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Sumiko Cartridge: Blackbird
Product Review:
Stereophile 2004 Analog Source Component Runner-Up (reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.27 No.1, January 2004)

Designed for exceedingly low noise levels, wide dynamic range and the highest possible fidelity in its price class, Blackbird is destined to become an analog classic. Each cartridge is assembled using time honored, labor intensive techniques, hand calibrated and critically auditioned to meet the most rigorous standards of consistency. The main advantage of high output moving coil cartridges is the elimination of any additional gain stages, resulting in an overall reduction of the noise floor. With 2.5mV directly driving a standard 47k Ohm RIAA phono stage, the best possible signal to noise ratio is realized. Nothing but music emerges from your most treasured recordings.

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Blackbird, the latest phono cartridge from SUMIKO, is now available. Designed for exceedingly low noise levels, wide dynamic range and the highest possible fidelity in its price class, Blackbird is destined to become an instant analog classic. Each cartridge is assembled using time honored, labor intensive techniques, hand calibrated and critically auditioned to meet the most rigorous of standards of consistency before being packaged.

For over 25 years, Sumiko has championed the inherent advantages of the high-output moving coil design. Blackbird if the manifestation of our most recent thinking, listening and tweaking this particular product platform. The main advantage of high output moving coil cartridges is the elimination of any additional gain stages, resulting in an overall reduction of RFI and the overall circuit noise floor. With 2.5mV directly driving a standard 47k Ohm RIAA phono stage, the best possible signal-to-noise ratio is realized, allowing nothing but music to emerge from your most treasured recordings.

The "open generator" body design was chosen to prevent the build up of external resonances that create distortions common to typical "enclosed body" phono cartridge designs. Additionally, an inertia block, connected to the generator housing, greatly reduces internal resonances as well. A special hand-ground elliptical stylus is fitted to a Long Grain Boron cantilever chosen for its rigidity and low mass characteristics. This combination provides a most efficient energy transfer from stylus to coil resulting in superior tracking and greatly extended low bass response. Synthetic rubber was employed for the cantilever suspension to provide superior dynamic range and consistent tractability for years to come. Suitable for use with a wide range of tonearm designs, we feel we have discovered a delicate balance between moving mass and voltage output in the design of this revolutionary phono cartridge. The results will speak for themselves when you audition a Blackbird in your own system.

Blackbird Technical Specifications:
  • Cartridge Type: High output Moving Coil
  • Stylus Type: Low mass elliptical stylus
  • Cantilever Material: Long grain boron
  • Compliance: 12x10 (-6) cm/dyne
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz to 50,000Hz
  • Output 2.5mV
  • Internal Impedance: 135 Ohms
  • Channel Separation: >35dB at 1kHz
  • Channel Balance: <0.5 dB at 1kHz
  • Mass: 9.6 grams
  • Tracking Force Range: 1.8 to 2.2 grams
  • Mounting: Standard .5 inch holes

    Stainless Steel mounting hardware and M2 Allen wrench included.

    Stereophile Recommended Component, Class C
    The Blackbird weighs 9.6gm, has a compliance of 12cu, and tracks at between 1.8 and 2.2gm. Like the Sumiko Blue Point Special, it lacks a body around the generator, and its highish output of 2.5mV means that it can be used with a standard moving-magnet phono preamp. The Blackbird's strongest point were its background quiet and power, extension, and focus of its bass. It threw a big, wide-open soundstage, revealing plenty of low-level detail, and brought forth a shimmering, well-balanced top end with no hint of bright delicacy and palpability, will come only with spending more money. "A strong Class B cartridge," said MF, "a real sweetheart." (Vol.27 No.1) April 2005

    Black Bird Review Audiophile Voice Vol.10 issue 3






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