Sumiko phono cartridges have held the interest and demand of countless audiophiles and sound enthusiasts for several decades. These highly-rated and best-selling pickups are famous for two main reasons: impeccable performance and undeniable versatility.
The company produces both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges with various price points and specifications for every type of audiophile. Despite having different designs, all models possess Sumiko’s signature sound quality, craftsmanship, and innovation.
In this Sumiko Amethyst review, we’ll explore the company’s newly released flagship model. Keep scrolling to learn about this unique cartridge’s essential features, ratings, and alternatives.
Sumiko Amethyst Overview
Sumiko describes its Amethyst phono cartridge as a next-generation moving magnet pickup. The company also states that this cartridge is its most ambitious model so far. This pickup’s predecessors are the Sumiko Moonstone, Olympia, and Rainier.
According to Sumiko, the Amethyst refines the design of the three previous models. Some notable improvements involve reduced output, a nimbler stylus, and an upgraded generator assembly.
The Amethyst is an excellent match for audiophiles who are looking for a dynamic, high-definition, and low-noise cartridge with a mid-range price tag. Sound enthusiasts with entry-level cartridges are welcome to level up their musical experience with the Amethyst, too.
Additionally, this model is suitable for listeners who have thoroughly enjoyed the exceptional performance of the Sumiko Moonstone and want an upgrade. You’ll notice that the Amethyst has an improved frequency response and sets a new benchmark in terms of sonic presentation.
The Amethyst is Sumiko’s flagship model for moving magnet phono cartridges. It belongs to the world-renowned Oyster Series Cartridges.
Here are a few well-known models from this line of pickups:
- Pearl phono cartridge
- Blue Point No. 3 phono cartridge
- Wellfleet phono cartridge
- Blue Point Special Evo 3
It’s also worth mentioning that Sumiko has a second set of cartridges for luxury audio enthusiasts. The Reference Series Cartridges include the Palo Santos Presentation cartridge and the Celebration 40 phono cartridge, among others.
Related: The Best Sumiko Cartridges on the market
Check out the cutting-edge design and specifications of this impressive cartridge:
The Amethyst features a refined and resonance-optimized housing that’s superior to the previously released Oyster models. Its cartridge body thoroughly dissipates most unwanted vibrations, leaving only clean and transparent sonics for listeners to enjoy.
What’s more, this model boasts an enhanced generator assembly that delivers minimal noise, unbeatable tracking capabilities, and electrifying dynamics. Plus, the Amethyst has a slightly reduced output voltage of 2.5 mV. This adjustment further cuts down any unnecessary noise.
Overall, the improvements in this model’s cartridge design aim to prevent sound curve distortion. Collectively, they ensure that you’ll hear your beloved vinyl records in their purest and most authentic form.
Another one of the Sumiko Amethyst’s jaw-dropping features is its nude line-contact stylus which measures 0.2 ✕ 0.8 mils. This is a remarkable upgrade compared to the Sumiko Rainier, Olympia, Moonstone, and Wellfleet’s 0.3 ✕ 0.7 mil elliptical styli.
Discerning listeners will marvel at how the Amethyst’s superior stylus recreates the true sound of most recordings. It extends to your vinyl record grooves’ intricate nooks and crannies to produce high-definition audio.
The Amethyst expertly traces even the most complex passages with ease, grace, and clarity. What’s more, having a line-contact stylus ensures that your records experience minimal distortion and wear. Line-contact tips have a longer lifespan as well.
Aside from the stylus, here are the parts and accessories that come with a Sumiko Amethyst:
- Aluminum pipe cantilever
- Alnico magnet
- Pure copper coils
- Plastic stylus guard
- Two mounting screws
- Two plastic washers
- Wooden case
The main advantage of the Amethyst’s moving magnet design is that it costs significantly less than most moving coil models. That’s because moving magnet cartridges are easier to mass-produce and have user-replaceable styli. They also utilize fewer moving parts.
Despite the lower price, the Amethyst can still deliver breathtakingly smooth and detailed audio.
What’s more, this cartridge requires less expertise to set up and adjust compared to moving coil models. Newbies can easily adjust magnets, connect to stereo equipment, and replace the stylus themselves. Meanwhile, you might need professional assistance with moving coils.
In addition to its moving magnet design, the Sumiko Amethyst boasts the following additional specifications:
- Stereo separation: 30 dB
- Frequency response: 12 Hz–35 kHz
- Channel balance: 0.5 dB
- Load impedance: 47k ohms
Are you still trying to decide if this pickup is worth the price? Here are several advantages of owning this particular cartridge:
The Sumiko Amethyst’s state-of-the-art design and functionality allow it to deliver realism and imagery like never before. Its sonic presentation perfectly blends depth, richness, and power. The stunning stylus contributes to its extended frequency response and dynamism.
This cartridge reproduces analog audio brilliantly, regardless of your chosen genre. It surpasses similarly-priced moving magnet cartridges and even outperforms some moving coil cartridges on the market!
When listening to this pickup, prepare for a punchy sound, excellent tonal balance, stunning openness, and solid bass. You’ll enjoy its large soundstage, exquisite spatial delineation, and warmth as well.
Related: Full Sumiko Olympia Review
Another great benefit of the Sumiko Amethyst is its seamless compatibility with almost all major phono stages.
The Amethyst specifically supports turntables with a standard half-inch mount. It fits on turntables from the following leading manufacturers:
What’s more, this cartridge is a suitable replacement for standard half-inch mount cartridges from the following brands:
Note that the Sumiko Amethyst doesn’t work on P-Mount style turntables.
When it comes to setup, the Sumiko Amethyst is surprisingly easy to work with. Detailed yet straightforward instructions are clearly outlined in the user manual that comes with each cartridge.
Beginners might need extra time in mounting and making intricate adjustments. However, the overall process is smoother due to the Amethyst’s threaded inserts and user-friendly cartridge design.
The manual provides the necessary guidelines for the following processes:
- Proper mounting
- Adjustment of tracking force
- Applying anti-skate/bias
- Adjustment of azimuth and vertical tracking angle
- Stylus replacement
The Amethyst phono cartridge comes in a visually pleasing wooden Sumiko box. Notice the beautiful wood grain patterns on the sides of the box and the snug fit on the lids. Upon opening, the aroma of fresh wood wafts through the air.
The box has an elegant card sleeve indicating the cartridge type, model, and technical specifications. As for the cartridge itself, it sports a classic black exterior with the company name printed in bold white lettering at the front.
Like all other Sumiko cartridges, the Amethyst is skillfully handcrafted by expert artisans in Yokohama, Japan. The company’s manufacturing facility is located near the waters where its namesake oysters dwell.
Sumiko offers a year-long warranty period for all cartridges in the Oyster Series. Note that the warranty is non-transferable and requires an official receipt or proof of purchase for availing.
Any time within the warranty period, you can take your unit for repair or replacement at Sumiko’s official service center. The company will shoulder all related expenses except collateral, transportation, and insurance.
It’s worth mentioning that the product warranty doesn’t apply to defects caused by the following:
- Disassembly or repair by unauthorized parties
The Amethyst’s stylus is removable and conveniently replaceable with an RS Amethyst unit in case of damage.
Additionally, the Amethyst’s stylus is physically interchangeable with styli from the Sumiko Rainier, Olympia, Moonstone, and Wellfleet. That’s because the cartridge body and mechanics of the Amethyst match the earlier Oyster Series models.
Installing an Amethyst stylus in another model’s body is an option, too. This unique feature unlocks a variety of choices and combinations for your collection.
One thing to note is that the generator of the Sumiko Amethyst is different from the other models. Although styli are interchangeable, sticking to the original cartridge body is ideal if you want to maximize the performance of the line-contact stylus.
On the other hand, the following downsides of the Sumiko Amethyst are also worth considering:
Discerning listeners were quick to point out that the Amethyst has room for improvement in terms of detail and insight. When testing records, some users observed muted instruments and gentler vocal delivery. They claim that there’s a noticeable dullness on the inner grooves.
Customers also remarked that the Amethyst had less timbral accuracy and softer transients than other cartridges.
Despite the Amethyst being a remarkably quiet model due to its resonance-optimized design, some buyers still observed a slight but noticeable noise from their units.
The Sumiko Amethyst user manual warns cartridge owners to exercise caution in cleaning the sensitive stylus.
To properly clean the stylus, use gentle back-to-front motions only. Avoid front-to-back movements as they can cause permanent damage to the cantilever.
Additionally, turning down the volume or selecting a different input is necessary before brushing off accumulated dust after each play. Sumiko recommends using LAST cleaning products for compacted debris.
The following ratings are the result of our evaluation of the cartridge’s overall performance:
- Product design and aesthetic: 5/5
- Sound quality: 4/5
- Special features: 3/5
- Ease of assembly: 4/5
- Maintenance needs: 3/5
- Value for money: 5/5
Related: Sumiko Amethyst Vs Ortofon 2M Black
Before making your final decision, you might want to look at these top-performing cartridges from other well-known audio brands:
This excellent model is the flagship moving magnet cartridge of the popular brand Ortofon. It shares many similar features with the Sumiko Amethyst, such as a user-replaceable stylus, accurate sonics, and universal compatibility with most turntables.
This cartridge is part of Ortofon’s outstanding 2M Series. It’s the best-performing model in the lineup and features a nude Shibata diamond stylus. This type of stylus has a slender and graceful profile with a wide contact area to accommodate the highest frequencies.
Listeners who are using this cartridge will experience an extraordinarily detailed sound quality. Other benefits include less wear for both the stylus and the vinyl records. Lastly, the Ortofon 2M Black reduces distortion for a true-to-life listening experience.
On the other hand, this Audio-Technica cartridge utilizes a special line-contact stylus similar to the Sumiko Amethyst. It boasts dual magnets that match the right and left channels on your stereo record groove for exceptional channel separation and broader frequency response.
The Audio-Technica VM760SLC is the company’s flagship model for its VM cartridge line. This model’s stylus is also replaceable and interchangeable with other cartridges from the same line. The resulting sound is nuanced and smooth, with minimal vibrations.
Other features of this pickup include an aluminum alloy housing, aluminum tapered cantilever, and para-toroidal coils that improve this cartridge’s generating efficiency. Plus, it has a center shield plate positioned in the middle of the left and right channels to minimize crosstalk.
Overall, the Sumiko Amethyst excels in delivering an extended frequency response, breathtaking dynamics, and a low noise floor. One of its eye-catching features is its line-contact stylus that never fails to reproduce vinyl records in high definition.
Adventurous audiophiles will particularly appreciate this cartridge’s compatibility with various phono stages and turntables. Let’s not forget its user-replaceable and interchangeable stylus feature, too!
At a mid-range price, the richness and clarity of this cartridge will give most listeners goosebumps. Whether it’s jazz, classical, hip hop, or rock music you’re into, the Amethyst will make your musical experience extra engaging.
Hopefully, this Sumiko Amethyst review has helped you decide if this is the cartridge for you. Happy listening!