Letter from NYC (54) 2016 (10): Heroic Analogue Efforts
Rare Cartridges: Nagatron, Stax
(Article finished in HK). For me, this is a special article. Not many are privileged to get to hear even one rare analogue legend, not to mention several in one morning. But my friend Andy basically did a "presentation" for me, and I am damn impressed! Thanks to the old souls who keep the flame alive! In an era of hyperbole's (generously applied to each new generation of "super" cartridges), re-visits to an older era should be mandatory.
I had first arranged to take my Empire and Shure cartridges to Andy's place for a listen. As it would be a lot easier to have an arm with a removable headshell, I asked Andy to make one available. Imagine my surprise when I walked in to see so many turntables, armed with RARE cartridges. Pics here are indeed worth a thousand words...
We did not listen to the Versa Dynamics 1.0 under the Walker Proscenium Gold Signature (with Stanton 380, reported previously). For associated equipment, see the link.
About Nagatron I found some of Andy's postings in vinylengine. Attached below.
Nagatron's flagship cartridge was not an induced magnet type but was of an "exotic" ribbon design. Instead of a magnet, a piece of iron, or a coil in the magnetic field, there is a strip of ribbon. According to Nagatron, the ribbon design offers the highest degree in linearity of all the magnetic phono cartridges. The penalty, however, is in the output level. It is around 0.04mv, a magnitude lower than the current low-output MCs, therefore, requiring a high-gain transformer or head amp to work properly into a normal preamplifier.
Sonic Notes HV-9100 I absolutely adored the Ribbon HV-9100! Although working in a different way, its sound did remind one of the ribbon planar's clear, pristine presentation, but sans the undesirable peakiness. An open window; marvelous! 360CE As for the Induced Magnet 360CE, the sound was softer, but eminently enjoyable. Part of this may be attributable to the more mellow damped SME arm (as compared to the Ikeda). In any case, the sound was still excellent and hard to fault!
Andy told me Nagatron lost its shirt developing the amplification/transformer for the ultra-low output cartridges. Admirable heroes of hifi! I am sure there will be more Nagatron in my analogue future!