Welcome to the fourth review here on 10 Audio of a Miyajima moving-coil phono cartridge. Previous reviews include the Miyajima Shilabe, Kansui, and Madake phono cartridges. In those reviews, all of these products received the best “10 LP” rating due to their unending musicality. The $7,600 Destiny is currently at the top of the Miyajima moving-coil cartridge product line.
Noriyuki Miyajima very kindly sent this cartridge for a review a while back. Usually reviews here are posted a few months after receiving a component, but this one has taken an inordinately long time to come to fruition. Let me take this opportunity to publicly thank both him and Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio, the US distributor, for their kindness and support.
The Destiny has similar specifications to others in the product line. The output voltage is “about 0.23mV” with an impedance of about 16 Ohms. Compliance is on the low side at 9×10-6cm/dyne. The recommended tracking force is 2.5g. I got good results at 2.1g. The cartridge, with a body made from very hard African Blackwood, weighs 13.3g. As with the Madake, the Destiny has a tapered bamboo cantilever and a nude line contact diamond stylus. According to the Website, Mr. Thomas Edison used this special bamboo in the filament of the electric light bulb. This particular bamboo is one of 1,200 varieties of bamboo in the world and is only seen at the Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine of the mountain of Kyoto, Japan.
This model continues to use Miyajima’s patented “Cross Ring Method” design, where the cantilever’s fulcrum is at the center of the coils of wire, not in front of or behind the coils as in most other moving-coil cartridges. This design reduces distortion and increases speed and linearity. A very good description of this technology can be found on the manufacturer’s Website, link below.
Due to the long residence of the Destiny, a larger number of system components than usual was present and contributed to this review. Turntables include VPI Aries 3 with VPI 3-D Printed, Kuzma 4-Point and Tri-Planar VII SE tonearms, Clearaudio Ovation with Clearaudio Universal, Tri-Planar VII SE and Origin Live Agile tonearms, and Acoustic Signature Montana Neo with Acoustic Signature TA-7000 Neo and Origin Live Agile tonearms, and the Holbo Turntable System; Pass Labs XP-25, Esoteric E-02, BMC MCCI ULN, PS Audio Stellar Phono, Elac PPA-2, Aurorasound VIDA Prima and VIDA Mk.II phono preamplifiers; preamplifiers from Soulution, PS Audio and Benchmark; and many power amplifiers and speakers. The comparison cartridges are the Miyajima Madake and ZYX UNIverse Optimum.
New phono cartridges are given 100 hours of break-in before the audition begins. The Cardas Test and Burn-in LP has locked grooves with white noise to help with this tedious process. I recommend using the highest value loading resistance that does not result in upper frequency glare or harshness. This value can change significantly with different phono preamplifiers. A recommended loading value is not specified, but I found the best results were with loading in the range of 500-900 Ohms, and even 47k Ohms with the Aurorasound VIDA Prima phono stage. The Destiny seemed to sound particularly good with the Aurorasound VIDA Mk.II phono stage, which, according to my listening notes, is “a match made in heaven”.
The Destiny improves on the excellent Madake in almost every way. The bass is a bit more powerful and goes lower into the low bass range, the midrange is even more truthful to the sound of human singing where the notes have more density, and the treble is clear and extended with even greater resolution. A larger difference between the two cartridges is the sound stage. The Destiny improves on the excellent sound staging ability of the Madake and explodes the walls of the listening room to seemingly double or triple its size. This character is very dependent on micro-resolution and extreme accuracy of phase information to present an accurate sound stage and to give a sense of the recording venue. The Destiny also offers more “air” and openness which definitely contributes to a feeling of listening to a live performance.
Listen to the band Sea Level, made up mostly of musicians from the Allman Brothers Band. Their recording of “Tidal Wave” demonstrates the powerful and dynamic driving force very clearly. The percussion is very sorted, each impact delivered without blurring or being truncated or cut off prematurely. Exciting!
Linda Ronstadt’s vocals on her Sweet Forgiveness LP are very clearly delivered, the deep resonance of her voice unmistakable. Also perfectly delivered are the overtones and harmonics of her voice and accompanying instruments which provide a very complete musical experience. The Destiny is always very rich with low level resolution, offering an audio tapestry of dense musical themes.
The $17,000 ZYX UNIverse Optimum delivers even more air and openness in the upper treble, while the Destiny has more warmth and weight in the midrange. Both cartridges have similar overall sound quality; the Destiny moves the range of focus solidly into the midrange, where the Optimum is relatively more prominent higher up the frequency range. Both cartridges sound very linear without any highlighting of a small frequency range. The only negative observed was during installation: the tiny nuts from the cartridge bolts are loose, requiring some extra care since the protective cover must be removed to install the bolts.
The Miyajima Destiny phono cartridge is very well made and highly resistant to harm from handling, as it was installed numerous times on different tonearms with no noticeable reduction in sonic performance. The Miyajima Destiny phono cartridge offers a total musical experience that places it in the top echelon of today’s best cartridges. The listening experience is always immensely satisfying and enjoyable, even on a wide range turntables and tonearms. It is definitely a keeper, at least until Miyajima-san surpasses this wonderful achievement.
Overall Rating: 10 LPs
This review would not have been possible without the very kind support of Robin Wyatt at Robyatt Audio, the US distributor, and Miyajima-san, the honored manufacturer. Thank you!
Response from Robyatt Audio:
“I would like to thank Jerry for yet another insightful review of a Miyajima Lab’s cartridge. I like to load my Miyajima cartridges at 1k Ohms as Jerry suggested. Unlike most MC cartridges that need “loading down” to tame the rising top end Miyajima phono cartridges, due to the cross coil construction, like to be used wide open. Totally neutral, most customers end their phono cartridge journey with a Miyajima. Musicality always wins over uber detail and soulless reproduction.
“I track my Destiny at 2.5g. As Mr. Seigel mentioned, the Destiny is an extremely robust high-end cartridge, bamboo is very hard to break. The Madake bamboo imparts an natural sound that no other cartridge can approach, including cactus cantilevered cartridges.
“As always I offer these incomparable cartridges with a seven day full money back trial! No other cartridge is available with that offer. You have nothing to loose, but musically everything to gain!”
-Robin Wyatt, U.S. distributor