OK now is getting a lot of work with this special VDH cartridges. It is fun since this high end cartridges all sound extremely well, so it is really useless to say one is really better the other one.
This is another special top from VDH. Is the special edition hard wood stradivarius.
I have listened to the Stradivarius (not hard wood) and to the Special edition (ebony) and of both I have written here in my blog.
They are called stradivarius since these models use on their woods a laquer similar to the one Stradivari used for his violins. The difference between the Special edition Ebony and this one is the use of a different wood. The body of this one as mentioned is made of an hard wood.
But something is deeply wrong. Let’s put it clear ; Stradivari would have never laqued one of his violins like this. The body of the cartridge is laqued in a very it is good when it is finished manner. Brutal brushed and not uniform. Some dust traces trapped in the laquer too… Maybe because I am Italian and even though I have not lived in Italy for the last 25 years, I have kept a certain sensibilitiy for the estetics but when I reed Stradivarius I expect a little Stradivari attitude not just a laquer spit. In a great workmanship you never have something that looks hurried up or when it is finished is better. No. Everything comes from the love of beauty. The beauty of the product that is going to be finished to be used. This field of using it covers also the use of our eyes. Of course! Our eyes use the product too. They are part of our senses.
So Stradivarius… no, I don’t accept this name. Sorry. I feel even bad about it using this name.
But does it sound like a Stradivarius? Now the fun its mine trying to write about it.
The very strange thing is that in a comparison between the Special Edition (ebony) and this one hard wood Stradivarius the lates one really sounds more like a stradivarius!
When I was much younger I had the great opportunity to be able to ear in Cremona (where the great luters where having fun ) a violist that played three different violins to make people ear the differences of their sound. The player was the same so it was not the differences in which each violin was played that made the differences in their sound. The Guarnieri sounded projected, but dense, powerful. When he played a Stradivari (I don't remember the name of this violin) the sound was more clear, like a light was coming out of it, the sound seamed to come out of it in an easier way with more shadings in its timbres expecially in the higher tone that had a very unique characteristique to be at the same time extremely clear but with a certain sweatness guiven by a special fluidity. It had less propulsion then the Guarnieri but more radiation, with this meaning that I had the impression of the sound coming from a radiationg source and with the Guarnieri from a more directional one. With the Stradivari it was like the player and the violin disappeared in a certain way or the violin swallowed the player I don't know or the player got lost in the violin? you maybe had the idea. There was less struggle in the symbiosis between the player and the instrument but part of this struggle is also nice to ear. It was beautiful to ear it coming from the Guarnieri. The player was there, the violin too and the music too. With the Stradivari there was only the music.
Or maybe the light coming out of it made the three components melding in each other. A very interesting point was that the player of this performancebefore playing said the violins sounds would be more clear to us the listeners that to himself the player. He said he could detect more the difference in the playing tactile feelings.
I could talk also of the sound of the third violins that he played that was an Amati, but for the reason of this cartridge test i will stay with the difference between a Guarnieri and a Stradivari.
Ths VDH hard wood stradivari cartridge has the kind of easines of music coming out of it with a light touch but at the same time with a certain power that the Stradivari violin has. It is clear but not cold, it is articlulated but not tight, it is transparent to the sound but never harsh. Expecially it can play everything with style. Baroque or Lou Reed singing Heroin in Rock and Roll Animal it is the same for this cartridge. It gets the right emotions out of them. The hard wood Stradivari is a soul scanner. It gets out the soul of the music it is playing. It gets concentrated to the music to the heart ofthe music. It is able to do so also because it gets out of the message things that don't belong to the music, so mechanical noises and noise floor are very very low for a cartridge. Silences are deep and made of a different density then from the other part of the reproduction and this is how it should be. Silence does not get dirty with frequencies, frequencies expande in the nature of the silence.
And then this cartridge is fast. It is very fast, but fast and agile so it is more like light weight boxer.
It could be of interest to compare the sound of this hard wood Stradivarius to the Special Edition (Ebony). Both are great cartridges but they are different. The HD Stradivarius is surely more elegant, more agile, and has more colours. The Ebony has more power, but not in absolute term. It has a more concentrated power.It is more dense in its expression of the musical energy. It is more there. The Ebony is more a Guarnieri. Maybe VDH should call the Special Edition Ebony Guarnieri? In the future he could make also an Amati... VDH The Crimson Stradivarius, VDH The Crimson Guarnieri, VDH The Crimson Amati why not!
The Stradivari as I said gets the soul of the music coming out, the Ebony the energy, the substance, the life as a more simple movement then the soul.
They are both neutral in caracter. Not warm sounding not cold sounding. The Hard Wood Stradivarius is a cool spring day, the Ebony is a cool autumn day. So the temperature is the same, let's say 16 degree but things are different.
Both are a beautiful situation to have the walk of your life. In a cool spring day there are more distincts smells, more differents colours. In a warm autumn day there are still many colours, but they tend to shade to something common. The VDH SE Ebony is like this autumn day in comparison to the SE HD Stradivarius. This last one is more transparent is more big sounding but not more musical.
So at the end I thing the HD Stradivarius is in absolute term a better cartridge and when changing from the Ebony to the Stradivarius you are made aware of it. But after a while you remember the Ebony, its coherence and its completely unmechanical sounding way. The Ebony has a global coherence that the Stradivarius does not have. Timing, timbres and speed and attack and decays and everything else that makes the music a whole it seems coming from the same block, from the same window. The Stradivarius has more windows. It have more dynamic freedom, it is more open and big sounding. I always liked The Wall from Pink Floyd but I have never loved it. The Stradivarius playing The Wall lives you in a real total disbelieve. The Ebony not. In complex music the Stradivarius has something really special going on. It sorts out complexity in a simple way like a Stradivarius violin would play it, with ease. In simple things you feel it would like to do something more like a predator waiting for that jump he does not have the occasion to do. The Ebony does not leave you in disbelieve neither gives you the feeling it waits something special to express itself at its best. Also in its global performance is more coherent, more on the same level whatever it is playing. You get attached to the Ebony like to a Guarnieri. I have always loved Guarnieri. But a Stradivari ,how beautiful can it sounds!
My only regreat is not having right now enough money to buy any of the two.
Actually I would like to buy both.
Actually I would like to buy both.