DYNAVECTOR KARAT 17DX AND 10X5 MKII CARTRIDGES RING IN THE CHANGES
Time stood still for a brief moment as I took in the news that Dynavector had updated its desirable 10X5 phono cartridge.
As I looked at pics of what’s now the 10X5 MKII, I couldn’t help recalling my pleasurable ownership of its ancestor, the Ultimo 10X.
I bought a 10X cartridge after writing to the late Jim Sugden, founder of J.E. Sugden audio equipment manufacturing in the UK, seeking his advice in the late 70s.
Back then my system comprised a Linn KLP12 turntable with SME3009 S2 tonearm, Sugden A48 integrated amplifier and Quad ELS57 electrostatic speakers.
A system that would still please me immensely these days.
I still have the letter Jim Sugden sent me. It was a reply to an audio query about what cartridge to mount on my SME3009 tonearm.
A Shure V15 would work nicely. But so would an Ultimo 10X if you use a strip of foam between the top of the cartridge and the headshell. The foam will absorb some of the resonances created between cartridge and headshell.
How Jim Sugden found time to reply personally was amazing. I also recall writing to the late Jim Rogers of Rogers Loudspeakers to tell him how much I loved my JR149 and JR150 loudspeakers. He also gracefully sent me a personal reply.
For some reason, the Dynavector 10X was called the Ultimo 10X in the UK, back then. A bit of research reveals the 10X was released in 1978 and Ultimo was the Dynavector company name back then.
Hearing news that the venerable 10X has morphed and thrived over several decades induces a warm and fuzzy feeling that some great things remain more or less constant in audio paradise.
The 10X was a mighty and affordable high output moving coil. Knowing its lineage, I’d put money on the 10X5 MKII sounding sublime and retaining some of the life and energy of the original 10X.
Something I’ll put to the test if we can get hold of a review sample.
The update to the 10X5 MK II centres on the all-important stylus profile and quality. Dynavector has given the MKII a Shibata III line contact stylus that assuredly will provide this cartridge with more extended highs, more subliminal detail and heaps of refinement.
The Karat 17DX (another cartridge I have a long positive history with) receives a comprehensive update, and this is reflected in a price rise not unexpectedly.
Dynavector has done no less than give the much-admired Karat 17DX a complete new body housing. And it’s made from machined brass.
Brass is a wonderful material for tonearm mounting plates and logically for cartridge housings, largely I suspect because it trounces some resonances and those it does store are harmonically pleasing. Think of brass bell tones compared to those made from steel.
Internally the 17DX has had a major makeover as well. The Neodymium magnet has been replaced by one fashioned from samarium-cobalt. A material I’m not familiar with.
What I do know is Neodymium is used in plenty of highly touted headphones. What’s the betting that before long we’ll be assaulted by the news that this and that headphone are sporting driver magnets made from guess what? Samarium-cobalt.
Whatever. But Dynavector is saying the new magnet material gives the Karat 17DX a clearer sound, more transparent soundstage and a faster dynamic response along with enhanced musical resolution. So there!
Available in New Zealand now, the price of the Karat 17DX is $2,700 and the 10X5 MKII is $1,100.
For more information visit Dynavector.
One of the veteran journalists of the HiFi industry, if there's a speaker he's likely heard it or owned it at some point in his career. Peter was formerly the audio-video editor of the Herald Sun newspaper in Australia for over two decades.
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