Discontinued Matsushita turntable pickups
The Matsushita company has sold a large number of pickups through the years, most of those that were sold independently were released under the Technics banner rather than the National or Panasonic labels, but the latter 2 brands are mostly to be found on replacement cartridges. The Technics branded pickups are of at the least reasonable quality and some are plain excellent, although it is a bit difficult to retroactively assess whether some of them were intended for the replacement market or if they were sold separately as aftermarket products.
The company has by now stopped selling pickups altogether except as spare parts with the last cartridge the company sold individually being the Technics U1200 DJ model that was discontinued around 2010, possibly a bit earlier. It should be noted that even though the company was one of the earliest Japanese companies to enter western audio markets in the early 1950’s, they were fairly late to the phonographic market with much of their early products being bought in, the North American division did not start selling tonearms and pickups as individual parts until 1979 for instance.
Although Matsushita had released a couple of T4P pickups prior to 1979 they went almost wholesale over to the P-mount standard in that year when they introduced their first linear tracking turntables, revamped their entire line of pickups making the bulk of their offerings P-Mounts, often supplying them with adaptors for use in standard mounts and made local divisions such as the one in the USA that had until then left the pornographic aftermarket to the specialist, start stocking aftermarket cartridges. In fact by the early 80’s only broadcast and DJ oriented turntables from the company came as default with a standard pickup mount and if they were supplied with pickups at all they came with a T4P cartridge in an adaptor.
This makes a whole lot of sense for the company, since their mid-priced line of turntables were now linear tracking and thus did not need tonearm adjustments and the budget turntables never offered them anyway the T4P standard was cheaper to make, easier for the end user to replace and more flexible since adaptors could be offered for standard ˝ inch and Ortofon mounts meaning that the retailer had only to stock P-mount pickups and a range of adaptors. Prior to this cartridges intended for un-adjustable arms used in budget turntables and record changers all featured proprietary slide in mount from a variety of manufacturers which required retailers to stock a ridiculous array of different replacement units just to service what they were selling at any given point in time, never mind legacy products.The range of T4P models from Matsushita was also big, encompassing anything from crystal units used in music systems to high end moving coil designs intended for their mid and high end tables and were in general fairly keenly priced. Therefore we were recommending to people looking for replacement P-mount pickups to take a look at the market for second hand and NOS Technics branded pickups in addition to models from companies such Ortofon and Audio Technica since even after the company stopped shipping P-mounts there was quite a big amount of NOS units showing up for sale at keen prices. This has changed drastically in the last few years however with prices rising and supplies receding, especially for the NOS units which by now tend to be overpriced.
However that does not mean you should overlook the NOS and second hand Technics P series pickups if you are looking for a replacement, there are plenty of them around still and while the standard European and American suppliers of replacement stylii mostly supply overpriced spherical and elliptical versions as replacements for the range, the Japanese suppliers are still offering high quality elliptical, hyper-elliptical and other line contact variants so you can find replacements for even the more exotic moving magnet variants, although you may have to specially order these and the better line contact variants can be expensive. This also means that if you have a tonearm that allows adjustments or a linear tracking unit that does not need adjustment in regards to stylus profile, you can in fact look at upgrading the stylus as an alternative to upgrading the pickup.
The P-153s technical specification are : Generator Type : Moving Magnet. Mount : T4P. Frequency response : 10Hz~30KHz. Output @ 5cm/s : 2,5mV @ 1khz. Channel separation : 25dB @ 1khz or better. Channel balance : Less than +-2dB @ 1khz. Load impedance : 47 to 100 KOhms. Compliance : 1,2 x 10-4 cm/dyne. Tracking force : 1 to 1,5 grams. Recommended tracking force : 1,25 grams. Stylus tip : Spherical. Weight : 6 grams.
The P-553 technical specification are : Generator Type : Moving Magnet. Mount : T4P. Frequency response : 10Hz~35kHz.
The Technics branded H Series were pickups sold integrated with a headshell that had an Ortofon connector, in most cases these were standard mount or T4P mount cartridges mounted in a shell or an adaptor, although there may have been an early model or 2 of broadcast pickups that were more tightly integrated.
The Technics H22 technical specifications are : Generator Type: Moving Magnet. Mount: Ortofon/P-Mount. Magnet: Samarium-cobalt. Frequency response: 20Hz ~ 10kHz @ +/-1dB — 20Hz ~ 35kHz @ +/-3dB — 10Hz ~ 50kHz unweighted. Output @ 5cm/s. lateral velocity: 2.5mV @ 1kHz. Output @ 10cm/s 45° velocity: 7mV @ 1kHz (DIN 45 500). Channel separation: 22dB or better @ 1kHz. Channel balance: 1.8dB or better @ 1kHz.. Recommended load resistance: 47k ~ 100k ohms. Compliance: 12 x 10-6 cm/dyne @ 100 Hz. Tracking force: 1 to 1.5 grams. Recommended tracking force: 1.25 grams. Stylus tip: Elliptical 0.3 x 0.7 mil. Cantilever: Boron Pipe. Weight: 6 grams or 14.5 grams (including headshell). Original part #: EPC-H22. Replacement stylus part #: EPS-22ED or EPS-202ED.
The H-23 technical specification are : Generator Type : Moving Magnet. Mount : Standard (But comes mounted on a headshell). Magnet : Samarium-cobalt. Frequency response : 10Hz~40kHz. Channel separation : 22dB @ 1khz or better. Channel balance : Less than +-1,8dB @ 1khz. Tracking force : 1 to 1,5 grams. Recommended tracking force : 1.25 grams. Stylus tip : Elliptical 0,3 x 0,7 mil. Weight : 6 grams or 14,5 grams including headshell.
Note that on the original stylus had the top of the cantilever painted with a red fluorescent paint to aid in using the pickup in dimly lit clubs, third party stylii do not have this feature in most cases except for the Nagaoka one (Part# 28-1200CS), but note that even though the company is no longer selling the pickup on its own they are still shipping them as standard with some of their DJ turntables and thus original stylus replacements is easily available from Panasonic dealers, and replacement pickups may indeed be available from the Panasonic spares department. If the extra headshell weight that came with the pickup is lost you can order it as a spare part (Panasonic part# RMJO011).
Please note that even though the cartridge had an RRP of around 130USD it commonly retailed for a lot less, or as low as 60USD, also not to be confused with earlier U series pickups from the company that were “universal mount” i.e. they were T4P pickups that came with an adaptor for a standard mount, the U1200 is a Standard Mount only pickup.
The Technics U1200 technical specifications are : Generator Type: Moving Magnet. Mount: Standard. — 10Hz ~ 20kHz unweighted. Generated channels: 2. Output channels: 2. Output @ 3.54cm/s. lateral velocity: 6 @ 1kHz. Channel separation: 20dB or better @ 1kHz. Channel balance: 1.5dB or better @ 1kHz.. Recommended load resistance: 47k ~ 100k ohms. Compliance: 4 x 10-6 cm/dyne @ 100 Hz. Recommended tracking force: 2 grams. Overhang: 15 mm. Distance from stylus tip to arm connector 52 mm. Stylus tip: Spherical 0.6 mil. Estimated stylus lifetime: 500 hours. Weight: 5.3 grams Original part #: EPC-U1200. Replacement stylus part #: EPS-1200CS or EPS-1200CSP. Original RRP: 129.95 USD (2005).