Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Sound Smith Cartridges

It's not often that I buy something  Hifi without listening to it first, but this was how I came to acquire a Sound Smith Otello cartridge. Soundsmith are being brought into the UK by the same guys who distribute Stax, Sumiko, Ayre etc and previously Mark Levinson and Proceed... so the credentials were good....also their guy 'on the road' is a good friend and fellow vinyl nut, so when he told me they were taking on the UK support for Soundsmith I knew things could only be great.

On first examination the Otello looks a bit shoddy to be honest .. .constructed out of machined metal (brass?) and ebony, with a fixed plastic stylus carrier, the fit is a little ... generous. Things are good and tolerances tight where it matters though (body to headshell interface) alignment was very easy and the stylus well protected by the plastic moulding, but very visible for cueing.

What is unusual about the Otello ... and stands it apart from its competition is that each Sound Smith cartridge is hand built dont get that under about £3k generally... and the Othello is just £245.

Sonically I was certainly not disappointed either .. in fact, apart from a slight loss of refinement at the top end the Otello was very close to my current Ortofon Cadenza Black in a lot of ways...ok smaller scale and less information  ... but the musical experience is very similar.

Soundsmith Otello fitted to our trusty Sondek testbed

If you are wondering what the cartridge fittings are ... more of those later!