FREE AUDIO TECHNICA AT607 STYLUS CLEANING FLUID WITH THIS CARTRIDGE
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What Makes Miyajima Cartridges Special?
There is nothing unique about using African Blackwood for cartridge bodies, but Miyajima cartridges have a unique, patented design that really is different to any other moving coil cartridge available. Miyajima understood that traditional moving coil cartridges suffer from resonances and distortion, firstly due to the tie-wire that typically holds the cantilever and coil assembly against the magnet pole piece with a compliant insert between to allow some movement. The tie wire has to be very precisely tightened so that the coil assembly is correctly aligned, but its disadvantage is that it resonates, introducing distortion. The second source of distortion is the typical iron coil former of a moving coil cartridge, which actually distorts the lines of magnetic flux between the pole pieces, as it moves through those lines. Miyajima have a patented cross ring coil structure that has a non-magnetic core, neatly side-stepping this problem. The next innovation was to eliminate the tie-wire altogether. Instead, Miyajima use a pointed slide bar that locates the coil assembly very precisely from behind at its pivot point, which is also the centre point of the magnet, while gently pushing the coil assembly against a compliant insert. This means that the coil assembly can pivot unimpeded by a tensioning wire. Here is a helpful animation showing how Miyajima cartridges work:
What’s The End Result?
Miyajima cartridges really do have dramatically lower distortion, compared to other MC cartridges, and these can sound like CD in comparison. The sound is smooth, but don’t think that they are ‘rolled off’ or lacking in ‘bite’ – the smoothness is a reflection of the low distortion. Miyajima cartridges are effortlessly musical too.
The Shilabe is a truly lovely thing. Put it in a upper-medium to high mass arm and you will be rewarded with an expansive sound that captures the whole of a musical performance, with vanishingly low distortion and very low surface noise (which is a Miyajima characteristic). To give an example, I have an LP copy of Brendel playing Beethoven Piano Sonatas (on Philips) where the Shilabe brings out all the resonances of the piano, the delicacy of the playing, and a real sense of musical anticipation and of the acoustic environment in which the performance was recorded. Play the same thing on a conventional but similarly priced MC cartridge and the whole thing sounds rather mechanical and slight ‘forced’.
I have to stress the tonearm mass requirement. All Miyajima cartridges have low compliance and need mass to work against. I am fortunate to have an old Fidelity Research FR64S which is 30g effective mass and is a match truly made in heaven for the Shilabe. One of my Shilabe customers is very enthusiastic about the Audio-Creative Groovemaster 12″ arm, which is very good value, beautifully made, and has effective mass of 22g which works well with the Shilabe – 20g upwards is good, I reckon, but don’t even think about putting a Shilabe in a lighter arm.
Body type : African blackwood
Frequency response : 20Hz to 32kHz
Output level : 0.23mV
Impedance : 16 ohms
Recommended load : 100 ohms
Tracking force : 2.5 – 3.2g 3.0g recommended
Stylus type : Shibata
Compliance 10Hz : 8×10-6cm/dyne
Weight : 10.4g