Would Like To Hear From Strain Gauge Owners

I would like to hear from owners of Strain Gauge cartridges (particularly Soundsmith owners)as to how you like the strain gauge system compared to previous cartridges you have owned. Is there any drawbacks to the Soundsmith Strain Gauge system?

I am located in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. Is there any Soundsmith Strain Gauge owners in the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana area?

I read the review of the Strain Gauge system on Audiogon by Vac man. It was a very good review and answered many questions for me. I would like to hear from others who also own strain gauge cartridges.

Thanks in advance for any info that you can give me.
Hi Tom,

Vac Man's review describes the sound quite well, especially in relation to a ZYX UNIverse. I have had a SG for about six months and have owned four UNIverse carts so I feel confident about this comparison. When compared with some of the very best MCs,IMHO of course, it still stands up very well but I could see where some systems might benefit from another type of cartridge and phonostage combo. It is a complicated question to answer with no single correct answer. It is like when three friends of mine, whom all love pizza, went out to eat. We all ordered different toppings and all thought their pizzza was the best.

Come out to Boise and I will demo several great carts against the SG. Decide for yourself.
The Strain Guage definitely has its supporters. I heard it only in several shows. I came away loving the Voice & finding the Strain Gauge more analytical like CD. I think it is an extremely accurate cartridge. Is it what you are looking for will depend on your systen. Remember I am premising my comments based on brief listening. Others have agreed w me from the same experience.
Dear Slowhand: I'm not an owner but maybe what I posted on it could help you, at least is an opinion on the subject:

+++++ " Dear vac man: Very nice audio system you own and very nice review you made, congratulations for both!!!!, you are very good writer/reviewer.

I always try to put things on the " right " perspective ( for me and IMHO ) to understand it and to take benefit of/on it.

I own/owned and heard all the cartridges named here including your beloved SG and my experiences about were a little different from yours.

First I have to tell that as important is the matching in tonearm/MC-MM cartridge as important is the Phonolinepreamp ( maybe more critical that what we think ) where the cartridge signal must pass through.

I don't know which were/are the Phono stages-line ones that you use to heard your MC cartridges but I can see due to your comments about that no one made/make the right " honors " to those MC cartridges.

I can see too that you speak about tracking and refer to MC and MM cartridges as well the SG but I don't read anything about your MM cartridges that you own or owned. In reference to tracking I'm with some of the best MM cartridges over any other one ( unfortunately not today models. ) and you can read something about here: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1200430667

I heard the SG ( I have to say that with oly 30 hours on use. ) in a very very nice top quality home audio system and my first impression was: WOW!!! but after hearing for some time and after comeback from the initial and nice " surprise " I just don't like what I'm hearing specially on the high frequencies and a little in the un-natural tonal balance of its performance, I'm a little sensitive on both frequency extremes and after a time my ears were " tired " of that SG sound ( maybe because that SG was almost new . ) that was not analog like or music live one it was more like a digital source: a good one digital source ( DVDA ).

Fortunately ( for me ) I asking to change to a normal MC cartridge ( in this case was the Lyra Olympos-Essential phonlinpreamp. ) and even than the Olympos was not perfectly matched to that Phonolinepreamp and that I don't know for sure if the Schroder tonearm was the best tonearm match for it suddenly the " lights " goes ON again: overall no contest.
Next day after heard the Olympos switched very brief to the SG and IMHO was a truly deception.

I always said that the RIAA eq deviation makes a great differences in a MC or MM quality performance and only when you hear cartridges in a phono stage with a RIAA eq deviation lower than 0.1db can you understand how important is that subject.

You have to take in count here that the RIAA eq. is a curve where any frequency deviation build colorations on almost three music octaves and this is IMHO what you was hearing in your MC cartridges through your past phono stages: high RIAA eq deviations, not the cartridge design.

IMHO the SG performance in its today status it can't even the very best MC/MM cartridges when these cartridges are in the right tonearm and with the right Phonolinepreamp, this means in even condition/circumstance than the SG matching set-up.

The SG sounds different? absolutely but IMHO and with all my respect to you and the designer: not better.

Anyway, a very learning and interesting review.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul. " +++++

IMHO I don't think that the SG ound match to weel with your Gallo speakers.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear friends: Now I can understand, between other things, why the SG sound quality performance is different, please read the page 13 on this Italian review where you can see that the SG frequency response does not mimic the RIAA eq., there are frequency deviations that " build " those differences that I heard.

We have to remember that what is in the recording follow the RIAA eq. standard and on playback and to be near to the recording the cartridge/phono stage: MC/MM or SG must mimic it, this is not happening with the SG and that's why the differences that we can hear.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Sorry, here it is the link:


Regards adn enjoy the music.

Why do you think the SG would not sound good with the Gallo speakers?
Dear Slowhand: +++++ " with crystal clear highs thanks to Gallo's exclusive electrostatic like tweeter ...." *****

for what I heard on the SG its response in that frequency range could add t much energy down there. I know very well those Gallo and if IMHO them has a critical area that is on that tweeters but like anything else: you can try it and see what happen, take in count that with the SG your Supratek will be out of the " equation ".

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear friends: According with what we can see in fig.4 the SG frequency response it is not only not following the RIAA curve ( with small deviations like other MC/MM phono stages.) but IMHO it takes a totally different " path ": it is an equalization over the RIAA eq that from my point of view is unacceptable with the today RIAA standards in the recordings that is the way how almost all the LPS that you, me and anyone else have were recorded.

IMHO the SG response needs a different recording standards!!!!!!!! and nothing is wrong with that if the RIAA accept to make the changes that the SG needs: of course that this is out of question/order.

Now I really understand why sounds to me so un-natural.

IMHO it is useless to make comparisons between the SG and MC/MM cartridges: both are totally different from the point of view of what information give us each one: the MC/MM according with the RIAA eq which with the recording was recorded and the SG an equalized information out of the RIAA standards, no I have to pass on the SG in his today status.

Now if the designer decide to go with the RIAA standard and not with his own ones then things could change for the better but again in its today status the SG IMHO is a device for other circumstances not for play our LPs.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dgad's comments is exactly what I heard. I heard the SG vs The Voice. I much preferred the Voice. I can see why some like the SG. It's quick, explosive, transparent and much like what Raul said, it was just WOW! at first. The fireworks did not last too long. Don't get me wrong, it (SG) is a mighty fine sounding cartridge but not my cup of tea. The differece was the SG made me listen to the sonics while the Voice made me listen to the music.

It may be time for me to jump in here. While I apprecaite all the comments, and empathize with those who love audio and the attempt to explain what they hear though technical terms, there comes a point where it makes sense for the designer to make a stab at clearing the air. I will address two issues: 1) Relevant factual information that might shed some light, and 2) Technical information intended to both enlighten and confound, strictky due to the real world complexity of why things sound as they do.

1) The Italian article did a very good job of explaining to a general audience the difference between "velocity" devices and "displacement" devices, and how RIAA is handled. That was, in part, their objective - it was to inform.

2) Comments that attempt to quantize one's experience by referring to amplitude pertubations are equivalent to four blind men each describing what an elephant is by touching varied parts - and invariably giving an incomplete view of the animal. Sound is complex - yes - if there is a terrible amplitude anomoly, it makes for bad or unlistenable products. But audio has a long litany of products that are quite wonderful that are not "flat".

The human ear lives in the time domain - if this fact is not understood by enthusiasts approaching the field, it is part of audio 101. There are those who insist on .1dB flatness without undertanding that a full sytem tuned and maximized for flatness often introduces phase or time error that are a cure worse than the disease. The small pertubation bumps one sees on a speaker reponse are just that - phase interractions. They give, in part, the tonal flavor of a product.

Although we have made some recent changes on our preamp design to realize a very small change in amplitude and phase flatness, the original product was well received by most listeners and owners. If the frequency response were very bad, that would not have been the case.

What is important to gather (which is hard to do)is what time errors occur in any product, how many, where do they exists in the freq domain, how far do they spread, and how serious are they? This describes only one part of the problem when trying to use technical terms to exlain what we hear. We listen to speakers that are far from flat, in environments that are far from perfect, and often get very good results. Why is that??

The answer in part is that. What is the rise time of the product (how fast is it). Does it ring (resonate) if it is a transducer. How much time shift is there, and how much. THEN, what is the overall response.

If a products design criteria are in accord with certain critical parameters that physics say are good things, it may in fact work well. From then on, your ears are the judge. But do get the laws straight. Amplitude flatness can easily be done at the sacrifice of other MORE IMPORTANT parameters.

Peter Ledermann/President/Soundsmith

Dear Peter: With al respect to you and IMHO when any device has a good design that conforms with the standards of the audio industry ( in this case the RIAA eq. ) it does not needs any kind of excuses/explanation like the ones that you are given here.

That is not the main subject from my point of view:

my main subject is that in today status the SG response does not conforms according to the RIAA standard eq., I'm sure that you understand perfectly the term/word STANDARD and the whys the RIAA give the precise conformation of the RIAA curve eq.

From my point of view, and please correct me about, your SG design is out of that RIAA standards and is not a device to hear recordings ( LPs ) that were recorded under the RIAA standard eq. Of course that you can hear it in the same manner that we can add an equalizer to our systems but that is not the point.

Peter, I think that all of us really appreciate if you give the answer to this question: could you tell us if the SG was designed to conform with the RIAA standard eq. with which all the LPs were recorded?, please a simple answer: yes or no.

Thank you in advance.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, why does it always sound like you are justifying/defending your own marketing brochure? And, you use no disclaimers? ;-)
Dear Dan: I'm not and I don't need to justifying/defending any own marketing brochure, period.

Seems to me that you don't understand almost nothing about the RIAA standard eq and its several whys on the recording process and why about its existence.

First than all you have to understand what does means STANDARD ( a norm/rule/method ) and second who or whom are the RIAA that are the ones that puts the RIAA eq standard in the recording process, you have to understand too that exist and it is proved only one RIAA eq standard and imho the SG from Soundsmith does not conform according to that STANDARD, that's all: well not so simple you have to understand all the implications that means to play an LP out of the RIAA standard eq., it does not sense to me: make sense to you?

I'm not an owner ( and in its current status operation/design I never be one of them. ) of that SG device but IMHO I think that is fair that the owners/customers know what kind of SG response are they hearing, I'm not saying bad or good response this is not the subject.

What they are hearing is not what was recorded because the SG device does not performs with the standard RIAA eq., it has its own eq. out of the STANDARD.

Now, if you agree that it is better to hear your own LPs with a device that it is out of the RIAA Standards then buy it and put on sale what you own for that purpose at this moment, nothing wrong with that.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Peter: I don't want that you can/could think that my posts on your SG device are because I'm against you or against your device,no I'm not and I'm not questioning the SG device by it self design and has nothing to do with 0.1db figures elsewhere.

You fix at least two of my cartridges where you made an excellent work and I support you about here an elsewhere on your re-tipping very high quality " performance ", no doubt about.

The SG subject is really simple: I'm not saying that it is a bad device ( I don't like what I heard in the same manner that are people that like it, it is only a priorities subject. ) or that your design work is bad too: NO, what I'm saying is that IMHO and from what I heard and read your SG does not conforms according to the RIAA eq standard and there is nothing wrong with that because you or any one else can/could design anything you want.

Subject is that almost all the people ( including some of the SG owners. ) have questions about and these questions needs answers and the best source about is you.

Maybe you don't want to give us ( or to me ) a precise answer but IMHO it will be healthy to do it: there is nothing to hide about, or is it? why to leave to the controversy your very well made SG design? don't you think that your today and future customers deserve to know what is happening " around "?

Again, thank you in advance.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, I know and appreciate that you are offering your honest and knowledgeable opinion.

However, this whole .1 dB is your interpretation of what is necessary. This subject has been discussed here several times. Your opinions on this as well as the valuable opinions of other phonostage designers on this issue can be found in the archives with a quick search. I think most of us who have even the slightest knowledge of Paul's strain guage know about the RIAA thing.

When you get on this RIAA kick I think it would be more ethical of you to add that you are a designer/manufacturer of a commercial preamp that has a built-in phonostage that competes against Paul's SG.
I do not own a strain gauge cartridge and know very little about the technology, but I'm interested in the product because it has received some good reviews and I've read comments from many happy owners. I'm considering replacing/upgrading my Sumiko Celebration cartridge.

In my opinion, Raul raises an important question and that is: does or should a particular piece of equipment conform to certain agreed upon standards. In this case the RIAA curve which is necessary/essential for the proper/accurate reproduction of music played back on an LP. Some phono stages even offer different curves (selectabe by the user)for a more accurate reproduction of certain recordings.

Could we hear from the designer on this simple point?
I have heard the s/g and too thought it not my glass of orange juice. Although I couldn't say what I didn't like about it...it just didn't seem "right". I thank Rauliruegas for shedding light on the subject.
Ooops! Sorry, that's Pete's SG, of course.

I always use the cup of tea expression. Glass of Orange Juice is a new one. IMO, a cartridge is more like tea and less like orange juice. Come to think of it, maybe a glass of Scotch or for the Irish Whiskey.
I thought it would provide for more interesting reading than the trite...
I have never been big on "standards" or measurements. I will take a piece of equipment that sounds great to my ears over one that measures great. I have spoken to 3 people that own the strain gauge cartridge and all 3 say it sounds great to them. Not all of them feel it is the best they have ever heard, but they all feel it is extremely good. I found one person that owns a pair of Gallo's and has heard the SG on them. he feels they are a great match.
Dear Dan: You like other people have a big mis-understood about , the SG device does not compete with any other cartridge/phono stage because it is out of the RIAA standard WITH WHICH ALMOST ALL YOUR LPS WERE RECORDED!!!: CAN/COULD YOU UNDERSTAND THE MAIN AN CRITICAL SUBJECT HERE??????, you can't compare apples with oranges.

The SG is not a " normal " cartridge it is a different device, for say the least.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Peterayer: +++++ " Some phono stages even offer different curves (selectabe by the user)for a more accurate reproduction of certain recordings. " +++++

yes, for Lps recorded before the RIAA standard, as a fact that was one of the RIAA targets: that stop to have so many different curves from different record manufacturers that was and will be a big " problem " because if the RIAA don't " stop " ( thank that they convince to the recording industry all the advantages that will be to take one and only one standard curve for the years to come ) at that time maybe today we could have 20-30 different curves ( from 20-30 different record manufacturers. ) and then we need it phono stages with 20-30 different curves!!!!!!!! to play each one different, my God: could you imagine?

Almost all the Lps you own and the ones that are recorded in this days are recorded according to the RIAA standard eq. and if you want to " read it " you need to read it with he RIAA standard process, Peter the SG does not " read " with the RIAA standard NORM.

It is very simple: if you are " reading " a book that came writing in English for you can understand it perfectly you have to read it in English not in French my friend. Now if you can uderstand this then you can understand that that is exactly what the SG is doing: " reading " an English book in French ( because it does not understand the English language. ), interesting no!. Well this is exactly what you hear/read when you play a LP through the SG device.

Now, please any one of you , if you have any doubt of what I posted or if you can prove that I'm totally wrong please come here an explain in deep why?: thank you in advance.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Slowhand: +++++ " I have never been big on "standards" or measurements.... " +++++

unfortunately if you can't understand about the RIAA eq. standard then it is useless to have a " decent " dialog with you about because ( with all respect ) you can't understand nothing and this is a big big problem: more that you think.

+++++ " I will take a piece of equipment that sounds great to my ears over one " +++++

maybe in other subject I could agree with your statement but in the SG/RIAA standard IMHO your argument is totally out of order.

+++++ " I found one person that owns a pair of Gallo's and has heard the SG on them. he feels they are a great match. " +++++

I respect your friend opinion but IMHO his music sound priorities and knowledge are really and very poor.

Peter we have to grow-up on our audio/music learning curve, growing-up in the right direction.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dan: Btw, which is your point?, please try to enrich the thread and tell us something " new " and coherent on the main subject, I think that we could learn if you do it.

regards and enjoy the music.
This thread has veered off in a weird direction. Here's my attempt to inject some objectivity and balance.

I own a Soundsmith Strain Gauge and have also had the opportunity of playing The Voice cartridge in my system. Further, I've heard others' Strain Gauges in five different systems/rooms.

What the Strain Gauge cartridge does uniquely is track better, with less groove noise and better transient response than any cartridge I have heard, period.

Talking with Mr Ledermann, I believe this is due to the very low effective moving mass - of the order of a tenth of the best moving coil. With so little inertia, it is inevitable that the stylus traces more accurately. A consequence of the lower moving mass is the cantilever assembly's resonant frequency is way out of the audio band. It is thought by many that what we perceive as groove noise is in fact resonances from the cantilever/stylus assembly.

To shed some light on the RIAA debate - my understanding is that the strain gauge, being a displacement device, has an inherent roll off of 6 dB/octave. Mr Ledermann has made an engineering decision that the cartridge's frequency response is sufficiently close to the RIAA curve that it does not require equalisation within the preamplifier.

So the preamplifier contains only gain stages. This means an absence of reactive components in the signal path (i.e. capacitors - which introduce phase shifts). The argument (to which I subscribe) is that the ear is far more sensitive to time/phase anomalies than frequency response anomalies. Let's face it, even the best "reference" speaker has a response curve that looks like a mountain range - with way more influence on what we hear than a deviation from the RIAA curve!

In my view, RIAA compliance is a red-herring (unless you are promoting a product that has it as its main selling point). Choosing a product on its RIAA performance would be like checking the temperature inside your fridge before deciding what to wear outside.

So, what's the consequence of Mr Ledermann's design choice? I would say better insight, a total absence of "veiling" with remarkably precise image placement and three-dimensionality and a sense of "rightness."

Let me share an experience that I think illustrates the paradigm shift that the Strain Gauge represents. I was invited to take my unit to the home of a highly respected British audio reviewer (he writes for Stereophile plus several UK audio magazines). On intial hearing he was quite uncomfortable because "it didn't sound like vinyl."

He played some reference LPs and then compared them to his current reference - a Japanese moving coil. He then fired up his custom modifed CD player, which he regards as the best in the world. He played the same reference cuts on CD then on the Strain Gauge. His conclusion was the Strain Gauge was better than his CD player and got closer to the master tape than anything else he had heard.

I think this illustrates the difference between the Strain Gauge technology and all other phono cartridges. I can understand some comments about it sounding like digital - you do get the detail and speed of digital but it's way better than CD - it is less fatiguing to listen to (none of the hardness of CD) and there is a delicacy and nuance in the higher frequencies that is totally absent from CD.

On many LPs, The Voice runs the Strain Gauge very close. It doesn't quite have the same ability to extract the last detail and nuance and it isn't quite as explosively dynamic. However, due to it having the same stylus and cantilever and a lower effective moving mass than a moving coil, it shares the same traits and strengths as the Strain Gauge.

I believe it is the "softening" effect of the magnetic induction process with The Voice (remember the Strain Gauge is literally measuring precisely the undulations in the groove whereas there will always be some third order distortion product in a magnetic circuit) which leads some audiophiles to prefer it, however for me, the Strain Gauge is the more faithful and compelling component.

Finally, I would say that the Strain Gauge is not for everyone. I have a friend who listens mostly to 70s/80s rock music - he brought along a Yes LP, and that sort of compressed, distorted music doesn't really utilze the strengths of the Strain Gauge.

I would recommend anyone interested to listen and make their mind up for themselves. I had the advantage of hearing and deciding I wanted one before there were reams of audiophile drivel posted online about the product.
Raul, my point is that you have shared your opinions rather strongly about your business competitors product in a public forum that is read by people all around the world without once even mentioning that fact. Peter clearly identified himself, why don't you do him the same courtesy?

I have not disputed, nor do I disagree with, much of what you have to say regarding the RIAA curve and the strain gauge implementation.

I completely agree with you. I am not qualified to debate the merits of strict adherence to the RIAA curve, which you constantly tout as one of the major features of your own product. Nope, I won't do it. But I will offer up this link to a thread for those who really want to know other opinions besides just yours.

What Makes a Good RIAA or Line Stage?

That's it, I'm done. For me to continue in this thread will only offer Raul more excuses to hijack this thread even more.
I will be glad to respond; please forgive the slowness of it, or if I do not respond further as I am only now back from the hospital yesterday, after 5 weeks of serious pneumonia, and am very weak and shaky. I simply do not have the strength or time to read/respond blogs, but so many have called me to bring my attention to this one. I have healing, and some reading work to do and to get back to real work hopefully soon.

Firstly let me say that I am in full agreement with the comments in this blog of not identifying yourself as a manufacturer. That should calibrate anything you have to say, period. Most manufacturers who have been in this industry for any length of time, as I have for 38 years, know the rules: never say anything publicly, or privately, about anyone else’s product. It is called etiquette, and not shooting yourself in the foot, or a bit higher. One must realize how small this industry is. Attacking products is not only counter-productive as it causes of loss of credibility, but it can misinform those who are trying to learn as well as damage what is left of a tiny industry. You may want to check this with some notables in the industry and not just take my word for it.

To your question. Is the Strain Gauge designed to conform with RIAA – of course it is. Please review my credentials in the industry as engineer at RAM audio, Director of Engineering at Bozak, Senior research engineer at the IBM T.J. Watson research labs, and owners/design of Soundsmith for over 38 years where I have taught and produced many speaker, amplifier, preamplifier, and cartridge products, including now over 40 magnetic cartridge designs.

I am aware that I have “stupid” tattooed on my forehead, an event that happened many years ago in a Galaxy far, far away that I do not care to be reminded about. But why would I go to all the trouble to produce a cartridge and preamp system that doesn’t conform to RIAA? Suicidal maybe???

RIAA conformation. I own and use two Neumann Lathes for a charity project called DirectGrace records. It is intended to rescue children from forms of slavery, including child prostitution, something that occurs as I sure you are aware in large numbers in Mexico City. The Neumann lathes have “adjustments” for RIAA to keep the system tweaked to “conform” as it can and does drift. So do the lacquer masters on which we cut, which change the response. So does the plating and stepped processes to make a stamper, as do the vinyl and pressing parameters used make a record. You may want to speak to real folks like my friend Lincoln Mayorga, who well understands how this arduous process can lead far off RIAA. But I deviate more than .1 dB –

Tone arm interactions can vary RIAA performance quite a bit. So what do you have when you are done?? If you are tweaking for RIAA for .1dB, try tightening the headshell screws and re-measuring. Or maybe mass load the headshell and try again. Or adjust the azimuth, VTF or SRA. You are aiming at a moving target. Are you moving your preamp gun constantly??? It seems it is aimed at me right now.

I have measured the SG in many arms, and recently in my Schroder Reference SG, the new SG design (which you did not hear) it was +/- 1dB from 50 Hz to 12K in conformation with RIAA. And you know what?? I cried when the record was over.

The rest is magic.

Peter Ledermann./President/Soundsmith
Dear Slowlearner: +++++ " Attacking products is not only counter-productive.... " +++++

first than all I'm not attaking the SG, what I'm saying and confirm here is that IMHO it does not conform according the RIAA eq standard: I respect your opinion that it do it but everything you have in your web site and what you posted here tell nothing precise about.

All the " history/facts " that you posted on the RIAA response deviations with changes in VTF or VTA or with a different tonearm is our " bread of everyday " and this is not the subject because what you are saying is that why take care on the RIAA eq. deviation when there are so many deviations all over the audio chain, well that is a point of view that I respect but certainly I don't agree because I think that we must care the audio signal at any single link in the audio chain trying to loose the less and adding the less too.

I know that your trade-offs and music sound reproduction priorities are unique and different from the ones I support but things are that I heard the SG in a very good audio system ( with low system distorions ) and I heard there against a MC cartridge with the same LPs and from that very first moment, and way before I knew that the SG does not conforms with the RIAA standard eq ( I know/understand this in the last 48 hours ), I don't like the overall SG performance against other MC/MM cartridges that I heard and I told this to the SG owner inclusive I remember that we play with a LP that are one of my reference LPs ( Janis Ian/P. Barber ) trying to hear something that the SG was loosing in the HF, even Steve modified a little the VTA and things improve a little but never with the definition that I'm accustom on it but this is not the whole history about, only an example. Today I undertand why the SG has not that HF definiton I'm talking about and why its performance is so un-natural.

I don't take care why its sound is so different till two days ago when I made some research about.

+++++ " it was +/- 1dB from 50 Hz to 12K in conformation with RIAA " +++++

Peter, you made an " assault " to my intelligence, common sense and knowledge with that statement.

first the RIAA eq standard frequency range figure is : 20hz to 20khz not the range you measure.

second are you saying that a very high ( IMHO always ) 2 ( two ) db deviation goes in conformation with RIAA when almost all the phono stages out there that conforms according to the RIAAA standard are in no more than 0.5 db?,
from your point of view I have to assume that if in the future any other different " cartridge " device with say: 5-10 db on RIAA deviation can/could conforms with it?, my God!

Peter IMHO if exist an audio link where every tyni frequency deviation is showing it is on the phono stage through its curve RIAA eq. deviation where any single frequency deviation affects almost three octaves!!!!!, you can hear deviation on the 0.1db range ( at least ) and you are telling me that 2db is the way to go but more important that this is that you say that comforms with the RIAA eq. standard !! ??????????????

Here it is a link where another person that I respect ( like you ) and that I think is very " responsible " and with a high knowledege about and he was asking ( in different words ) and questioning almost the same I'm and from my point of view it does not matters to ask because if we don't ask how we can learn or be sure on anything?:

Peter I don't have any single/simple/minute attitude to attack you in anyway so don't put on " defense ", I'm only trying to have things in the right perpective ( Dan: believe it or not ) because at this moment my " common sense " still tell me that the SG is an additional source device but not an alternative to other MC/MM cartridges, I will consider it an alternative to MC/MM cartridges when your design conforms correctly in a precise way with the RIAA eq. standard.. Peter why don't try it, seems to me that that could be great and a very good alternative.

Peter, one way or the other almost all of us are in the same " boat/ship " and we are looking for almost the same main quality audio music sound reproduction performance targets.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Peter, my best wishes to full recovery on your health.

DISCLAIMER: Rauliruegas is co-designer and co-manufacture of the Essential 3160 Solid State Preamp with built-in phonostage.
Dear Raul;

I cant read anymore of your posts. Also, the sign off

"Regards and enjoy the music"

is like a diet soda bad aftertaste, and the music now sounds more off-key, not nearly as clear, and nowhere as much fun. Thanks for taking the joy out of my day, and oh yes, for the belated "top of your mind" after-thought on my health. Etiquette is not your long suit.

signing off for a long, long time,

peter ledermann/soundsmith
Dear Peter: Really sorry to hear that.

Regards and enjoy the music.

Thanks for chiming in. I have heard the SG and I think it sounds great! I am so sick of hearing about this RIAA standard I could puke. I posted this thread to find out if other people liked what they heard from the SG. Raul, a simple no would have sufficed. Raul, you posted 15 times on this thread and basically just repeated the same thing over and over. I did not know you were a designer of a phono stage. Thanks Dan ed for pointing this out. Raul, you lost all credibility with me by slamming someone else's product and not stating up from that you were a designer and competitor.


I am sorry to hear about your illness. I hope you are well soon. I would like to talk to you more about the SG when you are feeling better.
Dear Slowhand: That's why I have to repeat and repeat: I'm not a competitor, the SG can't compete with MC/MM cartridges: can you understand it after " repetitive " 15 posts?.

I'm not slamming, I'm trying to pointing out/find out what is " around " the SG to understand what kind of device it is.

Between other things this is what you can read in the Soundsmitht web-site:

+++++ " No "RIAA" filter multi-stage preamp circuitry is required or used in our preamp - We have just one ULTRA clean gain stage between you and your music (RIAA compensation IS required for "velocity" sensitive magnetic cartridges - The Strain Gauge is a "displacement" device......which automatically compansates for the RIAA EQ, " ++++++

when almost any one read that a " cartridge ( SG ) " does not needs a RIAA stage because " automatically compensates for the RIAA eq.: you have to ask ( only by curiosity ) how is that?.
At least one other people ( read the link I posted ) ask about and no one( like you) was " angry " because of that. Maybe you can't understand the importance to know how the SG works but IMHO I think that I make me a favor to learn about and maybe some other people can/could appreciate that.

Slowhand if something has a white color and I ask you which is the color of that " something ": what is your answer? because mine is " white " IMHO the things must be called for their " names " its precise names, that's the way I'm: not to polite, NO.

With al respect to you I don't care if I lost credibility with you only because I want to find the true: I don't care I always go for the true, nothing wrong for that. It is lewd/improper try to " hide " the true when you have it in front of you, if for this I lost my credibility then : welcome!

Regards and enjoy the music.
In case some of you may not know, it was my Strain Gauge that Raul heard and made him an expert on same.

Open letter to Raul,

Why don't you drop it. Maybe YOU need something repeated 16 times in order for it to sink in but most of us do not.
Everyone knows how you feel about this. Your ignorance on the subject is so played.

All you are doing Raul, is chasing off the very people that, that unlike you, have something of REAL value to share with fellow Audioginers. You have done it before and I for one do not appreciate it one bit.

Please Raul, just go away. And if you don't, and I am sure you won't, maybe the good folks here would enjoy reading what REALLY happened in my listening room.
Slowhand, if you haven't seen the Positive Feedback report of Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, you may wish to check it out:Positive Feedback - the exhibitors are listed in alphabetical order, so the entry is about half way down the page.

Also, at Audio Fest, Michael Fremer in his seminars was recommending visitors hear the Soundsmith room. I know he's a controversial reviewer, but personally I have always found his observations on equipment useful.
Please let us know where we can read what really happened in your listening room. I, for one, am now quite interested. Having kept up with this post over the last few days, my thoughts about the SG have gone back and forth. I've never heard one, but now, I would really like to. I see validity to both Raul and Peter's points. The debate about how much the SG is off the RIAA curve seems to be in dispute and the range of the measurement (20-20khz or 50-12khz)is not consistent. Perhaps it really should be settled by listening to the device.
Raul's first defense is to try make himself the victim.

Raul's second defense is denial.

That's why I have to repeat and repeat: I'm not a competitor, the SG can't compete with MC/MM cartridges: can you understand it after " repetitive " 15 posts?.

I think anyone reading this thread can see how truly self-serving and arrogant many of Raul's actions on Audiogon are. And he doesn't even have the courage to identify himself properly. He CANNOT get away with that on any other audio forum but here on Audiogon because the moderators of those forums would force him to register and identify himself as a manufacturer or leave.

Raul, stick to the threads where people love the kool aid you are serving.
Peterayer, No, I don't think the debate is about the RIAA curve. It's an old, tired argument that Raul brings up at every opportunity. Raul has seems to have an obsession with flat frequency response. Anything that does not have ruler flat response is fatally flawed in his mind. While flat response is certainly a good thing, it is only one of many characteristics that make for good sound. Focusing exclusively one measure is misleading and is sure to result in poor sound. Peter made this point very well, "Amplitude flatness can easily be done at the sacrifice of other MORE IMPORTANT parameters". Raul consistently ignores this concept and just launches into the flat response argument again and again...

Back to the topic of this thread, I have heard the SG on a number of occasions and have been able to compare it to a variety of other high end carts. The SG is one of the finest cartridges I have heard.
Dear vetterone: +++++ " Your ignorance on the subject is so played " +++++

that's why I want to learn about and that's why I made an still do a research on the subject and share my findings and opinion, What's wrong with that? why are so angry? it is because you buy the SG with out knowing about?.
I think that I have the right to do it in the same manner that you have the right to post any thing you want.

Steve I can don't agree with you on some subject but I respect your right to say it, could you make the same for me?

Vetterone, read again what Sounsmith states in their web-site: +++++ " The Strain Gauge is a "displacement" device......which automatically compansates for the RIAA EQ, " ++++++

I don't know you but IMHO this is not true ( far from there ) and this has a name: deceit.
Every time that I go in deep in the research on the subject I find more things that are " wrong ": why do you push me to follow an in deep research on the SG?

Here what an open mnd person like Peterayer posted:

+++++ " . I see validity to both Raul and Peter's points. The debate about how much the SG is off the RIAA curve seems to be in dispute and the range of the measurement (20-20khz or 50-12khz)is not consistent. " +++++, this is all about, simple.

Steve, not only blame me, please let me know why and where I'm wrong: do you think that the SG device conforms in a precise way according to the RIAA standard eq? if you did/do please let us know how is that and why?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Teres: With all respect, yes the debate is about the RIAA curve not a simple " flt frequency " subject like you states. This is not a debate about trade-offs that I never ignore like you say.

I hope you can uderstand that: RIAA curve subject, a very delicate and " deep " important/critical issue.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Dear Flyingred: Only to clarify, the subject is not if the SG sounds good or bad because this is each person/system dependent, the subject is different and IMHO more " deep " and important than a simple: like me or don't like me opinion. Even you can read my posts and I never say it is a bad device/product/manufacturer because that's is not the issue.

I wish you could understand my point of view on the subject.

Regards and enjoy the music.
What happens when a phono stage that is highly optimized to adhere to a RIAA curve meets a record that is cut from a non-RIAA standard?
Some stages have the ability to switch between different RIAA standards so I guess not all records are cut the same?
Dear Peterayer: here you can read about RIAA eq curve and you can observe on the diagram that the frequency range is: 20-20khz, I think that any one can confirm this RIAA information:


Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul you could not be more wrong. The subject is exactly about how the SG sounds - please refer to the OP at the top of this thread where he wrote:
"I would like to hear from owners of Strain Gauge cartridges (particularly Soundsmith owners)as to how you like the strain gauge system compared to previous cartridges you have owned. Is there any drawbacks to the Soundsmith Strain Gauge system?"

If we take the OP at his word then your participation is not welcome, as you do not own the cartridge that is under discussion. I cannot imagine how much arrogance it takes to re-state the same point of view 18 times (and counting) in the same thread. For some unexplicable reason the words "idiot savant" and "troll" come to mind.

I cannot understand why anyone would obsess about flat frequency response when, for example, most people here know that changing the brand of resistor used to load a moving coil will change how it sounds, yet all measurable parameters of the circuit remain the same.

Back in the seventies, when people didn't know any better, they bought audio equipment on the published specification - the Japanese amps would seduce buyers with crazy low distortion figures and flat frequency responses. Since then subjective reviews have proven to be way more useful. Catch up Raul.
Dear Flyingred: +++++ " I cannot understand why anyone would obsess about flat frequency response when ... " +++++

I'm sorry but I'm talking about RIAA standar curve eq and how the SG device does not conform according it. What I'm tellng is not precise about " flat frequency " but about RIAA eq curve, could you uderstand that?, thank you in advance.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, You still don't get it. I suggest that you read this and other responses carefully before responding.
1) The RIAA curve is about flat frequency response. The record is recorded with the inverse of the RIAA curve and applying RIAA equalization produces flat frequency response.
Deviation from the RIAA curve produces frequency response deviations. You are a preamp designer?
2) The SG transducer (unlike traditional cartridges) inherently produces a frequency response curve that closely follows the RIAA curve so there is no need to do equalization in the preamp. I believe that this is one of the strengths of the SG. There is a significant sonic cost from any sort of equalization. That cost is eliminated with the SG. The down side is that the inherent equalization may not be as precise as well implemented RIAA equalization so the resulting frequency response may be less than perfect. I say "may" because I don't know the details about how closely the SG mimics RIAA.

As Flyingred aptly pointed out this thread is about how the SG sounds. I think it sounds great. Apologies for my part in the diversion.
Great job, Raul! You've turned the discussion to all about you!
Dear Teres: Of course that when the cartridge signal pass through the phono stage what you want and the RIAA permit is a flat frquency response, but that's not exactly of what I'm refering to: sorry.

++++ " The SG transducer (unlike traditional cartridges) inherently produces a frequency response curve that closely follows the RIAA curve " +++++

this is eaxctly what the web-site states but IMHO is not true: could you explain how closely the SG follows the RIAA curve when Peter it self posted that between 50hz-12khz the deviation is a very high: 2 db, when every phono stage out there ( even the ones that measures " worst " on the RIAA deviation ) that conform according to the RIAA standard eq. measures as low as only 0.5db over the whole RIAA curve not only a part of that curve like the SG? do you know if between 20hz-50hz and 12khz-20khz is higher the SG deviation?.

Chris, I'm speaking of facts and IMHO till now you don't have any about like any one of my detractors.

I wonder why an intelligent person like you can posted what you post about.

Chris: how closely performs your TTs against the 33.33rpm or 45rpm standard TT speed? do you think that tiny ( very tiny ) speed TT deviations affects the quality performance on the recording that we/you are hearing? , because those TT speeds: 33.33/45rpm are the " Standards " and the ones to follow in exactly the same way the RIAA eq. curve. why does not exist TT with 36/49rpm? , you can play an LP on these weird speeds but the performance will be totally different right?

Well, IMHO the 2db SG deviation in that incomplete frequency range it is not only not close to the RIAA curve but far far away and totally different than the RIAA curve and that's why we hear a totally different performance through the SG.

So IMHO it is totally unfair to compare any MC/MM cartridge against the SG because the MC/MM ones cartridge signal that we hear/heard through the phono stages have a totally different equalization curve than the SG and due to that fact its performance is totally different.
Why is so difficult to some of you to understand that simple facts?.

Regards and enjoy the music.