We say: For higher fidelity, you want to move to moving coil cartridges. The Ortofon Quintet Black is the best cartridge in the $1200 category.
Why moving coil? In Moving magnet cartridges the higher mass of the magnets connected to the cantilever fight its ability to change direction and follow rapid modulations in the groove. Moving coils are lighter, faster, and more resolving. They have a lower output and need a dedicated step-up MC input on your amplifier.
Along with the moving coil engine, other refinements of the Ortofon Quintet Black are:
- A fine line Shibata stylis is able to track fine record groove information, provide better high-frequency sound quality, and improved channel separation
- A Saphire cantilever provides a super-stiff foundation for the diamond. Sapphire is one of the best cantilever options that provide an excellent mechanical pulse transfer from the stylus to the coil system.
What they say: reviews
The Hana SL versus the Quintet Black - Analog Planet
"The sound produced by the Ortofon Quintet Black “S” was definitely faster, leaner and more detailed than that of the Hana SL. Transients were sharper, particularly on bottom and top end extension was noticeably airier" read the review
We say: The review above made reference to a subjective choice on balance. Hi-Fi Choice's comments below provide a second opinion that may prove that Ortofon's is correct.
HiFi Choice Group Test
With the correct level set, the Ortofon reveals itself to be a highly distinctive yet talented performer. This most clearly manifests itself as a slightly dark tonal balance that helps it to sound refined and powerful...
...What is interesting is that the tonal balance doesn’t restrict the energy at the top end of the frequency response...
...This is a very big and effortless-sounding cartridge....
...Vocals are given presence and detail, but without losing their relationship to the supporting musicians...
Output voltage at 1000 Hz, 5cm/sec. - 0.3 mV
Channel balance at 1 kHz - < 1.0 dB
Channel separation at 1 kHz - > 23 dB
Channel separation at 15 kHz - > 15 dB
Frequency range at - 3dB - 20 - 25.000 Hz
Frequency response 20-20.000 Hz - +/- 1.5 dB
Tracking ability at 315Hz at recommended tracking force *) - 80 µm
Compliance, dynamic, lateral - 15 µm/mN
Stylus type - Nude Shibata on Sapphire cantilever
Stylus tip radius - r/R 6/50 µm
Tracking force range - 2.1-2.5 g (21-25 mN)
Tracking force, recommended - 2.3 g (23 mN)
*) Typical value
Tracking angle - 20°
Internal impedance, DC resistance - 5 Ohm
Recommended load impedance - > 20 Ohm
Cartridge body material - ABS/Aluminium
Coil wire material - Aucurum
Cartridge color - Black
Cartridge weight - 9 g