With over 340 hours on the clock of my cartridge and stylus it was time to change.
Here we have a moving magnet from Japan which reviews well. Lets see.
My last cart was an Audio Technical AT-VM95EN. This cost £100 and replaced a Goldring E3 at £80. Both of these cartridges were very enjoyable. For my next cart I’m looking to spend a little more, but not break the bank. The turntable is an old but excellent Dual 505ii.
I first considered moving up the food chain with the Audio Technica VM95 range. The Microlinear version costs £150 and the Shibata £180. This also puts me in the territory of the Ortophon 2M Blue at the same price. These cartridges are all over the HiFi press and review very well. The Ortofon, or its cheaper “red” variant is often factory fitted to mid range turntables, or recommended as a first upgrade.
The MP110 is an older design cartridge from about 2011. It first came to my attention through YouTube channel 33 rpm. Frank spoke very highly of it so I did a bit more research and soon added it to my shortlist.
Purchase price isn’t the whole story with cartridges. Different needle profiles have different wear characteristics on your records, with a corresponding difference in expected service life, as published by the manufacturers. Dividing cost by service life you can get a cost per hour for each. The economics of needle time is quite revealing. Both the Goldring E3 and AT-VM95EN came in at 30p per hour. The AT-VM95ML and Ortophon 2M blue are star performers at 15p per hour. The MP110 fares badly at 57 – 75p per hour.
The MP110 is expensive to run, but it is cheap to buy. It’s an older design, but people out there do like it and really rate it for the money. I’ll never know what I’m missing if I don’t give it a try… Amazon Prime …
The Nagaoka is very well presented in a solid plastic box with clear instructions in proper English. Fitting was straightforward. No, it doesn’t have captive nuts and so it was a little fiddly, but hey this stuff isn’t rocket science. In order to achieve correct overhang the cartridge needed to be mounted well forward in the head-shell.
I have only listened for 6 hours so far, so it hasn’t really had time to bed in. Initial impressions are good. It certainly sounds very musical and lives up to the glowing reviews I have read elsewhere. A very nice cart for just £115.
It is an exceptionally ugly looking thing and quite difficult to see the stylus when cuing. Fortunately it does sound rather good. I’m pleased that I bought it. With a quoted life of just 150 to 200 hours, at my current rate of use this will only last me 3 or 4 months. That will happily see me through to Christmas. But oh dear, what do I ask Santa for?