Soundsmith Sussurro MkII re-evaluated

Dogberry

Well-Known Member
Aug 24, 2022
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A year and a half later after I first tried it, I have to say I am re-assessing the Sussurro. I switched to using a VAS MC One SUT, which is decidedly better than the MC input of the Quad 24p, but even then the Sussurro didn't get a permanent place. But since I added two more tonearms using the doubled Acoustand pods, something has changed: the cartridge has come alive! It seems it is mostly due to extra bass, to the point where I turn down the powered subwoofer. It now has all the detail one could ask for, but seems nearly as dynamic as the Reference.
What has happened? Following advice I tried to see just how well isolated these tonearm pods are, by resting the stylus on a motionless LP and tapping the surface of the old oak chest upon which my turntables sit. With the pre-amp turned all the way up, if I tap very hard with two fingers I can hear a faint thump through the speakers. I hear nothing with the built in tonearms or the other double pod (Statement 3 on it). So maybe a little vibration is feeding back into the cartridge, but I can't hear it at all with the volume set to normal levels (all the way up would instantly destroy my Quad ESLs, and probably my eardrums, if music was playing), and yet something has happened. It's the same tonearm as before, so it's not that. The Statement 3 is not exhibiting any change in character: it is the same neutral, accurate thing it always was (though much improved through the SUT (its 1mV output means it can be connected as an MM or an MC). The only other thing that I have changed is to swap all the interconnects I can to the shortest possible (one foot) to reduce capacitance, but that isn't changing the other cartridges.
For the present, the Sussurro is my first choice when I play a record, but when my amazement wears off I'll no doubt be rotating through them. I have ended up with on the four fixed tonearms:
1. London Decca Reference
2. Benz Micro LP-S
3. Benz Micro Ruby 3 (converted to mono)
4. Nagaoka MP-500
and on the pods:
5. Sussurro MkII ES
6. Grado Statement 3 (about which I cannot complain, but may yet put the Kontrapunkt C back on that arm as it excites me more)

And, famous last words, it is probably time to stop messing around and simply listen to music now....
 
Interesting! I too use the LP-S and the Sussurro MkII. Quite different, but I love them both.
 
Still enjoying it. I'm wondering if I have a small change in VTA making such a big difference - I try to get things horizontal and go from there, but I have read that the contact line stylus on the Sussurro is especially sensitive to VTA, and perhaps I have accidentally hit the sweet spot?
 
I find that for me Peter’s cartridges are a bit harder to optimize than my Benz’s.
 
Divine intervention of the audio gods.
 
I've been REALLY enjoying my Sussurro MKII Gold one of my favorite cartridges, even more so than my MSL Sig Platinum. (Anyone want to buy a lightly used MSL? :) )

SM dealer disclaimer
 

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I've been REALLY enjoying my Sussurro MKII Gold one of my favorite cartridges, even more so than my MSL Sig Platinum. (Anyone want to buy a lightly used MSL? :) )

SM dealer disclaimer
Nice! Do you have any direct experience to be able to compare the new Gold to the previous Sussurro MkII?
 
Do you have any direct experience to be able to compare the new Gold to the previous Sussurro MkII?
Of course. My original Sussurro MkII was a wonderful cartridge but the Gold version just eclipses it in so many ways. It has more "life" and dynamics and just grabs my attention. I love this cartridge so much that I have a "sealed" Hyperion-MR MKII that I'm not even anxious to open and install.
 
Sigh. I was hoping not to hear that. ;):)
 
I own the gold version and to me when setup well it rivals tape in tonal density
it’s a tough cart to make work on tone arms though
it’s heavy and has a low compliance
correct setup is a must no getting close
but when it’s done it’s a great sound to me
 
Hmm, it's the same weight as the MkII. But yes I agree proper setup is critical for SS carts.
 
I only own this SS Cart met Peter at a show and bought one.
I’ve used his Services on few carts
what ever he does it improves the original product to me
 
I also have a Sussurro Gold. A dealer made me an offer I could not refuse. I wrote the following review for the dealer that has been updated to address when I swapped in Graaf GM100 this last winter.

What is the Sussurro MKII ES Gold? Piecing together info from various web-sites, it differs from the standard Sussurro MKII ES in two ways: The MKII Gold features the low internal moving mass of the Hyperion with a newly designed moving iron element that reduces moving mass by 70%, and a BORON (versus RUBY) cantilever. The stylus shape, weight, output, compliance and VTF are the same: Sussurro Gold Limited Edition | Soundsmith (sound-smith.com). FWIW, when M. Fremer reviewed the Soundsmith Hyperion with the same stylus Analog Corner #273: Soundsmith Hyperion phono cartridge & AudioQuest AC power products | Stereophile.com he said: Under the microscope, Soundsmith's OCL stylus looks similar if not identical to Ortofon's Replicant.

I own a Soundsmith Paua (non-ES), and the various reviews available on the web are all pretty much in agreement. It’s a beautiful cartridge and with its telescoping aluminum cantilever and less profiled stylus, it plays just a bit on the soft side with a good soundstage that makes it a cartridge that can play any music very well.

The Sussurro MKII ES Gold is very different. I believe this is the first Soundsmith cartridge with a BORON cantilever, and with the reduced moving iron mass, is able to track, trace and playback accurately every groove modulation. However, let me say up-front, that it is quiet in the groove. My records are clean, and if anything, in the unmodulated groove or quiet passages, it’s quieter than the Paua which was a surprise. Second, this cartridge needs at least 40-hours to blossom, and does or reach full playback until 70-hrs. For me it went from dull for the first 5-hours to spreading out for the next 25 hours with some thin mid-range and high frequency emphasis to filling out after 40-hours. Some popular albums that did not sound good during the break-in such as Seal-7 sounded much better much better after 40-hours.

Once broken-in, the first outcome is a wider dynamic range. The second consequence is that it’s fast – and it’s fast to recover, the terms attack and decay are often used to describe these properties, but the outcome is the ability to separate out instruments that creates space that enhances the soundstage giving for want of an overused term, that see-through quality.

On acoustic music it’s exciting (but not fatiguing) and mesmerizing. I am not a great fan of classical music, but Reiner conducting Scheherazade, Leonard Bernstein conducting Rhapsody in Blue, and Copland conducting Billy the Kidd were spectacular – much more involving than through the Paua. The Sussurro MKII ES Gold may yet make me a fan of classical music. Similarly with smaller venues, on the London Jazz Quartet The Last Concert the stage opens up and the reverberant field of the venue is better defined and the same for Neil Young Live at Massy Hall. And this review of the Soundsmith Mezzo and Nautilus which are higher output voltage versions of the Sussurro and Paua reflect that somewhat Soundsmith Mezzo And Nautilus Phono Cartridges Reproducing music on vinyl LPs... and worth every penny of their asking price. Review By Tom Lyle (enjoythemusic.com). But while not having heard the standard Sussurro, I suspect this Sussurro MKII ES Gold is a few notches more revealing.

Are there downsides to this ability to reproduce with complete accuracy what’s in the groove – yes. Right now, the current amp I am using is a Coda S12.5 driving Kharma CE2.2, and on some popular studio music that has high frequency distortion/emphasis (such as the Electra label)– it can be too much, and here the Paua shines; it’s just soft enough to avoid the edge. But on some popular music that can sound a bit dull on the Paua such as George Benson’s Brezzin, and the recent Tord Gustavsen Opening, the Sussurro MKII ES Gold is able to dig-out music that is missed or glossed over, bringing some welcome life to these albums. But on some laid-back albums such as Bill Evans & Jim Hall, Undercurrent (MFSL-Silver) the Sussurro MKII ES Gold offers no different playback than the Paua; so, it’s not creating anything, just truthful to the groove. When I swapped in a Graaf GM100 tube amp this winter, the Graaf produced a larger soundstage, traded little in bass, but traded off on some detail the Coda excels. PS - the Gold and the Graaf produce a near holographic image, but cozy for those cold winter months.

I have not listened to many other cartridges in-depth other than the other two other Soundsmith cartridges I own – Carmen and Boheme, and an Ortofon 2M Black. The Carmen is essentially a more forgiving version of the Paua and the Boheme is a more forgiving version of the Sussurro. But I did hear a comparison of the Lyra Etna and the Soundsmith Hyperion at VPI-CAF some years back, and it was the perfect setup – two exact same tables (HW40) each with its own cartridge playing back through the same system (large Wilsons’). They played the same Louis Armstrong record on each table. The differences were very apparent – the Etna reproduced the album as if Armstrong was in Aspen, Co, cool and dry, with great clarity while the Hyperion reproduced Armstrong as if he was in New Orlean, warm and moist. Both sounded great, but both gave a different perspective that would appeal to people differently. I would venture to say that the SS Gold when fully broken in is in between the Lyra Etna and SS Hyperion; kind of the best of both worlds.

For me the Sussurro MKII ES Gold is a keeper. It’s a nice change to the Paua – it’s that yin & yang that Harry Peterson would describe in colors of warm earth tones versus cooler blues. For info: I have a modified VPI-TNT with 2-arms (VPI 10.5 and 12”-Fatboy) feeding a Tron Seven Reference playing to a Wytech Jade 2.1. The Carmen and Boheme trade off with the 10.5 arm the Paua and Sussurro will trade-off with the 12-Fatboy. And, let’s not forget that the ownership cost of Soundsmith cartridges is much lower than others. When the cartridge is sent back, it’s not just retipped, its rebuilt so what comes back is essentially a new cartridge that does need to be broken in again. My Paua is on its 2nd rebuild and Soundsmith will upgrade the suspension to the latest design if applicable and if I didn’t know better, the current Paua on its 2nd rebuild sounded better than the original.
 
Of course. My original Sussurro MkII was a wonderful cartridge but the Gold version just eclipses it in so many ways. It has more "life" and dynamics and just grabs my attention. I love this cartridge so much that I have a "sealed" Hyperion-MR MKII that I'm not even anxious to open and install.
Now don't put the original down too much! Your original is the one I now own!
Chris
 
My records are clean...
Now who would have guessed it? ;)

Actually, I think this is the first I have heard from you, Neil, about your system. It's nice to know what those scrupulously-cleaned records are playing on.
 
Now don't put the original down too much! Your original is the one I now own!
You are 100% correct the original was/is a wonderful cartridge, always enjoyed it. Glad you are as well. ;)
 
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Interesting reads above. I just purchased a (freshly re-built by SoundSmith) Sussuro Mark II. Going to install it on a Schroeder CB-1L. Seeing as how Frank Schroeder had input on the design of the Sussuro line, and Peter L uses Schroeder arms for demos/shows, I think it should be a great match.
 
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Great information and comparisons. I recently received my Hyperion OCL select back from Peter with a rebuild employing the MR diamond. After a few hours for it to settle in it now sounds amazing. Peter was even impressed during his evealution after the rebuild and told me I should never part with this cartridge. I have it mounted on an Origin Live Enterprise IV tonearm. I have a Paua II on my second arm (OL Conqueror IV) and they are a great contrast to each other. Previous cartridges were the Windfeld ti and a Miyajima Madake
 
Can you expand on how the Hyperion and the Paua are a contrast to each other? Having finally got the Sussurro singing, I'm attracted both ends of the Soundsmith range (The Voice at one end, and Hyperion at the other).
 
Great information and comparisons. I recently received my Hyperion OCL select back from Peter with a rebuild employing the MR diamond. After a few hours for it to settle in it now sounds amazing. Peter was even impressed during his evealution after the rebuild and told me I should never part with this cartridge. I have it mounted on an Origin Live Enterprise IV tonearm. I have a Paua II on my second arm (OL Conqueror IV) and they are a great contrast to each other. Previous cartridges were the Windfeld ti and a Miyajima Madake
Size of arms 9 or 12 inch
I own a 12 it allows me to play the ss smkii gold
Very well
 

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