MIYAJIMA MC cartridges – fresh thinking

For the past 30 years or more, with a few exceptions, Moving Coil cartridges have been variations of the same basic design. Very little has changed in 30 years.

The principle of a coil moving within a magnetic field, is based on Faraday’s Law of Induction. The Moving Coil cartridge generator is usually held by a tensioned wire, against a soft “suspension” material.

However this traditional electro-mechanical design is not ideal. The tension wire and soft suspension do not allow the coil to move precisely and symmetrically within the magnetic field – the centre of rotation of the coil is not at the centre of the coil windings, it is within the suspension.

This is perhaps only a small inaccuracy, but we know that MC cartridges are capable of resolving extremely small distortions. mIyajima-MC2 Miyajima-Laboratory was founded by Noriyuki Miyajima in southern Japan in 1980.

Miyajima reconsidered the MC generator design in detail.  He was granted a patent in 2005 for his “Cross Ring” design for MC cartridges.

( Graphics below from – http://www.miyajima-lab.com/index.html ) mIyajima-1 mIyajima-4 P7192325-s The main ideas within the Miyajima MC cartridge:

  • The coil rotates around a “fulcrum point” located at the centre of the coil-former. The suspension damper is at the front.  There is no tension wire.
  • The Left and Right channel coils are wound in a “cross-ring” pattern, with the Fulcrum Point located precisely at the centre of the coil windings.
  • The coils are wound on a non-magnetic Coil Former.  Not a unique idea – voltage output is lower, but the non-magnetic core does not interact with the magnetic flux, become magnetised and “dampen” the free movement of the coil (Lenz’s Law).  Dynamic energy is not lost.
  • A large diameter, aluminium tube cantilever – because Miyajima considers that this sounds best. (Many high end cartridges use more exotic, solid materials, like Boron, Sapphire, etc.)
  • Wood body – Rosewood or African Blackwood.

Kansui-4scCop The sound of the Miyajima Kansui cartridge:

  • “Image” location, separation, “specificity”, is very good.  “Intelligibility” of voices is notably clear and engaging.  Presentation of spatial “depth” is also very good.  Central focus is exceptional.  Sound-stage “width” was comparatively less noticeable (possibly due to my loudspeaker set-up).
  • Bass is very strong and not uncontrolled (with optimal cartridge loading).  This means rhythmic, “solid” percussion with just the right amount of “fatness”.  There is “body” to all instrumental timbres, eg. violin, guitar tone and voices.  Orchestral weight and impact in the lower strings and tympani is sonorous and convincingly realistic.
  • This is not an “audiophile”cartridge where treble energy is too obvious and distracting.  High frequency tone is satisfyingly clear but remains well balanced.
  • Dynamics are open and not lacking power or energy.  Sound “images” remain stable with dynamic sound level – there is no “shout” or forwardness at high levels.

What I like about the Miyajima is the weight, and “body” given to all sounds.  Rhythmic power and harmonic richness makes the music “breathe”.

The Koetsu Rosewood paints a beautiful sound picture with magical emphasis on harmonic information and nuances revealed.

The Miyajima presents a more “solid” sound, surprisingly, with much more low-end power – and “stereo image” definition achieved without excess brightness.  Voices and instruments are clearly located in space.

(Cartridge mounted on a Terminator Linear tracking tonearm, Trans-Fi Salvation rim-drive turntable, Fidelity Research FRT-4 Step Up Transformer, Phi-42 Phonostage. I also presently use Koetsu Rosewood Signature or Transfiguration Temper W cartridges.) P7122285-crop2-s Some notes on set-up:

  • Tracking force – “2.0-2.5g (best at 2.25g)” – as recommended by Miyajima (for the Kansui model).
  • Temperature – note that Miyajima advise 20-30°C (68-86°F) and 25°C (77°F) being “most suitable” – this is quite high for where I live (New Zealand), except in summer – but certainly, this Miyajima Kansui comes “alive” at around 22-23°C (72-73°F) – becoming dynamically more energetic, lively and fast, sounding even slightly louder!
  • Yes, alignment is tricky, because of the curved body shape – but if your headshell has cut-outs, it may help to look at the top rear of the cartridge. You can also mark a line on top to assist alignment.
  • Loading recommended by Miyajima is “around 250 ohm” – again a good recommendation.  This seems to give a perfect balance of openness, tonal extension top and bottom, dynamic “freedom” and “precision”.  I achieved this using a 25dB (1:18) Step Up Transformer connected to my phono preamp with 82kΩ input load. (Lower ohms loading gives a leaner, tighter, more precise, forward sound.  Higher ohms loading gives a more “rich”, resonant sound, with more low frequency “bloom” and more high frequency “air”.)

Miyajima Laboratory team – http://www.miyajima-lab.com/index.html

Miyajima-workshop26 Miyajima workshop04

Miyajima system06

Miyajima Laboratory turntable.

Miyajima system01

Miyajima Laboratory system.

8 thoughts on “MIYAJIMA MC cartridges – fresh thinking

  1. Pingback: My music system | D a r k L a n t e r n

  2. I just purchased a Kansui for my Salvation/T3Pro. I already have all of the Tomahawk upgrades, so any setup tips would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Tom – apologies for delay replying – how has your set-up worked out?
      I have been trialling different Terminator arm pivot ‘pads’ using ‘rubber bands’ & now silicone rubber ‘pads’ for the Terminator twin pivot points – very successfully, a post soon. – Owen

      • I’m enjoying the combination so far. I’d say long on soul, very genuine and honest sounding, low on any extra excitement, in a good way. I have some special points Vic sent a couple months ago, along with the magnetic feet. They seem to work very well. My only issues have been with the tonearm lifter rod clearance varying along the travel of the carriage. There just isn’t much room in there so sometimes the rod interferes with the wand during play.

    • Hi Tom… Cue Bar – yes not much clearance between rear of wand & slider bracket above. The only problem I’ve encountered is to be careful when lifting arm, the underslung c/wt I use can hit the record! (An answer is to add a spacer between cartr & arm head.)
      Miyajima – the accurate coil fulcrum design is audible IMO in the way sounds are located in space, voices are easily ‘intelligible’ without requiring an ‘etched’ HF tone.
      Arm Points – did Vic send nylon points? Are you using them instead of the orig. steel? Results?

  3. Pingback: The case for MM and MI cartridges | D a r k L a n t e r n

  4. Pingback: Fidelity Research FRT-4 MC cartridge transformer | D a r k L a n t e r n

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