Any Soundsmith Straingauge cartridge owners out there other than me?

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Happy 2018 everyone, especially those toiling over dialling in their analog, as I’m currently doing.
After spending Saturday with Blue58 listening to his fuss-free and exemplary digital (SGM server and T&A dac), I do sometimes wonder why I persevere with analog. Then, a certain magic and cognitive ease takes over, and I can’t imagine listening to anything other than an lp.
Anyhow, I’m in the middle of optimising my Soundsmith Straingauge cartridge, and despite a generally stellar sound, I’m finding some aspects of sound less than ideal, and could do with some perspectives and advice.
Please post, tell me your set up and sound quality experiences, and get a dialogue going. I don’t think I’ll get a Koetsu thread level of interest here, but even one or two long term users’ input would be much appreciated.
 

gian60

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Apr 17, 2016
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Italian distributor sold 2 Straingauge and told me are fantastic
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Sure Gian, it’s my cart of choice, now on its second top spec factory upgrade, and second major energiser psu upgrade.
There are some things about my current analog install in the new room re the Straingauge that I’d love some insights on from a current owner. Just waiting for said person to respond.
 

awsmone

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Apr 7, 2014
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Hi Marc and happy new year from down under

I don’t know anything about strange gauge , but recent experience with my analog has shown me minor frequency anomalies can have a big impact
This is especially true in full frequency system

I did suggest in an article that tuning of bass frequencies be done on a musical pitch rather than room pitch basis

This has been very successful in my system
Perhaps u need some speaker reorientation when going from digital to Lp

I in fact use two different compensation curves between the two

Enjoy
 

spiritofmusic

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Hi Andrew, that’s an interesting view, tbh I’m not sure how I’d go forward with that. I have a couple of dialling-in issues that only a Straingauge user can help me with, so I’m hoping for a response.
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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If you talk to Peter at http://www.thethoughtprocess.com/new-gallery/ in Essex maybe he can help you. He is a dealer has Soundsmith Strainguage on Brinkmann Lagrange with Einstein and Berning in different systems. He is usually quite happy to chat to audiophiles
 

spiritofmusic

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That’s a good suggestion, I know about him thru Peter of Alternative. I have emailed him, but no reply. Maybe I’ll call him.
In a nutshell I have an exemplary sound in many ways after ten days of analog dialling in, but aspects of treble bite and definition are proving a little hard to pin down. I’ve had two Soundsmith factory updates which include stylus and energiser changes, indeed Peter Lederman is always updating his designs, and even back in London these updates had most effect in the treble region.
I just need to speak to other users who’ve had similar factory updates and see if their experience matches mine.
Other than this parameter, I cannot be more happy with my current sound, and I have a couple of areas remaining for me to make tangible changes that could very well ameliorate my current minor frustrations.
 

Bso

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Sep 30, 2016
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I live about 1 1/2 hours from Soundsmith. I have a consulting client nearby. I want to hear Mr. Ledermann's creation since I was smitten with the Technics version back in the 80s.

I have a turntable 12" arm combination where I can dial in the VTF to 0.001 gms. Once this is set, I also can vary the VTS/SRA remotely to a repeatable tolerance of 0.001 degrees. I am using an Ortofon MC right now, the sound and image "pops" into righteousness as you sit and vary the VTA. It is so much easier to do this from your listening seat rather than running back and forth.

I suspect the SG will work wonderfully in that 12" arm system. What do you think?

By the way I do not like the sound of Koetsus and other cartridges that are measurably euphonically "rolled off." To each their own, I respect your listening tastes, just sharing my own. (I also like hi-res DSD better than hi-res PCM....all things being equal.)
 

Johnny Vinyl

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Member naturephoto1 has your cartridge. Maybe PM Rich.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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BSO, I can heartily recommend the Straingauge, with a couple of caveats (that may not apply to you).
It’s blazingly fast, displaying an amazing start-stop quality. This is pretty far removed from a Koetsu-type presentation. But it can lend itself to a slightly lean mids/midbass quality, that requires v careful dialling in to not be highlighted. At the moment my setup is slightly over assertive, with marginally recessed treble detail, but the good news is I’m making some progress in dialling things in further.
I suspect I need to adjust azimuth a bit more, maybe be more on top of VTA, and make some install adjustments to my air bearing linear tracking arm (including going from nylon back to metal pivot points).
But I know from 2 years of initial ownership, it sounded quite stellar, with a tight, tuneful and extended bass (this even better in my current setup), musical and transparent mids (again, great here, excellent texture, air and imaging) and light, crystalline treble (I’m not quite here with this just now).
 

spiritofmusic

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Johnny, I will do, thanks.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
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Marc, why don’t you invite Vic over to help you with setup and save yourself some pain? You also have an added variable with the Stacore platform, air pressure will have a direct effect on the sound of your tt specially in the bass and might be the cause of some of your frustration. My suggestion is to optimize your tt on a regular platform first and then move it on to the Stacore and adjust the air pressure accordingly. Good luck!

david

PS. I think you’re chasing wrong end blaming the cartridge.
 

Tango

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BSO, I can heartily recommend the Straingauge, with a couple of caveats (that may not apply to you).
It’s blazingly fast, displaying an amazing start-stop quality. This is pretty far removed from a Koetsu-type presentation. But it can lend itself to a slightly lean mids/midbass quality, that requires v careful dialling in to not be highlighted.

This cart system must sound heart pumping when play Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams.
Spirit, Don’t read Mr. Fremers report too often, you are staring to sound like him ;).

Tang
 

Bso

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Sep 30, 2016
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Massachusetts/Toronto
This cart system must sound heart pumping when play Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams.
Spirit, Don’t read Mr. Fremers report too often, you are staring to sound like him ;).

Tang

Bravo Tango! I want to hear it on Solti's Ring as well as well as "After Bathing at Baxters."
Don't get me started on Fremer and JV.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Dave, I’ve created a hundred issues for myself with this install.
First, every time it comes back from Soundsmith, two top level factory upgrades, it has a different tonal flavour, starting in 2013 when I bought it with a very energetic top end, but these upgrades have created a smoother top end. Now in my harsh and reflective previous space (concrete and glass 27x22x13 converted factory loft apartment), the liveliness of the space ameliorated this smoother top end. In my new room which is marginally on the overdamped end of things, I’ve even had to remove my GIK 242 panels at 1st and 2nd reflection points, and behind the spkrs, to boost liveliness here.
So I’m possibly dealing with a stylus and energiser that are smoother and more rolled off than my original incarnation. Certainly the cantilever is not the same.
Dave, the bass is the crowning glory in my new setup, the Stacore is absolutely helping here (we tried the setup on static rack v Symposium Isis rack with Rollerballs v Stacore Advanced, abs the Stacore was the clear advantage).
So bass is absolutely first class, tuneful and extended, fast and full, a real synergy of rim drive high torque, linear air arm lack of bloat and noise, and Straingauge being naturally good here (compared to more “toppy”, forward carts I’ve lived with like the Lyra Skala). There is absolutely no bleed thru into fuzzy mids.
Indeed, mids too are exemplary here, I’m getting so much more stage depth, air, texture and low level detail retrieval, again a massive step up from London. I’m confident synergy of rim, air and Stacore are helping here too, because of the upstick over my rack from previously.
No, my issue is a seeming bottleneck in treble energy and definition, especially presence and extension of cymbals, percussion etc. Now, I’m getting day to day impvts by sweating the install, from altering spkrs toe in and seating position, amending Zus subs settings, adjusting VTA, VTF and speed (speed needs more finetuning, as does azimuth). Even Rollerblocks on the Stacore under my balanced transformer is helping. But it’s a work in progress, and lack of ultimate treble definition does lend the sound a certain harshness.
All this is complicated by a dozen things needing burn in and opening up, incl new stylus and energiser electronics, new psus to Straingauge and tt motor plus new pwr cords and audiophile fuses to these psus, new tubes in preamp, Stacore under tt, new RCA plugs to tonearm wire, and maybe very critically new nylon points to replace original metal points that the 5” arm wand sits on the metal slider that floats on air cushion in arm gantry - the change from metal to nylon was done to reduce “microchatter” of metal on metal, and has contributed to less noise, but at least one other owner of this air arm complained about diminution of treble definition, and he has ameliorated this successfully going to one metal and one nylon pivot point.
So, that’s my saga in a rather large nutshell, I realise I’m not going to get any useful feedback here in my tt and arm, but I’m eager to hear from other Straingauge owners who’ve had factory upgrades if what I perceive to be a less incisive sound as a result is accurate.
David, one last thing. I didn’t listen to vinyl properly for 21 months, no digital for 15 months, constant diet of CDs for last 6 months, vinyl for only the last 10 days. My brain may be accommodating analog very differently.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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E. England
Apologies to everyone for such a long drawn out post, audiophiles can often be their own worst enemies LOL.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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E. England
Tang, well Fremer was spot on in his review.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
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Of course it will take time to get everything dialed in. Please don’t construe what I said about Stacore earlier as a negative, air is a powerful tool I wanted you to be aware of it and dial in your platform properly to your advantage. Good that you continue to work on your setup removing the wall tampons is a move in the right direction :)!

david

Dave, I’ve created a hundred issues for myself with this install.
First, every time it comes back from Soundsmith, two top level factory upgrades, it has a different tonal flavour, starting in 2013 when I bought it with a very energetic top end, but these upgrades have created a smoother top end. Now in my harsh and reflective previous space (concrete and glass 27x22x13 converted factory loft apartment), the liveliness of the space ameliorated this smoother top end. In my new room which is marginally on the overdamped end of things, I’ve even had to remove my GIK 242 panels at 1st and 2nd reflection points, and behind the spkrs, to boost liveliness here.
So I’m possibly dealing with a stylus and energiser that are smoother and more rolled off than my original incarnation. Certainly the cantilever is not the same.
Dave, the bass is the crowning glory in my new setup, the Stacore is absolutely helping here (we tried the setup on static rack v Symposium Isis rack with Rollerballs v Stacore Advanced, abs the Stacore was the clear advantage).
So bass is absolutely first class, tuneful and extended, fast and full, a real synergy of rim drive high torque, linear air arm lack of bloat and noise, and Straingauge being naturally good here (compared to more “toppy”, forward carts I’ve lived with like the Lyra Skala). There is absolutely no bleed thru into fuzzy mids.
Indeed, mids too are exemplary here, I’m getting so much more stage depth, air, texture and low level detail retrieval, again a massive step up from London. I’m confident synergy of rim, air and Stacore are helping here too, because of the upstick over my rack from previously.
No, my issue is a seeming bottleneck in treble energy and definition, especially presence and extension of cymbals, percussion etc. Now, I’m getting day to day impvts by sweating the install, from altering spkrs toe in and seating position, amending Zus subs settings, adjusting VTA, VTF and speed (speed needs more finetuning, as does azimuth). Even Rollerblocks on the Stacore under my balanced transformer is helping. But it’s a work in progress, and lack of ultimate treble definition does lend the sound a certain harshness.
All this is complicated by a dozen things needing burn in and opening up, incl new stylus and energiser electronics, new psus to Straingauge and tt motor plus new pwr cords and audiophile fuses to these psus, new tubes in preamp, Stacore under tt, new RCA plugs to tonearm wire, and maybe very critically new nylon points to replace original metal points that the 5” arm wand sits on the metal slider that floats on air cushion in arm gantry - the change from metal to nylon was done to reduce “microchatter” of metal on metal, and has contributed to less noise, but at least one other owner of this air arm complained about diminution of treble definition, and he has ameliorated this successfully going to one metal and one nylon pivot point.
So, that’s my saga in a rather large nutshell, I realise I’m not going to get any useful feedback here in my tt and arm, but I’m eager to hear from other Straingauge owners who’ve had factory upgrades if what I perceive to be a less incisive sound as a result is accurate.
David, one last thing. I didn’t listen to vinyl properly for 21 months, no digital for 15 months, constant diet of CDs for last 6 months, vinyl for only the last 10 days. My brain may be accommodating analog very differently.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
13,854
4,522
963
E. England
Sure David, understood.
Tbh I’ve lost a bit of perspective as to the sound I ran prior to packing things 2 years ago, and I run a bit of an alien setup compared to the more typical belt drive/pivoted arm/MC cart/phono type setup. Also, my current room is so different from my last space. I don’t have a reliable fix mentally to go fwds.
What I’m going to do is visit a few well set up analog systems in the U.K. (even if no components in common), to at least get some comparator data points.
I also take something from this other Terminator air arm user that has managed to solve an issue that sounds very much like I currently have.
 

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,519
410
340
Canberra Australia
Marc

If your happy with the sound of your eera in your room, this is your starting point ...you know your system can achieve that

Please make sure all basic parameters are dialled in and double check this

I would suggest only changing one thing at a time

If your little tweeks aren’t working fully, sometimes is best to remove them all and start again

Finally as suggested before, what is best position for CD may not be for lp if there is a big frequency difference in the cartridge output

A little after thought, sometimes to much high frequency is actually too little bass, this may be related to vtf, check that this tracking force is correct, lightening the vtf should give you more bass output, remember ideal vtf in a linear tracker might be different
 

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