It's currently snowing here in Maine for the second day in a row, and we're due to get another 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) of snow tomorrow and Monday. Fortunately my pantry is stocked and there's nowhere else I need to be!
To keep myself entertained, I thought it would be fun to put together another "Blind Taste Test" of phono cartridges and styli. I gathered seven cartridges from my collection, ranging from heavy-tracking DJ carts to light-tracking audiophile carts; mounted and aligned them; made sure the styli are perfectly clean; and recorded the same track with each of them.
The files are currently uploading to YouTube and will be available for listening sometime tomorrow. But there's a twist!
To make it more fun and a bit more challenging, I will list 8 cartridges for you to choose from, even though I only recorded 7. That makes it more difficult to solve the mystery by using the process of elimination.
Your job is to look at this list of 8 cartridges, listen to the recordings, and match the recordings with the cartridges.
This is JUST FOR FUN and is not meant to be a perfect scientific test! I'm not trying to prove a point about which cartridge is "the best." I simply thought it would be interesting to listen and compare. The results may surprise you! (I was rather surprised myself!)
I did not post-process these recordings in any way. I did adjust the input gain of my audio interface so that each cartridge would have roughly the same volume (which makes the comparison more fair and makes the challenge more challenging!), but doing so is lossless and does not effect the quality of the recordings.
You will be able to hear basic differences such as how narrow or wide the soundstage is, distortion or lack thereof, and tonal balance (e.g., boosted midrange, rolled-off treble, etc).
Here are your choices, listed in alphabetical order:• Audio-Technica AT95E
• Audio-Technica AT130E with ATN440MLb stylus
• Numark CS-1
• Ortofon 2M Blue
• Ortofon Omega
• Shure SC35C
• Stanton 500 MkIII with TEI spherical stylus
• Stanton 681 EEE MkIII with EVG elliptical stylus
I hope you have fun and I look forward to your responses!
Come back in about 12 hours for the recordings!
And, of course, be sure to mention which one is your favorite.