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Thread: Miyajima cartridge - re-cantilevered in bamboo! Lots of mono fun

  1. #1
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 1,769
    I'm Tom.

    Default Miyajima cartridge - re-cantilevered in bamboo! Lots of mono fun

    Well I got my the Miajima Premium back from Cala Mighty Sound - recently renamed Ana Mighty Sound, not entirely sure why!

    To recap (previously discussed on one of Hugo's trade threads but thought I'd best start a new one) Ö I have a Miyajma Zero mono (as well as a bamboo-cantilevered Miyajima Madake stereo). I really rate the Zero indeed I feel itís one of the best cartridges of any kind Iíve ever heard. But itís a 0.7mil tip - perfect for more modern mono records (reissues, very late 50s/early 60s stuff). But not so good for earlier microgroove mono - the original early 50s stuff right through in some cases to the 1960s. These used a wider groove (and in some cases had a more limited frequency response) so you need a wider, 1.0 mil tip - and the only foolproof way to check whatís best for a record is to play it with both.

    I also had a fairly old Miyajima Premium 78 - the 78 rpm version of the Premium, a predecessor to the Zero, with a 2.5mil tip designed for use with 78s. I do mess around with 78s, but I always felt the Miyajima was overkill. I had heard from Anubisgrau about some experiments some guys had been doing seemingly in conjunction with Thomas Schick about retyping Miyajimas .. I contact Thomas and he put me in touch with Cala, with the intention of retyping it with 1.0 mil. It went off several months back and I actually met the Cala guys at their stand at the Munich show.

    Anyway this arrived a back from Ana/Cala a few weeks ago though Iím only getting round to write about it now. And what can I say - itís excellent.They ended up using a bamboo cantilever for the 25 mil diamond, rather than either aluminium or boron (their usual options), something they had been experimenting with, was done at no extra charge compared to the boron I asked for.

    The result is surprisingly different to the Zero Ö the Zero has a lower output (0.4mV to the Premiumís 0.7mV), and I think perhaps a shade more detail but against the new one it - surprisingly - seems that the Premium in its new guise is even more dynamic. The bamboo-cantilevered Premium is a bigger, bolder cartridge, with an even wider soundstage, incredibly musical - of course the dynamic feel is is partly from the higher output Ö but it seems to have (even) more character as well, itís hugely enjoyable.

    Listening to early, u-shaped microgroove stuff that unequivocally wants a thick 25 mil tip ÖIím thinking on recording I have of Gerard Souzay singing Schumann Lieder from the early 50s on Phillips Ö it's really magical (much more expressive than Souzay's later stereo recordings when he was knocking on a bit). Willem Backhaus playing Beethoven and Mozart on London from 1956 - what phrasing! Louis Armstrong from 1951 and 1955 on Brunswick - what a back to front image these records present, and this is enhanced along with the concert hall ambience. Whatever the music, itís a huge sound picture, filling the space between speakers, but also a really remarkable back to front image as well.

    Compared to the Ortofon Mono GM MkII, which also has the 25 mil tip Ö no slouch of course ... but the Miyajima is undoubtedly ahead in capturing the music, itís also very quiet in the groove which is a big plus.

    I have a re-equalisation box from Esoteric Sound in the US Ö it goes after the phono stage and enables turnaround and rolloff to be adjusted, to match equalisation curves on 78s and early mono that pre-date the RIAA curve currently in use for vinyl. Surprisingly I find with the 1.0 tip I'm less reliant on the re-equalisation to bring out the best in a recording - still using it occasionally but more subtly I think, fewer extremes in use of the settings.

    What it does really point up is the requirement to use the right size tip. On a couple of standard groove, later monos (most stuff actually marked Ďmonoí as opposed to made before stereo was invented is cut with a later 0,7m v-shaped stereo head), I felt the Premium lost out in subtlety to the Zero. Yet using the 0.7 zero on the early stuff .. as I had been doing before I got the Ortofon Ö now sounds unsatisfactory by comparison - thinner, noisier, less dynamic. (This is a phenomenon I noticed with the Ortofon GM Mono as well, but itís more obvious with the re-cantilevered Premium). So actually making a direct comparison is difficult as suddenly both really point up the deficiencies in using the wrong tip on any particular record.

    Apparently this technique can also be applied to the cheaper Miyajimas like the Spirit Mono - that could be really cost-effective. To be honest, I wouldn't have done this if I didn't have that cheap Premium 78 to sacrifice but since I did, Iím finding it was well worth the entry fee.

    I would have no hesitation in using these guys for a retip. Obviously this isnít a stereo cartridge - all the comparisons are with the standard Miyajima mono - but the quality of their work seems top notch.

    Twins shown below - Zero and bamboo-tipped Premium, in matching FR headshells:


    Speakers - 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys with custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Preamp - EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII with Ikeda IT345-CR1 and Ortofon 309 Limited tonearms; Cartridges: Miyajima Kansui, Zero Mono 0.7 and Premium 1.0 retipped by Ana Mighty Sound with bamboo cantilever, Ortofon SPU Royal N and SPU Mono GM MkII, GE VX II vintage mono, and Shure M3D with Jico stylus; phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport and RPI2 with HifiBerry Digi+ board, heavily upgraded Audio Note Kit DAC.

    'Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang der ist ein Narr sein Leben lang.'

  2. #2
    Join Date: Nov 2010

    Location: Yorkshire

    Posts: 6,608
    I'm AnDreW.

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    Wowsers, fantastic write up as always.
    SS CD Teac VRDS25X(Mega Modded) DAC Caiman SEG+Anker PSU DECK 1210 Mat Analouge Studio Crystal Mods MN Base/Bearing/Platter+Ebony arm Board Feet Isonoe PSU Paul Hynes SR7EHD-27XL/DCSXL Ag DC lead/Jaeger(low-impedance) connector/3 StageRegs/Recapped PCB+No Pitch/Strobe/Light ARM SME V(Kondo Ag Rewire&Tags) MCOrtofon Cadenza Black CABLES Arm Yannis SPD-4 IC Yannis 222 Litz+Ag bullets Power WAR PRE ATC SCA2 SPEAKERS ATC 50ASL STANDS Atacama PHONO Sugden Masterclass PA4 SUT Ortofon ST80SE POWER PSAudio P10

    Valve PRECroft Epoch(Mega Modded) AMP Sondex S100 SPEAKERS Tannoy 15"MG+RFC Warwick cabs+ Reference XO DECK Garrard301 MatTeunto GunMetal Bearing401 PlinthMoldovan Arm SME 3012(Ikeda Ag wired) PSUPheonix PSU+Tachomter MCAg Meister SPU/DECCA Maroon CABLESArm Yannis 420.5 Litz+ Speaker3mm2Ag IC Oyaide FTVS-510 AgWBT 0110Ag Phonostage4Box Paradise


  3. #3
    Join Date: Jul 2011

    Location: Northamptonish

    Posts: 1,497
    I'm Peter.

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    Interesting write up. Look forward to hearing this.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 1,769
    I'm Tom.

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    A couple more pics - closeup in action and a few mono classics:



    Speakers - 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys with custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Preamp - EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII with Ikeda IT345-CR1 and Ortofon 309 Limited tonearms; Cartridges: Miyajima Kansui, Zero Mono 0.7 and Premium 1.0 retipped by Ana Mighty Sound with bamboo cantilever, Ortofon SPU Royal N and SPU Mono GM MkII, GE VX II vintage mono, and Shure M3D with Jico stylus; phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport and RPI2 with HifiBerry Digi+ board, heavily upgraded Audio Note Kit DAC.

    'Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang der ist ein Narr sein Leben lang.'

  5. #5
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Essex

    Posts: 15,643
    I'm openingabottleofwine.

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    Great write up Tom - save for one point: I assume by "25 mil", you actually mean "25um",
    Have you listened to this month's choice in the Album Club?

    Barry

  6. #6
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 1,769
    I'm Tom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    Great write up Tom - save for one point: I assume by "25 mil", you actually mean "25um",
    indeed. 1.0mil/25um
    Speakers - 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys with custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Preamp - EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII with Ikeda IT345-CR1 and Ortofon 309 Limited tonearms; Cartridges: Miyajima Kansui, Zero Mono 0.7 and Premium 1.0 retipped by Ana Mighty Sound with bamboo cantilever, Ortofon SPU Royal N and SPU Mono GM MkII, GE VX II vintage mono, and Shure M3D with Jico stylus; phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport and RPI2 with HifiBerry Digi+ board, heavily upgraded Audio Note Kit DAC.

    'Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang der ist ein Narr sein Leben lang.'

  7. #7
    Join Date: Oct 2015

    Location: KL, Malaysia

    Posts: 168
    I'm shahrin.

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    Nice Tom
    I have been in conversation w Francois at Calamighty ( oops Anamighty - they were attacked by a company so had to change everything) abt refurbing SL15 (from old S15T) and SL15Q.
    Some very interesting ( but expensf) options to ponder. Strong Euro doesnt help.
    They are v knowledgeable re old Ortofons
    Sources: Thorens td124 mk2 / Graham 1.5 / V15 III, Thorens td124 mk2 / 3012 S2 / DL 103R
    Marantz CD63, Squeezebox Touch, EDO applet, Gieseler Klein DAC
    Phonostages: Cambridge, Project Tube Box II
    Amps: Sansui AU 111, AU70, AU 9500
    Speakers: Yamaha NS1000M, modded JBL L200 to 3 way, Rogers LS3 5A

  8. #8
    Join Date: Jul 2011

    Location: Northamptonish

    Posts: 1,497
    I'm Peter.

    Default Montesqieu's mono menagerie

    Went round to Tom's yesterday for a listen to his arsenal of mono cartridges, which turned out to be a very interesting afternoon.

    We actually started with listening to a selection of my Dad's jazz 78s, all bought in the late 30s and early 40s, and now part of Tom's collection. This was my first real listen to 78s on a set-up that could properly accomodate them (Tom has a clever gadget with different switchable equalisations). Great fun listening to early Sinatra, Artie Shaw, George Shearing, etc. What was very clear was that applying the correct equalisation for a particular disk could make all the difference between sounding like a caricature and the real thing ... seems like an essential bit of kit for the vintage collector. It was quite a moment when I realised that those 78s, bought new by my Dad 75 years ago, probably hadn't been played in half a century or more. Apart from a bit of 'atmospheric' surface noise, the quality of the recordings was really an eye-opener for me ... vocals in particular. I could clearly imagine the musicians arranged around the microphone, moving forward when it was their solo. BTW, anyone interested in the production of early recordings should have a look at the 'American Epic' dvd/programmes made in the US by PBS (there are some clips on Youtube).

    Moving onto the new Miyajima 'bamboo concoction' on early mono microgroove records, I found it very engaging, with a 'solidity' I really liked ... especially on a Beethoven trio piece, where I thought the tonality and dynamics were really very good indeed, sounding very 'natural' to my ears. The more I listened, the more the presentation seemed more realistic than a lot of stereo recordings. There were no 12 foot wide pianos playing across the stereo, or a giant violin on the left, etc. It was just three musicians, playing for each other in a room ... just like you'd hear at a concert ... a beautiful, integrated perfomance. Louis Armstrong's band in concert in Paris the early 50's was equally stunning. What really struck me was how the image seemed to have depth and substance, filling the room in a very engaging way.

    We briefly tried a current SPU Mono cartridge at this point but the alignment wasn't quite correct on the 12 inch arm, sounding rather too warm and lacking in detail, so we moved on.

    Hearing the Miyajima Zero on my modern Miles Davis Prestige re-issues was a revelation. I'd played them many times on various mono and stereo cartridges, but this was in a different league.
    https://www.discogs.com/Miles-Davis-...elease/2736395

    At this point, I asked to hear the same tracks using Tom's Madake stereo cartridge, with the mono button engaged on the pre-amp. Bearing in mind that this is one of the best stereo cartridges on the market, I was rather taken aback at the drop in quality when used on mono records ... clearly confirmed when we went back to the Zero. Considering that I listen to mono via my stereo cart, it's got me thinking about what I'm missing.

    Differences between the Zero and the 'bamboo Premium'? The Zero is a better cartridge in every respect, but the bamboo Premium was enormously engaging and musical, making everything we played fun. To my ears, it has a lovely 'naturalness'. However, there was no denying that every aspect of the Zero was just slightly more/better in absolute terms.

    Overall, I was rather taken with the 'mono presentation' as a listening experience, finding it much closer to being at a concert, and actually finding it much easier to concentrate on the music ... listened to the music, and not the hi-fi!

    Thanks, Tom.
    Last edited by petrat; 13-08-2017 at 08:34. Reason: spelling!

  9. #9
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 1,769
    I'm Tom.

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    Was really great fun Peter and some of those jazz 78 were fantastic, surprisingly quiet given the age of them, with marvellous presence and even sometimes a strong sense of the room acoustic.

    The Zero is a superb cartridge. The Premium 78 uses a more basic generator than the one in the Zero which I'm sure accounts for much of the difference in hifi terms http://www.miyajima-lab.com/e-mono.html ... all in all though I'm over the moon with the bamboo retip.

    I'm certainly off to try and find a set of the Miles Davis!
    Speakers - 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys with custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Preamp - EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII with Ikeda IT345-CR1 and Ortofon 309 Limited tonearms; Cartridges: Miyajima Kansui, Zero Mono 0.7 and Premium 1.0 retipped by Ana Mighty Sound with bamboo cantilever, Ortofon SPU Royal N and SPU Mono GM MkII, GE VX II vintage mono, and Shure M3D with Jico stylus; phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport and RPI2 with HifiBerry Digi+ board, heavily upgraded Audio Note Kit DAC.

    'Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang der ist ein Narr sein Leben lang.'

  10. #10
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 1,769
    I'm Tom.

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    Just had a clarification from Francois at Ana .... as with the Madake, adding bamboo to the cantilever refers to altering the resonance of the existing hollow aluminium cantilever with a sliver of bamboo.

    I must admit I had wondered ever since before I got the Madake where exactly the bamboo came in as it doesn't look like bamboo when you examine the cantilever ... so now I know and it all makes sense.
    Last edited by montesquieu; Yesterday at 10:46.
    Speakers - 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys with custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Preamp - EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII with Ikeda IT345-CR1 and Ortofon 309 Limited tonearms; Cartridges: Miyajima Kansui, Zero Mono 0.7 and Premium 1.0 retipped by Ana Mighty Sound with bamboo cantilever, Ortofon SPU Royal N and SPU Mono GM MkII, GE VX II vintage mono, and Shure M3D with Jico stylus; phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport and RPI2 with HifiBerry Digi+ board, heavily upgraded Audio Note Kit DAC.

    'Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang der ist ein Narr sein Leben lang.'

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