Review: Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood Cartridge

Category: Analog

Dear friends: For more than four years ago I was listening mainly to the MM/MI cartridge analog source alternative and mainly too to vintage ones.

In all these years I was at the " hunt " of vintage MM/MI cartridges that IMHO could be good quality performers.Till today I found out 80+ different MM/MI cartridges where only 8 are today MM/MI cartridge designs and I have to say that I don't hear it any other than the Reson and Grado ones.

For sometime some persons ask why in that MM/MI thread ( ) we almost don't " touch " current cartridge designs and as a fact there is no reason why but as I said almost never speak on today designs.

But things have to change, it can't continue in the same status when I think it is an opportunity to learn/experience today MM/MI designs that are many more than what we think.

In one of the last 10 days Griffithds ask on that thread about the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood and I offer him that due that I own it I will try to give it a listening, thak you for ask Griffithds.

Well, my experiences with the Clearaudio Virtuso Wood was and is so great and unexpected surprise that I decide that the cartrridge deserve an in deep more seriously listening/tests that today converts it in a cartridge review. That's so good.

I think that everyone knows about Clearaudio company that started in 1978 by Peter Suchy and where his slogan/motto speaks for it self: "Take the best and make it better, only then is it just good enough.".
You can read about Clearaudio here:

My very first Clearaudio " in touch " was years before was founded when I owned the Sothern Engeenering linear traking tonearm that Peter Suchy bought the design and then he create the Clearaudio LT tonearms as we know today and after that I owned the Clearaudio Veritas cartridge.

I own two LOMC Clearaudio cartridges these are the Insider Gold and the Discovery. For " years " I was looking for the Insider Gold but its very high retail price does not permit to put my hands on it till I found out a second hand sample in mint condition that gives me a feeling of " expectation " as big as was when the Essential 3160 produce " sound " from the very first time. Good performer indeed. I heard the Stadivarius and the Accurate as the Goldfinger too.

My Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood is the Black Wood option where there are other two alternatives: the all metal one and the other Fenambuk red/orange wood. I never listened these ones so my review is for the Blak Wood option.

If I'm right, that could be I'm not, the Virtuoso had a price of 700.00 when was launched and today goes to $ 950.00.

Here you can see the threee Virtuoso cartridge body options:

Virtuoso Wood specifications:

Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Output voltage: (@ 1 kHz, 5 cm/s): ~ 3.6 mV
Channel separation: (@ 1 kHz): > 30 dB
Channel balance: (@ 1 kHz): < 0.2 dB
Trackability: > 90 µm
Recommended tracking force: 2.0 - 2.5 g, optimal: 2.2 g
Coil impedance: (@ 1 kHz): 0.66 kOhm
Coil inductivity: 0.42 H
Loading impedance: 47 kW
Loading capacity: 100 pF
Cantilever: Aluminium
Weight (stainless steel): 10.0 g
Weight (Wood): 6.0 g

Cartridge set-up:

I choose my Audio Technica AT-1503MK3 tonearm along the aluminum ( blend. ) AudioCraft AS-12K where I have a " hard time " because the headshell wires ( that I don't need it because my tonearm external wire goes directly from cartridge pin connectors to Phonolinepreamp. ) in this headshell comes soldered directly to the headshell inside pin connectors that I have to unsoldered, this is the first headshell I found out with this characteristic.

VTF is settle at the manufacturer advise at 2.20 grs., impedance loading at 100 kohms along 150 pf on load capacitance, almost no antiskating and with the Azymuth dead centered. The VTA/SRA is on positive side.

Cartridge Highlights External Design Characteristics:

The cartridge came with removable stylus guard which is a good point because we have not to be worried about cartridge stylus guard resonances/colorations/distortion that affect the cartridge signal quality performance level.

The cartridge fortunately came with non-removable stylus that is a good characteristic too due that here again the cartridge does not add didtortions/colorations because the normal plastic stylus removable assembly.

We don't need nuts to fix the cartridge in the headshell due that comes with screwed mount holes.

It came with a long/large cantilever that project it in front of the cartridge body in a way where we have to be carefully when handle this cartridge to avoid bend cantilever accident but in the other side this " free " viewed cantilever helps a lot to the protractor set-up and to choose a precise place when we want to run the cartridge in a specific LP track in manual way.

I'm not in love whith its " looking body design " but all in all it is not an important issue for me. What it is important is that the cartridge design body ( metal/wood. ) does not shows resonances/distortions I can detect.

For its price I could wait a non-aluminum cantilever but Mr. Suchy already decided about.

Something that makes me think more that I want it is that even than the cartridge is in the range of a medium compliance designs ( 15cu. ) it needs an unusual high VTF for a MM cartridge with those 2.20 grs, I think the highest VTF of any MM/MI cartridge I own ( but could be wrong due that I own so many cartridges. ). But this seems to be the rule with Clearaudio because with its LOMC models that have 15cu too the recommend VTF is even higher at 2.8 grs.

It has a welcomed healty output that makes it a dead silent performer in my system.

The stylus is a line contact type 5 X 80 µm.

I can't confirm it but I read somewhere that this Clearaudio MM designs were build by Audio technica which IMHO is a good " choice ".

Listening the Virtuoso:

First thing that you be aware when the Virtuoso stylus run on the very first LP grooves is that clicks and pops almost disappear its SPL goes really down as other LP surface noises.

The music came from the blakness stage I ever experienced and this Virtuoso sole characteristic is stunning.

Second characteristic is how easy flows the grooves after grooves of pure music with a developed harmonics that are just so vivid that makes that the perceived sound possess forceful and resounding " voice "/tone. Here it is a cartridge with the nearest dynamics/power quality performance level that only through live music can be achieved.
This characteristic could change what you already learned on the subject.

The third Virtuoso characteristic is its natural/accurate tone color free of colorations/distortions usually an issue in other lesser cartridges.

This along that " forceful and resounding voice " makes the Virtuoso a unique performer, at least I never found out this level of overall quality performance.

One factor that helps to this kind of LP reproduction is the Virtuoso very good tracking ability. I runned my different traking tests ( music LPs. ) where the cartridge shows its applomb on the subject. Example, on the Telarc 1812 it pass al 16 cannon shots but the 1,2,6 and 16 what is very good for any cartridge. No, it does not has the exemplary traking ability of the B&O MMC2 or the one from the AT 20SS that pass all those cannon shots but all in all a very good tracker and certainly better that's big big brother the LOMC Goldfinger ( that I have on hand for a few hours. ) that just can not pass that test.

Both frequency extremes are outstanding: at the highs you can have the feeling that never ends where at any SPL ( even at 100+ db at seat position. ) the Virtuoso refuse to be agressive or overbright or roughness or edgy, it never lose " figure ".

At the other extreme the bass low bass has the richness ( not the usual colored richness. ) with very precise pitch that goes deep and deep as any other cartridge I heard and this was doing with no-overhang fat/bold bass performance where the bass is almost only one note for every " event ": not with the Virtuoso that leave you to hear " inside " the bass reproduction.

This overall bass characteristic is repeated in the mid-bass and low mid-bass where the more shiny factor is that the mid-bass has not that pronounced " organic/fat " tone ( colored. ), instead of this the Virtuoso shows a neutral weight speaking with that forceful and resounding unique " voice "/tone. Could you feel that you are missing something here?, no way because in this frequency range as in the whole frequency range to LP reproduction you don't only don't miss any " hair " but you win with a performance that you never heard before.

I think that almost all these happen because other Virtuoso characteristics that are it " light-speed " handled of recorded transients and the right decay time on the music notes/harmonics. Nothing is at random here, the Virtuoso always gives the righ perspective to fully music enjoyment.

With all these Virtuoso characteristics we have to wait for a great soundstage " picture " an indeed the Virtuoso has a great soundstage frame side to side top to bottom and front to back with a very good layering in between.

This is the very first time that talk about " rhythm ": the cartridge has a natural ability to transmit rhythm in what you heard/hear, a cartridge self rhythm that makes you " dance " even with classical Lps. This kind of rhythm ( I can't find other word. ) makes too that the reproduced music came with a heavy weight of emotion/real soul that always " touch " your senses. Good, very good!.

All these happen after " hard " time/hours playing with VTA/SRA cartridge set up. The Virtuoso is very sensitive to small VTA/SRA changes but not in the usual way because in almost any VTA/SRA set up the Virtuoso sound good, I never achieved a bad performance during the VTA/SRA set-up changes.

This Virtuoso characteristic makes very difficult to find out the nearest or the right cartridge VTA/SRA set-up, always sounds good!! and this is an example that when you have an overall method/proccess for cartridge set-up really shows its convenience as a tool that helps to this very especial and unique VTA/SRA Virtuoso set up that with out that proccesss/method is almost imposible to be right on target with the penalty that represent to be near but not right where we don't have any chance to hear the Virtuoso on its real quality performance.

It take me more time to bring Virtuoso frequency extremes in its real " stage " than in any other cartridge I remember. Times were where I can swear it can't be done better to found out latter a better performance level.

We have to be very very carefully with this VTA/SRA Virtuoso set up because if not chances are that we are not hearing the greatness of the Virtuoso but only a " deficient/degrade copy ".

Comparisons with other cartrridges:

I decide not to go more in deep in the writing review because I think could be almost useless. Suffice is to say that the Virtuoso Wood overall outperform any other cartridge I heard in my system and in other audio systems.

Yes there are some cartrridges that overall approach this top quality level performance but can't fully touch it, as: the P100CMK4, the TK10ML SeriesII, The AKG P100LE, the AT 1800 ML-OCC, the Goldfinger, The Colibri ( VLOMC and plastic lightly cartridge body. ), the A90, the B&O MMC1 and the Goldbug Ms.Brier ( not the Mr. ). After these other " venerable names " that want to touch the Virtuoso Wood performance are: the 20SS, the ADC 25 and the Maestro.

It is hard to believe that the Goldfinger can survive when share the same " bed " with the Virtuoso Wood.

Highlights on LPs ( some. ):

The Power and the Majesty ( Mobile Fidelity. ).

I heard several times this very good recorded and testing system LP. In the Thunderstorm track ( side one. ) this is the first time that I be absolutely aware that along the rain that starts with small raind-drop and then with bigger and bigger drops these ones came along hail which its sound when hit the window is unique but nearest to the big drops hitting the glass in the window.
The perception of that hail is really alive as if it is happening in my window ( that is at the rear of my system. ).

In the side two the producer want to shows the Power of steam locomotives passing in front of you side to side with a before annoucements coming from its air horns and steam whistles and the railroad sound.

The Virtuoso Wood capture all that Power in a way that no other cartidge can in a way that you can feel the " air " against your body when the whole train passed at the end. I ask my granddaughther ( five years old. ) to come where I was seated and hear: I saw her face of " admiration " when the train approach our seating place and when passed, even he touched my legs with her hand with a feeeling of " caution " almost with some scare. After the experience she said: grandfather where is the train I can't see it!.

Dire Straits ( Love Over Gold ) ( Vertigo. ).

This lovely and unique M. Knopfler recording gives you a new dimension on what we are hearing.

Telegraph road ( side one, first track. ) is a camaleon ( as all Mark compositions. ) of music experiences/sounds with different instruments played at its best. Around the middle of the track and just before the electric guitars goes in " fully action " we can enjoy the notes from the piano in so tender way that surprise you this emotional piano performance in a LP like this ( of course for the people that does not knows Dire Straits. ). When the the guitars fully action starts ( last thrid part of the track. ) and when the SPL in the recording goes higher and higher we can perceive in detail the different notes/harmonics coming from each one of the guitars in this maremagnum but doing this at 84 db at seat position well almost any system can shows you the Power but when we goes to 95-96 dbs at seat position with 105 db on peaks then the cartridge self performance must be something unique or what you are hearing not only colapse but your ears could suffer some kind of brief hard times, with the Virtuoso I heard three times in a row the same track with out any single problem from my system and of course from my ears. Just outstanding.

The second track in this side is Private Investigations where we can hear the Mark skills on his acoustic guitar but it is not only the sound what makes this LP so great but the compositions it self the melody and rhytmum, especially on this track, just before start the electric guitar a tender melody is coming to our ears with marimba in the left side and with a melody feeling where you don't want it finish ever. The Virtuoso makde this passage/stage track so intimate with the sound so vivid that you can feeel how it is running through all your body ( at 84 db SPL at seat position. ).

This is one of my test recordings in my cartridge set up process and on my tests on quality perfromance level comparisons.

Satchmo Plays King Oliver ( Audio Fidelity . )

Side one track one. For this old times IMHO this is a great track recording and the Virtuoso confirm it. The trombone at the left and the clarinet at the right performs with a just perfect timing with a tone that invite to take a drink and lights down to assimilate what are trying to transmit on our brain. The Louis voice is not only gutural as you can expect but you can hear it coming from the deepest place in the Louis body where it begin but what really impressed me was the drummer at the rear center in the stage where >I never heard so clear the metal sound when the sticks hits the cymbals, you can always heard this cymbals sounds but at different quality level. In this regard the Goldfinger is nearest to the Virtuoso performance.

Montserrat Caballe ( Red Seal RCA. ).

Bellini Casta Diva area from Norma. What can I say? other than I'm sure this time is the nearest one that I'm/was face to face with the Caballe " La Superba ". Nothing I can tell you can be elocuent on my feelings and perceived voice greatness and power so vivid from this recording.

Respighi, Pines of Rome ( UHQR Mobile Fidelity. ).

Another Virtuoso Wood show, again the cartridge forceful and resounding characteristics makes this great powerful recording something to hear and something that you can believe only after you heard it. Maybe you never heard this recording in so superb quality level that IMHO today only the Virtuoso can shows you.

He Xun Tian. Paramita. ( Wind Music. ).

Any track in this LP runned with the Virtuoso Black Wood is an orgasm a fully orgasm as you never experienced when after stop to hearing it you still stay " tunned " for hours and maybe days!!. I can stop to enjoy LP after LP after LP.

Now, for those persons that their very precise target is to achieve analog source ( LP. ) EXCELLENCE level and I mean not very good or extremely good but EXCELLENCE level through their home audio systems IMHO the Virtuoso Black Wood seems to me a step/alternative that could help to " run " in the right direction in that hard and complex EXCELLENCE final target.

Do you think I like it?, this could be a misunderstood because I don't like it but I idiolize/adore it!.

I want to say to Clearaudio and P. Suchy: Congratulations! and thank you to give us this kind of analog source that IMHO is second to none.

Thank you again Griffithds because you help me to open a new door to new great audio/music superlative experiences. This tell me that I have to reset my audio-brain and I will follow testing today cartridges where I'm sure there are some surprises waiting for us.

In the meantime think and ask you: Who Needs the Virtuoso Black Wood When We Have Those Vintage MM/MIs?

Regards and enjoy the music,

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On the review.
Ag insider logo xs@2xrauliruegas
Hi Raul,

And thanks for sharing your enjoyment. Have you tried the Clearaudio Maestro yet?

Over here, that's the MM that is creating the bigger noise and it is seen as a big step up from the Virtuoso. I have not heard either and so I'd love any feedback around their comparison. You can also get both cartridges very cheaply over here with 2 years guarantee and so maybe this will be the way to increase awareness and convince doubters regarding the merits of very high end MM/MI's.

Thanks again for this and your anticipated response
Hi Raul,

I'm so happy that you liked (adored), the Virtuoso. It warms my heart to know that I have been able to help you open a new door in our quest of music bliss. You have done so much for us thru this thread. It is I who deeply and sincerely thanks you.
I am on my 2nd Virtuoso. The 1st suffered stylus damage. It reminds me of a boxer who sticks out his chin, daring his oponnent to hit it. It's just out there, unprotected!
I must admit, it has been 3 or 4 months since I've had the Virtuoso in my system. This thread and all the cartridge reccomendations, has kept me busy looking for, finding, and then buying those great old MM/MI gems. Then of course, breaking in the new replacement styluses.
Raul, I have never even once, concidered raising the tail end of a cartridge above anything higher than absolute level. You, thru this thread, have trully opened my eyes on this issue. The 1st was my Ortofon M20FL. Shocking is the word I would use when raised properly.
Raul, I would like to extend to you the use of my Virtuoso Wood, the Fenembuk model. If you would like to compare it to yours, and hopefully, you will come across the Maestro to do a complete line comparision, I think it would be greatly appriciated by all.
Musical offers a gread trade-in program and the day will come that I will need to replace my Virtuoso for a new one. Which one will be the question. It is your ears that I would trust on this decision.
In your review, you for the 1st time, talk about rhythem. You have describe a word I have used on this cartridge which is (ALIVE). I think I liked rythem better.
I love the comments you make pertaining to your granddaughters experiences. That in and of it self, sums up the entire review.
I need to end this reply and get my Wood reinstalled. I can't wait to start playing with its VTA adjustments. I might be discovering this gem all over again.
Thank you again Raul. It is a great, and enlightening review!

Don Griffith

I forgot to mention that I had not heard of the Black version of this cartridge? It is not listed on the Musical Sourroundings site. Is it, or could it be an export only version? Just wondering!

Don Griffith
Dear Dgob: Certainly I heard the Maestro and that's why I mentioned in the Virtuoso review. Now, as good the Maestro is ( as a fact I recomemd the Maestro several times on Agon to people looking for a good cartridge. ) my Virtuoso Black Wood is even better with more contundence ( I don't know if this word exist in english. ) with more " me MUSIC I'm here " with more of what live music has: power and definition dead neutral tone color, the Maestro IMHO can't touch the Virtuoso level. I don't know but maybe there is too much wood in this cartridge. All in all the Maestro is an splendid cartridge and I can see why is so appreciated down there.

Dgob, IMHO you need to have the Black Wood Virtuoso in your system.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Griffithds : Thank you for your gentle words. That thread was and is constructed by all Agoner's with their participations, including yours.

Yes, ALIVE could be a nice word for the Virtuoso but as you agree rhytm could be better if for not other thing because alive is an audiophile word with a presuppose audiophile meaning when the ALIVE in reference to the Virtuoso has IMHO a totally new dimension/meaning that IMHO we can't find out in almost any cartridge ( vintage or today designs. ) out there.

The very good news on the Clearaudio Virtuoso is not that IMHO outperforms to its big big brother heavy priced Goldfinger or any other cartridge but that any one can have this top top quality performance Excellence level for almost penauts in a Clearaudio current model list where the cartridge came with 2 years warranty! I think we can't ask for anything else other than buy it.

Regards and enjoy the music,

It appears that there have been some updating of the cartridge design since I bought mine. My 1st one was bought in early 2003. My current one, sometime around 2007,maybe 2008. I would like to list the Wood specifications. Yours, then mine. * = Different

Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz-- 20Hz-20kHz
Output Voltage 3.6mV------- 3.6mV
Channel Seperation 30dB-------- 30dB
Channel Balance 0.2dB-------* 0.3dB
Tracking Ability 90um--------* 80um
Tracking Force 2-2.5 optm.2.2--* 2.0
Coil Impedance 0.66kOm-----* 0.68kOm
Coil Inductance 0.42H------- 0.42H
Load Resistsance 47K--------- 47K
Load Capactance 100pF------- 100pF
Cantiliver Alum-------- Alum
Weight 6.0g--------* 10g

Some key differences I would think!
Hi Raul,

Thank you very much for your response. I will definitely keep my eye out for a cheaper Virtuoso: although (as Griffithds points out) they do not seem to offer the black wood version in most retailers.

Once it's installed and tested I'll get back to you. However, I've got a 4000d/III and a couple of other cartridges to test first.

Again, thanks for sharing your valued experience with this promising cartridge.
Hi Raul,

Sorry just one more thought. I also share your suspicions about wood in hifi components and was wondering if the metal versions of the Virtuoso or Maestro might not be a step up?

I mainly ask because most commentators (including the manufacturers) seem to refer to an added "warmth" of the wood models. As you know, I tend to judge suggestions of added warmth with a good deal of suspicion and so any feedback or suggestions here would be mightily welcomed.

Hi Griffithds,

I think people refer to Raul's later version as the Mk2, in various forums. Now you have kindly clarified the dates and differences and I am thankful to you for this.
Thank you for your excellent review. I have two questions.
1.When you say the VTA/SRA was slightly positive do you mean the arm pivot, compared to the headshell, was slightly raised above level( tail up)?
2.Why was the loading impedance 100K when the manufacturers recommendation is 47K( the MM standard)?

Dear RM: Yes, tail up. About load impedance I choosed 100k for almost any of my 80+ MM/MI cartridges because the sound quality level is sligthly better than at 47k but this is system dependent and each one priorities dependent, remember to " play " a little with the load capacitance too: it is important.

Regards and enjoy the music,
The Virtuoso stylus is in fact removable by prying
out with a small knife or screwdriver blade. Amazingly enough, the Audio Technica ATN95E stylus will fit perfectly and to preserve the original appearance,the plastic "wings" can be clipped off. Variations such as
an HE or Shibata are also available under AT95 or
At3400 from LPGear or Turntable Needles. It would appear, in fact, that the Clearaudio Beta line at least through the Virtuoso uses an At manufactured body. It is shortened somewhat like a KT-9,which these styli also fit. Since compliance of the 95E may be different, the sound and performance may be somewhat different, though Clearaudio does not specify its diamond type and the Atn3400 Shibata may in fact be an improvement. I've "revived" several Clearaudios in this fashion with good success. The Clearaudio "plug" does not have a compliance screw but
the AT95/3400 does if you scrape away the white stuff.
A quarter turn will enable the shaft to be removed and others have transplanted i.e. a 150MLX or an AT7V stylus shaft into such a plug which can then be inserted into
the Clearaudio body. Others have also measured and compared impedance etc., of the Virtuoso body
vs the AT95 and found differences which are not significant. This may explain the great popularity
of the AT95E which at one time, Stereophile had on
their recommended list. No great mystery here, other
than the pricing of the Virtuoso, in view of this information.... This is not intented to denigrate
the previous fine review but only to add some
background about this unit. There are threads
at Vinyl Circle and Vinyl Engine also....
Dear Glrickaby: Thank's for your post. You can read something on your subject in the long MM/MI thread through the Fleib, Timeltel and Dlaloum posts ( between others. ).

Regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Glrickaby: +++++ " The Virtuoso stylus is in fact removable by prying out with a small knife or screwdriver blade. " +++++

well taht's for DYS and my take on the subject is that the cartrdige is non-removable stylus design. CA designed in that way.

If we take your statement then the LOMC carrtridges are removable too becausae you can open the cartridge and DYS.

My espirit on my " official " reviews is to give a true idea for people interested on it ow for owners not to make a review with " factors " like you mentioned.

I readed some of your posts and sure you are a DYS person, good for you but this is not the espirit of any of my reviews.

Btw, I own the AT-95 SA.

Btw, too: Fleib is the same person that posted the Aucio Circle thread but with different moniker. I think that you could interchange very good information with Fleib/Dlaloum on the MM/MI long thread, for example what you posted here and I think additional info you have and already experienced.

Btw, do you already heard the Black Wood Virtuoso option ( not the Red. )? in an audio system( tonearm/headshell/wires/TT/phono stage ) similar or near to mine?

Regards and enjoy the music,

Hi Raul,

I found a Black Wood with a new SoundSmith tip on a site called Head-fi. He said he just recieved it back from retipping but the wait was so long that he bought a Maestro and now wanted to sell Black to help pay for some of the cost of the Maestro. I got it for $400. Yes, there is a big smile on my face.

I really would appreciate any response on the comparison between the wood and metal versions of the Clearaudio's.

Any suggestions appreciated.
Hi Dgob,

I'm with you on that one. I too would like to know. I hope someone has and would lend to Raul a metal version of the Virtuoso so that he could compare and we all would have a true reference. I have a wood body (ebony), and a metal body (Midas), that are for a Denon 103R. I much perfer the Midas. The wood softens the entire musical presentation. If you have a system that leans toward the bright side (perhaps all solid state), then you might want that softening effect. I'm talking hear, only in reference to the Denon. It was voiced for use in a plastic housing. It would be interesting to note which was the 1st Virtuoso. The Wood or the metal. Surely someone didn't expend the effort to voice each of them seperately. Just my $0.02.
Hi Griffithds,

Many thanks for responding on this. I've got my fingers crossed that someone has done the comparison and lets us know or that Raul has an opportunity to compare the both and feed back.

Fremer and all the other commentators to date have not felt the need to undertake such a comparison and so I'll just wait and see.

All the best
I am not aware that any LOMC cartridges are removable per
the rhetorical statement of 8-21. This is clearly an AT
cartridge that has been modified by Clearaudio. The plug
is an AT plug with or without wings and many believe the
plug without "wings" may be an attempt to lead one to
believe the stylus is not replacable. The AT95SA mentioned
will in fact fit the Virtuoso as is, though the appearance
is changed, just as it will fit the KT-9 which has the
same shortened AT body. Assuming a Rega 3 is at least
adaquate to play a Virtuoso, I find there is merit to
stylus replacement rather than a trade in, should a
Aurum Beta/Virtuoso unit be broken. That was simply my
point and there was no intention to violate the spirit
of any review or reviewer of this cartridge. If such
was taken, I apologize. I'm not aware of the other
names mentioned nor do I consider myself a a DYS,
whatever that means. Raul, notwithstanding the merit
of the Virtuoso,would you at least agree that the price might be somewhat high, considering it is basically a modified AT unit? I have an AT13,a Precept and an AT7V which are not Wood clad but approach the same quality....
also the AT MC's would be strong competitors at a lower
Dear Griffithds: If that Black Wood you bought was re-tipped with aluminum cantilever then that's similar to mine, good for you.

I only have intention to give a listen to the Red one but not the all metal but if I have the opportunity then welcome. In the mean time your experiences with both wood samples will be interesting and we will wait for it.

regards and enjoy the music,
Dear Glrickaby : DYS ( do it your self. ). Audio Technica designed and market a MC with removable stylus but yes my post was " retoric ".

My espirit as the Clearaudio one was/is that the carrridge is non-user removable stylus even if as you and other persons know it can be removable.

I'm not saying/posting any where that the Clearaudio is not an AT modified design, I have in very high respect AT so that fact is not a bad one but a good choice by Clearaudio as I stated in the review.

Well, in my system I tested all top of the line AT that existed over the last 30 years and no one share the Virtuoso quality performance level, the At7V is no exeption.

My AT-95SA is new and I never touch it, if I have time next week I will make a test with. I understand thta the SA has Shibata stylus shape and its plastic stylus assembly is not green or black like the other 95s. No, I don't attempt to put the SA stylus in the Virtuoso.

Btw, the persons that I named ( monikers. ) and that are posting in the other thread are very well informed as you on the whole subject and I mentioned because could be interesting for you be in contact about.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul- Thank you for your kind response. How does the
Virtuoso compare to the AT150MLX or OC9? I understand
the OC is an MC but still a lower priced unit.Regards,
Hi Raul: It was the $150 retip. That means the nude eliptical stylus and a aluminum cantiliver.


I am really looking forward to hearing the Clear Audio. I say this on the back of a prolonged listening session with my Technics 100Mk4 (VdH/Alex upgraded) cartidge in the Morch DP6 red point precion tonearm. As a key part of this, I played Prokofiev's 'Romeo and Juliet' (Zuraitis/Bolshoi Orchestra) at very, very low volumes. I could clearly detect each instrument, its timbre and location within a sumptuous soundstage.

During the ensuing pure bliss, I suddenly wondered: "and Raul feels that the Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood (Black) cartridge is better than this!?" Recognising that it must be a real phenomenon to avoid the characteristics of moving coils while exceeding this level of performance.

I really cannot fully anticipate in what ways it will be better and I am genuinely intrigued to hear and discover this as soon as I can find one that meets my needs. This could take some time as the Black option seems more difficult to find over here and it took me quite some time before I could lay my hands on an Empire 4000d/III LAC version. I'm sure it will be worth the wait. If you come across a second hand one on sale in the meantime, please drop me a line.

Thanks in anticipation
Hi Raul/John_gordon,

I just has another quick thought on the materials and sympathetic resonances issue.

I've tried a host of clamps and mats on different tt's and spent much time experimenting with these. It turns out that I can get the best performance (neutrality and detail) when using a SAEC SS300 metalic mat with a Michell record clamp - whose vinyl material is said to be very similar to that employed in producing LPs. However, the clamp only gives of its best when I replaced its original foam o-ring with a self made composite of industrial viscoelastic sheeting and glued two of the same sized rings (cut out from the two distinct sheets of foam inserts that are provided by Ringmat for use with their cork mat on the Xerxes tt). I had to cut the three sheets to the same diameter as the original Michell foam ring and bore the spindle hole through the centre of the assembly but on replacing them and fitting everything together, the sum of the parts are far exceeded by the whole. It means that 'any' record is pressed completely flat against the inert SAEC mat and vibration and colouration is completely managed. Marvellous!!

Just in keeping with your useful points and to reiterate my agreement.
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Hi Griffithds,

I believe you were going to do a comparison between your Virtuoso's (unmodified red wood and modified ebony). The retailers and manufacturers are adamant that there is no performance difference between the red and black wood versions and so this would seem to suggest (as has been suggested before) that any difference resides in the SS modified stylus and/or cantilever.

Apologies for my ongoing inquisitiveness but I am very much influenced by my mother's saying: "Mark twice, cut once." (Interestingly, I have noticed the increased availability of Ortofon A90 MC cartridges for sale second hand recently.) Hence, before making any moves on getting a Virtuoso I am therefore really keen to hear your experience with these and any recommendations that arise from this.

As always
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As always Raul, your knowledge and willingness to share your findings is an asset to all of us here amd much appreciated. I have a wood bodied Virtuoso and in comparison to another cartridge I use, the Dynavector 20XL, I find it to be a little towards the warm side. Its very enjoyable but since the rest of my system tends towards warmth its a little too much, which is why I use the Dynavector more often. I have it mounted on an Ortofon 12 inch arm atop a TW Akustic Raven One with Stillpoints underneath it.
Dear Mrmitch: I understand on your Virtuoso system performance. Obviously that each audio system has its own signature and according that is what we heard.
Other side on the Virtuoso is that my sample has a non-stock stylus but a better one.

Anyway, I think is a good option. Its motor is really good so maybe could be worth to update yours with a better stylus: I know even that " warm " on your system that you can be happy with an cartridge up-grade.

Thank's for your words, appreciated.

Regards and enjoy the music,
I'm interested in tryign this cartridge with a second system that I'm planning. I have a VPI Scout with a JMW 9 arm and an EAR 834P preamp. As another alternative, my dealer has encouraged me to trade in my Scout and upgrade to a Nottingham Space deck. I'm considering that option, in which case I could get any arm I wanted. Would a Rega or Nottingham or Hadcock arm be a better match with the Virtuoso Wood (or something else). Any feedback would be much appreciated...just looking for the most synergistic match. Budget is flexible...but its for an office system (Magnepan Mini) no need to spend too much. Again, would really appreciate any tips. All the best, Mark
Dear Mcmprov: Rega and Nottingham tonearm can work with. Jelco tonearms are not expensive and are good tonearms for the Virtuoso with the advantage that Jelco are a removable headshell tonearm designs and this makes easy to match cartridge/tonearm.

Btw, IMHO the Virtuoso is good enough not only for an office system but performs very good in any audio system.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Thank you so much for your suggestion. I'll see what more I info I can find about the Jelco.

All the best, Mark