Ortofon A90 review.... wrong choice of gear

Hi all

Just had a QUICK read of the new Feb issue of HiFi World which was sent to me by a good friend. Why I ask myself?
I was interested in what they thought about the new Ortofon A90 MC. I own one like many other folk. It's a great cartridge and without being totally biased probably the best I have heard but then it is expensive. I also own a PW Windfeld which is the next model down and fortunately the reviewer compared the 2 cartridges... should make for a great and riveting read.

I read through the review and saw that he did not feel the differences between the 2 cartridges we large. I was really surprised because in my system the differences are MASSIVE! I continued to read on..... then he says that if you are using an Icon Audio phonostage it's not bad but it sounds better with a Graham Slee.


Who on earth would spend $4000 on a cartridge and use a basic $900 phono stage? Most of the folks I know that own cartridges above $2000 use phono stages that can get the most of their cartridge. It's no wonder the reviewer could not tell the difference between the 2 cartridges. If he had used a better phono stage and system he would have had half a chance of actually hearing the qualities of the cartridges. A hifi dealer would have told the guy... ' I wouldn't recommend you use a $4000 with such mediocre gear'....

Anyways, that is the state of play in this magazine, I can't imagine the manufacturer and distributor were that happy about it.
I feel fortunate enough to own a few decent cartridges. 

A few years ago I came across a great A90 from a dealer whose customer had to trade it in on an A95. I had it inspected and it showed no wear, and while hours could only be estimated, they were considered to be very low. Other cartridges i have are a Transfiguration Audio Proteus, a ZYX 4D, and a Denon DL-S1. Have had a lot of others from Benz Micro, AT 50ANV, Dynavector XX-2 MK II, Ortotofon original Windfeld/Cadenza Bronze/red/Blue, Blackbird, Koetsu Urushi. 

The A90 is unique in how it presents the top end, different than any other MC I have heard, with the original Windfeld being the closest match. The top end is transparent and as flat a frequency response as I have ever heard on a MC, and it sounds almost like nothing. The portrayal of space with this cartridge is excellent also, along with dynamic swing and bass response. Space in a recording can be huge with this cartridge, depending on recording of course. 

I do like the Proteus a bit more, it surpasses the A90 on detail retrieval, and the top end seems a bit more delicate but does not cross the line into being exaggerated. In some ways it seems to be the next step of evolution in how an A90 sounds. 

As a side note, the fellow I use who retips does not care for the diamonds on the Ortofon cartridges. He compares to the best Namiki he has access to, and the Replicant looks huge in comparison. Perhaps there is a way to improve upon the cartridge with an eventual retip. Just a thought to put out there. 
Among the Ortofon line i can recall one cartridge with very special top end i had in my system, the cartridge is Ortofon MC-2000, some friends noticed that too when we were listening tunes. The original stylus tip on MC2000 is SCL (a Symmetrical Contact Line), there is a hole paragraph about this diamond in the booklet for MC2000.   
a90 body is a wonder  of engineering with the laser melt process and I do enjoy the sound.I love proprietary.A prior poster mentioned price doesnt dictate a units quality and hes right.There are some very well designed units that dont  have the eye candy over built chassis that you pay for bring em home and open them and theres nothing in there.Its sad.Parts and engineering man thats what matters.Most of all it's what your ears prefer.But sure there truth and merit  to matching costs on each piece but it can be achieved for much less with a well designed piece where money went into parts and engineering rather than bling