Japan-based Immutable Music has long been renowned for its small but outstandingly formed range of Transfiguration phono cartridges, whose revolutionary design completely restructures the conventional moving coil (MC) concept. Now, the range is undergoing a number of enticing enhancements and first to arrive in the UK is the company’s flagship model, the Proteus.
Hand-crafted in Japan, Transfiguration moving coil (MC) cartridges have been described as the most important cartridge design since the invention of the moving coil. They are also hailed as being among the world’s most musically engaging.
Their yokeless double-ring-magnet design provides an extremely accurate coil / magnet interface in which the coils are positioned right at the focal point of the magnetic flux field. This ground-breaking construction was conceived to remove the variations in flux introduced by traditional MC designs. The result is a new level of focus and resolution and a stunningly life-like musicality.
Transfiguration cartridges have always been about getting out of the way. Their flagship Proteus model was specifically designed to lack any of its own character. With its internal impedance of a mere 1 ohm, it concentrates instead on extracting a recording’s every nuance with peerless musical realism. Says designer Seiji Yoshioka, “The best audio components are those that simply don’t seem to exist – so good that they add nothing, subtract nothing.”
So how exactly do you improve on that? This is the very question Yoshioka pondered, exploring in near-microscopic detail what could actually be changed in order to achieve an even more naturally revealing sound – yet without compromising the fundamentals of a highly effective low-distortion design.
Two key areas revealed themselves as good for the task: the dampers and the coils.
The Proteus features push-pull damping, with the existing model sporting double dampers made from a specially developed stabilising compound. The latter is insensitive to temperature changes and provides excellent stylus/coil alignment and control. In the new model, the dampers have been further fine-tuned. While the detail of their make-up is a closely-guarded secret, they now feature a multi-layered design composed of different types of elastomer, painstakingly constructed to deliver an even more precise tracking ability.
At the same time, the purity of the 5N silver wire coils has also been upgraded – from 99.9993% to 99.9997% – in order to further remove distortion and enhance transparency.
While these may seem like relatively small changes on paper, their combined impact, says Immutable Music, is anything but. And they should know, since the Proteus’ redesign involved long hours of extensive listening tests. “What we were looking for,” explains Yoshioka, “was even greater focus and accuracy. The ability to read yet more information without distortion and to deliver even more of the natural musicality that Transfiguration has become known for.”
The results speak for themselves. “The new enhanced Proteus really goes to work on detail,” says Yoshioka. “It presents a larger soundstage, increased depth and more natural tonal colours – and ultimately, most important, an even more musically involving presentation.”