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Audio Technica AT-OC9 MLIII
Measured Performance
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The Audio Technica AT-OC9 ML series dates back two decades now, and the cartridge is now in Mark lll form. The body of this new version, introduced in 2010, retains the family styling with the traditional gold colour retained for the lower half of the body, and a rather smart black finish applied to the top part where the mounting holes are. This model was unusual amongst this group in using bolts and screws to locate it in the arm, rather than the blind tapped holes of most contenders here.
    There is a line contact stylus embedded into a solid boron cantilever which transmits movement to dual PCOCC wire coils (Pure Copper by Ohno Continuous Casting). This is claimed to give excellent stereo separation.
     Like the Ortofon and the Denon, the square edges to the body made setting it up easy and I was soon sitting back and listening to the ‘Appalachian Spring’. Here I found a very different presentation to the even handed Denon and the gentle Ortofon. The Audio Technica was not backward in coming forward, with a well lit soundstage and very well defined treble. I have never been a great fan of the previous models, finding them rather too forward for my taste and too eager to focus on groove wall wear and tear. This new model seemed somewhat better behaved in that respect, but was still no shrinking violet, providing a very detailed description of the actions of bow on string. audiotechnica-atoc9ml3_rear

    The upside of this was a very precisely populated soundstage where I felt that I was privy to every single nuance of the performer’s movements. Compared to previous models the bass output seemed a bit higher so that the tonal balance was less skewed to the upper mid and high frequencies, and spread downwards a bit more.
    The ‘Kozmic Blues’ LP was a bit of a mixed bag under this unrelenting spotlight. Janis’ voice stood out clearly and I felt that I could almost see every single subtlety of movement as she clung onto the microphone, but the sharp edge given to some of the electric guitar sounds was, for me, a little too much information, threatening to dominate the proceedings. Having said that I must admit that I found this a far friendlier device than previous models of this cartridge but I still have some reservations about the timbral accuracy of the higher frequencies.
    The improvements in the OC9 became really apparent when playing the Pearl Bailey LP. It is in pretty good condition and this new cartridge played it without too much focus on any odd pops and crackles and instead dug into the music more, displaying a good sense of rhythm and extracting a wealth of musical information from 52 year old grooves. I would still have liked a bit more focus on the lower notes but I felt it was improved somewhat in this area over it’s predecessor.



New version of respected cartridge with a very defined sound.


- strong imaging.
- excellent treble detail.
- improved bass response.

- can be too forward for some tastes


Audio Technica
AT-OC9 MLIII         £549.00
Henley Designs
+44 (0) 1235 511166



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