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
This "not recognising vocals" criticism...I'm not getting it.

Hey, just the messenger here as I recall what I read.  I did have the same thought...what's the point of reference?...your onw system?  Fremer usually is able to take such viewpoints into consideration when making statements like that so I felt it perhaps had some merit for discussion anyway.

I found a link to the article from 2011.  Here are a couple of quotes that stuck in my memory:

This character had me pulling out records like the Byrds' chimey first album, Mr. Tambourine Man (LP, Columbia). Roger McGuinn's 12-string Rickenbacker and the constantly rattling tambourine were reproduced with greater clarity, authority, and purity than I've ever heard, yet neither sounded too bright or edgy. On the other hand, McGuinn's voice was less coherent; its timbre was slightly off, making his very well-known voice less recognizable. But if you try to predict how familiar recordings will sound with the Strain Gauge, you'll probably be wrong much of the time. As with the Decca cartridges, I found that how a particular record, or a particular instrument on that record, would sound through the Strain Gauge was not at all predictable.

There's a banjo part in Virgil Thomson's The Plow that Broke the Plains, performed by Leopold Stokowski and the Symphony of the Air (LP, Vanguard VSD 2095). Through the Strain Gauge, it had a startlingly distinctive metallic ring that some would think realistic but others might find hyped-up and "hi-fi"–ish. It was in that region of the spectrum—cymbals, banjo, plucked guitar strings, etc.—where the Strain Gauge's most distinctive personality trait manifested itself.

Here's a link to the article.  https://www.stereophile.com/content/soundsmith-strain-gauge-sg-200-phono-cartridge-system
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.
"(Incidentally, I was absolutely amazed by the sound of his monitors especially the bass response considering that they don't have a large woofer like a floor stranding .)"

This post reinforces my experience. I didn't include in my post that the amazing sound was coming from wimpy looking bookshelves!

I had Peter play the record I had. Even he was surprised.So much, he wanted to keep it! It was  a stellar copy of the David Gilmore debut album and the cut was "There's no way out of here."


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.
Does Ledermann still have them 25% off?