Jason said: EAT has managed to use vacuum tubes -- that century-old technology -- as the gain devices of a great-sounding, thoroughly modern phono preamplifier.
The gist: Modern phono stage with a hint of tube lushness.
Oliver said: I found that its combination of inherent musicality and a smooth, open midrange communicated the music in a way that reminded me of a good tube preamp. Furthermore, its low noise floor and compatibility with a wide swath of phono cartridges mean that it will work well in a variety of systems. I could live with the HP20 as part of my system, and contentedly, too.
The gist: Midrange-centric phono stage is a good value, too.
Thom said: In all, the NAD C 558 is a great turntable that’s far above entry level. I could see myself using one for years to come. I recommend it to anyone returning to the vinyl fold, or coming aboard for the first time. It’s simple, it’s elegant, it works marvelously well.
The gist: Priced right and with sound that’s a cut above.
Thom said: It’s a solid performer with many pluses, only a few minuses, and it’s compatible with many current and vintage turntables. If you want a cartridge with extended but not overblown bass, a midrange that favors the higher side, and mostly silky highs, the MP-110H might just be the ticket.
The gist: Low-cost but high-performing cartridge.
Edgar said: In my relatively new analogue playback system, the Shelter Audio Harmony MC cartridge most definitely stays as the last piece of the puzzle in what I’m sure will be a long, utterly rewarding and, umm… harmonious vinyl journey.
The gist: Checked off all the boxes to make Edgar’s new vinyl setup.
Thom said: I think Sumiko might have a hit on its hands. The Oyster Rainier offered a lovely, warm sound with a wide range of recordings, but could still kick up its heels as required.
The gist: Sumiko hits a low point . . . in price, that is.
Jason said: The Reference Starling slapped me in the face. While I know that Sumiko has been in the cartridge business forever, and obviously should know by now how to make a good cartridge, I hadn’t expected this level of performance for a (pretty much) affordable price.
The gist: If you’re in the budget cartridge market, Jason thinks you should spend a bit more and get this.
Jason said: What a firecracker of an audio component.
The gist: Jason was convinced this cartridge is worth the tall asking price.
Garrett said: I encourage anyone looking for sophistication, a wide timbral palette, and evenhandedness throughout the audioband to seriously consider it. Its merits don’t leap out at you, but its rewards are rich, deep, and lasting.
The gist: Garrett’s favorite cartridge at this price point.