The Sumiko Black Bird Lo low output MC cartridge is a reference it its category. Indeed, the high output version of this cartridge is part of the best performing high output MC cartridges on the market, and it has been for many years. In terms of musicality and fidelity, it no longer needs to make a reputation for itself.
However, it has always left us perplexed regarding its output voltage and high load, thus limiting it to MM phono inputs. Is this reasonable for a cartridge worth more than 1400 euros?…
For a long time, we wished that Sumiko would offer an affordable low output cartridge of its best seller! And well, the Sumiko Black Bird Lo low output MC cartridge is finally here!
Sumiko Black Bird Lo: body
For a long time, resonance problems linked to the body of the phono cartridge has sparked debates between enthusiasts. Some will even go as far as filling the cartridge with resin or taking the risk of cutting the case of the cartridge!
Sumiko is not the only one to have entirely removed the case to avoid coloration. Benz Micro has been doing this for numerous years with its Glider cartridge.
Removing the case also serves to admire the magnificent assembly and the finesse of the wiring of the coils.
Sumiko Black Bird Lo: features
The Sumiko Black Bird “Lo” is based on the Sumiko Blue Point Special EVO III Lo low output MC cartridge. However, this is where the comparison stops since the majority of the components were modified.
The Sumiko Black Bird Lo cartridge has an elliptical stylus of high quality that has a very low mass. It is mounted on a boron cantilever.
The generator is quite similar to the high output version. However, it has undergone modifications and, more precisely, regarding the coils. In order to decrease the output voltage from 2.5 mV to 0.7 mV, the engineers at Sumiko have “under coiled” the coils by using less conductor.
The result is a lower output voltage, much lower impedance, and a lower mass. In short, there are only advantages in terms of electrics, acoustics, mechanics, and musicality!
It is important to point out that the announced bandwidth (10Hz/50Khz) ridicules any CD player!
The compliance (12) of the Sumiko Black Bird Lo cartridge, and its mass (9.6g), make it compatible with the majority of quality tonearms available on the market, but as well as with more vintage tonearms.
Sumiko Black Bird Lo: listening and review
The surface noise level is extremely low, even inaudible! The dynamics are formidable, whatever the style of music you listen to.
The timbres are of great success. The balance is also to be cited as an example.
The low output Black Bird seems more neutral and realistic than the high output cartridge.
The bass has great depth and is always very clear. The midrange is certainly the strong point of this phono cartridge. The voices and the brass have a superb timbre and are neither harsh nor acid.
This part of the spectrum largely contributes to the sensation of realism of this low output MC cartridge.
Even though there are all the qualities of the high output cartridge, this low output version of the Sumiko Black Bird Lo MC cartridge goes further in terms of nuance, articulation, and details!
In addition, the soundstage is more precise, and the restitution seems less projected!
A true success which once again risks to become a reference in its range!
Principle: Moving coil (MC)
Frequency response: 12Hz-50KHz
Output voltage: 0.7 mV
Channel separation: 35db (1KHz)
Channel balance: <0.5db (1KHz)
Compliance: 12x10-6 cm/dyn
Stylus: 0.3x.7 / low mass Elliptical
Cantilever: in boron
Load impedance: > 100 Ohms
Tracking force: 1.8-2.2 g
Recommended tracking force: 2.0 g