Nagaoka MP150 phono cartridge Ambitious model using a tapered cantilever and an elliptical tip. Firm, tight and muscular soundSuperb traceabilityLow-mass tapered cantilever for great fidelity in the full dynamic rangeDynamic toneUnexcelled clarityNagaoka MP-150 Features:
I have owned this cartridge for several months now and have deliberately held off from writing a review since I wanted to allow the “honeymoon” period to pass and also to have a chance to truly understand this cartridge before passing judgement. I own and run the 150 on the following two turntables:2014 VPI Scout 2.0Modified 1967 Lenco GL75 (rewired tonearm)I also own both the MP110 & MP200 so feel that I am qualified to offer a comparison (again, these have been used on both tables). I have extensive hours on both and around 80 - 100 hours on the MP150. Curiously, although the higher you go price-wise yields objectively better results, subjectively they are less enjoyable to listen to. The MP200 is my least favourite; it has a cold, sterile sound with very sharp treble. Its tone alternates between ear-piercing high frequency and lifelessness. I don’t recommend this one, obviouslyWith Nagaoka, I find that the lower you go price-wise, the warmer their carts sound. The MP150 is similar tonally to the MP110 and far more musical than the 200. In direct comparison to the 110 it feels as though several blankets have been lifted from your speakers with instruments becoming a lot clearer yet still retaining a strong degree of warmth. But it lacks the magic of the MP110. If the 150 excels in treble, then the 110 does this for the mids and bass. The bass in particular on the 110 is pumping, pounding and bursting with life - not in an artificial way that a cheap boombox might reproduce bass but in a natural, musical way. The mids on the 110 are very special indeed, particularly on the Lenco. There seems to be an otherworldly, ethreal quality to them that while definitely not neutral make it clearly more enjoyable & immersive an experience than with the 150. So, while I think the 150 is a good cart, I can’t recommend it. Although it is objectively “better” than the 110, after a few days I got bored of it. I think if you want detail, accuracy etc there are probably better carts around. If, like me, you tend to feel music rather than listen to, stick with the MP110. For all its flaws & idiosyncrasies, it’s the more poetic of the two & proves that in this game, spending more doesn’t necessarily get you where you want to be.
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