Audio-Technica AT-OC9 Cartridges

AT-OC9

MC phono cartridge

User Reviews (11)

Showing 1-10 of 11  
Roy Maletz   AudioPhile [Jul 28, 2016]

I very recently upgraded my system's electronics (last model Mark Levinson) and loudspeakers (B&W 802-D2, all purchased second-hand), and adjusted resistive loading for my venerable AT 0c9, the original version, to 90 ohms. At the same time I purchased an as yet uninstalled AT oc9 ML/11. Whereas the result falls short of the speed and transient detail available with cost-no-object systems it is hard to imagine better sound for a global sum below $25,000.00, and hard to believe that the oc9 ML/11....or an upgrade to my elderly Linn sp12, with cirkus upgrade but without outboard power supply....would produce audible improvement.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Martijn Giebels   AudioPhile [Aug 04, 2011]

I have been using the OC-9 sice 1993. I have also been using other carts below and above this pricepoint. I had different experiences with the AT and it all depends on the system and front-end. I have had bad results with a Michell Gyro/SME309. The sound was technical, uninvolving, no low end. Also extremly good results with a Linn Basik/Akito and an all tubed Audio Note system. At it's best this cartridge gives you a big soundstage, sweet voices and tight and satisfying low-end. It sounds realistic and outperforms many cartridges I've heard in this price range. But be aware not all cartridges suits your system or your ears. Listen to them first!

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
5
savagetoaster   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 04, 2008]
Strength:

It's the complete package. More music and better clarity, pace, dynamics, detail, refinement and stereo than pretty much anything else up to at least double the price (that I've ever heard). One of the great audio bargins of all time, IMHO, right up there with the Rega RB250/300, the (discontinued) Systemdek IIX and Townshend Rock II turntables and the later metal box Mission Cyrus One and Two amplifiers.
Hopefully it goes without saying, but you do need a decent arm and cartridge to hear a cartridge of this calibre do its stuff, but judging by the way it sounded on two very different turntables it doesn't seem to be very fussy. The two out of production decks mentioned above with one of the Rega arms would be fine, and owners of Technics SL1200s have apparently got a very good sound even with the stock tonearm- not for DJ use though! However, bear in mind that it is a low ouput moving coil and will need an amp or preamp with a moving coil sensitivity phono input, or an outboard mc transformer or headamp. If your amplifier does not have a phono input, I've heard good things about the Cambridge Audio 640P, which is ridiculously cheap for the reported performance. I must stress that I have yet to hear one of these myself though.

Weakness:

At the price? No. Too cheap to be taken seriously by some, maybe? I suppose if you had a system that already sounded bright it might be too much of a good thing, in which case the Goldring 1000 series moving magnet cartridges are nice, and I hear good things about the Ortofon 2M series too.

Installed on an SME 309 tonearm mounted on a Technics SL-120, the latest version of the OC-9, the ML/II, sounds wonderful, with no excuses needed for it's relatively low price. Unless you can afford to spend £1,000 or so (perhaps on the Transfiguration, Lyra, Dynavector or VdH cartridges at that sort of price) it's likely to be the best cartridge you can afford, and I suspect it wouldn't be embarrassed by the comparison even then. The treble does sound a little bright, but not in a bad way. It actually sounds very clean and smooth, but also manages to be very revealing and 'quick' as well. Bass is powerful and gives a real sense of propulsion or 'rythmic drive' as some magazine reviewers put it. Stereo is very good too. Instruments seem to seperate out well and if the recording allows, a good sense of width and depth is presented.
All this 'reviewerspeak' is all very well of course, but what I really want to get across is that basically music sounds interesting and engaging with the OC-9 in a way that most other reasonably priced cartridges don't even get close to. As a bonus it does all the hi-fi stuff better than anything else at the price and tracks well too! I've also heard a new OC-9ML/II on a Townshed Rock/ Kuzma Stogi turntable- the AT sounded excellent on this combination too and surprisingly similar to the way it sounded on the Technics and SME.

Customer Service

Purchased by mail order, so I can only say it was delivered quickly. I did meet the owner of Sound Hi-Fi at a recent show though, and he certainly seemed very pleasant, helpful and knowledgable. I have no connection with Sound Hi-Fi or Audio Technica by the way!

Similar Products Used: Ortofon Quasar, MC25FL, Dynavector DV17D2, Goldring 1042
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Paul Conrad   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 17, 2002]
Strength:

Openess, transparency and detail. I first heard it listening to Donald Fagen's 'The Nightfly.' Wow! I was hooked!

Weakness:

Thin-ness, splashy treble, light bass. But, this often because of system components.

I have used the AT0C9 in both original and ML version, and have to admit I subjectively preferred the sound of the original cartridge. It has been used on both Rega RB300 and Roksan Tabriz arms mounted on a number of different decks, including a Michell Synchro, Rega Planar 3 and Ariston RR80SL. I rate this cartridge very highly. It is detailed, transparent and highly accurate. Some thinness experienced in the bass and a splashy treble is normally down to a lack of synergy between other components in the system. I have replaced my ML version recently with a Sumiko Blue Point Special. This gave me some extra weight, power and control in the bass, at a trade-off against a lack of refinement in the top end and less depth to the sound. A change of speakers (currently Rega ELA) to something a little less forgiving would probably resolve this. Needless to say it (ATOC9) is a great cartridge in my opinion. It seems happy at home in far more exotic systems than I have had the pleasure of owning. Robust and durable. Currently being discounted out by some dealers on the net it makes a great buy for the money (£250 - £300 UK Sterling).

Similar Products Used: Sumiko Blue Point Special, Dynavector DV4X, Coral 777x.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Peter L Coolsma   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 07, 2002]
Strength:

*Transparancy and "speed" *Self-assured, yet relaxed presentation *Record-saving low tracking force *Very good value

Weakness:

*Frequency-response could - and perhaps should- have been flatter

The latest incarnation of AT's legendary OC-9; my sample is the AT-OC9 ML/II. ML is for Microline, the stylus-shape; II for the solid, gold-plated boron cantilever. After careful set-up; initial impressions were of tremendous speed, oversight, authority and transparancy; however, it took the cartridge a dozen records or so to loosen up a little in the extreme upper-highs. Every cartridge needs to be broken in so nothing to be concerned of, and it's already settling nicely. The supplied Bruel & Kjaer frequency response read-out indicates a flat response up to 5 kHz, after which it gradually climbs to + 1,5 dB at 20 kHz. Not bothersome at all, but I'm not sure whether this has been done on purpose or not. Tracking ability, capability of extruding amazing levels of detail, a relaxed presentation and a relatively low -the vinyl will love the OC9- tracking-force of 1,5 grams are the cartridge's strong points. The difference this cartridge makes over my -very- old Dynavector Karat Ruby 23, the Mk.I version so to say; is definitely substantial. The current set-up of the relevant equipment in my set is now: *Rega Planar 3 - ± 18 years old, Linn Akito/2B with Linn Analogue Interconnect - 4 years old (makes sense when you know that this P3 was initially supplied with a Linn; the Basik LVX), and the AT. *Accuphase E-206, *Rogers LS 3/5a, *Stax Lambda. At its price-point, I think the OC-9 still can hold its own very well. Recommended! (Model year is 2002, probably shown is 2001.)

Similar Products Used: I've worked my way through some no-name lo-fi stuff before these: Ortofon OM-10, OM-30, and Dynavector Karat Ruby 23.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dave Johnstone   AudioPhile [Mar 18, 2002]
Strength:

Great tracking and real detail that give cues to a real performance.

Weakness:

Low output makes a step up trany or head amp MANDATORY!!!!

I’m writing this review with praise while also trying to bite my tongue at the same time. You see, the price of this cartridge has just jumped to $399 USD, which, I am told by a certain on line ordering company, is because of some benefits that have been “added” to the latest version of this cartridge. However, I could not get a straight answer when asked if the cartridge was indeed in production again. I find the increase in price not a favorable thing. Needless to say, Audio Advisor got my business instead of the “other” guy! Enough of my harping on and on, let’s get to the sound of this MC. The sound is very open and detailed, as is to be expected of a well designed MC. I wasn’t expecting much for the price, and was suitably impressed by the speed and finesse in which the OC-9 handles high-level modulations. It ALWAYS seems to be in control of the music- something that my last purchase (Grado Prestige black) did not do well at all. I decided to ompare and contrast the OC-9 with the Grado, as well as my former reference, the venerable Linn K-9 MM cartridge. The Linn’s sound is coming to me strictly form memory, as Linn no longer offers a replacement stylus for the K-9. The Grado, even being the budget jockey here, is a good cartridge to begin with. I purchased it as a interim replacement while pondering the OC-9’s purchase. The Grado has a VERY warm sounding bottom end and smooth treble. However, I was warned about the “Grado Sound”- a particular character in the upper mid region that, with some ‘tables, can sound like mistracking. The Axis laid this out immediately! My Linn K-9 has always been a PRAT (Pace, Rhythm And Timing) king, but never was the best tracker out of the stalls, even when new. Needless to say, when I first installed the AT OC-9, I was shocked! I didn’t hear the deep bass (read: fluffy!) bass I had come to expect from the Grado. After about 20 hours, the bass seemed to arrive and the cartridge came together very well, displaying a reasonable and realistic sense of space and depth. Some people slam the OC-9 for being to analytical, but I have never heard some records sound so lifelike on my system. The acoustic guitars on Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark” (particularly “people’s parties”) were in my room, very present with wooden bodies and Joni in the middle with a full and ample (!) chest tone. Neither the Grado nor Linn ha

Similar Products Used: Linn K-9 Grado Prestige Black Linn Axis Turntable Ortofon T-10 step up Conrad-Johnson PV-1 Preamp Precision Fidelity C-8a Preamp Johnstone/Cyrus power amp Dahlquist DQ-10s biwired with Linn K
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Ray   Audiophile [Jan 21, 2001]

Until last night a thought the AT OC9 was a waste of your money.
8 years ago my brother bought this cartridge to complete his Audio Meca
turntable but he was never satisfied with this. Using a Audio Analyse preamp ,
Yamaha poweramp and Focal Temptation speakers it sounds mechanical and not
musical at al. His Kiseki gold spot sound very good in this configuration.

a friend who used for many years the Linn K9 was very interested in this
AT OC9 and tried this for one week but he was disappointed with the sound .
He is using a Luxman Pre- and Poweramp with Etude speakers.

So after this experience and reading many reviews about the AT oc9
I never tried this in my system. A lot of people explained that
the cartridge is very critical of choosing the right pre-preamp.

Last night a thought why not, and I was blown away by surprise it sounded
better than my Rega Exact cartridge. It sounds smooth and is not as critical for
the software as the Rega Exact is. The Rega has more bottom and sounds direct but
doesn't track as well as the AT oc9.


Equipment:

Rega Planar 3 modified,
Linn Intek / Powertek ( MC: load -100 Ohms/4.7nF)
Translator Stylus one
Symo speaker cable
Transparent interlink
Shakti online
Ennacom filters

Musical taste : Jazz, Rock , Pop ,clasical

Similar Products Used: Rega Exact
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Peter De Lillo   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 24, 2000]

When mated to a good low impediance transformer, like an Audio Note, we are talking absolute phono bliss!
Loads at 20 Ohms. Great with VPI Memorial arm.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
M   Audiophile [Mar 06, 2001]
Strength:

SOUND, PRICE, VALUE, LOW STYLUS-COST

I got mine for free as a compensation for a delayed speakerdelivery. High Fidelity-magazine (Sweden, Denmark)was very excited about the cartridge and I must say that I was to...

I used min on a Linn Sondek LP12 with Valhalla-kit and an Ittok LV II-arm, it sounded very good.

The retailprice in sweden at the beginning of the -90´s was about 2700SEK or 380USD (270USD today year 2001)

The other cartridges (see above) I tried on the LP12 was no way near the ATOC 9´s soundquality.

The one thing I can remember about the OC 9 is that I needed to give it some extra weight when it was new (which some other stylus need to)

If I would buy a recordplayer today, I would want a similar cartridge like the OC9, specially because you dont get bankrupt when the stylus is no longer in shape.

Similar Products Used: Linn K18, Linn K18 II, Linn cheapest MC (?), Rega..., Denon, Ortofon OM40
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Vidar Pedersen   Audiophile [Nov 21, 2001]
Strength:

Potential to get the most out of expensive turntables and electronics; if you value openness, seamless integration and rhytmic nerve. It's also genuinely long-lived; mine has covered at least 1500 hours. Great build-quality for the money.

Weakness:

Potential to get the worst out of lesser turntables and electronics, especially hard, thin and bright-sounding components. Not for fragile ears.

I have used my AT-OC9 on-off for ca.7 years, current system is a post-Cirkus Linn LP12/Lingo/Naim Aro, Audiolab 8000 Q/PPA/4xM's driving Monitor Audio Studio 20SE via Tara Labs RSC Master Gen.II. Anyone familiar to this kind of system will know that it's highly "touchy" about the front end. A lesser cartridge will make the whole sound lesser, a great cartridge will make it blossom.
Therefore, I'm happy to report that the AT-OC9 doesn't leave me wanting very much when it comes to openness, integration, rhytmic drive and all the things audiophiles cheerish. Indeed, other pick-ups in this price bracket has always left me with the feeling that I don't get to hear all.
It's more 3-dimensional than my Linn Arkiv, with deeper soundstage and more "recording-venue echo", it also has a more open bottom than the Arkiv, far clearer and more detailed and assured than the Linn K9, has far more rhytmic pace than the Denon DL-304 and Ortofon MC30 Supreme. It also has deeper, more substantial bass and a sweeter top than the AT-OC5.
I usually load it with 10-20 ohms instead of the recommended 100, I feel it makes the sound more blooming and warm, and slightly larger; although with a slight price to pay on soundstage depth and pin-point focus. I guess this would be a personal and a matching issue.
Also, I like to tilt the VTA a tiny bit backwards to smooth out the sometimes uncompromising top of the AT with lesser recordings/pressings.
In the right system (ie. high transparency, low coloration) it sounds extremely "sharp" in a positive sense, pumps out far more detail, soundstage and power than the price gives it any right to. The integration is seamless.
It's not a sweet honeydripper, and listeners seeking to "warm up" their sound is best advised to look elsewhere, as it has the potential to sound rough when poorly matched.

Highly recommended for truth-seeking audiophiles on a budget, and for high-enders seeking a low-cost top-class MC!

Similar Products Used: Linn Arkiv and K9, AudioTechnica ART1 and AT-OC5, Denon DL304, Van den Hul MC One, Ortofon MC30 Supreme.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 11  

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