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.



Funny Raul.

I am glad you don’t care; we neither know enough about each other for such.

Btw for clarity: I said "wouldn't" not ( as you assert) 'couldn't'.


@dogberry  , I never listen to anything else I have to say, worthless drivel. 

@rauliruegas, @atmasphere, @mikelavigne  I think we can all agree that balanced signal cables are essential for long runs. The benefits in signal to noise ratio and other parameters can not be overlooked. I am beginning to learn that the same is true when dealing with small signal levels. I have recorded Sheffield Lab 17 balanced, unbalanced, with and without digital RIAA correction. I have yet to involve other listeners and I will after I figure out the best way to transfer that much data. Gammaman has the Classic Records 45 rpm crate set of all the Led Zeppelin albums. I’m up there now to Zoso and loving every minute.


i use the proprietary darTZeel 50ohm BNC ’zeel’ interface for my long runs (one 8 meter, the other 11 meter) in my system. properly executed, even better than balanced. a one meter 50 ohm cable sounds the same as a .5 kilometer of 50 ohm cable.....when properly executed. impedance matching rules.

but fully agree that RCA is not up to the task of long runs. XLR is far superior for that. and the pro audio world rightly chooses XLR as a superior interface compared to RCA.

OTOH with short phono cables it’s all execution. whatever sounds best. possibly all things being equal balanced might be superior technically......but......of course.....all things are pretty much never equal. you have to listen to pick the winner. the LFD execution is crazy stuff. if LFD used XLR i suppose it might be even better.....but most of the best phono preamps are not true balanced designs, which is another issue.

btw; i have that Classic Records 45rpm LZ box set. i’m sure you are having some fun with the dubbing. you need to hear it with the DaVa sometime.......freaking awesome. superior to my LZ 15ips 1/4" master dubs.

if you want to learn about the theory behind the ’zeel’ 50 ohm cable interface, here is a paper published in the September 2001 issue of Stereophile by Herve Delatraz (manufacturer/designer of darTZeel), describing ’echo’s in conventional cable interfaces, prior to the introduction of the brand darTZeel. you will need some some math, physics or engineering chops to digest much of it.



Hi Mike I followed your thread on the phono cable sea on WBF.

Whilst I do not doubt what you have heard in your system ( and I assume no-one here has heard your system, so comments are speculative ), and I have huge respect for your commitment to analogue, I have concerns re the LFD phono cable.

Firstly I am a little jaundiced by the brand since a friend was loaned a pair of LFD Reference mono blocks and quite frankly they were awful. So bad we pulled a pair of unmodified Leak TL12plus monos out of the cupboard and confirmed our fears the LFD had less resolution and information than the old Leaks ( driving some Von Schweikerts ).

I have also heard the LFD phono at length - again underwhelming, not as bad as the mono's but midfi at best.

With regards to the LFD phono cables I note from the WBF thread that the development for the more expensive model from the lower one basically involves playing around with physical construction and attributes and listening. There is no science discussed.

The warning signs that this cable is simply a tone control, is twofold -

1. Adding bundles and combos of wire a la Yamamura is trial and error.

2. More importantly you must ask the question based on the following observation

A moving coil cartridge is an inherently symmetrical device ( coil and 2 tails ).

A MC step up transformer provides an inherently symmetrical input ( coil and 2 tails).

Therefore why would you use an asymmetrical cable where the +ve and -ve sides are different in this application. It makes no sense.

Have you ever tried balancing a wheelbarrow with one side heavier than the other ?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of awful cables out there regardless of price. ( I use to distribute several high end cable brands back in the mid 80's and have tried multitudes including many different constructs and many prototypes from various manufacturers ). Most high end cables are a set of compromises chosen by the designer - hence the endless debates. When one of my pals tries a new megabuck cable out, I usually grab a pair of my old cables from the 80's, take them over, do a blind test, and hey presto the $8k cables usually go back.

In my own system I use 2 phono cables depending on the cartridge - both twisted pair plus shield from 2 different manufacturers.

I have one that is highly capacitive that I use for all MC's ( the best phono cable I have tried ).

I have a different phono cable that has very low capacitance that I use specifically for moving iron and moving magnet cartridges. ( With moving magnet cartridges the electrical parameters of the phono cables and phono input form an electrical circuit that determines the cartridges high frequency linearity and phase response, unlike MC's ).

Similarly with SUT to phono - my reference phono cable is too capacitive and I have a specific lower capacitive cable for this application - in this case it is not twisted pair but a speciffically woven symmetrical litz wire loom that is closest to my reference without the negative impact of capacitance in this application.

Interestingly on WBF there was a thread on what cables do CH Precision owners use. I find it interesting that half a dozen owners use half a dozen different interconnects between the same pre/power. You cant explain this by the system whole, because the pre/power are all the same - ergo, these guys are buying tone controls, not reference cables. 

Hope this has given you something to ponder - if I were you I would grab a few pairs of well designed basic cables ( symmetrical construction not asymmetrical or coaxial ) and go back and compare to your LFD - it might be illuminating, and educational - one way or the other.