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Full Version: Cadenza Black Sudden death
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I have spent much time on this forum writing about my trials and tribulations with my "digital front end".  One thing I have mentioned less is the pleasure I get from listening to vinyl.  I am not someone who is in the "vinyl sounds better than digital" camp, but I do have a very large collection of vinyl and when in the mood I get great pleasure from digging out and playing some long forgotten album from my collection.  Whatever the debate between digital and vinyl might be, I tend to forget about the "ultimate sound quality" thing with vinyl and just enjoy the music.

I have also been very happy with my Ortofon Cadenza Black.  With a decent pressing it can sound quite superb, and it seems to perform with all types of music.  I have been very happy with my Black, and indeed I have recommended it to others on this forum.

At the moment I have a box of old records in my room, and every now and again I will pick one out and play.  A couple of weeks back this record happened to be AC/DC's "If you want blood".  This is an original late 70's pressing, so the era of thin and not always particularly well pressed vinyl.  Well, it did not sound good.  A poor sound and a little distorted.  I listened to one side, then one track on the next side, and concluded that it was a terrible copy.  Looking at the condition of the record, it actually did not look too bad, but anyway, I moved on to another record.  This one did not play, the needle just very gently skated across the record.  Oh dear!  I checked the settings on the turntable, tracking weight, the anti-skate mechanism and so on.  Everything was perfect.  I removed the cartridge and checked with a magnifying glass, and as far as I could tell, the stylus had lost it's tip.

Oxford Audio advised that if I sent the cartridge back to them, they would get it inspected by the UK importer Henley Audio.

Two pictures below, both taken with a microscope, the first is a new Cadenza Black, the second is mine, as taken at Henley Audio.

The cantilever on the Black is incredibly fine, and it appears that the diamond tip is simply bonded to the end of the boron cantilever.  From what I can gather, this is reckoned to be a very good design with respect to sound quality because it allows the cantilever to be just about as fine and light as is possible.  It is, however, an inherently week design when compared to a more traditional approach of having the diamond tip inserted through the cantilever.  As an example, compare the Black design to the Cadenza Bronze, below:

The aluminum cantilever is not as fine as the boron cantilever on the Black, but the way the diamond is encapsulated into the cantilever on the Bronze means that to break it, you would need to shear the diamond, which would be pretty much impossible.  With the Black, any kind of longitudinal load, say from a bit of detritus in the record groove, could easily snap the bond, as it is stressed a couple with the diamond tip acting a cantilever.

So why did my Black break?  To be honest, I can only speculate.  Maybe there was something in one of the grooves of a record that I played that caught the tip and stressed it?  I also wonder about thermal stress.  I know that the diamond tip of a stylus can run at very high temperatures, anything up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  One thought that I have here is that I have a lot of 12" singles, and those that run at 45rpm will have a high groove speed and hence generate the highest possible temperatures.  Is it possible that one too many 12" singles have caused the diamond to cantilever bond to suffer thermal fatigue?  Just some thoughts and theories, I think it is impossible to know for sure.  One thing I do know for sure is that the cartridge is just over four years old, and is very low hours, maybe about 200.  I do not play vinyl that often, maybe one or two albums a month.  So the sudden death of the Cadenza is very annoying.

This one is quite a long story, but Henley Audio were not much help, basically saying that the cartridge must have experienced some form of trauma but did not have any manufacturing defects.  So in other words, you broke it mate!  OK - It is a four year old cartridge, so it would be unreasonable to expect any kind of redress, I was not expecting a free replacement, but some kind of token concession would have been nice.  I also contacted Ortofon, they were not much help either!  The point is, I cannot think of a time I have ever abused this cartridge, either intentionally or not.  Also, I am aware that using solvent type cleaners can be damaging to this type of stylus design, and I have never used solvent cleaners.  I suspect that the cartridge may have had a minor flaw that took time to become apparent, but who knows, maybe I unknowingly did something to break it.  It is not possible to prove this one way or the other.  Of course, Henley Audio were very clear that the cartridge had no manufacturing defects, but they can't prove that either, so it ends up just being words.

I also thought about getting the Black re-tipped, but one conclusion became clear in my mind, I want to enjoy my vinyl, and following this recent experience I have concluded that I just do not want a cartridge with the "glued tip on the cantilever" design.  I now have zero confidence in this design, and every time I played a record I would cringe and worry about the tip breaking off, and that would be no fun.  Interestingly, one cartridge tipping company I contacted said that they did not like the bonded tip design and that they had seen a number of similar failures.

This is the short version of what could have been a much longer post, but I am pleased to say that it does have a happy ending.  Oxford Audio were very helpful with this matter and ultimately came up with a reasonably good deal to PX my broken Black for a nice new Cadenza Bronze.  I was very tempted to switch brands after this experience, but I have heard the Bronze in comparison to the Black a system almost identical to my own.  This was during one of Ortofon's cartridge demonstration events, duting which I concluded that I quite liked the Bronze.  The Bronze does not quite have the hyper detail of the Black, but it is very coherent and listenable, so yes, a small step back, but I think the Bronze will actually suit my varied collection of old and mixed condition vinyl very well.  The Bronze should be arriving next week, and I am very much looking forward to trying it, and at least I will not be too worried about snapping the tip off!

One final note to those on this forum with a Cadenza Black.  It is a truly fine sounding cartridge, and I am sure I will miss mine.  But be careful with it!  Trashing a £1800 cartridge is not a nice feeling!

EDIT: One other point re the Cadenza Bronze is that it has a slightly higher output than the Black. 0.4mV versus 0.33mV, which in percentage terms is significant. With respect to the Devialet phono stage debate, I do experience the hiss, but it is at a level that does not really bother me, but it will be interesting to see if the slightly higher output Bronze mitigates the issue to a degree.
Confused ,Wery interessant What you wrote , i have cadenza Black ,and i bye a MC trafo it help much aginst hiss , i look forward too hear about cadenza bronce and hiss, becorse somethime i Think bye a standalone riaa to hear if i Can get better Sound ( it is not becorse i have hiss, but only too se if the Sound get better.)
I have been very busy recently, plus some recent free time has been spent reconfiguring my rack, which has meant my TT has been on my dining room table, rather than connected to an amplifier. Anyway, the Bronze has been in place for a week now.

I have listened to the Cadenza Bronze versus the Black in during one of Ortofon's cartridge demonstration days. My impression was that the Black was a bit more detailed, more "hifi" if you like, whereas the Bronze was a touch more laid back, maybe warmer and smoother. I'd say the Black was the better of the two, but even during that demonstration I did consider that the Bronze might suit me well, simply because I generally use my TT to play records that have been collected over many decades, rather than nice new 180g releases. So I considered that the slightly more forgiving Bronze might be a good match for my actual records, very many of which are not the best quality.

First impressions of the Bronze were not quite what I expected. It actually sounded a little bright, and every bit as "hifi" as I remember the Black being. In fact, I did not know it was the Bronze, I would say it was a touch brighter than the Black. All this was on the very first listen though, it does seem to be settling down a bit, I know opinions vary on electronics "burning in", but a cartridge is a mechanical device. It has only had about 4 hours running so far, so very early days, and it is already sounding a little smoother. It is very early days, but I am optimistic that I am going to be happy with the Bronze.

The Devialet phono stage has been getting a few negative posts recently, but have to say I have been rather impressed with it over the last few days. I was never that bothered by the "hiss" issue when I had the Black, and the slightly higher output of the Bronze does subjectively make a big difference. Yes, the hiss is still there, but the slightly higher "music to hiss" ratio offered by the Bronze pushes the hiss into being much less of a concern.

Then we have RAM. Here I am setting up a new cartridge, and wondering what cartridge loading to use. Before RAM this meant making up SD cards from the configurator, trying a loading, making new SD cards, trying a higher loading or whatever, repeat. Mindful of how poor aural memory is, the SD card swapping rigmarole is pretty hopeless for fine-tuning. With RAM though, it is very different. Select the cartridge loading from the Devialet's menu, you can then sit in the listening position tweaking the cartridge loading using the remote dial. It is very easy to lose track of where you are when tweaking up and down, so this is a kind of cartridge loading blind test. I have been a little surprised by the results too. In the old SD card swapping days, I tended to end up with a cartridge loading at the low end of the scale, the Black was on 50 ohms . This morning, I ended up at 140 ohms with the Bronze. Maybe it's just the difference between the cartridges, it is very subjective. One thing that is not subjective is that with RAM it is much simpler, more fun and undoubtedly more accurate because you are adjusting and listening in real time. Good stuff.
That was a nice write-up Confused, it made a good read on Christmas Day. Thank you very much. Incidentally I just bought a Cadenza Bronze as an Xmas present to myself, partly due to your field report from Ortofon demo days. I’m glad I didn’t squeeze myself to buy the Black. For now I’m still very happy with the ART9, so there’s no urgency to swap to the Bronze.
I bought myself a pair of Paul Hynes SR4’s for Christmas, they were in the November batch, due for delivery early December. Santa has not delivered them today. I’m not sure he actually exists? Paul Hynes that is.

My brother gave me an interesting 180g recording as a gift. I haven’t used the Bronze much, but looking forward to listening later.

I have been very busy at work recently, no tweaking this week I’m just going to enjoy the tunes for a few days, Merry Christmas!

I wonder how that Bronze will sound with a few hours on it??