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I'm currently running an Audio Note TT2 with Arm 3 and Ortofon Rondo Red through a Croft ECC88 based step-up (fitted with Siemens Halske E88cc) and Croft RIAA. The result is both refined and dynamic, but I'd be keen to get a bit more midrange magic and wouldn't mind giving up a bit of the polished presentation in the process. The latter is a typical sound signature of Ortofon, although it's much less prominent in the Rondo than in the MC30 supreme, which I've previously owned. I'm thinking I could either go all in and purchase an Ortofon SPU Royal N, or I could go for a cartridge with just a slightly more organic sound than the Rondo Red and exchange my active Croft step-up with a passive transformer. From what I understand, a SUT, when properly matched with the cartridge, offers better midrange than an active step-up. But getting the right cartridge and the right SUT may be quite an endeavour and I'd be restricted by the SUT, should I feel like trying another cartridge later on. As midrange magic is what I'm after, going directly for the SPU is tempting, and I presume I could think about purchasing a SUT later, if I feel like it. But is the RB300 based Arm 3 suited for the heavy SPU? The theoretical resonance frequency comes out at 11.4 Hz based on the following numbers: RB300 effective mass: 11.5g. SPU Royal N weight 13g. Combined: 24.5g. Cartridge compliance: 8 µm. From what I understand, this is pretty much ideal. But although the RB300 and the SPU are both very popular, I haven't found anyone actually combining the two. Any thoughts?

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Super Wammer

11.4 Hz is right at the very top limit of what would be considered an acceptable match. Really you want to be at about 9Hz. I would expect the SPU to control the arm a bit and probably lose some bass impact and detail because of it. Really a low compliance cart like that wants a heavier arm, some damping or possibly an additional headshell weight. 

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Thanks for the tip, smegger, I'll make sure to find a suitable headshell weight. I've seen pictures of a screw on weight, that fit in the larger hole on the neck of the tonearm, but can't seem to find anywhere to purchase it. Perhaps I'll simply have to purchase a regular headshell weight and adjust VTA accordingly.

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I've switched back to my IQ3, which I previously didn't really fancy. Compared to the last time it was (dealer) installed, the sound has opened up a bit, and there's more excitement and focus. Vocals now sound great and electric guitar sounds amazing. I miss some top end extension at times, e.g. with some piano, and the spatial definition is a bit more subtle. In some cases, the slightly darker sound is welcome, e.g. Keith Jarrett's Köln Concert is now more listenable with no hard edge. The way I've installed the cartridge, the stylus is tilted slightly forward, i.e. stylus rake angle > 90 degrees. 

Compared to the Rondo, the IQ3 is very easy to live with, removing the head amp from the equation and providing a tonality that errs on the robust side, rather than risking parts being disjointed. 

I may eventually give the SPU N a try but may wait for a second hand one to show up locally. I think I should look at upgrading my Croft RIAA with an R model as well.

Edited by Cal123

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Edited by Cal123

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