Soundsmith cartridges

the thin end of the wedge
Mr Pig
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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by Mr Pig » 22 Aug 2019 00:07

Thanks for that. Very helpful.

I used to use a Denon DL-103 in a modified RB300, which I was told was a bad match but sounded good to me. I even tried a weight on the headshell but I really didn't think it made much difference.

Roberto C2H3
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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by Roberto C2H3 » 22 Aug 2019 00:13

DeepEnd wrote:
21 Aug 2019 22:11
Most Rega arms have an effective mass between 11.5g and 13g (with the standard 100g counterweight) depending on how far out from pivots the counterweight is to balance the arm.

With a cartridge weighing about 6g then use the 11.5g figure with heavier cartridges say 10g the counterweight has to be further out to balance and the higher figure should be used.

With the heavier Tungsten (120g) the effective mass range is very slightly lower 11.0g to slightly higher if you have very heavy cartridge i.e. 14.5g.

Using 6.8g for the Othello and 1.2g for fasteners and 22 for compliance gives a rather low but useable 7.68 Hz. This is close to the 8Hz I get with my P77Mg (compliance 20) in a RB300 and the combination works very well. My P78 (compliance 30) does not quite as well and I would not suggest using something this high a compliance in a Rega arm.
Hola DeepEnd;

Please note the Otello ES series (the new series), weighs 9.2 grams. I'm not sure if you are referring to an earlier version. If not, 2.4 additional grams would have an impact in the calculations.

Best from the Pampas,
roberto

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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by iLikeItBlue » 22 Aug 2019 00:57

Yes, it's a heavy little cartridge. As I said previously, the counterweight on my Rega RB330 arm is way out at the end of its available travel, as far from the pivot as it can get. An aftermarket heavier weight would solve this, but as I stated, the combo of Otello ES and Rega P3/RB330 sounds fantastic to me as it is. The more I play it the more I love it. Just listened to three records this evening.

As for the new ES version sounding better than the old one, I can't say because I've only heard the ES. But in an article I read with the designers comments on the new ES damping, the benefit that he said it gives is "less grain." That makes sense to me because this thing is, to my ears, extremely grain free and liquid sounding.

Another thing I can add to my earlier 'review' is that this cartridge rocks like crazy. I never bought a Rush record back in the day, because they were too commercial for me. Yes, I was funny that way. Anyway, I stumbled on a nice clean copy of Farewell To Kings in the used record store bins, so I picked it up, thought I'd Rush a try. I gave it a spin with the Denon DL-110 a few months ago, and a while after that listened to it with the Grado Green2. The Grado is definitely, due to its meaty bottom, a better rock cartridge than the Denon, IMHO, but neither one made me think much of the album. There was a lack of life that I thought was baked into the recording. Well, I just played it yesterday with the Otello ES and wow, what a kick ass record.

So yes, this cartridge rocks like a champ, but it also sounds so beautiful with acoustic music and delicate voices. It also does "sting" really well. No, not the Police singer, I mean the stinging sound of Roy Buchanan's Telecaster, for example, and John Hammond's high register harmonica notes, both also fresh in my mind from yesterday and today's record spinning. I don't know about you guys, but for me that kind of stinging can be very grating and fatigue inducing. This cartridge handles it beautifully -- sharp as a well honed knife blade, but with no pain of fatigue. I'll have to give some of the credit to the Luxman, though, which is an amazing sounding piece of gear that I feel lucky to own.

Now, as you may have guessed if you read all my comments, the Otello ES is not a resolution champ. Move up the Soundsmith line and you'll undoubtedly get that kind of thing, if that's what you're after. This Otello is more about musical balance for a reasonable price, and for me it strikes it in a really ideal way. That's not to say wouldn't like to try one of their higher up products some day. :D

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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by DeepEnd » 22 Aug 2019 05:19

With heavier ES version and using 13g for the effective mass due to the counterweight hanging off the end you get 7.01 as the calculation. Might be interesting to measure the actual.

Mr Pig
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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by Mr Pig » 22 Aug 2019 11:54

The Otello is certainly looking like a fun toy. Incidentally, it's the previous version of the cart I'm looking at buying, not the alloy bodied one, so it's not as heavy. The RB2000 has a tungsten weight anyway.

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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by ChrisfromRI » 03 Sep 2019 05:23

The Otello in this picture looks so much like a B&O cartridge placed inside a plastic body to allow a standard half inch hole spacing mount. The negative is that the comparable B&O model with the same specs only costs $200 as compared to the Otello's $400 cost.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/486 ... 27f8_b.jpgSlide1 by c f, on Flickr

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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by Mr Pig » 03 Sep 2019 08:18

ChrisfromRI wrote:
03 Sep 2019 05:23
The Otello in this picture looks so much like a B&O cartridge placed inside a plastic body to allow a standard half inch hole spacing mount.
That's exactly what it is but you could say the same about any cartridge range. The 2M Red and 2M Black look identical apart from the colour but they're not the same are they?

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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by ChrisfromRI » 03 Sep 2019 16:38

The difference between the approx. $100 2M Red and the approx. $250 2M Blue is that the Red has a bonded elliptical stylus and the Blue has a nude elliptical stylus at the record groove end of the cantilever. There is actually a substantial difference in sound between the two because of this. I have heard them back to back simply by changing the stylus, on the same cartridge body/arm/turntable and the Blue is quite better sounding.

The Otello pictured has a bonded elliptical stylus and costs around $400, and has what appears to be an SMMC4 inside it which only costs around $200 and which also has a bonded elliptical stylus. Neither has a nude elliptical stylus and I would think both sound pretty much the same, and decent as well. I do have a B&O TX2 with an SMMC4 and it sounds pretty good for a $200 cartridge mounted on a slick little automatic linear tracking turntable that looks fantastic. Next time I change the cartridge on that turntable I will be upgrading to the SMMC3 (around $350) which has a nude hyper-elliptical stylus - and I would expect to achieve the sort of difference I have heard between the 2M Red and 2M Blue.

AdlerW
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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by AdlerW » 15 Sep 2019 19:42

I'm probably going to pick up an Otello ES soon. $400 seems like a lot for a bonded elliptical, but I understand Soundsmith cartridges go way up in price from there. It seems like it'd be a nice line to upgrade in down the road.

Thanks for the review, iLikeItBlue. I'll see how I like it with classical records.

AdlerW
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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by AdlerW » 18 Sep 2019 03:47

Sorry to bump this again, but I have a question about these ES cartridges. They seem to all be available in a "special high compliance" version that has a lower tracking force. If I have a Pioneer PL-7/PL-8 with a low-mass tonearm (the PL-7 and 8 are considered low-mass, right?), should I bother getting the high compliance version of the Otello or just go with the standard "medium compliance" version?

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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by Sunwire » 18 Sep 2019 04:22

I have not heard one, but I have a hard time believing the Otello is a good value when I could get an Audio-Technica VM750SH for the same price.
Nude-mounted Shibata stylus on a tapered cantilever.
I know specs can be misleading, but I've found Audio Technica's specs to align well with how good they sound to me.
These specs are all much better for the VM750SH compared to the Otello:
- Frequency response: 20 ~ 27,000 Hz
- Output voltage: 4.0 mV (1kHz, 5 cm/sec.)
- Channel separation: 30 dB (1kHz)
- Output balance: 1.0 dB (1kHz)

I don't know. Maybe the resonance reduction they claim makes a miraculous difference, but I wouldn't gamble $400 on it.

Mr Pig
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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by Mr Pig » 18 Sep 2019 08:16

Sunwire wrote:
18 Sep 2019 04:22
I have not heard one, but I have a hard time believing the Otello is a good value when I could get an Audio-Technica VM750SH for the same price.
I know what you're saying. You're really paying for USA small company build which is a lot more expensive than Jap mass production. And just because it's different doesn't mean it's better. I suspect that if it was astonishing value I would have heard about it before now.

Still curious though. Just don't know if I'm £400 worth of curious.

Roberto C2H3
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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by Roberto C2H3 » 18 Sep 2019 14:43

AdlerW wrote:
18 Sep 2019 03:47
Sorry to bump this again, but I have a question about these ES cartridges. They seem to all be available in a "special high compliance" version that has a lower tracking force. If I have a Pioneer PL-7/PL-8 with a low-mass tonearm (the PL-7 and 8 are considered low-mass, right?), should I bother getting the high compliance version of the Otello or just go with the standard "medium compliance" version?
From the information I've been able to obtain, the compliance quoted in the Soundsmith website are dynamic compliance figures measured at 10 HZ, which is the parameter used in the VE tool for determining compliance / cartridge / tone arm compatibility regarding resonance frequency.

Japanese manufacturers tend to express their dynamic compliance figures at 100 HZ, for example Audio Technica. Converting dynamic compliance from 100 HZ to 10 HZ is not that straight forward, but a good approximation is to multiply by a factor of 1.75 x to 2.00 x.

Having said all this, load up the effective mass of your tone arm from your turntable's manual into the VE tool for resonance calculations. Make sure to include the weight of your head shell into the effective mass total figure. You will also have to utilize the mass of the Otello Cartridge and its compliance value. I believe you will conclude that the medium compliance version is more suited to your tonearm than the special order high compliance one.

Best from the Pampas,
roberto

Roberto C2H3
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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by Roberto C2H3 » 18 Sep 2019 15:04

Sunwire wrote:
18 Sep 2019 04:22
I have not heard one, but I have a hard time believing the Otello is a good value when I could get an Audio-Technica VM750SH for the same price.
Nude-mounted Shibata stylus on a tapered cantilever.
I know specs can be misleading, but I've found Audio Technica's specs to align well with how good they sound to me.
These specs are all much better for the VM750SH compared to the Otello:
- Frequency response: 20 ~ 27,000 Hz
- Output voltage: 4.0 mV (1kHz, 5 cm/sec.)
- Channel separation: 30 dB (1kHz)
- Output balance: 1.0 dB (1kHz)

I don't know. Maybe the resonance reduction they claim makes a miraculous difference, but I wouldn't gamble $400 on it.
I have a recording of "Dead Set", Grateful Dead, on a Maxell SA 90 tape which I recorded on the system of one of my friend's at college back in 1985. His system included a middle of the road Pioneer receiver, a low end Technics two headed tape deck, and a B&O automatic turntable with the same cartridge technology that they had patented and Soundsmith purchased. Its based on a Moving Iron / Fixed Coil design with a very low mass of the moving part of the cartridge on the generator end.

Thirty four years later, the sound quality of this recording is astonishing. In some ways it sounds better than when I listen to it on vinyl on my Technics SL-1400 MK2 with an AT-150 MLX cartridge. An example, the drummer picking up the sticks prior to joining in on the last song, "Brokedown Palace". I sounds as if the drummer is a few feet away from me...

True, I have a heck of a tape deck (Nakamichi 670 ZX brought back to original specs by Willy Herman out in California), but its still rather amazing that the sound is so incredibly good. I have other tapes recorded that year from that system with a similar sound quality. Clearly, the strong link in that system was the turntable, and its proprietary cartridge.

I have to say I'm very, very, very curious about testing out the Otello cartridge.

Sunwire
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Re: Soundsmith cartridges

Post by Sunwire » 18 Sep 2019 23:19

I'm a fan of B+O cartridges, at least the MMC 1-5 series. I didn't hear the other models very frequently.
I used to sell the MMC 1-5 back around 1980. I recommended them fairly frequently and I bought an MMC-2.
It's one of my favorites.
But it has a sapphire cantilever with a nude line contact stylus.
The Otello appears to be closest to the MMC-5, the bottom of the line B+O cartridge line. Bonded elliptical stylus on straight aluminum cantilever.
I think the list price on the MMC-5 was about $50 or $60. But my memory could be faulty on this point. I'm pretty darn sure it did not retail for more than that, however. If we take inflation into account, that's equivalent to about $165-200 in today's money.
Maybe the Otello is wonderful. I don't know. I can imagine the anti-resonance body could help.
The MMC-5 was a good value in its day, but that value was no more than half the price of an Otello.

FWIW, I just discovered this seller on ebay who has refurbished B+O cartridges. Nude diamonds, but aluminum cantilevers. Might be an alternative to Soundsmith for those with B+O turntables. I'm pretty sure it won't match original performance, but could keep your records spinning.
https://www.ebay.com/usr/beovintage.dk? ... 7675.l2559