samedi 7 mai 2016

VDH DDTII special

I am not used to this kind of price cartridges. Unfortunately during the years I have got so exigent (or sick) with music reproduction that the least expensive cartridge I have in my collection is already double price of this VDH.
So for me trying this cartridge and see how it perform it was not like I cannot wait to see which kiind of special magic it will be releasing. But I was not prepared for its performance too.
I used to like or better appreciate dynavectors of its price range but after few times what they make me feel it is missing is essential for me. With this cartridge instead what it is missing it is not essential. This is what it is absolutely wonderful about this cartridge. It is a very good balanced act. Its dynamic capabilities are so evident that even though the timbres are not in the same ligue of the VDH Crimson or other very high priced cartridges, you don't care too much about it if you are not more then concentrate to its shortcomings. The comparison with two of my favorites cartridges in more or less this price range are educative: the Dynavector DV 20X2 has a beautiful bass reproduction but is shows differences in the quality and nature of the reproduction of the entire frequency range and the same I felt when I compared this VDH to  the DV17 D3 another extremely good cartridge. It is not a question of being coloured since both these cartridges are very linear cartridges but it is like some parts of their music reproduction are made from different natures. It is a very difficult thing to explain. If for example the frequencies would be wood the bass for example would be mapple, then a little higher in the midbass range you will also have wood but oak and then higher up you will still have wood but would be teak. With this VDH music comes out for the same piece of cloth or wood if staying with my previous example. This could sound strange but it is very important for the final listening satisfaction and a very rare quality. This quality was also apparent in one of my favourite cartridges of all time that is the Myabi standard that unfortunately is not longer in production.
The DDT II special lets you playing music hours after hours without waiting to put back on your special esoteric cartridges (in my case) or to wait to upgrade it.
I have tried this last thing up: upgrading. The results were very interesting. I don't want to mention the different cartridges I have tried in this upgrading path, but they all come from extremely known and well considered firms. The thing that came out is that to be really, really sure the more expensive model had really something better to offer, and not just a fraction of the music reproduction but all the musical message, this surely better cartridge was at least three times higher in price then the DDTII.

It means that with double price maybe you can get better image solidity, or better timbre reproduction but at the same time you will have a more compressed dynamic or whatever.

This findings has been extremely interesting for me and I think should be useful for a lot of passionate like I am.

So if you don't have an insane amount of money you can be sure that with this one you get a lot out of your record.

This cartridge is fast, dynamically extremely open, of good transparency and very easy to match with differents tonearms and to different listeners.

I made listen to this cartridge to a coupple of friends with whom we often disagree on our liking and this cartridge managed to be liked by both of them so it must be doing something objectively right.

The only downside that doesn't have anything to do with its sound is its name: DDT. Depth, dynamic  and timbre. It is not that this cartridge it is not capable in these domains, but I think it is not a cartridge that let you appreciate the music frangmented in its part but more as a whole. I would have called it VDH Standard since basis of comparison.
I say this in a not light way. For basis of comparison I mean not the highest standard achievable, but a standard to whom refering also to see how much better is another much more expensive cartridge.

Shortcomings: of course this cartridge has shortcomings. Anything has shortcomings even reality. You know an instruments sound better in a room instead of another, an orchestra sound better in a theatre in comparison with another so how things play depends largely where thery are played.

In absolute terms when you play a lot with this cartridge you will find its shortcomings and as I did you will find out they are not essential to the musical message. If you find any other shortcomings you are finding the shortcomings of the rest of the chain where this cartridge is playing.
I say this thing very firmly expecially after I have red a review in a French hifi magazine.
I immediately say with their test surely don't try to find the nature of things. I am almost sure they mount the cartridge in one or two systems and listen and arrive to a conclusion. There is a certain truth in this wrong approach since this is the approach that most people will have. They are not going to find the real taste of any hifi gears since this taste will be spoilt or exalted by the other things they are connected with.
I try to really get out the real taste of somothing. This means at many, many connections and trying out.

First found shortcomings that we think is of this cartridge, as also found in a French magazine: the timbre lack a little in density.
But, and this is very annoying, this shortcoming is not really of the cartridge. Connected to good quality cables you have this kind of feeling.
Then just for the hell of it I connected my phono preampli with hi end cable like the VDH the Silver MKIII. What happened? This shortcoming was not there any more. So was the cartridge or the cable?It was the cable. The thing is that most of the cables with this cartridge will show this shortcomings except the cable that have the best timbre reproduction. You can put also the VDH First Ultimate in this list and the very expensive Tara Labs Zero and few others.
If I change it with the Dynavector DV17, or the Goldring Eroica, I cannot get the same timbre beauty of the VDH DDT II special when using the most expensive cables, but with these cartridges I get slightly better timbre reproduction with "normal" cables.

So I was brought to this question - conclusion: does this cartridge shows timbre deficinecies in the rest of your equipment? Apparently yes. But it is a strange thing. This kind of things happens only when a component is extremely and I repeat extremely well balanced. So finely balanced that whatever is taken away by other components from its fine balance will be showned. So if a catridge has rich timbre redintion  and we put this cartridge in a system that is slightly less good in this department we still feel the cartridge to have very good timbre reproduction. But if there is a cartridge like the DDT II special that has a spot on right timbre richness and you put in a system when there is going to be a detraction of this parameter you will end up saying the cartridge has a lack in this department. And most of the time cables have an extremely hard time reproducing timbre reality. I think is the major shortcomings in cables. Only very few cables can do it acceptly well. But it is true that at the end of the day is the result that you are after, so in a normal sytuation you will feel what is not this cartridge shortcoming lack its weak point, but the cause will be your other components. But in my humble opinion I think the reason of this is simple: the other cartridges of the same price range and behond get more timbre richness adding colorations, It is not timbre but nice distortions filling the reproduct instument since when connected with hi end cable the DDT II special has surely better timbres.

This is a very, very solid product. You can get a lot out of this cartridge. And if you don't like it it means that you didn't make it sound right. This is not a cartridge that has a signature sound that you can love or hate. It sounds right.

The worst of all: this is what I really hate and you absolutely have to know before buying and using any VDH cartridge. They pass a time in a prison of acoustic misery. I tell you about it: you buy a VDH cartridge, any kind of it, I had Frog, Grasshoppers, Black Beauty and so on, and you put fresh new in your system and they sound very good. Then they keep on sounding this good for up to about 40 hours. When they get close to 40 hours strange things happen. The bass loose control, the treble becomes hard, they start being a little foggy and grey. The strangest of all, and happended to me with every VDH cartridge happens at about 38 hours. Few times you will hear like something went out of phase. But you check the speaker cables and they are OK. This phenomen is just the prelude of the acoustic misery of the 40 hours. Then you have to wait up until 160-170 hours for things to be better then they were at the beginning.
Why this happen and how do you explain it? I don't know. Maybe one day some close to the holland master will ask him about and we all know about it.
So when you think something wrong happened to your VDH cartridge be rassured. The worst is if you try or buy one that has 40 to 160 hours on. You will end up to very wrong conclusions about their musicality.

Last remark: this cartridge is an exceptional match for the Naim Aro. Aro owners now you know it.

If you don't have a lot of money to spend buying this cartridge you can be rassured you get 90% of what is there to get out from cartridges. If you want to believe somebody like me that owned more then 50 cartridges and listened and set up many more you could, but if it is not enough you should know some other people like me say the same thing about this cartridge. The only problem is they know you want to spend more and if they tell you to buy this you will say: it is just an entry level! Yes you are right. On the paper you are right. Just on the paper.

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