Origin live Cartridge Enabler - a review


This is a basic review aimed at those who are in a similar middle lane of the audiophile analogue motorway.
Enhancements are plentiful for turntables and provoke much intense debate. However I feel as though the use of them is particularly relevant for those like me who have turntables at a lower end level.
So after much review and forum research I decided on Origin live also because I could save on delivery by obtaining a few items at the same time. Analogueseduction is another good option in this regard. Unfortunately, the platter mat I also ordered hadn’t been packed, so I only had their brush and the enabler to enjoy.

I`m aware that the theory is to channel unwanted disturbances from the cartridge into the arm, but I`ve always considered that just damping them would be better. Anyhow that in simple terms is the Enablers job.

The turntable itself is a 1990`s Roksan Xerses, the (platter is aluminium). I have an old Ringmat as platter mat at present. The arm an SME IV, the cartridge a VD Hul retipped Koetsu Black.

I became familiar with a fine pressing of Alan Parsons Eve, first track Lucifer which has quite a lot of detail before installation of the Enabler.

So installation was a bit fiddly, and note well, you will need bolts that are at least 5 mm longer to successfully complete the job. I made every effort to set the VTA as it was before installation, and checked alignments and the settings to make sure that they hadn’t changed.

The very first impression is that the sound is slightly thinner. Straight after that you realize that is because some of the – ringing, bloom? has been removed. So for example, a percussive tap, ting or knock is more definite. Again the bass is slightly lighter, but far less boomy. I player a Peter Gabriel track that sounded overblown in the bass when I listened a couple of days before. Now the bass was tuneful and balanced in tone with the rest of the instruments.

So initial impressions are ones of a satisfactory improvement, and again I maintain that with more modest equipment, if care is taken with the details, the end result can result in a worthwhile improvement. So as the professional reviewers say – highly recommended!

30160cfd 6f84 4dbf 8973 a9a8156ecbaelastperfectdaymusic
It is a felt pad you place under the cartridge with felt washers that go under the screw heads on the opposite side of the head shell. If you tighten it up firmly it is going to do nothing. Depending how loosely you tighten the screws down it might decouple the cartridge from the tonearm at certain frequencies in the bass. I can not see how that would be valuable with a stiff cartridge like the Koetsu. You SME does not ring and it is a light tonearm for that cartridge. If you really want to hear your cartridge sing get headshell weights and add 2-3 grams. They go under the cartridge like the Enabler. If you want to be accurate about it get a test record and set the resonance for 8-10 Hz. That will give you the best bass possible from your arm cartridge combination.  
Isn't the original Koetsu Black is the most dark souding cartridge in the whole Koetsu line ?
I've considered this, based only on the assumption that since Origin Live makes a great arm they must know what they're doing. But the combination of the work involved along with changing VTA so much, it would have to offer really significant improvement to be worth serious consideration. Especially in comparison to something like Synergistic Research PHT that simply stick on and can be easily moved around and compared and do deliver really significant improvement.

Thanks for the review. 
Hi millercarbon . well I had a look at the  Synergistic Research PHT. That`s crazy! Never heard of it. I wonder what it is, but its a lot more expensive than the OL Enhancer.
To be honest if these enhancements are so good, why dont the turntable and cartridge manufacturers just supply them as an extra option with their products!?
The other thing is that it is really difficult to place a value on most enhancements. I could have probably used regular piece of extruded rubber product in its place and have got a similar response!
But I definitely noticed an improvement on my system as related, and thought that there are so few reviews on the Enhancer that I would add my 2 cents worth.
Miller, Do you really, really, really think the SR PHT makes a "significant" improvement in your vinyl reproduction?  Sorry for the off-topic diversion.  Based on Mijo's description of what the enabler is and is supposed to do, which really ought to have been part of the original review, I have to agree with him that I would not have expected the Enabler to improve bass response.  If anything, I might have expected a step back, because the Koetsu's low compliance means that bass energy is transmitted into the cartridge body and needs to be dissipated, else it might destabilize the platform that supports the generator. With the felt cushion, energy transfer into the headshell is inhibited. But perhaps that just goes to show me that one cannot do these experiments in the brain. 

For sure, however, your Koetsu will benefit from a higher effective mass tonearm, which is easily achieved without buying a new tonearm.  A year ago, I bought an 18g Ortofon LH9000 headshell for my Koetsu Urushi, mounted on a Kenwood L07D (the L07J tonearm that comes with it).  I guess the new headshell adds about 5-6g effective mass compared to the standard Kenwood headshell. That really makes a huge improvement in bass extension and clarity. (I don't think it's because of changing resonant frequency, but I can't be sure.)
Lewm, if you add effective mass you lower the resonance frequency. You can prove that to yourself with a good test record.  Below the resonance frequency the bass drops of rapidly. Koetsus require a heavy arm. They perform best with a resonance frequency between 8-10 Hz. You are absolutely right. Always start off with a light tonearm as you can always add mass. Subtracting mass is a bit more difficult and likely to void your warranty. Having a set of head shell weights in your tool box and test record make adjusting the effective mass easy and you will know for a fact that you are right on the money. 
Another really good example why sophistry got such a bad rap. The Sophists used rhetoric and reasoning. Problem being, once you set aside tangible results and experience it turns out you can talk yourself into just about anything. 

Myself, I find the explanations and theories of manufacturers and just about everyone else to be at best interesting but more often than not distractions, and often misleading ones at that.

So lewm and lastperfectdaymusic, if you're looking for the typical audiophile banter as to why you can just go look elsewhere. There's reasonably likely explanations as to why this stuff works (dither) but the last thing you guys want is to have it proven. Also, seems to me, not all that interested in results either. Or you wouldn't be contesting it. You'd be reading all the threads already posted by the many people who have heard this stuff and know how effective it is.

All I can say is no lewm, I do not "think" SR PHT makes a "significant" improvement- I KNOW it does. Why, is what I do not know. WHAT however there is no doubt. It is significant.

My reviews were posted months ago. There are 4 versions of PHT. Purple Haze is indeed hazy and the only one I did not care for. Blue Velvet was okay but not worth it to me. Black Widow opened up the stage and improved dynamics and layering in a very neutral way across the board. Green Dream did the same only with an intoxicating borderline seductive liquid quality that really draws me into the music. I was able to get Betty at HighEnd-electronics.com to work with me and so now have one Green Dream and one Black Widow right on the Koetsu, with another Green Dream on the Origin Live Conqueror tone arm tube. There are also two ECT on the arm base, and one on my motor pod. The ECT are a similar effect to the Black Widow, improving dynamics and inner detail and very across the board neutral.

No one else includes these because no one else knows how to make them. The Origin Live Enabler is inexpensive, until you factor in the time it takes to install, and the hardware, the need to re-tweak everything, and the fact this winds up being a massive waste of time in the event it turns out to not be all that great. Let's face it, for $25 almost nobody is gonna go to all that trouble and then turn around and remove it, unless it actually makes things worse. PHT on the other hand can be installed and moved around wherever you want or removed literally in seconds.

Practical results and considerations. Or theoretical gobbledygook. Choose wisely.
Thank you for the enlightenment, analogue is certainly a complex interest. I really have to go by what my ears tell me, and I will certainly listen to more LP`s that I am familiar with tonight to get more ideas on how the Enabler performs. But up to now I can certainly notice an improvement as reviewed.
If I may ask mijostyn, how would I go about increasing the mass of my SME IV tonearm to make it more compatible with the Koetsu.
Secondly, I am really sold on buying a Hana SL to replace it as it (the Koetsu) must need refurbishing. How will the Hana fit with my tonearm?
Thank you.
Millercarbon the last thing I am going to do is trust yours or any one else's hearing who I do not know personally. That says nothing against you it is just that human hearing is extraordinarily biased because there is an amazing complex brain attached to it. If I present 100 people with an ink blot I will get 100 different opinions as to what it looks like and our vision is much more accurate than our hearing. 
I am really sold on buying a Hana SL to replace it as it (the Koetsu) must need refurbishing.

Why don’t you just buy a high resolution neutrail MM cartridge for your tonearm ? At least you could compare two different worlds of sound. The Koetsu Black is the lowest in Koetsu line and does not represent the "magic" of Koetsu sound as you can read online. Your cartridge is refurbished and no longer a Koetsu, and if you want it to be refurbished again you’re probably going to extreme, here is the thread. Hanna looks nice, but do you think it is a good MC ? Read this article, maybe you will change your opinion about MM.

This is from the TAS article:

"Everyone is entitled to personal tastes, but truth is truth. If you want to hear something like the truth, I still say-no matter what everyone else is using-that you should buy a flat-top cartridge like the AT-ML170 and avoid all MC cartridges with a rising top-end. If the sound of live music is your goal, why would you want to hear sound which is not only untrue to its source but also is something you are "seldom conscious of live.

What cartridge could have the "lowest distortion of all," "uncanny" resolution, better than master tapes?

Kavi Alexander, auteur of the remarkable Water Lily Acoustics series of analogue vinyl discs, is monitoring disc production by comparing test pressings to the master tape. What cartridge is he using? Another moving magnet, this time the TECHNICS EPC 100 mk4. But he describes the AUDIO-TECHNICA AT-ML170 as very similar, and very close to the actual sound of the tape. In this comparison, he says, virtually no moving coil does so well; most have seriously apparent colorations.

The contrast between these views of moving magnet cartridges and usual audiophile opinion is striking. On the one hand, we have assurances of these leaders of the High-End recording industry that the best MOVING MAGNETS are very close to the master tape (or live mike feed, for direct to disc) and that they are capable of "uncanny" resolution. On the other hand, we have the prevailing perception, amounting almost to a shibboleth, of the High-End listening community, that only MOVIN COILS are realistic in some sense of that word and that moving magnets are incapable of sonic truth."


This is the AT-ML170 and it’s just one example of the decent MM that killing most of the MC up to $3k retail. There are more amazing MM cartridges, the benefit is that you can avoid refurbishing or retipping as you can simply change the stylus replacement by yourself. 

P.S. Hanna (aka Excel Sound Corporation) tried to steal its design from the legendary Miyabi cartridge, but Hanna is just an entry level MC cartridge.



Chakster, correct me if I’m wrong but the subject of this thread seems to be the OL cartridge enabler, not your personal obsession with certain MM cartridges.

If the OP switches to the Hana, which is said to be excellent by those who have heard it, we’re back at ground zero.  The enabler may help it or not. And please forgive me for expressing my surprise that the Koetsu is helped by the enabler, for reasons I carefully outlined. That did not mean I was doubting the testimony. I’ve never heard either but there’s a good chance that the SL is superior to the Black, even a new Black.

mijo, since the resonant frequency is inversely proportional to the square root of effective mass times compliance, I would indeed expect RF to go down when mass goes up. That was the genesis of my first comment.
@lewm 

If the OP switches to the Hana, which is said to be excellent by those who have heard it  

I've heard a dosen of MC cartridges made by Excel Sound Corporation, from low to high output with 3 different cantilevers. Even the old prototype of their new Etsuro. In my opinion carefully selected vintage MM are better than all of them. My personal experience, yes. 

Enabler or not, a good cartridge sound fantastic without enables.

A dark sounding entry level new koetsu black may be improved with some fansy tricks, but the improvement will be 100 times better if the OP will change his Koetsu Black to something better, then maybe there is no need for enables at all.   

I agree with the general principle that basic upgrades (like buying a better sounding cartridge or a better sounding anything) are generally a better way to go, in terms of pleasure per dollar, to spending on tweaks (like the Enabler or the SR PDT) of some lesser product. As I mentioned, I’ve never heard either the Koetsu Black or the Hana SL, so I cannot comment on the degree to which one might be better than the other. Whereas you seem to have auditioned many dozens of cartridges in recent years.

I apologize if I came down on you too hard for recommending the AT ML170, but I confess I am a bit tired of reading about its wonderfulness. The OP wants to talk about the Enabler, per se, which seems at least to be cost-effective.

Not to mention the fact that the AT-ML170 is out of production since the 1990s. Where do we buy them, if we wanted to?
Purchasing an AT-ML 170 is not a problem at the moment Lew. 

Chakster just happens to have a very fine specimen for sale haha!

Very lightly used. 
Hi, thanks to all for getting involved. I`m not sure that I have an answer for the arm mass increase issue that lewm was recommending, I mean where do you get these from?
I had the opportunity of another listen last night. Side 1 of `Crime of the century`. I couldn’t believe all the detail, clarity and timbre that I was hearing for the first time. Like looking at a street lamp in the dark with smudged specs, then cleaning them with a microfibre cloth and seeing the difference!
I wonder what other hidden value we have in our turntables through using enhancements?!
I have the Origin live mat waiting at home for using, but first I want to get a good idea of the Enabler.
I appreciate the comments on the cartridges, thank you chakster. I have seen too many positive comments on the Hana SL to be moved, and hopefully it will remain in reach financially in the next few months! Our economy is not in the hands of experts!!
@lewm I apologize if I came down on you too hard for recommending the AT ML170, but I confess I am a bit tired of reading about its wonderfulness. The OP wants to talk about the Enabler, per se, which seems at least to be cost-effective.

Sorry for that, but even my own threads are always goes to a different direction with comments from different users, it’s always like that. I don’t mind.

Regarding the enables i wish to know why none of the cartridge manufacturers using them or recommend for use them?

I remember my manual for Grado where John Grado adviced NOT to use anything between the cartridge and headshell.

I think it’s all about coloration, some people like it.

@hdm Right, i’ve been praised AT-ML series for years on this forum, actually i’ve learned about it from this forum, but from the users who left the forum long time ago, everyone is fascinated about this model. I had at least 4 samples, upgraded to AT-ML180 (my favorite MM).

It’s pretty sad that we don’t have new discoveries, people only repeating something about Hanna, Grado, Nagaoka ...