Perfect Dj Cartridge!

good to your records + sounds great + sticks in the groove

There’s no ad-financed links or no other reason (as every other post on my site) but the one that I’m quite exited about the following I wanna share with you !!

The  Nagaoka MP-110 is widely known as a budget top quality phono system for it’s neutral to warm sound and silky treble, plus the fact that it’s needle seems to be very generous to hide some slight scratches & worn vinylgrooves. This is why I bought one to digitalize my records the best way my budget allowed me. It’s price is ca. €130.00 but check Ebay for €117,00 incl headshell at some japanese sellers like this gentleman.

But on top of that, as I accidentially found out and tested for 2 months now: This is a perfect choice for Dj-use, especially for those who play vintage and worthy records!

For decades now I was totally happy with the Stanton Stanton 890SA/FS model for it’s warm sound and most of all for being so protective to the records – and the extraordinary loud volume. I always apprechiated the Shure Whitelabel for the warm and detailled sound and the Grado Dj-200 for the complexity. With Grado it is a question of taste (as every thing concerning the senses certainly are) but i never liked it’s treble neither, but most important: the way it tortures records while back-cueing is brutal! Shure M44-7 sounds hard but is one league with Stanton for low recordwear, still the most important point for me! So they are all great …. for a dj cartridge. Ortofon Concordes may have developped over the years but appart from easy installation i never liked the thin and dead sound and especially the heavy recordwear. Generally all mentioned cartridges just cannot keep up with the lovely ad detailled sound Nagaoka MP-110 produces. It is simply a different level!

Although it’s an elliptical stylus, the recordwear is absolute minimum, so to say on one level with the Shure M44-7 and Stanton 890SA/FS or better.

It’s praised in most hifi forums for being such a great sounding thing for such little money. It actually seems to share this position meanwhile with the legendary Denon DL-110 (a great sounding system wich is in no way suitable for dj’ing). It’s always ridiculous to derscibe sound, but the best way to do so: Music sounds simply more lovely than before, no matter how long you listen. A good comparisson with another reliable cartridge, the Stanton 680 (very similar to the mentioned Stanton 890) is here

With good internet connection & quality headphones you might get an impression (the details in the treble!)

When it comes to turntabelism the Shure wins by far for it’s skipping resistance, no question. The MP-110 does all cueing, backspinning and a little wicky-wicky-scratching thingy with ease. Remember it is a hifi system, so the metal that holds the diamond (cantilever) is less stff as a dj-one would be and the recommended / ideal weight adjustment is 1,5 – 2 grams. But when you’re not scratching until the needle starts smoking the system behaves just fine. To put on some extra weight for heayily warped records works but don’t forget to get back to your 2 grams for the next record since the cantilever starts to sag down at heavier weights – not good for the recordwear (especially while backspinning)

Club dj’s know the problem concerning vinyl (or better the turntables & dj booths) can produce bass feedback at loud volumes, especially since most sound engineers in clubs have lost their knowledge about turntable setup and maintenance. So, one of the most important: Nagaoka’s feedback sensitivity seems to be better than all the mentioned cartridges! Remember it is always depending on the material and built of the dj booth, the shape of the venue, where the subwoofers are placed, how worn the tonearm fixation is … and maybe a dozend other details, so this cannot be a general result, but I have used them Nagaoka’s in maybe a dozend different situations by now and it is an über-positive impression so far.

Output volume is “average” (5mV) equal as the notorious in-house Ortofon OM Pro S (6mV) but not as loud as Shure M44 (9,5 mV), Ortofon Nightclub (9,5 mV), Ortofon Q-Bert (11mV)  or, the loudest, Stanton 890 (12mV). This can lead to quite different volume-levels when you combine Serato / CD or other media in your dj set but actually that does not matter at all as long as you know what a gain knob does, but actually sharing the booth along with other dj’s who set everything to the max: it might cause a problem.

Also not perfect is the fact that you don’t see the needle tip very good. This will take you maybe one or two extra revolutions of backspinning while cueing each record.

Availability: you should get replacement forever since Nagaoka’s main business is replacement needles for all kinds of discontinued cratridges.

Replacement needles are €79,00 street price (Nov 2018) that means twice as expensive as Shure and nearly hafway to the Grado (€180,00). I don’t want to put this fact down but usually you do need to replace your stylus every 500 to 1000 hours. Calculate 2 turntables = 2 cartridges = each playing out half the time, plus the nescessary cueing per record. That equals ca. 300-600 club sets of 2 hours each or 100-200 6-hour marathons. Think of your records and recordwear before you have a thought on saving some 40 bucks on styli.

I haven’t tried the Taruya models yet (and I know I should soon do so!) as well as Nagaoka’s special dj cartridges called DJ-03HD MM (they seem to be very exotic nowadays at least outside of Japan, Anybody with exerience for that? Please let me know if so!) but overall the Nagaoka is the best choice i found in my 30+ years of quite intensive searching for a perfect Dj-cartridge so far.

– better sound than all existing dj-cartridges i ever tried (and those were a lot)
– very low recordwear
– very good feedback insensibillity

– not the loudest
– stylus tip not well visible
– costy replacement needles

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