High Output MC Cartridges Explained

Driven by Desire

David Fletcher and partners founded Sumiko in 1972. A particle physicist turned audio design expert, he established himself as one of the great audio minds of the time by collaborating with the industry’s most prestigious innovators and by developing new tonearm and turntable designs.

Around 1982, Fletcher turned his attention to transducers, spearheading the design and release of the low output moving coil Talisman & Virtuoso lines of phono cartridges. The success of these MCs spawned the desire to achieve a moving-coil-caliber sound without the need for a step-up transformer, propelling the design of the “Intensified Focus” generator system in 1984. Adding virtually no extra moving mass to the system while generating an output of 2.0mV, the Alchemist line was born. These were the world’s first high output moving coil cartridges produced on a mass scale.

Birth of an Icon

After the fervent development of the 1980s, in 1990 the original Sumiko Blue Point high output MC hit the market in the form of a p-mount design that shipped with a standard 1/2” mount adapter. This now iconic product delivered moving coil sonics from a high-output design for the ultimate in convenience. Since that first model, both Sumiko and the Blue Point model evolved and the range expanded into highly-praised, critically acclaimed open-architecture models like the Blue Point Special and the Blackbird, which continue to inspire the Sumiko range well into the company's fifth decade as a leading analogue company. 

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Blue Point No. 3

Moving Coil Cartridges


Why Should I Buy a High Output Moving Coil?

High output moving coil cartridges take the guesswork out of the equation for the listener. Calling for a "standard" moving magnet-style load of 47kΩ and with an output voltage comparable to that of MM cartridges, they can be used with almost any MM-compatible phono stage.

In short, they act like an MM cartridge as far as the phono preamp is concerned, rendering them compatible with a huge array of systems. It also means that there is less electrical gain required of the cartridge, which can help to reduce unwanted noise within the system. Because high output MCs do not require their generator systems to be grounded to the cartridge chassis (like MM cartridges do), they can also be used in True Balanced Connection systems. 

As with all good things, there is still some compromise to consider. The change to the generator system in a high output moving coil cartridge means that they will typically not achieve the exact same fidelity as the same cartridge mated to a low-output generator system. However, due to their decades of experience in the field, Sumiko's current Blue Point No. 3 and Songbird cartridges still deliver a truly stunning performance, while achieving all those benefits of a high output design. 

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