Any experience with Sound Smith repairing stylus on non-Sound Smith cartridges?

I was reaching across my Rega P8 turntable with Linn Krystal cartridge (four months old with 250 hours), and the back of my finger hit the stylus, and severely bent / broke the stylus and cantilever, as the stylus is now pointing straight down,and the tip is facing backwards (instead of down).  I was probably going to send the Linn cartridge to Sound Smith for repair.  Has anyone had experience with their various stylus repair options for Linn (or other non-Sound Smith) cartridges?  



Yes, Peter installed a fresh diamond stylus on the factory cantilever of my Airtight Supreme. Check with SS on turn-around time. 

Benz Glider - Sound got slightly better ;-)

pre covid turnaround was about a month, cost was around $400

No complaints, excellent communication thru the process.


Haven’t listened to that cartridge since it was repaired and returned- stashed in one of those air tight canisters that are apparently popular for other purposes these days. Went to a Koetsu stone body which matches the needs of my system better--bass on the Koetsu (I actually bought two different ones) is more filled out and dimensional in my system, given its strengths and weaknesses.

But to come back to your cartridge, if your cantilever is trashed, Peter will replace that with an assembly which may mean turn around time is shorter. I think it requires more skill to replace just the diamond rather than plug a preassembled stylus cantilever assembly onto the stub of yours.

For what it’s worth, any third party retip will likely change the sound-- and as has been reported here many times, the resale value is reduced compared to a factory rebuild. One other thing-- since I know zip about Linn cartridges-- some brands really don't rebuild, but give you a break on a new unit. I know Koetsu rebuilds, Van den Hul did and may still do so. I think Lyra does not, but haven't gone through that process with them. (I did have an old Parnassus with the platinum magnets which basically got me a new top of the line Lyra at the time b/c Lyra needed those magnets for the Olympus). 

I never planned on reselling the Airtight so that didn’t matter. As for the cost/value, while just replacing the diamond is pricier than plugging in a whole assembly-- it was still a fraction of the cost of the Supreme. So, it made sense to me. At some point, I may put it on my vintage system, but I’m still loving the Koetsu sound, so the Airtight will not be going back on my main system anytime soon.

Steve Leung is very good at these types of repairs too, is fast and reasonably priced. (Not that Peter isn’t, but if the wait time is long, Steve is a good alternative).

You’ll see a lot of negative comments about third party retips generally, but I’m not adverse to the idea, even if it isn’t the "same" when it comes back.





Thanks for the input.  I inquired at the shop that I bought the Linn cartridge from, and they seemed to indicate that Linn does not re-tip or repair cartridges. . . I put in an inquiry to Linn factory, but haven't received a response yet.  I'm not concerned about re-sale value, as it's *only* a $2,000 cartridge, and I was planning on a significant upgrade in table and cartridge once I wear this cartridge out, which I may have just done prematurely. . .  

I had them re-tip my Hana SH. The diamond just disintegrated after about 300 hrs. I had them do the Ruby Cantilever / Nude Contact Line Diamond. Great work received it back in 2 weeks. Blows away the original SH. Much better highs, deeper more defined bass. I just love the sound.

I went with the middle of the line just to try their work, very satisfied. Kind if wished I went with the next level.

@drbond , Soundsmith is perfectly capable of doing a SOTA rebuild on just about any cartridge. It is safest to use the same type of stylus the cartridge was supplied with. If you change profiles even going for a more modern one, you can not be quite sure what will happen. If you are going to upgrade in the near future this is certainly the cheapest way to get back to playing records fast.

Linn does not make cartridges at all. Someone else does it for them and brands it as a Linn. Lots of companies do this. whart's Air Tight is actually a MySonicLab creation.

Peter did a retip on my Transfiguration and it came out great. As far as the original sound, you have to remember that by the time you send a cartridge in for a retip, it’s because the sound is off somewhat, so it’s hard to know. But it does sound excellent. And it was nice paying $500 instead of $5k for a new one. As far as what to do, I let Peter decide what was best. He ended up just doing the stylus and leaving everything else.

I had a Sumiko Blue Point Evo 3 that the cantilever had been broken off rebuilt and it came back sounding wonderful, I wouldn't hesitate to use Peter again.

I broke the cantilever on my Clearaudio Virtuouso Wood cart and had it rebuilt by Soundsmith.  It sounded great.  When I broke it again (arggh!), I sent it to Andy Kim, who was much faster and if I remember correctly, the price was a little less.  I recently sent a trashed Zu Denon DL 103 that came with a turntable I bought to Andy and it sounded amazing when he was done with it. 

Soundsmith does quality work and if that's your preference, I don't think you'll be disappointed.  Andy is another option worth considering.

Soundsmith retipped my Monster Cable Sigma Genesis 2000 cartridge (don't laugh, it was made by Zyx) and did a great job. It was not a fast turnaround, but within the time they estimated.

I would guess that SS does more retipping of other brands than it does on its own cartridges. You will be hard pressed to find a negative review of their work. In my case, I had them redo a Grace Ruby with sapphire cantilever and OCL stylus. (Original Ruby has elliptical stylus.) I am very pleased with results.


The Linn Krystal has a aluminum tube cantilever, with a vital fine line stylus (whatever that means).  It seems like aluminum would be the reasonable replacement option from Sound Smith:

Aluminum Alloy Cantilever; Nude Hyper- Elliptical Diamond $200


Sound Smith recommended the Boron, because of "the stylus profile", and it's also the most expensive option

Boron Cantilever with Nude Contact Line $450


What do you think would match best with the Linn vital fine line stylus?

@drbond, Boron generally stiffer and most high end cartridges are using it now with a few using diamond. One uses a cactus spine! I would go with Soundsmith's ruby cantilever and OCCL stylus. They use this set up in the Sussurro and The Voice so, I know they have it available. The question is will they put it in someone else's cartridge? I think the OCCL stylus is going to be the closest to the Krystal "vital fine line" stylus. 

My problem with the aluminum cantilever is the way the stylus has to be mounted leaves a lot of mass at the end of the cantilever in the worst place. As far as aluminum cantilevers go I think AT makes the best one, a tapered tube. I think they use it in the VM760SLC. The Ruby cantilever in the Soundsmith cartridges is very fine. It is red which is cool but it looks like it would snap at the slightest tap. It is actually very tough and holds up well. 

Some months ago, JCarr, the creator of Lyra cartridges, for those who don't know, wrote a nice piece here wherein he suggested that when re-tipping a cartridge it is best to replace like with like, when it comes to the choice of cantilever material. The rationale for that advice is that the suspension was designed for the mass and rigidity of the original cantilever.  You may want to search for his post here to read his actual words on the subject.  By that reasoning, replace alu with alu.  Stylus shape can be altered, I think he would say. 

As to the question of whether SS will install a ruby cantilever with OCL stylus, the answer is yes.  They did that for my Grace Ruby. (SS also offer a complete new stylus assembly for the Ruby, including its ruby cantilever and OCL stylus, but I had them replace only the cantilever and stylus on mine.)

SS did two amazing jobs for me- a dynavector dv20x2L with new ruby cantilever with stylus and same for an ortofon cadenza blue.  

the dynavector sounded much better, the ortofon slightly worse but still great.  


Thanks for the recommended thread on stylus tips, etc.  That is an excellent discussion on parts and re-tipping cartridges, along with the usual banter amongst contributors.  For reference, here's the link: (I don't know why the copy/paste operation on Audiogon pastes the link in such a large area)


SS did work on two cartridges, a Coral 777 which involved a new ruby cantilever and line trace stylus and a Benz Ebony L where only the stylus was replaced.  Work on both was done well.  The Benz sounded great as the stylus was worn.  The bass on the Coral was different sounding and in hindsight I probably should have kept Al as the cantilever material.  Timing and cost were reasonable for both.  I've also used Steve Leung at VAS three times now.  I had ZYX Airy 3x which he inspected, cleaned and repaired, the issue was corrosion on the coils and the suspension needed fixing.  He also inspected and cleaned my Dynavector XV-1s.  On both I thought the stylus needed replacement but it was not the case for both.  More recently I received a Krell KC-100 with a damaged cantilever for some work I did for the previous owner.  Steve replaced the cantilever and stylus, have not heard it yet as I'm in the middle of moving.  For me Steve is easier to reach than SS although the timing and pricing is about the same.

I have heard really good things about VAS Audio. I just sent my Dynavector DRT-XV1T for a new cantilever and tip just last week. Waiting to hear back on cost. This damaged cartridge was a gift so I am not to blame.