A couple of weeks ago I took delivery of a Phasemation PP-500 cartridge from Hugo of Ammonite Audio. As there is not much info to be found on this cartridge on the web I thought I would outline my thoughts on this wee gem.

The background is that I was looking for a cartridge to replace my Kiseki Purpleheart NOS. I had racked up about 700 hours on the Kiseki and was uneasy about continuing to run it flat out and then re-tip it as it will only be original once so I decided to put it into semi retirement.

I stumbled on Phasemation cartridges thanks to a report by Kedar (bonzo75) on his visit to Anamighty Sound in Paris. I was browsing their website and noticed that the Phasemation range was an ideal match to my SUT. More googling revealed that Hugo was the UK distributor and even better he had a Phasemation PP-300 that I could try at home.

I found that the PP-300 had a similar tonal balance to the Kiseki which pleased me. It had a lovely weight to it on piano for example and the texture of a bow on double bass was spot on. Overall it sounds refined and open with plenty of inner detail on cymbals but not forward or etched sounding. I found it very natural sounding with good dynamics. It was quiet in the groove and forgiving of poor pressings. The longer I spent with the cartridge the more I liked it so I decided to order the PP-500.

I now have around 50 hours on my PP-500 and am really delighted with it. The PP-300 images well but its big brother really takes it up a notch. The PP-500 also offers greater presence or impact which may explain why it feels subjectively faster than the PP-300. Piano, bass and drums have real scale and authority. The image is so precise, itís uncanny. Horns leap out at you. Quite awesome. The PP-500 just sounds very natural and really convincing. A friend called it bombastic. It certainly has real presence and bite but remains refined with a lovely midrange and sweet treble. It deciphers complex passages well always maintaining a convincing soundstage. Very impressive.

Both of these cartridges veer more towards the musical end of the spectrum rather than the analytical. The music really flows. Both seem to me to offer great value at their price point. I would urge anyone thinking of buying a cartridge at these price points to contact Hugo and ask for a home trial of the PP-300. Hugo was great to deal with and provided an excellent service.