Time to SPU


So, this past week I dipped my ears into the Ortofon SPU experience, buying an SPU #1S from NeedleDoctor.

First adjustment – swap out the smaller weight for the larger one on my EMT 997 arm. 32g is a lot of weight to counterbalance, even when you want 4g of downforce!

I started out listening via my Auditorium 23 Denon 103 SUT while waiting for my A23 std SPU xfrmr to arrive. Initially, with arm height undisturbed from the setting for my Midas’d Denon 103, the cartridge was bottoming out, so I reduced downforce to 3.5g, which bought me a hairline of daylight, but sounded all wrong.


While I pondered this, the A23 SPU SUT arrived and I swapped it in. Much better tonal balance, but still not right.

After returning to 4g and increasing the arm height incrementally several times, I hit the Aha! and/or Eureka! Moment where tonal balance peaked (near-oxymoron?), and the system slipped the bonds of time and space, which weirded me out for a few seconds.

“But it’s a 17um conical bonded stylus tracking at 4g in a 32 oz contraption! It can’t be as good as a MODERN cartridge!” Cue the Batman slap meme. 1980 called; it wants it’s ‘conventional wisdom’ back.


Now, I can sell you the arm, the step-up transformer, the JC Verdier La Platine Nouvelle, indeed, the entire rest of that system, (Shindo electronics, Rethm speakers), but (as of this writing), I am not an Ortofon dealer, so when I tell you that, assuming you have right sort of arm, this cartridge is an absolute delight at its price, you can skip the grains of salt.

If you’re within driving (or train-riding) distance of Mystic, CT, come listen for yourself!

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