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.
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'.
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.
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.
used with the matching MCT-9401 B step-up box into either Chord
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.
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.