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

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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.

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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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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by Gigantor2 » 23 Aug 2019 17:55

I too have both cartridges after upgrading from a MP110. However my MP150 does not sound warm in my setup. It is very neutral and liquid though the midrange which suits all kinds of music well. Bass is similar to the 200 but highs are very vivid, more so than the 200 and miles ahead of the 110. As good as these cartridges I recently succumbed to the upgrade bug and bought an Ortofon 2M Bronze. Oh what a great cartridge that is! I am selling my Nagaokas.

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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by raphaelmabo » 23 Aug 2019 18:29

DeepEnd wrote:
18 Aug 2017 17:35
Just swap the styli as the bodies are virtually identical.
The styluses will fit, but the internals are not identical so you won't get the same sound. That is in contrast to Ortofon 2M and OM that has same generator all over the line. A MP200 with a 150 stylus is a MP200 with a 150 stylus. And a 150 with a MP200 stylus is a 150 with a MP200 stylus. Not a MP200. But it can be fun to try out anyway, even if you don't get a "real" MP150 or MP200 by swapping stylus.

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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by Gigantor2 » 23 Aug 2019 20:52

There seems to be enough of an electrical difference between the bodies of the 110/150/200 that forces you to buy the cartridge to get the full benefit though I read somewhere the 300 and 500 are interchangeable. To some extent the same is true of Ortofon’s 2M line - the Bronze and Black share the same body, just like the Red and Blue. I have a Blue and a Bronze and their bodies are electrically different. The Bronze is the better cartridge but it’s stylus does not sound as good when plugged into the Blue body. Just because it fits doesn’t mean you should stick it in!

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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by hedgehog35 » 23 Aug 2019 21:58

raphaelmabo wrote:
23 Aug 2019 18:29
DeepEnd wrote:
18 Aug 2017 17:35
Just swap the styli as the bodies are virtually identical.
The styluses will fit, but the internals are not identical so you won't get the same sound. That is in contrast to Ortofon 2M and OM that has same generator all over the line. A MP200 with a 150 stylus is a MP200 with a 150 stylus. And a 150 with a MP200 stylus is a 150 with a MP200 stylus. Not a MP200. But it can be fun to try out anyway, even if you don't get a "real" MP150 or MP200 by swapping stylus.
I am a bit surprised by that, as my understanding was that the MP100 and 110 shared the same body, as do the 150/200 and then the 300/500. The Ortofon 2m series do not all share the same body as the bronze and black use different materials than the red/blue cartridges.
I had a 150 and then upgraded with a 200 stylus. Definite improvement but still sharing the ' Nagaoka family sound'.
I would agree with nearly all the comments regarding the qualities of these cartridges - the only downside I have found is that I can hear a little inner groove sibilance on a couple of lp's which is better supressed with a Goldring 1042 that I also use (more advanced stylus profile?).
In terms of alignment I can understand both sides of the discussion - the straight sides of the cartridge definitely help with adjusting offset but I do find the stylus quite hard to see (even with an illuminated magnifier), because it is set quite far back from the front of the cartridge. The Ortofon's are much easier in that respect.
My last point would be that I would hold onto the Nagaoka cartridge if I were buying a 2M bronze. I had a 2M black which in some ways is an outstanding cartridge - masses of detail, huge soundstage etc. But it is a cartridge that 'takes no prisoners' if your vinyl is in less than pristine condition or is not a great recording.
I ended up deciding that while I admired the Ortofon for its 'Hi Fidelity', the Nagaoka was actually the more musical cartridge. I am not completely alone in that opinion - a couple of years ago, the British magazine, 'HiFi Choice', did a group test which included the MP200 and Ortofon black. Both were recommended, but the reviewer decided that he preferred the MP200 - even though it was £150 cheaper!
A different reviewer with a different system could easily come to the opposite conclusion. That's why I think you have to be careful recommending a particular cartridge as how they sound is very dependant upon the other components in the system.
My MP200 sounds completely different with the Technics 1200GR I have now, compared to the Gyrodec/SME I used to use.

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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by DeepEnd » 24 Aug 2019 08:01

All the research I have done indicates that, like the earlier 10,11,15,20,30,50 series, the current Nagaoka bodies have four variants.

The 100/110 have a plastic frame with a single lamination in the magnetic circuit.

The 150/200 have a harder plastic frame and dual laminations in the magnetic circuit.

The 300 has a metal frame and dual laminations

The 500 has a metal frame and triple laminations

The only doubt I have is that there is a possibility that the 150/200 may use the same plastic for the frame as the 100/110. On the 10/11 to 15/20 there was a slight difference in overall weight. This is not the case on the 100/110 to 150/200 so may use the same plastic frame for all of them.

The Nagaoka catalogue for the MPxx series clearly shows these differences in the specification page but on the later MPxxx catalogue these parts of the spec are missing but if you read the text on each type and compare the xx vs. xxx series the text and graphs appear to be virtually identical.

https://www.vinylengine.com/library/nag ... ever.shtml

This the reason for my statement that the 150 and 200 bodies are virtually identical and for comparing the 150 to 200 styli should be perfectly fine.

Yes, putting a 150 or 200 stylus on a 100/110 body won’t get you the full 150 or 200 performance but it will get you very close (90-95%).

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Re: Nagaoka MP-150 Review

Post by 1mctous » 01 Sep 2019 13:17

I had to move the counterweight slightly backwards to balance the MP-150 vs. the MP-110 but the alignment was identical. Most protractors clearly mark where the stylus should be placed, and once I did that I moved each body forward to accommodate the Nagaoka's recessed stylus placement. I agree with the forum thus far regarding its sound quality.

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