The Best Nagaoka MP-200 Review

by Bruno Brozović

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, I will provide a comprehensive review of the Nagaoka MP-200 cartridge, including specifications, test results, and my final verdict based on user feedback and my 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 Review

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 & view the manual here->Nagaoka MP-200 Manual

Construction & Design

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. A new type of insert was created – Moving Permalloy insert.

Nagaoka MP-200 Sound Test

Permalloy is an alloy of nickel (80%) with iron (20%). The two most important characteristics 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 cartridge 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.

Nagaoka MP-200 Sound Test

The Nagaoka MP-200 is a type of cartridge that doesn’t change how music sounds. Unlike some cartridges that make the bass sound deeper or the middle tones smoother to cover up poor-quality recordings, this one shows the music just as it is – which can be a downside if the recording isn’t great. However, when you play a well-recorded piece of music, this honesty means you can hear all the tiny details and the overall feel of the music more clearly. For example, when listening to Chie Ayado’s piano on the album “To You” by Ewe Records, the Nagaoka MP-200 brings out every little sound you might miss otherwise, all while keeping the music feeling whole and connected. It’s surprising how well it does this, especially considering its price.

Besides its balanced sound, the Nagaoka MP-200 is also great at bringing music to life. Unlike some cartridges that make singers sound as if they’re surrounded by an unnatural glow, the MP-200 lets the artists’ voices come through clearly and directly. A great example of this is Johnny Cash’s album “American Recordings IV – The Man Comes Around”. When you listen to it with the Nagaoka, it feels almost spooky, as if Johnny Cash is right there in the room with you, singing into the microphone.

Nagaoka MP-200 Video Review

Final Verdict

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 with 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
Really awesome cartridge with a very detailed and open sound. Superb natural detail and presentation. Sounds equally on modern and older recordings. With this cartridge, you can enjoy the sharpness of the bass and the channel separation. Truly recommended!
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4.1/5 - (26 votes)

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