Frequently Asked Questions
In the following, we've compiled the most common questions. The Audio MusiKraft cartridge concept may look complicated at first sight because it's fully modular, but in fact our cartridges are very simple to use, and straight forward to setup. When purchasing our cartridge, one can keep it very simple by choosing a basic kit or one can decide to plunge into the MusiKraft's powerful voicing features to exploit the most out of this unique cartridge design. Which ever avenue the client decides, all our cartridges will play woderfully right from start. The added benefit to the one who desires exploring more deeply with the MusiKraft will help him optimize the synergy between the cart to its attached analog gear, and to permit the listener to reach his personal sonic goals.
Q1: What are the requirements to use an Audio MusiKraft Cartridge?
- You will need a medium to high mass tonearm to match our low compliance cartridges (i.e. 10g and more).
- A system ready for low output MC cartridges or either using a head amp or a step-up transformer (SUT).
- A tonearm able to counter-balance 11 to 21g depending on the alloy you choose.
Q2: Can I Use The Audio MusiKraft Cartridge On My (“X” Brand) Tonearm?
You will first need to know your tonearm specifications. We recommend medium to high mass tonearms. So far we have tested them on SME 3009, SME 3012, VPI, Rega RB 300-700 and they are perfectly compatible with these arms. However, on Rega arms, we recommend a heavier counterweight for maximum flexibility for the VTF adjustment. As of VTA, our shell’s height with an installed cartridge is 0.7“ /17.7 mm from shell top to diamond tip (measured free air).
Depending on which alloy, and the wood insert set, the overall weight will vary as follows:
|Series||Shell (nude and w/o motor)||Cartridge and wood inserts|
|w/o wood||Min. w/wood||Max. w/wood|
To provide a clear example, refer to the specific cartridge product page. The total weight is the addition of three (3) components (shell + motor + wood set species). The added wood finish weight is negligible, and we will not consider it here. The standard weight for a any motor is 7.25 grams.
Example; if you choose the MusiKraft MGnitro1-COCO model (magnesium Nitro 1) with the torrefied pine inserts, the following implies:
- Magnesium shell (incl. its screws) = 2.79g
- Torrefied pine wood inserts = 0.32g
- Nitro motor = 7.25g
Total weight of the MusiKraft cartridge = 2.79g + 0.32g + 7.25g = 10.36 grams
Q5: Do I Need A Special Pre-Amp For Your LOMC (Low Output Moving Coil) Nitro Series Cartridge?
Your system must be ready for low output MC cartridges or you will either need a head amp or a step-up transformer (SUT).
Q6: What Are The Recommended Load And Gain For Your Cartridges When Using A Step-Up Transformer (SUT)?
The recommended load for the Denon DL-103 or Nitro 1 is 40 Ohms (or slightly higher) and you are looking for approximately 20dB of gain (step-up ratio of 1:10). For the Denon DL-103R or Nitro 2, 14 Ohms (or slightly higher) and approximately 22dB of gain (step-up ratio of 1:12). In both cases, a couple of dB below or above those respective values remain acceptable.
Q7: What Are The Recommended Load And Gain For Your Cartridges When Using A Pre Preamp Or 'Head Amp'?
In any case, the minimum recommended load should be 100 ohms or as a general rule of thumb, no less than 3 to 4 times the cartridge’s internal impedance. Finally, it is also OK to experiment with different values when the ‘head amp’ features a choice of loading and we suggest to select the more pleasing of the range simply by ear. For a typical phono-preamp we are looking for 60dB of gain.
Which to purchase :
Q8: What are my choices?
To start, there are presently three (3) options for you to choose from:
- First Series pre-assembled ready to play cartridge (you choose the optional tonewoods, "à la carte" type kit);
- Nitro series pre-assembled ready to play cartridge (comes with 3 pre-selected tonewoods, fully equipped kit);
- Separate shell (DIY assembly, tonewoods, and any other accessories in option). For owners who already owns a Denon DL-103 or any of its variants and who desires to nude, and assemble a modded Denon cartridge by their own. This change is the equivalent of our MusiKraft First Series models.
Q9: Is the First Series the basic version?
Yes, the First Series cartridges are the first ones that we introduced to the market. They are assembled with a nude DL-103 or 103R motor (generator) depending on the one you prefer. The cartridges are assembled upon the shell alloy and the wood type option(s) that you choose. The cartridge is ready to play when you receive it. Later on you can voice the cartridge to your taste while using the inerant tuning features that it offers.
Q10: What is Particular About the Nitro Series?
The Nitro Series is our most advanced cartridges which are equipped with our modified motor version Nitro 1 or Nitro 2. Nitro 1 is an upgraded version of the DL-103, and the Nitro 2 is an improved DL-103R. The completed kits are offered in two (2) motor versions (Nitro 1 and Nitro 2) and four (4) alloy bodies to choose from. Each kit includes an improved generator (motor), three (3) pre-selected optimaly finished tonewoods (chosen by us) for you to cover a large musical and sonic spectrum, and it comes standard with the damping oil treatment, all the necessary voicing, and installation tools in a newly designed jewel box.The cartridge is ready to play when you receive it. Later on you can voice the cartridge to your taste while using the inerant tuning features that it offers.
The Nitro Series are more lively, spontaneous, impactful, realistic, tone right, vibrant, musical, and dare we say, downright impressive compared to their predecessors.
Audio MusiKraft presently offers two distinct cartridge motors: the DL-103 (or Nitro 1) and the DL103R (or Nitro 2).
Mechanically, both motors closely resemble each other. To help distinguish them, the external finish on the 103R is gold plated. The main difference stems from the 103R possessing a higher degree of copper wire purity resulting in a more faithful reproduction. Electrically; the 103R has a lower DC resistance so the recommended load is slightly different from each other, and it is slightly lower in output voltage than the 103.
Essentially the 103 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 R version.
The listener looking for a more neutral, and precise reproduction will prefer the 103R version. Subjectively, this one has a flatter frequency response in its entire passband. It has slightly better and refined timbre than the 103, especially notable in the mid-range portion; thanks to the use of 6N pure copper wire. Its lower moving coil equipment mass ensures slightly quicker transients.
- Aluminum (Al): We recommend the Aluminum (Al) series cartridge as a versatile and highly competitive candidate and one that provides excellent performance in a wide variety of contexts. Its sonic signature is lively, dynamic and provides fine focus and attack; you can literally map the soundstage.
- Lithium (Li): This series cartridge is for those seeking a more intimate presentation of the musicians while the core and timbres of the instruments are better perceived. The high frequencies in the Lithium (Li) are silkier and are not unlike going from a metallic dome tweeter to a silk one in a loudspeaker. The mid-band is more laid back, damped and relaxed. The bass is rounder compared to the Aluminum (Al) version. A Lithium (Li) cartridge sounds warmer and pleasing. The copper content in this alloy provides a well-balanced damping effect that gives this warmer and silkier result.
- Magnesium (Mg): The Magnesium (Mg) series is for the audiophile wanting maximum transparency with neutral sound. It is the most analytical of the four alloys. The Magnesium (Mg) tends towards an immersive headphone-like 3D effect, delivering a lot of the micro-information that is contained in the vinyl grooves, with an excellent left to right soundstage nuance. Given its mechanical properties, it delivers a shorter decay time. It restores the textures and provides a harmonious tonal balance with a less weighty presentation than the other alloys.
- Bronze (Br): For the ultimate experience, the Bronze (Br) series cartridge stands out by the lower octaves extended bandwidth. The soundstage foundation is more entrenched. It has a more significant footprint than other metals in upper-bass and lower-midrange tonal level. One can feel the veracity, the syncopated rhythm and the presence of the midrange’s fundamental notes. The background is noiseless and dark which permits to restore every subtlety. Given its smoother effect on the high-medium and treble, listening with the Bronze (Br) steers the listener in a more passive, less cerebral direction, yet maintaining the right mix of details which results from it playing with grace.
Q13: Which Wood Type and Finish Should I Choose?
- Wood inserts: for added flexibility and to get the most out of your unique cartridge, we recommend to our customers to try at least three (3) tone-wood sets. A good starter is to choose wood types with different mass or density (ex: low, med, high), unless you have some preferred wood types of course. There are 24 common wood species inserts on the web store but we also carry seventy (70) more wood species which aren't listed there. These are mostly exotic types or infrequent ones. If you would like to consult this list, here is the link to download the PDF. Price varies from $30 to $100/set. If this can help you to save the guess work, as a good starter you could simply select the woods that we have chosen for the Nitro Series cartridge kits as the optimal woods to cover a large musical and sonic spectrum. Among the three are; clear lacquered maple, beeswax patinated torrefied pine, and eco-oiled ipe. Lately, we sell a lot of leather on birch inserts. It's among our preferred presently for our Bronze Nitro reference cartridge.
- Wood treatment: First of all, the wood treatments we offer help preserve the wood, but here we mostly use them for their effect on the resulting sound. A very good option not to ignore is to try our oil treatment, it is sold pre-installed or in a 1ml vial for you to apply at your convenient time during testing. If you want to experiment with A/B comparisons, you will necessarily need two wood sets; note that this test is irreversible if you purchase only one set. We also offer a three (3) coat clear lacquer finish. Both of the latter will make a notable difference on your sensitive cartridge. In short words, our natural oil dampens resonances and adds a bit of tone to the sound. It also slightly darkens the background and softens the top end on shimmering highs. The lacquer finish usually provides a tad bit more edge and impact in bass. Using the wood inserts in a nude state is fine but as prevention against dirty fingers and UV rays, we suggest you to consider the protective Bees wax patina treatment on the external exposed side to preserve the natural wood surface and its color. Note that this treatment is insignificant to changing the sound. To sum up, here are our four (4) standard finish options:
- Patinated with bees wax
- Treated with our eco-friendly wood oil
- Clear lacquered
Q14: Should I Wait To Buy Additional Wood Insert Sets?
We suggest buying the extra wood insert sets at cartridge’s date purchase as we can precisely machine them to your specific cartridge. Even though our shells are machined to a very tight tolerance (± 0.001“), there may be slight differences in the insert openings between some batches. If you purchase some at a later date, for guarantied perfect fitment and visual finish, we suggest you send your cartridge back to us. While here, we will inspect, and clean your cartridge.
Q15: Do You Offer Other Wood Species Or Finish Not Mentioned On Your Web store as I Would Like To Personalize The Shell To My Taste?
Yes, it will be a pleasure for us to look into your needs and check the feasibility. We are open to any ideas, however, as this would be a custom order, there would be an extra charge and it involves additional manufacturing delay.
Q16: How Much Torque Should I Apply On The Three (3) Micro-Tuning Screws?
It is important to mention that the purpose of these micro-screws is only for “audio tuning”, NOT for fastening the cartridge motor to its shell. As of torque, use common sense! A cartridge, as we all know, is extremely fragile and sensitive, so care should be exerted in NOT applying too much torque on the screws. In fact, once in contact with the cart, no more than a quarter (1/4) turn is required for the rear lateral screws and no more than an eight (1/8) turn is necessary on the front one.
- No contact;
- Slight touch (no torque);
- One eight (1/8) turn after contact;
- One quarter (1/4) turn after contact.
You will find video supported help in our “Video Tutorials” page.
Q17: What Will Affect Putting More Or Less Tension On The Micro-Screws?
There are many possible combinations of tuning screw settings. Here are some personal observations that we’ve done on our reference system with a nude magnesium cartridge (w/o wood inserts) equipped with the standard DL-103 motor. We’ve used the magnesium nude shell because it is the most transparent and neutral on sound. Do not take these observations for granted as your findings may differ from ours, each equipment, each ears, and personal perception are different. A micro tweak here may have a considerable influence at your loudspeaker’s output.
- No screw engaged: Gives a lift on the first 5 octave bandwidth compared to while using cedar inserts withou any torque, provides a better tonal balance, more weight but not optimal, less treble grain, reduces 5-6kHz presence, provides a lot of room information but slightly at the limit, good stereo panning, excellent decay, brought slightly romanticism in violins and some color in the saxophone, mids are organic, nice textures, 1kHz is centered and pronounced (perceived level +1.5dB), reduces warmth, intimacy, and roundness, reduces low-mid, thinner sound/less meat.
- Two Rear screws (slightly in contact): loss of weight, treble 8kHz and up emphasized like a shelf but it sounded more positive while listening to classical music, adds a bit of warmth compared to no tension, less emphasis at 800-1kHz than without tension (perceived level -0.5dB), less audible fatigue, noticed a bid more low-mid, “expander” effect on many listened music, slight headphone 3D effect, previous 1kHz centered problem is less perceptible, less “prat”, emphasized treble but silkier on jazz, less pinpoint on violins but its image has grown which is interesting
- Two Rear screws (1/4 turn once in contact): Slight heard distortion and less clean treble, smearing, the sound is more tense, mostly loss of musicality, loss of aeration, more proximity on the instruments
- All three screws (slightly in contact): pretty much the same as our observations with the 2 rear screws slightly in contact, except it added a bit of distortion in all the bandwidth and in all music, on a positive note it added weight, more punch on rock music, more “grunt” on saxophone, the top end details are less emphasized, except it added a bit of blurring, neutral 800-1kHz (0dB ref.) in regards to the 2 screws in slight contact
- Front screw (1/8 turn once in contact): Very clean sound, hi-hat well defined, less weight and groove, missing a bit the organic signature and heftiness, this setting is very unique in the sound which distinguishes itself from what we have heard yet, very visual listening experience, it easy to follow the musicians and engineered stereo panning, total absence of distortion, pretty neutral tonal balance except it misses weight, bass “thump” came out less on a rock album and we lost a bit of its cutting edge, slight loss of musicality and energy.
As you can note, the front screw will provide a different effect than the rear lateral ones, so during your explorations don’t hesitate to alternate between these.
Q18: Can I Run The Cartridge Nude Without Wood Inserts?
For the purist, yes absolutely, and we invite you to try it. This will considerably affect the sound. For the better or the worst, you be the judge. Additionally, one can simply try using the single top insert or vice-versa the lateral ones. There is just about no limit to our modular design.
This feature adds convenience for the tonearm effective length adjustment and/or the overhang position for ease of installation.
Servicing and Maintenance:
Use the provided wooden pushrod tool sent with your cartridge kit. Once the motor is removed, with the tool, exert pressure on the rear side edge of the insert and it will slip out.
Installing an insert is somewhat different. Lay it flat (parallel) onto the surface. Not to damage the visible wood face, we recommend using your fingers to push it back in (beware of your fingernails). The MusiKraft shells have built-in inner pocket tabs as depth limiters, push the inserts back in until they sit well applying even and parallel force to the wood face. You will find video supported help in our “Video Tutorials” page.
Following is a short video animation of the sequence
Removing the motor from the shell is fairly easy as it is only a matter removing the four (4) cover screws, lifting up the cover and sliding out the motor. Doing this takes a minute. For visibility, we recommend laying down a white paper sheet on a flat work surface. For security, move away from all metallic objects which are in close proximity as the cartridge magnet may attract them.
- Make sure the three (3) fine-tuning screws aren’t engaged, unscrew them.
- Unscrew the shell cover from its base
- While holding in place the motor with a finger, flip upside down and lay the base on your flat work surface
- Slide-out the cartridge motor
- Manipulate with care from the motor rear end being careful not to touch the small protruding copper conductors.
Re-installing is the reversal procedure, simply be careful to align back the tiny cover guide pins into the shell base recess holes, press the cover in, then screw. You will find video supported help in our “Video Tutorials” page.
If you still have questions, simply contact us. It will be a pleasure to help you.