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REVIEW: Miyajima Lab Spirit Phono Cartridge

Posted on February 19, 2010 at 07:43:24

Posts: 163
Joined: December 25, 2002
Model: Spirit
Category: Phono Cartridge
Suggested Retail Price: $590
Description: High output mono cartridge
Manufacturer URL: Miyajima Lab
Model Picture: View

Review by livemusic on February 19, 2010 at 07:43:24
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for the Spirit

I know, it's a violation of general rules: I have it for only two days (of literally non-stop listening); I should wait till full break-in, but I just can't resist.
I've been trying to get decent mono sound out of my about 500 mono records collection (mainly classical) for quite some time. Starting with Denon D102, then upgrading to Ortofon SPU GM mono, then trying some MM carts strapped for mono (Stanton 881 was best of them), I never was completely satisfied with what I heard. Spirit was an ear-opening deal, making me realize what was missing.
First impression when un-packed: robust, no-nosence, rather modest look, not a jevelery-like toy. Polished carbon(?) upper plate, unusual massive bended cantilever (resembles EMT) and kind of long vertical armature visible through semi-transparent front body cover. Mounted on Micro-seiki MA 505, with the arm parallel to the platter, VTF set for 3 gramm (2.0 to 4.5 recommended), ready to go. An output is defined at 3.7 mv and recommended load largely varies from 200 to 47K, so I simply plugged it in my K&K phono stage MM input.
Now the most important part: how it sounds?
1. Tons of details I never imagined they're existing.
2. I did not hear any frequiency roll-off, you hear all what is on the record.
3. Surface noise is not just diminished to the vanishingly low level, it is placed backwards, far behind the music. This is IMHO a true sign of dedicated mono cart, designed specifically for mono groves and not merely strapped/rotated coils.
4. Incredible tonal density; the sound has "roots" if you will, it is firmly anchored to the ground. I guess it is mainly because the low end is finely textured and not just presented; nor forced, neither boomy. It's a special pleasure to hear accoustical bass lines on good records.
5. Should I say it makes music?- I cannot stop my feet tapping. With really good records (C. Bird's blues sonate, shaded dogs, deccas - you name it) you literally forget about stereo.
Admittedly, I did not hear high-bucks mono carts (liras and the like), it is out of my reach, and I honestly do not care. At $590, Spirit IMHO is no-brainer, if you want to hear what mono records are capable for.

Product Weakness: None so far
Product Strengths: Truly dedicated mono cart

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Single Power
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): K&K phono
Sources (CDP/Turntable): DIY TT
Speakers: Senn 650 headphones
Cables/Interconnects: Tara lab, equinox, ultimate silver
Music Used (Genre/Selections): classical, jazz
Type of Audition/Review: Home Audition


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RE: REVIEW: Miyajima Lab Spirit Phono Cartridge, posted on February 19, 2010 at 12:41:47

Posts: 759
Location: Central California
Joined: June 9, 2008
I've been interested in one of their carts for a while. Did you purchase the high or low output version?


RE: REVIEW: Miyajima Lab Spirit Phono Cartridge, posted on February 19, 2010 at 13:37:22

Posts: 163
Joined: December 25, 2002
This is a high output version. My phono stage has two inputs, and my second stereo cart tonearm is hooked to the MC input. But this cart is really different from conventional MC carttridge, so "family features" of conventional low output MC cart (low cantilever mass) are probably not 100% applicable here.


RE: REVIEW: Miyajima Lab Spirit Phono Cartridge, posted on February 19, 2010 at 17:55:27

Posts: 492
Location: East Coast U.S.
Joined: January 16, 2010
I'm surprised to see this. I never saw it on their website. I hope you give us updated info after you have had more time to listen to it. I'm really curious about their carts in general.


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