Most frequent questions and answers
You will first need to know your tonearm specifications. We recommend medium to high mass tonearms. So far we have tested them on SME 3009, SME 3012, VPI, Rega RB 300-700 and they are perfectly compatible with these arms. However, on Rega arms, we recommend a heavier counterweight for maximum flexibility for the VTF adjustment. As of VTA, our shell’s height with an installed cartridge is 0.7“ /17.7 mm from shell top to diamond tip (measured free air).
We designed the MusiKraft cartridges to fit on standard 1/2“ headshell mounts. The MusiKraft shell top is flat and measures (LxW) 0.945“ x 0.708“ / 24mm x 18mm.
Depending on which alloy series (either with Nitro 1 or Nitro 2 motor) and the wood insert set, the overall weight will vary as follows:
Audio MusiKraft cartridge weight chart (grams)
|Series||Shell (nude and w/o motor)||Cartridge and wood inserts|
|w/o wood||Min. w/wood||Max. w/wood|
To answer this question more precisely, refer to the specific cartridge product page. The total weight is the addition of three (3) components (shell + wood species + motor). The added wood finish mass is negligible and we will not consider it here. The standard weight for a Nitro motor is 7.25 grams.
Example; if you choose the MusiKraft MGnitro1-COCO model (magnesium Nitro 1) with the torrefied pine inserts, the following implies:
- Magnesium shell (incl. its screws) = 2.79g
- Torrefied pine wood inserts = 0.32g
- Nitro motor = 7.25g
Total weight of the MusiKraft cartridge = 2.79g + 0.32g + 7.25g = 10.36 grams
Your system must be ready for low output MC cartridges or you will either need a head amp or a step-up transformer (SUT).
The recommended load for the Nitro 1 is 40 Ohms (or slightly higher) and you are looking for approximately 20dB of gain (step-up ratio of 1:10). For the Nitro 2, 14 Ohms (or slightly higher) and approximately 22dB of gain (step-up ratio of 1:12). In both cases, a couple of dB below or above those respective values remain acceptable.
In both cases, the minimum recommended load should be 100 ohms or as a general rule of thumb, no less than 3 to 4 times the cartridge’s internal impedance. Finally, it is also OK to experiment with different values when the ‘head amp’ features a choice of loading and we suggest to select the more pleasing of the range simply by ear. For a typical phono-preamp we are looking for 60dB of gain.
Here are some observations to help you understand the sonic differences between our four (4) alloys series:
- Aluminum (Al): We recommend the Aluminum (Al) series cartridge as a versatile and highly competitive candidate and one that provides excellent performance in a wide variety of contexts. Its sonic signature is lively, dynamic and provides fine focus and attack; you can literally map the soundstage.
- Lithium (Li): This series cartridge is for those seeking a more intimate presentation of the musicians while the core and timbres of the instruments are better perceived. The high frequencies in the Lithium (Li) are silkier and are not unlike going from a metallic dome tweeter to a silk one in a loudspeaker. The mid-band is more laid back, damped and relaxed. The bass is rounder compared to the Aluminum (Al) version. A Lithium (Li) cartridge sounds warmer and pleasing. The copper content in this alloy provides a well-balanced damping effect that gives this warmer and silkier result.
- Magnesium (Mg): The Magnesium (Mg) series is for the audiophile wanting maximum transparency with neutral sound. It is the most analytical of the four alloys. The Magnesium (Mg) tends towards an immersive headphone-like 3D effect, delivering a lot of the micro-information that is contained in the vinyl grooves, with an excellent left to right soundstage nuance. Given its mechanical properties, it delivers a shorter decay time. It restores the textures and provides a harmonious tonal balance with a less weighty presentation than the other alloys.
- Bronze (Br): For the ultimate experience, the Bronze (Br) series cartridge stands out by the lower octaves extended bandwidth. The soundstage foundation is more entrenched. It has a more significant footprint than other metals in upper-bass and lower-midrange tonal level. One can feel the veracity, the syncopated rhythm and the presence of the midrange’s fundamental notes. The background is noiseless and dark which permits to restore every subtlety. Given its smoother effect on the high-medium and treble, listening with the Bronze (Br) steers the listener in a more passive, less cerebral direction, yet maintaining the right mix of details which results from it playing with grace.
Audio MusiKraft offers two distinct cartridge motors: Nitro 1 and Nitro 2.
Mechanically, both motors closely resemble each other. To help distinguish them, the external finish on the Nitro 2 is gold plated. The main difference stems from the Nitro 2 possessing a higher degree of copper wire purity resulting in a more faithful reproduction. Electrically; the Nitro 2 has a lower DC resistance so the recommended load is slightly different from each other and the Nitro 2 is slightly lower in output voltage than the Nitro 1.
Essentially the Nitro 1 is pleasing to listen to, it provides vivid sound which translates to a more «forefront» presentation. It offers more midrange bloom and it confers more presence than the Nitro 2.
The listener looking for a more neutral and precise reproduction will prefer the Nitro 2 version. Subjectively, this one has a flatter frequency response in its entire passband. It has slightly better and refined timbre than the Nitro 1, especially notable in the mid-range portion; thanks to the use of 6N pure copper wire. Its lower moving coil equipment mass ensures quicker transients.
It is important to mention that the purpose of these micro-screws is only for “audio tuning”, NOT for fastening the cartridge motor to its shell. As of torque, use common sense! A cartridge, as we all know, is extremely fragile and sensitive, so care should be exerted in NOT applying too much torque on the screws. In fact, once in contact with the cart, no more than a quarter (1/4) turn is required for the rear lateral screws and no more than an eight (1/8) turn is necessary on the front one.
- No contact;
- Slight touch (no torque);
- One eight (1/8) turn after contact;
- One quarter (1/4) turn after contact.
You will find video supported help in our “Video Tutorials” page.
There are many possible combinations of tuning screw settings. Here are some personal observations that we’ve done on our reference system with a nude magnesium cartridge (w/o wood inserts) equipped with the standard DL-103 motor. We’ve used the magnesium nude shell because it is the most transparent and neutral on sound. Do not take these observations for granted as your findings may differ from ours, each equipment, each ears, and personal perception are different. A micro tweak here may have a considerable influence at your loudspeaker’s output.
- No screw engaged: Gives a lift on the first 5 octave bandwidth compared to while using cedar inserts withou any torque, provides a better tonal balance, more weight but not optimal, less treble grain, reduces 5-6kHz presence, provides a lot of room information but slightly at the limit, good stereo panning, excellent decay, brought slightly romanticism in violins and some color in the saxophone, mids are organic, nice textures, 1kHz is centered and pronounced (perceived level +1.5dB), reduces warmth, intimacy, and roundness, reduces low-mid, thinner sound/less meat.
- Two Rear screws (slightly in contact): loss of weight, treble 8kHz and up emphasized like a shelf but it sounded more positive while listening to classical music, adds a bit of warmth compared to no tension, less emphasis at 800-1kHz than without tension (perceived level -0.5dB), less audible fatigue, noticed a bid more low-mid, “expander” effect on many listened music, slight headphone 3D effect, previous 1kHz centered problem is less perceptible, less “prat”, emphasized treble but silkier on jazz, less pinpoint on violins but its image has grown which is interesting
- Two Rear screws (1/4 turn once in contact): Slight heard distortion and less clean treble, smearing, the sound is more tense, mostly loss of musicality, loss of aeration, more proximity on the instruments
- All three screws (slightly in contact): pretty much the same as our observations with the 2 rear screws slightly in contact, except it added a bit of distortion in all the bandwidth and in all music, on a positive note it added weight, more punch on rock music, more “grunt” on saxophone, the top end details are less emphasized, except it added a bit of blurring, neutral 800-1kHz (0dB ref.) in regards to the 2 screws in slight contact
- Front screw (1/8 turn once in contact): Very clean sound, hi-hat well defined, less weight and groove, missing a bit the organic signature and heftiness, this setting is very unique in the sound which distinguishes itself from what we have heard yet, very visual listening experience, it easy to follow the musicians and engineered stereo panning, total absence of distortion, pretty neutral tonal balance except it misses weight, bass “thump” came out less on a rock album and we lost a bit of its cutting edge, slight loss of musicality and energy.
As you can note, the front screw will provide a different effect than the rear lateral ones, so during your explorations don’t hesitate to alternate between these.
For the purist, yes absolutely, and we invite you to try it. This will considerably affect the sound. For the better or the worst, you be the judge. Additionally, one can simply try using the single top insert or vice-versa the lateral ones.
Servicing and maintenance:
To carefully change these, first, it’s necessary to remove the cartridge. The inserts are held in place by pressure and are tight fitted from the factory (there is no adhesive involved). We machine all inserts to an exact 2mm thick. The black dot indicates an insert rear side. The inserts sides are tapered for proper fitment.
Use the provided wooden pushrod tool sent with your cartridge kit. Once the motor is removed, with the tool, exert pressure on the rear side edge of the insert and it will slip out.
Installing an insert is somewhat different. Lay it flat (parallel) onto the surface. Not to damage the visible wood face, we recommend using your fingers to push it back in (beware of your fingernails). The MusiKraft shells have built-in inner tabs as depth limiters, push the inserts back in until they sit well applying even and parallel force to the wood face. You will find video supported help in our “Video Tutorials” page.
Following is a short video animation on the sequence
Removing the motor from the shell is fairly easy as it is only a matter removing the four (4) cover screws, lifting up the cover and sliding out the motor. Doing this takes a minute. For visibility, we recommend laying down a white paper sheet on a flat work surface. For security, move away from all metallic objects which are in close proximity as the cartridge magnet may attract them.
- Make sure the three (3) fine-tuning screws aren’t engaged, unscrew them.
- Unscrew the shell cover from its base
- While holding in place the motor with a finger, flip upside down and lay the base on your flat work surface
- Slide-out the cartridge motor
- Manipulate with care from the motor rear end being careful not to touch the small protruding copper conductors.
Re-installing is the reversal procedure, simply be careful to align back the tiny cover guide pins into the shell base recess holes, press the cover in, then screw. You will find video supported help in our “Video Tutorials” page.
We suggest buying the extra wood insert sets at cartridge’s date purchase as we can precisely machine them to your specific cartridge. Even though our shells are machined to a very tight tolerance (± 0.001“), there may be slight differences in the insert openings between some batches. If you purchase some at a later date, for guarantied fitment and visual finish, we suggest you send your cartridge to the factory. While here, we will clean your cartridge.
Yes, it will be a pleasure for us to look into your needs and check the feasibility. However, as this would be a custom order, there would be an extra charge and it involves a manufacturing delay.
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