Ortofon SPU #1S and the Enigmatic Spherical Stylus
Garrard 301 + Ortofon RMG309 + SPU Classic GME
Denon classics - a ca. late 80s DL103, DL103S and DL103C1- for the price of a then brand new DL103R. Compared to a regular DL103, the DL103S is sweet and most extended in the high frequencies but least dynamic, the DL103R most detailed. The DL103C1 emerged as my favorite for combining all the virtues of the aforementioned models. These are very competent MC cartridges, which, along with the SPU GME, have been invaluable tools in voicing my audio system through the years. However, none of them could match the vivid midrange presence of the SPU.
Meanwhile, my spherical SPU hunting got sidetracked by Monaural playback and Retro Cool Tonearms and Cartridges.
Ortofon SPU Classic GME
In the intervening years, I had been fortunate to listen to higher-end Ortofon SPU models in familiar systems. Inasmuch as the SPU Royal, 85th Anniversary, Meister and Synergy offered better detail retrieval and extension in the frequency extremes to satisfy contemporary audiophile standards, I was never convinced that they were presenting a tonally more accurate sound overall.
After over 20 years, the idea of owning a spherical stylus-equipped SPU still haunted me. Fortunately, Ortofon introduced two entry level SPUs in 2016. I bit the bullet and ordered the cheaper SPU#1S with a bonded spherical stylus last year and couldn't be happier. Even if the #1S has slightly less top end extension than the Classic GME, the midrange is even more organic and soulful because the harmonic overtones are more akin to what I hear in a live music-making environment.
Retro Cool Tonearms and Cartridges article I wrote before my hair turned gray contributed to this trend, my efforts have not been in vain.