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To the e-mails on this. The R does not stand for reference,although it is in my opinion a true reference cartridge. The R actually means RUBY. The cantiliver that the diamond is attached to is made from ruby stone. No doubt this is a big part why this cartridge has the sonic signature that is so desireable.
Output Voltage: 0.2mV
Frequency Response: 20~50,000Hz
Channel Balance: 1dB
Channel Separation: 20dB
Compliance: 15 x 10 cm/dyn
Stylus: Ellipitcal,naked diamond
Cantilever: 0.4mm x 0.4mm x 2.3mm oblique cut solid
VTA: 20 degress
Playing Weight: 1.2 to 1.8 Grams
Weight: 5.3 Grams.
Find one if you can and enjoy analog in a different realm.
Don't forget about the cartridge that was even more dear at that time and that was the Dynavector Diamond. There was the Ruby cantilever and then there was the Diamond! It was a bit pricier.
My Ruby (on a TD160 Super/Grace 707 which the ex has) was lovely until a rowdy party one night. The following morning the stylus had become half the size and not much use except to ruin records.
I had several of these mounted to a Magnepan Unitrac 1 on an Oracle Delphi II. They would sound absolutely beautiful for about 100 to 200 hours of listening and then the compliance would just disappear. The cantilever would end up hanging at a weird angle and the cartridge would lose its dynamics and distort at peaks in the signal, especially on the inner grooves. The deterioration was always slow and subtle at first and then one day I'd realize that something was terribly wrong. I'd send it back, and the company would refit a cantilever, charge me $150, and the process would repeat. I'd heard of this happening to others at the store I bought it from although the store wouldn't admit it. Maybe it had something to do with the unipivot exerting forces that the cartridge couldn't handle. I ended up with a Sumiko Talisman Boron which proved to be much more durable. I changed it out for a Sapphire which I picked up as NOS many years later, but the Boron is still functional after at least 12 years of use. I've been afraid to try Dynavector products ever since, but I do miss the sound. Can the 23R be refurbished still?
I just mounted a used Karat 23R on an old Grace 704 unipivot arm. I must say I was astounded at the open, natural ease with which it presented music. More detail than I'd heard before in my last rig, which was a Sonus Dimension 5 mounted in a Grace 707. However, due to the unusual stylus shape of my 23R, I used only "sacrificial lambs"--vinyl of which I have multiple copies! This stylus appears to be only half of what I expected to see under my gemstone lupe. The "leading" edge is all there, but the "trailing" edge appears to be perfectly shaped to a right angle to the cantilever. I would normally expect a less extreme angle on the "trailing" edge. There is also evidence of a horizontal "shadow" in the ruby cantilever. Could this be a crack? And if this thing is so messed up, why would it sound so clean, detailed and magnificent? Please excuse my ignorance, but if anyone out there has an answer, I would be interested to see it!
asdf: I aquired a Dynavector Ruby 23 on a Regar Planar 3 with a Magnepan Unitrac arm. The combo was owned by one person who bought them together in May 1983, never taken off or any problems with it.
The cart still plays beautifully 10,000 days later.
I sold the pristine arm, but am keeping the cartridge.
I couldn't agree more! I have used the 23Rs since ever and my most recent one (MR23RS) is still mounted in the Magnepan Unitrac I (a fabulous arm) on my Sota Sapphire. It is an open, crisp and superbly musical combination that has trounced every other analog or digital source I've auditioned. I'm forced to make the exchange for the new 17D3 now. My 23RS has been in storage for 13 years and the output has weakened too much for my Marcoff PPA 2 and RGR 4-1 to boost reasonably. I'm confident the 17D3 will sound great, too. I can't believe that a company that made such an oustanding product that is so specialized would ever go backwards. I also note that after a VERY rough decade or two, they are still in business. Got to be something to it.
Thanks for such a wonderful read! The Dynavector Ruby has been my reference point for a long time. Sounds like the Karat 23R is similar although I personally have not listened to one as of yet. Can't help but wonder how they would compare to each other. Thanks for keeping Analog alive and...play on!
Has anyone had communications with Soundsmith regarding a rebuild of this gem? My Karat 23R was purchased in the early 80's and the cantilever disappeared a couple of years ago. It was mounted on my Oracle Alexandria but not used for many years. I would really like to have it restored and have tried to contact Soundsmith but have not received any replies after and email and voice mail message. I am now using a Denon DL160 but really miss the detail and beautiful dynamics of the 23R!
I bought a 23R new waaay back, and it lives in a very low-mass Breuer 5A arm. It still sounds pretty much as I recall it (though I confess I listen to more CDs than I do vinyl nowadays, for very few modern bluesmen record on vinyl). I forget what the settings are on the phono card of my Levinson 326S, but I suspect I set it correctly, as the Prokofiev "Romeo & Juliet" on Sheffield will still blow one out of one's socks.