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EMT also produced some of the world's greatest plate reverb units including the vaunted EMT 140 found in the world’s greatest recording studios. In 1965 EMT introduced the TSD 15 stereo cartridge, which remains basically unchanged to the present day. Along with many EMT turntables the TSD 15 is the bedrock product of EMT and has been used in recording studios and radio stations throughout Europe for over 50 years. Like the Denon DL 10, it is a reference, a standard in the industry - only to a much higher standard. Roksan, Van den Hul and Brinkmann among other audio manufacturers use the basic guts of the TSD 15 to create many of their popular cartridges.

Based in Mahlberg, Germany, EMT's celebrated product history includes:
1951: The EMT 927 Large Studio Turntable with an enormous platter measuring 44 cm and a 12" Ortofon arm at a total weight of 41kg; the EMT 930 turntable used in European and South African radio stations nearly 24/7 for decades
1957: The EMT 140 plate reverb; the EMT O-series mono cartridge
1965: The TSD 15 moving coil stereo cartridge
1969: The EMT 928 turntable based on the Thorens TD125; the EMT XSD 15 moving coil stereo cartridge
1969: The EMT tonearm
1976: The EMT 950, the first direct-drive EMT turntable ("950 Schallplatten-Wiedergabe-Maschine")
1979: The EMT 948 Broadcast turntable

EMT founder William Franz passed away in 1971 at the age of 58. In 2003 the company reformed as 'EMT Studiotechnik GmbH.' All EMT cartridges are still manufactured by hand, in-house, near Germany's famous Black Forest.

Just the stats  The EMT TSD15 moving coil cartridge weighs a mite over 17.5gms, has a high impedance of 24 ohms, an output of 1.05mV and a rather ballsy recommended tracking weight of 2.5gm. "Tracking at 2.5 grams has a lot to do with the compliance of the cartridge, the tip on the cartridge," explains EMT importer Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports. "There’s a general misunderstanding that higher tracking force causes more record wear. What causes record wear is mistracking, not heavy cartridge weight. I have cartridges that track at nine grams. If you go back to the ‘40s, ’50s and ‘60s, everything tracked really high. Then the Shure brothers came along and insisted at tracking at one gram and everyone started lightening up their cartridge weights. Then marketing got involved and all the companies wanted to get their tracking weights down. So they softened up the suspension to make things more compliant so the carts would track at a lower tracking force. But that doesn't necessarily make them better."

The TSD15 under review is basically of the nude variety though you can also purchase the unit within a headshell. The TSD15 was as easy or difficult to set up as any cartridge though its nudeness made it a bit prickly to handle, given the need to avoid mashing fingers on its fine nekkid form. Once dialed in on my Kuzma Stabi/Stogi rig, the EMT produced music that was exuberant, incisive and musical.

The EMT is a veritable thrill ride of a sound machine, getting to the heart of every recording with great robustness and equal parts finesse and resolution coupled to excellent dynamics, a truly fast delivery of the notes and a ‘live’ character that I found intoxicating. The TSD15 also presents a very quiet black background though I usually associate that phrase with reviews of digital components, not analog. But such is the sound of the TSD15. Coming from my beloved Denon, it was as if someone had awoken the musicians first thing in the morning. They weren't hung over but well rested and energized to meet the challenge of playing a new piece of music for an equally excited audience. The TSD-15 offers a combination of humble balanced bravado and excellent diction. It's well-spoken, clear, transparent, energized and while nowhere as colored as the Denon, with its own sense of tonality. I'd characterize it as rich but never bloated. It's essentially true.

You hear the essence of the instrument from the whack of a drum skin to the glow of a mallet striking a vibraphone to the ballast and air of a plonking upright bass. I've heard more expensive cartridges that can't match the TSD for sheer guts of delivery, for its pungent power and excellent dissemination of the notes that make up the music. Like the Shindo gear I prize, the EMT TSD15 follows the musical line in a way that reflects full-blooded full-bodied music, not music reproduced by a finicky overly analytical high-end stereo. Is it truly live? Of course not. Does it reproduce music in what I perceive to be its essence? I think so.