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Saturday, March 28, 2009

WJAAS - The cartridges survey - Part 3 - Miyajima-san's masterpiece "Otono-Edison/Shilabe"

Spring rains and saturday afternoon... ideally suited conditions... so, here we go: here is the third instalment in exotic, hand-made in Japan MC cartridges.
Here we have a fresh-made "Shilabe" cartridge, hand made by Miyajima-san few days ago: blackwood body, large aluminium-tube cantilever and Shibata diamond.
Miyajima Labs' theory and photographic trivia
I installed it on my Kimura Labs RS-1A rotary-arm and used with WE618-B, Beyer's and Verion/Cotter's transformers.
The sound from this beautiful, about 10 grams cartridge reading between 2,5 and 3,2 grams (I used 3 grams setting)is nothing short of musical, full-bodied and rich, with a very broad tonal palette.
I began with a Bextheude's Trio on Harmonia Mundi and the sound coming from my speakers is moving, the "clock-stopping character" only capable to the very best cartridges is quite present with Shilabe; I obtained the best matching with Verion/Cotter's transformer, which showed a great ability in supporting Shilabe's job, very impressive with difficult harpsichord multi-layered retrival... viola da gamba and violin breathing are lively and true-to-life.
Ambience and soundstage are very natural, never hi-fish or exagerated...
It's a cartridge absolutely various when swapping from one music to another and size of different instruments is well-respected.
Not a flashy cartridge, but very, very pleasant, utterly natural and life-like... reminds me like you're listening at concert from 5th row in a medium sized room: music isn't aggressive and you still enjoy it in a relaxed way the musical nuances.. voices are truly special, with Shilabe: very, VERY harmonically rich and never fatiguing also in an opera, multi-sided "tour de force" listening session.
... and the cartridge is brand-new, with embarassingly low mileage... a VERY promising cartridge from a proud, little, clever japanese artisan... I feel more transformers matching will prove in further improvement: just now tried Harman-Kardon XT-3 and it surpasses all the previously used (more open, quick than Beyer, on same par with Verion/Cotter with better sense of naturality)... "Tuck & Patty" on Windham Hill Rec. sounds really great in this rainy Sunday morning.
I'm enjoying music... not sound... nuff said.

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