Aidas Cartridges Malachite Silver Cartridge Review

Posted on 18th March, 2024

Aidas Cartridges Malachite Silver Cartridge Review

Jay Garrett takes this exotic, hand-made Lithuanian moving coil pickup for a spin…

Aidas Cartridges

Malachite Silver Moving Coil Cartridge

£4,860 RRP

Aidas Cartridges Malachite Silver Cartridge Review

Aidas Cartridges is based in Kaunas, Lithuania. Here, Aidas Svazas crafts hand-made moving coils, with twenty-plus years of experience in repairing and manufacturing them behind him. His journey towards developing his first phono cartridge was marked by extensive research and development, with numerous trials and errors and many materials tested along the way. His principal objective is to deliver outstanding sonics, but he's also committed to making a good-looking product that's relatively easy to maintain and repair.

His experience dates back to the late nineteen-nineties. Over the years, the company has innovated special techniques to enhance the suspension, core geometry, and coils of existing models. Aidas has also experimented with various stylus/cantilever combinations to improve tracking and, ultimately, the sound. He tells me that this has led to the continuous improvement of his cartridges, culminating in the creation of the first Aidas cartridge in 2010, the AS-1.


The Malachite Silver MC is part of the company's most recent line, launched in 2020. It has been available to UK vinylistas since last year when Greg Drygla started offering it through G-Point Audio Distribution's retail network. Aidas says the Silver-Plated series of cartridges is “ideal for those who prefer a more airy sound”, adding that the cartridges are encased in exquisite Tru-stone bodies, which offer “unique damping properties.”

Aidas Cartridges Malachite Silver Cartridge Review

All coils are meticulously hand-wound by Aidas, utilising specialised tools and techniques developed over many years. Coil winding is exceptionally demanding and time-consuming, requiring the utmost precision and attention to detail. The coils are flawlessly executed, and I am assured they exhibit almost identical electrical parameters across both channels. He states, “The level of perfection and matching achieved in our coil production is so precise that it sets us apart from most competitors.”

This phono cartridge's double suspension system features two distinct suspension elements supporting the generator/cantilever assembly. Each fulfils unique tasks, and the choice of materials is paramount. Specifically, one of the elements is crafted from a bespoke rubber compound, carefully selected from seven different variations. “Even the slightest alteration in the physical parameters of this rubber significantly affects the overall sound of the cartridge. This meticulous attention to detail ensures we have the desired outcome.”

This led me to ask why the Adamant Namiki boron cantilever and MicroRidge stylus were chosen over other options, as this is the one constant throughout the range. Aidas explained: “Our choice is based on the precision of MicroRidge and the ability to sustain the same sound character during the wear time. Equipped with superior groove contact for broader frequency response, a MicroRidge stylus reduces distortion for cleaner audio, extends high-frequency response, and mitigates record wear, thus preserving your vinyl collection.”

Aidas Cartridges Malachite Silver Cartridge Review

He continues: “Boron is an incredibly stiff material. This allows the cantilever to maintain its shape as it traces the grooves of a record, leading to accurate signal transduction. It's also very light. This combination of lightness and rigidity minimises unwanted resonance and allows the stylus to quickly and accurately follow the grooves in the record. The rigidity and lightness of boron cantilevers enhance the overall sound quality. They improve clarity, detail, and accuracy, providing a better listening experience.”

While a selection of cartridge body materials is offered, including Panzerholz, Durawood, Composite, or even Mammoth tusk(!), which all influence the overall sound, the differences are subtle and nuanced. While these materials may impart a distinct character to the sound, it's the combination of these bodies with the company's custom Mk2 Aidas generator (developed by Aidas and manufactured by Namiki Japan) that ensures consistency across the product range.

The Malachite Silver has a beautiful, multicoloured green Tru-stone body consisting of more than eighty-five percent actual stone. Tru-Stone blanks are made by a unique process of pulverising semi-precious stones into a powder and then combining them with other natural pigments and resins. This body not only looks and feels very high-end but is also said to have unique damping properties.

Aidas Cartridges Malachite Silver Cartridge Review

The cartridge has a lowish 0.3mV quoted output and sports an AlNiCo5 magnet system, and 24kt pressed gold (brass base) pins. It weighs 11.3g, and its hand-wound coils are 0.03mm 6N silver-plated copper. Aidas recommends a 1.9g tracking force and 100 to 1,000 ohms loading. The stated coil impedance DC is 5 ohms.

I have had this cartridge strapped into the business end of my JMW 10 3D tonearm – resting its unipivot on a VPI Prime turntable – for a good few months. Paired with a YBA Genesis PH1 phono stage connected to Gryphon Essence pre and power amplifiers out through a pair of Audiovector R 6 Arrete loudspeakers, it has remained in this position for a good reason.

With an asking price more than the likes of Hana's impressive Umami Red, which is also hand-assembled, the Malachite Silver needs to impress. However, Aidas also offers servicing and re-tipping, which costs between £250 and £500 depending on the model, which is highly competitive and a testament to his commitment to sustainability.


Right from the first listen, this cartridge caught my attention. Box-fresh with zero hours on it, the sound had a hard edge that I found a little forward. However, I could not fault how it rode the grooves, picking out subtleties such as how Kate Bush pronounces her esses with equal ease as the metallic fizz of closed hi-hats. I can confirm that this steely edge softened after use without any perceptible loss to its aforementioned detail retrieval skills.

Aidas Cartridges Malachite Silver Cartridge Review

As much as I appreciate the quintessentially Japanese presentation of the likes of the Hana Umami Red, I found the Aidas cart more natural and fulsome, especially in the upper bass and lower mids. Bass is tight and articulate, and the overall tonality is remarkably coherent – no particular frequency band was given undue attention. Indeed, Portishead's live opus, recorded in Roseland, NYC, demonstrated that bass depth and detail are in good supply here. Additionally, a great sense of space helped capture the atmosphere in the auditorium.

Even though the Malachite Silver is even-handed, it is also very well-textured and lifelike in timbre. Esbjörn Svensson Trio's E.S.T. Live in London was recorded at their show at The Barbican Centre in 2005, which I attended. What struck me initially playing this back with the Malachite cartridge was the superb imaging of the instruments on the recording. The staging through my Audiovectors was perfect, and the pickup had me travelling back to the show but with even better seats this time. The instruments had an exquisite purity matched by an authoritative weight and realism. Bass, piano and drums all sounded vital and dynamic. The fourteen-plus minutes of Mingle in the Mincing-Machine features a distorted bass solo by Dan Berglund, proving no issue for this cartridge. There was still plenty of low-register information balanced by the piano and sparky hi-hats. Separation, clarity and detail are another part of its skillset.

Aidas Cartridges Malachite Silver Cartridge Review

This brings me nicely to its impeccable treble behaviour. In addition to the refined handling of hi-hats, orchestral strings sound wonderfully communicative, as evidenced by spinning Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons. Working with the violinist Elena Urioste and the musicians of Chineke! Orchestra, Richter's recomposition features period instruments, gut strings, and vintage analogue synthesisers to achieve what he calls a “grittier, more punk rock sound.” Enveloped in celestial synths alongside familiar string motifs, these exhibited the Malachite's deft handling of the upper frequencies.

Conscious of being too kind to this boutique moving coil, I dug out my well-loved copy of Iron Maiden's Live After Death. This gatefold-sleeved double album was the first heavy metal long player I bought, and since 1985, it has partnered me to many a house party. It's also been the victim of inebriated cueing in smoky rooms. While the Aidas unit faithfully reminded me of this slab of vinyl's interesting life, it didn't simply throw out all the live recorded goodness left within those worn grooves. Instead, it stitched the remaining music together in a most enjoyable way. The narrated section of Rime of The Ancient Mariner was the clearest I have heard it.

Aidas Cartridges Malachite Silver Cartridge Review

While this cartridge tracks record grooves with precision, it also delivers a fluid and engaging presentation that's refreshingly crisp and finely resolving. It does not sugar-coat or romantically sepia-tint poorly kept or engineered records. Instead, it remains honest without ever sounding harsh. To sum up this cartridge's character, it is dynamic, incisive, direct, and natural.


The Aidas Malachite Silver moving coil cartridge is quite an investment for those with an analogue front end capable of getting the most from it. Even my comparatively modest vinyl playback components were shown in a new light thanks to the capabilities of this cartridge. While some would rather stay safe and spend their money with a well-established brand such as Hana, Ortofon or Lyra, they might be missing out. The Malachite Silver is more direct than the characteristic Ortofon and has more body than a Hana of around the same price. Detail retrieval and groove tracking are remarkable, and its dynamic ability will have you digging deep into your collection. If this is within your budget, then make sure you add it to your audition list.

Visit Aidas Cartridges for more information


    Jay Garrett's avatar

    Jay Garrett

    StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.

    Posted in:Hi-Fi StereoLUX! Applause Awards 2024 Turntables Phono Cartridges
    Tags: aidas cartridges  g-point distribution 


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