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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: Tell me about more about Ortofone SPU Sound.
Post Subject: Is it all that Ortofon SPU can do?Posted by Romy the Cat on: 4/25/2005



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I have been running my new Ortofon SPU Mono cartridge and can’t figure out why SPU has such a strong positive reputation and why some SPU users when I ask them about Sound of those cartridge they roll up their eyes. Yes, it is all around fine cartridge but it has quite prominent upperbass with some yellowish tone. I asked Rony about this quality and he commented:

”As regards the upper-bass prominence in the Ortofon I think it exactly what people refer to as the 'spu sound'. It gives a fat violin or over-prominent left-hand on piano, even a super-presence to guitar (try Segovia) that is appealing to some.”

I would not suggest that this SPU glorified puffy-softness is something that is unpleasant. It’s pleasant, however, this idiosyncratic SPU presentation spreads ABSOLUTELY EQUALLY to ANY music and to ANY recording.

Whatever I spin:

Starker with Szeryng playing Brahms’s Double Concerto with Natick and Concertgebouw
Pablo Casals playing Bach’s Unaccompanied Suites
Piatigorsky playing Dvorak concerto with Munch and Boston
Rostropovich playing Haydn concerto with Britten and English Chamber
Du Pre playing Elgar’s concerto with Barbirolli and London
Casals playing Dvorak concerto with Szell and Czech Philarmonic…

…they all “sound” kind of the same. Well, not the REALY same, but this “SPU Sound” flavors all those performances and minimizes the uniqueness and idiosyncrasy of each improvisation. I do not know what those SPU lovers find so attractive in it but I do not think that I like it. Perhaps I do anything wrong with my SPU? Nope, do not get me wrong I do like my SPU mono cartridge – it has very valuable softness and nobility in sound but I wonder if that “largeness” in upperbass could be eliminated.

Interestingly that I have not problems with violin peaces and this slightly overly-reach bottom harmonics work remarkable well. Was playing juts now Francescatti with Ormandy/Phila performing Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen and it sounded just phenomenal! However, as soon the cello group kicks in than it become too “recognizable”..

I understand why the listeners with boxed speakers or with open-baffles would love to fully employ this “SPU effect” (and patricianly the open-baffles guys whose not-damped drivers go to garbage disposal at upper bass) but how can I “use” this upper-bass beautification?

Anyhow, is it possible to lower this SPU’s upper-bass overfriendliness?

Romy the Cat

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