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Soundsmith Aida Ebony Phono Cartridge: Looking For Your Last Best Cartridge? This Could Be It, At A Decent Price!

Soundsmith Aida Ebony Moving Iron Phono Cartridge“This seemed to me what Shure, with all their in-house engineering skill and experience could never quite achieve. That elusive combination of low mass, high compliance, and supertracking (a phrase they coined, I think), was accompanied by the seeming necessity of removable stylus assemblies, and cleaning brushes, which, I discovered, not only compromised the intimate groove interface, but also were quite audibly microphonic in truly revealing phono systems, adding a chatter of their own to the record-reproducing conversation.”

Origin Live Calypso Turntable and Encounter Tonearm

Origin Live Calypso Turtable“The Calypso is second from bottom in Origin Live’s stable of turntables, a belt-driven, non-suspended design with an outboard motor pod. In keeping with OL’s design philosophy (which can be read in detail here) the Calypso’s plinth and sub-chassis are a careful combination of several different materials, sized, shaped, positioned and joined together just so to minimize resonance….”

Clearaudio Concept Turntable, Classic Cartridge and Verify Tonearm

Clearaudio Concept Turntable“The Clearaudio Concept is a solid chassis design, with spiked feet, an attractive brushed aluminum band surrounding the black chassis. The tonearm is called the Verify, and is a unipivot with a magnetic bearing for very low friction, while the Classic cartridge is a quite high-output moving magnet type with a very naked, seemingly non-replaceable stylus…”

Dynavector DV-20X H Moving Coil Phono Cartridge [AIG Archives]

Dynavector DV-20X H Moving Coil Cartridge

“I installed the DV-20X H in a SAEC headshell, and with its real weight and tracking weight being very close to that of both the Ortofon MC-3000II and the Kontrapunkt b, I could easily swap it in and out of the arm for comparisons, though its much higher output than the former necessitated substantial level reduction to match. The cartridge comes in a clear plastic box, with a set of colour-coded leads, a nice broad white-bristle stylus brush, and screws and bolts…”

Clearaudio Emotion Turntable, Satisfy Tonearm, Aurum Classiscs Cartridge

Clearaudio Emotion Turntable with Satisfy Tonearm

“I suppose this, the least expensive Clearaudio phono reproduction package, could be said to epitomize the company’s approach. Everything is acrylic except for tonearm, cartridge, and platter bearing. If not completely clear, the turntable is definitely translucent, and mechanically very simple for a record reproducer…”

Ortofon Kontrapunkt b Moving Coil Cartridge

Ortofon Kontrapunkt b

“The first series of cartridges named after a Bach theme, that of the Contrapunctus XIX where the composer’s name appears in the upper voice at one point, the Kontrapunkt a and b kartridges (If Linn can do it, so can I!) are based on the previous Jubilee series of more expensive models, and before that the MC-3000 to MC-7500 top models…”

Grado Sonata Phono Cartridge

Grado Sonata Phono Cartridge -- Click for Review

“There don’t seem to be too many players in the phono cartridge game any more: Audio-Technica, Ortofon (no longer distributed in Canada), Linn, Shure, sort of with a recycled V-15 V, and who else? Well, Grado has gone public by announcing not one, but three ranges of new models, truly anachronistically ambitious for such a small company…”


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