old Neumann stylus/coil geometry, i.e. shortest-possible distance between stylus und coils, but the price tag is too high. I placed a wanted ad for the AudioTechnica AT-ART 1000, which has a similar Neumann-based design for half the price, and someone contacted me today with an offer. So, my question to this illustrious forum: has anyone heard this cartridge (the late Art Dudley had, and he loved it), and if so, what are your comments/recommendations? Shall this become my goosebump machine?


@reimarc there are several different approaches to this ‘direct coupled’ theme of bringing the coils as close to the stylus as possible. I don’t have personal experience with the AT ART1000, but I am very familiar with the Victor MC L1000, which is considered to be the ‘inspiration’ for the design of the ART1000. Another approach was the original cantileverless version of the Ikeda 9 series. These cartridges share a common trait, which can be described - not surprisingly - as a very direct and dynamic presentation of the music. Large dynamic swings in the music are explosive, but also micro dynamics are more prominent than usual. These characteristics make these systems stand out from the crowd, but whether you like this depends on your own priorities as well as the capabilities of your system to handle it. But under the right circumstances these systems certainly have the capacity to become your ‘goosebump machine’.

However, as a species the direct couple designs are now almost extinct. Even the venerable Decca London has recently been discontinued. As far as I’m aware that only leaves the ART1000. I’m not sure the Szar DST is still being made, but based on some reports its construction and quality control should give you some cause for concern.