No strain with the Strain Gauge,


Some three years ago I started on my quest for a SoundSmith Strain gauge system.
That quest was finished with the purchase of a used SG220 system with the standard SG5 stylus, which had just been upgraded to the most current level by SoundSmith.
I am confident what follows will apply to all new SoundSmith Strain gauge systems as well.
Let the journey begin !
There have been many things written about the SoundSmith Strain Gauge.
What I will try to do is put into words the impact of the SoundSmith Strain Gauge on my enjoyment of recorded music in my daily life
Due to the nature of the Strain gauge it requires a power supply and so must be used with supplied preamp.
The SG220 preamp has a variable output, one line level input, and remote control.
This means I can run the SG220 directly into my power amp.No preamp required !
My system is a vinyl only system but the line level input intrigued me, so I tried a few things thru it.
What a great preamp! No noise,great soundstage and imaging.
Then there is the remote.Love the mute! No more running to the pre to turn it down during phone calls or conversations with my wife :)
The volume control which is motorized, is simply a great volume control. Smooth fine adjustment.
Setting up the cartridge is no different than any other cartridge at this level.Patience and due dilligence will reward you in kind.

So on to the music.
This is where it gets hard
I have some 200 hours on this system and I am still struggling for the words.
I listen to everything.My records are in no particular order,I have no particular taste.
Without exception, every record I have listened to is a new experience.
You see, I know I am listening to a recording. I hold the thing in my hands,put it on my turntable,watch it spool to speed, cue the tone arm, let it drop.
I know an electrical signal is eventually converted to acoustical energy radiated by my speakers.
Yet all that goes away when my ears tell me I am hearing emotional truth.
lets face it, some recordings are just better than others.
But for the most part, the emotion the artist was trying to achieve will still be there
Now, good or bad, every recording is presented with more clarity into the essence of the performance.
I easily forget I am listening to a recording, instead I am part of a performance in my environment.
Does this mean the sound is more live? more real? more accurate?
I would have to say I do not know.I wasn,t there when it was made, my system, my room, my mood will all color the presentation.
What I can say though with absolute certainty, I am now getting every last bit of information the pressing has to offer.
I am confident I actually hear what the artist is trying to achieve and with this confidence comes a relaxation I have never known till now
That in itself is worth the price of admission !

To Peter and the crew of SoundSmith
Well Done !

Ron

ronnierocksrecords
Nice review thanks for the information. I am currently using the Soundsmith ,The Voice cartridge and have considered the Strain Gauge & like yourself I would have to buy used. What do you have for a turntable?
Although I don't have a Strain Gauge, and most likely never will, but I congratulate you on achieving what we all wish to accomplish, the best possible connection to the music we love.

Well done!

Regards,
Dan
glad you're happy with your s/g.....just wondering if you've compared it to a top level Lyra, Ortofon, modern Koetsu, etc.
You speak for me too, Stringreen. The problem is that the S/G system comes with it's own pre-amp, which has unique electronic features. So how to compare apples and apples? The top level alternative would have to be mated to a top level conventional phono stage.

@ lwin

thankyou! my turntable is a TTW Gem V2  rim drive with 42 pound copper platter and copper center weight.. the motor, speed control was replaced with a Teres  Verus motor and speed control .The spindle bearing was replaced with a maglev system of my own design. Current tonearm is a Linn Ittok LV2. Currently reworking my highly modified Eminent Technology ET1 .

@islandmandan 

 thankyou! for me personally it is a very satisfying result.

@stringreen 

thankyou! I did not compare this to any of the very fine cartridges you mention. when this goal was set, I had no plans to change it :)

Ron 


Sounds like a nice table, Ron. Congratulations!

@terry9 

Thankyou!

 It wasn,t allways like that though..

The Gem was a factory demo. At the time of purchase I upgraded to the mommentus speed control and on the fly VTA adjust pod. Beautiful machining! just high quality metal work. But could never get a consistently accurate speed. With constant fiddling I could get the speed right, but this would last only a few days at best :( Then the rumble started. The shaft was chewing up the thrust pad. After a few months of back and forth communication, I decided to go it on my own.

For decades I toyed around with the maglev idea, and this was the opportunity. A few more months of testing and I had some custom magnets made. these have now been in service for 20 or so months, very happy with the result. The Teres system  has about 18 months on it, perfect .Check it once in a while, never changes.

It is now a nice table:)

  Ron



Ron would love to see some pictures of your system and your creations.
Sounds fascinating!!!!

Alan
ronnierocksrecords-
I heard the SS Strain Gauge demoed by Peter himself. To my ears, It was VERY convincing. What made it even more impressive, the entire system WASN’T a mega buck rack and gigantic speakers.

If I remember, it was a VPI HRX along with other SS gear and monitors.

We played a record of mine-David Gilmour’s solo album.
The track, "There’s no Way out of here" was so impressive even Peter joked he wanted to keep the record!


edit- I have heard some of the "best"- Clearaudio Goldfinger, Lyra Atlas,DV,Benz,...etc. Playing the  same record, I didn't have the  emotional response  as with the Strain Gauge and small monitors.

Congratulations to you sir, on your acquisition.





@adeep42 

I have been thinking about pictures.

those are going to raise  some eyebrows !

@tablejockey 

 Thankyou !

 Heh. the rest of my system is a Milbert Bam 230 amp and Martin Logan  ESL speakers, some custom solid  copper core cables and a custom  battery supply for the Bam. Eventually the whole system will be running on the batteries .Next logical step would be solar panel charging.

The music must not stop!

something I have been noticing now also, every performance is over  much to quickly. It seems like I just sit down and I am back up changing the lp. Just don,t want them to end :)

Ron