Nagaoka MP-150 Review

the thin end of the wedge
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Mechnutt
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Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by Mechnutt » 18 Aug 2017 17:17

I recently set my son up with a vinyl system using a vintage Pioneer PL-55x TT and Emotiva XPS phono preamp. The rest of the system is a Parasound A21 amp, Pass Labs DIY B1 premp and Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 speakers with a Velodyne sub. For a cartridge we tried a 2M Red that a friend loaned me. The sound was just ok. It had good dynamics but was a little edgy and unrefined sounding with a thin midrange. Surface noise was prominent. I own a Nagaoka MP-200 and my son loves the sound of my vinyl rig son we bought a Nagaoka MP-150. It was the right pick.

Nagaoka recommends 30 hours of break in and they are spot on. It took my MP-200 about 25-30 hours to sound its best. Once we hooked up the MP-150 it sounded good but not great. After about 3 hours the sound changed and it is giving a hint of things to come. The general tone is just on the warmer and darker side of neutral but not overly so. It has punchy tight bass and excellent dynamic's. The mid range is full, deep and tonally rich but still remaining transparent. The sound stage is wide. Vocals sound natural and detailed. Piano has depth and excellent decay. The sound is smooth and liquid without any edginess or harshness. Cymbals sound natural with good air. They are very minimally rolled off right now but that will improve with more hours like my MP-200 did. Surface noise was much more suppressed compared to the 2M Red but clicks and pops are a just a bit more prominent at present. To tell the truth, it has the same attributes of my MP-200. I would love to try the 150 in my system and see how they compare. If it was not such a pain to set up and align I would. That is the only drawback to the cartridge. I will post an update when it has at least 30 hours of play time.

Larry

DeepEnd
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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by DeepEnd » 18 Aug 2017 17:35

Just swap the styli as the bodies are virtually identical.

Mechnutt
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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by Mechnutt » 18 Aug 2017 17:39

DeepEnd wrote:Just swap the styli as the bodies are virtually identical.

Thanks for the tip, I should have thought of that. Once the MP-150 is fully broken in I will do that.

AdlerW
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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by AdlerW » 18 Aug 2017 18:53

So what makes it such a pain to setup and align? I hear people say that about Nagaokas in general. I'm using the MP-110 and it didn't seem that hard to set-up. Now I'm wondering if I haven't set it up very well...

(I'm planning on upgrading to the MP-150 soon).

Mechnutt
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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by Mechnutt » 18 Aug 2017 20:38

AdlerW wrote:So what makes it such a pain to setup and align? I hear people say that about Nagaokas in general. I'm using the MP-110 and it didn't seem that hard to set-up. Now I'm wondering if I haven't set it up very well...

(I'm planning on upgrading to the MP-150 soon).
It is just that the stylus does not stick out very well and it makes it a little difficult to use a protractor alignment tool. In addition, the cartridge body is not threaded and you have to use nuts and bolts where other cartridges are threaded and you just need a screw. It is very easy to move the cartridge out of alignment when tightening the nuts and bolts.

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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by kitt1987 » 22 Aug 2017 17:06

I've an MP-110 myself which didn't seem like a big deal at all to set up. Sound is beautiful. I do, however, have an MP-50 cartridge with a new 500 stylus that I have on one of my extra headshells of which I have had for over 4 months now which I have been hesitant to set up. That stylus is nearly microscopic and am not sure how in the world I am going to get that set up correctly.

Mechnutt
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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by Mechnutt » 22 Aug 2017 23:41

I have about 12 hours of play on the MP-150 and it is really coming into its own. It has really smoothed out and the mid range is full and inviting. Piano sounds natural with great depth and it is tonally beautiful with nice decay. Bass is deep, fairly tight. Vocals sound natural and have good resolution without being sharp or nasal. The sound stage has opened up and it is wide, deep and tall.

Some people may not like this cartridge because its slightly warmer, darker, tonally rich and full mid range may be seen as a lack of transparency and air, but it is anything but that. It is very musical and liquid sounding with no harshness. It will be interesting to hear when I swap my MP-200 stylus and see how they differ.

What a bargain this cartridge is. The only draw back is that it is a mid compliance cartridge and it may not be a great fit for some tone arms.

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