[ Home | Staff & Contacts | HiFi Playground | Listening tests | DIY & Tweakings | Music & Books ]

Dynavector DV-10x4 MKII

High Output Moving Coil Cartridge

[Italian version]

Product: Dynavector DV-10x4 MKII High Output MC cartridge
Manufacturer: Dynavector Systems Ltd. - Japan
Prices: See text
Reviewer: Nels Ferré
Reviewed: May 2001

[Dynavector DV-10x4 MKII]
Dynavector DV-10x4 MKII


Dynavector Systems, Ltd. of Japan has been a front runner in the field of moving coil cartridges for over twenty years. In fact, Dynavector was the first company to successfully build high output moving coil cartridges in quantity. The advantage here of course, is that a high output design, such as the DV-10x4 MKII, can be used with most any phono stage. The elimination of step up devices, necessary with low output designs, also makes the signal path shorter, a big plus in my opinion. The DV-10x4 MKII has 2.5 mV output, enough for any MM phono stage I can think of, and the elliptical stylus is nude mounted. This means that the stylus is "pierced" through the cantilever, not unlike a miniature spear. Additionally the DV-10x4 MKII uses a proprietary system called Flux Dumping, as well as softened magnetism, which are designed to give a smoother more relaxed sound. More on this in a bit.

As far as pricing, I've followed Geoff Husband's lead here, and will not disclose the price. Apparently, Dynavector wish not to have the price listed, due to differing price structures and exchange rate fluctuations worldwide. Suffice it to say that, here in the U.S., the DV-10x4 MKII is priced above a Shure V-15 Type 5 MR, but lower than, say, a Rega Super Elys. Being Dynavector's entry level offering, it shouldn't break the budget.

Related Components

While evaluating the DV-10x4 MKII, I had a couple of other cartridges on hand, the Rega Exact, as well as the Grado Prestige Silver. The KAB Souvenir EQS MKII phono stage was used throughout the evaluation. Turntables on hand were my Rega Planar 2, as well as the German made Euro Lab RB (review in progress), both using the Rega RB-250 arm. (By the way, it is a great match for the Dynavector.) Downstream, amplification was either solid state (Harman Kardon Citation 22 power amp, with a Van Alstine Super PAS 4iSL hybrid preamp or tubed (Jolida JD-502B integrated). Interconnects were various Monster Cables, and speaker cables were from JPS Labs. To align the cartridge in the arm, I used Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs' Geo Disc, unfortunately no longer available since the company's demise. If you find one, snatch it up. It works well and makes setup a breeze. Speakers on tap (pun intended) were my faithful Infinity Kappa 6.1's.

The Dynavector is a very good tracker, as witnessed by my HFN&RR test record. It nearly navigated the +18 dB torture track, which is surprising given the fact that MC designs do not have a reputation for their tracking ability. Dynavector recommend a tracking force of 1.7 grams, plus or minus .2 gram. I did all of my listening at the upper limit of 1.9 grams, my feeling that a slight increase in tracking force will cause far lower wear than will a mistracking cartridge. Anti skating was set at a similar value.

Break in on the Dynavector took approximately 75 hours. It's obvious when the cartridge has broken in; it started out just a shade on the lean side. Things approved considerably with each album I played, until I reached the 75-hour point, when I was rewarded with some really excellent sounding music.


The DV-10x4 MKII has a couple of really heavy-duty strengths. It has actually been a bit of a quandary deciding which to start with. I've decided to start with what it doesn't do: surface noise. This caught me by surprise, albeit a very pleasant one. Surface noise, for the most part, is gone, as if there is a special "surface noise to ground" apparatus residing inside the cartridge. And being that the stylus is an elliptical cut, it's not as if some fancy stylus shape just coasts over the noise. No matter: for whatever reason, Dynavector have done a truly excellent job in this department. Even terribly worn LPs from my much younger "party days" sounded great. The most beat up vinyl I could find became very listenable after a good cleaning when being tracked by the baby Dynavector.

How does it sound? Very good indeed. Apparently, Dynavector's special Flux Damping and softened magnetism really works. This one's a real smoothie. It exhibits very smooth response across the board, but the bass and the mids really shine here, the bass being powerful without being overpowering, and the mids being sweet without being syrupy. In other words, tonal balance is "just right".

I've been listening to loads and loads of vinyl over the past couple of months. A friend relocated to Central Florida from North Carolina, and mentioned in passing that his wife was in North Carolina finalizing the sale of their home there and finishing the last bit of packing. Somewhere in the conversation, he mentioned that he and his wife no longer "mess with" vinyl and he "guessed" they were really for the garbage collector. I must have literally turned colors, because he called her and told her not to throw them away. It turns out there was about 250 albums, mostly mint. Great stuff too: Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band, lots of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows, and on and on. There were very few duplicates to my own collection, bonus! As I write this, the DV-10x4 is at work playing The Mighty Diamonds "Koochie Vibes" (Burning Sounds BS-1061.) Imagine UB-40 type reggae mixed with improvisational jazz…. Lots of fun!

Another album that has found it's way to the turntable much more than usual is the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" (DCC LPZ-2006). Usually regarded as a landmark album, just as the Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper's", I enjoyed it, but never really "got it"; I didn't see what the big deal was, until the Dynavector showed up. The album is absolutely beautiful, and the lush orchestration brilliant. I can finally say, "I get it". It sounds great too, even in mono. Brian Wilson, leader of the Beach Boys, and the band's creative force, is deaf in one ear due to an injury inflicted by his father, and therefore, always worked in mono. Studio employees did any stereo mixes.

I also had the opportunity to compare the DV-10x4 to the (much more expensive) Rega Exact, their top offering. I far preferred the Dynavector. The Rega was a bear to set up properly, and even then it was bright, bordering on harsh. It sounded like I was listening to records, as opposed to the Dynavector's presentation, which sounded like music. And, surface noise reared its ugly head with the Dynavector back in its box.


Dynavector, for some reason, have an aversion to any type of stylus guard. I find this frustrating to say the least. It can't cost but a few pennies per unit built to add a flip down stylus guard a la Shure, and I feel that consumers would certainly feel more comfortable installing and using the cartridge. Being a Moving Coil unit, the stylus is not user replaceable like most MM designs: the cartridge must be sent away for a re-tip.

Additionally, even though the DV-10x4 MKII is a true champion at rejecting surface noise, the review sample seemed to be highly sensitive to static electricity, especially on brand new albums. It sounds very similar to the sound of laundry being removed from the clothes dryer. This irritant does seem to vanish after a few plays. Those users who find this distracting my want to invest in some sort of static elimination device, such as a Milty Zerostat, or possibly a Decca carbon fiber brush or the like. I have neither in my arsenal of record care devices, but have had previous experience with the Zerostat, and it should solve the problem. Personally, I didn't find it irritating enough to secure one, but I want to alert a potential purchaser of this trait.


Bar none, I found the Dynavector to be the best overall cartridge that I have had the opportunity to hear to date, and a tremendous value to boot. I give the Dynavector DV-10x4 MKII my heartiest recommendation. In fact, I have been loath to invite my friend by for a listen. He may want his albums back!

Manufacturer's Comment

In light of the fact that digital music reproduction commands the marketplace, we at Dynavector appreciate TNT-Audio for taking the time to review our analogue products. Based on its performance and ease of set up, we believe the DV-10x4 MKII to be the best value in its price range. Analogue is warm and sweet. We will continue to produce phono cartridges to support the vast amount of vinyl that exists worldwide.

© Copyright 2001 Nels Ferré - http://www.tnt-audio.com

HTML Editing by Scott Faller

How to print this article

[ Home | Staff & Contacts | HiFi Playground | Listening tests | DIY & Tweakings | Music & Books ]