Posted on 17th April, 2018


US brand Sumiko has conjured up six new phono cartridges to add to its brand portfolio.

This sextet is sure to make beautiful music on the end of a nice tonearm. Sumiko cartridges are always musical and are highly prized for their high-quality sound.

Sumiko says they laboured for three years developing the new cartridges and plans to premiere the six at this year’s Munich High End Show that runs from May 10-13.

Four of the models are moving magnet cartridges called the Rainer, Olympia, Moonstone and Amethyst. These will bolster Sumiko’s exiting Oyster series.

The new cartridges also include two moving coil models delightfully named the Songbird and the Starling. The pair will be part of the Reference Series product range.

Sumiko clearly rates this duo highly and the names chosen suggests they’ll sing as sweetly and naturally as birds in their natural habitats.

Sumiko also rates the new moving magnet and says the quartet is the most ambitious moving magnet models released so far.  The Rainer, Olympia and Moonstone share a common housing and generator assembly. This makes their removable stylus assemblies interchangeable.

Sumiko says you can buy the Rainer for example and upgrade to the Olympia or Moonstone without replacing the whole cartridge. A design feature bound to be praised by consumers and one that makes brilliant financial sense.

The flagship moving magnet called the Amethyst features its own unique cartridge body designed to maximise the sonic performance of the high-quality Nude Line Contact stylus it’s fitted with.

Describing the Amethyst, Sumiko doesn’t hold back the superlatives and insists it's an exceptional cartridge that surpasses some moving coils in resolution and detail and sets a new benchmark for moving magnet cartridges with replaceable stylus assemblies.

Owners of Shure’s V15 or Stanton’s 881S moving magnet cartridges are already privy to the detail, air, resolution and low noise a quality moving cartridge brings to the audio table.

But as for dynamic prowess, we’ll have to withhold judgement until the wonderful Amethyst lands, and we can extract a review sample from the Australian distributor, Synergy Audio Visual.

Down below the Amethyst sit the Songbird and the Starling. Qualities extolled by Sumiko for the Songbird are exceptional tracking ability and the flexibility to mate superbly with a wide range of tonearms and turntables.

Without having the specs to hand, we are guessing the Songbird will work beautifully with medium mass tonearms. Ditto for phono stages thanks to its high output voltage, a measurement Sumiko won’t supply until the launch in Munich.

But a clue is in the brand’s description that claims the Songbird will work with moving magnet and moving coil phono stages, and this suggests an output voltage of about 2mV.

The Starling is interesting because it’s claimed to be the brand’s new reference open architecture design featuring a MicroRidge stylus on a boron cantilever in a low output/low mass configuration.

Sonically it’s said to be powerful, dynamic and with a very refined and coherent sound signature.

Both the Songbird and the Starling have a new CNC-precision milled high-grade aluminium body to reduce resonance.

Sumiko’s six new cartridges will ship in May to coincide with their debut in Munich, but orders can be placed now.

Australian pricing has not been confirmed yet, but overseas they will sell for Song Bird (US$899), Starling (US$1899), Rainer (US$149), Olympia (US$199), Moonstone (US$299) and the Amethyst (US$599).

For more information visit Sumiko.


Peter Familari's avatar

Peter Familari

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.

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Posted in: Hi-Fi
Tags: sumiko  synergy audio visual  highend2018