My Sonic Lab Signature Gold
"I’m wondering how and why a cartridge came to reproduce such a good sound; in other words, why has such a cartridge not come out until today?
Compared to the current cartridges, certainly uplifted by several stages, this cartridge beautifully traces any discs, thus presenting you wonderful sounds. I take this as a breakthrough in cartridge." - Japan's Stereo Sound
Every once in a while we come across a game-changer and this is one.
My Sonic Labs is not well known to most audiophiles as a name brand, but certainly most high end aficionados have used one of their OEM cartridges under another name. MSL makes most of the really esoteric cartridge brands that come out of Japan. When an artisan decides to put his own name on a product, it's usually something special. Why do it unless it represents the purest form of their philosophy and years of skill...
The result here is the 2nd from the top of the line in MSLs stable. Quite simply, the Signature Gold transcends the idea of analog. It has none of the hi-fi characteristics you've heard (or complained about) in even the most expensive designs available. This thing simply makes music real. It feels real. There's incredible thereness, which is in no way tied a superficial error in mid-range forwardness. It's more the result of perfect top to bottom coherency and literally fathomless detail. Even as a seasoned vinylphile, it was shocking to hear how much more information was hiding in the groove, far more than rationally seems possible. Isn't this a medium with maximum 70dB dynamic range, surface noise, and grooves that get too close together when the music is too loud? Not at all. This simply blows apart the perceived or accepted limitations of the medium.
Perhaps it was on direct comparison to the same masters in 24/192 digital that made the enormity of what this cartridge can do evident. Anybody having heard the same song on each, level adjusted, through the world's finest DACs would never, ever say that analog was inferior. In fact, the gulf between analog and digital or between this cartridge and the next best is so brutally laid bare that it's on par with the largest upgrades you've ever heard in your stereo career. If you want to simply forget about stereos and live happily forever more, buy this cartridge.
From a user on whatsbestforum:
Listening Impressions: Compared to the Air Tight PC-1 Supreme, The Sig. Gold is more neutral with a flatter tonal/frequency response. It is slightly more extended in the bass and treble. It is extremely resolving and it has explosive dynamics. I had never heard the amount of pure energy on the Sheffield Drum Record and on the Bosendorfer piano on Beethoven’s Appassionata from my system. Full orchestras also had an increased power and scale from even my small system based on the Magico Mini II speakers. It really was incredible. With this cartridge, I feel as though I'm hearing more from my records than ever before. And it is very natural sounding.
The Supreme, on the other hand, is tonally slightly tilted toward the midrange frequencies, so it sounds a bit more forward and present, though it has an overall slightly more relaxed sound. It also has slightly more developed harmonics and overtones and tends to sound warmer, richer and fuller. Perhaps it is a bit darker. Some might call this a coloration or distortion. I find it makes voices and strings sound absolutely beautiful, palpable and real in my room. It's funny, but I never noticed this slight character with the AirTight until I heard the MSL in my system. It is that subtle.
Both cartridges extract a tremendous amount of information and detail from the grooves. Despite this high degree of resolution, neither is aggressive or causes the least bit of fatigue. One can listen for hours and simply be lost in the glorious reproduction of music. I think the Supreme is just a bit quieter in the grooves and is a slightly better tracker. I heard this tracking difference only on the ultra dynamic solo piano in Appassionata and had to increase the VTF just slightly.
If I were to sum it up, the MSL is more about truth while the AirTight is more about beauty."
|Frequency Range||10 to 50,000 Hz|
|Internal impedance||1.4 Ω|
|Cantilever||Ultra duralumin (A2017 hardening material)|
|Tip||Semi-line contact (3 μm × 30 μm)|
|Channel balance||Within 0.5 dB (1 kHz)|
|Channel Separation||30 dB or more (1 kHz)|
|Terminal pin||Bright rhodium plating treatment|
|Tracking force range||1.9g-2.2g|