If you doubt that vinyl is on solid ground in 2022, one only needs to look at the growing number of affordable high-end phono cartridges being introduced to understand that consumers are starting to really wonder just how good their new record collection can actually sound. Brands like Sumiko have understood for a long time that music listeners often take baby steps before opening their wallet for the first time on a high-end turntable like the Pro-Ject Debut PRO and the brand new Sumiko Wellfleet MM Phono Cartridge.
I recently reviewed the Debut PRO and found it to be a surprisingly strong performer below $1,100 — it might be as good as my fully tricked out Thorens TD-145 running a Dynavector 10×5 low output moving coil cartridge. I like the supplied Sumiko cartridge but I suspect the Wellfleet or even the Sumiko Blue Point No. 3 could take this table to another level.
Eric Pye recently reviewed the Sumiko Blue Point No. 3 cartridge and was completely smitten by its tonal balance and excellent detail retrieval.
The Japanese cartridge manufacturer sells a lot more of its Rainier MM carts than its expensive MC offerings for the simple reason that most consumers getting into vinyl for the first time are buying integrated amplifiers with a MM phono stage and consider $350 to be their maximum ceiling for a phono cartridge.
The $449 Sumiko Wellfleet MM Cartridge pushes that price ceiling higher but the early word is that the new nude elliptical stylus MM cartridge is quite the overachiever below $500 — which puts it in direct competition with the Ortofon 2M Bronze, Nagaoka MP-200, and Grado Labs Timbre Series Platinum3 cartridges.
Sumiko has applied and upgraded its award-winning design of the Moonstone
cartridge, retuning the suspension for optimal performance of a nude elliptical diamond with the existing generator and resonance-optimized housing found in the rest of the Rainier series.
The Sumiko Wellfleet utilizes a highly polished nude elliptical stylus, eliminating the bonding between the stylus tip and shank. With the new assembly, excessive mass in the shank is cut away to further reduce tip mass, resulting in a faster,
more direct, and more accurate response of the stylus’ movement by the cantilever and magnet.
This series of MM carts offer between 2.5 mV and 5 mV of output and we’re clarifying that detail in regard to the Sumiko Wellfleet. The Moonstone is around 2.5 mV while the Rainier is almost 5 mV.
If the Sumiko Wellfleet can deliver most of the performance of the Amethyst for $150 less — that might make it quite the bargain.
Look for our review of the Sumiko Wellfleet in the next 2 months.
For more information: sumikophonocartridges.com
Related reading: Best Phono Cartridges