23
Apr
10

The Ortofon A-90

Due to the rave reviews in magazines and the numerous more than favourable comments on user forums praising the excellence of this cartridge, I could not resist the temptation to set one up in one of my systems and give it a good listen. So here it is, mounted on the TW Acustic Raven 10.5 arm and Raven AC turntable. A formidable combination indeed!

Straight off the bat, I can say that the “A” in A-90 should stand for amazing! It is amazing in its ability to combine all the audiophile qualities that we look for, and in equal proportion, never favouring one characteristic over others. So what we have here is a highly refined cartridge that is extremely well balanced in almost every parameter.

This is not to say that it is boring. Far from it, the A-90 sounds fast and dynamic without being relentless or ‘in-your-face’, transparent without veering into analytical territory, has excellent spatial and 3D qualities without sounding light-weight, and has world class low frequency extension without sounding heavy or ‘boomy’. To top it all off, the A-90 is eminently musical, and this is of course, the most important sonic quality to me. It is just not syrupy sweet in the midrange, like some ‘musical’ cartridges are known to be. This is actually not a bad thing, as how many of you music lovers have attended live music performances that sound syrupy?

If I was to guess at the secret of its success (and here I’m only guessing), it might be the unique stainless steel cartridge body that is constructed by the revolutionary SLM (Selective Laser Melting) method, in which micro particles are fused together layer-by-layer. This results in a body that is relatively light-weight and extremely well damped. So what you hear (or do not hear) is the lack of resonance affecting the cartridge performance.

There are a number of other ‘talking points’ like Ortofon’s patented Wide Range Damping system, and the use of Ortofon’s Replicant 100 diamond stylus, an ultra fine and incredibly thin and light stylus that is reputed to be the finest diamond ever created (at least for phono playback!). However, the various reviews and Ortofon’s own website will have covered those little items well enough for me not to repeat them. Suffice to say that the A-90 is the first of the ‘super cartridges’ that I have come across that actually sells at a reasonable price (reasonable of course, being a very relative term!). I think this is what Michael framer means when he said this cartridge was “a game changer”.

IMHO, the A-90 is destined to be a real classic in the vinyl world, and don’t forget that it is also a limited edition model. That means it could very well be a collector’s item in the not too distant future! Come on down to our showroom to audition this once-in-a-generation model and place your orders before they are all gone!

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