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.



Modified Cartridges are much more fitting as a Subject within this Thread, than the lengthy 'got of on a tangent' Digital / Vinyl Source discussions and is definitely much more fitting that the Ammunition Cartridge put forward.

@reimarc Is your reference to a Gyger Styli the FGS and was it used to replace the MicroRidge Styli. I know the FGS, when attached to the Thin Boron Rod on the Cadenza Black is found to be a very attractive design by those who have selected the modification during a refurb.         

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.


(emphasis added)

My comments were about balanced line operation- the use of balanced cables in audio. Not so much about balanced circuits in audio equipment (that is a different conversation which I avoided).

That balanced lines when supported by AES48 are superior than any RCA connection is both measurable and audible. There is more than one advantage. Since I don't know which you were referring to I'll name a few:

* no ground loops since ground is ignored and used for shielding only

(this means if you get a ground loop with balanced lines AES48 isn't being supported)

* prevents coloration caused by the interconnect cable

* lack of colorations (including high frequency roll off) allows for longer cable lengths.

* since the crux of the operation lies with the associated equipment, the cable itself can be quite inexpensive

* Since the associated equipment will have a high Common Mode Rejection Ratio (CMRR) noise impinged on the interconnect cable is rejected at the input of whatever its driving. This isn't possible with a single-ended connection so you get lower noise.

OK I've listed 5 advantages and there are more.

My recommendation as always with this sort of thing is to try it. Phono cartridges are already a balanced source and most tone arms are wired balanced so this is really about the interconnect cable and what is receiving it. SUTs, being transformers, can run as a balanced input quite easily with very high CMRR values. Their output can be single-ended (this is why transformers are good at converting from one to the other). So this would be an easy thing to try.




thanks. can’t argue with any of that. balanced circuits and cables have their advantages.

my issue was more @mijostyn ’s comment

’only way to go’.

it's just not.....the....only....way

Dear @solypsa : The   @reimarc  tonearm effective mass is around 9 grs. ( with screws to hold the cartridge. ) and the around 18cu compliance of the ART 1000 along its 11grs. weigth puts the frequency resonance in between rigth on target to the ideal range of 8hz-12hz.

Along that every AT cartridge is a truly good tracker and the ART 1000 design was " inspired " by the Victor MC L100@edgewear named and that I owned and both designs are similar with AT higher compliance than the Victor and with almost same cartridge weigth and I never had any tracking issue with the Victor.


Tell me why should be a problem with that carbon tonearm on tracking issues?

If the ART 1000 is well mated with a choosed tonearm and in that specific regards then no problem at all.



@rauliruegas No problem, I don't expect tracking issues based on the technical match or reputation. I, however, would not proclaim a cartridge to be an excellent tracker based only on 'paper specs' either...