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This review first appeared in the January 2011 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read this review of the Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Miyajima - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacuła
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air 
Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Air Tight Supreme, Miyajima Laboratory Waza
Preamp: Ayon Audio Polaris III with ReGenerator II power supply
Power amp: Tenor Audio 175S and Soulution 710
Integrated amp: Leben CS300XS custom
Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann
Headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600 Ω
Interconnects: CD-preamp Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp-power amp Wireworld Platinum Eclipse, speaker cable Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cords: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300 (all equipment)
Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip
audio stand: Base under all components, Pro Audio Bono under CD
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, turntables change continuously
Review component retail in Poland: 11.900

I wrote of the Waza and Premium BE cartridges of Japanese Miyajima Laboratory in May of last year. Those left good impressions, intense enough in fact that when Polish distributor Audio Classics received their most expensive model— still far from the priciest Air Tight—I immediately grabbed it. The character of it is completely different than my reference Air Tight PC-1 Supreme and in some way close to the Denon cartridges from the DL-103 series. Additionally the construction of the Miyajima is so different, interesting and innovative that one cannot be indifferent. You may not like it but you’ll have to be very specific about what you don’t like.

Because I covered Mr. Noriyuki Miyajima's inventiveness embodied in these cartridges before, I’ll condense descriptions by saying that he differs in the coil geometry. In most solutions on the market the cantilever with the diamond on one end and the coil on the other connect to the cartridge by means of a thin wire that keeps it close to the magnet behind the coil [lower right]. Between coil and magnet sits a shock absorber made from an elastic material like rubber or silicon. This is not the best solution because as the drawing shows the axis of the coil’s suspension is not in the center of the coil but moved back. The moving coil has to overcome the resistance of the wire which diminishes sensitivity and increases suspension inertia. The coil wound around an iron core has to overcome additional attraction generated by the core in a strong magnetic flux.

Miyajima champions another solution. His cantilever is supported on a pin coming from the back magnet and tightened to the front yoke [upper left]. Here the absorber is placed between coil and front yoke. The clear advantage of this solution is the support point for the cantilever. It's exactly in the coil’s axis. This allows for more effective transformation of movement to electric current. This type of suspension does not introduce additional resistance. It also has much lower inertia. The core of the coil is made from resin, which does not interfere with the magnetic flux. This avoids additional distortion.

As you can see in the reviews of the Waza and Premium BE, their way of presentation although perhaps not fully neutral can hit the bull’s eye of specific systems and expectations. I liked it very much because of how it eliminated annoying colorations and crackles. Due to the quite heavy tracking force most of the flaws of the vinyl carrier leading to noise were eliminated and the needle tracked the groove perfectly even during very dynamic bass-heavy sections. I achieved similar results with the classic Ortofon SPU Synergy by the way. With the Waza which I am mostly talking about—the Premium BE was the best monophonic cartridge I’d encountered—I missed ultimate resolution and air in the end to be fully satisfied. That’s why the Shilabe was created. It differs from the Waza mostly in the shape of the diamond. With the applied Shibata cut its contact is very narrow but long. Further the cartridge body was changed from the Waza’s Rosewood to African Blackwood.