Like the violins, violas and cellos crafted by the Stradivari family during the 17th and 18th centuries, almost all of van den Hul’s phono cartridges are personally hand built and tuned by Dutch master cartridge designer Mr A.J. van den Hul himself. But has van den Hul now cracked one of the key secrets of the famous Stradivari sound? The new £3,999 ‘Stradivarius’ edition of his Crimson phono cartridge would suggest so…
The van den Hul Crimson moving coil phono cartridge is already a high performer, with its cross-grained koa wood body and 24-carat gold coils. Further key design elements include a samarium-cobalt magnet, boron cantilever and a proprietary van den Hul stylus. In this unique new edition, the Crimson’s koa wood body is coated with a special ‘Stradivarius Formula’ lacquer. While the details of the formula’s composition remain a closely guarded secret, it is said to be akin to that used on Antonio Stradivari’s iconic violins, hence the cartridge’s name.
And, like the notorious violins, the creation of each Crimson Stradivarius is a real labour of love. van den Hul applies three separate coatings of the special lacquer which, since each layer takes a full two months to completely harden, means that every cartridge undergoes six months of work before ‘construction proper’ can even begin. “The specific advantage,” explains van den Hul, “is that the harder outer coating destroys the standing waves inside the softer body.” At the same time, van den Hul has made a number of further enhancements to the cartridge’s design which collectively yield a higher output, extended channel separation, superb tracking ability and greater dynamic expression.
Each Crimson Stradivarius is hand-built to order and can be customized according to the buyer’s specific tastes and system set-up. So if your tonearm requires a particular compliance, if your musical preferences lean towards a longer or shorter stylus length, or if you want an output impedance that best matches your phono stage – no problem. What’s more, van den Hul offers a 200-hour service check-up free of charge to the original owner. The Crimson Stradivarius is available in a natural light or dark wood colour as well as in the original crimson. On special request, the option of a polycarbonate body is also available.