Clearaudio Jubilee MC Cartridge

hfnoutstandingCrafted as part of Clearaudio's 40th anniversary celebrations, the Jubilee MC features the brand's proven moving-coil mechanism housed in a 'bullet-proof' jacket

How time flies: Clearaudio was born during the height of analogue playback, survived the arrival of digital, stuck to its guns and is now enjoying the fruits of its loyalty to the vinyl cause. Along with a vast array of record decks, Clearaudio has 16 moving-coil cartridges in its catalogue – yes, sixteen. To mark its 40th birthday, the company has added one more to the middle of the group of MCs, those featuring the distinctive 'flower' top plate as seen on the flagship Goldfinger Statement [HFN Jan '15]. The new Jubilee MC, however, is a third of the Goldfinger's cost at £4460.

Because these flower top Clearaudio pick-ups share the same long, exposed, boron cantilever and 'Prime Line' stylus, they provide an opportunity to compare how body construction can influence sound. This is a nice alternative to the concept and auditioning of a range of cartridges which differ only in styli profiles and/or cantilever materials, a practise long employed by Koetsu and other manufacturers.

Suit Of Armour
This Panzerholz flower top MC pick-up joins two other wood models (Concerto and Stradivari), plus aluminium (Da Vinci), titanium (Titanium), and gold (for the Goldfinger, of course). PM describes the Panzerholz as an 'overcoat', as underneath is a metal/polymer body similar to some of Clearaudio's other MC cartridges. This is a 'high tech' natural wood augmented by a production process which increases its hardness, while its desirability in audio applications is down to its way with handling resonance.


The Jubilee is the first pick-up to employ the laminated Panzerholz 'bullet proof' wood long-favoured by Clearaudio as the plinth material in its top-end turntables

Clearaudio describes Panzerholz as 'bulletproof wood', and has been using it for its turntable plinths for some time. You'll also find it in Rogers' revived LS5/9 Classic SE [HFN May '21] and as a baffle material upgrade to the LS3/5a. And, wow, does it have an audible effect on that little speaker!

While I didn't have all of the Clearaudio flower tops to hand, I have used three or four in the past, while other experiences with material-vs-material comparisons include my own Koetsus with four different body materials; a brace of EAT Jo cartridges which differ in body materials; and two TechDAS moving-coils, one using Super Duralumin and the other titanium. So you could say I've more than paid my dues with this area of cartridge design, and have done the same when comparing styli and cantilevers within the same basic design.

Easy Does It
Aside from the visual challenge presented by the flower top when aligning the Jubilee MC – and I have no idea why someone as rational as Clearaudio owner Robert Suchy persists with this top plate – the only other test of one's setup skills is the long, naked cantilever. I realise that concern for this exposed protrusion is not really any different than setting up any cartridge, however visible its cantilever, and I also know that it does make life easier vis-à-vis alignment, but there is no escaping the psychological effect. It looks like it's daring you not to snap it.

It's advisable not to over-tighten the screws, however solid the Panzerholz flower top with its metal plate. As for connections, the Jubilee MC is a model of clarity, the well-spaced pins of a perfect diameter so I had to neither crimp nor expand my headshells' tags, all colour-coded. Setup was as straightforward as one could desire via overhang templates supplied with the relevant tonearms, naked cantilever fear notwithstanding. (Just as there are names for obscure dreads such as coulrophobia, ailurophobia, etc, surely a fear of cartridge setup merits one? Alas, stylophobia apparently means 'fear of pens'.)


The long boron cantilever, fitted with 'Prime Line' stylus is a boon to cueing but equally vulnerable

Weight Of Expectation
Clearaudio packages its Jubilee MC with a 2mm Allen key, 6mm and 10mm mounting screws, the Clearaudio Stylus Gauge, four gold pins and user manual. The instructions are copiously detailed, and they suggest the use of a setup LP. I'm partial to test LPs from Ortofon, Denon, and Shure, as well as our own trusty classic.

Despite tracking at 2.8g, PM advised me to install the Jubilee MC in a 'low-ish effective mass arm'. Luckily, I have tonearms with various counterweights and headshells, so the seeming contradiction of balancing a cartridge that weighs a middling 7.5g to track at 2.8g was no onerous chore. My test LPs revealed no infractions, while confirming this cartridge sails through torture tests. Moreover, its high 0.5mV output (actually closer to 0.7mV) allowed use with all manner of phono stages, but in every case, ideal loading was 50-100ohm.

Clearaudio Electronic GmbH
Supplied by: Sound Fowndations, UK
0118 981 4238