“Home listening at its best”: Stereophile magazine reviews Miyajima’s Saboten L phono cartridge

“I have no hesitation in telling you that this is something you ought to hear before spending one thin dime on another cartridge of similar or higher price.” Art Dudley is clearly very impressed by Noriyuki Miyajima’s Saboten L, the cartridge with the cactus-spine cantilever.

The Saboten is the second cartridge in the Miyajima range to feature a cantilever crafted from a natural, organic material (the first being the Madake, which uses bamboo). Why? Because ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are two key features of the superb sound quality that Miyajima embodies, and there are few lengths to which Noriyuki Miyajima would not go to achieve them. In this case, he spent several years searching for the ‘right’ cactus plant with a just-so strength and, once he had found it, spent several more years cultivating the cacti in question.

Miyajima Saboten L

A line-contact diamond stylus is fixed to a short, tubular end-piece of aluminium, which is cemented to the end of the cactus spine. The aluminium end-piece is precisely angled to achieve the ultimate mechanical linearity: it positions the stylus tip very close to the central axis of the cantilever and coil assembly.

“Right from the start, I was impressed… I listened to Norman Blake’s Old and New (Flying Fish 010) and was moved to write the following in my listening notes: “Holy shit—Norman Blake’s voice in ‘The Railroad Days’ was so startlingly present and real.”

Listening to a recording of Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht by the Ramor Quartet, with violist Edith Lörincz and cellist Zsolt Deaky (Turnabout TV 34032S), “the Miyajima followed the opening lines without missing an iota of tension, and allowed the piece’s first violent pizzicato eruption, about 4:00 in, its full measure of dread. Throughout, string texture and color were nothing short of perfect, and each resolution—musical and emotional alike—had full effect. It was achingly, breathtakingly effective and beautiful: home listening at its best.”

“In a nutshell, this beautiful-sounding product embodies everything that’s special about this brand. When it comes to the performance characteristics that matter most to me, I don’t believe I’ve heard another standard-mount cartridge as effective as Miyajima’s Saboten L.”

Read Art Dudley’s full review online at www.stereophile.com/content/listening-186-miyajima-saboten-l-phono-cartridge

Discover more about Miyajima’s superb artisan phono cartridges via UK distributor Timestep at http://miyajima-lab.co.uk