SoundSmith's Special Sound
I always look forward to Peter Ledermann's analog demos, because the sound of his cartridges, electronics, and speakers is consistently delicious. While it certainly was this time around, some surprising booming in the basssomething I do not recall hearing at any previous SoundSmith demoalerted me to the fact that the small rooms at THE Show, situated on the fourth floor of the Flamingo Hotel, were a bitch to control.
Peter was showing three new products: The new, lower-cost, entry level Strain Gauge SG-200 cartridge ($5500), complete with a new, diminutive, auto-muting phono preamp. (The Strain Gauge cartridge is played with its preamp mate). The SG-200 is claimed to sound exactly the same as its big brother, yet costs $2000 less.
Also shown was the top-of-the-line, low-output, low-compliance moving-iron Sussurro phono cartridge ($4550). Inspired by Frank Schröder, the cartridge has "ultra-low effective moving mass, and a single-crystal ruby cantilever; the teeny-weeny MCP 2 moving-coil phono preamp ($700). A major departure from the usual wood housing of Peter's other products, it also mercifully lacks the light show effects.
I auditioned the Sussurro in a VPI HRX turntable with JMW 12.6 arm (approx. $11,000). The new MCP 2 was also called into action. I heard all the warmth and roundness I expect from Peter's products, but with more detail. In a brief cartridge-to-cartridge comparison, I also felt the Sussurro produces a fuller, somewhat more neutral sound than the more romantic Strain Gauge.