Phono Cartridge Rebuilding and Stylus

Retipping Services by The Soundsmith

The Soundsmith is proud to continue into its 41st year romancing vinyl as we continue to rebuild, retip, design and manufacture new and unique phono cartridges (click the PRODUCTS LINK above to see our new cartridge designs). Our restoration service for your treasured worn or damaged phono cartridge will put new life into your valuable cartridge investment. Our customers feel the same way we do about vinyl; you can read some of their comments on our rebuilding service at the bottom of this page......

Most folks want to know "can my cartridge be rebuilt, even if the cantilever is snapped off??" The answer is yes; we usually can rebuild it, if the damage has not caused internal problems to the cartridge. We inspect for all types of internal damage as we start to work on any cartridge sent to us.

 

Do you own a GRACE F9 Cartridge?? We now make 4 REPLACEMNT STYLUS ASSEMBLIES !! CLICK THIS !

 

Or, if you are looking for superb performance and value in NEW moving coil designs....maybe a Wood Body for your Denon 103/R cartridge or other upgrades for those cartridges, take a look at our much talked about........

Soundsmith "Re-engineered" Denon moving coil cartridges - Click this !

We offer both retipping services only, as well as replacement of the complete cantilever/stylus assembly. Although more costly, retipping "only" is by far the preferred method of restoration for certain high end cartridges where the cantilever is intact and just the diamond has been lost or worn. These cantilevers are made of super-hard materials such as boron, silicon nitride or other composite materials and are typically found in Koetsu, Kiseki, Benz, specific models of both Clearaudio, Shelter and several others. For these, we perform "retipping only" with our Nude Contact Line styli, or our Optimized Contour Nude Contact Line design. "Retipping Only" costs range from $350 to $450.

For most cartridges with aluminum alloy (silver in color) where either the diamond is worn or the cantilever is bent or snapped off, it is less expensive and mandatory to replace the complete cantilever & stylus assembly. We perform this repair in one of three basic methods, described below, with cost ranging from $150 to $350. If your cartridge used one of the super hard cantilever materials, and the cantilever is snapped, we can usually rebuild it within a range of $250-$450 if there is no internal damage.

Many cartridges, even lower cost ones, that have or had aluminum cantilevers and low quality styli are capable of far better than original performance after rebuilding as performance is often limited by the original cantilever/stylus combination. Lower performance parts are sometimes used in manufacturing due to cost factors and limited availability of high quality materials. To restore and or dramatically raise the level of performance from your cherished high quality cartridge, we offer 3 basic quality levels of rebuild service:

  • $150.00 + shipping
  • Aluminum Alloy Cantilever

  • Nude Elliptical Diamond

This is our most economical rebuilding service. We employ an assembly comprising a ultra-light weight "Nude Elliptical" diamond for low moving mass, and an aluminum alloy cantilever. This represents what WAS found in most high quality cartridges in the past, and surprisingly, is often better than what is currently supplied as "original equipment" with new cartridges often costing over $1000. We attribute this to the limited supply of high quality diamond/stylus assemblies, and the desire for cartridge manufacturers to achieve the best "profit margin" from sale of their cartridges, as a high quality diamond cantilever assembly can be the most expensive part of the complete cartridge ! Often, this rebuild will allow the use of lower tracking force than previously possible.

  • $250.00 + shipping
  • Ruby Cantilever

  • Nude Contact Line Diamond

This quality level of rebuild will realize an upgrade for almost all cartridges and styli assemblies. With exacting care to angular positioning, we install a RUBY "Single Crystal" cantilever which holds a Nude "Contact Line" diamond, one of the most sophisticated stylus/cantilever assemblies ever made and often superior to those found in cartridges costing many thousands of dollars. This combination creates an ultra low mass system, capable of the finest reproduction from your cherished vinyl. The Contact Line Diamond has three times the contact area in the vertical direction of the groove wall compared to an elliptical shaped diamond. This lowers the "force per unit area" on both the diamond as well as the record groove, resulting in lower record and diamond wear. This upgrade can be done to almost any cartridge and stylus assembly. Once done, tracking force can usually be reduced to 1.3 - 1.7 grams.

If you desire this "contact line diamond" level of rebuild, we will automatically proceed with the superior Ruby cantilever assembly unless we find a technical reason that the Ruby cantilever cannot be installed. If that is the case, we will install an aluminum alloy cantilever (as was likely originally installed in your cartridge) with the Nude Contact Line Diamond.

  • $350.00 + shipping
  • Ruby Cantilever

  • Optimized Contour Nude Contact Line Diamond

For those who demand the best, this is our top-shelf capability for upgrading of almost any cartridge or styli assembly. We install a RUBY "Single Crystal" cantilever which holds a Nude "Optimized Contour" Contact Line Diamond. This diamond shape closely resembles the actual cutting stylus that is used to create the master record, resulting in a near perfect tracing of the record groove walls. The Contact Line Diamond has three times the contact area in the vertical direction of the groove wall, thus lowering the "force per unit area" on both the diamond as well as the record groove, resulting in lower record and diamond wear. This combination creates an ultra low mass system, capable of the finest reproduction from your cherished vinyl. This upgrade can be done to almost any cartridge and stylus assembly, and again, often allows reduction of tracking force.

If you desire this "Optimized Contour" contact line diamond" level of rebuild, we will automatically proceed with the superior Ruby assembly unless we find a technical reason that the Ruby cantilever cannot be installed. If that is the case, we will install an aluminum alloy cantilever (as was likely originally installed in your cartridge) with the Optimized Contour Nude Contact Line Diamond.

All cartridges are rebuilt personally by Peter Ledermann, President and Chief Engineer of The Soundsmith

How do I send it in?? Its easy.....and we have a new and better way ! ON-LINE  !

NEW! NEW! NEW! NEW! NEW! NEW! NEW! NEW!

To submit a cartridge for repair. PLEASE CLICK THIS > It will allow you to:

1) Register with Soundsmith (once only is needed) > you will get a PASSWORD Emailed to you

2) With that, you can fill in our ON-LINE FORM to send us one or more cartridges for repair

Our new ON-LINE service will automatically send you an EMAIL with your RA number, and allow you to generate a shipping label.

It will also ALERT YOUR BY EMAIL whenever the status changes, such as: Cartridge arrivedCartridge being worked on, Cartridge finished

With your Email and password, you can check status of your cartridge at any time 

If we are shipping back to you, and you are OUTSIDE of the USA, PLEASE REMEMBER that most all countries charge import Duty or VAT; we do not control this.  Can Soundsmith invoice for less than what we charged for the repair so you can AVOID VAT or import duty ?? Absolutely NOT. It is illegal for us to do so.  

If you are shipping from CANADA, please READ:

** You must declare the value of your broken cartridge at less than $200 to avoid INCOMING tariffs here in the US**

** If you want to declare it at a higher value, you must ship it as "Free Domicile" and you will pay tariffs **

** The best thing is to ASK at Canada UPS for it to be classified as "Canadian property sent for repair, to be RETURNED to Canada"

FAILURE to observe these conditions will result in our refusing the package - Thank you

 

                                                     Just click this!

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If you have problems with the above ON-LINE form, you may Email us for a REPAIR AUTHORIZATION NUMBER ("RA" number) cartridge  -

BUT....it may take us up to a week to respond. If you still want to Email us.....

Email us the following:

You name, Your return address where someone can SIGN FOR IT (no P.O. Boxes), your day and evening Phone numbers.....and the rebuild level of your choice.

PLEASE CLICK THIS>> CARTRIDGE-REBUILD EMAIL - CLICK THIS

Or Email: Craig@sound-smith.com

Our website: www.sound-smith.com  1- 800 942 8009 or outside the USA: 1- 914 739 2885

Remember - You absolutely DO NEED a REPAIR AUTHORIZATION NUMBER before you ship to us.....

WE STRONGLY SUGGEST THAT IF YOU VALUE  YOUR CARTRIDGE THAT YOU SEND IT USING A "TRACKED" PARCEL METHOD WHERE IT MUST BE SIGNED FOR, AND INSURE IT AS WELL

Can you find out if we have received your broken cartridge?? YES!! Ship it USING A SERVICE THAT PROVIDES DELIVERY CONFIRMATION AND SIGNATURE REQUIRED - Then you can find out through the shipper YOU CHOOSE that we have received it.

Should you call us to find out of it has arrived? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Don't call or Email to have us verify that we have received it - it takes our valuable time, and will INCREASE our operating costs, which will be reflected in our prices. Send it via a method that requires a DELIVERY CONFIRMATION.

The Soundsmith Corporation; Cartridge Rebuilding Division, 8 John Walsh Blvd., Suite 417; Peekskill NY 10566, USA  - we will contact you for payment once the work is completed.

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The Soundsmith is proud to introduce our new line of Moving Coil cartridges. These are brand new selected Denon units which have been re-engineered by Peter Ledermann to deliver very high-end performance. Our goal is to allow vinyl lovers to be able to acquire a reasonably priced Moving Coil design that will provide similar performance to cartridges costing several times as much. To order, please call 1-800 942 8009 (or 914 739 2885 from outside of the US). OR you may order DIRECTLY from our Denon/Soundsmith cartridge page by clicking this:

CLICK THIS TO GET TO OUR PAGE FOR MOVING COIL DESIGNS !

 

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Frequently asked questions:

My cantilever is bent or snapped off - can I still get my cartridge rebuilt??

>> Yes; unless the internal suspension or coils are damaged form the abuse to the cantilever, we can usually rebuild a cartridge that has this kind of damage. We inspect it fully to insure that there has been no internal damage prior to the rebuild.

What is a "cantilever??

> A cantilever is the tiny arm that holds the diamond tip or stylus; its best properties are achieved when it is lightweight, strong, and extremely resistant to bending. Materials most often used are Aluminum alloy tubing, Ruby, Sapphire, Boron, and others....

Can I get just the tip replaced, and not the entire Cantilever ??

> Yes, we can re-tip only, but it does not cost less. In fact, it is much more time consuming to perform a "retip only" as it is more difficult.....and does cost more. Typical costs for retipping only are between $350 and $450 - Please contact us first to discuss cartridges where this is the required rebuilding process. Requirement for retipping only depends on the brand and design of your original cantilever, and its condition. As stated above, sometimes it is not appropriate to replace the cantilever, and we will perform a "retip" only. If possible, we will "retip" only if specifically requested. However, if we find the cantilever is damaged, or cannot be "retipped" only, we will rebuild the entire assembly - we can
"retip only" with elliptical, contact line or optimized contact line.

Do you work on cartridge types and models not listed here???

> Yes, we have rebuilt many cartridges that are not listed, including some antique and unusual types. We have rebuilt original mono Grado moving coil types, and many other cartridges that other retipping companies indicate cannot be repaired or rebuilt. We do charge for an evaluation, but do NOT charge for any amount of time and materials on a "preauthorized for rebuild" cartridge that we find, after inspection, cannot be rebuilt.

What happens if the cartridge is damaged during the rebuilding process??

> It must be understood that there is always some risk when performing any type of microscopic repair. Although we have an extremely high success rate, a very low level of risk is unavoidable. Unlike doctors and most other cartridge rebuilders, we do NOT charge for our time and materials when we are unsuccessful at rebuilding, or if the cartridge is damaged.

How long does it take to get the work done?

> That depends on the number of customers who sent in work ahead of yours. Lead times have unfortunately grown longer than I would like them to be - I am working hard to bring them back down to where they were, in the 4-6 week range, but recent demands on my time to develop new products have grown the lead time to much longer. I personally am involved with each and every cartridge repair to insure that each and every customer gets the full measure of my experience and skills.

Do you have a warranty for your work??

> Yes, ONE FULL YEAR to the original owner.

Can I pay with Paypal??

> Yes we accept PAYPAL, Visa, Master Card and Discover. You do NOT need to be a PAYPAL member to use your credit card with PAYPAL. Our PAYPAL account is Admin@sound-smith.com

How do I send it in??

> See the above link for our ON-LINE System and Email notification Service

It is slower, but you can also Call or Email us for a RETURN AUTHORIZATION NUMBER ("RA" number), and we will Email you full instructions on how to ship your valued cartridge  - Email  link can be found above....

Please Email us the following: You name, Your return address where someone can SIGN FOR IT, your day and evening Phone numbers.....and any other pertinent information we need to know. PLEASE Remember - this is MUCH MUCH SLOWER than using our ON-LINE service.

Of course, we are here to speak with you - Please Contact us at 1 (800) 942-8009, or from outside of the USA - 914 739 2885 (We are in New York)

If you came to our site through this page please browse through the top menus to the rest of our site - please visit our Strain Gauge and moving iron cartridge pages!

See below for customer comments .................

BRANDS FOR REBUILDING/RETIPPING INCLUDE (but are not limited to):

Benz Micro, Bluenote, Cardas, Clearaudio, Decca, Denon, Dynavector, Gemini, Goldring, Grado, Grace, Graham, Ikeda, Kiseki, Koetsu, Lyra, Ortofon, Pickering, Rega, Shelter, Shure, Stanton, Sumiko, Audio-Technica, Technics, & many others including collectable and rare cartridges.

Bang and Olufsen:

We rebuild ONLY the original MMC2 and MMC1 cartridges and SP series styli under certain conditions:

If your original MMC1 or MMC2 does NOT have a broken stylus or cantilever, we maybe able to rebuild it - If it is distorting, or has lost one or both channels, we can usually rebuild it for a flat fee of $295 plus shipping. We will FIRST inspect the stylus, and if it is NOT WORN, then we will proceed.

We also rebuild all types of the B&O-SP stylus assemblies at two levels: $119.95 and $179.95, depending on the quality desired.

For all other B&O cartridges, we do NOT rebuild them, but manufacture new ones, which is far more cost effective.

Click this link for pricing & information on B&O (Bang and Olufsen) cartridge rebuilding -

http://www.sound-smith.com/cartridges/index.htm#rebuild

RETIPPING/REBUILDING SERVICES INCLUDES:

Inspection of suspension components, electrical integrity, and replacing of worn, aging, broken stylus & cantilever assemblies: ONE YEAR warranty.

Contact us for further information, EMAIL US AT peter@sound-smith.com

Our website: www.sound-smith.com   1- 800 942 8009 or outside the USA: 1- 914 739 2885

Our FAX 914 739 5204 - PLEASE Email afterwards to verify that the fax has been received.

You DO NEED a REPAIR AUTHORIZATION NUMBER before you ship to:

The Soundsmith Corporation; Cartridge Rebuilding Division, 8 John Walsh Blvd., Suite 417; Peekskill NY 10566, USA

Contact us for further information, EMAIL US AT peter@sound-smith.com

Our website: www.sound-smith.com   1- 800 942 8009 or outside the USA: 1- 914 739 2885

Our FAX 914 739 5204 - PLEASE EMail afterwards to verify that the fax has been received.

You DO NEED a REPAIR AUTHORIZATION NUMBER before you ship to:

:

The Soundsmith Corporation; Cartridge Rebuilding Division, 8 John Walsh Blvd., Suite 417; Peekskill NY 10566, USA

 

CUSTOMER LETTERS WE HAVE RECEIVED......

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the splendid rebuild of my Shelter 901 (ruby cantilever, and Contact Line Diamond).  When I got the cartridge back I examined it under a stylus microscope, and could not believe the precision, and quality of your work.  After listening to numerous familiar lp's (classical, and jazz), my friends, and I were floored at the dramatic improvement in the sound, and performance of the cartridge.  Amazingly, it not only conveys significantly more information (with much improved bass and treble) across the entire audio spectrum, it accomplishes all that without adding any edge or glare.  On disc after disc, including mono performances, the result was a captivating presentation.  On the best recordings, the illusion of a live performance was edge of the seat real.  In short, this is so good I am sending my backup NOS Shelter 901 to you for the same rebuild. 

Barry Tayman

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Dear Peter,

You are perfectly right, the Koetsu Jade sounds wonderful again Thank you for your perfect work, it is

"artwork".

 

Sincerely,  Reinhard Burke (Germany)

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Hello Peter,

Feel free to use any or all of my comments below as you see fit.

The Fidelity Research MC201 that I just got back from a complete Soundsmith rebuild is by far the best sounding cartridge I have yet heard in my system. That would include many high end carts, some in the $4-5K range. And I was furthermore extremely (and pleasantly) surprised by the bill - at how reasonable and affordable it was. Communication was very helpful and professional, and the turnaround time better than expected. Actually, I'd have to say all aspects of the Soundsmith's work were far in excess of my expectations. This is a tremendous resource for anyone who has valuable older cartridges, many of which are at least the equal to the most expensive new cartridges offered today.

Johnathan Weiss

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Hi Peter!

Thank U for repairing my Genesis 1000 It is working wonderful with my Breuer 8 and my old orig. Roksan Xerxes.

Thanks God there is still folks doing this and taking care of vintage stuff.

I wish U all the best

Christer Dahlström -  Sweden

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Hi Peter,

On record after record, your rebuild of my Shelter 901 continues to amaze me.  Add the best violin, including harmonics, and the best solo piano I have ever heard to the list. 

With respect to my NOS 901 with the cockeyed cantilever, we initially discussed repair (keeping the original cantilever, and diamond).  After hearing your wizardry at work in my system, forget about repairing this one.  I am sending it to you (RA #71442) for a replacement of the cantilever, and stylus with your best rebuild at $350 (ruby cantilever, and line contact diamond), and whatever else it may need.

Best regards,

Barry

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Peter,

Thanks for a great job on my Kiseki Purple Heart; the cartridge sounds wonderful. I have played at least ten albums on it and the sound seems to be getting better each day. I would highly recommend your ruby cantilever upgrade to anyone with a Kiseki Purple Heart, sounds wonderful. You have saved me allot of money, considering the cost of a new cartridge in the same league as the Kiseki Purple Heart.
Thanks Again, Michael

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Peter:

My Grace Ruby arrived Tuesday afternoon and I installed the cartridge on my VPI HW19 MkIV with Sumiko FT4 tonearm. I stayed a up quite late listening and I am very pleased to report that the cartridge sounds terrific. As the cartridge breaks in I will adjust the vta as you suggested. While I was waiting for this one to return I had the luck to purchase another Grace Ruby with no more than ten hours use. Comparing the two cartridges I have to say that the SoundSmith Grace Ruby has not lost any of the character/sound from that of the original and if anything sounds better with full deep bass, great detail and silky smooth midrange/high end. I couldn't be happier with the results and would highly recommend SoundSmith to anyone who needs a treasured cartridge rebuilt.                          Best regards, Rich.

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Hello Peter,   

Just wanted to tell you how pleased I am with the Shelter cartridge retip.  It sounds 2 to 3 levels better than before.  The low frequencies are much fuller and palpable while being more musical.  The highs seem to shimmer much more than before.  Cymbal decay seems to be very extended now.  The mid frequencies still retain a fluid sound while being more dynamic.  Overall, the sound is much more alive with a greater sense of being pulled into the recording.    Thanks for giving me not only a retip - but in a sense - a significant upgrade with my Shelter 501.  I really cannot believe it is the same cartridge. 

  A very sincere Thanks!! David Hall

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Dear Peter,

UPS delivered my Grace/Ruby rebuild cartridge today.It was installed in the Linn Sondek LP 12 within 20 minutes and is delivering BORN AGAIN sound. Thanks to you and your team for all your good work. I will try to support you with future business wherever possible.        Kind Regards   Bob Seach

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Peter,

I installed the Dynavector yesterday. I was very cautious and deliberate with the installation and setup. After all adjustments were complete, I gleefully report the following:

I achieved nearly 30 db crosstalk at 1Khz in both directions, but only after applying enough anti skate. Insufficient anti skate gave me bad right channel performance as expected. ...... and I am glad my VPI Scout has it.

With swept sine waves from 20hz to 20Khz, I saw no distortion on the o-scope in either channel using 2 grams tracking force.

There seems to be a rather small VTA sweet spot which was easy to find using my Stax electrostatic headphones.

How does it sound? Wonderful! It is definitely a keeper. Thanks!

Larry Kornfeld www.groovethang.net

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The Hands of a Master

In this day of shoddy craftsmanship and "throwaway materials", it is quite rare to come across someone who possesses virtuosity of the hands. That being said, I want to relate to you something of a throwback nature and when I say throwback, I mean one must look back to the renaissance age to discover this aptitude for excellence.

My tale of woe started when I lent my audio system to a friend to enjoy for a year or two whilst I was out making a documentary film about American waitresses.

When I returned to make arrangements to transport my equipment to my new living quarters – I noticed that the turntable was off to the side and not being used. I felt this odd in that the analog section of my system was truly remarkable. It consisted of a Kyocera turntable that had been tweaked to a remarkable degree; all of the improvements helped the twelve-pound ceramic platter create a dead black background. The table was fitted with a SME IV magnesium tone arm that helped my beloved Koetsu cartridge track with an uncanny flare. The sound was sweet and pure and with the right source material – created audio nirvana! The signal from the turntable was fed into a Krell KRC preamp, which sourced the gesticulated sound into the Krell KSA amplifier, which in turn drove a pair of Dynaudio Contour four speakers. I am giving you this information only so you know that I am a serious ‘listener’ and have stepped to the plate, to achieve what I consider to be a high level of reproduced sound. So, knowing this, you can imagine my shock upon inspection of the turntable, to discover that the Koetsu was mangled; in that, the cantilever was jutting out at a right angle. As if it was hit by an immovable lead weight. When I asked as to what happened to create this calamity, I received the old blank stare. In other words – it must have happened by itself. I left in a huff to try and find somebody to help fix this problem; for at this point it was still fixable. The next morning I received a phone call from my audio guardian, that he had alleviated the problem himself, he said: “It was all quite simple, I took a small pair of pliers and gave the needle a twist and it ‘snapped’ right into place.” This information did nothing to put me at ease; it only heightened my anxiety to the point that I felt like Woody Allen on stimulants. As soon as I entered his home, I went strait to the damaged Koetsu for a cursory inspection of the cantilever. To my surprise, the cantilever was as straight as when I left it under his stewardship two years before. I put a record on the turntable and watched the needle find the groove. At that instant my guarded anticipation turned to hopeless depression as the sound was akin to an old AM car radio playing music while driving by an electrical grid. I managed to get my stereo gear out of his house and transported two thousand miles to my new home in Florida.

Using the Internet I was able to find a business that went by the name of The Soundsmith. The proprietor and chief engineer was a fellow by the name of Peter Ledermann. This Peekskill, New York emporium’s claim to fame was the ability to fix cartridges that had fallen in to a state of disrepair. I had serious doubts that my beloved cartridge would ever track Beethoven or Mozart again. But, I called and spoke to Peter and felt encouraged by his approach. One thing that he said, I found to be as rare as hen’s teeth, was this: “ If I can’t fix your Koetsu, there will be no charges rendered. With that statement, he supplied me with a customer number and an address in which to send the cartridge.

After about a week, I received a call from Peter that had the effect on me of being in a runaway elevator. He related these words to me “In all of my years in this business, I have never come across this kind of damage before.” He detailed the extent of the damage, starting with the suspension that was mangled and ending with the broken leads that had been torn off the cartridge. In all, he did not venture much hope at being able to repair this wonderful cartridge and we discussed sending it back to Japan to let the people who built it, rebuild it. The problem with that was that the cost of a new cartridge would be about six or seven thousand dollars. So, I was looking at more than thirty-five hundred going the Japanese route. I told Peter that I needed to think about the later option and would get back to him in a couple of weeks. When I got back in touch, Peter said that he had been thinking about the Koetsu and he was going to try and rebuild my cartridge in house. I gave him the go a head and waited for ‘the call.’

Three weeks later I received the news that my cartridge was ready to ship back to me. The cost was twelve hundred dollars. I cautiously asked Peter what he thought about the performance. If one has ever dealt with an inventor, engineer or anyone who builds things, you learn that exuberance is not part of their makeup. So, when this man told me that he felt that he had made the cartridge better then new, the same elevator that sent me crashing down gave me an express ride back to the clouds. I could not wait to receive my baby back.

The real test would be in my living room, unencumbered by the outside world. With great anticipation, I mounted the cartridge on to the arm and completed the necessary ‘fiddling’ required to get everything in line. Once that chore was completed, it was time to pull out my favorite records and see/hear what magic Peter was able to perform.

The first album that I chose to play was a Sheffield Labs classic of Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s production of Wagner’s: Ride of the Valkyries. The experience of listening to this old friend was as if I was hearing it for the first time. I heard a more spacious soundstage along with detail and I mean detail. Cymbals were heard as if I was in the auditorium; third row center. Vibrations from the tympani drums were delivered from a place far below the rest of the orchestra and were registered deep inside my chest. Yes, this was an experience to behold. Sound delivered to my ears as the composer intended it to be. The more disks that I played the more comfortable the sound became; this was not an exploitation of the music, it was the music.

I have no idea what Peter Ledermann did to the Koetsu, all I know is that he made it better then it ever was. I always thought that the highs were pristine and the midrange was just a bit weighted. As for the bottom end, it always seemed to lack that final octave, which I blamed on the speakers.  Now, I was hearing the wonderful synergy of all my equipment coming together for the very first time and it was breathtaking.

Peter Ledermann is a true Master of the Hands!

Michael Judge

Palmetto, FL

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Hi Peter,

The Grace F9-E cartridge with retip got here today. I am very happy.  What an awesome job. The cartridge sounds like my memory says it did when I purchased it new over twenty years ago. Cymbals practically sizzle.  The bass is tight and clean. Voicing is three dimensional.

The Grace F9-e has been known as one of the best MM cartridges ever made. The Sound Smith retip seems to have made it better.

Thank you so much for a wonderful piece of craftmanship.

Yours truly,
Michael Frank

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Hi Peter: 

I would like to thank you for the superb job Soundsmith did in rebuilding my Monster Cable cartridge. It is nice to see that there are still a few companies that take pride in their work.

Thanks for your help

Regards, Larry Silbert

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Peter,

I just wanted to say thanks for the fantastic retip job on my Virtuoso Wood, I finally got it installed this last week and have been very impressed with it's performance. Soundstage is huge, a great improvement. Bass is well defined and midrange is just right. I am still going through some of my favorite LP's and giving them a good listen, finding that they have never sounded better! You will definitely get my business again, I feel that the service you provide is well worth the price.

Kind regards,

Thomas Pogue
Portland, Oregon

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Peter and Associates,


When I first lost the tip of my Ortophone X1-MC I thought ,(1) should I replace it or (2) retip. I found Soundsmith on the web and gave Peter a call. The Ortophon was not a expensive cartridge, and the sound was acceptable not exceptional. I asked if it was worth the expense to retip this modest cartridge. Peter said that it would be worth the expense, as the differences in most of the cartridges, in a product line, differ only in the cantilever and stylus tip. So the "generator" in the lowest priced model may be the same as a higher priced model. I decided to go for the ruby cantilever and OCL nude tip. When the cartridge was finished and tested, Peter said I would be pleased with the results.

Pleased is perhaps a understatement, the results were more than I had expected. My sonic memory of the original Ortophon's sound was fuzzy, but I had two other cartridges to compare it with. A Goldring eroica H, and a Shure V15V-MR. The Goldring has very good inner detail, but with a compressed soundstage , both in width and depth. The Shure is a" easy listening" cartridge, never fatiguing, but not very memorable. It does its job with no major faults. I was hoping that the refurbished Ortophon would blow them both "out of the water". I had thought that this hope was just wishful thinking.

The results were very impressive - I got the exquisite inner detail of the Goldring with a much larger soundstage both in width and depth. The separation between the instruments was phenomenal . In listening to Oregon - Roots in the Sky, the first cut on side 2 "House of Wax", there is a lot of interplay between the instruments, none of which gets lost in the background. They all seem to stand out in various locations and depth, with the proper balance. The high overtones of the cymbals ,or whatever they are, shimmer, the buzz of the strings of the double bass, and the grace notes of the piano, often overlooked, are not masked. In short, yes, I was pleased with the results.

I would recommend this upgrade to anyone hesitant about retipping a good mechanically sound cartridge. I now feel that I have a high output Ortophon Kontrapunkt b, too bad Ortophon doesn't make one.

Warren A. Schrick
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Hi Peter,

The DynaVector seems to be working out great. It sounded a little sluggish at first but I attributed that to the suspension needing to loosen up a bit after the repair. Also, I have not yet done a final adjustment so I'm sure everything will sound better once I do. The cart tracks better than it ever did; even on intense vocals on inner tracks. Tracking force is currently set to 2.1g but I will most likely set it to 2.2g for the final adjustment.

I appreciate the work you did; and especially your honesty. I will definitely send you more work and referrals as I can. I will let you know how it goes after the final set-up.
Thanks again,
Ken Willis
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Hi Peter:  

RE: Linn Trioka REBUILT.   Your handy work is awesome;  my like new cartridge sounds fantastic.  I look forward to the next one :o)..  

Sincerely, Chun Lee

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Hi, Peter,

You asked me to let you know how the new ruby cantilever worked on the Clearaudio Harmony MG cartridge that lost its cantilever.
I have only mounted it for a short time so far. It has been a bit of a challenge dialing it in because the new cantilever makes it a bit of a mystery cartridge.
The original recommendation for tracking with the old cantilever was 2.5mg tracking force. This clearly did not work with the ruby assembly, it was way too high. I backed it off to 2.2, better, then 2, better, then 1.8, better yet. Finally, I tried the outer range recommended on the web site to 1.5. It actually sounded good here, but lost it a little in the leading edge of vocals and instruments. I finally have settled on 1.6 to 1.8, where it is smoother, but does not seem to sacrifice much in detail and the bass and lower midrange are firmer. It looks and sounds happy here with the VTA adjusted with a little bit of back tilt up. I am going to leave it here and play it like this for a while.
Comparing the old with the new so far, the old cantilever seemed to sacrifice some of the surfeit of detail from the generator in exchange for better tracking, smoothness and rejection of groove noise. The ruby cantilever in contrast is more delicate and detailed with the best high frequencies I have ever heard, but with slightly higher groove noise. The ruby seems to want to capture every last tiny detail. The ruby seems to be more sensitive to anti skate, VTA etc. I can't say that either cantilever was markedly superior since they both seem to have a somewhat different goal, although the ruby is probably more "audiophile" whatever that means.
It is still the best cartridge I have ever heard in either iteration.
I will listen to it for a few weeks and give you some follow up, I expect that it will open up a bit as it goes through the mysterious process of break in. I am using it with an SME 30 turntable with SME IV-VI arm and Manley Steelhead phono stage.

thanks again,
Carl

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Hi, Peter,

Just to follow up on the ruby cantilever retip of the Clearaudio Harmony MG.
As you predicted, the surface noise dropped with a little use, although it was never a problem, just an observation.
The sound is fantastic, very detailed. The old cantilever tracked like a Hummer because of the stylus weight of 2.5g, but the ruby also tracks very well at 1.7 g which is where I am going to keep it.
All in all, considering the cartridge is muy expensivo, the retip is more than worthy and improved the cartridge in particulars (speed, delicacy).

thanks again,
Carl

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The following testimonials are from the EMails that are posted on the WEB 

Stereomojo: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2006 Review - Part 2
Soundsmith is a company previously known for its hi-end repair and cartridge retipping service, but Peter Ledermann is making big waves with very innovative products.
www.stereomojo.com/rmaf2006/ [Found on MSN Search

12-31-06: Wwwrecords
You might want to check over on the Vinyl Asylum. There has been some talk about the $250 retip by soundsmith and those who have had it done are very pleased. I think it includes a ruby cantilever, but not sure.
Wwwrecords (System | Threads | Answers)

#2
04-01-2007, 02:31 PM
majick47
AK Member Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 35

MM Retip
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Just had a Grace Ruby MM retipped by SoundSmith and I'd do it again. Check the web site. If you like your Shure V15 and want to keep it is worth it,
__________________
Howard
9: Re: Question on retipping a Sumiko BPS EvoIII (9.90)
Posted by Fred J on 2006-12-28, 22:07:42 (70.226.133.106)


There has been a lot of posts concerning Soundsmith Re-tips of late, and all positive. Why not contact them and ask about the possibility of getting your BPS back in service. Soundsmith has 3 level .......

10: Mine is at the SoundSmith right now. (9.76)
12: soundsmith (9.45)

Posted by dean man jim ( A ) on February 24, 2007 at 19:54:20
In Reply to: Re: Denon 103R repair or buy new? posted by Jeff V. on February 24, 2007 at 18:14:23:
Do about a minute of archive digging and you'll find some inmates who are smitten with their SoundSmith rebuilds. The ruby cantilever and "contact line" stylus has had a profound affect on the performance of my DL103 yet the cartridge has retained the Gestalt that I so much admire in its stock form. Peter does excellent work, and he is a pleasure to speak with on the phone. Let us know what you decide!
Jim
71.10.136.75
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Posted by anumber1 ( A ) on March 23, 2007 at 20:33:06
Fresh out of the UPS man's hands this afternoon, I received my Sound-Smith re tipped Denon DL-103. I had the Ruby cantilever, "Line Contact" stylus installed.
I had recently been using a Sound-Smith re tipped Ortofon MC20 Super but since I had acquired it with a broken cantilever, I really have no idea what it originally sounded like.
That is not the case with the Denon. The difference between an original Denon and the Sound-Smith rebuild is impressive. As far as I can tell, even in this early, just returned state the cartridge has improved resolution of the high frequencies while still maintaining the overall midrange strengths of the original.
The re tipped Denon is very airy and much more spacious than the original. I am very satisfied! It can only get better from here with a bit of run in time!
I am digging Sufjan Stevens' "Michigan" at the moment...I wonder if I am going to go to bed tonight...
--
Al G
Soundsmith retipped my Koetsu Rosewood
71.175.136.222
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Posted by Pauly ( A ) on March 29, 2007 at 05:56:38
In Reply to: Another Sound-Smith Retip DL103R posted by Jeff V. on March 28, 2007 at 18:20:26:
Really A+ job. It sounds great. I'll definitely be sending all my carts to them in the future

Soundsmith retipped DL103 - progress report
203.173.172.238
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Posted by Kiwi Brian ( A ) on December 14, 2006 at 01:11:36
Is good.
Actually - *was* good. A week after my retipped (ruby cantilever, line contact stylus) 103 (I'll call it SS103) returned, an unidentified (but we have our suspicions) 3 1/2 year old son demonstrated a new and hitherto unsuspected ability to open the door to the stereo room. He celebrated this achievement by cleanly snapping off the new cantilever. They are very hard to love sometimes...
While it was here, I liked the SS103 a lot. It is much "cleaner" sounding (think bright without any wince) than stock. It actually was a little bright at first, but changing to a slightly flatter interconnect settled that (I did have Cat 5 IC in there, which definitely is bright, but works OK with the stock 103). Soundstaging is a lot more expansive and solid. Bass tight and convincing. All the components of the music are there if you want to listen for them, but form a nice, integrated whole that really has that "103 groove" many of us like so much. Tracked very well at 1.25g. I ran it very slightly tail up. Surface noise minimal.
I found Soundsmith very efficient and professional to deal with. My questions got quick and extensive email replies. Pretty quick turnaround considering the distances involved.
Compared to my Shelter 501 II, the SS013 tracks more securely, and is more musical. Sorry that I cant pin it down better than that - all I know is that the SS103 is much more likely to keep me up past midnight playing "just one more track", and is more likely to interrupt my work if I am doing some passive listening.
So what is happening to my re-trashed cart? No-brainer - it's on its way back to Soundsmith. That decision took about 2 secs. And I've put a bolt on the listening room door.
Cheers
Brian

In Reply to: I've heard similar stories from other OC9 users posted by Fretless on January 17, 2007 at 15:52:51:
I prefer the 103 as well. Speaking of Soundsmith, I had Peter retip one of my 103's with the ruby cantilever, sounds even better and I'm tracking at 1.5 now!

A SoundSmith retip did wonders for my Grace F-9E as well
216.114.172.77
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Posted by Ernie L ( A ) on December 26, 2006 at 16:04:02
In Reply to: Soundsmith rebuild of Denon DL103, longish reactions. posted by dean man jim on December 26, 2006 at 15:46:18:
The LC type stylus is indeed a wonder at retrieving
I have only looked at one Shibata stylus under a scope. I was less than impressed. Your mileage may vary, IMHO, etc etc

Re: Another Sound-Smith Retip DL103R
71.56.123.154
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Posted by etch ( A ) on March 28, 2007 at 22:09:09
In Reply to: Re: Another Sound-Smith Retip DL103R posted by Jeff V. on March 28, 2007 at 19:00:15:
Oh do I love my Soundsmith re tipped 103! I went all out for the ruby cantilever and it's very impressive. Mine settled down after the 30 hour mark or so but sounded good right away. A bargain when you compare it to high end MC world...

Re: Denon 103R repair or buy new?
69.246.183.42
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Posted by mosin ( A ) on February 24, 2007 at 16:48:08
In Reply to: Denon 103R repair or buy new? posted by Jeff V. on February 24, 2007 at 16:43:01:
Send it to Soundsmith, and get an exotic cantilever with a better stylus. It will cost more than a new 103R, but you'll have a superior cartridge.

Re: Repair tiny internal wire on Benz cartridge
67.22.230.7
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Posted by Ray-o-Stat ( A ) on December 31, 2006 at 12:56:31
In Reply to: Repair tiny internal wire on Benz cartridge posted by cjfrbw on December 30, 2006 at 12:17:47:
This happened to me with a Benz Reference Silver. One of the wires separated from the back of the connection pin. I could barely see the wire, let alone try to actually solder it back onto the pin, so I sent it to Musical Surroundings for service. Seven months later, they sent me a replacement cartridge. This was only after confronting them in front of a mob of potential customers during the NYC Hi Fi Show. If I hadn't done that, I probably would still be waiting for them to come through.
Since your "classic" is not under warranty, I would suggest conferring with a quality cartridge rebuilder. perhaps Soundsmith, since they seem to be getting lots of praise here lately.
Good luck!
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Soundsmith rebuild of Denon DL103, longish reactions.
71.215.32.16
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Posted by dean man jim ( A ) on December 26, 2006 at 15:46:18
So here’s the short version: The sound of a Denon DL103 with the Soundsmith rebuild (ruby cantilever and line contact stylus) seems to retain the musical gestalt of the original 103 which I greatly admire. The rebuild also provides a significant amount of additional low-level musical information and immediacy as well as deeper/better controlled bass and smoother/more refined high frequencies, as compared to the stock 103. Overall it retrieves more music from the grooves while providing a holistic presentation that is much more refined and resolved. Very much worth the cost IMHO, and it will no doubt be interesting to hear about future A-B comparisons made by others with the Shelter 501 II or other highly regarded $1K-and-under cartridges.
Here’s the rest:
In order to evaluate I used a handful of recordings that I think I know very well, but it was hard work as the cartridge more forcefully pulled me into the music than I am accustomed to. More than once I simply forgot about what I was listening to/for and just enjoyed the tunes and the sound. I wanted to use LPs that were representative of the 250 or so “better sounding” titles in my modest collection of about 700 so I primarily used a London recording of the Tchaikovsky Sym 6 (Mehta/LA—mvt 1), the 1992 “Breaking Silence” LP by Janis Ian, a couple of Harmonia Mundi recordings by the Boston Camerata, a couple of outstanding MFSL orchestral reissues, and a couple of 70s pop LPs (Art Garfunkel “Breakaway,” Seals & Crofts “Greatest Hits”).

Compared to the stock 103 there is a new level of harmonic completeness such as increased presence of resultant tones appearing in good choral/vocal and orchestral recordings, and more complete timbral representations of sounds. Other things I heard included a far greater sense of ambience and space, increased detail such as hearing the bite of resin in softly bowed string bass passages, an increased physical sensation of the sound of plucked string instruments at low dynamic levels, new sounds of woodwind pads and keys jumping out in lightly scored orchestral passages, increased decay of notes and increased sense of the hall’s sound and walls, and easier differentiation of sounds that are primarily based on the leading edge of notes for instance whether a timpanist is using soft or hard mallets.
Even in very demanding orchestral recordings such as the “Saturn” movement in the MFSL The Planets (Holst/Solti/London), or the MFSL Pines of Rome (Resphighi/Maazel/Cleveland Sym), the cartridge remains composed in digging out pedal-board organ melodies while simultaneously presenting lightly-scored passages. In well-engineered studio recordings there is better reproduction of close-mic’d/amplified voices and localization of sounds in the soundstage, much better differentiation of timbre between various and sundry percussion instruments (mounted tom vs floor tom for example), and iterations of the other advancements I listed in the previous paragraph.
The soundstage is larger, now sometimes extending from wall to wall and about 2/3 of the distance to the ceiling in my listening room. The sound never sounds or feels “pushed” instead it often seems to just float or hang to a degree that the stock 103 never did in my system.
I should briefly describe the circumstances that led me to send the cartridge to Soundsmith. Phonophono in Germany only charges about $150 USD for a Shibata rebuild on the 103 delivered back to the US (w/ aluminum cantilever rather than ruby)—but my communication with them indicated that they couldn’t even guess at how long it would take and suggested it could take 2 months. The company that actually does the work for Phonophono, Der Nadelspezialist, did not respond to my inquiry. I didn’t contact VDH. At Soundsmith Peter Ledermann himself spoke with me and indicated it would take 7-10 days. I don’t mind paying more for excellent service as opposed to lousy service so I didn’t in the least mind paying Soundsmith $250, and I got the cartridge back fast. It only took about 15 hours to run in. After about 40 hours mine sounds best between 1.25-1.5 g VTF. With warped records I do need to add more VTF though, to about 1.5-1.8 g. I'll be sure to write if the sound changes with more hours, but things have been so stable since it's been run in that I thought I'd send this in now.
My associated equipment is listed in my system here, but the primary bits and pieces are a Russco Mk V (hybrid belt-idler) TT, TWL-modded Jelco arm, a Wright WPP100C phono stage and Wright transformer, YS Audio Symphonies Line Stage, modified NAD amp, ACI Sapphire LE III speakers, Mirage MS12 subwoofer.
As I mentioned above, details aside the best thing about this cartridge for me is the holistic way that it portrays music. I like it a lot and I’d send it to Soundsmith again with no hesitation.
Jim
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AT440MLa initial impression (can't resist)
24.23.106.252
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Posted by olddude55 ( A ) on January 21, 2007 at 06:59:11
I've got the MLa installed in an SL-1210, aligned using the Turntable Basics protractor, tracking at 1.4 grams VTF and the anti-skate set at 0.6 grams. My table also has the KAB fluid damper.
The cart only has about four hours on it right now, so it still sounds a bit on the thin side. Detail, however, is excellent. Bass is tight and well defined. There's no brightness in the upper-mids that I can hear. High-end extension is outstanding. Compared to the DL-103 and DV 10x5, however, the sound is not as full. This should change with break-in.
The cart is also sensitive to VTA adjustment. It helps to have VTA on the fly because you can really hear it when you get it dialed in. On the Technics, the MLa sounds best with the flat of the headshell parallel to the LP surface. This puts the pivot of the tone arm just slightly lower than the headshell. You Rega guys with fixed VTA should probably put a spacer under the tonearm and use platter mats of differing thicknesses to get the right VTA/SRA if you plan on using the 440.
What this cartridge does best is track! Last night, I pulled out the Jayhawks' Rainy Day Music , an album I complained about here last week for it's gritty sound and massive sibilance. Neither the Denon nor the Dynavector could tame this beast. Even the opening tracks on each side of each LP (it's a two-record set) had a harsh, uncontrolled sound. Sibilance began to set in by the second track. No amount of realigning/playing with anti-skate/VTF/VTA made a dent.
But the AT440MLa reveals Rainy Day Music in all of its sweet and beautiful detail. Sibilance is gone. There's no hint of grit, it no longer sounds like the guy at the mixing board had a head cold. The space between the lead and backing vocal is perfect. You can easily visualize lead singer Gary Louris at the center mike and the backing vocalist to his right. Guitars shimmer, the interplay between acoustic and electric is there in all its glory.
Rainy Day Music isn't the best Jayhawks album, but it's a decent listen and it sure is good to finally enjoy playing the LP.
If this is an example of what a line-contact stylus in a compliant cantilever can do, then I'm sold. It's only a matter of time until my older carts head to Soundsmith for retipping.
In my opinion, if the AT440MLa can make a silk purse out of the Rainy Day Music sow's ear, there isn't an LP on my shelf that it can't cleanly track

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