Who owns/owned a Fidelity Research FR1 MK3F & what is similar but better


To say that I love, love, love this cartridge is a gross understatement. In fact I love it so much I now own 2 - one I had rebuilt and one I just bought which is virtually unused.

The sweet tone of the music and the life like performance of both instruments and vocals is outstanding. The delivery of music is totally immersive and mesmerizing. Whilst the high frequencies are detailed yet silky smooth and the bass is low reaching but solid, it is the midrange where everything comes alive.

It is in this midrange zone that the voices of Nancy Wilson, Jacintha, Vanessa Fernandez, amongst others, become incredibly real, intoxicating and seductive. It is also in this range where trumpets, saxophones, snare drums, bass guitar & piano sound so palpable you feel like you can reach out and touch them.

To give the above statements some context I should point out that I have owned and / or demo'd some reasonably desirable cartridges such as Technics EPC-310MC, Audio Technica OC9 III, AT 32e II, AT 150 MLX, Denon 103 with aluminum body and soundsmith rebuild, Signet TK 100LC, Linn Adikt & Grado F1+, and I can honestly say that based on my taste, none of these cartridges come anywhere close to providing the sheer enjoyment I get from the Fidelity Research.

So what do I do now??? Have I reached vinyl nirvana???? In the short to medium term I say yes wholeheartedly and I am content to focus my $$$ on expanding my record collection with a massive smile on my face.

However, and there is always a "however", what happens when I am ready to consider going to the next level or I get that itch that we all get no matter how high up the food chain we get. What cartridge, (vintage preferably), would offer a similar sonic flavor but provide a little more of everything I love about this magical cart.

This request for information is purely out of curiosity at this stage as I have no desire to spend more $$$, but I am keen hear from those members who have owned the F version of this cartridge and find out what they did to take it to the next level. 

Thanks in advance for any observations y'all may have.


 
ateal

Well assuming you also own either FR-64 or FR-66, suitable phono-pre

or SUT, you should try  one of the FR-7 series carts. Preferably FR-7

fz version. There is a thread ''short choot out'' in which FR-7 fz is

compared (among other) with Koetsu Coral stone  with undecided

(2 : 2) result.. I needed 10 years for this discovery you can start

tomorrow. This btw is the sense of our forum: learning from other

members expereinece.

It is in this midrange zone that the voices of Nancy Wilson, amongst others, become incredibly real, intoxicating and seductive. It is also in this range where trumpets, saxophones, snare drums, bass guitar & piano sound so palpable you feel like you can reach out and touch them.


Believe it or not, but i have the same feeling with my Fidelity Research FR-5E (low inductance MM cartridge designed by Ikeda San). Jonathan Carr was right about this forgotten gem when recommended to try it. This is my first experience with FR cartridges, but very unique experience compared to more expensive vintage MM cartridges i’ve tried/owned before. I will keep my eye on FR products from the past.
In fact, I also own a FR-Mk3f thanks to Nandric, which sees regular action on a Micro Seiki BL-91 with a Fidelity Research FR-64S and can truly confirm your statements, ateal. I recently purchased a NOS John Marovski Mirror Image Transducer MIT-1 cartridge (essentially a "tuned" Coral MC cart with a Van den Hul diamond) from Nandric as well, which was striking in its display of music and possibly even more detailed in the treble than the FR-1, but the FR-1 struck me as being more live-like in the sense of sounding more natural and it was clearly more detailed in the mids than the MIT. That said and to be fair, I only test-ran the MIT and it has not seen any play-in time yet, so this comparison is likely premature.

I have not heard any other upward comparisons yet, only downwards to my parents Dual 505-4 with Ortonfon OMB-10 MM cartridge, which it clearly beats in terms of resolution and clarity across the entire spectrum.

Do you play your FR-1 using a Step-UP Transformer? If not and you think it's great already, just wait till you hear it using e.g. the simple Fidelity Research FRT-3 SUT and watch how it comes alive... THEN you've got your step-up improvement and you need no more :-) no pun intended, but still befitting.
Thanks guys for your feedback. That FR7f does look interesting to try or even get a listen to but it won't work for me as I use an Oracle SME 345 tonearm and Oracle Delphi MK III TT. 

The FR5e also looks interesting for a MM.

andremusik, Glad to hear that someone else shares my observations of this magnificent cart and yes I do use and prefer SUT's as they are absolutely magical with LOMC's.

My current SUT is the Audio Technica AT 700T which houses two large toroidal transformers. This was 75,000 yen back in the day so it was up there with the quality of the top Ortofon and Fidelity Research models.

In fact I did own a beautiful condition Fidelity Research FRT-4 SUT which I used briefly with the FR-1 but whilst the playback was very detailed, it was not as rich and engaging as it is with the AT 700T.

I am currently on the hunt for the limited edition AT 1000T SUT which is a beast of thing at 10kg's. If I can snag one for around $800 i will be a happy man. 


Our versatile old member Dertonarm beloging to the so called ''German

group'' (Syntax and Thuchan) was/is a big admirer of Ikeda san and

his products. In particular the FR-64/66 tonearms and series FR-7 carts.

which he used as his reference till he designed and produced his own.

tonearms and carts. But to me the best tribute to Ikeda san is writen

by our member ddriveman in his post ''mini-shootout '' with comparison

between SPU, Koetsu, Fidelity Research and Ikeda 9 (the catileverless

cart) . Alas I can only provide the date of his contribution in the MM

thread (09-28-2014). The remarcable outcome of this ''shootout'' is

the undecided ranking between an +30 years old cart (FR-7 fz) and

the modern Koetsu Coral stone (2 : 2  votes from the participants

in this experiment). My own ''vote'' is FR-7fz= Ikeda 9 C; I wish I

could afford the Koetsu even without diamond cantilever (grin).

I wonder, does the modern Miyajima Kansui or Miyajima Madake easily fills this category of the top Japanese cartridges with this kind of "real" peresentation?

Another one is old Miyabi Standard (aka Krell) or earlier Miyabi MCA ...


Any flavor of the week cartridge will do it .... as usual :-)

''Any flavor of the week cartridge will do it...''.

Will do what Syntax? ''It'' is not predicative ''by nature'' and means

nothing without further specification. Your comment is more suitable

for the MM thread I think. You should check the question asked by ateal .

Hi chakster, I am, alas, not familiar with Miyajima carts you mentioned

but well with Miyabi Standard. Takeda san the designer is actually

discovered by M. Levinson who ordered ''his'' carts by Takeda and

sold under his own. (firm) name. His ''Cello'' is the most beautiful cart

ever made in my opinion. Krell copied Levinson and sold two models

under his own name. Both made unwillingly P&R for Takeda who later on

produced the same cart under his own brand  ''Miyabi''. Alas not enymore

available but certainly one of the best carts ever produced. I hope I will not

 get reprimand from Raul or Syntax for my opinion?

FR1-Mk3f...super.

Cheers!

Hi unoear, do you have experience with the FR1. 

I don't remember postfix ''f'' after Mk 3 but I compared the FR-1

with my series 7 carts : FR-7f, FR-7 fz and 702. The FR-1 was

very good with piano music but the 7 series are in a different

league. That is why I sold the FR-1. to andremusik. For a ''modest

price'' btw.

What's the difference between F and FZ models, Nandric ?
Seems like FZ are the rarest and more expensive.

I believe those FR-7 with spherical tip is not interesting compared to F and FZ with advanced stylus profile (which some with different coils as well) ?

Tonearms designed for low compliance Denon or SPU should be good for Fidelity Research F7 cartridges?  

Hi chakster, The diffrence between FR-7 f and fz is the higher output

by fz: 0, 2 mV versus 0, 15 mv. The 702 has the shortest cantilever.

The question or the ''problem'' of the stylus shape is not yet settled.

So conical stylus is still relevant. Andereoli (Magic diamond) swears

by this shape while Cotter has chosen  the FR-7f  instead of other

FR-7 kinds. The relationship between the grooves and stylus shape

should be explained by the more technical members in our forum. 

I use at present Denon AU-S1 SUT in my ''lab system'' with SP-

10 mk 2 and Ikeda 345 tonearm. The phono-pre is the improved

Jasmine :LP 2 . The speakers are Verity Audio Fidelio.

There is a FR-1 Mk3 (without 'f' and red print on the cartridge body) and a FR-1 Mk3f with version number in white print. The 'f' version is with silver coils and supposedly the better sounding one, though I'm just quoting a statement from another thread and have not compared both versions against each other. All I know is that I have the "f" ... thanks again to nandric 😀
ATEAL, sorry for the delay responding to you. FR1-mk3f, yes, I have two, it is a wonderful machine. Even watch.e above loves his, even more than his others. Either of Ikeda-san inventions will work well with the cartridge, some like the previous Fidelity Research tonearms, while others, prefer the extra experience that he has placed into the design of the new, and currently available, Ikeda tonearms...simply superior to most designs out there. If, and when, you will need the cartridge looked over, I understand that Axel is your man.

Cheers!

In our discussion about FR-64/66 in which the passion was more

important ''argument'' than technical ussues J. Carr mentioned

Ikeda 345 tonearm as ''Ikeda's best'' so far. I still love my FR-64

but use the Ikeda 345. Preferably with FR-7 series carts (fz,f and

702) and the Ikeda 9 (the cantileverless kind). My ''new'' Nakamichi

MC 1000 (re-tiped by Exper Stylus with Paratrace stylus) just

joined the mentioned ''chosen one''.

Hi Nany, super, spot on regarding the Ikeda designed tonearms and matching cartridges.   Passion, it is everywhere!   If you do not mind, I have a question for you; do you really live near a canal ;)?   BTW, I do love your city and your sense of humor...along with your superior taste in tonearms!

Ateal, IMHO, buy one, anytime you are ready would be nice!   If you do not have a FR1-mk3f, and would like to have a nice one, please send me a pm.

Cheers!

Who the hell is Nany? Ateal ? What do you mean with his ''superior

taste'' in tonearms?  How are we suposed to ''taste'' our arms.

I love my (steel) FR -64 arms but never considered to ''taste''

them for obvious reasons  (aka ''hardened steel''). Passion does

not need confusion between  ''categories'' to be explained. BTW the

problem of metaphors is that anyone is free to interprete them as he

likes.

I'm waiting for my Fidelity Research FR-6SE which should be fine MM for heavy tonearms. 
Hi unoear, I already have two FR1 MK3F's which are both in great condition and exceptional performers. Out of curiosity I recently bought a beautiful condition and rare Shinon Red Boron which is a Medium Output Moving Coil at 1.0mV.
 
The reason I bought it was because the reviews back in 1991 were very complimentary and even stated "that it offered most of the virtues of a top end Koetsu or Kiseki" but at half the price ($900 in 1991). I have to say that I have not been disappointed.

In comparing the FR1 with the Shinon Red I would say that the FR1 is like a full bodied super smooth red wine or a deep rich dark chocolate. Loads of presence, fully immersive, it just wraps you in the music and gets everything right tonally. Very easy on the ear with no listening fatigue ever. I guess I now understand when people say the cartridge gets out of the way of the music. 

The Shinon is very similar in rich tones but has slightly more refinement in the bass and a provides slightly better rendition of solo vocals.

I have decided the FR1 is still my favorite and will be my daily driver, with the Shinon being brought out for the audiophile quality jazz albums and female vocalists.
  


Hi Ateal, I have the imression that nobody cares about the

question asked by the thread author. He deed not ask info

about the FR-1 but about some ''similar but (possible) better

cart''. By describing differences between the FR-1 and the Shinon

you obviously overlooked the question asked.

The same apply for chakster: what is the connection with his

new (MM) FR-6SE as well the fact that this cart can be used

with heavy tonearms?

@nandric well, i have not heard FR-1 mk3, but i think Fidelity Research MM design is also interesting and worth to try for those who addicted to FR sound. I was very imperred what can do FR-5E compared to Victor X1IIE, Ortofon M20FL Super etc. This is very musical cartridge. Hope i will find Ikeda's MC cartridges in the future, but for Ateal my advice is to try Ikeda's MM. 
Dear chakster, while I participated in the MM thread from 2007 and on and
bought many in order not to stay behind I always prefered the MC kind.
But we all try to turn our subjective preferences into some  ''objective sense''.
I just lately discovered the FR-7 series. Dertonarm advised me 10 years
ago to try them but while I admire the guy my own opinion was more important
to me. This ''learning curve'' of Raul never impressed me because I don't
consider psychology as a science (grin). However there may be some truth
in this learning curve. Anyway I learned to love this FR-7 series and added
Ikeda 9 (cantileverless kind) to them. With my new Denon AU-S1 SUT I
enjoy them all each day. However I am most impressed with the FR-7fz
and use the ''f'' and the (rare) 702 as a spare. If you own the FR-64/66 tonearm
write to me for a possible deal.
No i don’t have FR-64/66 tonearms, i still have Schick tonearm for low compliance cartridges (i’m gonna try with FR-6SE), for the rest i use Reed 3p. The FR-5E mm cartridge was recommended by J.Carr, not by Raul. I believe Halcro has both FR-5E and FR-6SE.

However i ’m fine with Raul’s recommendation when it comes to cartridges like AT-ML180/OCC (even AT-ML150/OCC is great).

I like MCs as well, the one i like seems nobody even tried: Argent MC500HS (sapphire cantilever, line contact stylus, high output, from the 80s).

P.S. FR-1 mk3F seemed to be more universal to mate with different arms than headshell integrated FR-7. Never seen FR 702.
Ateal...excellent choice with the FR1-mk3f cartridges; "exceptional performer,"a good choice of words!

Nany...Raul, he is okay, even an honest fellow; try it, you'll like it, really!

Cheers!

Have a pair of FR MC 202 carts. Just for fun I have tried about 4-5 other carts only to promptly return to the FR. Smooth music when the music is smooth but it rocks out without a hitch. Bought the backup as soon as I saw it. The first one was bought NOS, so as long as the second one is performing great that NOS sits in the box ready for it's time.
There is a 202 on Ebay if you are interested.

t_bone started the thread ''Fidelity reasearch carts'' in 2009.

(see FR-7 on the net) . In the discussion JCarr recomended PMC 3

while his own preference was the ''fz'' and the ''f''. Does anyone know

what happened with t_bone?  

Yes, this is a LINK to t_bone's Fidelity Reasearch thread. 

And this is what J Carr said:

"The PMC-3 is far less popular than the FR-1 or 7, but was influenced by the FR-7's thinking, and is certainly worth searching out."  - J.Carr

FR also had quite interesting MM designs. I'm not too fond of the electrical characteristics of most MMs (nor how they sound), but the low-inductance FR-5E is a notable exception." - J.Carr