My new Soundsmith Straingauge cartridge

Well, after a bit of dillying and dallying, I finally got 'round to trying a home trial of this cart. After a couple of hours dialling in vtf, and esp. azimuth, it basically sold itself, and I bought it an hour later!
It's without doubt the fastest cart I've ever experienced, surpassing the Decca London Reference, but with none of that cart's tipped up 'whiteness'. But this blazing speed is combined with the natural sweetness of the Lyra Parnassus. It has the neutrality of the Transfiguration Orpheus with the dynamics and involvement of the ESCCo-modded Zu Denon 103. So, fast AND sweet, and neutral AND involving, combinations often too challenging for other so-called SOTA carts. All the carts I've mentioned I've had in my system over the years. But I admit, I haven't heard current contenders to the crown (Lyra Titan/Atlas, Ortofon Anna, Clearaudio Goldfinger etc) to make comparisons.
It's tracking really is superlative, 3d soundstaging/dimensionality is beyond the room constraints, and I really believe it has the least artifact-laden sound of any cart I've heard, with NO aural evidence of a diamond carving thru wax. It's really complimenting what's already a neutral, fast and dynamic analog rig in my system (Trans Fi Salvation direct rim drive tt/Trans Fi Terminator air bearing linear tracking arm)

Showing 4 responses by lewm

If SS would make an inexpensive adaptor so this cartridge could be used with a good linestage, I think many more would be sold. What holds the cartridge back in the market, IMO, is just what Pro said; most of us have an expensive phono stage that we are in love with. Adopting the SG means dumping or storing away the phono stage and spending a not inconsiderable amount of money on an SG PS that cannot be used with any other cartridge. Then too, there are reviews that don't completely agree with yours, Spirit. I'd love to hear one in my own system before making a purchase decision.
Spirit, I would say that I am a convert away from belt-drive and that my personal experience with my Lenco is very favorable indeed. I love it. Apart from the Lenco, all my other (four) turntables are direct-drive. I confess I do have some doubts/questions about rim-drive, as it is implemented in your type of tt, using an external motor with a small diameter drive wheel that makes contact with the platter via O-rings. I would never say that that is not a good idea, but I would want to audition it for myself to see how it compares to what I've gotten used to. (I think the Trans-fi set-up is superior to the rim-drive of TT Weights and VPI, however.) As you know, on the Trans-fi Terminator, I am a big fan, from afar so far. It would be my choice among SL tonearms, if I were willing to put up with pumps and such.

Cfluxa, why would you say that the SG is "solid-statey"? It depends upon mechanical energy induced into the mechanism via a stylus. To me, that's analogue. Maybe you refer to the SG power supplies?
Spirit, If you are in a DIY frame of mind, you might try bypassing the battery supply with a bank of high quality low voltage electrolytic capacitors. Use lots of microfarads. I and others have found that bypassing batteries that supply CD player functions has very beneficial effects. For example, since the voltage is apparently 24V, I imagine you are using two 12V car batteries in series. Good electrolytics that can handle 24V are rather cheap. Try Nichicon or Panasonic or whatever floats your boat and use several thousand uF by paralleling many caps. I will bet you will hear a difference in the positive direction.
By the way, the rationale for that idea is based on the fact that batteries are not entirely free of noise. If you use enough uF, you can remove the hash from the supply before it hits the SG.