AUDIO-TECHNICA RELEASES 4TH-GEN OC9X PHONO CARTRIDGES
Audio-technica has just released a complete series of its truly giant-killing OC9 moving coil cartridge.
This announcement prompted a trip down memory lane and evoked the question, “Hands up those of you that sold a cartridge you later regretted selling?”
In my case, it was the original OC9. I bought it on its release about 20 years ago. Unhappy with the sound, I sold it to a friend. He invited me around for a listen. I was gobsmacked.
Later, I realised I’d installed the OC9 in the wrong tonearm. My mate had the right one.
Twenty years on and with several quality tonearms now in my collection, I can make amends and choose any one of the five models now making up the new OC9X series.
I’m glad Audio Technica took a long look at its hugely popular OC9 cartridge and decided that one model doesn’t cater for all tastes.
Now, you and I can choose a new OC9X with a diamond profile that we favour. There are five stylus profiles on offer, and you can be sure, each will have its own sonic signature. The new profiles comprise a Bonded Elliptical, Nude Elliptical, Microlinear, Shibata and Special Line Contact.
Past experience suggests the elliptical profiles will be warmer and easier to set up compared to the three other profilers that will be more transparent, have more detail but a “cooler” sound.
Regardless of which you choose, you’ll still get the basic sound of an OC9 which in my opinion is/was Audio-technica’s best over the brand’s celebrated journey. Whichever cart you choose, you’ll still be getting the basic sound of the original OC9. A cartridge that Thomas J. Norton described in Stereophile as:
…an excellent pickup, the best ever from Audio-technica and one of the best from any source.
Technically speaking, the five new OC9Xs have the same Dual Moving Coil design that uses independent coils for both left and right channels for superb channel separation. And for minimum distortion, these coils are aligned in a reverse V formation.
Each of the five newbies gets a threaded cartridge body that allows mounting to a tonearm with just two screws. Ortofon uses the same technique, and it’s a godsend because it means you won’t have to forage around for two nuts.
The new quintet also has an engine that is powered by a Neodymium magnet and pure iron yoke for a more powerful dose of magnetic energy.
And finally, each new OC9X uses coils with pure copper windings made using the Ohno Continuous Casting process for the purest signal transfer. All new OC9Xs use an aluminium body.
Yousuke Koizumi, Chief Engineer of Cartridges at Audio-Technica Japan, told StereoNET:
When the first AT-OC9 series was introduced in 1987 it was an innovative addition to the cartridge market, as we combined a unique engineering process with carefully chosen materials to produce a superior sound experience. Since then, we have continued to develop and strengthen this range of cartridges and, as chief engineer of phono cartridges in Audio-Technica, I believe the new AT-OC9X series represents the culmination of over 50 years of experience in developing cutting edge materials to enhance the vinyl listening experience.
Audio-technica's 4th-generation OC9X phono cartridge range comprises:
The AT-OC9XSL ($1399 RRP) is a nude Special Line Contact diamond mounted on a boron cantilever. Frequency response is 20-50kHz and output voltage is 0.4mV while tracking force is 1.8 – 2.2 grams.
AT-OC9XSH ($1249 RRP) has a nude Shibata diamond mounted on a boron cantilever. Frequency response comes in at 20-47KHz and tracking force needed is 1.8-2.2 grams.
The AT-OC9XML ($1049 RRP) is fitted with a Nude Microlinear stylus mounted on a boron cantilever. Frequency response measures 20-47kHz, output voltage is 0.4mV and tracking force required is 1.8-2.2 grams.
Many a discerning audiophile with Porsche tastes and a Kia like wallet will head straight for the two cheapest OC-9 models. Both have impeccable specs, decent quality diamonds and will offer most but not all, of the performance of the elite level OC9s.
AT-OC9XEN ($699 RRP) has a nude Elliptical stylus and an aluminium cantilever. Frequency response is 20-30kHz, output voltage is 0.35mV and required tracking force is 1.8-2.2 grams.
The AT-OC9XEB ($469 RRP) has a Bonded Elliptical stylus and an aluminium cantilever. Frequency response is 20-30kHz, output voltage is 0.2mV and it should track beautifully at 1.8 to 2.2 grams.
For more information or to find your nearest dealer visit Audio-technica.
One of the veterans of the Australian HiFi industry, Peter was formerly the Audio-Video Editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades. One of the most-respected audio journalists in Australia, Peter brings his unparalleled experience and a unique story-telling ability to StereoNET.