Rega RP6 Cartridge Upgrade - Soundsmith Aida

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by timztunz, Jul 20, 2016.

  1. timztunz

    timztunz "A Dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Thread Starter

    Location:
    Texas and Brasil
    This past weekend I upgraded my Rega RP6 cartridge from a Rega Exact II to a Soundsmith Aida High Output Moving Magnet. It should be no surprise that the Aida is a better cartridge than the Exact II, and we all know that a new cartridge needs some break in time before it can show its real potential. But Holy Analog Bomb Batman, right out of the box this thing is an order of magnitude better in every respect. It's like I got a new stereo. The soundstage got deeper AND wider. I jerked my head once because something jumped on the WAY outside of the old width boundary. I had no idea how rolled off the top end was, yet now it's not overly bright, just right. Rock solid bottom end just slammin' those kick drums. Amazing separation of instruments. Exquisite detail and dynamics. This is gonna be FUN!

    The stock installation (without shims).

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    I had to use shims to maintain VTA due to the Soundsmith being taller. I opted for the Acoustic Signature Stainless Steel versions for their elegance and ease of installation. I chose them because of their elegance and ease of installation. They come in two halves so all you have to do is loosen the screws hold the arm assembly in place and slide the spacers under, not having to remove to the entire arm assembly. Another advantage of the Acoustic Signature shims is that they come with a 2mm, 1mm and 0,5mm for fine adjustments. I had to use all of the supplied 3.5mm to maintain the correct VTA of the Aida. It was a much taller cartridge than the Exact II. I had every intention of taking a photo of them before installing them but in my excitement I got carried away and didn't get the photo. But to see them you can go here. Here is after the shims were installed.

    [​IMG]

    I used a Feickert Setup Protractor utilizing Baerwald Geometry for alignment.

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    A really gorgeous sounding cartridge. I'm excited. I also have to give a shout out for the Soundsmith thumbscrews for ease in mounting a cartridge! The come in various materials depending on the weight needed for setting proper VTF.

    [​IMG]

    We talk a lot about "the law of diminishing returns" around here. I have two systems, a Reference system in Houston and a second system in Brasil (an all Rega system), and I live with them alternating two months at a time. In Houston I have a VPI Classic 3 with SDS, a Miyajima Shilabe cartridge and a Sutherland Eng. Hubble phono stage. I don't have to say what the $ value of all that is, it's easy enough to figure it out. In Brasil I have an RP6, with this new cartridge, all of the available Groovetracer mods, the Michael Lim double pulley and silicone belts, all sitting atop a Gingko Cloud suspension system. Obviously given the disparate 4 value of each system I would not expect them to perform the same. But I have to tell you, IMHO for my experience and my ears this little Rega rig gets 85% of the way there in terms of sound quality and satisfying listening experience.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Long Live Analog

    Long Live Analog Forum Resident

    Location:
    Memphis/Nashville
    Congrats buddy on a fine cartridge, I bet it sounds amazing. Good pics too...
     
    timztunz likes this.
  3. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Is there any way to get that counterweight a little closer to the pivot point? Maybe try some lighter headshell screws.
     
  4. timztunz

    timztunz "A Dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Thread Starter

    Location:
    Texas and Brasil
    Not really, but for what purpose? But just for reference sake, there are 4 sets of thumbscrews in a set. Stainless Steel, Brass, Aluminum and Nylon, all obviously at different weights. These are Aluminum ones. I preferred the look of the Stainless Steel but they were indeed too heavy. The nylon ones could possibly be slightly lighter than the aluminum ones but not enough to move the counterweight more than a millimeter or so. But VTF is set perfectly with things just as they are. So I'm curious as to your concern with the counterweight being closer to the pivot point?
     
  5. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Because it will track better, the closer you get the counterweight to the pivot point of the arm. Others may chime in on the physics of it, but it's a somewhat rule of thumb that getting it closer is the way to go. Having it so far back leads me to believe that it may be on the verge of being too light for that cartridge.
     
    Long Live Analog likes this.
  6. Drewan77

    Drewan77 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    UK
    I agree with Erocka2000, keeping the counterweight close to the pivot results in less see-saw effect and it tracks better. I would experiment with blu-tak & a couple of small coins or washers firmly pressed on at the far end of the counterweight so it can move forward. Dissimilar materials can also have a beneficial effect on arm resonance.
     
  7. Brando4905

    Brando4905 Active Member

    Location:
    Marion, NC
    Congrats on the new cart! I just moved up to a Soundsmith Zephyr mk2 on a new table, and had a major wow moment as well. Just like your reaction, it sounds like a whole new system. Really, really impressed with Soundsmith.
     
    timztunz likes this.
  8. timztunz

    timztunz "A Dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Thread Starter

    Location:
    Texas and Brasil
    Could be. I have an email in to Frank at Groovetracer to see what he says about a heavier counterweight. Thanks.
     
    Long Live Analog likes this.
  9. Thank you for your comments about the Aida - deeply appreciated. One important point - it is not moving magnet, but fixed Coil/ Moving Iron. The photos of comparison between MC and Soundsmith internal moving mass are found here:

    Fixed Coil vs. Moving Coil: Why make the jump to a different technology? | Soundsmith »

    Also - Our cartridges are an excellent long term investment, unlike other designs. Soundsmith designs can be rebuilt as new for 20% (or less) many, many times....The Aida can be rebuilt for $350.

    Peter Ledermann/President/Soundsmith
     
    Johnny Vinyl likes this.
  10. timztunz

    timztunz "A Dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Thread Starter

    Location:
    Texas and Brasil
    I'm an idiot. I know it's a Moving Iron, I meant to type Moving Iron and didn't. Thanks Peter, both for the clarification and your superb products.
     
  11. timztunz

    timztunz "A Dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Thread Starter

    Location:
    Texas and Brasil
    Yep, you're right. It's too light. It's 110gm. Weights can be added up to 130gm. But the new model of counterweight is adjustable to all 3 weights. Gotta fix that. Thanks.
     
    Long Live Analog likes this.
  12. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    No problem. Glad you got it sorted.
     
  13. DangerousKitchen

    DangerousKitchen Forum Resident

    Nice upgrade Tim. I also started with the Exact II on my Rega and enjoyed it very much until I upgraded, albeit more modestly than you. The Aida looks lovely and I really like the concept of switchable weighted thumbscrews. I also use the Acoustic Signature shims. Those are the best! Enjoy!
     
    timztunz likes this.
  14. Andy Pandy

    Andy Pandy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Brussels, Belgium
    Anybody that has compared the Aida to the Zephyr MK III? Both are roughly at the same price level and I would like to understand the difference in sound between the two models.
     

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