Author Topic: New Cartridge on the way  (Read 1663 times)

Offline Nick B

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2021, 10:08:28 PM »
The new cart arrived this afternoon. I mounted it , gave it an initial alignment and then preceded with an inaugural spin of what else, The Carmen Suite (Alexander Gibson/Royal Opera House Orchestra Covent Garden.)

The first thing I noticed was as compared to the Micro  Benz (I played the same record using it right before I swapped the carts) was that the Carmen picked up significantly less surface noise, resulting in a quieter, blacker background. It also a much more defined and realistic sense of space. Instruments really took ownership of the space they were in . Instead of a instrument being on the right side it was in very specific spot on the right side. Is lead to a very clear sense of not only where the instruments were, but also where they weren't.

Next up The Harry James King James Version for Sheffield. The Carmen track this on without ever breaking a sweat. Since it handled Harry James with such ease I figure I would give it a real tracking test, The Telarc 1812 LP with the big cannon blasts.  I have owned cartridges with significantly higher price tags than the Carmen that couldn't come close to tracking this record. In fact the Sumiko Blackbird, which lists for 25% more than the Carmen, actually jumped off the record every time it hit a cannon blast and laded several groves way from the blast. The Carmen sailed through this record without even a hiccup. Very impressive. Now I have to say that it was late and my wife was already in bed so I played this with the volume just loud enough to let me listen for mistracking. I will try it again tomorrow to see if the air compressing in the room from the cannon blast at a more typical value will have any effect on how the Carmen tracks this record.

At this point I am very happy with what I have heard so far.

More updates as things develop.

Congrats, Tom. The Carmen seems to be quite a bargain when taking into account the low noise and tracking capabilities. I’ll be curious to know how the walls will withstand the Telarc 1812 being played during daylight hours 💥

I played the 1812 again this afternoon with the volume turned up as loud as I dared to. The walls shook, the cannon blasts hit you in the chest and the Carmen still tracked the record just like it was something with a "normal" dynamic rage. This record gave the cart (and my subs) quite a workout and it never broke a sweat. I was very impressed.

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Offline steve

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2021, 10:40:19 PM »
The new cart arrived this afternoon. I mounted it , gave it an initial alignment and then preceded with an inaugural spin of what else, The Carmen Suite (Alexander Gibson/Royal Opera House Orchestra Covent Garden.)

The first thing I noticed was as compared to the Micro  Benz (I played the same record using it right before I swapped the carts) was that the Carmen picked up significantly less surface noise, resulting in a quieter, blacker background. It also a much more defined and realistic sense of space. Instruments really took ownership of the space they were in . Instead of a instrument being on the right side it was in very specific spot on the right side. Is lead to a very clear sense of not only where the instruments were, but also where they weren't.

Next up The Harry James King James Version for Sheffield. The Carmen track this on without ever breaking a sweat. Since it handled Harry James with such ease I figure I would give it a real tracking test, The Telarc 1812 LP with the big cannon blasts.  I have owned cartridges with significantly higher price tags than the Carmen that couldn't come close to tracking this record. In fact the Sumiko Blackbird, which lists for 25% more than the Carmen, actually jumped off the record every time it hit a cannon blast and laded several groves way from the blast. The Carmen sailed through this record without even a hiccup. Very impressive. Now I have to say that it was late and my wife was already in bed so I played this with the volume just loud enough to let me listen for mistracking. I will try it again tomorrow to see if the air compressing in the room from the cannon blast at a more typical value will have any effect on how the Carmen tracks this record.

At this point I am very happy with what I have heard so far.

More updates as things develop.

I was going to say T, that if your cartridge is anywhere close to the Accutex 320STR moving iron, I think you are going to absolutely love it. I have been sold on moving iron ever since I got mine.

cheers

steve
Steve Sammet (Owner/Designer, SAS Audio Labs, Ret)
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Offline tmazz

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2021, 08:19:59 PM »
In the past I tried two different wood body Grados. I really liked the way they sounded, but they were not shielded and picked up too much hum from my TT motor, so I could not use them.

I spoke with the folks at Soundsmith and they assured me that their carts have been install on many VPI tables and they never came across with them picking up motor noise.

And as far as the hum goes the Carmen is dead quite with absolutely no hum at all.  :D
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Offline steve

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2021, 06:16:08 AM »
The latest report on the cartridge T?

cheers

steve
Steve Sammet (Owner/Designer, SAS Audio Labs, Ret)
"V" 40pf 1 meter 6N Pure Copper Wire ICs,
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS 11A Perfect Tube Preamplifier
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Offline tmazz

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2021, 08:15:12 AM »
I still need to put some more hours on it before I do the final alignment tweaking, but so far I am very impressed.

Tracks very well and it is the quietest cartridge I have owned.
Remember, it's all about the music........

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Offline tmazz

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2021, 08:48:26 PM »
One thing I do notice about the Carmen is that it makes the loudest noise when hitting the bump stop at teh end of the dead wax of any cartridge that I have ever heard. I'm not sure why.

Not that it is a problem, it just seems a bit strange to me.

Steve does your MI cart behave like this as well?
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Offline steve

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2021, 08:40:38 PM »
One thing I do notice about the Carmen is that it makes the loudest noise when hitting the bump stop at teh end of the dead wax of any cartridge that I have ever heard. I'm not sure why.

Not that it is a problem, it just seems a bit strange to me.

Steve does your MI cart behave like this as well?

I would not say it does T, but I usually try to lift the needle before the end. I don't have a huge library, I can try some LPs tomorrow and modify my post.

There were a couple of different versions of my 320STR cartridge T, which could affect the "pop".
Below is my "brick" version specs, same color body. I wonder what it would cost new today? It sounds wonderful.

Specifications

Stylus: Perfect Vital STR™ polished natural gemstone, shibata type configuration

Frequency response: 20 Hz to 45 kHz

Channel separation: minimum 33db

Output voltage: 3.2 mV

Channel balance: within 1dB

Impedance: 2.7 k ohms

DC resistance: 580 ohms

Load resistance: 47K ohms

Compliance: 42 x 10-6 cm/dyne at 100 Hz

Tracking force range: 1.5 to 2.3g

Overall dimensions: 29 mm. x 18 mm. x 16mm

Net weight: 5.45g

Mounting: standard 1/2" (12.7mm)

I have heard through a friend that others have claimed that this cartridge needs a 100k ohm load, not 47k. 100K load is a wow.

Cheers

steve
« Last Edit: August 18, 2021, 06:37:08 AM by steve »
Steve Sammet (Owner/Designer, SAS Audio Labs, Ret)
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Offline steve

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2021, 06:25:40 AM »
Hi T,

No popping, but sometimes there is a click. Does it occur on every LP you play?

cheers

steve
Steve Sammet (Owner/Designer, SAS Audio Labs, Ret)
"V" 40pf 1 meter 6N Pure Copper Wire ICs,
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS 11A Perfect Tube Preamplifier
SAS 25 W Near Perfect Reference Triode/UL Monoblocks
2 way test Spkrs, 28hz -3db, to 20khz

Offline tmazz

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2021, 12:27:01 PM »
Across the board. It is not really any different that the bumpstop sound I got out of previous cartridges, just significantly louder. When I get a chance I am going to call Soundsmith and see if they can tell me why.

It's not that I consider it a bad thing per se,  just something I am curious about.
Remember, it's all about the music........

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Offline steve

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2021, 02:31:56 PM »
Hi T,

It has been a little while now and I was wondering if it is broken in, and if so how you rate it? If it has dropped, no sweat. Just curious so I can either recommend or not.

Cheers and thanks T.

steve
Steve Sammet (Owner/Designer, SAS Audio Labs, Ret)
"V" 40pf 1 meter 6N Pure Copper Wire ICs,
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS 11A Perfect Tube Preamplifier
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Offline tmazz

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #25 on: October 29, 2021, 05:49:57 PM »
Steve the Carmen is most definitely a keeper.

As far as characteristics, this is the third cartridge that I have owned in the $1k price range (The other two being a Sumiko Blackbird and a Benz-Micro Gilder which were both about $200 more expensive and I think the Carmen is definitely the best of that bunch) I thought the Blackbird and the Glider were pretty
 close in sound, but the Carmen beats them in the following respects:

1) it has better base response,which is not all that surprising considering we are comparing similarly priced moving coil carts to a moving iron.

2) The soundstage was a little wider and deeper, but the interesting thing about the way it imaged was that instruments tended to own the space they were in. The effect was not as prevalent with an orchestra, which has more of a continuous soundscape, but with something like a small jazz combo the individual instruments were not only clearly defined in space but also had more of a 3d image. Instead of sounding like a point source of sound emanating fro a spot on the soundstage the Carmen projected an image that sounded more like the instrument was coming from an area in the stage that had a sense of width height and depth to it, which is more like what you would hear in an actual live performance.

3) Finally the Carmen is the quietest cartridge I have ever owned. The dead space between songs and in the lead in and outro space were dead quiet. I am not talking about clicks and pops but rather the grunge that comes from dragging a stylus across apiece of vinyl even when it has no grooves. Not only was it nice to not hear noise between songs, but the lack of that grunge was also noticeable on quite sections of music and not having it constantly there removed a bit of veiling when the music was playing.

All in all I an very happy with the Carmen and think it is a great choice for anyone looking to buy a cart in that price range. And the fact that Soundsmith will rebuild the Carmen at any time for around $250 instead of the 75% of MSRP that other companies charge really made this an easy choice for me for a long term cartridge.
Remember, it's all about the music........

• Nola Boxers
• Sunfire True SW Super Jr (2)
• McIntosh MC 275
• ARC SP-9
• VPI HW-19 Mk IV/SDS/SME IV/Soundsmith Carmen Mk II ES
• Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC/Rasp Pi Roon Endpoint
• DigiBuss/TWL PC&USB/MIT Cables

Offline Nick B

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #26 on: October 29, 2021, 05:58:05 PM »
Steve the Carmen is most definitely a keeper.

As far as characteristics, this is the third cartridge that I have owned in the $1k price range (The other two being a Sumiko Blackbird and a Benz-Micro Gilder which were both about $200 more expensive and I think the Carmen is definitely the best of that bunch) I thought the Blackbird and the Glider were pretty
 close in sound, but the Carmen beats them in the following respects:

1) it has better base response,which is not all that surprising considering we are comparing similarly priced moving coil carts to a moving iron.

2) The soundstage was a little wider and deeper, but the interesting thing about the way it imaged was that instruments tended to own the space they were in. The effect was not as prevalent with an orchestra, which has more of a continuous soundscape, but with something like a small jazz combo the individual instruments were not only clearly defined in space but also had more of a 3d image. Instead of sounding like a point source of sound emanating fro a spot on the soundstage the Carmen projected an image that sounded more like the instrument was coming from an area in the stage that had a sense of width height and depth to it, which is more like what you would hear in an actual live performance.

3) Finally the Carmen is the quietest cartridge I have ever owned. The dead space between songs and in the lead in and outro space were dead quiet. I am not talking about clicks and pops but rather the grunge that comes from dragging a stylus across apiece of vinyl even when it has no grooves. Not only was it nice to not hear noise between songs, but the lack of that grunge was also noticeable on quite sections of music and not having it constantly there removed a bit of veiling when the music was playing.

All in all I an very happy with the Carmen and think it is a great choice for anyone looking to buy a cart in that price range. And the fact that Soundsmith will rebuild the Carmen at any time for around $250 instead of the 75% of MSRP that other companies charge really made this an easy choice for me for a long term cartridge.

Nice, interesting write up, Tom. Did you ever get a chance to ask Soundsmith regarding the loud bumpstop noise?
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Offline ACHiPo

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2021, 07:37:33 PM »
Congrats on the Carmen.  I took a chance on a used Hyperion several months ago and it is by far the best cartridge I’ve ever heard.  I also got the bug after watching Peter’s videoed speeches.

Offline steve

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Re: New Cartridge on the way
« Reply #28 on: November 06, 2021, 10:41:40 PM »
Steve the Carmen is most definitely a keeper.

As far as characteristics, this is the third cartridge that I have owned in the $1k price range (The other two being a Sumiko Blackbird and a Benz-Micro Gilder which were both about $200 more expensive and I think the Carmen is definitely the best of that bunch) I thought the Blackbird and the Glider were pretty
 close in sound, but the Carmen beats them in the following respects:

1) it has better base response,which is not all that surprising considering we are comparing similarly priced moving coil carts to a moving iron.

2) The soundstage was a little wider and deeper, but the interesting thing about the way it imaged was that instruments tended to own the space they were in. The effect was not as prevalent with an orchestra, which has more of a continuous soundscape, but with something like a small jazz combo the individual instruments were not only clearly defined in space but also had more of a 3d image. Instead of sounding like a point source of sound emanating fro a spot on the soundstage the Carmen projected an image that sounded more like the instrument was coming from an area in the stage that had a sense of width height and depth to it, which is more like what you would hear in an actual live performance.

3) Finally the Carmen is the quietest cartridge I have ever owned. The dead space between songs and in the lead in and outro space were dead quiet. I am not talking about clicks and pops but rather the grunge that comes from dragging a stylus across apiece of vinyl even when it has no grooves. Not only was it nice to not hear noise between songs, but the lack of that grunge was also noticeable on quite sections of music and not having it constantly there removed a bit of veiling when the music was playing.

All in all I an very happy with the Carmen and think it is a great choice for anyone looking to buy a cart in that price range. And the fact that Soundsmith will rebuild the Carmen at any time for around $250 instead of the 75% of MSRP that other companies charge really made this an easy choice for me for a long term cartridge.


Sorry for the response delay Tom as Sis has arrived for a visit.

Thanks for your review. Your cartridge review sounded very very similar to my experience with the Accutex 320STR in every area, except the thump at LPs end. The sound quality is outstanding and I don't even think of obtaining an mc or mm cartridge.

Thinking it over, the moving iron seems to have the advantages of both the mc and mm but not the disadvantages of
either.

Nice write up as well; clear and easy to understand.

Thanks again for your time and efforts Tom. Much appreciated.

steve
« Last Edit: November 11, 2021, 10:15:56 AM by steve »
Steve Sammet (Owner/Designer, SAS Audio Labs, Ret)
"V" 40pf 1 meter 6N Pure Copper Wire ICs,
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS 11A Perfect Tube Preamplifier
SAS 25 W Near Perfect Reference Triode/UL Monoblocks
2 way test Spkrs, 28hz -3db, to 20khz