My $0.02 worth:
1- The A90 and the SPU 90th (in fact, all SPUs) are completely different cartridges. Only an SPU sounds like an SPU. (you will find that either good or bad)
2- IMO, both cartridges are superb. The A90 is probably the better overall choice if you listen to a wide variety of musical genres. The SPU is a great choice is you listen mainly to classical, vocals or jazz (again, IMO).
3- The Schick tonearm is a *much* better match with the SPU, which is really the whole reason for owning a Schick. There are better tonearm choices for the A90.
4- You have a great system. It is also a lot of system for a first timer. Be patient - it's going to take a little time and effort to dial it in properly; or a good dealer who really knows the 301.
I own both the A90 and the SPU 90th Anniversary--but as Br3098 says, the SPU is a match made in heaven for the Schick. It sounds wonderful on my 301/Schick. The A90 is mated to my Micro Seiki setup, and performs very well there. Horses for courses...
I have an SPU 90th on an Ikeda 407 tonearm for my 301.
I think it sounds great with all music from chamber music to jazz to rock to electronica to vocals.
Thant's an impressive system you are putting together BTW
Thanks guys...i'm thinking I'll go with the SPU 90th. In terms of the current SPU's is the 90th still their top or is there a new king of the SPU hill?
Is the SPU 90th Anniversary still available? If so, where can you buy it? I thought it had been discontinued.
I think you can only get the SPU 90th as an NOS aftermarket purchase, which means without the normal Ortofon warranty. Take a look on eBay. 2juki often sells them. I've bought from him before and he's been dependable.
The top of the current SPU lineup is the Royal GM II. I have one, along with an A90. They both have the Replicant 100 stylus, which makes them a little more closely related, but they still occupy different genres, as others have said. I really enjoy the Royal's unusual combination of SPU-like body and coherency plus excellent detail and sparkle on top, for which most SPUs are not usually noted. Still, the A90 is the better all-around cartridge for soundstage depth and layering, imaging, and the other audiophile characteristics while still being IMO very musical. It is extremely sensitive to all set-up parameters, however, especially VTA, so I don't think the Schick is the best arm for it. The Royal is much less finicky though it still wants VTA changes for different record widths. The SPU 90th, without the Replicant, might be less demanding in this regard, I don't know.
Here are the SPU cartridges currently offered by Ortofon and list prices:
- SPU Collector Box Ltd. (inc. 90th Ann.) 13,999.00
- SPU Royal GM MKII 2,199.00
- SPU Synergy A (Ltd) 1,799.00
- SPU Synergy GM 1,799.00
- SPU Meister Silver GM MKII 1,699.00
- SPU Classic GM E MKII 999.00
- SPU Classic GM MKII 949.00
- SPU Mono GM MKII (high output) 849.00
- Mono CG 65 DI MKII (true mono, for 78s) 799.00
- Mono CG 25 DI MKII (true mono) 799.00
- SPU Royal N (1/2" mount) 1,499.00
- SPU Classic N E (1/2" mount) 849.00
- SPU Classic N (1/2" mount) 749.00
I have heard the SPU Classic GM E ($999.00) is the closest sounding to Vintage SPU's. I am not saying this is a fact,but I did read that it was at least one persons opinion. I have only heard 2 SPU's, the Shindo, and the Royal N. They were both quite good, which is why I am also interested in SPU's.
Interesting info. Juki is actually asking for higher than retail on the SPU 90th...I know it's limited edition but seems strange for a few year old cart. I've read the Schick does really well with SPU so think this is probably where I should start. Maybe I should give the Classic E a shot to see if I actually like the SPU sound first and if not then I can switch to a typical MC type cart.
Going back to the A90 and Schick combo though, is the consensus that this is not a good match?
The SPU 90 was a limited edition when made but now, long discontinued, it's pretty scare, hence the premium. IMO, to get the most out of an A90 youneed to be able to really fine-tune VTA, etc., like you can with a Tri-planar or Graham or Clearaudio Universal arm.
Uh, that should say, "it's pretty scarce, hence the premium." Please excuse.
What a nice choice to be making. The rest of your life should be so complicated. They both have tons of cache.
The SPU is such an Iconic cartridge that I would find it hard to resist. But--- I have heard the A90 and it is an outstanding cart that digs up every detail on the record and sets a new standard for "high definition" my apologies to ARC.
I see that you are going for the SPU I am pretty sure you will like it a great deal.
In a surprise change of events I just picked up the Soundsmith retipped Goldbug Ms. Brier LOMC cartridge recently posted here for sale. This rare cartridge has very high marks and I feel it will be an excellent pairing to my setup. Now I can take my time to find an SPU in due course as I still want to try my hand at one.
Now to figure out what headshell to use...
An alloy of ilaid titaniumand unobtanium into true Russian Alexandrite crystal. Why is there some other garbage headshell being sold. Or you could go to a living legend in Japan and have him carve you one from 350 year old Pine.
I'm not sure I follow your response, are you recommending a headshell?
Well I went with a Yamamoto HS-1A and will replace the leads with Oyaide.
I don't have much first hand experience with the A90, but I have been thoroughly enjoying a brand new Ortofon 90th Anniversary SPU mounted on a Thorens TD-124 mkii with an Ortofon RMG 212 tonearm. Coupled with an Audio Research amp/preamp and a pair of vintage Altec Valencia's, if I had a mirror in the living room, I'd see my slow and silly Cheshire Cat-like grin in the evenings as I listen to vinyl. It feels like the SPU is "settling in" as it continues to improve with each session (all in all probably less than 30 hours on it at this point).
Sitting next to the 124 mkii is a recently serviced and setup 124 mki with an SME 3012R arm and a Denon DL-103R cartridge in a Yamamoto HS-1a African ebony headshell going through a Auditorium 23 SUT on into the ARC preamp/amp. Both TT setups sound great and I am still A/B-ing, but at this point, there's a nod to a greater level of detail and soundstage holography to the 90th Anniversary setup.
Due to a clumsy mishap, I recently sent a bent tip DL-103R in a Uwe ebony body to Soundsmith for re-tipping, so hopefully, later this summer or perhaps in the early fall, there will be a fun comparison of the stock v. modded Denon.
Eventually, I hope to migrate one of the cartridge and tonearms onto a grease bearing 301 that needs a good plinth hence my great interest in coming across your post.