Van Den Hul – Crimson XGW Stradivarius Moving Coil Cartridge
The recent arrival of the Van Den Hul Stradivarius Crimson Phono cartridge came as quite a pleasant surprise. You have to understand that I have auditioned scores of cartridges over the years. Most of them are quite good to varying degrees.
There have been essentially three times in my fervent audio career that I have been gobsmacked by an exemplary cartridge. As a budding audio nerd in my early twenties I was stunned by the transparent clarity and focus of the Decca London series of cartridges. Although they had other issues, they were peerless in terms of speed, snap, and focus, and simply exciting to listen to. In my early thirties the timbral beauty and seductive nature of the Koetsu range of cartridges ruled the day. They were the most “musical” cartridge I had ever heard. The mid bass was a bit “over ripe” for my taste, but overall an amazing sound.
Today’s revelation is the Van Den Hul Stradivarius Crimson moving coil. I consider proper tonal balance before all else, and this is one of the most even sounding cartridges I have every auditioned. The veritable icing on the cake is the tremendously wide and deep soundstage. Within this soundstage is a level of “layering” or space between and around the instruments and voices that is quite rare outside of a 2” magnetic audio tape on a Studer Studio deck. That smooth tape-like persona is also evident on even less than stellar recordings.
The Stradivarius Crimson honors musical truth in a very palpable and entertaining way. As a music lover and seeker of natural sound, it gets my highest recommendation!
- Tracking Force: 1.35-1.5 grams
- Anti-skate: .6-.9 grams
- Impedance: 20 ohms-47k ohms
- Output: .95 mV; 5Hz-60kHz
- Gold Coils
- Samarium-Cobalt Magnet
From The Absolute Sound:
The second of TAS’ Phono Cartridges of the Year comes from renowned cartridge designer A.J. van den Hul. With a body handmade of Hawaiian koa wood triple-coated with a special Stradivarius-type lacquer, the Crimson uses 24-karat gold coils and a cantilever that is solid boron with a VDH Type 1s (2×85-micron) stylus. Our reviewer Andre Jennings found the Crimson XGW Stradivarius to be impartial across most of the frequency spectrum (including the presence range), with large macro-dynamics from the power region on down.
Quite forceful on transients but less delicately detailed than its twice-as-expensive Colibri XGW Signature Stradivarius cousin, the Crimson counters by surpassing the Colibri in sheer bottom-octave drive with propulsive music. While not carrying a five-figure price tag, the Crimson isn’t embarrassed in the company of competition at two (or three) times its asking price in soundstaging, energy, dynamic pacing, and drive—making it a relative bargain in the ultra-high-end cartridge sweepstakes, and one of TAS’ most distinguished 2017 Product of the Year Award winners.