The 10X5 is the least expensive cartridge in Japanese brand Dynavector's extensive range and its origins can be traced back to a time when vinyl ruled supreme (1978, to be specific).

It has gone through five revisions since then, so is a more up-to-date design with an elliptical stylus and a more conventional downforce requirement for an MC of two grammes.

A wallet-friendly option

It has a strong 2.5mV output meaning you don't need a hyper-sensitive MC phono stage, making it more economical for those starting out on the vinyl path to sonic enlightenment.

A forthcoming revision is said to include threaded inserts, which would greatly aid mounting, but as it stands it's difficult to set up. You have to use the supplied aluminium slot-head bolts and round nuts and there's no stylus guard for assurance.

Vibrant sounds

Fortunately, it's worth the trouble (it wouldn't still be around if not) and is capable of producing a solid and precise soundstage with real weight and power.

Tonally, it's very convincing too, managing to combine good detail resolution with a relaxed balance that's sensitive to timing without leaning on the leading edges.

The lazy groove of Tom Waits' Swordfishtrombone sounds so right that it's hard to find the limitations unless you have something better on hand (the Ortofon Rondo Red reveals greater subtlety in the bass and a little more refinement).

But the Dynavector makes up for this with vibrant dynamics and a great sense of timing that hooks you into the music.