Soundsmith Aida Moving Iron MI Cartridge
Aida is a medium weight cartridge at 6.8Gms making it compatible with a broad variety of tonearms and thanks to its 2.2mV output, Aida works well with most MM phono preamps. All Soundsmith cartridges are Made in the USA.
Soundsmith Aida Moving Iron MI Cartridge
The Soundsmith Aida moving iron mi cartridge uses a very rare grind for its stylus, a Nude Optimized Contour Contact Line. This exotic shape is not found on cartridges at this price point, in fact only a few manufacturers even offer this stylus at all and those are on designs costing 3-4 times what Aida does. This stylus is an outstanding tracker, especially on inner grooves and is exceptional at reducing groove noise. High frequencies are breathtaking, with a sweetness and tonal accuracy unheard of at this level.
|Cartridge||Hyperion||Carmen MK2||Sussurro||Paua||The Voice||Aida||Zephyr MIMC||Zephyr MK3||Otello|
|Cartridge Type||Fixed Coil||Fixed Coil||Fixed Coil||Fixed Coil||Fixed Coil||Fixed Coil||Fixed Coil||Fixed Coil||Fixed Coil|
|Stylus Type||Contact Line O.C. Contact Line||Elliptical||O.C. Contact Line||Contact Line||Contact Line||Contact Line||Contact Line||Contact Line||Elliptical|
|Stylus||Contact Line Nude, 0.100mm SQ||Nude Elliptical, 0.120mm SQ||Contact Line Nude, 0.100mm SQ||Contact Line Nude, 0.100mm SQ||Contact Line Nude, 0.100mm SQ selected for low noise||Contact Line Nude, 0.100mm SQ||Contact Line||Ultra Low Mass Nude||Elliptical Titanium Bonded, 0.20mm Round|
|Radius of curvature||-||6 x 17 μm||OCL (Optimized Contour Contact Line) Selected||Nude Contact Line Selected||OCL (Optimized Contour Contact Line)||OCL (Optimized Contour Contact Line)||6 x 17 μm||-||-|
|Selected Diamond shapes||CL or Optimized (OCL)||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Cantilever||Cactus "Spine"||Aluminum Alloy||Ruby||Telescoping Aluminum Alloy||Ruby||Ruby||Laser Drilled Sapphire||New Soundsmith Aluminum Alloy||Aluminum Alloy|
|Recommended tracking force||1.8 to 2.2 grams||1.3 to 1.6 grams||1.8 to 2.2 grams||1.7 to 1.9 grams||1.3 - 1.6 grams||1.3 - 1.6 grams||1.8 to 2.2 grams||1.8 to 2.2 grams||1.3 - 1.6 grams|
|Effective tip mass||0.30 mg||0.35 mg||0.30 mg||0.30 mg||0.30 mg||0.30 mg||0.32 mg||0.28 mg||0.50 mg|
|Compliance||10 μm/mN (low compliance) (LT) | 12 μm/mN vertical | 7 μm/mN horizontal||28 μm/mN (high), 22 μm/mN (medium)||10μm/mN (low compliance)||10 μm/mN (low compliance)||28 μm/mN (high), 22 μm/mN (medium)||28 μm/mN (high), 22 μm/mN (medium)||10 μm/mN (low compliance)||10μm/mN (low compliance)||28 μm/mN (high), 22 μm/mN (medium)|
|Frequency response||20-20,000 Hz ± 1.0 dB||20-20,000 Hz ± 2.5 dB||20-20,000 Hz ± 1.0 dB||20-20,000 Hz ± 1.0 dB||20-20,000 Hz ±1.0 dB||20-20,000 Hz ±1.0 dB||15-45,000 Hz ± 2.0 dB||15-45,000 Hz ± 2.0 dB||20-20,000 Hz ± 2.5 dB|
|Channel separation||1000 Hz >36 dB (LT: > 34dB), 50-15,000 >25 dB (stereo)||1000 Hz >26 dB, 50-15,000 >20 dB||1000 Hz >34 dB, 50-15,000 >25 dB||1000 Hz >34 dB 50-15,000 >25 dB||1000 Hz >30 dB, 50-15,000 >25 dB||1000 Hz >30 dB, 50-15,000 >25 dB||1000 Hz >28 dB, 50-15,000 >25 dB||1000 Hz >28 dB, 50-15,000 >25 dB||1000 Hz >24 dB, 50-15,000 >20 dB|
|Channel difference||<0.5 dB (Stereo) <1.0 dB (Mono)||<1.6 dB (Stereo), <1.0 dB (Mono)||<0.5 dB (Stereo) <1.0 dB (Mono)||<0.5 dB (Stereo), <1.0 dB (Mono)||<0.5 dB (Stereo), <1.0 dB (Mono)||<0.5 dB (Stereo), <1.0 dB (Mono)||<1.0 dB (Stereo), <0.5 dB (Dual Mono)||<1.0 dB (Stereo), <0.5 dB||<1.8 dB (Stereo), <1.0 dB (Mono)|
|Output Voltage||≥0.4 mV||2.12 mV||≥0.4 mV||≥0.4 mV||2.12 mV||2.12 mV||≥0.4 mV||2.4 mV||>2.12 mV|
|DC Resistance||10-11 Ω each channel||-||10-11 Ω each channel||10-11 Ω each channel||-||-||10-11 Ω each channel||-||-|
|Coil||2.75 mH each channel||-||2.75 mH each channel||2.75 mH each channel||-||-||2.75 mH each channel||-||-|
|Suggested Preamp Gain||58-64 dB||-||58-64 dB||58-64 dB||-||-||58-64 dB||-||-|
|Cartridge weight||10.25 grams||6.8 grams||10.25 grams||10.25 grams||6.8 grams||6.8 grams||10.25 grams||10.27 grams||6.8 grams|
|Stylus to Mounting Hole Offset||≈ 10mm (0.4")||≈ 10mm (0.4"||≈ 10mm (0.4")||≈ 10mm (0.4")||≈ 10mm (0.4")||≈ 10mm (0.4")||≈ 10mm (0.4")||≈ 10mm (0.4")||≈ 10mm (0.4")|
|Loading||≥ 470 Ω||≥ 47 kΩ||≥ 470 Ω||≥ 470 Ω||≥ 47 kΩ||≥ 47 kΩ||≥ 470 Ω||≥ 47 kΩ||≥ 47 kΩ|
Superior Performance and Excellent Value for Money
The cartridges we sell have been selected from both personal experience and the opinions of trusted dealers and reviewers.
For this reason the range offers superior performance and excellent value for money.
Please note that we cannot send cartridges outside the UK – the only exception being our own Origin Live cartridges or cartridges less than £400 in value when ordered with an Origin Live arm or turntable.
How to choose your cartridge
One of the most common enquiries we receive is ‘What cartridge should I use with this arm/deck?’ There are many options so we try to simplify matters by offering a “hot list” of tried and tested cartridges, particularly recommended by those with wide experience. However we do provide most brands of Hi-Fi cartridges should you wish for something else.
To help your selection process the following aspects should to be considered:
The overall sound of your system – cartridge brands tend to have distinctive sound balances which we outline below. This aspect should match your system and affect your choice more than almost anything else.
The effective mass of your arm and cartridge compliance? This really depends on what arm you have – in short there is much more to matching than compliance and it’s quite rare that this has much serious influence on your cartridge performance so we do not advise on it. Origin Live tonearms seem completely impervious to the issue of compliance.
The quality of your phono stage – Budget phono stages (up to £600) tend to work best with moving magnet or high output moving coil cartridges. Most high end cartridges are moving coil or moving iron but due to their low output (0.5mV or less), you need a very good phono stage to realise their true performance. Poor phono stages usually lead to disappointment with MC cartridges. It’s worth adding that expensive phono stages are no guarantee of performance.
We suggest the phono stage should be around 2 to 5 times the cost of your cartridge if you are to get the best return on investment and so you might want to consider where you place your budget.
– MM = moving magnet cartridge with high output and 47 Kohm impedance
– MC = moving coil cartridge with low output usually and 100 ohm impedance
A number of the high output moving coils use moving magnet input at 47 Kohms
There are sources that offer seemingly amazing prices on cartridges – we would urge caution on these purchases as you may not know what you’re getting. For example some Kouetsu’s are made specifically for the Far East market. These Kouetsu’s have a suspension system suited for hot climates and will not give optimum performance in colder climates.
Hot List of Cartridges with Strong Recommendation
It’s quite hard nowadays to purchase a “duff” cartridge so the choice boils down to personal taste, compatibility and system matching. For this reason we can only offer guidelines on which cartridge to choose.
High end cartridges such as Dynavector, Lyra, Benz Micro, Zyx, etc. all have their various strengths and reviews help to clarify your choice depending on your system and priorities. We particularly recommend Dynavector and Lyra cartridges but there are many other excellent cartridges which will work as well depending on your system and phono stage balance.
The Dynavector Karat 17d3 and XX2 are a moving coil cartridges which represent great value for money. The Lyra Delos has also gained an excellent reputation and is a safe choice.
Slightly lower in the range, the Dynavector 10X5 is almost without peer at the price point.
Cartridges Below £600
The Goldring 1000 Series – have excellent tonal balance with warmth, good bass and a nice top end.
The Goldring 2000 Series (£145-599*) – introduced because some listeners with more bass oriented systems wanted greater clarity and detail – the 2000 series brings this but at the expense of warmth. This series is not better than the 1000 series, just different.
Audio-Technica have an exceptionally good range of budget cartridges (£39-599) – exhibiting good tonal balance with punch and a lively performance.
Cartridges above £250
Brand sound descriptions
The remarks below are by no means definitive and are only intended as a guide to help those in no position to audition the multitude of options available.
Audio Technica – noted for definition, speed, clarity and detail – can be a little lean in the bass in some arms (seems most suited on Linn LP12 / Ittock or Akito combinations).
Dynavector – Excellent all-round MC cartridges – high output versions are 10×5 and 20XH suitable for moving magnet inputs, low outputs are also available higher in the range. Dynavector 17D Karat is a very highly regarded at its price point. The XX-2 is almost the same price as the Karat close and also a wonderfull cartridge. The choice comes down to preference but most prefer the XX2 for edging a better all round performance. The Karat however is preferred by some for its speed and transparency.
Goldring – Rich sound with plenty of warmth and bass depth – a popular phono cartridge with Rega arm users – a very safe choice that sounds good on most systems.
London – Outstanding Cartridges that lead the entire field in terms of vivid realism, dynamics and lifelike sound. Unique in construction and performance these cartridges have developed a loyal following for good reason. Drawbacks are poor tracking on damaged records and slight crackle on very worn records due to the fact that they pick up every tiny detail. The sheer dynamics, of these cartridges can cause compression effects and show up failings in poorer systems. This manifests itself in brightness and lightweight bass. In spite of these things many reviewers give Londons the highest praise. The benefits are so great that once heard there is no going back for some.
Lyra – Great tacking cartridges that deliver an organic presentation. May not always go quite as deep as Koetsus but have the edge in most other aspects such as transparency and imaging.
Ortofon cartridges are probably the most varied in terms of sound characteristics. High End Ortofon cartridges above £1000 are well balanced in their virtues and good value. Below this price there are various ranges some of which are ultra-clean and clinical with loads of detail like the Kontrapuncts and others like the Blue and Red which are the opposite in terms of capturing more warmth but which sound slightly thick in comparison to others.
Sumiko – A good choice for systems that are slightly bass heavy and need speed and agility adding, these cartridges have great resolution and are improved over previous models that tended to be lean in deep bass and low in warmth for some systems
Zyx – Very good tonal balance with slight emphasis on dynamic and deep bass. One of the most natural sounding mid bands available, excellent clarity and separation of instruments, sweet top end without the explicitness or slight overemphasis of some high-end contenders. Slight question on longevity of the suspension which may start to fade slowly after 3 years.
Please contact us to place an order or obtain a quote on the pick-up cartridge of your choice