Audio-Technica might be better known outside of audiophile circles for its entry-level turntables and inexpensive phono cartridges but the Japanese manufacturer is capable of creating some of the best phono cartridges in the world.
The high-end Audio-Technica AT-ART20 is designed to bring the utmost realism from vinyl playback.
The ART Series is Audio-Technica’s top-of-the-line range, but there’s a flagship cartridge, the AT-ART1000 Direct Power Stereo MC Cartridge that retails for $4,999.
$5,000 buys a lot of records; and we’re not just talking about all of those MoFi releases on sale right now by disgruntled purchasers.
95% of Audio-Technica’s cartridge lineup is below $500 so these two flagship cartridges are quite the step-up in price and performance.
We heard a rumor about this cartridge at T.H.E. Show 2022 while listening to some of the most expensive turntables available and we could see this as a great addition to the Kuzma Stabi R Turntable that delivered some of the best sound at the show.
According to the specification sheets they both use a solid boron cantilever, offer 30dB of channel separation, and frequency response beyond human hearing. The ART1000 claims to produce frequencies from 15 to 30,000 Hz, while the new ART20 goes from 20 to 50,000 Hz.
According to Audio-Technica, the AT-ART20 delivers expansive, detailed sound with unmatched imaging and dynamics. The AT-ART20 utilizes the advanced manufacturing and polishing techniques that have been developed in the eyeglass industry of Sabae City in Japan’s Fukui Prefecture. The cartridge’s body features graceful curves with a flowing, organic design that has never been previously achieved.
That is a lot of marketing hyperbole on the part of the manufacturer but we have listened to some of the previous Audio-Technica cartridges in the $1,000 range and we were rather impressed by the transparency of the sound, detail, and how how expansive the soundstage was.
If the AT-ART20 offers all of that and even more resolution and low end impact, we can see why it might appeal to those who are considering some of the better MC cartridges from Lyra, Hana, and Koetsu.
Japan really does seem to have a monopoly on state-of-the-art phono cartridges and we noticed at some recent dealer events that the $2,500 to $5,000 cartridges from the aforementioned brands are very popular with those considering some of the top tables from Kuzma, VPI, Clearaudio, Brinkmann, Michell, and SME.
The body is made of precision-machined titanium combined with an aluminum cartridge base and an elastomer under cover, a selection of materials that provides significant resonance reduction along with lower mass. The cartridge body has threaded mounting holes to facilitate installation.
“Our goal in creating the new AT-ART20 was to capture the full expressiveness of the original recording,” said Bob Peet, Audio-Technica Global Product Manager – Analog Products. “To that end, the AT-ART20 embodies technologies and know-how that are the result of our 60 years of experience in phono cartridge design and manufacturing.”
The AT-ART20 features dual moving coils aligned in an inverted “V” shape which provides optimal channel separation for superior stereo imaging and wide dynamics. The front yoke of the magnetic circuit is 0.6 mm thicker than previous designs, to improve magnetic flux density and increase the output efficiency by more than 15 percent to 0.55 mV.
The cartridge employs a nude special line-contact stylus with a solid boron cantilever just 0.011 inches (0.28 mm) in diameter, to extract a remarkable amount of information from the record groove. The boron cantilever is connected to the armature utilizing a stepped-pipe construction, which provides increased rigidity and improved strength with decreased resonance for a purer audio signal with clearer, more detailed sound.
The AT-ART20’s tip reinforcement plate is made of titanium, which reduces overall mass and improves the cartridge’s high-frequency performance, which extends to 50,000 Hz.
The Audio-Technica AT-ART20 Dual Moving Coil Stereo Cartridge is now available for $2,900 USD at Audio-Technica.com.
For more information: Audio Technica ART Series
Celebrating 60 years of audio excellence, Audio-Technica is a recognized leader in the development and manufacture of high-quality personal and professional audio equipment. Founded in Japan in 1962 by Hideo Matsushita, the company made its name by manufacturing state-of-the-art phonograph cartridges and tonearms. Today, Audio-Technica is a worldwide group of companies devoted to creating high-performance microphones, headphones, wireless systems, mixers, turntables, phono cartridges and other electronic products.
A reputation for quality, durability, performance and value has made Audio-Technica products the first choice for many of today’s top musical artists and audio engineers, and for discerning listeners everywhere. Drawing from its audiophile heritage, Audio-Technica remains dedicated to providing music enthusiasts with great-sounding, innovative audio gear, including the award-winning QuietPoint® active noise-cancelling headphones, popular ATH-M50x monitor headphones, versatile USB microphones, and new Hi-Res Audio headphones and high-fidelity gaming headsets.