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Cartridge Reviews: 2016

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Stanton 881 Reviews

displaying reviews 1 to 13 of 13

Stanton 881

Stanton 881

10/10 by JPM

Have used one for 6/7 years now, with D81s stylus (x2), as well as with the Jico Shibata (very good), LP Gear (good too, but I preferred the Jico slightly) and the Pfanstiehl 4825-DEZ (a very capable high output stylus and a total bargain at $29 if you get one with no flaws).

It's a truly magnificent cart for low mass arms. Never ran it in a higher mass arm and suspect that may change things quite a bit. But it is by far the best MM I've ever had. With the D81s on it needs a little bit of care in the set up, but once dialled in correctly, it just blows all comers away and takes even a modest system well and truly to the next level.

Even at the inflated prices they go for today, it's still arguably worth it on a price/performance ratio, especially given you'd possibly (depending on the system) have to go to Ortofon 2M Black to get to this MM performance level (which is much more expensive than even NOS 881s).

When I got it and tried it for the first time, I had absolutely no idea what it was (thought it would just be some random 30 year old Stanton dud) as it came with an old Grace 707 I was given as a gift for an Ariston RD 11 I had refurbished. I didn't do any research prior to my first listen, and it is to this day it is honestly the only upgrade I ever made to my system where the sound change just stopped my in my tracks and blew me away.

Exceptional cart that really needs to be brought back, and a fully deserved hifi legend.

10/10 by Wimbo

Love it. Just have to make sure you use a low mass arm or close to it.

10/10 by Algaer

I used a Stanton 881S for years and found it to be the best overall phono cartridge of all that l've experienced. It will track flawlessly at 1 gram and faithfully reproduce all types of music. It especially excells with musical pieces with a large sound stage such as orchestral and choral works and its sonic qualities with these pieces are superb.

2/10 by paulrenea

My experience with 2 different Stanton carts were not happy. Half way through an album side and the highs start to shatter and only get worse. I have a Pickering D400 which sounds good. Pickering name is now gone. Should have been Stanton that died instead. Just my experience folks.

9/10 by jfrace

This cartridge with the D81-S stylus sounds better than the D81 stylus. I have the 881S MKII with an original D81-S and D81. I also have 3 different replacement stylus just in case. The EVG (Jico built) is a better replacement stylus than the Pfanstiehl 4608 DEX, but slightly lacks against the Pfanstiehl 4822 DEE (which was made for the 681EEE-Nude Elliptical).Even though it's made for a MI cartridge, it works better on the MM the 881 is. The D81S will not track exceptionally well if not set up properly,especially on inner grooves. The sound between the 681 and 881 are definitely apparent with the 881 having more of a boomy bass response to me, and a little more on the high end as well. I purchased this,the 681,the Pickering XV-15,and Pickering XLZ7500S MKII, and all 4 have their own sound. This is one cartridge I can say does sound better with the OEM stylus as long as it's the D81-S. The Jico and EVG versions sound slightly more muddled in bass, and the Pfanstiehl sounds very raspy with today's version of it and needs a heavier tracking weight to compensate for it. The 4822 DEE will sound better though IMO. The OEM brush as well as the 4822 brush are the best of the bunch if using the brush on the cartridge. I personally do use the brush and it does serve a good purpose.

8/10 by plexi

Pleasure to listen to. Natural and fairly linear sounding with a tasteful touch of mid color and slight bass boost. Treble is a touch mellow but very nice. This cart pairs up nice with linn/thorens style tables and helps give those airy sounding decks some firmness and smoothness.

10/10 by alex

used one for many years. It is a bit of a pain for many tone arms but if mated with a suitable one, such as the Dual 701 I used it in, it shines. Hard to beat, that is, the Pickering equivelents XSV-3000/4000/5000 were equally good. Essentially the same carts. The brush is actually not only for sweeping dust away, it helps tracking and eliminates slight anti skate misadjustments exept at the end of the record where the brush wants to lead its own life and tracks the lead out groove consequently causing wrong tracking. The only way to set this pain in the a** up correctly, is by using a good test record. Do not trust the values on the anti skate dial of your turntable. Same goes for the Pickering equivelents as a matter of fact. Only use original replacement needles if you can get them that is. Fakes are far less reliable as for quality consistency. And some say only Pickering had the Stereohedron needle tip for their carts and Stanton had ordinary elliptical ones. Who knows more about these rumours?

5/10 by Willem54

I used one for many years. It is a bit of a pain for many tone arms but if mated with a suitable one, such as the Dual 701 I used it in, it shines. Hard to beat, that is, the Pickering equivelents XSV-3000/4000/5000 were equally good. Essentially the same carts. The brush is actually not only for sweeping dust away, it helps tracking and eliminates slight anti skate misadjustments exept at the end of the record where the brush wants to lead its own life and tracks the lead out groove consequently causing wrong tracking. The only way to set this pain in the a** up correctly, is by using a good test record. Do not trust the values on the anti skate dial of your turntable. Same goes for the Pickering equivelents as a matter of fact. Only use original replacement needles if you can get them that is. Fakes are far less reliable as for quality consistency. And some say only Pickering had the Stereohedron needle tip for their carts and Stanton had ordinary elliptical ones. Who knows more about these rumours?

9/10 by anmpr1

Another historical review, since these haven't been made in a while. It's supposed to be the same thing as the Pickering XSV-3000, which I also owned. If you can find one NOS it would be worth spending one, or maybe two bills on, I don't know. I always liked the 881 series, and would probably buy one if they were still made. I owned several, all with a white brush, even though the picture shows it with a black one. The brush, by the way, was kind of Mickey Mouse compared to the similar Shure implementation.

10/10 by TomBe

I am realy happy to get one (881 MK II S) in perfect condition this year (2013). Amazing!

10/10 by redskins15

This is the HOLY GRAIL of CD-4 cartridges. Stanton took the 881s and added beryllium to the cantilever and produced a stylus that could exceed
35db of separation. Unbelievable! This is one of the top three carts ever produced.
The at160ML-JVC X-1-881 MK II S
These are the three best magnetic carts produced hands down.

8/10 by freelancelot

A mysteriously under-rated blast from the past.
Styli are hard to get now, and you have to look hard for substitutes, but this cart is amazingly clear on music, delivers bass so clear you can hear UNDER it, stays clear on the inner grooves and has great dynamic balance where nothing gets overpowered by anything else, and all sounds come through clearly. Highly recommeded if you can get it, but I wish you'd ignore this because I don't need any more competition amongst the afficianados as I seek out styli for this classic minaturized machines of sound reproduction, and it's almost twin brother, the XSV series from Pickering.

7/10 by yeoldestereo

In my opinion a Stanton that does not live up to its lofty expectations. I would look elsewhere in this price range.


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