The perfect sound is an ever-fading and elusive concept. However, one can get close to finding the holy grail, that is audio excellence, by being experimental, and learn to understand and appreciate the craft that goes into high-quality sound reproduction.
Audio-Technica has produced cartridges for over five decades and recently picked up a concept for its ART1000 model that nobody has touched on since the 1980s. They aimed to create a high-end product that offers excellent sound with as little interference with the signal chain as possible, starting with the coils.
The cartridge design is unique because the coils are right above the stylus. They register the signal more accurately and faster compared to other models. In most designs, the coils are behind the cantilever, which can have the effect of a suspension. However, the ART1000 is like a sportscar, allowing the driver to register more of the road’s turns, surface, and quality.
The special line stylus picks up the highs with ease and passes it on to the coils. This allows for a lower tracking force than conventional conical and elliptical styli which reduces both stylus and record wear and means the ART1000 achieves over 1000 hours of play-time before it needs replacement. Audio-Technica offers a replacement program for the cartridge once the stylus has worn down.
The ART1000 is very exclusive. There are only two women in the company in Japan hand build each unit. It takes them a full week to produce one unit each, and every cartridge comes with its own recommended vertical tracking force. This extraordinary product comes at the price of $6,999, which is their most expensive cartridge in company history.