Nagaoka only offers moving magnet cartridges. Fans of this technology like being able to replace the stylus and not having to use an MC preamp. Nagaoka has developed the new MP range to cater to audiophiles with exacting standards. The MP500 is a fine showcase of this range, embodying all of the expertise the Japanese manufacturer has to offer.
It has a relatively flashy but tasteful design, and one that ultimately remains true to the brand’s overall aesthetic – we think it resembles a golden piece of Lego! The body is particularly stable and rigid. As well as receiving a special treatment, it has several carbon fibre reinforcements that guarantee very low resonance. The square design makes it easier to align on the headshell. It is hard to find flaws in the production quality, which is on par with competitor products. The only sticking point for us is that the MP500 does not have a captive screw to help attach and align it. This makes it impossible to install onto the headshells of certain turntables, such as the Thorens TD 160 and TD 166, among others. As per usual, Nagaoka has used excellent, powerful samarium/cobalt magnets and high purity copper coils to build this cartridge. The Super Fine Line Contact stylus is mounted onto a boron cantilever which has undergone a special treatment to increase rigidity and reduce vibration transmission. For this price, it is rare to find a cantilever with this level of quality. To give the cartridge/stylus unit optimum rigidity and vibration isolation, the stylus is screwed onto the cartridge. An Allen wrench is required to replace it. The 3 mV output level makes it compatible with most high quality built-in or standalone MM phono preamplifiers. The combination of its high compliance (18) and low mass (8g) means that it is also compatible with many different tonearm models with low and medium effective mass (Thorens, Dual, Lenco, Garrard, Pro-Ject, Rega, Linn, SME, etc.).
From the opening bars, it was clear we were in the hands of a truly exceptional cartridge. We think it must be one of the top two or three moving magnet (MM) cartridges on the market. In fact, only one serious competitor springs to mind: the Ortofon 2M Black! And it’s worth noting that both of these cartridges outperform some of the most renowned MC cartridges on several counts. Playback is dynamic and vibrant, without compromising on precision and nuance – quite the opposite, in fact! The mids are full of clarity and definition, without a hint of harshness or fatigue. The timbre of the vocals is stunning, giving them an incredible sense of realism. The treble is the best in its range: mellow and informative. The bass is impressively dynamic, well-articulated and dense. This cartridge can deliver the same level of detail as the best high output MC cartridges in this category, but the sound stage sounds slightly deeper and wider.
Like the MP50 in its time, the Nagaoka MP500 cartridge is now considered to be one of the industry’s flagship MM cartridges. Not only has it placed Nagaoka firmly back in the spotlight, it’s also moved it to the top of the podium! The MP500 is sure to satisfy audiophiles with even the most exacting of standards. Highly recommended! Franck
Stylus type: Super Fine Line Contact
Cantilever: Hard boron
Magnets: Samarium Cobalt
Frequency response: 20-20 Khz
Channel separation: 27 dB
Load: 47 Khoms
Output: 3 mV
Recommended tracking force: 1.8g