Soundsmith Strain Gauge - Thank You!


Someone tipped me off to a Strain Gauge for sale. It was a few weeks ago and I've lost track of who, it should be there in my PMs and emails but nada. So anyway I got it, and it is not here yet but I have you to thank- whoever you are!😂 Sorry but I guess I get a lot more messages than I thought😁 Thanks for letting me know. Appreciate it.
128x128millercarbon

After an over 6 month wait I got my SG 400 back, with 4 new or rebuilt styli.  
I might post a threat about it and using a long working distance microscope for alignment. 

Last time I needed replacement SGS-5 stylii, I had the option of going to Boron, was informed there was a tad more warmth w this option. I remain unsure about the fussiness of the SDS-6 stylii, hence have stuck w the SDS-5. What's now happened is that the full potential of the Boron SDS-5 is realised w the more nuanced and tonally full sound.

However I believe the Boron option is not standard issue. 

KennyC, touched very much you feel I'm an expert resource, but I have been very happy to leave reliable feedback. Thanks for the props!

MillerC, so great you're "getting" the SG magic early on. I'd say 50 hours is where it starts to come together.

I still contend the SG totally sounds of its best w LPSs to replace the stock SMPS. It's performance becomes way more subtle and musical as another layer of noise is removed.

And the big news for me is that my returned SGS-5 stylii, and order of six, has taken things on way further. My special order Boron stylii have gone to a new level of specialist fabrication, stylus sourced from Namiki.

This stylus is subtly improved, all the speed and transient dynamics of SG retained, but an extra level of natural warmth and bloom apparent. SG can occasionally so wow you on speed but occasionally lacking in density. Not the case at all anymore, I'm so happy w this change.

Well the SG came and Holy Smokes what a beast! There are so many cool things about this I am gonna have to devote a whole monster review to it. For now, even right out of the box it sounded quite good. Which is always impressive. Going up against highly tweaked Koetsu/Herron is no small task. I mean, just the power cord on the Herron cost more than the whole Strain Gauge! It is on Townshend Pods, and plastered with so much Krissy magic you can't believe. Even the Koetsu was painted in TC and more. 

So we did the acid test, SG right out of the box on its own feet no Pods no nothing. Even so it was awfully good. Not there in all ways but awfully good. 

SG is a completely different thing than any other. The cartridge does not generate a signal. It modulates input current supplied by a phono stage that is not a phono stage. No RIAA EQ. Consequently the thing can be left on and this seems to pretty much keep the cartridge and everything ready to go. So many great things about this rig! Anyway after last night, got it dialed in VTA and side bias (surprisingly sensitive, just like Peter says!) with it on Pods and TC, OMG I never heard technical accuracy be so draw you in enchanting!
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Thanks, that is what I'm hoping for. Comparing moving mass between SG and MC (or even MI) are compelling. So is the timing, and not having to amplify 40+ dB for RIAA. It all makes perfect sense, and when technology aligns with actual listener results this usually is the mark of a winner. Last night listening to my Koetsu/Herron all tweaked to the max it is easy to imagine yet hard to believe. Soon we will know. 

Yes waiting for spiritofmusic to chime in. His comments came up repeatedly as I was researching and always excellent useful information. What you said is exactly what I have been going for, hangs with the top-end but on a more limited budget. 
@miller-carbon
I’m quite familiar with spiritofmusic who hangs with the top high-end relatively expensive crowd but on a more limited budget. He squeezes the maximum amount of performance from his gear and carefully chooses upgrades that maximizes his $. A report cites the sonic progression of his audio system from good to great. His earlier recommendation of Sablon cables and IIRC the Degritter RCM as high price/performance was spot on. Kind of wished I rolled the dice during the Degritter development to prepay and save $1k. Someday, I hope to also have a dedicated audio room.

Besides the occasional roil with other members, from your accumulated knowledge you’ve given so much to this forum that I wish you the very best in your audiophile journey. I’ll bet you’ll be rocked by the performance of the SG, a major Wow moment and moments to come. Welcome to the Soundsmith Peter Ledermann club, one of the nicest, helpful, most knowledgeable cartridge designers/manufacturers out there.  Looking forward to your report.
Good grief, Miller thanks someone!!!!!

Twice in the same thread.

What's come over him?
Never done this before, but one of the first things I will do is check the 2 styluses under the microscope. Since they are identical, except for one having a couple hundred hours, it will be a great opportunity to compare and then as time goes by have the new one as reference. But yeah I am thinking they last a very long time. Which is good, as I have in mind this will probably be as Seinfeld would say a dead mans cartridge.

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Congratulations! Hopefully it will be as expected. If not, when it goes up for sale, I’ll give it a shot. 
Other SG benefits are the really low rates of wear. I had used my sg6 stylus for years, probably close to 3,000 hours and thought surely it was time for a replacement. When I sent to Soundsmith I was told it wasn’t even close to being worn out, and continued to use it for many years. The interchangeable styli are also really helpful, as some (especially used) vinyl can be too noisey with a hyper elliptical, and so it’s nice to be able to lift up the arm and pop in the SG5 which doesn’t extend as far into the groove. Also lower LP wear as well, as proven by ability to play laquers without degradation, and low cost stylus replacement.

While some people use it as a full function preamp, it couldn’t take the place of my tube line stage. My SG is a very early unit and will soon be brought up to the latest revision, so perhaps it’s even better than what I’m hearing.

I haven’t tried a different power supply, but I’m wondering if the external power supply in my SG400 is any different from the ones from the SG200? I would be interested at some point in upgrading to a reasonably priced new one, based on the great things I’ve read.

But I really shouldn’t post about the even further unique benefits of the SG (of which there are several), at least until I get mine to Soundsmith and back from upgrades and new styli built, so please don’t buy one.
@millercarbon
Well done! Can't wait to hear about it. I'm currently on an upgrade freeze for 2021. I will live vicariously through you and others.
If you decide to sell the Herron, please add me to the list, as I'm sure there are others.
Have fun!
Eddie
Thanks guys. When people reading my posts get triggered, I sometimes wonder if it would make any difference if they knew the research that goes into one of these decisions. Probably not, but I’m gonna tell you anyway.

I only really started looking into Soundsmith and reading about the Strain Gauge after upgrading my Benz Ruby H to Koetsu Black Goldline. I always wanted a Koetsu and so honestly confined my search to which Koetsu.

Experience has taught me to pay scant attention to specs and focus almost entirely on user listening evaluations. When I see a good one it registers, regardless of how often or popular, because so often many of the very best components are small and virtually unknown to the vast majority. But while I don’t put tremendous stock in specs and design I do have a very keen in depth understanding of how all this stuff works. So when I read about something like Strain Gauge it is easy enough for me to understand how the listening impressions bolster and corroborate the technology.

What listening impressions? Over the course of the last couple years I read countless reviews, many of them from Europe, including some really detailed ones comparing some very expensive cartridges and phono stages. The results pretty much always being the SG is right up there with carts in the $10k and up range- which also means up there with phono stages in the $10k and up range. Sometimes two and three times $10k. There are some crazy expensive carts out there, and guys with the jack to have two arms to play them side by side say they are close enough its a judgment call. Butter brickle, or chocolate fudge? Who cares it’s ice cream just give me two scoops!

Oh and yes, I did search and read pretty much every single post with the words strain gauge in it. This is why I don't come around asking people what should I get. They've already answered. I go look for the answers. Much more efficient.

As much as I’m looking forward to this, almost as eager to have a look inside. I’ve been tweaking and modding enough now to have a whole list of things I know will get me even more performance. Then there’s the power supply. Multiple reliable sources saying as good as it is stock there are big gains to be had. Music to my ears.


Congratulations and I look forward to your comments about its performance on the Sovereign.  I have considered this as a possible next step (or is it another slip further down the rabbit hole) for my OL table.  
 Know just what you mean. Herron VTPH2A. Koetsu Black Goldline. SG is really gonna be so much better?? Yeah, I think so. Or else why bother? I got the table, got the arm, nice rack and all, but I never heard me one of them primo top shelf carts. So looking forward to it.

Let me guess.  It's going to be transformative.  The biggest change ever on your system.  The best thing ever invented in the history of mankind.  Everything else is crap.  If you don't have one, you don't know what high end sounds like.

Just like everything else you ever got for/did to your system. ;).
Mijostyn Maybe I can let you hear my strain gauge in NYC. Unfortunately my SG6 stylus is worn and I will soon have to send the cart and preamp back to soundsmith for new styili to be built. I have the SG5 up and running, and while it’s excellent, it’s not the same "master tape" kind of sound I get with the 6 on good vinyl. I don’t find it bright at all, even with my TAD’S beryllium drivers. I'm not sure if soundsmith is still demoing with their own speakers, which are impressive for their small size and cost, but I don't feel really show the SG's real potential and represent the level of speaker
 it's likely to be used with. 
I have read all the reviews I can find on it and they are generally positive. The only common negative comment I have seen is a tendency for it to be on the bright side. But that is easy to deal with from a DSP perspective. I intend on auditioning one at Soundsmith before I go for another moving coil cartridge. My daughter lives in NYC. Coming from New England we can stop by Soundsmith on the way down next time we visit. It is certainly an intriguing cartridge. I did have a Win Labs cartridge back in the late 70's. It was awful. It could not track. Panasonic also made one that did not go very far.
I currently have The Voice which I am quite happy with. So I know Soundsmith makes good product.  At this moment it will be either a strain gage or a Channel D Lino C with an Ortofon Verisimo
Know just what you mean. Herron VTPH2A. Koetsu Black Goldline. SG is really gonna be so much better?? Yeah, I think so. Or else why bother? I got the table, got the arm, nice rack and all, but I never heard me one of them primo top shelf carts. So looking forward to it.
I concur congrats.  Love that system.  Listened extensively with Peter at CAF 3 years ago.

The only reason I don’t have one is I do not want to give up my Allnic phono stage - its that good.
As you probably know the cartridge and electronics are all the same, only the stylus and preamp features changes. Mine's the SGS200 with wood cabinet and SGS6 stylus, one with I'm told about 200 hours the other one brand new 0 hours. 

While waiting for the guy who tipped me off to this one to chime in I want to thank long term Strain Gauge user spiritofmusic for his many informative posts. One of the many things I like about the SG is the way it seems so eminently suited to a modder like me. The power supply upgrade is right up my alley. Spiritofmusic has a lot of experience with that and so I have a lot of cool mods to look forward to as well.  
Which Strain Guage model are you getting? Almost pulled the trigger myself.