I don’t spend much time listening to vinyl, but if I did, I think I would be pretty psyched if someone gave me a $9,000 phono cartridge for my birthday. And, as luck would have it, that’s now a (very limited) option for those of you with cash to spare. Audio-Technica has created a very small batch of these insanely expensive cartridges that feature a lab-grown diamond on the tip of the stylus.
Everything about the AT-MC2022 moving-coil stereo cartridge reads like an exclusive collector’s item. The gold-tone finish is actually a handcrafted ion plating, for high durability and that amazing mirror-like sheen. The integrated stylus and 0.22 mm cantilever is formed from a single lab-grown diamond that was created using a chemical vapor deposition process, and the body is constructed of titanium and aluminum with an elastomer undercover.
Why go to all of this trouble? Well, for one thing, bragging rights, but also Audio-Technica says the unique design of the cartridge eliminates distortion, offers better signal transmission and fast transient response, and reduces undesirable resonance. All this combines to achieve a “clear audio reproduction for avid listeners and connecting you closer to your favorite records,” according to Yosuke Koizumi, one of Audio-Technica’s cartridge engineers.
To keep your $9,000 investment safe when not in use (though if you owned this cartridge, when would it ever not be in use?), the AT-MC2022 comes with its own specially designed walnut storage case, featuring an acrylic window with laser-engraved 60th-anniversary logo and serial number.
Not really a vinyl lover? Don’t worry, Audio-Technica also has an anniversary product for all kinds of music listeners. The ATH-W2022 is a set of audiophile closed-back dynamic wooden headphones that will also set you back $9,000.
These cans are literal works of art: sakura (cherry blossom) and hou-ou phoenix designs have been hand-painted on the mizume (Japanese birch) left and right earcups, respectively. This was done using the Japanese maki-e lacquer technique. Look closely at the right earcup and you may notice the addition of inlaid mother-of-pearl.
Inside these headphones, Audio-Technica has installed a pair of 58-mm drivers. The center domes of those drivers are made from 30-micron-thick pure titanium, which the company says will yield exceptional reproduction of the mid-high range with excellent high-frequency characteristics.
A custom-designed magnet circuit incorporates a pole and yoke structured from laminated pure iron plates to reduce back electromotive force. We can’t say for sure just how good these cans will sound, but with the use of deerskin on the headband and ear cushions, they should be supremely comfortable.
Like the 60th anniversary cartridge, the ATH-W2022 also come in their own storage case constructed from Kiso cypress and white paulownia wood.
If you’re feeling a bit uneasy at the idea of spending this kind of money on exclusive, high-end gear, maybe this will help: Audio-Technica says that a percentage of all 60th Anniversary hi-fi sales will be donated to the Playing For Change Foundation, which was established to create positive change through music and arts education for marginalized and at-risk youth, most specifically in the developing world.
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