Fidelity Research FR-1 Mk.3F phono cartridge Specifications

Sidebar: Specifications

Description: Moving-coil phono cartridge with 0.3×3-mil, line-contact stylus. Output voltage: 0.14mV. Impedance: 10 ohms. Compliance: 10×10–6cm/dyne. Recommended tracking force: 2 grams. Weight: 10 grams.
Price: $230 (1980); no longer available (2019).
Manufacturer: Fidelity Research, Tokyo, Japan. Fidelity Research of America, PO Box 5242, Ventura, CA 93003 (1980). Company no longer in existence (2019).

Fidelity Research
Company no longer in existence (2019)

John Atkinson's picture
Back at the beginning of the 1980s, this Fidelity Research and the Supex 900 were the moving-coil cartridges to have. But after a dalliance with the Entre 1 MC (designed by Matsudaira-san, now of My Sonic Lab), I lost my heart to the Dynavector Karat 17D Diamond, which I used mounted in an SME 3009 Mk.III tonearm on a Linn Sondek LP12.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Ortofan's picture

cartridge, which had a very short cantilever, Bud Fried would have been proud of you.
However, at audio shows, he typically used a moving-iron/induced-magnet type cartridge with a line-contact stylus - usually an ADC ZLM or an Ortofon M20FL. Turntables were either Thorens or Linn and tonearms were either SME or ADC.

Of course, the cartridge from that era which reproduced LPs with a sound quality closest to that of the master tape - in the opinion of mastering engineers - was the Stanton 881.

jimsusky's picture


Thanks for reprinting this review by the redoubtable J. Gordon Holt.

A friend, closer to your age than mine, fondly remembers the various Supex 'coils. He estimates getting 2,000 hours from a Fidelity Research FR-2 (sic).

(this is strong evidence in favor of the religious use of "Stylast" - which seems to be not so-well-known these days)

I operated an FR-1 Mk 3F before I left college - and have operated (mostly "low-output") moving coil pickups since.

About 10-12 years ago another friend got his FR1 rebuilt - which we used with the contemporaneous (1979) Audio Research SP-6 preamp and (1978) "L-strapped Cotter Brick" (properly known as the Verion - then Cotter Mk2L moving coil pickup transformer).

I could swear that it sounded very similar to my 25-year-old audio-recollection.

I was not acquainted with Holt and Sterophile until ca. 1986, so never got his take on this pickup (unlike TAS and The Audio Critic - both of whom convinced us to try it - along with our local audio dealer). We never tried "those ridiculous' cannon blasts" but in the JVC servo-armed direct-drive 'tables it would readily "track 80" on the Ortofon Test Record.

(and I have never, ever, considered 2-grams to "cause groove wear" - believing that mistracking is the real "bad thing" for playing records - plus we routinely used LAST for our costly treasures - another "essential" that also seems to be not-so-fashionable these days)

So, I missed JGH's "distant" evaluation and comparison to the V-15 of the day (! - Really?).

I quite agree, however, that the FR-1 was (is) soft at the extreme top - and detailed like crazy.

JGH implies that there was more than one $1000-pickup in 1980. I only ever heard of the first Koetsu (no model number/name) to be imported to the 'States. What were the others?

(Even the Fidelity Research FR-7 was "only" about $550 in the late 70s)

Anyway, once aware of moving coils - even the "zippy" ones - the various Shure MM pickups have always seemed "boring". Around 2006 I tried a brand-new V-15 Type V-MR and was reminded why I never bothered with MM's post-1980.

Ortofan's picture

... back in 1980 - besides the Koetsu Onyx Black - would have been the Dynavector DV-100D (aka Karat Diamond), the Signet (by Audio-Technica) TK-100LC and the Sony (Esprit) XL-88D.

Herb Reichert's picture

my Supex 900

I even tried it a few years back


volvic's picture

Call me crazy, I found it too bright. Went straight to the Shure V15 MK V which I still use today. I do think it’s time for an MC though.

Ortofan's picture

... try the Audio-Technica VM540ML.

volvic's picture

But already have four Shure V15 MK V cartridges mounted on all four tables, also have several JICO SAS backups, so after all these years, I do want to try an MC. The last time I had an MC was in the 80's with the Ortofon MC20, after I returned the Supex to my then retailer. Bought the Shure when the Ortofon wore out after 7 years. The Shure was the only cartridge I knew that had a great stylus that also didn't smear highs or sound zingy at the top end, and tracked like no other, which is why I still use it. I would still seek a second hand Shure rather than the AT for that reason and the JICO styluses are very good. I am sure a good Lyra MC will sound great but will it track as well as the Shure. I listen to mostly classical so tracking is quite important.

Ortofan's picture

... "zingy" top end, then you won't want a Lyra.

Instead, the Ortofon Cadenza Red would be a better choice.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Lyra Etna's FR looks like Mount Etna in the treble ....... Can you imagine if any DAC's FR looked like that? ....... May be that is the secret sauce? ....... MF praised Etna's sound quality :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Wonder what Tony in Venice would say? :-) .......

volvic's picture

I meant that most budget MM cartridges I have owned, always used to smear the highs; cymbals sounded like a loud screech rather than a sharp sound with a focused attack then quick decay. The only two MM cartridges I have heard that didn't were the Shure and the Linn K18 MKII. I suspect the better Goldrings are good in that department as well. Given the tables I have I would think the Lyra might brighten them up a little and that would be a good thing.

Ortofan's picture

... have some form of line-contact type stylus, so you might expect good reproduction of high frequency sounds from them.
What stylus types were on the other cartridges you tried whose performance you found to be unsatisfactory?

volvic's picture

But the first ever cartridge on my then first ever proper turntable was the entry level Grado, not very impressive. Later on - in between the Ortofon and Shure, I switched to the Denon DL-160, that thing was a horrible tracker and nearly drove me to give up on vinyl as I was just a starving student at the time. It is no exaggeration to say that it was the Shure V15 MkV that kept me into vinyl, it did everything right and while the K18 MKII had a more robust sound the Shure was a better cartridge overall. It is amazing now that I look back that I bought my first one in 1990 and now own several more and still use it. However I would like to dabble in MC again.

Ortofan's picture

... do you already own a step-up device?

Does the JICO replacement stylus for the Shure V15-V have a beryllium cantilever?