This LOMC was purchased new in 2017 from Cymbiosis, an authorized dealer in the U.K.
The cantilever failed after about four months. Linn would not warrant it. So I sent to to Soundsmith for evaluation and repair this past January. Soundsmith took an interest in the cartridge and inspected it almost immediately. Mr Lederman called me with the report that the suspension was still in tact and that the cartridge could be repaired. He recommended his sapphire cantilever option (replacing the hollow aluminum of the Krystal) and the nude line contact diamond. He said it would have lower mass and that he could precisely locate the diamond so that the overhang would be correct for the Krystal’s 3 point mounting system. I accepted his recommendation and he completed the work and returned the cartridge to me a few days later.
Up until recently, I’ve had the cartridge mounted on an Ittok tonearm on the less fancy of my two LP12s. I estimate that it has about 120 hours on it since its return in January.
I’ve got four high end turntables here, and I’ve acquired some new cartridges this summer, so the Krystal was removed earlier in August, and is being offered for sale.
Compared to the original Krystal, I prefer the Soundsmith modified version. To my ears, in my system, when loaded at the recommended loading, the Soundsmith version retains the general Krystal flavor, but with more detail. To my ears, it is more neutral in my system than the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, or the VAS Nova/HW, or the Lyra Delos to which it has been compared. It is as capable of extracting detail as any of these, but i would characterize these others as warmer sounding.
If you’re looking for a modestly priced LOMC, this cartridge is a good deal. The US retail price of the Krystal is $2000. I’ve priced this to be competitive with some of the MMs that are commonly considered with better turntables.
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The cartridge comes with what is shown in the pictures, i.e. the cartridge, three mounting screws that screw into the body of the cartridge to hold it on the headshell, the jewel box in which the cartridge arrived, and the cardboard box in which the jewel box arrived. It also includes the copyrighted 8 page Soundsmith detailed information sheets on cartridges, cleaning, alignment, and the like. Although there are three mounting points, if you do not have three on your headshell, just use two. The third point does not have to be used. Non-Linn cartridges only have two.
As is Linn's usual custom, no Linn based instructions are included. The tags are color coded. The screws are 2mm Allen heads. Loading is best determined by personal preference based on listening, but I'd start around 50 to 100 Ohms. 54 to 64 dB of gain should be ideal.