Any Soundsmith Straingauge cartridge owners out there other than me?

spiritofmusic

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Then this isn't for you.
 
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spiritofmusic

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Seriously Lagonda. It seems like one additional madness in this already mad hobby is to have concurrent different flavours to call on, for different moods or types of music. Hence the guys running multiple tts, multiple arms on single tts, and thus multiple carts (and maybe phonos).

Straingauge is never going to fit into that ethos.
 

Lagonda

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Seriously Lagonda. It seems like one additional madness in this already mad hobby is to have concurrent different flavours to call on, for different moods or types of music. Hence the guys running multiple tts, multiple arms on single tts, and thus multiple carts (and maybe phonos).

Straingauge is never going to fit into that ethos.
Maybe as one of those different flavors. I use medium output MC directly
into tube phono on SME 3012R arm and super low output MC into SUT into solid state phono on my tangential arm. I guess i need a 3 arm ! :eek:
 

spiritofmusic

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Hey L, that's like having chocolate brownie AND cheesecake.
I would struggle to choose.
 
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spiritofmusic

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L, I've run a few interesting carts in my time. Roksan Shiraz, Zu Denon 103R (subsequently ESCO modded), Transfiguration Super Supreme and Orpheus, Lyra Skala and Parnassus.

I loved the Zu Denon for it's honest presentation and speed, the Transfigurations for their neutrality and transparency, and the Parnassus for it's warmth, tone and texture.

The Shiraz and Skala were too tipped up and fwd for my tastes.

The Straingauge, esp w upgraded psu, seems to be a really nice balance of what I loved in these other carts, just somewhat less warm than the Parnassus.

My system was a lot less full during the period I was running the Parnassus (SS amps and slightly skeletal sounding spkrs w hard to drive ribbon tweeters and OB mids), so things balanced out.

Chances are the Parnassus now might be too full for my current system (tubes, dense full range spkrs).
 
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Lagonda

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Hey L, that's like having chocolate brownie AND cheesecake.
I would struggle to choose.
It’s an easy choice, the tangential arm is set for thin albums and is very dynamic with deep bass to die for and a slightly beautifying cartridge. My go to for rock
and not perfect recordings. It can make most recordings sound good and is very
engaging. The 3012R with Benz LPS into tube is more correct and revealing,
but more versatile with regards to record thickness, it will play it all.
 

Lagonda

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L, I've run a few interesting carts in my time. Roksan Shiraz, Zu Denon 103R (subsequently ESCO modded), Transfiguration Super Supreme and Orpheus, Lyra Skala and Parnassus.

I loved the Zu Denon for it's honest presentation and speed, the Transfigurations for their neutrality and transparency, and the Parnassus for it's warmth, tone and texture.

The Shiraz and Skala were too tipped up and fwd for my tastes.

The Straingauge, esp w upgraded psu, seems to be a really nice balance of what I loved in these other carts, just somewhat less warm than the Parnassus.

My system was a lot less full during the period I was running the Parnassus (SS amps and slightly skeletal sounding spkrs w hard to drive ribbon tweeters and OB mids), so things balanced out.

Chances are the Parnassus now might be too full for my current system (tubes, dense full range spkrs).
Sounds like you did try all kinds before getting your SG. What phono where
you using ? I’m surprised how big an improvement the Io Eclipse was in my
system.
 

spiritofmusic

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What's yr tangential? I swear by my Terminator air LT. Tricked out tt and arm, superlative cart, isolated from the floor by 180kg of slate plinth/Stacore/stand, I'm getting a great sound from my flatly mixed Rush and deep, ambient sounding 60s Miles Davis.

I do have a big admiration for the 12" SAEC 506 that I heard last year. I really love that arm.
 

spiritofmusic

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Sounds like you did try all kinds before getting your SG. What phono where
you using ? I’m surprised how big an improvement the Io Eclipse was in my
system.
Initially Roksan phono in 1998, then Clearaudio. I really started making progress in mid 90s w Tom Evans Groove, upgrading to Groove Plus and SRX in time. I was seriously considering going Transfiguration Proteus cart and Tom Evans MasterGroove, but then saw the Dagogo review for the Straingauge, and the promise of saving money on redundant phono and cheaper stylus upgrades appealed. Then I heard it...
 
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Lagonda

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What's yr tangential? I swear by my Terminator air LT. Tricked out tt and arm, superlative cart, isolated from the floor by 180kg of slate plinth/Stacore/stand, I'm getting a great sound from my flatly mixed Rush and deep, ambient sounding 60s Miles Davis.

I do have a big admiration for the 12" SAEC 506 that I heard last year. I really love that arm.
I’m using a Maplenoll arm built for the Ariadne Signature TT, it is a high
pressure arm with a silicone trough in front of the cartridge, like on Townshend
TT’s. Very hard to set up right, but fantastic when everything is perfect.
 

spiritofmusic

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Same here Lagonda, I'm on my third proper tt now, but it's really taken effort to get right, esp the arm setup. Get it right, and music sings. Get it wrong...and you want to play cd.
 
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spiritofmusic

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I have at last setup my soundsmith strain gauge system with sg6 on a Kuzma 4 point/Stabi M last weekend. I am just into 20 hours mark yet and generally loving everything I hear. There is a rise in the top end response. This is not a treble distortion and actually the sibilance and similar issues are much less pronounced than my mc carts.

So, my experience is opposite of Marc, it is very interesting to hear that in his system the cymbals are veiled/muted, they are a little hyped if not anything else. The bass is very tuneful, I am surprised by the layers of bass and definition of it. The cart definitely has the toe tapping effect which is very welcome. It is very responsive and attacks and decays are perfectly in time. The midrange is beautiful but not forward like classic mc carts. As a horn/set lover, midrange seemed a little shy and a little behind the lows and highs. There was also a sheen, an euphonic kind of veil on top of midrange the moment it started playing, but this has been diminishing little by little and Peter says this goes away after 50 hours. Maybe the midrange will become more level then.

Next step would be to get the Peter Downs psu that Marc loves, but I want to spend a good 200-300hours first with the cartridge and then decide. The psu costs close to 60% of the cost of the sg system, so it is not just a little tweak to consider.
Just re-read this post. My experience 2.5 years on has done a 180, and like Kodomo, it is exemplary top to bottom, no hint of veils or mutedness in the treble.
My finding at the time was based on the purgatory of endless burn in on the Straingauge LPS and 1001 other analog changes that had to settle in.
My worst ever trial in audio that has been instrumental in leading to my best ever sound, not even the same solar system compared to my previous analog rigs. And the Straingauge is proving to be a phenomenal transducer.
 

spiritofmusic

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And I wanted to thank everyone for their contributions. What this experience has taught me is that it ALL matters...burn in, dial in, bass nodes, subs settings.
Sprinkle these in the pot, stir vigorously...and you can create a meal.
The Straingauge is right at the top of the list of best ever decisions I've made in this hobby. Dark horse/giant killer doesn't get close to my thoughts on it.
To get such realistic speed and bass extension with no compromise on mids texture and natural treble energy, seems like a magic trick to me.
 

kodomo

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This cartridge was one of the best in bass and treble extension and it had very good dynamics. These were the pros for it. For its cost many may prefer it as it is hard to beat in any of these three areas out of any cartridge I have tried. However, there were also two cons. One is the unbalanced frequency response and the second one is the noise. The unbalanced response comes from the nature of this system and may not be noticeable or may even work to your favor if it matches the deficiencies in your system. It can also make them worse if they fall in the same frequencies. For noise, again it may be dead silent for some lower efficiency systems but my system is about 109db efficient and the strain gauge setup has high frequency noise (tape like hiss) when the volume turned higher. I tried aftermarket adapters, sboosters etc. too. In the end I gave up on strain gauge system.

My system and room has been treated and measured to have balanced response (so not just a guess or an unbacked claim) so I am comfortable commenting on responses of equipment. To add, not many electronics exhibit much deviation in frequency response anymore but the cartridges still do not just this one.
 

spiritofmusic

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Kodomo, fascinating
Can you elaborate further on this unbalanced frequency response?
 

Stump

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Jul 15, 2012
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After a long time looking at getting a hi-end Phono and MC cart replacement for my well used Clearaudio da Vinci I will start saving for a Soundsmith Straingauge........I have seen a used one at half the new price!! Would it be a good option to buy used then send back to Soundsmith for latest upgrade of phono and get couple of matched spare tips??
Cheers





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.
 

spiritofmusic

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Stump, that could work. Of course, when I bought it, it was half the current new price too Lol.

My only suggestion would be in due course to set aside the budget for a couple of LPSs. The SG absolutely blossomed on my LPS.
 

Avidlistener

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Feb 19, 2013
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Another Strain Gauge owner in the house! In my case it’s the SG400. It’s an early model that was sent back only once, a year or so after purchase for an electronics update. One thing that no one has mentioned here is what stylus they are running. I had an Sgs-6 and sgs-5 built at the time of purchase. (I’m not even sure if the SG200 was available at the time)

I have found quite a bit of difference between the 5 and 6, with the 6 giving a massive amount of detail where you literally feel you are hearing (or riding) down the walls of the LP groove.

I can’t imagine a master tape having much more information that what I’ve heard on good LPs.

The sgs-6 is definitely more temperamental in terms of exacting setup. The sgs-5 was better for playing used LP’s that weren’t in as good a shape, but always felt like I was missing something compared with the 6. After thousands of hours of playback I sent the sgs-6 to soundsmith since I was sure it was time to replace it. Peter assured me the stylus was not worn and I used it for many more years. Talk about a bargain! Tam Henderson from Reference Recordings has a quote on Soundsmiths site about playing his acetate test pressings with the strain gauge, and how they don’t wear out as they would with any other phono cart.

I have stopped using the sgs-6 recently because I am getting tracking distortion, so perhaps it finally needs to be replaced. I am planning on having another 6 and 5 styli built since this is the last analog setup I will own. If money were no object, I’d buy 2 of each. My current financial situation doesn’t allow me to play with any new power supplies, but I’d like to hear about what people have found after having soundsmith do the latest upgrades on the electronics and what cantalevel material change of the latest styli have done to the sound.

In the attached pic you will see my TTweights Turntable (sadly now out of business) a Graham Phantom II arm, sitting on a Halcyonics type active vibration isolation platform. My speakers are TAD CR1’s driven by a mostly tube system of Atma-sphere MA1 pre and BHK300 hybrid mono blocks. The digital is extremely good, especially with The latest (and previous) Directstream firmware fed by an EtherRegen), but when I go back to vinyl I can’t seem to stop listening.

Not surprisingly I found a better arm cable upgraded the sound, even though Soundsmith thought it would make no difference. In my case the arm cable is the Stealth Hyperphono (oddly it seems no one talks about Stealth cables any longer)

Luckily, being in NYC I’m only around an hour away from Soundsmith so I hope to be driving my gear up there one day. I just dread removing the cartridge body since I have it setup, but I may try using small clamps to hold the position.

I originally aligned the cart/arm with a Japanese fiber optic viewer for looking into ones ears, but this was before USB microscopes. I have to get a usb ‘scope to see if that helps with setup using the mint tractor mirrored alignment device.
 

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spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Good work, Avid Listener. Moving from the 5 stylus to 6 took a little getting used to, but I'm better at setup than I used to be. Effectively an increase in transparency and neutrality over the already impressive stock 5 stylus.
The PSU upgrades, first Vinnie Rossie batt unit, and now a bespoke dual mono unit, have boosted performance as well.
Btw, I sent you a PM, it might still be in your inbox.
 
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musklvr

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Aug 11, 2020
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Hi,
Add me to the list of Straingauge owners. I have an SG-200 with SG-5 and 6 stylii. The SG-6 has been mounted since I installed it last November. I hope to many more months to come before switching to the SG-5. Prior to the SG there were Soundsmith Paua, Zyx ultimate premium, and Miyajima Kansui carts. The comments on this forum from Spiritofmusic and prior interactions with Soundsmith convinced me to try the SG. I can say now I will never go back, unless it is to mount the Paua when the SG-6 and 5 are being replaced at Soundsmith. The SG is a big step up from all the previous carts.

The cart is mounted on an EAT Forté turntable with 12" Morch DP-8 arm. Tuning the cart on the Morch is no picnic. Easy enough to determine what to change using Analog Magik but not so much fun making small adjustments to zenith.

I could not be more pleased with this cart. There is just nothing lacking or misplaced with a wide range of music. It will not improve a poor recording but will certainly make the best of a well recorded piece.
 
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