Ortofon A90 broken stylus

So the long and short. I purchased one of the 1st A90 carts to come up for sale on Agon. This was about 10 months ago, was in great condition, all factory packing, box etc. Then in Feb. I put on a disk and let down the the arm - the cart just slid across the record - OS batman - as looked at the A 90 - no stylus, it had broken off at the body. Nothing was left. Called for help and got a hold of Louis - Ortofon in Ossining NY. He said to send it in and he would send this to Denmark for review and probably would have to pay 50% to rebuild. So I have been waiting for the past months and a box comes from Ortofon. I opened and here was my A 90 - all rebuilt and a packing slip - Warranty, fully rebuilt. Thank you Ortofon!!!!
Very nice of Ortofon. Great and good luck with it.
I think that's the best sounding cartridge I have ever heard, and now your story makes me want one even more.
And here was I thinking it would be a bad news storey.

Excellent news. I wonder if i can try that trick with my A90? :-)
Dear Brucedan: IMHO Ortofon is a first rate manufacturer second to none.

I own or owned any single top Ortofon cartridge model ( LOMC/MM ). Well, several years ago I bought their MC 3000 ( LOMC ) cartridge that came with a full ceramic body. I received the cartridge and mounted in the tonearm, the ceramic body was really fragile and I put a screw headshell mount torque to high and the top plate on the cartridge was broke but for many months I was unaware of that till I changed of tonearm.
This was easily 7-8 months latter, I contact Ortofon and sended the cartridge as they asked and 10 days after a NEW MC3000 appear at my " door " with no before Ortofon questions about.

As I said: first rate customer service!!!!!!

Btw, great performer your A-90.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Besides being a fantastic company in over 40 years of vinyl ownership and spinning ANY ort at ANY price always played at or above it's price class in my opinion.

I am partial to Fidelity Research cartridges but I always have used Ortofons also. Currently have a soundsmith rebuilt Ort Kontra B.

Fantastic company.
how well shielded is the A90?

I ask because I have a VPI Classic, and it hums with cartridges that are not well shielded. I love my current Soundsmith VPI Zephyr, but I would love to hunt for and drop an A90 on, but not if it will hum, like my Grado's did.
I am very impressed and I will consider an Ortofon Cartridge next time I am due a new cartridge
Raul - so true. So like everybody else, I have screwed up a stylus or two. But in this case - it seems as if the stylus was just sheered of. I had treated this like a baby due to the long stylus and also the cost - this is my 1st "real" MC cart. The rebuilt A90 is the same serial number. They must of actually taken apart the motor and installed the stylus - I was impressed. As a side bar - been following your "who needs a MM" thread - as I have been using The Maestro Wood for the past 3 yrs - really a great cart, but this A90 takes my system to a more refined level.

Macdadtexas - as to the shielding - I really cannot answer, But from experience, I had a VPI TNT 3.5 for several years. I had an issues with hum and static when I was using the Maestro Wood cart ( Wood body like your Grado?) - called Mike at VIP and he said since this was a wood body, I had a grounding issue with the main bearing as the arm was metal, the bearing/shaft was metal, but the plinth is acrylic. So I bonded the shaft by just running a 24g wire, tyewrap the stripped wire to the bearing shaft and ran to my grounding post - all issues where gone. The A90 is composed of particles of stainless steel welded together, layer by layer so this is a totally different animal
Hope this helps. And yes to all - Ortofon is 1st rate!

Brucedan, congrats on your restored A90. You will love it. Ortofon customer service is the best. When I first received my A90, it seemed to convey an usual amount of groove noise in the right channel. Louis, the USA distributor, immediately had me send it to him, and he sent it on to Denmark. The designer himself put it on the bench, tweaked it in mysterious ways, and then certified it as, in his words, "a perfect example of the A90." And perfect it is--the noise is gone and the sound is absolutely superlative. I love manufacturers like Ortofon who strand behind their products and go the extra mile. Cheers!
All cartridge manufacturers I know do the rebuild service. But they charge money for it. When Ortofon made it for free, great.
Wrm57, so you worked with Louis - very nice guy, he even emailed me when he received my A90 to tell me it was off to Denmark. Question - what loading are you using, I have the Manley Steelhead as my phono amp with a Phantom arm. My scale is 25 - 400 ohm and I am now running this at 25 as this seems to give a more delicate soundstage. I thought 100 was the normal setting for MC but at that level it is more muted.

I'm using 100 ohms at 60 db of gain on my Steelhead II/Phantom II combo. It's right on for my system. VTF is 2.25g and VTA is just a hair above level. I tried all the Fremeresque raised-tail recommendations posted here, in fine gradations up to extremely high, and just couldn't get it to sound right. Then I read a posted email from the A90 designer who said, in response to a query on A90 VTA, that all Ortofon carts are designed for level-arm VTA. I figured, since that's the guy who checked out my cartridge and said it's right on spec, I'll try the specified parameters. Level or just slightly above level, indeed, is right for my A90. The sound is open, airy, palpable, and dynamic with great bass. I love this cartridge.
Wrm57 - good info, I had my VTA too high - reduced to almost level and this helped. I am toggling back and forth between 50 and 100 ohms - yes this is a great cartridge.

My Ortofon A90 is broken and probably I need to make a rebuild. Any experience with soundsmith rebuild for the Ortofon A90 ?

HBA...if you let Soundsmith rebuild it, it isn't an A90 anymore. When you sell it you really should let it be known.
Thank you for your reply....For sure I know that and I will probably rebuild directly with Ortofon, however, I would like to have some information about how it sounds...as soundsmith is very well known by their terrific job
Thank you for your reply....For sure I know that and I will probably rebuild directly with Ortofon, however, I would like to have some information about how it sounds...as soundsmith is very well known by their terrific job
I also broke the cantilever on my A90. It's been sitting around doing nothing for six months. Last week I sent it in to Soundsmith. I can not afford at this time to have Ortofon rebuild it. It just seemed silly to let it sit there doing nothing. I don't expect it to sound the same but hope it will still preform well.

When I get it back I'll report my findings. My sonic memory is unlikely to last 9 months but at least I can say whether I like it or not.


Good to know...please, keep us informed...I read in the internet that an Ortofon Jubilee's owner has made the retip with Soundsmith and reported that it sounds even better than before...for sure there is the original project issue( specially the A90 ) but I would be surprised in case of your A90 sounds less than wonderful after the Soundsmith's rebuild.
Hba and all - so I have been out and have not looked at this thread. So what can I say - I have had Soundsmith rebuld several carts - did outstanding - but I damaged these carts. The A90 should not have an issue unless there is abuse or there is an issue with what you have and with the cost - you probably have treated this like a baby. Yes Sht. happens and and anyone can have have a bad day - but I was treated very well by Ortofon, my cart worked one day, then nothing the next it just broke!! This was at the main body of the A90 - and I now have the real retip by the guys that made this great cart.. Soundsmith is great - but if you are willing to give Ortofon a chance to make good - this is what I would do.

I read in the internet that an Ortofon Jubilee's owner has made the retip with Soundsmith and reported that it sounds even better than before...
Gosh! That's as authoritative as it is applicable.

A Jubilee is to an A90 as a ukulele is to a Strad. Even if you knew that this guy's taste in what "sounds better" matches yours - which you don't - the difference between cartridges would still render his statement irrelevant. Would you hire someone to repair your Lexus based on statements that he's good at modifying Corollas?

Echoing Stringreen,

P.S. You didn't break your A90's stylus. You broke its cantilever.
For sure Doug....I am not saying that I agree on what the jubilee's owner says . I am just mentioning what I read
I used to have the Jubilee too and I really know which league the A90 belongs to
That is a great Thread to keep the limited Edition A-90 alive. Don't panic when you still haven't one. Some Dealers bought a dozen and will sell them until they are gone. Then the next super duper game changer Ortofon Anna will follow.
But that one has a Body (not from sonics....to hold it) :-)
I have just received my Denon DL 103 SA which was rebulit by Sounsmith with its ruby cantilever and top of the line style. After one month of break-in I can report that I am absolutely shocked with the sound improvement in all areas. I can say that it is now one of the best cartridges I have already listened. Track VERY well, terrific soundstage, details, etc...but most of all with a tremendous musicality. I will probably send my Ortofon A90 to Soundsmith. These guys know how to do their work. I won´t be surprised if the A90 will sound even better than ever.

Please, any news about your A90 rebuilt by Soundsmith ?

Hba, I am still waiting. No word yet. Soundsmith did send me an email after he inspected it. He said that one channel was dead. So I'm not even sure he will be able to fix it. I have read that if he has a difficult cart to repair it may take longer. I'm crossing my fingers. ;)


I sent my A90 to the Soundsmith one month.
Let's see when it will be ready.
I recently asked Soundsmith about my cart. He was unable to repair it due to one of the channels being dead. He said he tried several times to repair it but had no luck so he sent it back. To bad I was really curious what it would sound like with a ruby cantilever.

I guess I'll have to save up my pennies to have Ortofon do it or trade it in for something else.

Two weeks ago I traded into a brand new factory sealed Ortofon A90. I have had several Zyx cartridges in my system, Airy 3 SB, 4D-G/SB, and a Atmos, I have also owned several Koetsus (BLACK, Rosewood Signature & Urushi) and a Sumiko Celebration Pear wood. All these cartridges are excellent and have a specific sound as intended by their perspective manufactures but the Ortofon A90 has caught my ear. It is the craziest thing I cannot stop listening to music. I am using a highly modified Zyx Artisan phono amp. Do not get me wrong all the other cartridges I have listed in this post which are the most memorable out of all the cartridges I have had in my systems over the years this Ortofon A90 goes right up to the top. I am not saying it is the best what I am saying is the most fun I have had in a long time listening to my record collection.
The A90 sound plays in the same league as carts costing twice as much, imo.Best cart value bar none.
Be quick and sell them, the next game changer from Ortofon is available.
Hard to imagine that it is better than the former game changer A-90 but Dealers told me, the next step is unbelievable compared to A-90...
The next game changer is the Anna??
There's not much chat about the Anna. I guess it has not been out long enough and there have not been any major reviews yet. The A90 was the darling of all the main reviewers for quite some time.