LP Gear®, who are “a global analogue resource specialising in phono cartridges, replacement styli, turntable belts, turntables, headphones, earphones, audio electronics and accessories” have announced The Vessel™ Cartridge Series. The complete line of nine The Vessel Cartridges is priced between $99 and $799. LP Gear’s press release says there is “Something for everyone, a complete line of quality cartridges for the novice to knowledgeable audiophile. You’ll find yourself engaged with the music, each model up the Vessel Series delivering more information, nuance and a more exciting connection to the music.”
The first four cartridges available are The Vessel A3 Super Series. A for aluminium alloy cantilever, 3rd iteration motor, and then stylus type. You can upgrade your Vessel cartridge as your system improves by replacing the stylus. The first four introductions are aluminium cantilevered models, with a ruby cantilever Vessel Series to follow. The Vessel A3SE – Super elliptical – $99, The Vessel A3SV- Super Vivid Line – $260, The Vessel A3SS – Super Shibata – $499 and The Vessel A3SM – Super Microline – $499.
LP Gear are also offering their “bargain-of-the-century” LP Gear CF3600LE cartridge. Designed for LP Gear by Audio-Technica’s top engineers, its carbon fibre cantilever and special elliptical stylus is $34.95.
The clue about what makes the Madake special lies in its name: Madake is the Japanese term for a particular species of bamboo, Giant Timber Bamboo, often used in various types of traditional Japanese craftsmanship but now quite rare. The Madake’s cantilever, rather than being made from the usual metal (aluminum, boron) or crystalline solid (ruby, sapphire, diamond), is fashioned from this specific bamboo. Why? Bamboo is light in weight but extremely rigid. And, unlike metals and stones which contain small inherent resonances, bamboo has excellent natural damping properties.
Designer Noriyuki Miyajima, known to be a passionate artisan, went to great lengths to source the highest quality madake for the job and made an interesting discovery along the way: Thomas Edison’s General Electric company was founded to manufacture light bulbs made with madake filaments grown in one particular area of Japan. Edison had been trying to find a filament that would burn long enough to be of practical value for his invention. He sent researchers around the world in search of an appropriate material, testing the fibres of some 6,000 plant materials including more than 1,000 species of bamboo before discovering madake from the bamboo groves of Yawata, Kyoto. That discovery marked the beginning of the global electrical revolution. So Noriyuki Miyajima went straight to the source and negotiated a supply of special madake from the Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu shrine in Yawata. However, the Madake’s cantilever is not 100% bamboo; the bamboo shaft is fitted with a short aluminium shaft, to which is attached the Shibata stylus. Like all Miyajima stereo cartridges, the Madake’s generator system features a unique patented Miyajima cross-ring design in which the cantilever fulcrum and coils are exactly positioned in the centre of the magnetic field. All of which is housed in a body of African Blackwood, known for its exceptional tonal and acoustic properties.
The Miyajima Madake cartridge is available now priced at £3,750 (including VAT @ 20%).