Anyone have experience with Soundsmith’s strain gauge?


After watching Peter Ledermann’s excellent presentation on phono cartridge design I am now quite interested in his Strain gauge cartridge. Unfortunately reviews for the product seem to be sparse and are from nearly a decade ago. I’m wondering if anyone here is an owner of such a system and if they’d be so kind as to share their experience with it. I currently have the Aida cartridge from their high output MI lineup and I want to know if the sound really is a big step up from what I currently have. 
thermionicvinyl

Showing 15 responses by spiritofmusic

Just checked w my contact
He runs his SG w
Kecces P8 24V, 2 no. R and L channels, $700 each
Absolutely transforms microdetail resolution, air, imaging, grain reduction, bass power, speed
...basically impvts across the board
$10k gets you a world class cart w no need for phono
Imho, superior to Transfiguration Orpheus and Lyra Parnassus which I've run in my system
Leaves Zu Denon 103, Lyra Skala, Roksan Shiraz, in it's wake
Thermionic, my tt/arm not considered high end, but I've maxxed out performance w some fairly radical mods incl €6k Stacore isolation.
Audio is a synergy and a blend, and I've spent as much on the tt/arm as I have on the SG which I consider a cart/phono system.
So in pure monetary terms the SG is not out of place or extravagant here.
Tomic, don't say it! I had to wait 9 months for my Zu Defs 4 spkrs  after the reviewer wouldn't let them go. At least he wrote a good report Lol.
Azimuth set once during initial install. VTA set on the fly, a matter of seconds per lp.
Hi, I'm a long term user since 2014, in that time going from SDS-5 stylus to the -6, and two upgrades to PSU to energiser (first, Red Wine Audio Black Lightning battery pack, and now bespoke LPS).
I've previously run Roksan Shiraz, Lyra Skala and Parnassus, Transfiguration Temper Supreme and Orpheus, and ESCO-modded  Zu Denon 103, carts.
My LPS'd Straingauge combines many of these carts' best traits, none of their weaknesses, for a transducer performance I believe is up w the very best.
A member on my main forum, What's Best, has compared it to pricier carts going thru a top Boulder phono, and at a fraction of the cost, the Straingauge wins.
Happy to help further, just can't offer a comparison to the Aida.
This "not recognising vocals" criticism...I'm not getting it. Firstly, who knows what Frank Sinatra or Kate Bush or Peter Gabriel etc TRULY sound like? And I don't mean amplified mike on stage. I mean him/her singing for you.
I've run six top carts ahead of the SG, and not once has SG presentation ever appeared skewed tonally or timbrally to me.
It may be stripping some colourations that sugar coat vocals.
Put it this way, imho a fat Koetsu or cheaper sharper Lyra is more likely to alter vocals off neutral than SG.
Hey my friend, no ire directed at you. I'm a pretty fussy listener, and I went into the demo aware of these comments. I honestly walked out w no hint of perceiving issues here. All my other carts had varying levels of colourations and characters, not so the SG.
I hate the words neutral and transparent because, for one, neutral to what? And two, transparent means cool to one listener, and lacking depth to another.
My parameters are...do instruments appear vital and differentiated, and do the same instruments sound very different lp to lp? Are voices vibrant and evocative and immersive?
So, if Jaco Pastorius truly sounds different from Jack Bruce, as opposed to more amorphousness as w some overly sharp or overly fuzzy carts...and if Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel brings you to tears, and makes you joyous track to track, lp to lp, then you have the perfect cart.
For me the added bonus going SG has been revitalising my jazz and classical collection. My prog rock and fusion nailed by my SG. But my Miles and Coltrane and Bach and Rimsky Korsakov that had been languishing a bit...fully immersive now.
And don't forget the reduced costs of l/t ownership.
So, buy a Top Wing Red Sparrow cart for $15k.
Retips every 2-3 yrs c. $10-12k
SG? $9k minus trade in for phono (that can be spent on LPS).
Retips c $1k each.
The numbers don't lie Lol.
Not SG, I believe. Never did. Unless I'm  v much mistaken.
Racedoc, audio certainly polarises. I've seen comments that the DS is digital-like, the same way you feel about SG. Horses for courses.
Install is everything in analog, SG maybe more than most. It is v sensitive to azimuth...get setup wrong/sub par, and you're "rewarded" with a thin, non immersive sound. Crack azimuth, and VTA for every individual lp, and you're *rewarded* with a true holographic presentation, excellent tonal and timbral discrimination, bass energy and start/stop nature that really feels realistic, and lifelike speed. All of which is taken up a notch or three w addition of quality LPS.
Congrats on yr DS, like me w SG it seems you've found yr analog nirvana.
Mijostyn, you mean MF's infamous retraction of comments re Whest v Boulder phonostages? I'm glad you've confirmed that, I was told I had that story wrong. Yep, I never paid any attention to his words after that low point.
I love my blue LED...really. For me, it's just another touch of unorthodox to go w my LT air arm, direct rim drive tt and 93 kg Stacore pneumatic/mass loading support.
So Thermionic, can I answer anymore Qs you might have re SG?
Levels of preamp if you're just using the solitary analog SG-based source.
For those w cdp, streaming, tape, AV...it's not really practical.
Cannot comment on those different units, I have the energiser-only "entry" model.
Stylii slot in and out on a screw-in assembly, c$1k for replacements.
Nicely summarised Jeff.
My additional thoughts are that despite increased micro resolution, this is not a forensic presentation, more a lifting of veils.
For me, the startling uptick going to my LPSd SG is lifelike speed at no compromise to tone density. This fast but full sound means a startlingly lifelike representation of pace and texture.
And timbral discrimination is right up there. Most critical in areas like massed strings and horns, jazz w dual horns, and differentiating the low registers on acoustic bass, piano and kick drum.
Yes, my enjoyment of jazz, string quartets, solo piano, big band and massed orchestral, are transformed.
Tomic, I used to laugh at those audiophiles who were OCD on setup...no more, SG has really taught me EVERY detail and adjustment parameter matters.