London Decca cartridges

I’ve not seen any mention on here so thought I’d post, having been somewhat taken with the mono Maroon I bought a couple of years ago but not got round to ordering a reference while they were available.
John Wright’s retirement at the end of October seemed to be about to be the end of Decca cartridges but it now appears he has sold the rights to them and is acting as a consultant while the new owners get up to speed. No cartridges available yet, though there is servicing mentioned on their site. Richard would remove any URL so I’ll just say they’re at londondecca dot com if anyone else wants to keep an eye on them.

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Their website is just a Home Page right now with a contact drop down. Hopefully, they’ll make updating it a top priority.

From John Wright:

Following on from my previous announcement, I am delighted to announce that I have an agreement in place to transfer the servicing and manufacturing of all Decca cartridges to a new company. All servicing work and manufacturing will be undertaken here in the UK by a specialist cartridge maker, who has been making high end cartridges in the UK for the last thirty years. Initial service and assembly training has been undertaken by myself and I shall continue to be available during the hand over transition period.

I am most pleased that I can hand the business on to such a committed and experienced manufacturer. Securing the service and manufacture of these wonderful products for the years to come!

Hi @Yeti ,

I have read a fair amount about these cartridges over the. Normally equal amounts of praise for sound quality together with curses for mis-tracking. I see you are using an Aro, I presume this works well?

What other versions are there and have you used?


A bare Aro carrying a Decca only works well with records cut on a mono lathe, which are what I bought my mono wired Decca for, add an 8g weight (spare from the Schröder) and it will track most stereo lathe cut discs too, among which I have a set of Schnabel Beethoven Sonatas reissued on LP, but occasionally it still jump out of a groove. Fitting the Townshend outrigger and trough cures it of this entirely but the Aro doesn’t sound like itself any more. I have a heavy arm (Korf) on pre order to see what that does, and I’ll still have the trough available if necessary.
I’ve not tried mounting it on my Schröder and would expect a good match but It’s busy with my stereo cartridge at the moment and that’s sounding too good to mess with.

Interesting, I think I’ll be sticking with my Troika - but I would love to hear one.

Up until the mid-1990’s I used to listen regularly to a friend’s system comprising a Decca Gold, Hadcock tonearm, Thorens TD160BC, Quad 33/303 and MS Pageants. It was a system built primarily to reproduce classical music, which suited it very well.
We did try substituting different items in the system on occasion, when I got an impression of the Decca Gold as an extremely fast, tuneful and dynamic performer. Mistracking was a concern on some well used and/or warped records and its stereo ‘imaging’ (if that is important to you) was quite limited. Despite its flaws it did have ‘something’ about its sound which was very beguiling though. I haven’t heard another cartridge before or since with quite the same sense of ‘presence’.

That is what I have heard, but the high maintenance aspects mean that I will hang on to hear someone else’s efforts …perhaps.

Always interesting to hear about people taking the less trodden path.

‘stereo imaging quite limited’ - is maybe a bit of an understatement. If you look at the cantilever geometry it’s surprising it works at all. The original design was only really intended to track horizontally modulated mono.

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I had a Decca Super Gold for a few years and it was the best cartridge I ever had in my system. It was mounted on a Alphason HR-100s arm, (medium counterweight) on a Sota Sapphire deck. Never had any problems with mistracking and it had a very good stereo imaging. The only problem was that it gathered dust on the needle very easily.

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I have heard the Decca London Gold mainly in Keith Monks unipivot arms on Transcriptors, Technics and Linn decks and there’s no doubt it’s an extremely good cartridge. I have heard it play LPs compared to the master tapes they were produced from and the only difference in many cases was in the compression required. Unconventional certainly but very good indeed.

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I bought my LP12 in 78 with a SME Series III arm. My second arm was a Hadcock with a Decca London, the only thing I remember about the cart was that it was blue and red and that blue (metal) housing contributed to the sound. On the records where it actually could be used it was great fun … but I deemed the Decca a bit to “english” for me. And so was the Hadcock and unipivots even though my next one was also a unipivot (a Grace 714 with a Fidelity Research MC and a small mc-preamp contraption built by Naim for Linn which was faulty and filled with silicon so it couldnt be repaired - I sent it with a grumpy letter to Naim and got a new one that worked along with a letter signed Julian Vereker with a lesson on tantalums :-)).

I then started saving up for a Breuer arm but Linn released the Ittok (sort of Breuer lookalike) and it became my next arm along with the then new Nirvana upgrade to the LP12.

But that old Decca was seriously fun and unique. But also very frustrating.

I’m pleased to see the Decca cartridge has been mentioned on this forum. I acquired a Decca London Export gold at a hi fi dealer’s closing down sale in 1980 for approx. £20 . I installed it in my Rega Planar 3 fitted with the “S” shaped arm, pre RB300. The sound really was amazing, with real pace and dynamics, except that as the cartridge approached the inner grooves, there was horrendous mis-tracking. As the cartridge body appears to be no more than 2mm above the surface of the record due to not having any visible form of cantilever to the stylus, any unevenness on the disc would scrape the underside of the cartridge. Finally, the Decca London must have transmitted amazing energy into the arm as the Rega’s arm bearings were actually playing what was on the disc at quite a loud volume-- a bit like the old wind up 78 gramophones . Faced with all these frustrations, the cartridge went back into its box, but I’ve always hankered after its sound and about 18 months ago I sent the Decca off to John Wright for a service and he guaranteed to rid the cartridge of all the mis-tracking issues. I had planned to fit it into my Linn Sondek with Ekos Mk1 arm, just to see if it would work, however a friend warned me not to, saying I might wreck the arm bearings with over-zealous cartridge tightening, so having lost my nerve, the London has stayed in its box. Since reading the recent postings, and having a legacy Goldring Lenco GL78 and Thorens TD160 in the loft from earlier systems, I’ll aim to install the Decca in one of those decks when I have some free time next week and see how it performs. I’ll report the results back here. In the meantime if anyone has any thoughts on putting a Decca London Export Gold in a Ekos Mk1, or tips for taking out a dealer installed Dynavector DV20 cartridge without over-stressing the bearings , I’d be grateful to read your suggestions. Thanks.


If you use the plastic bracket you can’t over tighten the cartridge bolts. Anything more than a light touch over-loosens them.

Yes. First remove the arm from the deck. Then swap the carts over. Then refit the arm.

Thats what a dealer would do… :slightly_smiling_face:

Its the only way to avoid stressing the bearings.

Thanks Yeti, I’d forgotten about the rather flimsy plastic holder that the Decca has.

Thanks Ian, that sounds like a risky operation for me to perform at home, but I’ll have a look on line to see if there are any videos showing how to do it in detail. Otherwise I’ll wait to see how the Decca London performs in one of the other decks and if it plays well, I’ll think about asking my dealer to fit the cartridge for me. And of course the Decca may be entirely unsuitable for the Ekos after all that.

I have simplified it a bit. You would need to:

  • Unplug the Turntable (assuming an LP12 here)
  • Remove the base
  • remove the arm lead
  • remove arm counterweight and zero the bias
  • loosen the Allen Head screw holding the arm pillar in the mounting collar
  • remove the arm
  • swap carts over
  • reverse the above

My gut feeling is that the Decca London would not suit an Ekos - or Ittok.

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The Ekos is an exceptionally well designed and made tonearm, so I can think of no reason why it would not work well with a Decca London cartridge.

(But I have no personal experience to back up this opinion!)

Someone is bound to know, though, and will no doubt venture on to express an opinion.

The London is undamped and often benefits from use in a damped arm - one of the reasons it was so at home in the old Keith

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