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.
So let me get this straight. To appreciate a $4000 cartridge I need to spend another $4000 (pick a number) to appreciate it? Really? What a shell game this hobby can become if you let it.
While I understand and, to some degree, agree with your point about the price/performance issue regarding the reviewers phono stage, you seem to be glossing over the fact that many pieces of equipment perform well beyond what their price indicates. Perhaps the reviewer has auditioned several phono stages on his own and determined that his $900 performed just as well as a $4000 phono stage despite the MASSIVE price differential? The numbers that follow the "$" do not determine whether a piece of gear is mediocre or not. The sound in your system to your ears does.
Forget about the price of the cartridge. In my opinion the phono stage is THE most important part of the analogue chain. I would be far happier with a $4000 phono stage and a $900 cartridge then the other way around. But mate a $4000 cartridge with that $4000 phono stage and you will see what both are really capable of.

Of course, price is not the sole factor here - just making a point. Better equipment tends to cost more and is generally not fully appreciated until you pair it with equipment up to the same level of merit.