Can't get answer from Soundsmith on retipping ques figured I would ask it here:). Would appreciate an answer from anyone, esp. from those with experience with Soundsmith. Here's the question I asked, which they've not answered (they returned my call once, leaving a message that said it was answered in the FAQs at, which it's not, and then didn't return two subsequent calls):

"Suppose I have an older (say, one mfd. 15-30 years ago) MC cartridge, and I send it in for replacement of the cantilever+stylus. Even if the cartridge is undamaged, aren't there other concerns, simply because of the cartridge's age, that typically need to be addressed -- for instance, hardening of the elastomer the supports the cantilever, or oxidized coils? If so, what are those typical concerns and how do you usually address them (added cost, etc.)?"

[BTW, the cartridges in question are a Dynavector Ruby DV23R (~30 yo), and an Ortofon MC3000 MkII (~15 yo).]

Also asked them their current turn-around time for cantilever+stylus replacement -- they didn't answer that either.

Sometimes dealing with Soundsmith (the business, not Ledermann, the man, who is a consummate gentleman) can be a bit like dealing with the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld. Just send them your cartridge, let them know which soup you want, stand back and wait a long time for a steaming hot bowl of music in return. Have something else available to eat while you wait (another cartridge, that is).
Coincidentally I got a return call from Tom at Soundsmith a few hours after posting. So my questions are answered. Here's what he said:

Turnaround is currently 12-14 weeks. There's a $75 eval. fee if you decide not to repair the cartridge after they look it over and give you a repair price. Sometimes, even in a 15 yo cartridge, the elastomer is still supple and doesn't need to be replaced. Sometimes it does. If the latter, this costs extra, but he can't say how much -- might be $100, might be $500, etc. All of this is determined when they evaluate the cartridge, before they do any repairs. Also, if you submit multiple cartridges at the same time, you only need a single RA.

The only question I forgot to ask is this: Suppose you've got a cartridge with a v. short cantilever, like the Dynavector Ruby or Diamond. Does the ruby replacement cantilever come is such short lengths?
Need to think 'Ron', ship it and forget it Don't get me wrong Soundsmith does great work, but be prepared to wait 10 weeks for the evaluation, then 15 weeks for the actual retip. Before you go to that effort, try to mount a new Shure 97. You will be surprised. In any event it will keep you up and running until the long time it takes to get your retip back. I called Andy Chong at My specific issue with the Dynavector is that the cantilever is collapsed and the stylus is missing (under the microscope you can see that a tiny portion of the flat facet hat holds the stylus is broken off). For the Dynavector, Andy says that DV's thick, faceted cantilever is so exceptional that, rather than replacing it with a new cylindrical cantilever+stylus, it's better to retain the stock cantilever and retip it, which in this case necessitates fusing a v. short length of aluminum over the end of the existing cantilever, into which a new stylus can be inserted. I'm not sure about that, because even if the stock cantilever is better, you now have two pieces instead of one. Nevertheless, I've decided to send the Ruby (and my friend's decided to send his Ortofon) to Andy instead of Soundsmith because: (1) I need a replacement cartridge, and don't want to wait 3-4 months; and (2) Andy gave me a fixed price, which includes replacing the elastomer suspension, and is comparable to Soundsmith's for the cantilever+stylus alone, while Soundsmith's pricing is open-ended until you pay the $75 eval. fee. And I don't want to get into big bucks for the Ruby cartridge. Also, with Andy you can get him on the phone directly, which I really like. One possible plus of Soundsmith, though, may be that their line contact stylus could be better than the hyperelliptical that Andy will be using.
I may be wrong, but I think that the SS fees do include rebuilding suspension, as much as needed, and I don't see why you need an "evaluation". You know darn well your cantilever is snapped off. I believe you can choose the stylus and cantilever you want from the SS menu, agree to pay the fee for whatever combo you like, and that's that. But it will be interesting to learn about an alternative service. Please keep us posted.
Lewm, as I said noted in my earlier post, when I spoke to Tom on the phone, he said the fees do not include a new elastomer (which I assume means suspension). Given this, I don't know the price until he gives me a cost estimate (that's what the evaluation is for) which, according to him, could be all over the map. And so yes, contrary to your assertion, I do need an evaluation because I need to know the cost before I decide to go forward. For instance, suppose he says it's going to be $750 to repair the Ruby (which is was possible, since he said even $500 for the elastomer is possible). IMO, it's not worth paying that kind of money to repair a Ruby, but w/ Soundsmith I'd be out $75 just to find that out.

I'm sure Soundsmith does superb work but, given the open-ended nature of their pricing structure combined with their eval. fee, it may not be the most logical place to send a lower-end cartridge.

I'd be happy to keep you posted about the results (I shipped the cartridges out yesterday), but the service isn't quite "new" to Audiogon, in fact it's on this site that I found out about it (just search this thread for "Andy":