The "Carmen" cartridge by The Soundsmith is a hand selected version of our famous SMMC3 cartridge. We select it as special from our normal production run, and ship it to you mounted in a hand finished Ebony mount. Hand selected? Aren't all cartridges (of a given model) coming out of a production facility the same, or rejected if they don’t meet specifications??
Here is the "micro-manufacturing" reality:
All top end cartridges from all manufacturers are hand made. 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??
We carefully hand build each and every cartridge, test them, and keep accurate records by serial number of their performance. Those that meet or exceed specifications are sold. But, there are always a few that measure much better than the other "great" ones......and we select these to be mounted in Ebony bodies, available to you as "selected" units. Do they cost more??? You bet. Much more?? No. Do they 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??"
Our 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, we've 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.