Soundsmith’s Hyperion phono cartridge (with cactus needle cantilever!)

The Hyperion, Soundsmith’s new top-of-the-line moving-iron phono cartridge, utilizes a cactus needle cantilever. (That’s a cantilever made of a cactus needle.) Inspired by (the always dapper) Frank Schroeder and designed by Peter Ledermann, the Hyperion’s cactus needle cantilever provides both stiffness and damping—qualities which, according to Ledermann, had previously been mutually exclusive.

Superior cantilever designs, Ledermann explained, have traditionally been tapered—a technique that’s difficult to accomplish with aluminum and even more difficult with extremely hard and durable materials such as boron, ruby, and diamond. Cactus needles, however, are naturally tapered, stiff, and durable, while their stacked fibers provide natural dampening.

The Hyperion moving-iron phono cartridge ($7000) is available with Soundsmith’s CL or OCL styli, has a recommended tracking force of 1.8 to 2.2 grams, an output of 0.3mV, and is compatible with MC phono preamps. It is also available in a linear-tracking version, the Hyperion LT. Soundsmith guarantees the Hyperion for 10 years, and Peter Ledermann will retip the cartridge for free if it wears out within that time.

“Other cantilevers are synthesized,” said Ledermann. “We grow these.”

We listened to some music. The sound was not prickly or thorny at all. It was clean, clear, and immediate—bold and well-controlled—with vibrant colors and good senses of rhythm, touch, and scale.

volvic's picture

With that kind of guarantee suddenly the price is not outlandish, amortize that over 10 years (the life span of the warranty) and suddenly sounds like a reasonable cost.  Hope to hear it one day. 

Bill Leebens's picture

...would be a blue agave model, with accompanying Soundsmith-brand tequila.

Given that the mixture of alcohol and cantilevers is often disastrous, I doubt if Peter would go for that... especially with a 10-year warranty.

deckeda's picture

Leave it to perhaps the industry's best-known retipper to bring innovation to cantilevers. Good news.

kphovanec's picture

It was late Saturday and I was exploring rooms I hadn't visited yet. Any time I see a quality analog souce producing outstanding reproduction, I tend to slow down and relax.

It wasn't until I'd spent 20 minutes listening to the system did the subject of the Soundsmith's Hyperion cartridge came up. All I knew to that point was is that I was listening to an outstanding analog source. Not to mention the rest of the outstanding components in the demo system

In the light of knowing what I had heard, I never would have known this was the quality of sound one could extract from such 'exotic' materials. It worked! Pity the new copy of Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd wasn't cleaned properly before they plopped it on the turntable.