This review first appeared in March 2018 on By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated to reach a broader audience. All images contained in this piece are the property of Marek Dyba or Murasakino - Ed.

Reviewer: Marek Dyba
Analogue front end: J.Sikora Basic MAX turntable, Acoustical Systems Aguilar tone arm  AirTight PC-3, Cantano W table, Cantano T arm, Grandinote Celio MkIV and Tenor Audio Phono 1 phonostages
Preamplifier: Audia Flight FLS1
Power amplifier: Modwright KWA100 SE, GrandiNote Shinai integrated, Thöress EHT integrated
Loudspeakers: Ubiq Audio Model One Duelund Edition
Interconnects: Hijiri Million RCA, Less Loss Anchorwave RCA, KBL Sound Red Eye Ultimate Phono
Speaker cables: LessLoss Anchorwave
Power cords: LessLoss DFPC Signature, Gigawatt LC-3
Power delivery: Gigawatt PF-2 Mk2 and ISOL-8 Substation Integra; dedicated power line with Gigawatt LC-Y in-wall cable; Gigawatt G-044 Schuko and Furutech FT-SWS-D (R)
Racks: Base VI, Rogoz Audio 3RP3/BBS
Anti-vibration accessories: Rogoz SMO40 and CPPB16 platforms, Rogoz BW40MKII feet, Franc Accessories Ceramic Disc Slim Feet and Wood Block Platform
Review component retail: €8'000

In Japanese audio manufacture, cartridges are one of the specialties. In fact, most cartridges today are made in the Land of the Rising Sun by a dozen or so exceptional craftsmen; or rather, artists. From time to time, even among their exclusive cadre some fresh blood must appear and this is the case for this test of Murasakino's sensational debut. I must admit that when I received this pickup from the Polish distributor, it was a complete mystery to me. The name rang no bells. The presentation box was small and, as almost always with Japanese products, very nicely put together. The client immediately understands that this is a luxury product. Audiophiles treat packaging in different ways. Some believe that sophisticated elegant jobs are nothing but wasted money. Others want to feel special from the very beginning and appreciate that the maker treats them with respect and already expresses this in how the product arrives. While with an amplifier or loudspeaker, the most important feature of the packaging is strength so the innards reach the customer in perfect condition, smaller components such as cartridges or accessories like the beautifully packed Harmonix mat and record clamp are often small masterpieces. They definitely deserve more than a regular box. Especially when they come from Japan, one can assume that already this first contact will be exceptional. This was the case with the Murasakino Sumile MC which arrived in a simple, elegant but also intriguing box. And of great importance, it perfectly protected the delicate pickup inside.

This aspect was somewhat anticipated considering origin so the true surprise came after opening the box. Inside I found a cartridge of a rather exotic yet intriguing colour. Although the name Sumile would indicate what to expect if one spoke Japanese, I was entirely unprepared for a violet body with gold trim. This made it the most original looking cartridge I ever dealt with. Most look modest if not to inconspicuous at least to the layman's untrained eye. In this case, Murasakino's creator guaranteed his product the attention of anyone laying eyes on it. To be honest, neither violet nor gold are amongst my favourite colour yet still I fell in love with the Sumile MC at first sight, i.e. well before ever listening to it. Such a color choice could be considered provocative or teasing. Surely it sends a clear message to the competition: I am different and this is my advantage! So my adventure with this Japanese cartridge started like most Hitchcock movies—with an earthquake—and then added tension, although in this case it was rather relaxation and satisfaction, albeit built upon in layers.

Before I started my listening sessions, I decided to look for information about the designer. It was after all a rare case of a new brand arising from nowhere and beginning their presence in our market with a big bang meant to compete with the best of the most well-established colleagues. Mr. Daisuke Asai started his audio adventure when he built a tube amplifier in his university days. Later he worked at Denon Lab and then A&M Limited better known by their trade name AirTight. It was here under the guidance of Mr. Ishiguro where our designer would gather a large portion of his knowledge and experience. As if that weren't enough, Asai-san is also an amateur musician who plays the oboe. I won't need to convince the reader that intimate knowledge of the true sound of instruments is a huge asset when one designs and builds components which try to mimic live music. The time at A&M Limited allowed Mr. Daisuke to gather the necessary knowledge and experience but came at the cost of little if any free time for his own projects. Hence he finally made the tough decision to resign from AirTight and set up his own firm called Murasakino Ltd.