Best phono cartridges 2024
Best phono cartridges 2024
Best phono cartridges 2024

Best phono cartridges 2024: The audiophile choice

New phono cartridges are not introduced to the market as frequently as smartphones, making each new model’s launch especially noteworthy for audiophiles. Yet, throughout last year and into the early months of 2024, numerous manufacturers have unveiled a variety of innovative cartridges.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the ten most captivating releases.

10. Goldring E4

10. Goldring E4

The latest top-tier model in the affordable Goldring lineup stands out from its predecessors with its distinctive blue insert and reduced moving mass. This cartridge features a robust diamond stylus with a super-elliptical profile, measuring 0.3 x 0.7 mm, affixed to an aluminum cantilever. It operates optimally at a tracking force of 1.75 grams and has a total weight of 6.9 grams, ensuring compatibility with a wide range of tonearms. Although this model is the priciest within the series, it continues to offer great value for its cost.

Specifications:

– Conversion type: moving magnet
– Needle sharpening: superellipse
– Case material: plastic
– Needle holder material: aluminum
– Sensitivity: 3.5 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: 20 x 10^-6 cm/din
– Weight: 6.9 grams

 

9. Ortofon 2MR Black

9. Ortofon 2MR Black

At its core, this renowned cartridge model has been redesigned into a sleek, low-profile form factor. The newly introduced 2MR series spans seven variants, from the 2MR Red to the 2MR Black LVB 250, with retail prices remaining consistent. Its standout feature is the compatibility with Rega turntables, eliminating the need for tonearm base adjustments using spacers. This innovation allows Rega turntable owners to seamlessly integrate Ortofon 2MR cartridges, achieving optimal sound quality through the correct vertical tracking angle. Additionally, the new cartridge maintains full compatibility with the standard replaceable styluses of the Ortofon 2M series, making it an ideal choice for audiophiles.

Specifications:

– Conversion type: moving magnet
– Needle sharpening: Shibata
– Case material: plastic
– Needle holder material: aluminum
– Sensitivity: 5 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: 20 x 10^-6 cm/din
– Weight: 6 grams

 

8. Gold Note Vasari Shibata

8. Gold Note Vasari Shibata

The standout feature of the latest addition to the Italian company’s MM cartridge lineup is its specially crafted diamond stylus. This stylus shape, developed by Mr. Shibata in the 1970s, enhances the contact area with the record groove walls, allowing for superior audio fidelity. Additionally, the cartridge is equipped with a detachable “visor” to shield the stylus from accidental damage. Crafted from a single block of duralumin, the cartridge is designed for durability and precision. It operates best with a tracking force of 2 grams, combining advanced technology with user-friendly design elements.

Specifications:

– Conversion type: moving magnet
– Needle sharpening: Shibata
– Case material: duralumin
– Needle holder material: aluminum
– Sensitivity: 4 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: 10 x 10^-6 cm/din
– Weight: 9.5 grams

 

7. Goldring Ethos SE

7. Goldring Ethos SE

The Goldring Ethos SE is a special edition variant of the highly regarded Ethos model, featuring several enhancements for improved audio performance. This cartridge boasts upgraded coils made from pure silver, offering fewer turns and higher conductivity to decrease the moving mass. Its cross-shaped core aims to enhance channel separation and produce a more lifelike soundstage. Equipped with a diamond stylus that possesses a broad contact area, it ensures minimal distortion during playback. The cartridge’s housing is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum, chosen for its low density and high rigidity, contributing to the overall quality and durability of the device.

Specifications:

– Conversion type: moving coil
– Needle sharpening: Vital
– Case material: aluminum
– Needle holder material: aluminum
– Sensitivity: 0.35 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: 28 x 10^-6 cm/din
– Weight: 7.7 grams

 

6. Hana Umami Blue

6. Hana Umami Blue

The latest offering from the Japanese manufacturer is notable for its precision-engineered body, crafted from 7075 aluminum and finished with a light-curing blue synthetic resin for a distinctive appearance. The cartridge features a magnetic system utilizing AlNiCo (aluminum-nickel-cobalt) magnets, paired with a coil meticulously hand-wound with ultra-fine copper wire for exceptional audio fidelity. It is equipped with a MicroLine multi-radius stylus mounted on a boron cantilever, while the damper is constructed from POM (polyoxymethylene) polymer, known for its excellent mechanical properties. To enhance electrical conductivity, each cartridge undergoes cryogenic treatment as a final step in its assembly process. With an internal resistance of 8 ohms and a recommended tracking force of 2 grams, this product reflects the over fifty years of expertise Excel Sound has in producing high-quality phono cartridges, with all critical components being produced in-house.

Specifications:

– Conversion type: moving coil
– Needle sharpening: MicroLine
– Case material: aluminum
– Needle holder material: boron
– Sensitivity: 0.4 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: no data
– Weight: 10.8 grams

 

5. Gold Note Giotto

5. Gold Note Giotto

The Italian company’s latest MC cartridge, named Giotto, pays homage to the renowned icon painter from the Florentine Republic, celebrated as the greatest icon painter who transformed the art from dark, two-dimensional representations to luminous, three-dimensional works. True to the company’s tradition, the Giotto cartridge’s body is crafted entirely from 7000 series duralumin. It features a stylus with a micro-elliptical profile, mounted on a boron cantilever, boasting a radius of 5 x 150 microns. The cartridge’s internal resistance is set at 8 ohms, with a recommended tracking force of 2 grams, ensuring that it upholds the high standard of quality and performance associated with the brand.

Specifications:

– Conversion type: moving coil
– Needle Sharpening: Ultra Micro Elliptical
– Case material: duralumin
– Needle holder material: boron
– Sensitivity: 0.35 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: 12 x 10^-6 cm/din
– Weight: 9 grams

 

4. Vertere Acoustics XtraX

4. Vertere Acoustics XtraX

The flagship cartridge from the company features a distinctive lilac-colored anodized housing, precision-machined from a single block of aluminum. Its magnetic system is crafted using a samarium-cobalt alloy, coupled with a coil meticulously wound with the finest copper wire for optimal electrical conductivity and sound quality. The telescopic cantilever is constructed from two different aluminum alloys, a design choice aimed at minimizing its own resonance for clearer audio reproduction. The stylus is equipped with a micro-elliptical tip, measuring 7.5 x 15.5 microns, ensuring precise groove tracking. With a sensitivity of 0.45 mV and an internal resistance of 40 Ohms, this cartridge is designed for audiophiles seeking high fidelity sound. The recommended tracking force for optimal performance is set at 2.05 grams.

Specifications:

– Conversion type: moving coil
– Needle sharpening: microellipse
– Case material: aluminum
– Needle holder material: aluminum
– Sensitivity: 0.45 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: 12 x 10^-6 cm/din
– Weight: 11.2 grams

 

3.DS Audio Master 3

3. DS Audio Master 3

The “third generation” optical cartridge system introduces a comprehensive redesign, incorporating technologies pioneered in the DS Audio Grand Master flagship model. This new generation features separate LEDs and photodetectors for the left and right channels, significantly increasing the output voltage to 70 mV. Enhancements in this iteration include improved channel separation and a better signal-to-noise ratio. By opting for 99.9% pure beryllium for the shade plate, the design achieves a reduction in size and weight compared to the aluminum used previously. The DS Audio Master 3’s housing is meticulously crafted for utmost rigidity, complemented by internal wiring that is 1.6 times thicker than that of the Master 1, effectively lowering impedance and optimizing audio performance.

Specifications:

– Type of conversion: photoelectric
– Needle Sharpening: Micro Ridge
– Case material: aluminum/beryllium
– Needle holder material: aluminum
– Sensitivity: 70 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: no data
– Weight: 7.9 grams

 

2. Analog Relax EX2000

2. Analog Relax EX2000

The Japanese manufacturer’s moving-coil cartridge is encased in a unique body crafted from spruce wood, sourced from South Tyrol, a material celebrated for its use in the construction of the world’s most esteemed violins, including those by the legendary Stradivarius. A standout feature of this cartridge is its solid diamond cantilever, paired with a needle featuring the intricate SC Stylus Ver.3 profile. The magnetic system utilizes neodymium magnets of varying grades to enhance its performance. With an internal resistance of 8 ohms, this cartridge ensures broad compatibility with a range of phono stages and transformers, offering a premium audio experience that bridges traditional craftsmanship with modern audio technology.

Specifications:

– Conversion type: moving coil
– Sharpening the needle: SC Stylus Ver.3
– Case material: wood
– Needle holder material: diamond
– Sensitivity: 0.4 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: no data
– Weight: 9 grams

 

1. darTZeel NFS 00Founder Series

1. darTZeel NFS 00 Founder Series

This remarkable cartridge is not only a testament to high-fidelity audio engineering but also comes with a phono stage meticulously tailored for this specific model. The package offers an unparalleled level of personalized service, including a lifetime warranty and professional installation and tuning by HervĂ© DelĂ©traz, the owner and principal engineer of darTZeel. The body of the darTZeel NFS 00 Founder Series cartridge is crafted from ULH wood, an exceptional material, and is adorned with gold leaf, adding a touch of luxury. The stylus features a natural diamond with a proprietary darTZeel sharpening technique, ensuring precise and detailed sound reproduction. The cantilever is also made of diamond, highlighting the cartridge’s premium construction. For the coils, silver-plated copper wire has been selected for its excellent conductivity and audio fidelity, rounding off a package that offers an exquisite listening experience.

Specifications:

– Conversion type: moving coil
– Needle sharpening: darTZeel
– Case material: wood
– Needle holder material: diamond
– Sensitivity: 0.066 mV
– Compliance of needle holder suspension: no data
– Weight: no data