London Decca cartridges are absolutely unique in both concept and performance. The value for money is outrageous (in the best possible way) as they put most high end cartridges to shame in so many critical areas. The most immediate impression given is of fabulous live feel to music - in other words, notes start with lightening speed and decay with precision - just as they should - this makes the average cartridge sound almost glacial in its presentation. Those with slight hearing loss do not always notice speed so this may not be important to some folks. The next outstanding characteristic is huge dynamic range - this makes the music so much more listenable at low volumes that it is simply staggering. At normal levels it makes for an exciting and highly entertaining experience. However this is just the beginning - the London cartridges have it all - in spades. Tonal accuracy, delicacy, seperation and imaging.
I have heard Decca fans rave about these attributes with great passion and put it down to personal preference. After all these cartridges are a fairly old design and not exactly high end prices. If they were THAT good, surely one would expect a larger following. There are explantations for this as these cartridges take a bit of care to get right. However in a good system with the correct set up, these cartridges are unsurpassed in most key aspects.
As with any product you will always find detractors - most fault finding regarding the Londons circulate around lack of bass and tracking ability. Having spoken to a number of experts about these comments they can be explained largely by the need for correct effective arm mass and a decent balanced system.
Because the London is SO dynamic it can cause compression effects in equipment - this instantly causes bass to suffer - Compression effects can occure in all electronics from the phono stage to the Loudspeaker drivers. However a good system philosophy for ultimate performance is to start with a high quality source signal and sort out the rest of the system rather than dumb down the source which ultimately can never achieve the best results.
Please note: Decca cartridges are not available outside the UK unless purchased with an arm or turntable.