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 excited 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 digitize my records the best way my budget allowed me. As i found in another Shoot-out Video the tracking also is fantastic compared to other cartridges. It’s price is ca. €130.00 but check Ebay for €112,00 incl headshell at some Japanese sellers.
But on top of that, as I accidentally found out – and then purposely tested: 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 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 appreciated the Shure Whitelabel for the warm and detailed sound and also to mention the Grado Dj-200 for the complexity. With Grado it is a question of taste (as every thing concerning the senses certainly are) as I never liked it’s treble too much, but – most important: the way it tortures records while back-cueing is brutal! Shure M44-7 >>> here are costy but proper replacement styli <<< are soundwise harder / “dryer” but top league (like Stanton) for low record-wear, still the most important point for me! So they are all great …. for a dj cartridge. Ortofon Concordes may have developed over the years but apart from easy installation i never liked the thin and dead sound and especially the heavy record-wear. Generally all mentioned cartridges just cannot keep up with the lovely ad detailed sound Nagaoka MP-110 produces. It is simply a different level!
Although it’s an elliptical stylus, the record-wear 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 witch is in no way suitable for dj’ing). It’s always ridiculous to describe sound, but the best way to do so: Music sounds simply more lovely than before, no matter how long you listen. A good comparison between a Grado blue stylus (also very decent, not recommended for dj purposes!) and the Nagaoka MP-110. Listen to the cymbal-like sounds on the trashy pink pop 12″ !
With good internet connection & quality headphones you might get an impression (the details in the treble!)
When it comes to turntablism the Shure wins by far for it’s skipping resistance, no question. The MP-110 does all cueing, back-spinning 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 stiff 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 heavily 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 record-wear (especially while back-spinning)
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 behavior is better than all the mentioned cartridges! I claim that after months of experience now. Remember it is always depending on the material and built of the dj booth, the shape of the venue, where the sub-woofers are placed, how worn the tonearm fixation is … and lots of other details, so this cannot be a general result, but I have used them Nagaoka’s in about 100 different situations by now and it is an über-positive impression. (Only open air caused trouble, see the note at the bottom).
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 back-spinning while cueing each record.
Availability: you should get replacement forever since Nagaoka’s main business is replacement needles for all kinds of discontinued cartridges.
Replacement needles are €59,00 street price (Nov 2018) that means more expensive as Shure and one third of 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 necessary 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 record-wear before you have a thought on saving some 40 bucks on styli.
Note: Nagaoka DJ-03HD MM and cannot recommend it. Quite surprisingly I did experience quite heavy cueburn and silly needle skip at 3 grams. Strangely enough since this is supposed to be a dj needle but Nagaoka MP-110 has drmatically better specifications for dj purposes. Out of production now anyway and I’m not surprised really.
I haven’t tried the Taruya models yet (and I know I should soon do so! (Anybody with experience for that? Please let me know if so!) but overall until now the Nagaoka is the best choice i found in my 30+ years of quite intensive searching for a perfect DJ-cartridge so far.
[edit: after this long time without club life, it was at most possible to dj outdoors, a note: The Nagaoka is more sensitive to wind gusts at open-air gigs due to the low weight of max. 2 grams. The tonearm lifts off faster in storms than with a stylus which can tolerate 4 grams and more.]
– better sound than all existing DJ-cartridges i ever tried (and those were a lot)
– very low record-wear
– very good feedback insensibility
– not the loudest
– stylus tip not well visible
– costly replacement needles
– more delicate for wind at open air sets