Wooden-bodied cartridges have always - since my first taste of Koetsu - charmed the hell out of me. I remember lusting after a Mr. Briar, a Grado Reference is never far from my headshell, and Koetsu, well, this brand remains for me the moving-coil of choice. So Sumiko
(which also distributes Sonus Faber in the USA and thus has an appreciation of Things Timbered) was singing my song when it chose to mark a quarter century not with the silver of a wedding anniversary but with a lovely block of pearwood.
Sumiko's Pearwood Celebration II is a traditional moving-coil design in that it's low-output and uses an elliptical stylus instead of some trick profile. In this respect, the historical element is correct because (if my memory serves me well) Sumiko started out by distributing Japanese moving-coil cartridges, at a time when nearly all m-cs were low output types. Thus, if an anniversary model is to commemorate previous efforts and happens not to be a replica per se, then the Celebration sets the right tone. Moreover, beyond the shape and the stylus, the Celebration is as modern as it gets.
If you spring for this little masterpiece, spend a good 20 minutes reading the superb booklet before removing the cartridge from its little cedar box. Its text walks you through the design story and set-up procedure better than any cartridge manual I can recall. For the sake of brevity, then, let me just tell you that the cartridge has an output of 0.5mV, an internal impedance of 30 ohms and a load impedance of 1k ohm. The output, though low, was enough to drive the little NAD head-amp such that I could use it through Roksan's Caspian integrated amplifier without swinging the volume control much past the 11 o'clock position for normal levels. On the other hand, some who need more wallop will prefer this with a step-up; it adores the EAR 834P.
Sumiko selected Alnico magnets for the Celebration, with the front yoke pressure fit against the magnet. The cantilever itself is made from long-grain boron suspended by a special synthetic rubber material, while the aforementioned elliptical stylus is made from a low mass PH diamond said to be the most costly available - despite the lack of a tricky profile. Its perfectly cubist body helps the eye determine azimuth and rake angle.
Read more about the Pearwood Celebration II catridge on Page 2.