Cartridge repair; re-tipping; canitlever replacement: The Needle Clinic A++

Happy New Year fellow A'goners. Last Monday I bent the boron cantilever on my Rega Apheta 2 MC cartridge. After a miserable attempt at self-repair (I know, but I just had to try), I decided to send it off for cantilever replacement. All of us know of the terrific work that Peter at The Soundsmith does. Only problem is, turnaround time is often in excess of 12 weeks (in my case he estimated 14). I started doing a little research about possible alternatives. One name that came popping up with (almost) unanimously positive reviews was Andy Kim at The Needle Clinic in Bellevue, WA. I contacted Andy and asked if he could repair the Apheta 2 (a somewhat radical design and difficult to work on, as I'm sure Gandy intended). Andy said he could indeed. I asked if he offered boron cantilevers and super-fine nude styli, and yes, ditto. Then, drumroll please, I asked what the turnaround time would be. He said about a week. Pardon me?? I live in North Carolina. Yes, one week.

I decided to give him a whirl. I shipped the cartridge via UPS and it was delivered last Wednesday, January 11. I received an email from Andy late in the day Thursday, January 12 telling me that the repair was complete and that he was "ear testing" the cartridge. Holy cow!! He responded that it sounded fantastic, and sent me a Paypal invoice for $450.00 plus $8 shipping. I paid immediately and the cartridge arrived at my home here in North Carolina yesterday, Saturday the 14th. Unbelievable. More impressive still is his work. I installed the cartridge on my Rega P9 (RB1000 arm) this morning (its a snap in that the cartridge is made principally for the RB1000 tonearm), and the sound is FANTASTIC.

I am a discerning "audiophile" of 54 years with ears fit for the hobby. I won't bore you with a boastful list of my high-end gear, but suffice it to say my system is comprised of very revealing and top drawer kit. The Apheta 2 has always been an excellent low-output MC cartridge, but I think it actually sounds a tad bit better than ever. I had read that Andy employs only the best nude diamond tips, and this thing is marvelous now.

I take nothing away from The Soundsmith, whom most of us know to be excellent as well. The great news is that there is now a clear alternative that offers no compromise and a much shorter (for now) turnaround time. Highly, highly recommended!! -David 

I highly recommend the NC-1 offered by Needle Clinic. I received one as a COMP and the cart is amazing. I set her up yesterday and I’ve been listening to some of my favorite albums and I must say compared to my Blackbird, Benz Micro Wood and my Grado Wood RP it’s sound is superior.

Please see the specs below.


Type: Low impedance moving coil (MC) cartridge
Frequency response: 10 Hz to 50 kHz
Output Voltage: 0.22mV
Channel Separation: 30dB or more (1kHz)
Channel Balance: 1dB or less (1kHz)
Cantilever: Beryllium
Stylus Tip: VDH
Load Impedance: 20-100 Ohms
Impedance: 5 Ohms
Tracking weight: 1.8 to 2.2 grams
Weight: 5 grams

@jpjones3318 - Could you provide a little background and explanation of your experience?
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