Soundsmith's turnaround time?

How long have you guys had to wait to get your cartridge back for repair/retip?
Sent 2 of mine on December 1st 2009. No status update and no response to my emails. Called twice and "will look into it and will get back to you".
Still nothing.

Anyone can share their experience on wait time?
No word from them yet on a cartridge I sent in 6 months ago, in early October, 2009. Another member reported here a few months ago that the work on his cartridge was completed after 7 months.

-- Al
I used Peter's service about 4 years ago. Excellent results, BTW. It took maybe 6 weeks. Since then it seems his work load has exploded. Not fun waiting, I know. Reminds me of the great restaurant that everyone loves, so it takes 1 1/2 hours to get seated.
Al, mine was finished at 7 mos. after many fruitless queries. The cartridge was finished the day after I requested return of the cartridge finished or unfinished. The work was good, but obviously it is possible to get buried in the backlog. Reading remarks of other posters who obtained much faster service during the period that my cartridge was there, I am led to conclude that they do not operate on a first-come first-serve basis. Peter performs a valuable & honest service but one must be prepared for a much longer than advertized wait.
Whether or not the "work is stellar" or "the wait is worth it",a company should acknowledge when a customer communicates with them.The treatment you are recieving is just bad business practice that seems to be happening more and more according to the number of threads addressing problems similar to yours.
Tpreaves, This is certainly true. However IMO it is most important to know that Soundsmith is a clean and straight and reasonably priced service and that the customer is eventually satisfied. One occasionally encounters shady operators in audio, and Soundsmith is not one of these.
D,"the customer is eventually satisfied" is not a real flattering description of how a business should operate.
BTW,nobody has accused them of being "shady".Maybe I just expect more from a business.
Cartridge rebuilding is such a popular line of work that tech school graduates are turned away in the thousands by companies like Soundsmith, Benz, VdH and so many others. Within these labs, lucky workers develop in mere days the skills required to perfectly install and align itty bitty fragile cantilevers in the superstrong magnetic fields of very expensive cartridges while wearing bearskin mittens. These two factors explain why nobody needs to wait for a cartridge rebuild.

Tasteless joking aside, the wait time was very long but Soundsmith came through for me. They did a Cardas Heart Reference and a Koetsu Rosewood Sig. I highly recommend them. If anyone wants to try Benz, the wait time was exactly the same for the cart I sent there.

One person recently sold a Soundsmith cartridge - he referred to the time spent at Soundsmith as a "glacial epoch".

Not sure about the hang up, however truth is I call the New York number, listen to a very long winded "Welcome message" on a machine, Finally it allows you to hit "9" I believe is the #, and it connects me to live customer service everytime.

No problem with communications, I sent my Cartridge into them Jan. 21st or 22nd, came back on about March 15th to 20th. So about 6 weeks like they say. Also I paid 19 bucks extra to make sure they expedited it back with 2 Day fed ex shipping.

No issues beyond that, perfect service, good enough communication, Zero issues with the quality of work and of course the sound of this sucker is super sweet!

My only suggestion is that its VERY possible the more exotic the cart. or simply the more a "Pain in the Ass" it might take longer to dissassemble and get correct, so unfortunately you get pushed back on the basic economics of it when he has 10 bread and butter denon carts sitting there all getting the same "Flat Fee cost" that can get done in 2 days vs. 2 weeks of work or special parts, adhesive or whatever.

I can't even tell how some of these carts could easily come apart to be cleaned, aligned, and signal tested, which from my understanding they go deep finishing and testing these with even perfect channel matching balance. Probably lots of microscopes involved I don't know!

Just a guess I don't know but there has to be some strange reason with the inconsistencys, because they take no payments up front and probably for good reason, they can't evaluate until they really get it in the shop I assume.

Plus if 50 people send these in all at one time I can imagine vs. if they get only 15 in one month instead? I have to be honest we have no clue how many go, there could literally be a back room with 1000 little boxes all virtually the same sitting at one time of virtually 2% to 20% of the audiophile population in the world sending their cart. to these guys, and they simply get lost in the shuffle.
Good Luck
I just had my Shelter 501 II rebuilt at the $250.00 level and am a completely satisfied customer. When I initiated the work, I was given an estimate of how long it would take and they completed the work within the estimated timeframe. My suggestion is to be patient and not bug them until they have exceeeded the original time estimate.

You have absolutely nothing to gain by rushing a master craftsman and I can only imagine what his reaction would be if someone was pestering him as busy as he is.

I sent a B&O 8000 table in to be refurbished in November 2009. Original estimate was 6 - 8 weeks. Then I was notified very shortly thereafter it would be closer to 8 - 12 weeks. That was all fine with me. We're pushing on close to 20 weeks now and I haven't heard or seen nothing from Soundsmith. I never called, emailed, or otherwise inquired because I know Peter is busy, but still one has to wonder if they are that busy why do they continually take on more work than they can handle.

It's to the point where I have really lost all interest in the project and ordered a new table altogether which will most likely get here before the B&O. While I'm glad to hear that some have had better experiences, it appears that may be the exception rather than the rule.
I'm going to say that it's probably an issue of how much work is on the bench at any particular time. There's only so many hours in the day and so many of those that they can dedicate to rebuilding vs. building their new carts. In all, though, I can't think of a better place to send your work to be done.
I just spoke with Peter. Today is Sunday. He called from the office, where he is retipping carts. Which is very typical of him- he usually works on weekends and also late in the evening doing the retips and building the higher end Soundsmith carts, as there is no one else who can do this. That also goes a long way in explaining why his retips typically sound BETTER than the cartridge sounded out of the factory, and why I have never heard of anyone being unhappy with his work.

Out here in rural Pennsylvania, you can often find a sign tacked onto the wall in an auto garage or workshop, which reads the following-



Ledermann is quite literally a gift to the audiophile community. He is the only retipper and cartridge rebuilder in the US that I know of, and he makes some of the worlds absolute finest cartridges, while charging a fraction of what other companies command. If you are finding the wait too long, simply pick up the phone and ask to speak to Peter personally. He has a very big operation, contrary to what you may think, with lots of people working for him, but he will ALWAYS take the time to talk with you if you ask for that.

Disclaimer- My company (OMA) is a Soundsmith dealer.
I received a phone call about this thread. I will respond to the many issues raised here, and post it here soon.

I want to gather my thoughts first, and respond in a thoughtful considered manner. Maybe to address the main thread here, I need to double my prices for retipping and cartridge rebuilding so I can be in line with the pricing of the rest of the retippers in the world, and hire a full time person to communicate better. With 150 - 200 Emails I get each day, many looking for free advice, it is a big job. Some of those complain as well, when I don't answer in 48 hours with free advice.

Emails are not perfect. Some Emails get lost in our mailwasher program. If we don't respond, we didn't get your Email. Try using a phone to reach us.

Yes, when I get a difficult cartridge, I put it aside to try to make a day's pay, and get to it late at night. The extra effort I make is to save someone's cartridge and their hard earned money, even if it needs extra work at no extra charge. Those DO get delayed. Maybe I do need to stop doing that and just give up on them, and their cartridge.

Again, I will respond fully soon here on this thread.

Peter Ledermann/Soundsmith
Peter is not an assembly line robot, he is a human being that gets sick from time to time, partly because he works way too much. And he does it out of his strong feeling of responsibility for the people he employs. His obligation to customers is equally strong, but sometimes one can answer only so many question via phone or email within a 24hour day, sometimes there is no time left after 12hours+ of physically reducing the backlog.
Those who think he should just hire another person to give all the written and spoken advice need to get in touch with reality. Customers want to talk to or hear from THE MAN HIMSELF. Few if any (potential) customers would take it from the mouth of what they see being just a helper or secretary, no matter how thourough the briefing(or actual experience/knowledge).
Forums like this created the popularity(I dare not call it hype): - remember, that before Peter's work was widely known, you'd be sending your cart to Benz, the Garrot Brothers or Mr. VdH. And waited just as long or longer(but paid quite a bit more). Not to mention the cost for a rebuild by, say, Koetsu.
Why take more orders that one seems to be able to handle? Because you never know what the next month looks like in this business...

Good night,

Frank Schröder
Give the man a break. I have called and spoken to him before. Met him at the show last year in Canada. He is friendly and would not mind giving "free advice". Right now, I have 3 cartridges with him waiting to be done. Frankly, Soundsmith has confirmed that they have received the cartridges. They gave me a #. Recently they sent an email saying the cartridges are ready to be worked on an gave me an ETA. I believe that is good communication.

When it gets done, it will get done.

What about the possibility of simply not accepting any more cartridges until the current backlog is taken care of?

Many musical instrument makers have to do this, for one example.
I had Peter retip a Shelter 901 and a Phase Tech P3-G recently. Wait time was 16 weeks, which was a few weeks more than I was initially quoted, but I didn't mind. The work is wonderful. The Phase Tech sounds better than factory and tracks *much* better. I'm enjoying it so much I haven't even mounted the Shelter yet!
Peter Ledermann is one of the good guys in the industry. He is helpful and generous with his knowledge and his re-tipping service is extremely competitively priced. Remember too that if your cart is unrepairable there is no charge made for his time spent investigating/working on it. I don't think you can get a fairer deal than that.

From my experience Soundsmith operate a first-in first out system where carts are held in line and worked on in order. With one pair of hands and eyes the time before your cart gets looked at can vary depending on what else has come in before yours.

Some of you guys need to get real - no business is going to turn work away when the economy is like it is right now. And as others have said, all the other companies that do rebuilds are no faster but are more expensive. You've just got to accept that this is highly specialized work and you can't just go out and hire temporary help to increase throughput.
I sent in mine in May 2009 and I didn’t get it back till mid-Dec 2009 (Christmas present?); after listening to it for few hours, all my frustration and discomfit has varnished.
It is now Monday morning,and I have looked into Mr. Moffitt's cartridge issues. It was delayed due to:

1) The manner in which he sent it from England caused us to pay import duties for these two high end cartridges. They were held by UPS while we fought with them over this issue, which was never resolved. We finally had to pay to receive them.

2) One had been worked on by VDH, and has serious issues - I cannot tell when the serious damage to the suspension occurred. Repair is risky; it may fail completely during the attempt, at which point I do not get paid anything.
3) The other cartridge has some very serious manufacturing flaws. VERY serious. Then it was damaged by the customer. I have repaired the customer damage aspect, but need to see if there is a simpler way to resolve the GLARING manufacturing error. This cartridge NEVER worked properly, and it is a very, very high end cartridge.

As these were both seriously damaged and flawed units, I bypassed them to think about new ways of resolving their issues BEFORE contacting Mr. Moffatt above. I will now contact him with the rather limited possbilities. It may well be that I will lose all the time I have into BOTH these cartrdiges, and even more time lost if I attempt and fail.

I am constantly stretched between stopping what I am doing at the microscope and contacting customers. If I interrupted myself more, my throughput would be far less, and my rates would go up. Also, like your doctor, I might be forced to charge you whether I succeed or not.

I do stop from time to time, sit at my desk and make a series of calls. That is the most efficient way to work for me at this time. What I *should* put on our retipping/rebuilding page is that if you don't hear from me in the allotted time frame, your cartridge has more serious propblems than normally found, and I am trying to either be creative about how to rebuild it with new techniques for less cost to you, or find a VERY quiet evening to spend on it without interruption.

Unlike my verbal responses, I often fix tough problems by first thinking extensively.

Peter Ledermann/Soundsmith
I have to say I appreciate your time, experience, and pricing! Like I stated above(more or less in nicer words) many get caught up in these very expensive exotic carts. that ultimately many of us know they are in no way better or worse than one at 200 bucks in some cases(not all), and is exactly why you will continue getting many trying to give you a shot hoping to find that perfect deal and save them time and money.

This is exactly why many of these carts are only worth a "500.00 credit" from the manufacture but originally costs 5000! That has to tell somebody something when they get that deep into this hobby.

And by the way you should not feel to much guilt over this, fact of the matter these people took a shot, so A) they keep a cart. that is garbage anyway, no way to move forward, or B) they give you a shot and hope within the year they save it, and save them a lot of money. Your service is a difficult position to be in I am sure. Not saying this is an excuse for communication problems, separate issue.

Thank you for your responses and good luck with future business.
Thanks Peter. Your time is very valuable and i would not want you to spend additional time on cartridges that are not repairable. Those 2 cartridges were actually sent from Canada not England. I was not aware of the problem you have encountered with UPS on duties. There should be no duties between Canada and the USA under The North American Free Trade Agreement. I can understand duties if they had come to you from England. I am somewhat puzzled by this.

Whatever time you have invested in those 2 cartridges is valuable to you and me and i will pay for your time whether they are repairable or not. I do not expect you to do all this investigative work for free and no one should. Just let me know how much i owe you.

Note: Those 2 cartridges had been purchased "used" here on Audiogon as i did not have the means to purchase new. Never again will i do this. Live and learn!!!
Thanks again......

in my humble opinion this is certainly one of the most interesting and perspective-giving threads I have read on Audiogon thus far. Thank you everyone,

:) listening,

I have had many dealings with Peter and yes, things do sometimes take longer then expected, which is a good thing.

Soundsmith does not have an assembly line of low paid workers toiling away, it’s not a company run by bean counters looking to squeak out every ounce of profit from a limited range of products and services. It’s a company run by a man with real passion for what he does and the industry.

Peter contributes more to furthering truth and understanding in an industry full of snake oil then anyone I’ve met.

Try calling Koetsu and asking for the head designer!
I sent out my Dynavector XV1S to soundsmith in mid February for his $350 replacement "needle" (mine was broken off right at the base, amazingly my wife and kids DON"T KNOW how it happened.....I guess it was magic....) anyway..., They said the turnaround time was in 12 to 14 weeks, Recieved AS STATED April 12th!! THANK YOU SOUNDSMITH!!!
My amp and preamp took nine months to complete after an original estimate of six-eight weeks at Soundsmith.The resulting sound of the equipment is fantastic.The staff is not just a staff,it's more like a club of enthusiasts and curators.Peter is a hi-fi legend and very generous of spirit.He befriended my son and entertained him with a demonstration of tricks he has trained his dog to do.Then he gave us a tour of his showroom,dispite the fact that he was hosting an industry luncheon.We audio enthusiasts(spoiled children)are not buying mass produced products.We are purchasing limited production,mostly handmade,gizmos that are very specialized.We should be a bit more patient and Soundsmith should provide a little more realistic turnaround time and we'll all meet in the middle and enjoy the experience.
Well said, l2red! Tknif, Peter fixed my XV1s a few years back. Please post back on your thoughts of how it performs and how you think it has changed. TIA
Wake up get a real company!!
dan_ed, as soon as my new Graham phantom armwand arrives I will mount and let you know. Right now I'm Enjoyng my Van Den Hull Colibri XGP, stellar cartridge right out of the box!
Thanks Tjnif. Ok, Ebm. I'll bite. What's a real company, in your opinion?
I'm also curious Ebm....What do you mean "real company"??
I'm curious about Ebm's comment. Please care to elaborate a bit more.
I always get my cartdridge retip Transfiguration Orpheus through Bob Clark of Profundo. I get it back in a few weeks. Great service!!
Update, today is Sunday and Peter called me at home around noon. I had left a message Saturday to call me but he had a charity tuner/turntable set up day. He did send me an email though.

Long story short, he explained in length the challenges he's had with the 2 cartridges i have sent him. Badly damaged and flawed right from the manufacturer (one of them). We have agreed on a couple of options for both and he will proceed. Should hear back from him in a week or so.

I insisted that i wanted to pay for his time in the event that both can not get repaired. He insisted that per his policy, if he fails during the repair process, nothing is charged to the customer but appreciated the fact that i wanted to pay him. I think i will still send him a check if all fails. The guy is behind the microscope on a Sunday afternoon. WOW!!!!
Ebm, does Profundo do cartridge repairs? I don't see any mention of that service on their website? Could it be that you are trading in your cartridge for a rebuilt one? There is nothing wrong with that, most cartridge makers work that way. However, if there is another cartridge repair service of excellent quality available it would be good to know. It appears from the website that they only carry one cartridge.
I only upgrade my cardridge when its time no retip . I guess thats the only company.
Smoffatt, Peter is involved in a charity organization:

Direct Grace
If he will not accept payment in the case of failure, I'm sure a donation to the charity would be much appreciated.

BTW - the recordings available for purchase are well recorded and quite enjoyable.
Now you have me bewildered. Perhaps there is a language barrier at play?

I always get my cartdridge retip Transfiguration Orpheus through

I only upgrade my cardridge when its time no retip
Dear Dan_end: +++++ " However, if there is another cartridge repair service of excellent quality available it would be good to know. " +++++

I already try with two different cartridge repair sources, Soundsmith and VdH.

Soundsmith fixed two of my cartridges and other that the time he takes about the job in both cartridges were fine.

In the past I use VdH repair cartridge service with several LOMC cartridges: four times the Colibri, Koetsu Onyx, Goldbug, Highphonic, Ortofon, etc, etc. Every time with fine/first rate quality job and every time fixed job in no more than a week.

In the last year I send to VdH around 10 MM/MI cartridges with the same time response and with the same first rate quality job. I never had any single problem with VdH.

I'm an advocate/support the profesional VdH great skills/tools and responsability about.

Well, another option as you ask.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Thanks Raul. I did know about VdH. But then there is that added shipping cost, etc. ;-) Fortunately, I don't need such service as often as you most likely do since I only have 3 carts, so a few weeks doesn't matter to me.

04-19-10: Ebm
I only upgrade my cardridge when its time no retip . I guess thats the only company.

You are making an apple to apple comparison with your earlier derogatory comment. Soundsmith helps to revive many current and some old wonderful much cherished cartridges like Grace F9, B&O, etc and all this for a real world price. The company is an real asset for many vinylphiles at home and abroaad.

How is this comparable to you sending your Transfiguration Orpheus to your dealer/importer for a replacement/refreshment/retip or whatever..
Correction.I meant to day " you are not making apple to apple comparison..." with my earlier post.
A lot of folks in the UK use Expert Stylus. Most seem to indicate they do a fine job; there's a lot of testimony over at pink fish media. Alas, I don't think they have a website.

Expert Stylus Company
PO Box 3
KT21 2QD

Tel: 01372 276 604
Fax: 01372 276 147
Dear Dan_end: +++++ " But then there is that added shipping cost, " +++++

I ask VdH ship my cartridges by registered air mail service and this shipping service cost to México ( higher than USA ) around 23.00.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Don't forget, Raul, I'm a mere 250 miles from Soundsmith. :-)
I've got an older wood bodied Benz called the MO.9 It has a boron cantiliever and a nude elliptical stylus. I'd like to send it to Soundsmith to be refurbished but not sure of which service to use.

Do you think I should stay with the elliptical or go with one of the line contacts? I don't mind paying either the $250 or $350 fee if it means it will be substantially better.

Any recommendations?

This will be mounted on a Naim ARO tone arm, in case that matters at all.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.
Dear No_regrets: That depend of what you want. Do you like the MO.9 stock signature sound?, if yes then ask Soundsmith for a re-tipping the nearest to original cartridge status.

A change in cantilever build material and/or stylus shape means a different cartridge than the original/stock one.

When for any reason I don't send the cartridge to be fix it by the original manufacturer/designer and make/made it through Soundsmith or through VdH I ask always to be as near is possible to stock/original cartridge status. Other people likes to change that cartridge status.

So, what do you want?, your call.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Hello Raul,

Thank you for your reply.

Yes, I do like how the Benz MO.9 sounded when it was new very much. However, I notice that the newer wood bodied Benz's have switched to the line contact stylus instead of the eliptical stylus. I'm sure that this has changed the sound, but does that really mean it's better? I don't know.

I understand that switching to the Ruby cantiliever and line contact stylus would change the sound from how it originally was, but I do not know how it would change. Do you have any idea of how the character of the sound would change? What it's sonic attributes may be?

In stock form, I felt that the cartridge sounded very balanced from top to bottom, not highlighting any one area of the frequency. It had detail, but not "hyper-detail". It had warmth, but not bloated. It's dynamics sounded natural to me, not exagerated. I wonder how this all would change if the cantiliever was changed from boron to ruby, and the stylus from eliptical to line contact?

I guess if there is no way of knowing, then to be safe I should ask Soundsmith to retip as close to the original as possible, as you have suggested.

Thank you for your comments.
No Regrets
No_regrets, you will have no regret going with a line contact. It is a superior way to read the groove so it just is over an eliptical is the point(literally), that has nothing to do with the original cartridge design or tone. Cheaper stylus, less efficient is still a cheaper stylus and less efficient in your original, it will just make the details of your cartridge and its true potential come that much closer putting the better stylus on it, change the sound, almost likely no matter what to the up side if anything.

Don't worry about it trust me, go with the better line contact, the 250 version is fine and will NOT be a negative effect over the original that much is for sure in most cartridges, but making a miracle or sounding a whole lot better is not guaranteed either.

Don't worry about the downside is the point, there will not be one from everybody that has had the soundsmith treatment I am sure will tell you over and over. If this risk was built into a 2500 dollar investment getting a retip vs. a 250 then you might want to second guess, and the original at a cheaper price would be fine, but get the better stylus no doubt in this case.