AUDIO MUSIKRAFT BRONZE (BR) COLLECTORS SERIES CARTRIDGE REVIEW



When Guy Pelletier, the owner of Audio MusiKraft, asked me if I was interested in reviewing one of his pickups, I did a little research on the product as usual. Even a quick glance at the website sparkled more than enough curiosity to make it go beyond the usual interest. After a few e-mail exchanges, we set for the evaluation of the Audio MusiKraft Bronze (Br) Collectors series, Patinated, LOMC cartridge with silver nitrate on black patina #3. 

A few weeks later the review sample Bronze (Br) Collectors series with Nitro2 motor, 6N pure copper coil, and output of 0.30mV (@14Ω) has arrived and my curious and exciting adventure has begun. 

THE STORY


There is a lot to comprehend about the  Audio MusiKraft particular way of doing things, so let us dig deeper into the subject matter. 

To best compliment the way the Audio MusiKraft Nitro motors are designed, their latest research showed that the ideal metal shell environment to work with was a bronze alloy.


"As usual, our primary objective was to provide optimal musical playback. In general, we believe bronze is quite favorable for high-performing audio component construction when introduced in strategic places. Here are two key reasons why we have chosen this mythic alloy in search of specific sonics. One, for its heavier mass, to better control the arm resonances as well as stimulate the cartridge’s moving coil suspension, and secondly, by providing to the motor the best acoustically sound structure in reference to the proper alloy composition; i.e. copper, lead and tin which are low resonant materials. These supple materials dampen the ringing transmitted back to the generator usually associated with metals and which would translate into distortion. It turns out that bronze is regarded as a durable and ageless material which last millenniums which therefore represents in some way our strong and unique recyclable feature.

In every aspect, our quest for ultimate performance has proven us right."

THE BACKGROUND


From the onset Audio MusiKraft team addressed what they felt were most missing from everything out there regardless of price: mainly tone-ability, recyclability and extreme ease of setup. Many decades ago it was common to see preamps and integrated amps sporting multiple tone controls that enabled listeners to tailor the sound to their liking. This sonic flexibility unfortunately entailed signal circuit complexity, and was the primary reason to abandon the latter for the "straight wire" principle adopted by the vast majority of the high end industry since the 1980s or so. 


Frustrated by the fact that we are often "strappled" by the sound of the sum of our components, we elected to once again offer the audiophile-music lover the possibility to customize one's sound in relation to its surroundings–room, associated components–and sonic tastes, but to do it mechanically rather than electrically; thus keeping the signal as pure as ever.

THE SOLUTION


Audio MusiKraft accomplished this in a fully modular and recyclable concept in a unique precisely-machined two (2) part housing design – top plate and base- which at first sight allows for quick generator servicing or interchangeability. This shell assembly is built to accept three (3) small pieces of either wood species or other upgradable material inserted within our numerous metalized structured shells of varying weight and finishes. In addition, three (3) micro-setscrews – two (2) lateral and one (1) frontal – to control mechanical resonance allowing delicate fine-tuning of the cartridges interpretation of certain sonic parameters; in effect permitting personal voicing of the final system sound or satisfaction control. 


To address THE third requirement, the top plate of the housing complies with EIA standards with ten (10) threaded holes instead of the usual two (2), thus providing ample setup possibilities without the need of displacing the tonearm for proper overhang. The sharp-edge squarish profile and face was also a deliberate decision to ease the setup with strong visual cues, for proper visual VTA and azimuth alignment. The concept is particularly well suited for unlimited aftermarket upgrades.

THE MOTOR 


Nitro 2.

Mechanically, both motors closely resemble each other. To help distinguish them the external finish on the Nitro 2 is gold plated. The main difference stems from the Nitro 2 possessing a higher degree of copper wire purity resulting in a more faithful reproduction. Electrically; the Nitro 2  has a lower DC resistance so the recommended load is slightly different from each other and the Nitro 2  is slightly lower in output voltage than the Nitro 1.


Essentially the Nitro 1 is pleasing to listen to, it provides vivid sound which translates to a more «forefront» presentation. It offers more midrange bloom and it confers more presence than the Nitro 2.

The listener looking for a more neutral and precise reproduction will prefer the Nitro 2 version. Subjectively, this one has a flatter frequency response in its entire passband. It has slightly better and refined timbre than the Nitro 1, especially notable in the mid-range portion; thanks to the use of 6N pure copper wire. Its lower moving coil equipment mass ensures quicker transients.

HANDS ON


I've contacted Frank Schröder to inquire about the compatibility with his Schröder CB Tonearm as the Bronze (Br) Nitro cartridges require a tonearm able to counterbalance 21g. Added additional counterbalance weight was an easy "fix" and as explained by Schröder there were no compatibility issues. 


Audio MusiKraft is by nature a low output MC cartridge and require either a dedicated step-up transformer (SUT) or phono stage capable of handling the needed gain. I prefer low output MC cartridges and I own quite a few of them, so the matching phono stages were not an issue at all. 


The review sample box consists these accessories packed in a stylish red stained baltic plywood jewel box. This cartridge kit includes:
  • One (1) Audio MusiKraft Nitro 2 series phono cartridge
  • One (1) 3D printed black plastic guard
  • One (1) Torrefied pine wood insert set (Beeswax patina on external face)
  • One (1) Maple wood insert set (3 coat lacquer on external face)
  • One (1) Ipe wood insert set (eco-oil treated)
  • One (1) Eco-friendly oil vial (1ml)
  • One (1) M0.7mm Allen hex key
  • One (1) M2.0mm Allen hex key
  • One (1) miniature Philips screwdriver
  • One (1) wooden pushrod tool for (wood insert removal)
  • One (1) stylus brush
  • Six (6) pairs M2.5 x 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10mm, SS 304, Allen hex cap screws;
  • Two (2) pairs M2.5 x 6mm x 0.5mm thick, Stainless Steel 304, Flat washers
  • One (1) red stained Baltic plywood jewel box.
There are two option to choose from upon ordering for distinct motors; Nitro 1 or Nitro 2. As mentioned previously the review sample case with the Nitro 2 motor. 


The kit comes with damping oil vial, a complete tool kit and various screws for a trouble-free installation.

There are three (3) pre-selected tonewoods included. Audio MusiKraft has chosen clear lacquered maple, beeswax patinated torrefied pine, and eco-oiled ipe as the optimal woods to cover a large musical and sonic spectrum.


Bronze (Br) alloy versions:

Gold Plated Series:  one (1) single mirror finish option, 14k gold plating 
Collectors Series: six (6) patina options, various acids 

THE MUSIC


First and foremost, the Audio MusiKraft pickup is a musically charged micromachine. This was initially evident in a few songs from various albums, regardless of genre. Exploring my record collection with the Bronze (Br) Collectors series cartridge was a highly enjoyable analog adventure.


Electronic Recording Company Otto Klemperer - The Nine Symphonies Stereo 13 LP Box (Catalogue Number. ERC046) is a unique gem that is always an emotional experience. These symphonies represent Beethoven's cornerstone achievement.

Moreover, each of his symphonies is highly individual and original, while retaining many traditional elements and typical Beethoven characteristics.

There are always numerous particularities about this recording, but one of the striking highlights of this pressing is undoubtedly Klemperer's unique "assertion" of tempi. For this to be fully transcribed, not only the cartridge but the entire high-end audio setup, including the analog front end, must be able to handle a subtle but distinctive factor in the time domain. 

Somehow the role of the conductor and the high-end audio system overlap in the primaries. They are both responsible for the interpretation of the music. While the conductor conducts the tempi and drama, the high-end audio system directs the dynamic momentum and PRAT.

The Audio MusiKraft cartridge enabled the ERC Klemperer to spread out completely and expand the music with the necessary articulation. 


The Bronze (Br) Collectors cartridge embraces the soul and musical sensitivity that was easily and instantly recognizable in the latest Electronic Recording Company release of the coveted sonic-audiophile blockbuster Sonny Rollins Way Out West (stereo catalog number: ERC053S). 

This iconic record by Rollins received a special stereo treatment through ERC's 1965 all valve Lyrec/Ortofon analog cutting chain. It was mastered without any processing, except for a slight interspersion of reverb courtesy of ERC tube-driven EMT 140 echo plates, which follows the original pressing direction.

As at the ERC, Klemperer Way Out West presented a full-scale sonic canvas and not vignette-like presentation, which is all too often associated even with some of the far more expensive cartridges. 

Audio MusiKraftBronze (Br) Collectors cartridge's palpable sonic illusion once again came to forte. 

Music comprises a multitude of peripatetic musical impulses, and Audio MusiKraft is no stranger to such hard tasking endeavors. 


Interestingly, one of the most striking audible remarks that were repeated again and again was the tonal liveliness. Mozart & Mendelssohn, Violin Concertos Played by Leonid Kogan Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216, Concerto in E minor, op. 64 (stereo LP - catalog number. ERC049) offers a unique introspection and analysis of vividness and tonality. Here too, the Bronze (Br) Collectors cartridge has proven its worth by conveying the music edifices with all their density. 

It's all about finer details with upper echelon analog front-end of the highest standard, and Audio MusiKraft delivers the atomization of fine detail that enables the vivid projection of the required details as well as the believable formation of the instruments.

Too often, technology deterrents us from truly enjoying music. This is the result of design flaws and, above all, of not listening to what is designed. Such editions are almost dissident by nature, and it can be confusing even for an experienced analog connoisseur. 

It's bewildering how many products on the market go through only quick lab measurements and simplified sound tests, but deliberately avoid the most important part, the listening test.

The Bronze (Br) Collectors cartridge is not such a product, and this was obvious from track to track, from album to album. 

In the real world, simple listening easily shows where the real fruits of the laborious efforts differ from the mediocrity. 

Audio MusiKraft Cartridge clearly comes from the music lovers and is intended for the lovers of analog music!

THE CONCLUSION 


Perhaps even more so than any other type of high-end analog audio equipment, phono cartridges are what you might best call true physical music machines. Even when the phono preamp or system is turned off and the recording is spinning with the pickup in the groove, you will hear the sound. Yes, it produces the sound :). This is well known to analog aficionados, but it can certainly surprise young enthusiasts. 


Quite a few lovers of turntables use certain cartridge for particular music. This is usually paired with a preferred tonearm to achieve the best synergy. If this is not voicing, what is it? So the basic concept of an analog, vinyl-based system is designed from the outset not only to achieve sonic synergies but also to find the right tonal balance.


With different types of cartridges, the main thing connected to these micromachines is to find the right balance, and this requires fine-tuning to achieve the desired result.

Audio MusiKraft takes precedence at the very beginning. Even before dealing with analog utensils such as tonearm, phono cable, phono preamplifier, etc. It deals with the basics, where it all starts. At the cartridge!

I own a whole range of different pickups, and it is amazing how not only do different approaches lead to such a complete otherness, but it is even more fascinating how just one implementation of different materials or a small tweak can influence the sound. This is well known to the Japanese cartridge masters and they have been applying this knowledge for decades. 

On the other side of the world, Pelletier's choice of bronze as a material is certainly an interesting, but not accidental direction and, together with the included "tuning" kit, opens up an exponential sonic variety. 

I've spent numerous hours and a variety of albums to dig-deeper into the Audio Musikcraft analog realms. 

I can hear a bleeding scratching edge of the mind meet the inner chamber of the brain of rationalist. Tuning, voicing!? And yet... 

As already elaborate many times before, the entire high-end audio concept we deal with every day works around the concept of tuning, refinement, fine-tuning, and the ultimate balancing act. So is it really so outwardly to take into consideration experimenting with the cartridge that is among the most if not most susceptible high-end audio products to any quark like changes!?

Together with Dohmann Helix a turntable, my reference Thrax Audio Orpheus phono stage and the recently arrived Aries Cerat Sig phono stage, the Audio MusiKraft cartridge with Nitro2 machine was in more than good company to show what it was really capable of. And it did show its value and ability to perform at it's best!


Audio MusiKraft introduces a genuine love affair for both experienced users and somebody who's just starting to explore the analog realms. It also opens up the world of many sonic possibilities to the real tweaker, with an easy-to-use application that is instantly audible. 

The (Br) Collectors Series cartridge is by no means an ordinary affair, but a very refined, tuned and right sounding cartridge that offers a new world of fine-tuning, something that has never been done before at this level. 

In everything that has to do with the turntable based high-end audio system, every little detail counts. When it comes to the most fragile signal from the pickup, it's even more subtle, and things move at the nano level of detail.

Audio MusiKraft has created something meaningfully different, engaging, and most importantly intimately harmonious, tuneful, and instantly captivating. 

At the end of the day, it's all about pure, direct, and no-nonsense music intake and Audio MusiKraft's proud creation takes no turns to take you there.•

Matej Isak

THE PRICE


- $4,139.00

SPECIFICATIONS  


  

CONTACT  


Audio MusiKraft  
Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, 
Quebec
J2W 2Y6 
Canada

Tel: +1 (514) 266-2441