Phono Cartridges
  /  Phono Cartridges


Excel Sound Corporation developed the HANA MC cartridge, combining their 50 years of cartridge design with parts manufacturing expertise using modern industrial technologies. Excel realizes these designs with high quality materials and long established hand assembling techniques for the most musical sound quality.  Masao Okada-san, who began researching phono cartridge design in 1964, opened the Excel factory in Tokyo in 1970. His skills and expertise have been shared with the artisans employed by Excel Sound who build HANA cartridges.  Excel Sound artisan builders hand assemble all the parts into a perfectly finished product. This precise hand assembly and the fine adjustments by Excel Sound’s renowned craftsmen achieve the consistent  “brilliant and gorgeous”  HANA sound.  HANA phono cartridges are constructed of delicate parts, carefully hand assembled by skilled craftsman, and laboratory tested at the Japanese factory. This ensures both very high reliability and durability, providing years of musical enjoyment.


Benz Micro cartridges have been in production since the 1980s and are recognized the world over as being one of the very finest pickups available.  Benz Micro has recently relocated its Swiss facility to a state-of-the-art factory employing a highly skilled Swiss workforce.  Benz cartridges are hand made to the highest specifications and are known for their transparent and musical sound.  If it’s in the grooves, you’ll hear it with a Benz cartridge.

Benz Micro’s current Swiss production team represents the best of the best for producing state-of-the-art phono cartridges.  This skill level combined with further advances in design and materials, have resulted in new Benz-Micro models that surpass all previous versions in music reproduction.  Take the new ACE S Class models, for example.  All now incorporate the superb Benz Micro Ridge stylus for the best performance / value ratio in phono cartridges available today, regardless of output level.  To accommodate any phono preamp, this cartridge is available in Low, Medium and High output levels.  If you’re looking for a top quality / very reasonably priced phono cartridge that offers outstanding  detail, musicality and is very quiet in the grooves, I would recommend you consider a Benz ACE S Class.

Moving up in the Benz line, the Wood S is a favourite of mine.  The price is still very reasonable within the context of top class cartridges and the sound quality goes to a whole other level.  The S Class models of the Wood line represent a re-introduction of this highly respected classic and it is now way better than ever.  It’s available in three output levels and features Albert Lukaschek’s latest 4th generation cross-coil-generator system which gives it absolutely superb performance – just so clear yet very quiet in the grooves.  Of course, it also features Benz’s latest micro ridge stylus.


Dynavector cartridges are of superb quality and can be characterized in general terms as a cartridge that provides a very balanced sound.  They are clear, transparent and have excellent solidity and body in the bass.  The timing and dynamics of this cartridge brand is very good as well and I would definitely characterize Dynavector as an exciting cartridge to listen to.

Dynavector was founded in 1975 and has deservedly gained a a strong following amongst audiophiles.  The company has introduced many significant innovations through the years.  Their coils are made with extremely fine wire to provide a higher output to mass ratio and with their flux damping system and softened magnetism ( patents applied for ) it has become possible to eliminate the harshness and irritating edginess which previously has been common to all moving coil cartridges.

Dynavector introduced their revolutionary Karat range of cartridges in 1980.  That cartridge utilized a solid diamond and synthetic ruby cantilever of only 2.5mm for the first time.  This short cantilever results in a very fast sound and the overall design of the Karat allowed audiophiles to enjoy subtleties in the original production they had not realized existed.  Indeed, when the Karat was introduced at that time it produced quite a sensation in the audiophile world.  The latest version of the legendary Karat is the 17DX and it’s spectacular!

Check out the Dynavector range of cartridges today.  It starts with the amazing 10X5 high output MC which is a superb cartridge at a great price.  It has received numerous accolades from reviewers and audiophiles throughout the world.


Gold Note has manufactured a comprehensive range of excellent quality phono cartridges for years. The three main ranges of their cartridges are the Tuscany series which is their top range, then the Machiavelli series which is their cost effective middle range, and then there’s a newer series called Donatello which offers outstanding performance at a low price point. As with the Gold Note electronics and all of their other products, you get really superb performance and quality for any given price point.

The newer Donatello range features a sophisticated computer designed body made of machined aluminum. Weighing only 7 grams, it’s perfectly damped to help the cantilever achieve the best tracking. The ultra rigid cantilever features a precision diamond developed in conjunction with Adamant-Namiki and was designed for top audio performance.  These cartridges have “easy“ impedances so they will easily drive  your phono stage.

The Machiavelli range is Gold Note’s best high output MC effort to date. Both the Gold and Red models produce a very Big, Solid and Encompassing sound. The Red version has a high precision Micro Elliptical diamond and the Gold model has a precision Line Contact Stylus. These cartridges also feature easy internal impedances and high gain to enable great sound performances and they have light, rigid bodies to achieve superb vibration control.

The Tuscanny cartridges  are  Gold Note’s  “ultra“ performance pick-ups. They are at a comparable level of performance to the very best Lyras, Transfiguration and ZYX cartridges. I think that in specific ways, the sound of a Gold Note cartridge is more musical than some of those  “hyper-detailed“  sounding cartridges. I find that when you really listen, all the details are there with a Gold Note pick-up but they are presented in a more integrated and musical way. The Tuscany cartridges feature extra thin Micro Ridge diamonds for the best deep groove tracing. These cartridges also receive other exotic features such as silver coil wire, a boron / titanium cantilever, and injection of special fluid polymers into the ultra rigid 7050 alloy body. Both Tuscanny models represent the absolute state-of-the-art in what is achievable in a reference phono cartridge these days.