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Mounting a Van den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius

Galibier Design - Van den Hul Cartridge on KuzmaThis morning, we mounted a customers’ van den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius cartridge onto a Kuzma 4Point-9 tonearm. 

The agenda was to verify compatibility of this combination.

Bring provisions …

Customer visits can take many directions, and we’ve been known to wear folks out with long sessions.  We’ve had 8-10 hour days, performing multiple arm and cartridge swaps – far beyond that of a typical “demo”. 

By the time someone starts playing at the Galibier level, one’s tastes have formed fairly well, and one has very likely experienced a broad range of cartridges.  Preferences arise.

The numbers lie …

Sort of …

Resonant frequency calculations are a good guideline, but they can also steer you wrong.

By the numbers, the Crimson’ stated static compliance of 35 appears to be too softly sprung for the 4Point-9 and its 13 gram effective mass.  The dynamic compliance isn’t specified, but we believe it matches the Colibri, at 20.

AJ says that the cartridge works fine with arms up to 16 g. effective mass, and this is what we set out to verify.

About compliance and resonant frequency …

Galibier Design - Van den Hul Cartridge on KuzmaThe theoretical goal is to arrive at a resonant frequency in the 10-12 Hz range, although some manufacturers will tell you that as low as 7 is fine. 

We observed combinations with an “out of range” resonant frequency sounding great, and others which while falling within the 10-12 Hz guidelines could be shifted from very good to not so good by performing very minor mass tuning (changing counterweight combinations with arms having this feature – Mörch, Tri-Planar, Kuzma, etc.)

In one case, a shift of a fraction of a Hz  resonant frequency destroyed the bass control and timing of the music.  The system’s resonant frequency was varied in the 10 to 10.5 Hz range, and yet it was balanced on a knife edge, much like setting azimuth or VTA.

At one point, we provided a downloadable spreadsheet on our website – to calculate the resonant frequency of a particular tonearm/cartridge combination.  Over time, we decided that this performed a disservice to our customers.  Absent any other guidelines, one is tempted to put too much importance on these numbers. 

We decided that a body of knowledge (a database of good combinations) would best serve our customers.  Contact us if you’d like a copy of the spreadsheet, but please don’t treat the numbers as gospel.

Back to the Crimson …

Galibier Design - Van den Hul Cartridge on KuzmaThis was one of those cartridges whose predicted (calculated) and measured resonant frequency were both very close, as well as out of the “recommended” range.

The combination sounds marvelous. 

On the HFN&RR test record, the lateral resonance was between 8 & 9 Hz, and the vertical was closer to 8.

So, when AJ Van den Hul tells you that his cartridges will work with tonearms as massive as 16g, I’m confident in his advice. 

The 4Point-9 has an effective mass of 13g, and I’d have no reservations of fitting the 4Point-11 (14 grams) with the Crimson.