Soundsmith Aida ES
New ES Series DEMS design.
Made in the USA. Rebuild Price? $350 - Less Than 20% of MSRP! ~ The Aida features a 2-year warranty to the original owner.
The Aida cartridge by The Soundsmith (formerly SMMC1) is a Stereophile A-rated cartridge. That is the "price is no object" range. Where are we in the price range of those cartridges? At the bottom. There isn't anyone even close to our price. Did Michael Fremer take some flack for doing that? You bet. How did he respond? "I put it in that group - because it deserved to BE in that group".
Here is the "micro-manufacturing" reality:
All top end cartridges from all manufacturers are handmade. The real issue is that when you are manufacturing something so tiny, that has to perform so well, that all of them are NOT the same. If you don’t see this statement from other manufacturers, then this is a "secret" they don’t want to share, and quite understandably so.
So.....what does Soundsmith do??
It carefully hand builds each and every cartridge, tests them, and keeps accurate records by serial number of their performance. Those that meet or exceed specifications are sold. But, there are always a few that don't measure well. They are not sold, and are broken down and some parts are re-used. Does this cost real money? You bet. But what it does do is this.....the ones that DO pass Soundsmith's stringent testing out-perform many cartridges selling for two, three, four, or even five times the price.
"Moving Iron Cartridges better?? I thought that moving COIL types are the best??"
Soundsmith cartridges overturn the myth that moving coil cartridges are the only path towards perfection. After all, what is the accepted “advantage” of moving coil cartridges? Low effective moving mass, right? Well, Soundsmith has got less. Much less. And if you understand EFFECTIVE moving mass, Less IS more. Why is that good? Because when you lower the moving system mass, it’s easier to control. If it’s easier to control, the stylus can stay in better contact with the groove walls. That’s good, because if you can’t stay in contact with the groove walls, you can’t hear what’s on the record.
Is a high gain moving coil preamp required? No. "Aida” is designed to be used with a moving magnet preamp. No "step-up" transformers. No finicky multi-stage ultra high gain preamp required. Less is more here, too.
What is DEMS?
“Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.” – Peter Ledermann.
2018’s RMAF show was the official launch of Soundsmith’s new ES series of cartridges, where the attendees experienced the latest exploration into overlooked areas of cartridge design and solutions from Soundsmith.
The ES line features not only a dramatic new look, but is a significant evolution of the DEMS system design (Dynamic Energy Management System). The new Soundsmith ES cartridge designs are a significant advancement in cartridge performance due to their ability to direct internal vibrational forces without reflection and disperse them properly to the tone arm. The absence of reflections enables the stylus to stay in far greater statistical contact with the groove walls — a critically important technical refinement. Increased liquidity and reduced “grain,” without loss of detail are some of the immediately discernible advantages of Soundsmith’s new ES models.
The new line also features Azimuth adjustment built-in to each cartridge, as well as the option for electrical isolation for hum-prone systems.
Every cartridge in Soundsmith’s lineup will now feature our sleek new ES body design. The upgrade is far more than cosmetic; the new shape is a departure from the reflective and “boxy” design of many cartridges whose internal construction contribute to uncontrolled vibrational issues adversely effecting performance. Peter says, “Think of how singing in an open field compares with singing in a shower.” Soundsmith has always challenged conventions, looking deeper into nuances of cartridge design that dramatically affect immediate and long term performance. These have included extreme reductions of moving mass and the use of novel materials and designs. The new ES lineup is a continuation of that research and development.
|Aida Technical specifications|
|Stylus||Contact Line Nude, 0.100mm SQ|
|Radius of curvature||(OCL) (Optimized Contour Contact Line)|
|Recommended Tracking force:||10mN / 1.0 gm (high) 13mN / 1.3 gm (medium)|
|Effective tip mass||0.30 mg|
|Compliance||28 µm/mN (high) 22 µm/mN (medium)|
|Frequency response||20-20,000 Hz ± 2.5 dB|
|Channel Separation (stereo only)||1000 Hz >30 dB 50-15,000 >20 dB|
|Channel difference||<1.0 dB (Stereo) < 1.0 dB (Mono)|
|Output @5 cm/sec.||>2.12 mV|
|Cartridge weight||6.8 grams|
|Load:||Resistance >/= 47 kohms
(400-600 pf available by special order)