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Sumiko Blackbird Hi MC Phono Cartridge

7 Reviews

Sumiko Blackbird Hi MC phono cartridge

Designed for exceedingly low noise levels, wide dynamic range and the highest possilbe 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 consistancy.

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.

Blackbird has a big, rich sound with great dynamic range, excellent inner detail and as always, Sumiko's characteristic powerful rhythmic drive. Featuring a lightweight and ultra-rigid line-grain boron cantilever and a hot-rodded rigid generator assembly, Blackbird represents a big step forward for Sumiko cartridges. Those familiar with Sumiko's previous offerings will be very surprised at how much of a sonic improvement Blackbird represents.

Weighing it at 9.6 grams, Blackbird is compatible with most tonearm setups, but will work best with a higher mass arm or one with a heavy counterweight. The nude design eliminates resonance and excess weight, allowing the generator assembly and cartridge wires to be visible, an exotic visual treat. Blackbird is a High-Output Moving Coil design, with an output of 2.5 mV, so it is fully compatible with the MM section of most phono stages.

Audiophile Voice Review

Basicly its riding in a diffrent part of the groove than the BPS and the Glider, A part not worn by previous plays. Where the BPS is bright and clean the Blackbird is mearly clean. While this presentation might seem somewhat dull to those upgrading from a BPS, One will soon find that this is actually more realistc and much more musical.
  • Cartridge Type: HO MC
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz-50Khz
  • Output Voltage: 2.5mV
  • Channel Separation: 35db
  • Channel Balance: 0.5db
  • Compliance: 12
  • Stylus Size: (not provided)
  • Stylus Shape: Low Mass Special Grind
  • Load Impedance: 47kΩ
  • Tracking Force Range: 1.8­-2.2 grams
  • Recommended Force: 2.1 grams
  • Weight: 9.6 grams
  • Ratings & Reviews

    7 reviews

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    The Blackbird HOMC cart has turned out to be a perfect match for my McIntosh MA2275 internal MM phono stage. The difference in background noise compared to using a SUT is night and day. As for sound, the Blackbird has a great presentation - a wide soundstage, instrument separation, detail, round bass - I love it. I have not encountered any of the QC issues with the coils but, it is a nude design.



    It has the refinement and consistency of any cartridge 3-5 times its price. The Lyra's are too loose in the bottom octave for my taste. But some dig that kind of thing......listen for yourself.

    Robert Pultz


    I've used this cartridge for about five years, at about 60 hours per year, on a Project RM-9.1. I have noticed no degradation in sound, but I keep a very well maintained LP collection. By moving to this cartridge from the typically "good" $500 variety means a great deal less "muddiness" across the board. I've read many reviews of the Blackbird and agree that it delivers crisp highs without being shrill, a *very* clear mid-range, and a firm, but not resounding bass. It's also very quiet. This is a great cartridge for a wide variety of music, but not so great for LPs graded less than "Very Good Plus". As one reviewer mentioned, it is very sensitive to anti-skate and skipping, even at 2g. It is a reasonably high-output MC, but you still may want to use a pre-amp and not a phono-stage in a typical receiver. After reading a couple of other reviews, I would advise that only those comfortable with a "nude" cartridge purchase, install, and use the Blackbird. It's a very good value at this price-point.

    Huell from ABQ


    I have fingers like Hot Dogs, and I've had mine since 2007 and it plays like the day it was made. If somebody claims it's poorly made, they were never meant to own a nude cartridge. It's why we can't have nice things.



    This cart sounds awesome. While some MC's I've heard can sound delicate and careful, this one has refined muscle and punch. I loved the sound, but returned it under warranty because the cantilever/stylus azimuth angle was too off-center for this price range. Also, I recommend having a cover for your turntable because the exposed cantilever is begging to be accidentally damaged without it's own cover. Otherwise, I recommend it based on sound.

    minn mark


    I'm on my second Blackbird. The first one I had to have retipped because I lost one channel while cleaning it with a stylis brush. Very delicate, nude cartridge so I advise having it professionally installed. It's difficult to install on my SOTA Comet's tonearm. The sound between my BB1 and BB2 is similar, although the weight of the second one seems very different than the first. Sounds best tracking a little on the heavy side (2.1g) for my taste, and is very sensitive to antiskate. On my TT with plenty of antiskate, the BB still really wants to jump in toward the spindle when first hitting the playing surface. Impeccibly quiet. I am sure I would hear additonal benefit with a better 'table. I still much prefer my vinyl to my CD/DAC set-up, eventhough its a good one. Sales and service from NeedleDoctor has been superb.



    I bought the Blackbird from Needle Doctor about 2 years ago, and have never had such a pleasant cartridge! Smooth, even, with clean highs and very satisfactory lows. And quiet? Yessiree!! Best possible purchase in a moving coil for the money, and I suspect 95 % of the musicality you would get for 3-4 times the money. Be good to yourself and buy one...you will not regret it.