Sumiko cartridges are relatively new to Ammonite Audio, and we brought them to the shop for a number of reasons, but largely because they offer a range of really rather good products from truly inexpensive, right up to quite pricey, that sit well against our existing offerings from Miyajima, Phasemation and Ortofon SPU. We are concentrating on Sumiko’s moving magnet cartridges and we hold in stock all models, except the entry-level Oyster. Sumiko moving coil cartridges can be ordered too
So, what differentiates Sumiko cartridges from those available from other well-known manufacturers for less or more money, and specifically the moving magnet models? Sumiko seem to have a design philosophy which says that cartridges don’t need to sound bright, hard and/or wearing. Many of the usual manufacturers prefer to offer ‘neutrality’ and ‘detail’ and in the wrong hands or systems, the results can sometimes be unpleasantly grey sounding, harsh and bright.
All Sumiko cartridges are deliberately voiced to be slightly soft sounding, which is something that you will hear straight away, and coming from something bright like an Ortofon 2M it’s a bit of a shock. Then, as you listen and get used to the relative softness, you start to hear the music, and the people behind the music. These Sumiko moving magnet cartridges have a musical dexterity that is rather wonderful and not particularly ‘HiFi’, and that’s often a good thing. ‘Musicality’ is an often abused term, but what it means here is that you tend to forget about the ‘sound’ and enjoy the music, the timing and interplay between musicians as well as acoustic cues from instruments and the recording space. We’ve been listening to the Sumiko Rainier (£159) and it does all of that. In terms of tracking and in-groove behaviour, the Sumikos are truly excellent, notably quiet in the groove; and the newer models have bodies with captive threads that make fitting a breeze too. Someone sensible was clearly involved with the design of the newer moving magnet models because the stylus assembly has been designed so that the tip is always well protected, but the tip position is in line with the front edge of the cartridge body – little things like that make life so much easier when setting up an arm/cartridge correctly.
There are other sellers in the UK who are discounting Sumiko cartridges, either on their own websites, or on eBay. We will always try to price-match such sellers, so do get in touch to ask for a better deal if you’ve seen something cheaper elsewhere. That applies to anything we sell, by the way.