Gold Note Tuscany Gold and Red cartridge review

Anyone who met Maurizio Aterini shares the same opinion. He’s first and foremost music lover, high-end audio entrepreneur and highly experienced high-end audio manufacturer with long standing products track record. 
The original Bluenote was founded in 1985 and have lay down the roots of Gold Note. The analog journey began in 1996 with the Kymyas – revolutionary treatment for restoring vinyl records. Year later they brought to market first turntable – Vox Deck 12 with two different and proprietary ball bearings and unipivot tonearms.
Fast forward into 1999 when The Boboli and Baldinotti MC cartridges are launched and here to story of cartridges began…

Gold Note is not just another new comer. I’ve had a chance to seen the impressive past work portfolio and amount of different products is more then just impressive. Maurizio implemented many of unusual and out of the box approaches over the years. One of the products, that I’ve extensively listened to was Demidoff Diamond Anniversary two box flagship integrated. This amplifiers packs grand amount of exotic takes and unique solutions that brings very different and unique performance. Golden notes indeed :)…


Tuscany cartridges feature an extra-thin Micro Ridge diamond tip developed together with Adamant-Namiki, the world most renowned professional Diamond manufacturer. The special multi faced shape cut guarantees the best deep vinyl groove contact possible diamond tips are then mechanically inserted and blocked into a new telescopic Boron cantilever hold by a Titanium pipe, resuòting in increased rigidity of the whole structure
Every Titanium pipe is finely machined from a single block of metal in 4 spokes that handle the cartridge silver micro coils hilt by a Teflon spacer to achieve great rigidity while allowing a perfect alignment building precision for best tracking results
The non-deformable harmonic steel cantilever suspension is blocked with a gold plated nut on the bottom side of the crossbar gold case positioned behind the micro-coils Teflon spacer to avoid unwanted vibration and improve even further solid groove tracking ability thinner and longer gold-plated pin connectors enable a wider contact with arm cinch stopping energy dispersion and improving grounding for a surprisingly silent background that will show at best every single detail.
The body’s cube design offers a gorgeous structural rigidity combined with very intuitive and precise VTA adjustment and easy to see flat bottom line.
Tuscany’s 7050 alloy ultra-light body is injected with fluid polymers to provide a pronounced dampening control effect
The Italian high-quality finishes and exotic structure of the Tuscany Series were designed to satisfy the most demanding ears for a true lifetime pleasure of music listening…
* all Tuscany cartridges come with serial number indelibly printed in the engraved area at the top of the body


Tuscany Gold and Red cartridges are the second generation of Maurizio’s best cartridge design he ever made. Almost ten years ago Maurizio started designing the very first Tuscany that at that time (the body) was made from solid peace of real black ebony.
Ebony, as a special material always fascinating Maurizio since his first steps into the audio business. When the decision of making the first flagship, state of the art cartridge was made, it was a clear choice of material. 
But, thats not all. Maurizio designed, what could be considered one of the shortest cantilever made from a hardened series 7000 aluminum alloy. Diamond, he chose was a line contact made in Japan by Ogura, one of the best diamond manufactures available worldwide. Coils were very small a sophisticated.
The result was amazing and even though the first generation Tuscany did not have a high gain (about 0.15mV). Yet, they sound ed very very good, opened, crisp and detailed like the very best MC’s, but with a bass extension and powerful gain few MC cartridge could really claim to have.
Evolution continued when Gold Note started manufacturing their own special records treating and this ignited special pressing process.
At that time, Maurizio had the possibility to start working with clearly one of the best diamond company in the world that is know as Adamant. Their Japanese name is Namiki, and know as the most renowned company even for cutting diamond, being used to create master for the records.
In the last three years Gold Note team developed few things together with Namiki including the new diamond mad w with a social “Ultra small Micro Ridge”. This design guarantees the best and deepest contact with the “hardest” part of the vinyl groove.
With such great diamond under the brands umbrella and with over ten years of experiences, Maurizio also completely redesigned the cantilever, the coils and their support, the crossbar and the body. New body sported 7000 aluminum alloy, that guaranteed a perfect machined body with tolerance stricter than 1/100mm.
Present cantilever is made out of boron, that much shorter an stiffer than before. This design brings needed lightness and rigidity for the ultimate tracking ability. The diamond is not only glued, but also crimped in order to give best tolerance and an extra long life.
New coils are smaller with more processing being made than with previous model. Wound around a single piece titanium star sharp piece is dampened on a Teflon support. The coils handler is telescopically inserted into the boron cantilever and by this even more rigidity is introduced.
The final result is a cartridge that has more gain, easier to handle via MC phono preamp (the Gold’s 0.25mV and the Red’s 0.4mV). 
Red and gold represents sophisticated series of cartridges where especially the Gold with it silver coils guarantees unique quality and live of performance. 


I’m sure that you’ve already figure out how Maurizio Aterini is more then just serious about his cartridges. They come as result of love for music and dedication to bring out something unique and musically potent. 
Both Gold Note Gold and Red cartridges represents Gold Note’s core direction pointing towards creation of musically oriented micro machines.
Its never easy to find proper, safe balance between stringent and mellow orientation. Some of the Japanese cartridges (as well as electronics) by default embraces the warm side of the sound. Inversely and almost as a rule western cartridge makers/manufacturers adopts more open, transparent and often brittle signature. Do both words need to collide?
What really surprised me with both of the Tuscany Gold and Red cartridges was the absence of typical sound imprint. Truly, I did expect the stronger signature of some sort, yet Maurizio didn’t follow any of the opposite trends, but clearly aimed for the balance and musicality. 
Each and every turntable setup is prone to so many differ things. Especially with analog setup, tinniest thing matters and its always hard to talk about general universal approach. 
Still, its much easier to implement a certain cartridge that is not ardently specific with its sonic signature into the analog setup. I’ve been lucky to find really great match via Audio Union Helix 1 Turntable by Mark Döhmann and The Schröder CB Tonearm and this combo has shown a beguiling match.
While Tuscany Gold its given output 0.25mV and suggest load of  > 400 ohm is a bit harder to match compared to Tuscany REd 0.4mV output and suggested load: > 400 ohm. Luckily one of the setting on the Thrax Audio Orpehus phono preamplifier covered the peripheral loadings. This gave me the proper plane to extract what Tuscany Gold and Red are really capable of. 


Its rare that two of the cartridges from the same manufacturer hit the review at same time. So, it was great to hear in practice two Gold Note’s top cartridges performing with known music material.
From my visit to Gold Note and finishing of the review, I’ve had enough time to perform testing and comparing in proper manner. My trusty arsenal of other reference cartridges offered a great opportunity to conduct listening at proper level and balance. 
In order to keep my listening findings objective I’ve gone through quite some fine setup work. To keep everything in focus the routine was:
Start listening with the Gold Note Tuscany RED cartridge. Short pause… Unmounting, moving to Gold Note Tuscany Gold cartridge, and repeat the process with same vinyl record and adding few additional tracks.
Nut job!? You bettcha. But, that’s not all. Next step was introducing additional two cartridges with different characters to the process. This ensured the listening remarks, that can be called objective. 
Its a timely routine, that’s why my next investment will be additional Schröder CB Tonearm. Why? Audio Union Döhmann Helix 1 Turntable offers a great platform to host two completely identical tonearms. Schröder CB Tonearm is dead simple to use (when you embrace all of the fine adjustments) and my Thrax Audio Orpehus phono comes with three different inputs. This means; same turntable, exactly same tonearm base and tonearm cable going into Orpheus phono preamplifier inputs where A/B/C are instantaneous. In this particular situation A/B comparing was done simple via touch of the knob on the Thrax’s front plate! 
This is what will ease up the repeating mounting part and give a proper level of controlled assumptions. Its still mind boggling how some cartridges are being tested. With different tonearms, different phono cables. Drawing conclusions with non repeating circumstances can be only labeled under the far fetch philosophizing.
Michael Franks ‎– Tiger In The Rain Super Disc LP
One of my desert island records and always at hand when time comes for serious testing/listening. 
This legendary Michael Franks’s album is both music and sound gem. Especially the Super Disc half speed mastering version. With the set of guest including Ron Carter, Ben Riley, Bucky Pizzarelli, Kenny Barron etc. this album is a treat for any music fan.
The impact of Michael’s unique escapism was never repeated throughout his rich repertoire. Eclectic mixture of different styles enriched by the couplet verses and inviolable lyrics lingers on and on.
Interestingly, Tiger In The Rain embraces much more complex compositions then quick listening might suggest… There’s lot to “decipher” with songs being a multi layered…
Tuscany Red
Opening track Sanpaku embarks one on the Casteneda like trip, where one meets its own merits. The lightens, pace, flow and tempi of the song demands a via medium pick up machine, that can convey all the subito subtleness and plummeted core of the rhythm structure. Red, managed to peer ahead of curve, while painting the tones and maintaining the structure. 
Tuscany Gold
With memorable title track where unforgettable Mike Mainieri’s (a member of iconic jazz fusion group Steps Ahead) vibraphone solo Tiger In The Rain expands, Tuscany Gold really reveals its evenness across the complete specter. Generous sonic portraying spreading outwards from a tight musical core came as surprise. 
I’ve heard the particular part hundreds of times, but Gold’s refreshing balance recalled the intrinsic propensities of some of the cartridges costing almost double. My listening notes repeatedly highlighted particularly the balancing act, which is always hard to achieve even with the top tiers. 
Shelly Manne & Jack Marshall ‎– Sounds Unheard Of!
One of the albums where the struggle between audiophile labeling and music worthy release is a thing of continuing debate. Surprisingly inspiring to listen so much of the familiar tracks sounding both musically pleasing and great sounding. 
Tuscany Red
Again Red resolved with intricate, open nature that never lurked above the threshold of brittleness. With sounds unheard Of! things can go too quickly in the domain of wildly harsh. Instead of pushing harshness, Tuscany Red managed to deal with the gain through the proper amplitude rise. This is what sets high-end audio products above mediocre sounding ones. Quite an achievement at this price point. 
Tuscany Gold
Adding to the Red’s attributes, Tuscany Gold pushed the bar further on. Especially with decays and delays Gold professed the atmospheric language rather then fakish, virtual sounding reverberations. 
A touch further, dynamic transients emerged with subtile fertile  anchor points. These are constitutional to the believable rendition of acoustical space and Tuscany Gold resolved with far more complexity one would attach to even not widely affordable price sticker. 
The Electric Recording Company Leonid Kogan plays the Brahms Violin Concerto22 

When music is put on the pedestal and into the realms of bespoke, finer things, where everything is slow paced for a reason, you can call me both entrapped and enchanted. Yes, despite the price factor…
The Electric Recording Company took the unique path of reviving the rare and precious gems from the past in the form of pure analog medium. Whole process that include meticulously restored vintage tube machinery from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s along with time consuming brass letterpress print process by specialized printmakers surely ensures something very different and unique. In the era where some of the used vinyl can fly rocket high ERC venture and products seems not at all far fetch from reality check. 
So what’re dealing with? The spirit, the tempo and the grace. This is where and why analog feels like an actual time machine. Recordings like ERC’s Leonid Kogan plays the Brahms will play good on substantial system. On state of the art system, the real thing happens.
Tuscany Red

Timbre, tone and color. Mantra? Sure! Its more then just fetching garland when things are under the proper conditions. Tuscany RED let the traveling happen without moving so to speak. That should translate to the delivery of the music’s message without explicit forcefulness and taming. It’s easy to push cartridge into the ad nauseum state. Red kept its leit motive intimately close to the core, establishing great rapport with the music.
Tuscany Gold

Enchantment moved on to the higher plane clearly imposing a higher language of the context. While evidently following RED’s attributes, Gold emancipated even further by offering a grander flexibility of tone and tempi. Nailing the pitch with analog might always be the matter of heated discussion. This depends on so many things. Still, when transferred in the best manner the music becomes more then solitude endeavor of decrypted messages.  
Gold moved away from glacier energy transfer and resolved with the complete suite, encompassing the bits of musical DNA rather then acting ostentatious. The ability to confine overarching timbral and tone within one cartridge is quiet an achievement. 
Tuscany Gold and Red managed to materialize real space rather then notional one too often associated even with some of the upper echelon cartridges and have layed down complex colors without taking the notion of vituperations.
Most importantly, Tuscany Red and Gold were designed with evenness and innate sense of musical remuneration in mind from the start.


Both Gold Note Tuscany Gold and Red cartridges took me by surprise. Distinctive in their performance, yet still sharing the same, similar DNA.
I’m a cartridge junkie. As high-end mechanical watches each enthrall me, each and every new micro machine comes with the fascination of their own. Yes, there are different principles going, but even the most affordable cartridge (as mechanical watches) can bring quite an satisfying analog experience. More complex and refined, upper echelon cartridges as mandatory brings something unique and insightful. 
One can surely grasp a lot of musical potion via entry level cartridges in present time. No doubt there. Yet, for analog connoisseurs, aficionados and enthusiasts that can afford to step above the certain price points somehow differs universe becomes friendly destination. 
Analog maven can discern and fathom such gem very quickly and hold it dear, despite the pricing. I’m sure many of them will start looking towards the Tuscany for the obvious reasons.
Red and Gold are matured, refined products and share enticing qualities of MC’s, great balance across the spectrum in absence of artificial bass bump and with airy, natural transparency. They’re representing Gold Note’s focus on the music.
Gold Note Tuscany cartridges gist incentivize records listening with grander emotional impact. While sharing familiar sound DNA, they are different players and these guided performance nuances comes with the price…
I’m more than happy that I’ve taken a chance to explore these proud creations of Maurizio Aterini and Gold Note team. From the ground up, they’ve been designed to offer a perpetual listening experience.

2018 addendum. After having Gold Note Tuscany prolonged evaluation and in the ability to compare it with most of the upper echelon cartridges, I’m wholeheartedly giving out the Mono & Stereo 2018 Editor Choice Award for its sheer musicality, balanced presentation, and unprecedented realism. 

Text and original photos: Matej Isak


Tuscany GOLD 7300€ retail
Tuscany RED 4800€ retail


Typology: MC Low Output Phono Cartridge
Output level: 0.25mV
Frequency response: 5-55000Hz 
Impedance: 4 ohm
Suggested load: >100 ohm
Compliance: 10×10-6cm/dyne
Channel separation: > 35dB
Suggested tracking weight: 1.8 to 2.1g

Cantilever: Boron
Diamond: Super Micro Ridge
Diamond size: 2.5×75μm
Coil Wire: Silver
Magnet: Samarium-Cobalt
Mounting hole diamond distance: 6,5mm
solid block machined hardened 7050 Duraluminium alloy
black body with gold logo and name
Tuscany Red helped by its 20ohm high internal impedance and the 0.4mV output level can be easily matched with any MC active phono preamp without Step-Up transformers
Typology: MC Low Output Phono Cartridge
Output level: 0.4mV
Frequency response: 10-50000Hz
Impedance: 20 ohm
Suggested load: > 400 ohm
Compliance: 10×10-6cm/dyne
Channel separation: > 30dB
Suggested tracking weight: 1.8 to 2.1g
Cantilever: Boron
Diamond: Micro Ridge
Diamond size: 2.5×75μm
Coil Wire: copper
Magnet: Samarium-Cobalt
Mounting hole diamond distance: 6,5mm


solid block machined hardened 7050 Duraluminium alloy
black body with red logo and name


Akamai Audio
Via della Gora, 6
Montespertoli (Florence) ITALY 50025
Tel.+39 0571 675005
Fax.+39 0571 675013