Try a Sumiko Celebration II. Wood body and rich sound. Not as tubby on the bass as a Koetsu, or as expensive.
32 responses Add your response
I had a SOTA with a Series V SME and it wasnt a good match at all. As I remember, the V was a very heavy arm which didn't mate well with the SOTA springs. It worked, but I could never make it sing, and I eventually, left it for something else. Yours may be different, but I'm relating my experience only.
You system seems like it is already pretty warm and lush sounding. Adding warmth through the cartridge is not going to do anything to tame reflections and room node issues.
If you really want to add warmth, an Ortofon Classic SPU Royal N or SPU N E will add it in spades. I will also second the recommendation for the Grado cartridges - the Reference and Master series are very warm and lush.
But... given that your system appears to be so warm already, if it were me I might try something else. Maybe a Benz Glider or Wood, or one of the Ortofon Cadenzas. For a little less money, a Soundsmith Aida or Ortofon 2M Black are also a great match for that tonearm.
I agree that the Sumiko Celebration is a good option. It was designed using an SME V arm. I had the combination until I recently bought an AirTight PC-1. There is a well written review of the Celebration in an old issue of TAS. The Celebration, IMO, is slightly warm of neutral and has good bass performance and detail. It does not overly extended in the high frequencies and I think it is a good value for about $2K.
Thanks so much for sharing your opinions – there are several options here that I’m sure I would be very happy with.
A few things I would like to present/clarify:
First, I apologize for the misleading title on this forum post caused by not hitting the caps key when punching the =+ key. I meant to title it “Sota+SME IV+Ugh !!!” which was my way of putting forth my struggle in identifying the cartridge I’d like to have with my table and arm rather than “Sota+SME IV=Ugh !!!” which implies I’m having issues with my Sota/SME combination. That is so far from the truth; I couldn’t be happier with that combination.
Secondly, I specified “wood bodied” knowing that non-wood bodied cartridges would also meet my prerogatives. Why did I do this? I simply like stuff made of wood, like why I was attracted to Tannoy’s Prestige line and a Sota TT - their wood work is absolutely beautiful.
Anyway, I’m pursuing a Grado Reference for its characteristics and price point. I realize that the sum of my components, including the addition of the Grado, probably add up to overly warm. For me, this is what I’m looking for, really. I’m so fond of the distant memories I have of my father playing his tube equipment back in the day when that warm lush sound was so prevalent. I guess I’m trying to re-create that joy.
I’m pursuing a Grado Reference for its characteristics and price point.I would be cautious about the possibility of hum pickup, which the Grado's are prone to with SOME turntables, due to the lack of shielding that results from their wood construction. I used a Grado Sonata for a time with my SOTA Sapphire (from 1983 and still going strong!!), and there was a slight hum whenever the cartridge was moved into position above the rotating platter. By "slight" I mean that it was completely inaudible when music was playing, while being a little bit above the threshold of audibility at the listening position with no music playing and the volume control at typical settings.
The arm was (and still is) a Magnepan Unitrac. I'm not completely certain as to whether or not the arm may have played a role in the hum, but my guess is that it did not.
Although it doesn't necessarily signify anything conclusive about the possible role of the arm, I'll mention fwiw that the hum completely disappeared when the arm was moved toward the rest position, as soon as the cartridge reached the point of not being directly over the rotating platter.
The only other thing I can add is that over the years I've heard a number of other reports of Grado's having hum problems with a few various non-SOTA turntables (I don't recall which ones), from those I know as well as well as on the web.
I hesitate to answer you since I will be putting both of these cartridges up for sale in the near future, but quite honestly, either would fit your stated needs. These are the Benz H2 or Soundsmith's The Voice. The Benz is the more 'lush' of the two, while the Soundsmith is a bit more neutral (but still on the warm side).
I was a SOTA distributor many yrs ago -
1. SME V works beautifully on SOTA. SOTA was not designed for SME, SOTA/Sumiko took over distribution of the SME long after SOTA was launched.
2. As stated above I would have concerns with matching Grado/SME V. Best Grado I have heard on the SOTA was with an Alphason arm.
3. Suggested cartridges as above - Koetsu Black, Cardas Heart.Also check out the Lyra Delos, it is much warmer than earlier Lyra's.
Other suggestions, sources of brightness in your system that I would be looking to change -
Van den hul spkr cable and possibly your phono stage to tube design.
Reminder, Benz Micro and it's US distributor, Musical Surroundings, offer a generous trade in/up program. I'm currently up to the Benz Micro Ruby Z low output. This is essentially the same S-Class cartridge as the very well reviewed and slightly heavier LP.
All three cartridges on your list will do a very good job. I can't tell you just how nice it is when you feel your cartridge has worn that it still has value as a trade in.
The hum that the above poster is talking about comes from the Grado cartridge. They don't do well with some arms. Even if the hum is inaudible when playing music, it depletes the amp from valuable power and lessons the quality of the audio. When I had the SME V arm with the SOTA, the arm was too heavy for the springs of the suspension ....not a preferred combination.
03-02-12: StringreenWhile I would not completely rule out the possibility of adverse effects on audio quality, if there were any such effects it would not be because of power depletion. For typical speaker efficiencies the hum levels we are discussing probably correspond to less than a thousandth of a watt.