First impressions of the Nagaoka MP-110 phono cartridge

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by dividebytube, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    No one seems to know the exact dimensions of the DL-110 stylus. Denon does not publish tip specs, only shank specs. I don't think it is a fine line profile, probably a traditional elliptical profile. If you hear a lot of IGD with this cart, that is why. W/R/T surface noise, the output of the cart is low compared to say a 4MV or 5MV moving magnet cart, which means more gain, and more noise generally unless you have a very expensive, very quiet phono pre.

    RE: the AT95E, I consider it a passable entry level cart and nothing more. It's a good choice for someone on a budget but there is so much better out there, both in the more expensive AT MM carts as well as what other brands offer.
     
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  2. marcfeld69

    marcfeld69 Forum Resident

    That’s great knowledge. I think I have some limitations on my set-up as I have no MC/MM switch so the original reason someone recommended the D-110 was partly to do with that, and also it was going incredibly cheaply some years back. If it’s not a true fine line, that’s a shock to me.

    I’ve got a cheap DJPre, as regards a pre-amp, which helped with gain.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  3. Night Rider

    Night Rider Active Member

    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Very interesting. I found exactly the same thing. Cart sounded fairly good at 1.75g, but noticeably better at 1.95g. This surprised me as I have tin ears (!) and usually cannot detect moderate differences and nuances.

    I am in the process of researching, and purchasing, a dedicated phono preamp, and hopefully this should improve things even more.
     
    Vinyl Fan 1973 likes this.
  4. Vinyl Fan 1973

    Vinyl Fan 1973 "They're like soup, they're like....nothing bad"

    I’ve been looking for a phone preamp as well, just never pulled the trigger. I’m pretty happy with my set up at the moment, but I’m always keeping an eye out for one. I was going to order the Budgie but never went through with it.

    I’ve actually changed my amp and cart since I left that post, and that improved things drastically.
     
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  5. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    If you want to hear a comparison of the Nagoaka DL-110 to the Denon DL-110, I have several of them up on my YouTube channel.

    I definitely concur with those advise tracking the Nagaoka in the 2 gram range. The Denon is an excellent tracker at around 1.75 grams.

     
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  6. marcfeld69

    marcfeld69 Forum Resident

    Just judging from a listen on my iPhone, the Nagaoka seems muffled in comparison.
     
  7. Lucca90

    Lucca90 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    SouthAmerica
    Wow the Denon sounds so much better
     
  8. Thom01

    Thom01 Active Member

    Location:
    France
    I changed my MP-110 for an AT440MLb.
    The difference didn't seem striking at first, but after a few weeks I swapped back to the Nagaoka and I was surprised how "muffled" it sounded.
    And the AT is a much better tracker.
     
    marcfeld69 likes this.
  9. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    As for a non scientific observation of surface noise in the two 110s, I think it’s a draw. Both are quieter than the Shures and ATs I’ve owned, but neither are going to silence a problem record. The Denon has the advantage of a quiet background and open soundstage / clear treble, vs the Nag, which sounds good but a bit choked and is proabaly accomplishing the background partitially through frequency repression. IDG goes to the Denon, no contest, it’s still more present than on some advanced profile styli, but significantly reduced from the Nagaoka.
     
  10. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    What do you mean by shank specs?

    The stylus is elliptical, it is a fairly cheap cartridge I think any cartridge with any better cut will cost you substantially more. The dimensions are 0.1 x 0.2 mm rectangular cross section.
     
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  11. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
     
  12. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    You mean 0.2 x 0.7?
     
  13. allied333

    allied333 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fenton, MI
    I hear what you do. The MP-110 is not that great sounding, but does nothing wrong. I have not heard the AT440MLB, but it is reported the new AT VM540ML is a little smoother in the treble. I own the MV540ML and very pleased with the sound.
     
  14. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    Actually no, I have several DL110 and I've just re-read one of the manuals in case I made a mistake but I didn't, this is what it says:

    Stylus tip: Special elliptical, Solid diamond with 0.1 x 0.2 mm rectangular section. Where did you get the 0.2 x 0.7 from?
     
  15. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    I believe I heard it on the forum before, but 0.1 x 0.2 sounds way too small, the contact area would be extremely small and it would ride superfar down the grooves.

    [​IMG]
    Imagine the top left examples, but almost 1/4 of the width.
     
  16. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    No, I know, it sounded a bit too narrow to me too and for that reason I thought you are probably right and had to double check. I have also checked the specs of the DL103 which has a spherical tip and they rated it at 0.2mm. I don't know, may be they made a mistake when printing the manuals but then it was on the two models, they could be calculating the measurements in a different manner to your graph (I think this is what it is) or may be it is right, I can't tell and they are too small to measure visually.

    One thing I can't work out well in your picture (it's been years since I looked at this level of technicality) is the measuring units they are using in your graph, in the two left ones is that mm? Because it doesn't look like mm -micro something?- the picture is too fuzzy for me to read.
     
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  17. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    I actually cant see it either ;^D , I just searched for elliptical stylus in groove, saw 7 and thought that must be the classic width standard most ellipticals use.

    I will admit that maybe Im misunderstanding some concept of stylus profiles and that the DL110 is a clearly superior tracker because of its dimensions, whatever they may be. But any smaller dimension always will be.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  18. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    I like a post from a previous Nag thread I was on.

     
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  19. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    I am wondering whether what you provided is the standard shape and size for an elliptical stylus right at the end bit but not in mm. The measurement provided by Denon might be the cross section of the higher part before it becomes conical because that seem possible size wise. When you look at it with magnification it is a lot smaller than 1mm and the side is probably half the front dimensions.
     
  20. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    I am pretty sure I have read that post, all I can say is that it gave me a headache and I needed a glass of wine afterwards, somehow I wasn't inclined to reply but it was a funny read because of the whole list of problems:D
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    Leonthepro likes this.
  21. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    Did they actually worked out what the problem was?
     
  22. Dr. J.

    Dr. J. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    After many years of using AT cart exclusively (AT 12e, 95e, 120e, and 125LC), I switched to some Shures (V15iv, 91ed, SC35c) because I always felt like something was missing. I got better bass and midrange but the highs were, admittedly, a bit too recessed or in the case of the V15, were there but not sparkly at all. I found it interesting that, when I boosted the treble on my Marantz 2230, the highs that I were used to suddenly came back. Then I researched the AT house sound and for whatever reason, whether they're designed to or it's a capacitance issue, their carts have a definite treble boost. The more critical listening I did and the more live music I heard made me realize that the AT carts have an unnatural treble, which is especially noticeable on cymbals.

    I then went the Denon route, first with the DL-110 before settling on the DL-103. The treble on the DL-110 is way better and more natural than the AT but after a while, again, I felt like something was missing. The DL-103 fixed that by giving me a deeper and tighter bass response and a bit more midrange magic. Yes, the highs were not the same but I thought the tradeoff was worth it.

    I lived happily with this setup for almost two years but when it came time to retip or get a new one, I decided to try one of these MP-110s. I seriously do not understand these comments about the cart being "dark" or "muffled." I am simply not hearing any loss in HF detail: it's there; it's just not etched. I get the bass and midrange of the DL-103 and a bit of the top end of the DL-110. To me the MP-110, if you like the Denon house sound, is the best of both worlds. Are people not adjusting their VTA appropriately? Judging from some of the comments that I've read here and elsewhere, people seem to be running this cart with a negative SRA. I'm around 92 degrees and find the cart neutral, if I had to use one word to describe this cart.

    If you like that faux-treble boost of the AT with its perceived "airiness", then kudos you. To me it sounds like turning my treble control up two or three turns. Personally, I like to keep my tone controls flat. Now my AT125LC tracks extremely well, so I get why people use these carts for reducing or eliminating IGD or sibilance. The Nagaoka definitely loses that fight. But please don't call the MP-110 dark, warm, muffled, etc. It's not. I've listened to all those Youtube shootouts and was concerned about the MP-110 not having any top end. But when it came into my house and played in a vintage system (Technics SL-1200mk5 ==> MF V-LPS ==> Marantz 2230 ==> Polk Monitor 10a) I felt like I had finally arrived at the perfect combination.
     
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  23. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    That is the key, there are cartridges that are better than others but if they don't go well with your set up it won't matter how good they might be. Also, there is always a bit of personal taste involved in this some people would prefer something that other people may not like, even on the same set up. With my current set up prefer the DL103 over the DL110 but some years ago it would have been the reverse because that is how they interacted with what I was using. I actually have an old audio technica that always felt as if it didn't have much highs at all, I haven't plugged in for years but I probably still feel the same about it, very clear/clean sound thought.
     
  24. floweringtoilet

    floweringtoilet Forum Resident

    The DL-110 is a great cart. It tends to get overlooked these days because the price went up a couple years ago, and so some don't consider it a good value anymore. I think this overlooks the fact that it was always much more than just "good for the price." It can still easily be found in the $200 to $250 range, and at that price and even beyond it is an exceptional performer that will work well with a wide range of tonearms and phono amps. I've owned several of them, and I've never seen any askew cantilevers, or poorly mounted diamonds. Channel balance has always been exceptional. It will be a sad day when Denon stops making these.
     
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  25. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Thats one of the main problems in hifi reviews right, you cant listen to any 1 component, its always the sum of the setup you hear.
    The people who say the Nag is dark or muffled might have a really low end favored setup. Not to mention the EQ of records.
    I dont understand how the Nag is dark either as its fine for most of the records on my setup. Anything more would be trebble heavy to me. But then again I am a low end kind of guy and havnt really heard other ones on my system.

    In the end I feel a comment like "The Nag sounds muffled" doesnt tell me anything really.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018

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