Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge – Review, Test and Final Verdict


Nagaoka is a very serious company that does not frequently modify its models which is certainly not a habit in this industry. Their MP series of cartridges have been on the market for a long time, which tells us the company believes in their products and does not intend to produce novelties too often. The MP-200 is a mid-priced turntable cartridge, yet the review has shown that many of its features are up in the high-end and that it would be a serious upgrade to many turntable setups.

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Nagaoka MP-200 DJ Turntable Stereo Cartridge Elliptocal Diamond Stylus
Nagaoka MP-200 DJ Turntable Stereo Cartridge Elliptocal Diamond Stylus

We have already written about the Nagaoka company in the review of the MP-110 cartridge so we will not repeat it.

The Nagaoka MP-200, with its relatively high-price for an MM cartridge, would seem to be a limiting factor. However, the technical data suggests that we should leave these prejudices aside. Compared to the MP-150 the tested cartridge has seemingly very similar parameters but with a very important difference. The cantilever is made of boron which is a “high end” pedigree that Nagaoka uses in MP-300 and MP-500. Boron is a very rare element in nature and it is not easy to get, so many manufacturers have abandoned the use of boron. Despite this, its hardness and strength are desirable characteristics for making a needle holder on a turntable cartridge. Why is boron so much better than the aluminum which is often used in cartridges of a similar price? The main advantage is the suppression of the resonance of the material in the ultrasonic area. Aluminum cantilevers resonate in the area of 14 to 16 kHz while a cantilever made of boron is in the range of 19 to 28 kHz.When we add strength and hardness to this data we have almost ideal material on the table. The weight of this cartridge is 6.5 grams, the output voltage is 4 mV, the range 20 Hz – 23 kHz, the channel separation 25 dB, and the recommended torque of 1.5 to 2.0 mN.

Nagaoka MP-200 DJ Turntable Stereo Cartridge Elliptocal Diamond Stylus

These rumbling data are certainly not enough to persuade someone to “unload” roughly $500 for a cartridge. Turntables and records are experiencing a renaissance, no doubt about it. Many serious music lovers have acquired new ones that normally (with some exceptions) have an integrated cartridge and cost up to $500-600. Many of them are thinking of improving the sound of their turntable and the audio forums are full of such queries, but when set up and the cables are properly resolved there is not much room left for anything. In that sense, I will paraphrase the legendary Franc Kuzma, who in response to a similar query from an interested audiophile, replied: “Buy a better cartridge.” And that’s right. Everything on a turntable is important but the cartridge is ultimately the one that limits the sound of your turntable, whether you want to admit it or not. And what does a review says about such an investment?

Nagaoka MP-200 DJ Turntable Stereo Cartridge Elliptocal Diamond Stylus

Nagaoka MP-200 Review & Test:

The Nagaoka MP-200 cartridge is mounted on the tonearm of S.A.M. Calista 2 which is based on S.A.M. Aldair. The phono stage was a great Parasound JC3 Jr so I can freely say that the MP-200 could show off everything she can do. What  immediately came to mind as a comparison was the relationship with the MP-110 (approx. $100) tested two years ago on our portal and a relationship to Ortofon Contrapunkt B (approx. $1000) I use. On sound quality (as well as with the price), the MP-200 is placed exactly between these two. The MP-200 sounds much more neutral, the resolution is even better, although it is not immediately obvious. This performance is most likely due to the described boron cantilever and the MP-200 works quietly, stably, and just as gentle. It brings the sound of your turntable to a new sphere of quality…just give yourself some time to let the new sound features comes to light. Drawing of the space is at a high level and together with very good instrumentals and vocals, it makes a very serious and competitive sound. Comparison with Ortofon Kontrapunkt B, and probably compared to other similar MC speakers (about $1000) points to a partial lack of fluidity and the absence of the finest detail hidden in the record grooves. That is why the timbre is not exhaustive and space does not have the precision that reproduces top (and expensive) MC models. But every review must look at the price. For its price, Nagaoka MP-200 does not have a lot of competitors and it’s certainly an excellent upgrade for many turntable sets. It’s serious, cultured, and neutral sound precipitates and the sound of your turntable can go into serious heights that rarely any CD player can compete with.

Nagaoka MP-200 DJ Turntable Stereo Cartridge Elliptocal Diamond Stylus
8 Reviews
Nagaoka MP-200 DJ Turntable Stereo Cartridge Elliptocal Diamond Stylus
  • ◆ Focus on the best balance for classical and jazz models
  • ◆ Boron cantilever, elliptical chip adopted NAGAOKA middle balance model...
  • ◆ The playing power of the sound from the high region to the midrange...
  • ◆ It is perfectly right for reproduction of raw sounds and recording etc!

Nagaoka MP-200 Features:

  • Superfine polished special elliptical diamond stylus
  • Powerful samarium cobalt magnet
  • low-mass, tapered aluminum alloy cantilever for very high fidelity
  • Carbon fiber reinforced the plastic shoe
  • Anti-magnetic permalloy shield casing

 

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Conclusion & Final Verdict:

For a price of ~500$ Nagaoka MP-200 does not have a lot of competitors and it’s certainly an excellent upgrade of many turntable sets. It’s serious, cultured, and neutral sound prevails and the overall sound of your turntable can go into new heights that rarely any CD player can compete with.

The user manual is here: Nagaoka MP-200 User Manual Download

Pros

  • Very gentle, serious
    and neutral sound

Cons

  • For this price, nothing

Nagaoka MP-200 Phono Cartridge Specifications:

  • Type: Moving permalloy
  • Cantilever: High-strength Boron
  • Stylus type: Superfine elliptical diamond 0.4 x 0.7 mil.
  • Weight: 6.5 g
  • Output voltage: 1kHz, 5cm/sec: 4mV
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 23 kHz
  • Channel balance: 1kHz: > 1.5 dB
  • Channel separation: 1kHz: > 25 dB
  • Recommended loading: 47k ohms
  • Dynamic compliance: 7.2 x 10-6 cm/dyne
  • Static cimpliance: 20 x 10-6 cm/dyne
  • Tracking force range: 1.5 – 2.0 g

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