by Rafe Arnott
Jeffrey Catalano of High Water Sound is a very cool cat.
Not only was he spinning some of the best and rarest jazz, blues and folk LPs I’ve had the pleasure to hear (as did many others in his room at T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach), the system he put together to showcase those albums was outstanding.
The reason I had chosen Catalano’s room to check out was because I had seen that he would be featuring the Miyajima Lab Zero Mono ($1,995) and Miyajima Lab Madake ($5,895) cartridges.
The Zero Mono in particular was of real interest to me because of my blossoming fetish for mono jazz recordings.
This was supposed to be the mono fetishist’s cartridge of choice to fetishize over.
The Miyajima Labs carts were mounted on dual TW-Acustic 10.5 tonearms ($5,500 each) riding a TW-Acustic GT SE turntable ($12,500) feeding into a TW-Acustic RPS 100 phono stage ($17,000) hooked into a Tron-Electric Syren II GT preamplifier ($55,000) which had a pair of TW-Acustics 300B SE mono blocks ($18,000 pair) running into the Horning Hybrid Eufrodite Ellipse+ speakers ($30,000).
Let me tell, it sounded sweet.
If you’ve never spent much time truly listening to mono recordings through a mono cart, this is a whole new way to peel your brain out of your head.
The separation between instruments, the startling clarity of placement in the 3D sound stage that the system and Zero Mono in particular was throwing (Catalano had cued-up to the Madake first to give an idea of the difference between mono recordings played through stereo carts) was incredible.
Talk about the speakers doing a complete disappearing act too, the Hybrids just vanished and Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley were left performing a few feet in front of me.
If you have enough mono recordings to justify getting a mono cart, and if you have a ‘table that supports more than one tonearm, or a tonearm with a removable headshell to make cart swaps easy, then I think you owe it to yourself to check out the Zero Mono.
Be careful though, it could become a fetish.