IT has long been believed that part of the secret behind Antonio Stradivari’s legendary violins was the “mystery” lacquer he used on the wood. However, more recent research has shown that the master craftsman of instruments merely used lacquers that were widely available then – the secret was in the construction.
But let not the facts get in the away of a good marketing pitch – famed phono cartridge maker van den Hul of Netherlands now offers a “Stradivarius” version of its popular and well-acclaimed Crimson cartridge, apparently using a secret sauce recipe for the lacquer applied on the cartridge body.
The Crimson Stradivarius, each of which takes a few months to complete, is hand-built and tuned by the master cartridge designer and company founder A.J. van den Hul himself.
According to the literature:
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.
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.
The Crimson Stradivarius combines surgical attention to detail with an emotionally captivating musicality. Voices and instruments are arrestingly lifelike, offering up a natural, even tonality in a wide and deep soundstage, against an inky black background.
Each Crimson Stradivarius is hand-built to order by van den Hul himself and can be customised 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.