Audio-Technica AT33Sa MC Phono Cartridge
A Tried and True Design Gets a Shibata StylusThe AT33Sa is the first Audio-Technica moving coil cartridge to feature a Shibata line-contact stylus, known for its superior high-range performance and strong mid and bass sound. The stylus is mounted on a tapered boron cantilever with a double damper for reduced weight and better audio quality. The cartridge’s dual moving coils provide excellent channel separation and are affixed within a strong but lightweight VC mold to greatly reduce unwanted vibration. The cartridge uses a neodymium magnet and a permendur yoke for dramatically enhanced magnetic energy. The PCOCC (Pure Copper by Ohno Continuous Casting) coils ensure pure audio transmission.
Ratings & Reviews
I've owned many cartridges over the years, most notably: Audio Technica's OC 9 ML II, and AT 33 PTG II. In short the AT 33 PTG II improves upon the OC 9 ML II in my opinion, and amazingly this new SA model improves on the already fantastic AT 33 PTG II. After reading Audio Technica's online literature for the new SA, specifically their claims of: "deeper and richer bass and mid's" I couldn't resist pulling the trigger. The PTG II was already a fantastic sounding cartridge and I was very impressed with it, but if I had one complaint it would be a slight lack of low end, and a mid-range that could be a touch more defined and richer. The AT 33 PTG II also had somewhat of a 'bright' sound to it; not as bright as the OC 9 ML II in my opinion, but highs could be a bit shrill and over powering on certain recordings. After extensive listening to the SA, (compared to the PTG II) I have noticed deeper and tighter bass, and richer more fuller sounding vocals. The differences are not night and day, but certainly noticeable. I really thought that Audio Technica's marketing department might be just be hyping a new and more expensive product, but the improvements they described with the SA over the PTG II were spot on. I have also noticed more overall detail with the SA model and have heard things in musical passages that I never noticed with the PTG II. While the Shibata stylus has a different shape than the microline, it tracks just as well with no discernible inner groove distortion (pretty impressive!). The high frequencies with the SA are not as bright and shrill, but more silky and smooth. Perhaps high frequencies are not as 'over emphasized,' or pronounced with the SA. With the SA I also perceived an overall better balance of the sound stage and greater neutrality in the presentation. The analogy I would use would be if the PTG II makes a good record sound like a top notch recording, the SA takes you live to the show. If you do purchase this cart keep in mind to realize its full potential setup and cartridge alignment are crucial. Take the time to get it spot on. I found 2 grams tracking force on my set up to work the best. Once you do set this cart up and spend some time breaking it in, you will realize that Audio Technica really knocked it out of the park with this one! Enjoy!
Tight balanced low end
This cartridge has a wonderful low end, and the Shibata tip can track difficult passages others can’t. Audiophile grade 45 RPM 12” albums can be a challenge for other cartridges, but not this one. When properly aligned for minimal crosstalk, the soundstage is wide open. The bass is well defined and not muddy. Midrange performance is good, and not shrill. I give it an 8 out of 10. The one I have exhibits very good characteristics with regard to L and R channel comparison. Overall, a great cartridge for this price range.