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Positive Feedback ISSUE 22
november/december 2005


Sidebar on the Cardas Myrtle Silver Heart
by Rick Gardner



David is doing the full review on this cartridge so I have the luxury of a pre-emptive strike without the grind and boilerplate. Life is good. 

When my pretty, but incredibly unreliable and fragile Wilson-Benesch table coughed up its guts and quit (ok, it MAY have gotten slightly dropped in moving, but everything else survived just fine), I managed to talk Jennifer Crock of JENA Labs into building me a plinth for a Technics SP-10. Perfect table for me. No fuss, no muss. Of course, Jennifer never does anything in a perfunctory manner, so what I got was a black star Corian® clad, multiple material, resonance cancelling, heavy as crap plinth, the Technics, and an SME model 10 arm.

No, it ain't a Walker Proscenium, but it sounds damned good.

I like Benz cartridges, although the nudie ones give me the shivering horrors; and for good reason . . . after setting my table up in my new house, I found the exposed member of my Benz Glider had been scraped off in the process ....................ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH.

Ah well, c'est la poisson.

Fast forward and I am assembling an ambitious review series that moves forward driven by the Cardas and a BAT VK-P-10 SE phonostage through what will hopefully be a set of Jenna Labs prototype speakers.

But, this will take a long time ...and David needs me.

The Cardas

If there is ANY benefit to getting older, it is not getting wiser; one simply knows some things more easily. There is more known territory.

First of all, I think that balanced phono stages are such a good idea. No hum. None. Go ahead; put your ear up to the speaker. The very slight wash of cosmic background white noise from the electronics, and that is it. I have too many times sat with an ecstatic, but sadly misguided audiophile, gushing about the sound of analog, and between each cut is the room filling sound of HUM. If there is any humming in my listening room, it damn well better be coming from something that is respirating too.

And of course, a relatively modest output MC cart requires a butt-load of amplification along the way. Teensy tiny signals, made WAY bigger. I dunno, sounds like a recipe for noise to me.

So, I will spend a considerable amount of time on the BAT balanced phono when I do the full review, but suffice it to say ...yummy, yummy, and dead quiet.

The Cardas clicks in for me without fanfare. I am not impressed. I am not wiggly. I am not distracted; smoke and mirrors do not dazzle me. It does not stand out. It is NOT hyper-etched reality. I hear my records with no distraction. It is neither warm, nor is it cold. It is neither veiled nor hyper-detailed. It is correct, balanced; musical ...even how it physically sets down on the record pleases me, as odd as that may sound.

From Eddy Arnold's, Cattle Call, to an old mono recording of Furtwangler doing Gotterdammerung, from Pure Prairie League to John Klemmer, it simply does not matter. Everything is enjoyable.

Perhaps because I am old and near death (he winks, sardonically) I breathe a sigh and wish I could live quietly with this combination in my listening room from this point forward. I am replete. I am satisfied. I am loved. I want for nothing.