Miyajima Labs Shilabe stereo cartridge


Zeit geist
Turntables, analog, zeit geist? What is the matter with world today, you might say. Should we travel back to mechanical era? Times are changing rapidly, but some things are left unchanged. Passion and emotions are basic human needs. basic feelings of involving and interaction are inherent in any of us. My strong believe is that any interaction with physical medium is way beyond virtual and digital dealings of present. Unique feeling of owning and handling with printed booklet, record sleeves and the record itself cannot be reproduced in any other way. 

Real things  
Reading books, taking time for actual conversations, eathing healthy slow food etc. makes us more human than all of forced fast forwarding life style, that we experiencing past few years. I have no doubt that listening to vinyl, CD's falls somehow round here, and I might be instantly blasted from digital messiahs. Don't get me wrong. I love the ease of handling audio in digital domain, but it's my strong believe that physical media transcend not only nostalgia, but the way we perceived and value music. Dealing with physical medium seems to penetrate our human nature in much more harmonic and satisfying way.

It may seem, that I'm an analog guy in digital world. Does this makes me outdated, less hipster or lack of contemporary groove? Frankly, doubt it and I simply don't care. It's my honor and warmest joy to report and experience about handcrafted rare jewels from real artisans, that incorporated their knowledge, handwork and love for music into their precious creations. This time my honest regards flows towards Mr. Miyajima for providing his product samples, that evoke almost forgotten, instant ray of audio enthusiasm. Many of us still remember and cherished deeply in our personal audio treasure boxes the very first encounters with high-end audio components. Magic? Treasure island, rather.  

Digital future  
While digital music services are becoming stronger each year and the process of purchasing music an instant gratification, the real truth stays hidden from majority of people. For musician, to make a decent living and survive with digital downloads only, he have to sell almost ten times virtual albums then physical. Isn't that somehow fishy?

Cross ring method  
Cross ring method is a patented technology and I strongly recommend it, that you go through 10 minute presentation on Miyajima Labs website and learn about the difference between conventional and ring method structure of stereo cartridge. I'm glad that that Mr. Miyajima provided this precisely guided presentation, that vividly explain my exact feelings about Shilabe while listening to Shilabe for first few minutes. Music that flew through the speakers was the same, but different. There were so much more life and natural feeling of instruments, space and pace of the music. Personally i try to avoid magical and mystical therms in reviewing audio components, but Mr. Miyajima cartridge mesmerised me instantly. It seems that advantage of ring method eliminates major drawbacks of conventional approach and let music breath with all it's best attributes.

Shilabe is carved from the same African wood that oboe or clarinets are made of. This might instantly fall into the realms of exotic therms for some. No worries here. Every thing was done with a good reason in mind and results is a proof itself. Shilabe contact your preferred vinyl through the Shibata stylus, that is a bit larger than usual and oval shaped. By the words of Mr. Miyajima this provide much better conveying of the information's written into grooves.  

Set up  
Mounting was quite easy, but you could never be to careful with such a small and precise objects. It depends on you tonearm, but you might add few grams to your weight, since Shilabe sport mighty 10.4 grams. My counter weight ended almost at the end of the tonearm. I settle the VTF at 3.0 grams to the best results. It's a bit wicked to say, yet Shilabe require few minutes of playing to warm out to perform at it's best capacity.

Swing or sweep?  
Cannonbal Addlery with Bil Evans on 45rpm vinyl never sounded better than with Shilabe and so did my other preferred music material. I compared few turntables and cartridges in different price ranges. Most intriguing thing was pairing Shilabe with Thorens TD-235. Affordable turntable with cartridge costing 4 times more? Wicked indeed. This combination plaid music on par or even above turntables costing double the price of the whole package. There are few things in absence that might be considered with turntable that lacks a proper sub chassis, but put it on the solid resonance free support shelf or audio rack and you'll have the killer combination. You might miss the finest details from top of the line turntables, but everything that mostly matters in music is there.

I have heard better detailed cartridges, with more impressive soundstage, bass or transients, but in the matter of music and specially at conveying true emotions of music, you'll hardly if at all find a cartridge that offers so much. Even few thousand bucks more would not necesseraily bring you music imprint that Shilabe can offer. These days I'm all about music first and specs second. Miyajima Labs Shilabe is music non-stop!

Highly recommended and a true reference product.

Product nameStereo cartridge -Shilabe-
List PriceUS $2,800.00 + Tax
ImpedanceAbout 16 ohms (About 0.23mV output)
Frequency range20 Hz to 32 kHz
Rated needle pressure2.5g - 3.2g (recommended 3g)
diamond oval needle
Stylus ShapeShibata   
Compliancearound 10×10-6cm/dyne   
Weightabout 10.4g
BodyAfrican Blackwood

Matej Isak
Mono & Stereo