Helikon Retip Experience?

My cantilever is hopelessly bent and I'm wondering if anyone has liked a Soundsmith Retip on a Helikon? Or should I just bite the bullet and trade it in on a new one (my dealer has one left) or a Kleos?
Well, I don't have first hand knowledge of the soundsmith retip, but I have to imagine it'd change the sound (so i am speculating with out facts)

I loved my helikon, then I love my skala even more. The stuff I keep reading about the Kleos is pretty great to.

I'd stick with the factory refresh or try a Kleos/Skala....
I'm pretty sure what Jcarr would recommend. :-)
Dan_ed, We got some lessons in 'modesty' by Jcarr; don't you think? No retip thoughts even in my dreams anymore.

Yeah, I know :)

It'll be money well spent.....
Well, sometimes I can pay for a factory rebuild, sometimes I'm a little short and need a quick fix. Even "quick" is not applicable anymore as the lines have grown over the past few years. As I have said before, my xv-1s went to the factory this time. ;-) What Jonathan posted was not news to me and I don't think this happens only with cartridges.
Send it back to Lyra and ask them to install a better diamond. What Soundsmith can do, they can do, too...
Dear Dhcod:

We (Lyra) could sell you a new Helikon in exchange for your present one (probably at around 60% of retail), you could yourself trade in the Helikon for a new one (which amounts to the same thing), or we could do a complete tearing down and rebuilding up of your existing cartridge, a process that will replace every wearable part with a new one, and will result in a functionally brand-new cartridge. Due to the extra time involved, however, I wouldn't recommend the third option unless you have a sentimental attachment to your particular Helikon body.

If you are financially constrained, you could have someone else do a retip, However, I will note that the dampers and suspension of the Helikon are designed for a boron cantilever rather than ruby/sapphire. Ruby/sapphire has a transmission velocity of 9400m/sec. and a specific gravity of 3.98, while boron has a transmission velocity of 13500m/sec. and a specific gravity of only 2.34. Rather different characteristics, demanding a different damper/suspension composition, IME.

Therefore, if you ask someone else to do the retip, I would recommend that you keep the cantilever as boron, and fit as good of a stylus as you can. The earlier Helikons had a stylus with a side radius of 3um and a major radius of 30um, while the later ones had a stylus with a side radius of 3um but a major radius of 70um. The over 2 times larger side radius definitely resulted in improved tracking ability and sonic performance (at the cost of being somewhat more sensitive to azimuth setup).

BTW, if you allow us to do the Helikon rebuild, it will get the better stylus, and also an improved suspension/damper system (corresponding to the "i" evolutions of the Argo and Titan).

However, today both the Delos and the Kleos offer clearly better sonics than the Helikon. In particular, the dynamic range and timbral differentiation have increased significantly. The Kleos offers better dynamic, spatial and timbral resolution than the Delos and is quieter. However, the Kleos is more restrained in the upper frequencies, and some listeners seem to prefer the Delos because of that.

In general I'd say that the Kleos performs at a level somewhere between that of the Skala and Titan, and the Delos' performance level is similar to that of the Skala. This doesn't mean that the Kleos sounds like the Skala or Titan, or that the Delos sounds like the Skala. I am only talking about the general performance levels.

If I were you, I'd pick up a Delos, and if I were feeling particularly flush, I'd extend my reach to the Kleos.

kind regards, jonathan
Dan_ed, If you was aware of the intricacy of the retip issue before Jcarr wrote about that whay deed you not warned us? There were questions about the retip earliear with all the naivity presuppositions involved. Nobody told
us before Jcarr about the complexity involved.

Jcarr's answer is a model for customer service and an example of this forum working at it's best.
Thanks so much, Jonathan! I really appreciate your expertise and insight. Restrained is more what I'm probably after. It's off to the track to win some extra money!
Since when was it my responsibility? ;-) I'll bet if you search the forums you will find this information, in general terms if not specific.
Dan_ed, You are avoiding to address my name even by your
respond to my questions. You are also avoiding your responsibilty to inform you co-member about what you claim
to know. What do you think our forum is for? I think for
exchange of information. Have you something to hide from us? Your 'Since when was it my responsibility' is a lawyer
talk. I should know. But it is, according to me, about

Nandric, I reread your first post. "We got some lessons in 'modesty' " What are you referring to?
I'll take a stab at what I think you mean. This is NOT new to ME. YOU have just learn there was more to stylus and/or cantilever replacement than just a dab of super glue. You will find this has been discussed before if you search the archives.

No, I will not tell people not to go to retipper, only that the cartridge will not be the same as a factory job if they chose to do so. Different is not necessarily bad. I was quite happy with my XV-1s that was retipped by that guy in New York. I had made several large purchases at the time and I was short on cash so I was happy to have an alternative. That retip/cantilever served me very well for a couple of years. Was it a stock xv-1s? No, but it still played music beautifully.

I'll try this analogy. Say I have a brand new tire. I'm driving along and get a nail in my new tire, right in the middle of the tread. I can a) buy a new tire at $100, or b) have the tire plugged or patched for $30. Either way I'll get moving again, but b lets me keep some cash for a little while longer.
Dear Dan_ed, The metaphor 'geting a picture' means putting
all the peaces of information we have at some point in time
together in some kind of jigsaw. The (mentaly )constructed 'puzzle' will miss some parts but who is 'perfectly informed'. The most of us have consequently an 'incomplete picture'.
After reading Jcarr's contribution in the 'which Glider retip' thread (06-13-11) I wrote: 'this is actualy an frightening story'.
The 'missing parts' in my puzzle or picture were: 'the dempers and suspension have been selected according to the cantilever material', etc.
The part which I ,so to speak, 'preowned' by reading some retip info by some retip service was: 'one can choose different cantilever and stylus shape' ; from 100-400 Euro. Those cantilever /stylus combos are bought as such
from the suppliers and are much easier to 'fix' then a
stylus in the (pre) existing cantilever.
I provided the address of this retip service in Holland in good faith and, to be honest,even thought that I am well informed and can helpt others as well...
This is the context for my post (06-16-11) addressing you
with: 'Dan_ed we got some lessons in 'modesty' by Jcarr.'
What I meant is of course my assumption that 'we' are actualy ill informed but think that we know so much. So Jcarr teached us a lesson . I am sorry to have used the 'we' expression because you seem to have known all the details Jcarr informed us about? Are you also informed about,say, the dempers which Ortofon produces in their lab
for their carts? I am ,you know, because I have read the whole story about Ortofon in Hi-fi news but was not able to make the connection. Ie this piece never become a part
of my puzzle or picture. Those are 'similar things' I thought. But you probable know the story of AKG? The AKG destroyed their whole stock of carts because their dempers
were bad designed. They wanted to avoid the liability issue.
You are of course free to do with your carts what you like
but I will never ever dream to buy an 'exotic Koetsu' for,
say, $1500 and then provide a ruby cantilever with a Geiger
stylus for 400 Euro and feel very smart.

As you stated in your post that you refer to, YOU assumed. We have a saying in english that is meant to be a joke. "Assume only makes an ass out of u and me." I hope you take this in the humorous spirit it is intended, I am not poking a stick at you. The meaning is that assumptions usually get us into trouble.

I am not a cartridge designer, nor do I repair them, nor do I know the intricate details. All I really need or care to know is that if you send your cart to the factory it will come back as the designer intended it to. If you go somewhere else it will probably be a little different. So If you wish to believe that I'm being less than truthful there is nothing more I can do.

I didn't know Koetsu made a $1500 cartridge, but that line has never appealed to my tastes. I did send my $5000 Dynavector to a retipper once and I know others who have sent even more expensive carts to retippers. It doesn't make them or me bad people. ;-)

I now represent Dynavector and a few other products. I felt I should represent Dynavector in the way in which they intended, and I have the money now, so I sent my XV-1s to the factory so that when I demo Galibier, Durand, and Dynavector they all sound as their respective designers intended.
Dear Dan_ed, I learned that stating one's assumptions (aka
premise ) explicit beforhand is some kind of precondition
to understand each other. The logical part connected with
'deductions' which we make from a given premise , entails
that if the premise is not true then the deduced statements are also not true. Ie despite of the correct deduction. Your thoughts about assumptions are very strange to me.
Jcarr contribution imply for me some other premises then those which I assumed to be true. From his statements it
was obvious for me that the most people will put some other cantilever/ stylus in the existing cart. Ie a cart with a given suspension ,etc. which we deed not consider as relevant because of the lack of knowledge or information. The repairs which involve a change of suspension and other parts are very expensive so those are rare, I assume.
My 'Koetsu dream' was obviously not clear to you because I made my 'dream assumptions' not explicit enough for you.
This however does not mean that others were not able to
grasp what meant. I thought about a second hand Koetsu with a broken cantilever or defective stylus which I would buy for ,say, $1500 and retip with a ruby cantilever + Geiger stylus for 400 Euro. The 'smart' part is of course
involved in the sum: for $2000 I would have a cart for which other idiots pay 6-8 K. I wanted to make clear how naive this dream was in the contex of the information we got from Jcarr. Chapiche?

Dear Nandric, all:

On previous occasions I have discussed the intimate relationship between cantilever type and damper/suspension composition. This thread is not the first time.

For example, you may be interested in reading this previous thread http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1264638758&openfrom&1&4#1 , in which I go into into the specifics of one particular Lyra cartridge design and its custom-made dampers/suspension. The tone of the discussion gets a bit argumentative at times (and I am partly to blame!), but the content of the information that I gave there is completely valid and accurate.

To go into a bit more detail, when we developed the Clavis and Parnassus, we chose a very unique cantilever material which was a type of duralumin that was reinforced internally with ceramic whiskers. It was an exotic but high-quaity material, very light and quite stiff. We called it "Ceralloy". During prototyping, we liked the basic sound of Ceralloy, but it had one obvious issue which was that there was a pronounced lift in energy in the treble region (3~6kHz).

Frequency response and perceived energy balance are funny things. Sometimes the frequency response tilts up but you don't hear it as such, (like at 8kHz and above), other times it may sound like the lower mids are bumped up or the bottom octaves are emphasized or whatever, but the frequency response doesn't show anything. All of this is further complicated by the fact that frequency response changes according to room temperature, groove radius on the LP, and cantilever excursion (signal level). A bit of a moving target, shall we say. At any rate, in the case of Ceralloy, however, you could both hear the extra energy in the 3~6kHz range and measure it.

We tried various ways to address this issue (because otherwise we liked the sound), and our final solution was to devise a three-piece damper system. Two of the dampers were sandwiched between the coils and the pole of the rear yoke (per normal practice, although some manufacturers only use a single-piece damper), but the third damper was designed so that it completely wrapped around the other two dampers and the coils. Externally, it looked like the coils were enclosed within a block of rubber (you couldn't even see the two normal dampers because they were concealed by the third, tubular damper). Very unique, very obvious to the eye, and if anyone has a Clavis, Parnassus, Clavis DC or Parnassus DCt, they should be able to see this easily.

The third damper did the trick, we were able to control the Ceralloy cantilevers successfully, and we sold lots of Clavis and Parnassus cartridges.

But time moves on, and so does technology. When it was time to design the Helikon (successor to the Clavis and Clavis DC lineage), we changed the cantilever material to boron. And we discovered that our 3-damper system didn't work; it was too much. Since the triple damper system was designed to counteract the extra 3~6kHz energy that Ceralloy had, when we applied it to boron, which didn't have extra energy in that range, we ended up with a suck-out. Makes sense, right?

So we redeveloped the dampers. New rubber formulation, new damper shapes, new suspension metallurgy. And no more tubular-shaped third damper to enclose the coils. Only two dampers, both between the coils and the rear magnet (we stopped using a rear yoke when the Clavis DC was introduced). All of this meant that the coils were no longer concealed, and became much more visible. Again, if anyone has a Clavis or Clavis DC as well as a Helikon, they should be able to see the differences in damper structure and composition, decisions that were driven by changes in the cantilever material. (AFAIR, the Clavis Evolve 99 had a boron cantilever and dual-damper system, and more closely resembles the Helikon.)
So, when I hear about people who intend to replace one type of cantilever with another that has quite different specific gravity or transmission velocity or internal lossiness or whatever, I tend to want to ask them if they have really thought through what they are proposing to do (smile).

OTOH, there are valid reasons to use a retipper on occasion, rather than staying with factory rebuilds. Maybe you broke your one and only reference cartridge precisely at a time where you absolutely can't afford an official rebuild. Maybe you have a cheap but fundamentally OK cartridge like a Denon 103R, and you want to find out how far it can go if you hot-rod it. Or maybe you find a splendid cartridge that you aspired to in your youth, but the cantilever is gone and so is the manufacturer (or they no longer make cartridges). FR, ADC, Sony, JVC, Technics, AKG and more, the cartridge may be a great design but if it no longer works and the original manufacturer is kaput, what do you do?

In life, (usually) everyone has to accept the consequences of their decisions, and to me that means that everyone should also have the freedom to make their own decisions, but just as importantly, possess sufficient and accurate information to base those decisions on.

If consumers can be given sufficient and accurate information regarding the tradeoffs of cartridges repaired (or modified) by retippers and the tradeoffs of factory-rebuilt cartridges - the pros as well as the cons - I am confident that the consumer will be able to make educated, properly informed choices about what to do with their damaged cartridges (or undamaged, as the case may be), and why.

kind regards, jonathan carr

PS. Stig Bjorge and myself (to a lesser extent) were instrumental in setting up the Japan branch of Ortofon in the 1980s. We know well about the damper specialist (aka "Rubber Man") at Ortofon Denmark.