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Connoisseur SAU 2 Reviews

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Connoisseur SAU 2

Connoisseur SAU 2

6/10 by kesh

The SAU2 is a bit like a classic car : you wouldn't expect it to out-perform today's models, but it's great fun to use anyway!

Starting at the sharp end, the plastic headshell simply isn't a good design. It's a slide-on friction-fit to the tonearm, and mine was quite loose, cured for now by wrapping a bit of scotch tape round the tonearm shaft but that's hardly a permanent solution. Within the body of the headshell there's a slide-out plug which takes the cartridge leads on pins at one end and plugs into the tonearm at the other. The space enclosing it is so constricted that normal cartridge leads are squashed together and short out. The plug looks eminently meltable so I ruled out soldering leads directly to the pins. I had to source some ultra-thin cartridge clips and make a piece of plastic shielding to fit between them. The slot-holes taking the cartridge mount bolts aren't very long, hence not much room for adjustment, and I found it impossible to get a good alignment with some cartridges.

At the other end, there's no counterweight calibration dial for the tracking force so it has to be set with a guage or digital scale. The distinctly odd 45-degree offset gimbal arrangement is commendably friction-free and seems to work OK : the trick to getting the headshell to stay horizontal while on the record is to point the outer gimbal at the centre of the playing surface where the needle sets down, and then set the tonearm height so as to be exactly horizontal in the playing position. It does look distinctly strange to see it tilt when you lift it off, though. The anti-skate seems to function as it should, it's never an exact science anyway.

The base of the tonearm shaft takes a 5-pin male plug which isn't easy to find. I eventually got a suitable Cardas model from e-bay and made up a tonearm lead. Get an SAU2 with a lead if you can!

Despite it's odd features the SAU2 actually works quite well. I put it through some basic tracks on test records and whilst it didn't excel, it didn't disgrace itself either. Probably a near-match for the Pioneer PL12D tonearm as a reference point. For the music I listen to on a day-to-day basis (fairly mainstream pop/rock/blues/prog/folk from the 60s and 70s) it's absolutely fine : I suspect it's limitations would become apparent with more demanding classical orchestral music and such-like. It has some character and a nice 50s/60s vintage vibe about it, and I'm enjoying using it with an AT91 on a Connoisseur BD1 turntable.

6/10 by desertdog

A nice arm, a friend of mine used one for years with goldring G800 carts.


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