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vendredi 18 novembre 2016

Van den Hul The Crimson Special Edition (Ebony)

I really liked the Crimson as you can read in an older article of mine.
So I was somehow curious about this version. In which parameter this SE would be a better Crimson ? At the same time I thought it would have been a difficult task since the Crimson is an extremely well balanced cartridge and most of the time with very well balanced product when you try to make them better you improve few characteristics but you loose some others. In a way this is what happens with the SE version, but it is not the all story. I would say that the Crimson SE does not sound as a Crimson. The difference between a Crimson and a Crimson SE is at least as marked as the difference between a Dynavector XV1S and a Koetsu Rosewood. VDH could have very easily called this cartridge with a different name. The only thing is that estetically they would be too close for a customer to accept a different name. The only thing I can notice is the wood body in the SE version made from ebony.
The difference between the SE and the standard Crimson reminded me of the difference between two cartridge that I love but that are not in production any more : the Myabi Standard and the Myabi 47.
But in this case the VDH Crimson SE would be the Myabe Standard and the VDH Crimson the Myabi 47.
The SE is so different from the normal Crimson that it is not that if you like one you would like the other one too. Actually it is not too difficult to like both since both are exceptional cartridges but they excerse their virtues in different territories.

In a not comparative test The Crimson would be appreciated for its timbric shades expecially in the medium range, and the rare capability to sound fast but delicate at the same time. It sounds more like an electrostatic speaker.
The VDH SE would be loved for its dynamic swing, it has a very high dynamic contrast and it is tight and the instruments are really carved out. Its shades are more presents in the differentiation of the attack of the notes. If Naim would have ever made a cartridge this would be it.

In direct comparison their differences are even more pronounced. First of all we are aware of a different tonal equilibre. The medium of the SE is more recessed and darker and timbrically simplified but not the medium high. The image landscape is different too: the SE is more upfront but the layering in the depth field is more evident. This layering is highlighted from a much more pronounced dynamic contrast of the different instruments. The decay of the notes are shorter with the SE but have more energy and this partecipate to make the instruments more carved out and the space between the instruments more silent. Since the attack of each instruments is more evident with the SE there is also a feeling of more urgence and more energy in the medium- high, high frequencies range that are beautifully rendered. This region is portraied with exceptional realism since you don't have here preserved just the energy but also the timbrical richness and density and this is extremely rare if not unique. In comparison the Crimson is less compact and solid in this same frequencies, more light. The overall sound of the SE is tight and going toward the dry side. I use this adjective not as a bad thing since a wood instrument sounds better when is dry. Strings sound better too, percussions sound better too, piano sound better too, cymbals too, the human voice sounds... it sounds better on the normal Crimson. In the normal Crimson the human voice has a more complex painting. Timbres working of the voice and its inflection are much more evident. In the SE the human voice is in comparison more simplified.

Where the Crimson is delicate, the SE is firm and tight; where the Crimson let it go, the SE get in control of things; where the Crismson paint with 20 colours the SE uses 15; where the Crimson let you see the shading graduations between two different graduations of dynamics and timbres, the SE make you much see much better there are two different graduations in their external structure. The SE differenciates the structure, the Crimson differenciate the content.

The SE is the perfect cartridge for who cares about the fondamentals of the music, for its roots, for the one that likes to be exiceted by the music. The normal Crimson is more for who listen into the music, for the one who likes to fall inside the message of the music.
If I would be pressed to compare this two cartridges to some classic hifi speaker I would say that the normal Crimson is more an electrostatic Quad while the SE is a classic Tannoy.

It is strange what this SE made me think about: my first serious amplifier: a Naim Nait 1 ( yes I am 50 years old). It has that kind of simple and at the same time effective way of comunicating the musical message. Of course it is not an entry level product so it has much more resolving power then the Nait and the astonishing density of the high frequency is something that the old Naim could only dream of as it could be only dreamed of by most of the recent or past hi-end products. But this kind of simple truth is there.
It is fast, it is reactive and agile, it is tight, it is powerful. It communicate the beauty of the energy in music. The simple truth of music.
It is a BMW Mserie, it is an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, or if you are not a car lover is
for the burbon and cigarettes lovers with powerful and noisy motorcycles.
Life is beautiful if we don't make it complicated.
It is the grab and kiss not the never ending seduction game.
Not for the contemplative people.
The Crimson SE is there with the best at any price.

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