MIYAJIMA: Top-of-range Madake cartridge

Miyajima Madake front

They told us .....

Singled out as one of The Absolute Sound’s top three ‘Auspicious Debuts’ at the 2014 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, Miyajima's newest top-of-the-range stereo cartridge, the Madake, is now available in the UK.

The clue about what makes the Madake special lies in its name: Madake is the Japanese term for a particular species of bamboo, Giant Timber Bamboo, often used in various types of traditional Japanese craftsmanship but now quite rare.

The Madake’s cantilever, rather than being made from the usual metal (aluminum, boron) or crystalline solid (ruby, sapphire, diamond), is fashioned from this specific bamboo. Why? Bamboo is light in weight but extremely rigid. And, unlike metals and stones which contain small inherent resonances, bamboo has excellent natural damping properties.

Designer Noriyuki Miyajima, known to be a passionate artisan, went to great lengths to source the highest quality madake for the job and made an interesting discovery along the way: Thomas Edison’s General Electric company was founded to manufacture light bulbs made with madake filaments grown in one particular area of Japan. Edison had been trying to find a filament that would burn long enough to be of practical value for his invention. He sent researchers around the world in search of an appropriate material, testing the fibres of some 6,000 plant materials including more than 1,000 species of bamboo before discovering madake from the bamboo groves of Yawata, Kyoto. That discovery marked the beginning of the global electrical revolution.

So Noriyuki Miyajima went straight to the source and negotiated a supply of special madake from the Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu shrine in Yawata. However, the Madake’s cantilever is not 100% bamboo; the bamboo shaft is fitted with a short aluminium shaft, to which is attached the Shibata stylus.

Like all Miyajima stereo cartridges, the Madake’s generator system features a unique patented Miyajima cross-ring design in which the cantilever fulcrum and coils are exactly positioned in the centre of the magnetic field. All of which is beautifully housed in a handsome body of African Blackwood, known for its exceptional tonal and acoustic properties.

So how does it sound? “The most neutral-sounding Miyajima cartridge to date, but one that retains the qualities that make Miyajimas so attractive to so many” said Michael Fremer in a recent Stereophile review. “Its ability to portray instrumental textures, from the deepest bass-producing instruments to the fastest, highest-frequency percussion, was singular”.

“Miyajima Laboratory’s Madake sound is, in my experience, unique,” he concluded. “If you have a removable headshell, can easily swap out cartridges, and can afford it, you’ll definitely want to add the Madake to your arsenal. I couldn’t stop listening to it.”

Technical specifications

Body type African blackwood
Frequency response 20Hz to 32kHz
Output level 0.23mV
Impedance 16 ohms
Recommended load 100 ohms
Tracking force 2.5g
Stylus type Shibata
Compliance 100Hz : 9×10-6cm/dyne
Weight 9.7g


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