My Sonic Lab Eminent : Hi-Fi News : May 2006 Review

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Hi-Fi News - Issue No. 37 - Feb 2005


My Sonic Lab Eminent


(Reviewed together with Audio-Tekne MC-6310)


Rising Suns : Fine moving-coil cartridges from Japan have always commanded a certain cult status among the vinyl cognoscenti. So will these two rare and wonderful pick-ups make the grade, wonders Andrew Harrison

Section 1

There's a certain mystique attached to Japanese high-end pick-up cartridges. In the glory days of the turntable there were names like Grace, Supex, Nagaoka, Denon and Dynavector to conjure with; and then there were the legendary names like Koetsu and Kiseki, whose products commanded prices well out of reach of the normal music lover. Nowadays, the Koetsu name continues and we have other brands producing finely crafted cartridges, such as Sumiko, Transfiguration, Lyra/ScanTech and Zyx. But there are other less well-known pick-ups coming from Japan today that rarely see the light of day in Europe, including the two reviewed here.


The MC-6310 from Audio Tekne is a low output moving-coil cartridge. In fact, the output voltage is so low - the manufacturer gives a figure of 100pV (5cm/ sec 1 kHz) - that a dedicated MCT-9401 B step-up transformer is included in the UK price of •2995.

The casework of both transformer and cartridge is made from an unusual 'carbon' material, grey in colour, for which no technical information in English seems available. But if you dare risk the amusement of automated on-line translation services, you'd discover that its use may be for some resonance control properties, as 'the carbon with the spherical particulate, because there is a countless hole in that particulate itself, has the feature which is superior in spread and absorption of the oscillatory wave. There is no strain in the rebounding sound by the oscillatory wave and does not make the signal become turbid'.

Stylus pressure is given as 1.5-2.Og and internal impedance as 2 ohm, Other than that, there's little to know about what has gone into the design.


The Audio Tekne demonstrated the low output aspect right away, requiring the volume knob be to tweaked a little further to the right than usual. Applying more amplification to a cartridge can often result in more noise and hum.


Fortunately, used with the matching MCT-9401 B step-up box into either Chord Symphonic or GSP Audio Era phono stages, there was no cause for complaint, aside from a whisper of low-Level hiss audible with the volume turned up high.

The sound of the Audio Tekne was very mellow and gentle, with captivating musicality that gave no hint of grain or hardness, although some may feet it slides too far the way of rosy and euphonic.


In contrast to some pick-ups, old and new, which attempt to dredge every detail from the groove at the expense of 'listenability', the MC-6310 is the kind of cartridge that you can return to over and over for its less technical presentation and sweet open sound.

Individual images are far from being over-etched, instead being a little soft focused, though overall soundstaging was still deliciously involving with plenty of space and air in evidence. Dynamic expression was good, but not as dramatic as that of a high-quality moving-magnet or high output moving-coil.


My Sonic Lab Eminent and Audio-Tekne

Section 2



Little is known about the Eminent cartridge, except that the My' in My Sonic Lab is said to refer to its designer, Mr Y Matsudaira, who has worked at Tokyo sound, Supex and Audio Craft. The cartridge body is assembled from metal, with a natural silver body and blue coloured top mounting plate.


Meanwhile, it has a stylus profile of semi-line contact, 3 x 3pm. Overall weight is 9.0g, and the output pins are rhodium plated. It has a low internal impedance of 1.8 ohm, suggesting only a few turns of wire in the generator, but its relatively high output level may be down to the use of a high magnetic flux core based on a neodymium magnet and using what the company calls SH-uX core material.

Mounted in the same SME 309 tonearm, the Eminent was more modern sounding than the Audio Tekne, from its deep secure bass that suggested the needle was hugging the groove through every corner, to the precise and extended high frequencies that rose so sweetly into the room.

Take the ride cymbal from Kate Bush's 'Room for the Life' and you could appreciate the fine sound of drumstick on bronze, a beautiful rendering of percussion that had air and luster written right across it. Kate's high voice rang out clearly with no hint of break-up, the cartridge's clear, open midband letting through female vocals transparently.



This clarity was particularly remarkable as the SME arm is not noted for its pure audiophile openness, nor expressive bass, but that's just what I did find with the Eminent assuming the cartridge position.


The overall sound put me in mind of a good Transfiguration cartridge, such as the Temper V [see Dec '03], where there can be found a welcoming balance of great hi-fi qualities - clear stereo separation, wide bandwidth, crisp incision and a galloping dynamic range - alongside the less easily described attributes of 'musicality'. The reviewer's glossary can be tossed out of the window when you find a cartridge this good, which just sounds 'right'!

The Audio Tekne may suit a more purist listener who wants a smooth relaxed sound at all costs, with minimum glare or edginess to colour the presentation, but for me the clean dynamics and sweet presentation of the My Sonic Lab Eminent was the more universally satisfying sound.

If you find an opportunity to hear one of these stunning pick-ups, grab a handful of favourite records and hear for yourself what a great Japanese m-c cartridge can bring to the art of musical reproduction.


While the Audio Tekne MC-6310 gives a traditional mellow, sweet euphonic sound that can beguile, reminiscent of smooth moving-coil classics, the My Sonic Lab Eminent takes the art of vinyl reproduction a step beyond what many will have heard, balancing power, dynamics with incredible resolution and musicality. This is a cartridge that comes heartily recommended.


My Sonic Lab Eminent and Audio-Tekne : HiFi News Verdict

My Sonic Lab Eminent Review : Review System


My Sonic Lab Eminent : HiFi News Verdict


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My Sonic Lab Eminent : Hi-Fi News : May 2006 Review

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