Low-level detail is elegantly resolved. The Maestro especially captured my heart in the way it reproduced Joni Mitchell’s dulcimer throughout “California” from Blue [Reprise]. It portrayed the small four-string fretted instrument with a clear sense of its delicate drone, its light tonal balance, and distinctive buzziness. The spread of images during Norah Jones’ “Wish I Could” from Not Too Late [Blue Note] was excellent. Dynamic gradations were also quite good on the quirky track “sinkin soon,” where instruments, including trombone and mandolin plus an occasional pot and pan (really), slip in and out of the performance at oddball moments.
Returning to the Wasps Overture for a moment, I listened carefully for the harp lines that lilt throughout this piece. Easily buried in the mix, the harp’s lower- level information, micro-dynamic string
Energy, and resonances live deep within the interior of this music. They were as articulately and artfully resolved as I’ve heard them. At the other extreme, the larger dynamic orchestral swings were convincing, although the most violent crescendos, impressive as they were, seemed modestly tempered compared to one of my references, the Air Tight PC-3, a moving coil.
The Maestro is very close to some of the best I’ve heard at commensurately much higher prices, but it can’t quite resolve the double-tracked vocal during Norah Jones’ “Sinkin Soon” or the soft interplay of strings during Stravinsky’s Pulcinella [Argo] as cleanly as a moving coil. sure if a recent tax refund starts whispering in your ear, you’ll be able to capture a little more speed and inner detail from an mc like the Air Tight, a Benz Ebony, or the lusher and more romantic Sumiko Palo Santos Presentation. In general the inner life of a recording is where the mc’s still seem to shine a little brighter. They measure soundstage depth cues and instrumental layering down to the millimeter, and dynamic gradations are more finely reproduced. But with that resolution, you’ll also need to consider whether the entire LP playback system—’table, tonearm, cabling, phono preamp—is capable of the same level of insight.
Clearaudio has crafted a better cartridge from every sonic perspective. And considering it’s been five years between models, the cost increase is very modest indeed. As musical as they come, the Maestro V2 Ebony should be required listening for moving-magnet and moving-coil fans alike.
SPECS & PRICING
Output voltage: 4.2mV
Channel separation: >32dB
Tracking force: 2.0–2.6g
Cantilever: Boron/MHD diamond
Weight: 8.5 grams
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