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I've had Steve work on an Ortofon Quintet Mono and he did a very nice job. He also repaired my VAS Nova Signature that had a cantilever when I found that its cantilever was askew. And he built me a wonderful Nova Mono cartridge. I've no reservations recommending using him to repair or retip a cartridge.
Yes - I sent him a Linn Kandid and he did a kick-ass job. The Kandid is tricky - it has to have just the right suspension work to align the coils and magnets at the exactly specified tracking force, and also uses a 3-point mounting scheme, where the stylus overhang must also be exactly right. His experience with Lyra cartridges suggested he might be a fine choice.
Well, Steven got it as perfect as my eyes and Feickert protractor can determine. He made sure to send detailed before, during, and after photos in order to prove the necessity, thoroughness, and precision of the work. And he did all that at a very reasonable price - in fact, he held to his original repair cost estimate even after he found an entire cantilever replacement was required in addition to the quoted work. Personally, I won't hesitate to use him again - which is great since I have a customized, medium compliance, low output Van den Hul Frog that has a worn stylus. I believe you can use his service with confidence. I certainly will again.
Before Christmas, I was referred to Steve from Vinh Vu, Gingko audio, I came into a Dynavector XV-1s with little history and a bent cantilever. Wasn't sure what I was in for. Steve promptly looked at it and emailed the following day "its fixed, and ready to go." He fixed the suspension, inspected everything, polished it up and mailed it back well packaged. His price was extremely reasonable. Now I have him building me a mono MC.
Steve did an amazing job fixing my VPI Traveler's arm bearings that were defective, and even VPI could not repair it. He replaced the damaged Sapphire bearings with Ruby bearings and it works like new. His charges were surprisingly low given what he did.
As part of this repair package Steve also crafted a VAS cartridge for me, which was an open-bodied Denon DL-103 but with a Micro Ridge Stylus. This cartridge, even without breaking in, sounds incredible. I couldn't recommend Steve any higher, and would encourage you to try his repair services, or the open-bodied DL-103 conversion.
I just got a cartridge from Steve this week as a stopgap- my go to has been Airtight, and i'm curious about stone-bodied Koetsus in my arm, but i reached out to Steve to supply me with a rebuilt Monster Genesis 1000- very different cartridge in tonality from the Airtights- but thing arrived fast with all the necessary mounting hardware and though my arm wasn't conducive to an older style nut and bolt set up given the additional mounting plate to add mass to this Monster (4 grams without the additional plate), I finally got it mounted, dialed in and singing. (Still in break in mode but this thing tracks like a Motha and is very resolving though a bit lean). Steve was readily available to address my mounting issues, and easy to work with. Trust.
I don't need another cartridge right now but I have to admit that I was watching that one that Steve had online for sale LOL. The price was pretty attractive I thought ;)
I believe Steve retipped that with a FG stylus but I am curious: do you know what the original cantilever material (info online is somewhat sketchy) was and if Steve changed the cantilever? It looked like aluminum in the photos when he had it online.
Regardless of what has been done with it, I would expect it to be a very high value cartridge in terms of performance vs. current cartridge offerings at todays' prices.
Original cantilever was boron, maybe diamond dusted or something, new cantilever is aluminum. Don’t remember the stylus profile offhand.
I suspect Steve will build you whatever you want- the materials cost of boron may be higher but it’s still within the range of a few hundred bucks, which is not a vast difference in price when you are talking about high end cartridges today, where the norm is around 10k dollars and the uber cartridges are offered at 15k plus retail (I know, nobody pays full boat, but still).
Absolutely. I'm currently running an Accuphase AC2 which I purchased without a stylus on it off ebay. I had another re-tipper re-work that cartridge about 4-5 months ago with a Namiki boron cantilever/microridge stylus combination and it is a beautiful cartridge. Similar pedigree to your Monster-from the same (Zyx) designer.
Have a little bit more into it than your Monster but not much. About $650, which is chump change for cartridges any more it seems. I don't feel any need to move further with cartridges on the stereo front but I may do some modifications to an AT 33 Mono that I have here in terms of putting a slightly more exotic stylus profile (and possibly cantilever) on it to try and supercharge it.
Steve seems to have a stellar reputation; it is great for all of us that might want to have cartridge work done to have an option to go to him.
Thanks all for your responses and for sharing your experiences with Steve.
Steve, we spoke briefly on the phone and I was left with the impression that you are knowledgeable and would be a terrific person to deal with. A couple of things were still not clear to me from our conversation, so perhaps all here would be interested in further clarification:
One of the cartridges that we discussed in our conversation is my Monster SG2000 which needs a new stylus. The original boron cantilever and suspension seem fine to me. Would you be able to keep the original cantilever and attach a new micro-ridge profile stylus? This would be my preference. If a new cantilever is necessary, can you replace with a boron cantilever? Same scenario for my Shelter 901 (different tip profile).
You’ll need to send me a few pictures of your cartridge. I usually do not like to glue styli onto cantilevers because it will not last as long.
However, I can still install a new boron line contact based on the info you provided about your cartridges.
Or I can repair each one like I did for whart, using a microridge with aluminum cantilever.
If anyone needs more info or feedback on my service, I originally started out on audiomart or you can look at my facebook page for more of my recent repairs (vasnyinc).
Yep, as Frogman sez, @slaw these things are monsters in the tracking department, not just in name. And even though the re-do I bought from Steve isn’t using the original cantilever, its compliance is more ’medium’ than ’high’ which also inspires confidence in handling. Still breaking in, but it is a very impressive cartridge--I will be surprised if it delivers the texture and tone of the Airtight in the midrange- it still sounds a little ’light’ in tone to my ears (this is personal take, given my preference and system) but in other respects, it is a better performer: tracking, as mentioned, and in the unraveling of detail without sounding bright. Hell of a cartridge, and in this day and age of 15k dollar top tier cartridges, an insane bargain. (Disregard Crazy Eddie selling style). :)
I found Steve on Ebay while searching for a retipping service for my Sumiko Blackbird. The poor tired bird has been singing rather dull lately. The price Steve gave me was more than reasonable. I sent him a few pictures. He replied the cantilever looks OK, suggested a couple of more expensive options that were just a hundred more.
I found him on facebook, gave him a call.
Sending him the cartridge next week. Judging by the feedback here his work will be outstanding and the price is just a quarter of what Needle Doctor quoted me.
Not to hijack this thread, I am thinking of switching from a Pro-Ject Phono Box DS+ to a combo of Schiit Mani and Swagman Linear Power Supply.
The Mani gets rave reviews online, much better than the DS+. Is that a worthwhile upgrade?
I have a Benz REF with sagging cantilever. Since Benz has become pretty much unobtanium(at least in US), I was looking for options for repair/trade. I saw Harry Weisfield's reviews of Steve's work on a VPI thread(Steve is a neighbor of VPI). As a test, I decided to send my Denon 103R to him for modification. He removed the body, mounted it on a stainless steel plate and added an aluminum cantilever and line contact stylus. It sounds nearly as good as the REF (at 4-5 times the price). I had an accident, bent the cantilever; he fixed it and had it back to me in a week! He has my Benz now, and I am looking forward to what he can do with it. Highly recommended!
I decided to send my Denon 103R to him for modification. He removed the body, mounted it on a stainless steel plate and added an aluminum cantilever and line contact stylus. It sounds nearly as good as the REF (at 4-5 times the price). I had an accident, bent the cantilever; he fixed it and had it back to me in a week! He has my Benz now, and I am looking forward to what he can do with it. Highly recommended!
I bet every retipper can upgrade a cartridge designed in the '60 like DL103 (aluminum cantilever, conical tip), but i doubt every re-tipper can upgrade Benz or some other advanced cartridges of today.
You said your Benz has not returned yet, but you already recommend this vendor, strange.
My Transfiguration Temper Supreme lost it's tip somewhere between Seattle WA and Las Cruces NM in the back of a U-haul truck. I discovered the problem during unpacking. That was Not a happy day. I've had it stored away for over a year in the original box until just recently when I heard about Steve. Shipped it off to him for just an examination, cleaning and a new tip. To say that he did a good and quick repair would not do justice to the quality of his work. I know that the cartridge is now performing better than it was when I packed it up in Seattle and I am very certain of that, I am a very satisfied customer and highly recommend him. I would go to him as a first choice if I needed any work in the future.
I was in contact with Steven last night re an old mc cart I was considering buying that needed work. He looked it up online (ebay sale) and advised it would probably not be cost effective which I thanked him deeply for.
A few minutes later he emailed me again with suggestions of good to go mc carts same as the one I was looking at!
Talk about above and beyond the call of duty, this was incredible as obviously he would now not be doing any work but gave his time and effort to help me out anyway.
No hesitation in recommending Steven to anybody.
Hey guys. I just made Denon DL-103 in an Ebony body and convert the coil for Mono LP. I posted a recording and few pictures on my Facebook page. The cartridge is phenomenal for the mono records and very easy to listen to without it getting boring.
If anyone is interested in redoing their 103 body when the retip their cartridge with me, please don't hesitate to ask. If you are a lover Mono LPs and are looking for an affordable Mono MC cartridge to play around with or try out, this is a very fun cartridge to listen to.
Steve made me a special custom low output (0.40mv) cartridge with a micro-ridge stylus. It sounds fabulous and is one of the best bargains around. I then damaged the cartridge when trying to mount it on a different table, by touching the tiny wires in the open body, resulting in one channel going out. Steve repaired it for me and even put additional wooden side protectors to preempt by butterfingers doing it again, for free. So impressed, I sent a stock DL-103 to him for an open body conversion; his price for the job was about the same as what it would cost for a wooden body on eBay. The man is a genius and his services are super affordable.
Steven is a paragon of integrity. I contacted him to fix my Sumiko Blackbird about a month ago. Elsewhere, I have been quoted $1,000 for the retipping. His quote was almost a quarter of that amount. He called me to offer his own cart VAS Nova as a replacement. I had no use for the dull Blackbird anymore (who would pay the grand if a new Blackbird cots just a measly $200 more?). He ships his Nova to me. It gets lost in shipment (USPS refuses to acknowledge it is lost, it simply says "out for delivery" for a month). A less honest seller would have said tough luck, I spent my time and my parts, not my fault USPS lost it. But Steven promptly created a new cartridge and shipped it again at his expense. It is being broken in , but I already hear details I have not heard before even with the $1,200 Sumiko Blackbird.
Outstanding seller! Will never buy or repair a cartridge anywhere else.
VAS Steve upgraded VPI scout master motor, JM9 inner wiring in arm and junction box, new VAS Nova 0.4 mv version.
The surface noise is zero to none. Very very quiet. Cymbal sounds very fast, clean, real, detail, like real metal to my ear. Cello sounds woody, powerful, deep, and focus. Vocal voices are very realistic, relax, thick, and present. Channel separation and image is wide, accurate, and 3 dimensional.
Steve at VAS is fantastic, he re-built a EMT Cartridge for me last year that another reputable cartridge servicing shop said was un repairable. It's now back to its former glory.
This year he rebuilt a Benz Glider for me - which was turned down by the importer for repair. Steve is the go to guy for cartridge repair, highly recommended.
Actually my example had two dead shorts in the same coil.
Steve thought it looked like a huge static blast or similar as there was evidence of black charring as well.
please note I bought it used and obviously it had been WELL used as it was dead in one channel on arrival.
I was extremely pleased that Steve could repair and return to service for me.