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Before we proceed to sonic commentary, I want to make another remark. Adjusting this cartridge to the tone arm for perfect geometry is very troublesome and hard because none of its body planes are flat. Both front and sides of the wooden chassis are curved to become useless with a protractor.

With the Waza’s spherical diamond it wasn’t as critical but with the Shilabe’s long and narrow Shibata profile the issue is more grave.

Sound: Disc used for the listening session -  Billie Holliday, Songs For Distingue Lovers, Verve/Classic Records, One-sided, 2 x 180 g, 45 rpm LP; Depeche Mode, Fragile Tension/Hole to Feed, Mute Records, 12BONG42, 2 x 180g, maxi-SP LP; Diana Krall, All For You. A dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio, Impulse!/Original Recordings Group, ORG 006, 2 x 180g LP;.John Coltrane, Giant Steps, Atlantic/Rhino, R1 512581, 2 x 45 rpm LP; Julie London, Julie is her name. Vol.1, Liberty, LRP 3006, LP;  Kraftwerk, Tour The France Soundtracks, EMI Records, 591 708 1, 2 x 180g, LP; Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé Sings Shubert Alley, Verve/Polydor K.K. Japan, KI 8212, LP;  Mikołaj Bugajak, Strange Sounds and Inconceivable Deeds, Nowe Nagrania 001, LP+CD+WAV 24/44,1.

I tested Mr. Norizuki’s most expensive pickup with the Avid Acutus Reference, TW-Akustik Raven One and Transrotor’s newest Rondino decks but the most interesting sessions came with the Scheu Analog Premiere Mk2 equipped with the 12” Scheu Classic Mk2 tone arm. This was relevant when Scheu and dealers talk about a synergy between this set and the Denon DL-103 cartridge. The company website puts it very straightforward: “The 12-inch version of the arm is as ever the perfect partner for the Denon DL-103. A well-kept secret!” I have used the Denon for many occasions over the years and since the last two also the more expensive DL-103R and DL-103SA variants. It’s not that I think these to be the best cartridges on the market. At their price they simply possess certain assets which make us listen to and in many cases buy them even when compared to much more expensive competitors.

The Denon’s construction is so characteristic that it influences the final sound to a large extent. Because its design dates back to when it was common wisdom to have a heavy long tone arm, its compliance is low, its weight quite massive and the recommended 2.5g tracking force high. Although the Shilabe is a modern cartridge, it revisits the tracking force (3g), medium compliance and substantial weight of bygone days. Of course the needle is shaped differently. This contributes significantly to the higher price. But due to this conceptual overlap with the Denon, the listening session on the Scheu Analog turntable turned out to become particularly interesting.