Sumiko Blackbird Hi MC Phono Cartridge
Ratings & Reviews
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.
by 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
by 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.
by Daniel Boone
One of the micro wires broke on the side of my Sumiko Blackbird. Short story: Sumiko would not repair it. I would not recommend this cartridge because it has no housing to protect these micro wires. A breeze could cause them to dislodge from the open groove and break. Buyer beware of this obvious design flaw.
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.
Drop the Needle
by Drop the Needle
While the blackbird delivered on sound, quality was another issue. The coils on the cartridge began to unwrap themselves and the sound quality faltered as a result. After about 9 months, the cartridge became unplayable. Needle Doctor was excellent in replacing it, but the replacement Blackbird died from the same fate. Sumiko on the other hand was very uncooperative, and implied it was user error. That is funny as my Shelter 501 and Lyra Scala have never let me down, nor any other cartridge I’ve used since the 70’s. The facts are that Blackbird is poorly made and Sumiko is not a company you want to deal with after the sale. Save yourself the aggravation and buy a Lyra as there is absolutely no comparison in sound or build quality.
by 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.