Nagaoka Phono Cartridges

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
The interest shown by Prime Minister and MikeT. in Nagaoka phono cartridges has piqued my curiosity regarding the line.

Which model represents the best value in the line?

What is the best Nagaoka cartridge you've tried?
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Prime Minister;n47749 said:
MP500. Perhaps the most musical cartridge I've ever owned. Brilliant.
Does the same musicality remain, to some degree, as you move down the Nagaoka line?
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
I just bought a lightly used MP200 which should be on its way to me in the next day or so. With any luck, I'll have it this weekend. With my Jelco 750D (effective mass 13.5g), it should be a good match. Seller tells me there's about 30 hours on the stylus so just about broken in. I am really looking forward to comparing against the Denon DL-103.
  • - Stylus type: Superfine elliptical diamond 0.4 x 0.7 naked block diamond
    - Weight: 6.5 g
    - Output voltage @ 1kHz,5cm/sec: 4mV
    - Frequency response: 20Hz-23kHz
    - Channel balance @ 1kHz: > 1.5dB
    - Channel separation @ 1kHz: > 25dB
    - Recommended loading: 47k ohms
    - Dynamic compliance: 7.2 x 10-6 cm/dyne
    - Static compliance: 20 x 10-6 cm/dyne
    - Tracking force range: 1.5 - 2.0 g
    - Break-in period: 30 hours
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
MikeT.;n47764 said:
I just bought a lightly used MP200 which should be on its way to me in the next day or so. With any luck, I'll have it this weekend. With my Jelco 750D (effective mass 13.5g), it should be a good match. Seller tells me there's about 30 hours on the stylus so just about broken in. I am really looking forward to comparing against the Denon DL-103.
  • - Stylus type: Superfine elliptical diamond 0.4 x 0.7 naked block diamond
    - Weight: 6.5 g
    - Output voltage @ 1kHz,5cm/sec: 4mV
    - Frequency response: 20Hz-23kHz
    - Channel balance @ 1kHz: > 1.5dB
    - Channel separation @ 1kHz: > 25dB
    - Recommended loading: 47k ohms
    - Dynamic compliance: 7.2 x 10-6 cm/dyne
    - Static compliance: 20 x 10-6 cm/dyne
    - Tracking force range: 1.5 - 2.0 g
    - Break-in period: 30 hours
That should be a very interesting cartridge. The .4 x .7 diamond is not a bad profile (I still prefer a nice conical stylus ;) ) and is, IMHO, better for record wear than a .2 x .7 profile.

Only the MP-10 and MP-100 come equipped with a conical stylus. Wonder how they sound?

As the cartridge of choice for our esteemed Prime Minister , I'm sure that the MP500 is an excellent cartridge with a beautiful line contact stylus profile.

Still, I can't help but wonder how the MP200, MP100 and MP50 all perform at considerably lower price points?
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
TubeHiFiNut;n47774 said:
That should be a very interesting cartridge. The .4 x .7 diamond is not a bad profile (I still prefer a nice conical stylus ;) ) and is, IMHO, better for record wear than a .2 x .7 profile.

Only the MP-10 and MP-100 come equipped with a conical stylus. Wonder how they sound?

As the cartridge of choice for our esteemed Prime Minister , I'm sure that the MP500 is an excellent cartridge with a beautiful line contact stylus profile.

Still, I can't help but wonder how the MP200, MP100 and MP50 all perform at considerably lower price points?
If you want to try out a MP-10 I can send you one. It isn't exactly new, but in spite of being 35 years old it doesn't actually have that many hours on it. If you'd like to give it a hearing let me know.
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
The MP200 "should" align more easily than a Shibata and if the alignment is precise, record wear should be minimal. Lots of "shoulds" in that last statement 😀 Lower than an imprecisely aligned Shibata. My alignment skills are good but I'm not sure I'm ready for a Shibata or line contact quite yet.
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
fiddlefye;n47775 said:
If you want to try out a MP-10 I can send you one. It isn't exactly new, but in spite of being 35 years old it doesn't actually have that many hours on it. If you'd like to give it a hearing let me know.
A very kind offer. Thank you. :)

The MP10 looks intriguing. Nice conical stylus (one of my many Audio Eccentricities ;) ). Lower compliance - should get along fine with my heavier arms.

I'll PM you. :)
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
My original deal on the slightly used Nagaoka fell through BUT I found a really good deal from a "north of the border" dealer and just received my brand spanking new Nagaoka MP-200. I'll get it installed, certainly by the weekend, and post some thoughts. Very excited.
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
I've got about 3 hours of listening on the Nagaoka MP-200 and initial impression is very good. Some differences between the Denon DL-103 and the MP-200 so far:

-Low end and bass are MUCH more detailed, deeper, more layered.....less one-note than the Denon. Steely Dan's, Aja, is my reference here. I've never much cared for the recording quality until now. This "better bass" impression was consistent across all my reference cuts and music.

Mid range reference is from Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones, Train in the Distance, much more nuanced than the Denon.

High end cymbals, delicate or crashing, was another consistency across all cuts. Stanton Moore's Conversations which I never got into with the Denon came alive in all aspects.

Still, the Denon is an amazing cart. I am excited to compare the difference when I get close to the 30-hour break in of the Nagaoka. Also wondering if capacitance loading of 100 picofarads versus the 200 the Musical Surroundings factory setting will be interesting. I haven't gone there yet.

I find myself thinking about listening to more records since the arrival of the MP-200 but that may just be the new factor.

The recently departed HANA EL seemed more "alive" on the very high end but not as detailed. The MP-200 bass is MUCH more detailed. I suppose the boron cantilever might have something to do with that. I'd call it very much a draw in the midrange.

Now I'm just rambling and will get some more listening in this weekend. More to come.
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
Nagaoka MP-200 update: I bumped up the gain on the Musical Surroundings Phonomena II+ to 50dB from 46dB and moved the capacitance loading from 300 pF to 200 pF. Noise floor seems to have dropped just a bit and more detail has emerged, more nuance.
Also did some fine alignment with the downloadable protractors from Vinyl Engine.
I'm also reaching about 15 hours on the cart and most say it breaks in at 30 hours. I'm still using Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones as one of my references and it seems like the cart is "releasing" nicely, becoming more fluid and detailed at the same time. I will give it at least 30 hours before trying the Denon 103 again.

More comment to come.
 
More comment to come.
Hi there Mike. Sorry for resurrecting this oldish thread, but I find myself in the very spot you were a couple of years ago, so your experience would really come in handy. I'm replacing a broken Denon DL-304, an after much browsing I've narrowed the options to the Nagaoka MP-200 and Denon DL-103r (or maybe DL-301 mkii). So, if you are still there: what are your impressions on the MP-200 after a couple of years? Are you still happy with it? Do you still choose it over the DL-103?
Mind I would use it with a Project Tube Box II preamp (47kohms input and 40dB gain in MM, 100ohms and 60dB in MC) and an Unison Simply Italy (tubes, 12w) integrated amp. That is, a fully tube chain. Do you think the Nag would work well in such a system? Or does it risk producing a too "warm" or even "mellow" sound, and I should look into a more "analytical" cartridge? Any thought on this conundrum will be highly appreciated.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Did I buy that Mp-200? I know I bought one here and almost immediately moved up to an MP500 after finding a used one with two styluses, one brand new. The 200 sounded more like a 103. The 500 is more neutral and refined. Both are nice carts.
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
Did I buy that Mp-200? I know I bought one here and almost immediately moved up to an MP500 after finding a used one with two styluses, one brand new. The 200 sounded more like a 103. The 500 is more neutral and refined. Both are nice carts.
Yes you did. The 200 is more like the 103 but the balance of the 103 I prefer.
 
Thanks for the feedback. May I ask Mike and TubeHiFiNut to elaborate a bit further? Cause a priori, if I can get a similar sound from a MM and a MC cartridges, I would definitely go with the elliptical MM -bigger output, better compatibility, less trouble calibrating it, less noise in my tube preamp, and a changeable tip. So, in your opinion, what makes the DL-103r a better choice?
 
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One extra question. I've just read in an old thread that the DL-103r needs a heavy tone arm, while the DL-301 mkii goes well in medium-weight ones. Mine is a Project 9, 11 grs. effective mass and 6-10 grs cartridge weight. How heavy is that? May I use the 103r with it? Or will I just be better off going with the DL-301 mkii?
 
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airdronian

Junior Member
One extra question. I've just read in an old thread that the DL-103r needs a heavy tone arm, while the DL-301 mkii goes well in medium-weight ones. Mine is a Project 9, 11 grs. effective mass and 6-10 grs cartridge weight. How heavy is that? May I use the 103r with it? Or will I just be better off going with the DL-301 mkii?
I'm a former Pro-Ject and DL-301 owner, but never used a DL-103. I would suggest that the low compliance of the DL-103 may not be a good match for that arm. Others may feel differently. Comments ?
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
One extra question. I've just read in an old thread that the DL-103r needs a heavy tone arm, while the DL-301 mkii goes well in medium-weight ones. Mine is a Project 9, 11 grs. effective mass and 6-10 grs cartridge weight. How heavy is that? May I use the 103r with it? Or will I just be better off going with the DL-301 mkii?
Hi @fedocable , OK, a little more information is certainly warranted. I have owned three of the four carts you mention, the lone outlier is the 103R. The standard Denon DL-103 is really easy to set up. The conical stylus is not particularly sensitive to azimuth alignment, so a simple overhang adjustment works great. The Nagaoka MP-200 uses an elliptical tip stylus and benefits from a little more exact set up, but isn’t particularly fussy. It also digs a little more high frequency information from the groove than the Denon, but I still like the Denon103 balance. Ask most who have owned it and they will likely say, it sounds like music. The DL103 performs well on my Jelco TS550, a medium mass tonearm. The Nagaoka worked well too.

The Nagaoka replacement stylus is probably close to the price of a new DL103. I’ve used the DL103 with the same ProJect preamp you have and it sounds wonderful. Nagaoka is good too!

Speaking of analytical, and it’s just my opinion, the DL-301 is nothing like either cart. Dry and analytical, I didn’t enjoy this cart at all. Sold it after about a month.

As you may be suspecting, carts can be a trial and error process and an expensive process at that. Given your preamp capabilities, I don’t think you can go wrong with the 103, 103R or the Nagaoka. I’d steer clear of the 301, but that just me.
 
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