VDH The Crimson Stradivarius
VDH knows how to make cartridges. In the years I have never listened to a mediocre VDH cartridge. Maybe in the price range you could have preferred another maker with your set up, but not one really better. It means that you can be assured that for the price range in any VDH model you have a top contender.
The lower the model the more universal the application also because less critical.
So a DDT II is for the price an excellent cartridge that will sound good in any decent system and if it doesn't sound good there is surely something wrong with your system.
Then you go up in the range with the MC One or now the classic Frog, or the Black Beauty or the more recent, even if not so recent Condor. Everyone is a great cartridge in its on price point and behond. I will add: VDH cartridges are references. Behond personal taste they have a rare balance of timbric beauty, speed, elegance and stylus life!
In my life I have felt in love with different cartridges and personal owned more then 50 of different makers. I had Kiseki, Koetsu, Dynavector, Denon, Shure, Stanton, Goldring, Ortofon, Myabi, Clearaudio, ZYX, Linn, VDH, Shelter, Garrot, and other makers and of each maker I had either owned or listened to at least two models. For example I had 5 different Dynavectors and 4 Koetsus, more or less 10 Ortofons and so on.
My first love when I was 14 was a Stanton 881S. I was stunned when I compared to my old Thorens cartridge that I think was an AKG. Then of course things went up and up to my second love Koetsu Rosewood. Then I went a long period between Ortofon and all Dynavector range: it was a strange period. Apreciating and admirating without love. At the same time I was exposed by a friend to VDH Grasshopper and was not beguilling but exciting. I was found of this cartridge and its derivate succesors for many years and always had in the back of my mind: it would be nice having a Grasshoper Red, like a Koetsu Red with some Grasshopper genetic traits. But never came out. Maybe it was impossible to achieve it. I don't know if it has been for mastering his art or for a fortunate mistake this cartridge came out from the hand of VDH! The
Let's make it fast: what does it makes this cartridge so special? The answer in this case is simple: it combines sweetness with precision, agility with solidity, precision with forgivness, in a combined word for the ones like me that witnesed the long battle between digital vs analougue it combines both world in a unique combination of a same nature where what we have tought to be opposite qualities of the music reproduction are free of being togheter without creating a strange creature but only music.
Is this the best cartridge I have ever heard?.Simply yes. The others make better just something loosing too much to the Crimson. If was a tennis match it was like The Crimson always winning with the best at the tie break. It always has that little thing more.
And one extremely interesting point is that its musicality is not lost if you don't set up it perfectly.
For example it is sensitive to VTF but what happens if you put too much weight? It just pushes things in front, giving less depth and giving you the impression of more energy. Then you put less weight until it locks in and you have a very nice panoramic view and space.
In other cartridges when you don't do this right it just sound not right. The Crimson keep its rightness.
It is the first time that I have in one cartridge the old and the modern sound together, the sound of AlNiCo magnets and Neodymium together. Enough power to be connected to any phono stage and light enough to be one of the most precise cartridge I ever had.
The Crimson, as can be red on the VDH website, can be configured in factory, as most of top line cartridges of the brand, upon our taste and system. I mean Mr. VdH can provide the compliance of the suspension depending on the tonearm we use, the level output and somehow the output impedance to best match the phono stage and finally the length of the stylus according with the kind of music we listen. Long stylus for classic and short stylus for jazz. Or something in between, as most prefer, for all kind of music.
So why I didn't talk too much about every aspect of its sound? It is useless. You know when you were young or if you are still young and you ask how a girl looks like, if they tell you she has beautifull eyes or nice legs it means probably she just got that things nice, but if they say you she is gorgeus what is the difference if she has blue eyes or brown eyes?
The Crimson makes music in a goergeus way.
This was a friend's cartridge now I have to give it back. Just need to save money from now on. And considering the prices of cartridges of this level the Crimson Stradivari is also cheap in comparison. When you can be competitive and somehow better of cartridges costing 50% or more then I think we can use this term.
The Crimson Stradivari is not just an expecially good cartridge it is simply one of the best cartridges ever made.