The Aida cartridge by The Soundsmith (formerly SMMC1) is a Stereophile A RATED cartridge. That is the "price is no object" range. Where are we in the price range of those cartridges? At the bottom. There isn't anyone even close to our price. Did Michael Fremer take some flack for doing that? You bet. How did he respond?? he said - "I put it in that group - because it deserved to BE in that group".
We build it with love and respect for your hard earned dollars. Here is the "micro-manufacturing" reality:
All top end cartridges from all manufacturers are hand made. The real issue is that when you are manufacturing something so tiny, that has to perform so well, that all of them are NOT the same. If you don’t see this statement from other manufacturers, then this is a "secret" they don’t want to share, and quite understandably so.
So.....what does Soundsmith do??
We carefully hand build each and every cartridge, test them, and keep accurate records by serial number of their performance. Those that meet or exceed specifications are sold. But, there are always a few that don't measure well. What do we do with them? We don't sell them. We break them down and re-use some parts that can be used again. Does this cost real money ? You bet. But what it does do is this.....the ones that DO pass our stringent testing out-perform many cartridges selling for two, three, four, or even five times the price. Are we unabashedly proud of our hand-made cartridges??
"Moving Iron Cartridges better?? I thought that moving COIL types are the best??"
Our cartridges overturn the myth that moving coil cartridges are the only path towards perfection. After all, what is the accepted “advantage” of moving coil cartridges? Low effective moving mass, right? Well, we've got less. Much less. And if you understand EFFECTIVE moving mass, Less IS more. Why is that good? Because when you lower the moving system mass, it’s easier to control. If it’s easier to control, the stylus can stay in better contact with the groove walls. That’s good, because if you can’t stay in contact with the groove walls, you can’t hear what’s on the record.
Is a high gain moving coil preamp required? No. "Aida” is designed to be used with a Moving Magnet preamp. No "step-up" transformers. No finicky multi-stage ultra high gain preamp required. Less is more here, too.
|Aida Technical specifications|
|Stylus||Contact Line Nude, 0.100mm SQ|
|Radius of curvature||(OCL) (Optimized Contour Contact Line)|
|Recommended Tracking force:||10mN / 1.0 gm (high) 13mN / 1.3 gm (medium)|
|Effective tip mass||0.30 mg|
|Compliance||28 µm/mN (high) 22 µm/mN (medium)|
|Frequency response||20-20,000 Hz ± 2.5 dB|
|Channel Separation (stereo only)||1000 Hz >30 dB 50-15,000 >20 dB|
|Channel difference||<1.0 dB (Stereo) < 1.0 dB (Mono)|
|Output @5 cm/sec.||>2.12 mV|
|Cartridge weight||6.8 grams|
|Load:||Resistance >/= 47 kohms
Capacitance: 100 - 200 pF
(400-600 pf available by special order)