Cartridge repair by Moscow based Roman??

Has anyone tried him? There is a long thread on another forum...looks like there are quite a few good cartridge repairers around, and Roman is a new discovery.

My cartridge was passed over as unrepairable by Soudsmiths, and am wondering why not to take a chance with Roman.
If Peter Ledermann at SoundSmith can’t repair your cartridge why do you think someone in Russia will do that ? It is not even a company, but a private individual who has no access to the parts and inventory that SoundSmith has, because no one in Russia have such a long experience and strong reputation in re-tipping as SoundSmith (they are also produce cartridges).

I have no idea who it is, but i remember a Russian guy commented on my listing and aggressively offered me his service, it was such a weird conversation, because he slagged off re-tippers like Axel in Germany who was much older than him. I even demonstrate him Axel’s job in several images by request, because some of my Technics cartridges were rebuild by Axel. However, Russian guy told me i’m a liar, because i sent him a Jico SAS replacement along with Axel's replacements. A person in your link above has mentioned Axel in his post, his message is from 2017, but Axel is retired long time ago, he was already retired in 2017. I’m not sure a person i’m talking about is the same guy, but that guy i used to talk once definitely had some mental problems. I was selling broken AT cartridge, but he jumped in and offered me a re-build, i told him i’m not interested in re-build and this is why i’m selling my cartridge as it is, i also explained that if i will ever need a re-tipping service it will be a SoundSmith because of his experience and reputation, but definitely NOT an unknown guy in Russia doing this job somewhere in the dark corner of his living room or garage.

My advice for you is to send your cartridge to this company in UK:

Expert Stylus & Cartridge Co

Send your request to:
info @

Deal with reputable companies, not with some unknown private vendors!

P.S. Why don’t you just buy a new (better) cartridge ?
Chakster, you have no idea how good Roman is or how much access to parts he has. He might be a wizard with a microscope. Assumptions are the mother of all fuck ups.

Cool, what Soundsmith is telling you is your cartridge is unfortunately junk. Junk is junk. Buy yourself a new one. Frankly I would never have a cartridge re tipped. Actually, I have never worn out a stylus usually the little wires inside work harden and break first. Getting a new cartridge is always a happy occasion. 

Hmm. The specific comment from Peter at Soundsmith was that due to the type of construction inside the cartridge, there would be no guarantee that a difficult repair could be perfectly executed. They did not consider it useful even to look at pictures.

Regarding buying a new cartridge, that option is always there. I will go in for a DL 103R most likely, which is a step down from where I was, but after feeling tentative after the loss of a cartridge, I don't feel like replacing it like for like just immediately.

I will check out expertstylus first. Let me see if they are as negative as Soundsmith was.


What is the cartridge you’re talking about ?

There is no guarantee from anyone in this world, so what Peter said is a standard, you ship it to him for inspection (no pictures), then he could work on it, if you’re lucky it will be repaired and inspection fee will be used towards the repair fee. Peter is one of the best in the world, if he can’t fix it then no one will fix it (imo).

I want to tell you for sure that you will have to ship your cartridge to Expert Stylus or SoundSmith or whatever company, no one will inspect it by pictures, except for some amateurs pretending to be a good re-tippers.

P.S. Denon 103 R ? I wouldn't recommend it, the stylus tip is conical and life span of such stylus is 300 hrs then you will have to re-tip it or buy another sample (which is better that re-tip). 

I have had communication with Roman and I doubt that he would be the best choice for a repair job. Probably very good for a simple retip involving change of cantilver/stylus but not necessarily a repair. 

I have had retips done by both Peter L at Soundsmith and Andy Kim at Needle Clinic, both with excellent results but Andy was also able to repair a cartridge (a dead channel) that Soundsmith made an attempt on and was unable to. 

For repair work I'd be inclined to contact Andy, or possibly Steve Leung at VAS Audio as I've read a number of positive comments on repair work that he has done as well. 

Andy also has very quick turnaround time and by all accounts, Steve Leung does as well. 

Personally, I would only ship to Expert Stylus if I was in the UK or Europe. 

Chakster makes some valid points but his comments on the Denon 103(R) conical are absurd. That cartridge\stylus can easily be run for 800-1000 hours with careful cueing and clean vinyl. The 300 hour statement is ridiculous. The Denon conical is one of the best conicals out there-it is far superior to cheap bonded conicals that you'll find on $50-$100 cartridges. 

It is not capable of the same kind of information retrieval as a high quality line contact or microridge (which will last much longer than the Denon conical) but it's not going to wear out in 300 hours unless grossly abused. 
Just to clarify... my cartridge was audio-technica ART9 and it was damaged when the cantilever got snapped. The body is not damaged. So it is a matter of inserting a new stylus. Let me check out expert stylus and come back. 
Actually with Art-9 you’d better check Audio-Technica, but if you bought your cartridges not from the official distributor then they will not help you.

If your sample was from the AT’s distributor/dealer then you can simply ship it back to AT to get new one with discount price. This is how the AT support their customers. It’s normal for almost any modern brand, instead of re-tip they’re giving them brand new cartridge.

Seems odd to me.

If the body was not damaged and the cartridge has continuity in both channels, unless the cantilever was snapped literally inside the cartridge body (ie. there is no visible cantilever outside the cartridge body) this should be a relatively simple repair for any of the decent retippers in terms of grafting a new cantilever (preferably boron IMO) and stylus onto what is left of the old cantilever. 

If you have no exposed cantilever left, then it's a different situation.

Good luck. 

It seems unusual, but the part I was missing until I read carefully is that the OP did not send his cartridge to SoundSmith, without the actual cartridge, they can't fully determine whether they can repair it.
Chakster makes some valid points but his comments on the Denon 103(R) conical are absurd. That cartridgestylus can easily be run for 800-1000 hours with careful cueing and clean vinyl. The 300 hour statement is ridiculous. The Denon conical is one of the best conicals out there-it is far superior to cheap bonded conicals that you’ll find on $50-$100 cartridges.

@hdm No matter how clean is your vinyl, with conical tip at 2-3g tracking force there is a very high pressure on very small contact area of the diamond, it wear off quickly, the contact points are two dots. This is one of the most serious disadvantages of the conical/spherical tip.

Conical tip has the shortest life span, if you want to damage your records you can use it much longer, but 300-500 hrs is maximum for conical tip. Nobody use such tip anymore!

If you believe that Conical can be used for 1000 hours i’m afraid you have to learn a bit more about stylus profiles. 1000 hrs is for a Line Contact stylus, about 2000 for a Micro Ridge and related.

It is not capable of the same kind of information retrieval as a high quality line contact or microridge (which will last much longer than the Denon conical) but it’s not going to wear out in 300 hours unless grossly abused.

Micro Line or Micro Ridge can be used for much longer just because the tracking force is extremely low and the shape of the contact area is LINE or RIDGE, so the pressure distributed at wider contact area. Anyway, last generation of Micro Ridge life span is about 2000 hrs max.

Conical life span is shorter than Elliptical.

I don’t want to give an exact life span, but logically it easy to understand:

Conical 300+
Elliptical about 500+
Shibata about 800+
Micro Ridge 1200+

Take in count a price difference between those profiles and try to figure out why the Conical is the cheapest and why the Micro Ridge is so expensive. It is very difficult to manufacture Micro Ridge profile. More info here

Denon’s Conical tip was made in the 60’s for AM/FM Radio Broadcast at NHK in Japan, Denon is a broadcast cartridge, dirt cheap with the worst profile on the planet in today’s standards.


Absolutely, and I did read that. As Chakster pointed out, any cartridge is going to have to shipped to the retipper for evaluation and even then they will not guarantee that the repair can be completed successfully; there is always a risk that you end up with a dead cartridge. 

My thought was simply that a) I'm not aware of anything inside the Art 9 that would make it any more difficult to repair than other cartridge (but would be curious to know if that is case and how it differs!) and b) if there's no internal damage and there is exposed cantilever to work with the repair in this case is relatively simple (at least for the skilled people who do this work LOL!). 

But yes, any retipper is going to need to physically inspect the cartridge before proceeding-that goes without saying. And it is their standard response.
Chakster: I can assure you that I don't need to learn anything about stylus profiles from you with respect to this. 

I ran Denon 103R's, both stock and modified (mainly with line contact styli) for about 7 years and about 6000 hours. So I'm relatively familiar with the cartridge and its merits, as well as the lifespan of the stock stylus and whether or not it will damage records at 300 hours or more. 

I've run the stock Denon conical for 800-1000 hours personally, as have many others, without any damage to my/their records. 

All conicals are not created equal and the Denon conicals on the 103 and 103R are up there with the best. 

I would agree with you that MR is a better profile both in terms of performance and longevity and have used LC or MR styli on my stereo cartridges for the past 7-8 years and for about 30 years before using the Denon 103R stock for a year. 

My current cartridge utilizes a Namiki MR stylus-hopefully that meets with your approval. And I have also used the Ogura PA profile (JCarr is on record as saying that with meticulous (clean) records and careful cueing 3000 hours should be possible with that stylus-those are major factors in terms of stylus longevity) for a very long time, as well as the Gyger. 

@hdm this is fine, but it’s you and your cartridge/records, i don’t know anyone in this world who will use a Line Contact tip for 6000 hrs. If it is good for you please do not try to tell anyone that it is normal, because it is not.

You will never find anything what you said online in any documentation from anyone, so you don’t have to learn from me, indeed. But you can learn from experts and cartridge designers. 

The longest life span for a MR tip that i ever seen was for the brand new MR tip for ZYX Premium 4D and it was 2000 hrs estimate at 2g tracking force. Some cartridges can track at 1.2g tracking force and i can believe that MR tip on those cart can be used a bit longer.

How come anyone can use one LC tip for 6000 hrs over 7 years ? This is beyond my understanding, sorry. It’s like telling people that the earth is flat and lying on 3 turtles.

Here is an article from SoundSmith, i think as a re-tipper he could lower the typical life span of the styli, but not too much. Here is a quote from that article:

Wear, Tear and Life

So we know that the more extreme line contacts reduce wear.... but what is the difference?

Apparently according to Jico (manufacturer of the highly regarded SAS stylus), the amount of playing time where a stylus will maintain its specified level of distortion at 15kHz is as follows:

  • Spherical / Conical - 150hrs
  • Elliptical - 250hrs
  • Shibata/Line contact - 400hrs
  • SAS/MicroRidge - 500hrs

This is not to say that at 500 hrs a SAS stylus is "worn out" - but at that stage the wear has reached the point where distortion at 15kHz surpasses the level specified by Jico for a new stylus. (Which I believe is 3%).

Some manufacturers have traditionally defined a stylus as being "worn out" when it starts to damage the record... in these terms the figures provided by Jico can at least be doubled, and in some cases quadrupled.


In pure sonic terms on pristine vinyl a top notch elliptical can do as well as all but the very best Line Contact / Shibata styli, but will ultimately be surpassed by the better MicroLine styli.

However in terms of reduced wear on both stylus and records - the entry point is the Line contact / Shibata category.

In terms of playing back worn vinyl line contact stylus types also have an advantage in that they can contact "virgin" unworn vinyl.

Narrower side radius = improved tracking and reduced high frequency distortion.

Do we really need a peeing contest?

I would shoot Steven Leung an email with your details. He fixed a Koetsu for me that was dead in one channel in under 3 week turnaround at what I consider a fair price.

Yes you will need to send it to him for him to evaluate, he won't give you much of an idea by description or even photos.

How come anyone can use one LC tip for 6000 hrs over 7 years ? This is beyond my understanding, sorry. It’s like telling people that the earth is flat and lying on 3 turtles.
That is NOT what HDM said at all.
He meant a culmination of 6000 hours total time from a number of carts, not on ONE stylus!

Btw, you mean we are NOT on Discworld?


I ran Denon 103R’s, both stock and modified (mainly with line contact styli) for about 7 years and about 6000 hours.

If you can explain then how many times it was re-tipped?
If the total is 6000 hrs then it must be re-tipped nearly 6 times, because Line Contact life span is about 1000 hrs max (read SoundSmith article above).

Was it re-cantilevered each time, because the one and only advantage of the aluminum cantilever is that a diamond can be pressure fitted through this cantilever with minimum glue.

If the tip was glued on existing cantilever then it’s inferior.

If the cantilever was replaced with a better one then the cost of such refurbishing job is equal to the better MC cartridge.

It’s been said many times on this forum, but people still ignoring it and always claimed the re-tip is fine and always better than the original etc and so on and on ...

But i agree with @hdm that it’s very bad idea to ship a cartridge for re-tip to Russia when there are at least SoundSmith in USA and Expert Stylus in UK ... both with very strong reputation and ages of experience.

The best way to get the ART-9 back to work is to ship it directly to Audio-Technica in USA or JAPAN and replace it with a brand new sample. Or continue suffering from purchase from grey market dealers with no support from the AT.

P.S. What he does with your Koetsu is probably just soldering together a broken wire for $400.

Let’s face it: It was not even re-tip on existing cantilever (very difficult job even for SoundSmith) or replacement of the whole cantilever (stadard process for re-tippers).

If someone will do that the total cost will be 50% of the AT retail, because this cartridge can be found for $900 NEW or even cheaper. A low hrs (perfectly working) AT ART-9 can be purchased much cheaper than NEW. In my opinion re-tip or re-cantilevering make no sense at all for this model, it will cost too much and the sound will be different. This is a relatively cheap LOMC and if it was a grey market sample then it’s better to find a MINT- condition used sample with discount if having ART-9 is so important.


uberwaltz was indeed correct; in no way was I suggesting that anyone use line contact stylus for 6000 hours. I thought my post was pretty clear but perhaps not. 

In taking a look at my history with Denon 103R's it was probably about 5000 hours over all in a 5-6 year period. I ran the stock conical initially for about 800-900 hours and then ran 3 Soundsmith retips on two different rebodied 103R's, two of which were Peter's standard line contact on ruby cantilever and one which was Peter's OCL (similar to Ortofon Replicant) on ruby cantilever. I ran all 3 of those for about 1200-1400 hours each and they all sounded very good still when I retired them. My records were, prior to this, and still are, in very good condition. 

Very clean vinyl (seems to me from a recent discussion you are not a big fan of cleaning records, but maybe I am mistaken) and careful cueing are critical to stylus longevity. 

I know you are a huge fan and quite fond of quoting Jonathan Carr (at least when it supports your argument) so you might find this an interesting read:


try to contact cartridgelab in Italy, they are very good and known all over the world, heads impossible repair by other repairers have been repaired.
An mail costs nothing.
@hdm  thanks for the link, the statement was made in 2003, long time ago, but anyway ... 

Anyone can comment what is a PA profile ? Parabolic ? 

I remember PH stylus on my Galnz 61, but not a PA. And yes i do not clean records everyday, because i think they are already clean. I do clean dirty records if i can see that they are dirty. 

So the 2500 hrs is the estimate for Ogura PA stylus according to J.Carr from 2003, not for every advanced stylus. And there are a lof of "if" in his comments. Regarding the modern MR profile the estimate is 2000 hrs as stated by Nakatsuka-San (ZYX). 

Over the years, I've used mostly the Ogura PA, which in my opinion is one of the two best "standard" stylus designs in the world (the other being the Namiki MicroRidge, and perhaps the Gyger "S" also qualifies - perhaps). The PA is the same stylus shape that is used on the Koetsus, among other well-known cartridge builders. I would suggest that you should be able to get at least 2500 hours of playing time from an Ogura PA if you keep your LPs cleaned with a record cleaning machine, and are reasonably careful. If you are meticulous about cleanliness and how carefully you cue the stylus up and down (especially down), 3000 hours should be possible. More than this is rare.

The Namiki MicroRidge (MR, also called ML for MicroLine by other companies who use Namiki's design) has a more delicate side structure that contacts the groove walls (the "ridge"), which makes it theoretically a little more capable of retaining a good shape over time than the PA if the MR is well cared-for, but also makes it a little more fragile and prone to damage if treated with less TLC (it is somewhat easier to get tiny "nicks" in the ridge which can inscribe horizontal striations along the walls of the groove). I have used the MR in prototype designs, but I don't think I have used it in any production cartridge model. So I don't have that much long-term detailed data. I think that if the user is real careful, the MR may last a skosh longer than the PA, but if the user is less careful, the PA may stand up a little better.

But I am using the MR in our new entry-level cartridge model, the Dorian (I expect that we will either play it or have it on display at the Las Vegas CES), and so I will have a chance to get a lot more direct experience with the MR real soon. I'll be better able to answer your question in a few years.

Incidentally, I am gradually moving away from the PA. The PA is great as a "standard catalog" shape, but in the quest for more performance, we decided that we wanted something closer to our ideas of what the ideal stylus should be like, and so we designed our own stylus shape. And I have to say, I do like this new shape (it doesn't have a name yet) rather better than the PA. For one thing, it is somewhat quieter than the PA (especially on worn and damaged LPs), and the wear patterns so far suggest that it may last somewhat longer, too. But this stylus shape is still relatively new (it's on the Titan, Argo, Olympos, and Helikon Mono, but _not_ the standard Helikon, and not on any of our older cartridges like the Clavis, Clavis DC, Parnassus, Lydian et al). So again, ask me the same question again in a few years!

-jonathan carr

Great learning from the many comments so far. Thank you all. So just to be clear: I tried to slip the stylus guard onto the cartridge but in doing so ended up snapping the cantilever backwards and it broke off and got lost. Next, I will check out Expert Stylus, Andy Kim (anyone has his contacts), CartridgeLab and anyone else you recommend with a detailed chat before acting. I had started by checking with AT Japan. When I cleared the fog of confusion their English created I gathered that the replacement with a new piece could be done at $1000 which is way higher than the $876 I paid for it. Next, I am definitely interested if there were a lightly used cartridge from a known seller but will come back to this option after checking out the above re - tippers.
if you really want to fix your ART9 then don’t waste your time and go with Expert Stylus (UK) or SoundSmith (USA) if you want to insure yourself, this is where you can get the best possible quality, the rest of the re-tippers are not a company, but a private individuals, you never know what you will get from them. Some horrible stories about Andy Kim are on this forum, do not deal with him.

Actually every re-tipper will promise you everything, some will give you lower price, but you never know what you will get and how long you will be able to use refurbished cartridge. you can actually sell your broken AT to some re-tippers to get rid of this broken cartridge for some money.  

If your cantilever it broken then it is not just a re-tip, you need a new cantilever, if the cost is more than $600 it make no sense, you can find a better (used or even NOS) cartridge at $600 (MC or MM/MI) with decent cantilever and stylus tip. I think a new (fully original) cartridge is always better. If you choose between refurbisged ART9 for $600 or brand new ATR9 for $900 then it's much better to buy a new one for slightly higher price. 

AT service is much cheaper if your AT cartridge was purchased from official AT dealer, then you can just exchange old cartridge to a new one with discount. The situation you’re are in looks like your AT is grey market product, this is the reason you can’t send it back for exchange program.
Hi Chakster, thanks. The cartridge I bought was from the official dealer. Just the price they offered was the discounted price as JPY107k, compared to JPY140k for new. What is wrong here is that the retail discount at that time was very sharp from Needle Doctor, and the replacement price now is higher than the new price of 2 yrs ago. But valuable tips. Let me work on them.
Try to work it out with your AT dealer and let us know. I think it is very important for every AT owner.

Needle Doctor is no longer in business