I didn’t find the time to test this great turntable cartridge until today. Finally, you can read all about it in my new Nagaoka MP-200 Review article.
If you are looking for a high-quality cartridge for your turntable, the Nagaoka MP-200 is an excellent option worth considering. This cartridge has received a lot of attention from audio enthusiasts and professionals alike and for a good reason. It boasts a moving magnet design and a boron cantilever with an elliptical diamond shape, ensuring accurate tracking and excellent sound quality. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive review of the Nagaoka MP-200 cartridge, including specifications, test results, and our final verdict based on user feedback and expert analysis. Keep reading if you’re interested in learning more about the Nagaoka MP-200 cartridge and whether it’s suitable for your turntable.
Nagaoka MP-200 Specifications
- Type: Moving Magnet
- Cantilever: High-strength Boron
- Stylus type: Superfine elliptical diamond 0.4 x 0.7 mm
- Weight: 6.5 g
- Weight with headshell: 16.5g
- Height: 18.6 mm (from top edge to stylus tip)
- Output voltage @ 1kHz,5cm/sec: 4mV
- Frequency response: 20Hz-23kHz
- Channel balance @ 1kHz: > 1.5dB
- Channel separation @ 1kHz: > 25dB
- Load resistance: 47KΩ
- Load capacity: 100pF
- Appropriate stylus pressure: 1.5 ~ 2.0g
You can download the manual here->Nagaoka MP-200 Manual
In the 1980s in Nagaoka, they decided to change something that many considered to be such an obvious element of Moving Magnet cartridges that it remained – with a few exceptions – unchanged for years. We are talking about the vibrating element between the coils: the magnet – the heart of the entire cartridge. Some manufacturers offered Moving Iron (MI) inserts where the vibrating element was iron. The best-known representative of this group is Grado. In Nagaoka, however, they decided to rewrite history.
The first element that needed to be changed was the magnet, which is a vibrating element in the standard MM cartridge. It was replaced with a permalloy tube, and it was permanently embedded underneath the coils and the vibrating assembly. In this way, not only a new series of inserts were created, but also a new type of inserts – Moving Permalloy inserts.
Permalloy is an alloy of nickel (80%) with iron (20%). The two most important characteristics of this material are high magnetic susceptibility and low dead weight. Reducing the mass of the vibrating element allows for the transfer of even the smallest vibrations read by the needle and a quick response to new data. Thanks to this, the insert does not get lost during the volume of sounds. The heavier the vibrating material, the more data escapes as it travels from the stylus, through the cantilever, to being read by the coils. Reducing the weight of this material brings MP cartridges closer to MC cartridges, where the vibrating element is a very light and tiny coil while avoiding the problems characteristic of MC cartridges – small output signal and non-replaceable needles.
The MP-200 is a breakthrough cartridge in the series. This is where super-permalloy comes into play, and much lighter and stiffer than aluminum boron was used as a support for the stylus.
Unfortunately, the design of the MP cartridges has its design challenges. The biggest one is to keep the magnetization of the ferromagnet constant and large enough. An ordinary magnet could turn out to be too weak so that the transmitted vibrations would not be sufficiently amplified and the desired details would not finally appear as a sound wave. For this reason, a very strong samarium-cobalt magnet was used. In the higher models of the MP series inserts, one more change was introduced: permalloy was replaced with super-permalloy, which is a lighter and more perfect version of the basic product.
Nagaoka MP-200 Sound Test
Like every system from Nagaoka that I know of, the MP-200 is completely uncritical in practical use. It doesn’t react at all to the tonearm used and can bring its qualities to bear on lighter tonearms, such as the VPI JMW 9, as well as heavier calibers such as the Jelco SA-250. But it is quite remarkable how it grows with its tasks. If you switch it directly from the Jelco to the SME Model 309 for comparison purposes, the bass gains enormous power and precision, but without exaggerating, so that important subtleties are not lost in the bass mud. This can be heard very nicely in large orchestral pieces such as Igor Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre Du Printemps” (Dorati, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Decca), when suddenly the skins of the kettledrums, struck with the greatest vehemence, resonate and don’t just end with a single, dry “pong!”. The gradation of the huge orchestra works very well, although the room is not illuminated right down to the very last corner, where even the cleaning crew of a concert hall never looks.
Basically, the Nagaoka MP-200 belongs to the neutral cartridges in the best sense of the word. But that also means that no slightly thickened upper bass line feigns fullness where there is nothing in reality. There is also no gentle midrange hump that would help the listener over some recordings that have turned out to be too cool – honesty has its downsides. But the enjoyment of successful recordings is all the greater. So it’s simply amazing how many subtle details the little Nagaoka from Chie Ayado’s piano playing (“To You”, Ewe Records) brings to light while not forgetting to preserve the musical context. I have to admit that I would not have expected these qualities from a system in this price range.
In addition to neutrality, the dynamism of which it is capable is particularly worth mentioning. The MP-200 is definitely one of those direct systems that don’t hide the soloists in an aura that sometimes seems artificial but rather allows them to speak directly. A revealing LP in this regard is Johnny Cash’s “American Recordings IV – The Man Comes Around”. With the Nagaoka, you get the slightly eerie feeling that Mr. Cash is singing into the microphone right in front of you.
Nagaoka MP-200 Video Review
The Nagaoka MP-200 turntable cartridge appears to be a highly regarded cartridge among audiophiles. For the price, it is an excellent upgrade for many turntable sets and its serious, cultured, and neutral sound prevails, making the overall sound of a turntable reach new heights that rarely any CD player can compete with. Additionally, the Nagaoka cartridges have had a buzz around them as a low-cost/high-value alternative since the mid-to late-1980s, and the MP200 is a great cartridge for the money. Overall, the Nagaoka MP-200 turntable cartridge is a well-regarded and affordable option for those looking to upgrade their turntable setup.
In conclusion, the Nagaoka MP-200 cartridge is a highly regarded product that offers the excellent sound quality, especially for its price range. While it may not track as cleanly as some other cartridges on certain types of records, it appears to be a worthwhile upgrade for many turntable sets, and users have reported being impressed by its bass and clarity.
Nagaoka MP-200 Pro & Cons
- Amazing sound quality
- Very detailed sound
- Great space and depth
- For this price, nothing